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Would your business survive if you didn’t?

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// After Kerry Anne Nelson lost her husband unexpectedly, she was forced to roll up her sleeves and clean up her own backyard. That then prompted her to embark on a mission to help others do the same in their business...

After Kerry Anne Nelson lost her husband unexpectedly, she was forced to roll up her sleeves and clean up her own backyard. That then prompted her to embark on a mission to help others do the same in their business…

A business is only a business after all, but perhaps on Good Friday we can pause to ask ourselves – what would happen to the business if we were not around anymore… would someone be able to pick up the pieces – a business partner or a life partner perhaps?

If you think further on this, what have you actually created if the business cannot carry on with out you? Does it overly rely on you being there right now? Is that a good thing?

Kerry Anne Nelson could never have imagined that she would end up rescuing her family business.

“I had to take on the business at a time when I was also racked with grief. The last thing I wanted to do was deal with customers, suppliers and processes. It nearly made me come undone,” said Kerry Anne.

When she and her husband relocated from Wagga Wagga to Melbourne, they agreed it was the best way to access bigger markets and better opportunities. The next year he died suddenly.

Kerry Anne found herself taking the reigns of a company that looked in great shape on the surface, but was actually in complete chaos behind the scenes.

There was cash flow streaming in through the front end of the business, but the back end was in turmoil. She had a decade’s worth of debt on the books.

Then in the following few months two additional team members left. Kerry Anne didn’t have time to grieve. The day after losing her husband, she had to face up to the suppliers she couldn’t pay, and negotiate a grace period while she worked things out.

Within six months she had finalised every last overdue account, trained a new remote team, and outsourced all order fulfilment to a third party supplier.

A year on, Kerry Anne sold the business, and embarked on a mission to teach other entrepreneurs how to perform their own business makeover.

Three tips for business continuity

Kerry’s top tips are:

  1. Secure your logins – a recipe for disaster with your passwords is using the same one for all your logins, not storing them securely, and not giving access to a trusted other in your business. Take the time to set up an online platform like LastPass or 1Password and train your team with the new way of doing things there.
  2. Prioritise your systems – when driving a business to growth, avoid the risk of losing cash through inefficient processes in the chase for sales. Increasing turnover is an essential part of growing your business, but the best way to do this is to develop systems designed to sustain that increasing revenue.
  3. Consider outsourcing early: outsourcing core operations such as warehousing, customer service, order fulfilment, marketing, or bookkeeping may not occur to the business owner stuck putting out fires every day. Popping your head up out of the trenches to research your options might reveal solutions that are less expensive and more effective than keeping them in house.

The absence of systems and processes had left Kerry Anne with a business that simply didn’t flow.

Kerry says: “Learn from my situation. It was one of the worst years of my life and it would have been so much easier if there had just been some centralised systems, access to logins, and documented processes to support our new team. It would have changed everything.”

Of course, may it never be so.

However, if your business can work in sync without you, then you might argue you have created something that flows and will build value for years to come.

Food for thought. Happy Easter everyone. ?

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Startup News has been the home of West Australian startup news and events since 2013. We publish several news stories, interviews, tips and events relating to WA startups every week, with over 1,900 articles in our archives. We also produce the 'Startup West' podcast, and host the 'Hubs (Ecosystem)' database of WA startup programs, places and events.
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