Is turning a profit or helping people a better measure of a successful business? Is pursuing a passion project or the freedom and autonomy of being your own boss a bigger motivator? And how is technology changing how, when and where we work? And how does gender influence the decisions and motivations of Australian small business owners?
Invoice2go’s data analysis found that:
- Almost a quarter of men (24 per cent) see profit as the most importantpart of running their own business, compared to only 9% of women
- Instead, almosttwice as many females (31 per cent) were more motivated by pursuing their passion than males (16 per cent).
- Men are far more likely to work on-the-go/from the road- 47% compared with 13% females
- Men are more tied to their phones- 60% work entirely from their smartphones compared with 40% females
- For both men and women,freedom and flexibility is the most important factor in running their small business (37% for both)
Like many female Australian small business owners, Michelle Hargreaves doesn’t get out of bed in the morning to chase profit, but to perfect her craft and make a difference. In the male-dominated renovation industry, Michelle – operating as That Ladie Tradie (NSW) – has identified and exploited her niche, and it’s based on the way she approaches her business. She treats people like friends, not clients, and is motivated by pursuing something she loves.
Chris Dawson, personal trainer and owner of Authentic Health (VIC) (founded May 2018), finds his work habits align with the data too. He is able to work from wherever his clients may be, be it in his training studio, from a park, or from a client’s home, thanks to the small business tech available from his smartphone. He loves the freedom that owning his own small business allows him; working the hours he chooses, being able to keep his studio running, and managing his staff right from his phone.
We were able to speak to both Michelle and Chris about their businesses to learn more about their motivation, and what works for them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the interviews highlight some strikingly different opinions; for example Michelle enjoys talking with her clients most whereas Chris enjoys the sales aspect of the business, which is in keeping with Invoice2go’s research above.
Michelle Hargreaves, That Ladie Tradie
When was your company founded?
I come from a family of tradies: My Dad is a fitter-and-turner and my Uncles are builders and electricians. I’ve always loved doing little projects and getting my hands dirty so I started my company, That Ladie Tradie, ten years ago. Initially, I thought I would just work three days a week, but I love what I do and can’t say no, so it’s grown to a full time career from there.
How has the company grown since then?
Since I founded That Ladie Tradie, I’ve expanded from a one-lady band into a six person team.
I’m learning constantly and growing with it.
What is your pitch to customers?
My customers are very important to me. I treat my customers how I would like to be treated myself; with honesty and trust. I’m honest, turn up when I say I am going to turn up and I take pride in my work. The people I work with are real people, which means that sometimes we have to build up their confidence because they have been taken advantage of by other tradespeople in the past.
On occasion, I have had the lady organise for me to do some work on a property, only for the husband to arrive home and, surprised, ask what I’m doing there. “Well,” she would say, “she’s here to do the work you said you were going to do six months ago…” In the end, the relationships I have with my clients are more like friendships, and to me, that means a lot.
What are the most challenging aspects of the business?
The biggest challenge for me is having a system set up for all the admin that arises from running a business. As I am on the road a lot this is made easier by the use of simple digital tools like Invoice2go, which allows me to stay organised and productive from wherever I am, streamline my services, track activity, improve operations and get paid faster.
One of the other most challenging aspects is putting together a team of great people who work well together. Finding people that have the same work ethic as me, who do the job properly, on time and add value, can be very challenging. I have had quite a few employees but the team that I have now is amazing.
Why do you find running your business so rewarding?
Because I love what I do. Not only do we do handy-work for the domestic market, but we also prepare houses for sale. That means we transform something that is lived in and loved, and give it a bit of a make-over – painting, gardening etc. Along with a great stylist, we can give a property a huge face lift. When that ‘For Sale’ billboard goes up, I’m chuffed, and so are the owners. If I had a dollar for every time the owners said “I wish we did that earlier!”
What’s your favourite daily task/activity in running your business?
Talking with people and giving them peace of mind. The things they think are hard are actually my kind of fun!
Interview with Chris Dawson, Owner of Authentic Health
When was Authentic Health founded?
Authentic Health was founded in May 2018 as a brick and mortar fitness studio. Prior to that, I had been operating as a contracted personal trainer under the Authentic Health name.
How has Authentic Health grown since then?
Having been in business just shy of a year, we’re thrilled with our growth so far. Being a small business we don’t have a huge marketing budget, but we’ve seen a lot of growth from word of mouth coupled with social media.
We’ve doubled the number of small group training sessions we offer weekly, due to the high demand. We’ve also hired two additional personal trainers to meet demand, and look forward to bringing in more clients, and hopefully more trainers, throughout 2019.
What is your pitch to clients?
The fitness industry has a strong focus on attracting clients through fast, though not necessarily sustainable, solutions. Instead of selling 8, 10 or 12 week programs, we look at longevity, with an aim of keeping our clients fit and healthy year-round, not just for a quick weight loss period.
As humans, we feel better when we move our bodies and are out and about, so we help our clients find a way to be active that they enjoy, and are able to maintain.
What are the most challenging aspects of running the business?
Ask any small business owner and you’ll find they wear many hats. For instance, I’m the accountant, Head Coach, marketing manager, salesman, client services manager and everything in between. Learning to let go and outsource certain roles where I can afford to has been one of the most challenging parts of running the business so far. Letting go of some of those roles does free me up to focus on the area of my genius – training clients – so while it’s hard, it does pay off in the long run.
Why do you find running Authentic Health so rewarding?
Working with one-on-one with clients day to day and week to week, I get to hear the ins and outs of their lives, and help them work towards goals to change their lives and lifestyles. Authentic Health is changing our clients’ lives for the better and there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a client adopt positive, long-lasting changes to their lifestyle.
I love the freedom and flexibility that come with running Authentic Health. A traditional 9-5 isn’t for everyone, and running my own business means I have the freedom to decide how I work, and the flexibility to work at times that are convenient for my clients and I. Sure, running a business presents challenges, but I have autonomy over how to deal with them and that feels very rewarding.
What’s your favourite daily task/activity in running your business?
Besides actually coaching clients, I quite enjoy the sales aspect of the business. There’s nothing better than finding solutions to people’s challenges.