Founder of Sydney-based Brown & Brown Conveyancers, Garth Brown, 47, says surrounding yourself with a good team of advisors is key to running a successful business. This enterprising former Accountant started a cleaning business in university which paid for his education.
So, when Garth was in a very busy job he wanted more time to spend with his family decades later, he decided to create another small business. He created Brown & Brown Conveyancers in 2001 to offer professional property advice. These days, Garth loves working alone from a home office and only outsources to three or four partners.
Q. What are the highlights of being a small business owner?
A. I get to spend time with my wife and daughter. For example, I can attend my daughter’s school functions and help her with her homework. Also, I have extra time for myself. Looking after yourself is very important. For me, it’s being able to refresh and block out time in the day to exercise regularly.
“Always surround yourself with a good team of advisors”
Q. What’s the one piece of advice for future entrepreneurs?
A. The way you start out in business will change dramatically as the years pass by. So, keep your skills current and keep an eye on what the competition is doing. It’s also very useful to get a mentor.
Be ready to make changes to the way you do business. Don’t just tell yourself that ‘this is the way we’ve always done this’. Always surround yourself with a good team of advisors. Do what the others aren’t doing, get uncomfortable, take calculated risks, test, measure, pick up the phone and follow up leads!
Garth being presented with the 2015 President’s Award
Q. What were the biggest trails you faced when starting your business?
There were so many challenges I faced such as finding the right business partners to work with. Also:
1. Setting up the business: Establishing the right software, business location, GST, PAYG, yearly tax requirements, defining my ideal client and sourcing them.
2. Chasing payment: In addition, I had to deal with toxic clients over invoices, third parties getting involved in the business and dealing with agents. But looking after yourself is very important which is why I do pay myself (regularly). If I don’t look after myself, who will!?
3. Going online: For me it was going from bricks and mortar to an online business connected to a virtual office and working remotely. My family kept telling me that it won’t work. The only person who had confidence in me was my wife. Face to face meetings aren’t necessary as I have a ‘virtual office’ and do everything electronically.
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