What not to do in business

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In business, it is important to have the right knowledge and structure from the start to minimise risk and avoid pitfalls that could cause you to go under before you really have a chance to take off.

Nahji Chu started out with a catering business misschu in her Balmain home in 2007 that quickly grew to outlets throughout Sydney, Melbourne and London. But after a rapid expansion, the business was placed in voluntary administration in 2014.

Today, Chu is back in charge of the business she launched and has learnt valuable lessons from her mistakes.

“Small business is a treadmill that you can’t turn off, and with the food business, the treadmill is on high all the time. It’s so important to have the right structure in place from the start, and to have the right people around you,” advises Ms Chu.

“One big lesson I had to learn was to separate my heart from business – and to separate generosity from the bottom line.”

Matthew Seisun is now a partner at a Sydney law firm, but 10 years ago he was a chiropractor who operated four clinics across Sydney. When he sold his company and retained a business role, he found himself in financial hot water.

“I realise now I didn’t have the right temperament to run a business, and my motivation was purely financial. That led me to make the wrong decisions for the business. I learnt the need to be diligent and seek professional advice,” said Seisun.

Big names in small business will share the pitfalls of starting a business at a free Sydney seminar, using firsthand experience to guide startups in launching and growing their enterprises, with invaluable advice on what not to do.

The seminar will also feature presentations from Nahji Chu, Founder and Creative Director of misschu, and Matthew Seisun, a chiropractor who established a chain of successful clinics.

Both business owners experienced rapid growth, but also faced financial difficulties as they established themselves in high-pressured business sectors.

Growing Pains is the latest seminar in the City of Sydney’s Business 101 series and event speaker Candace Barron is the Director of Dispute Resolution at the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner.

“Too often people will enter into complicated commercial contracts without proper professional advice and without understanding the consequences,” Barron said ahead of the seminar on Wednesday 7 September.

“We’re seeing the results of this all the time, when two weeks of bad trading can destroy a business and people can lose everything they’ve worked for, including their house.

“People fall in love with the idea of a business and put everything on the line for a hobby, but going into business is often a risky proposition. You have to be personally and financially resilient.”

Barron will share her top tips for starting out in business, including the need to:

  • Practice due diligence from the start – read contracts and keep good records;
  • Seek financial help early – there’s plenty of good, free advice available;
  • Think strategically – make business plans at least one year ahead;
  • Remember the value of good customer relations – it’s the basis of all successful businesses; and
  • Make time for yourself – leaders need mental headspace to run and grow their business.

The City’s free Business 101 seminars are held throughout the year, covering everything from the basics of setting up a small business, to advice on marketing and digital strategies. Each seminar features Q and A sessions with industry experts and City staff.

City of Sydney CEO, Monica Barone, said the free business seminars aim to support small businesses to flourish in Sydney’s dynamic business environment.

“Small and medium businesses are at the heart of our local economy and we want to do everything we can to provide them with new opportunities for growth,” Ms Barone said.

“The Business 101 seminar series is an invaluable opportunity for new and existing business owners to learn firsthand some of the issues business operators face, and where to get good advice when they need it.”

All Business 101 seminars are held at Customs House from 6.30pm–8.30pm. Upcoming sessions are:

  • Growing pains – avoiding the pitfalls of your own success – 7 September
  • The rocky road less travelled – new takes on traditional businesses – 5 October
  • Going against the grain – new business concepts – 2 November
  • Late starters – keeping the doors open for night-time trade – 30 November

All sessions are free, but bookings are essential. For more information or to register, visit: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/business/business-support/programs-and-seminars/business-101-workshops

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