Harvest Director, Maree Herath reflects on her business journey.
If you knew in 10 years you would:
- Miss a great deal of your kids growing years
- Receive little to no salary for three years with no government assistance
- Sell off your house to make ends meet
- Work yourself into the ground to resurrect a business and lose a marriage in the process
Would you do it?
Many would say “You’re crazy!!”
Don’t panic! There is a not a woman who is on the edge, but these were some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced, and overcome, in running a business.
Small business ownership is not for the feint hearted but it can be great.
Being a business owner provides flexibility, the opportunity to carve your own path and leave a legacy.
It also means many long days, sleepless nights, working long hours and knowing ‘the buck’ stops with you.
There are plenty of people in my network that see me as lucky. “You’re well off” “It would be nice to be in your shoes”
What they don’t know is behind the successful confident business woman they see today – it’s been a hell of a ride! I’ve experienced the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and today as my business turns 10 if asked if I would do it again? I would. But with my 10 years under the belt I would do it differently.
From my older and wiser self and reflecting on my business journey I write this to every business owner.
Be clear on your WHY
If you are not sure why you’ve decided on this path, you may have found that you’ve just bought yourself a job and nothing more. When the first sign of trouble comes along, you will dissolve. Be so committed to your purpose that you will continue keeping on, when the world and circumstances dictate you shouldn’t.
Have a Business Plan
I created a business plan in July 2009 and launched in September 2009. It is continually refined and, mostly, the course my company has travelled has been the course I documented all those years ago.
So many individuals who start a business get too fixated on the flexibility factor – working from home in their PJ’s or doing a four-hour day. Your business will not grow and provide you with an income if you are doing it as a part-time hobby. If you cannot trust yourself to work – surround yourself with accountability buddies!
I have relied heavily on my own capability and determination to charter my path. However, when you don’t know what you don’t know – get a mentor to help bring clarity to your situation.
Shore Up Your Financials
Something I would tell you to avoid at all costs; if you are in a “couple relationship” don’t both be the entrepreneur. You need one of you to pay the bills if things don’t go as planned.
I don’t know many small business owners that haven’t had bad years. DO NOT… bet the house on your business. It’s not worth it.
Two key factors that have really paid dividends is having financial dashboards and operational targets. Know the key drivers of your business and ensure you are delivering.
Make Time for Life
There is life outside of the business.
I love work and I’m naturally drawn to it. What you cannot do is have it outweigh everything else.
Frankly, with 10 years and my business at its most successful, I wanted to chuck it in. Why? People would think “Maree you’ve pushed so hard for this. Why pull out now?” But that was exactly why. I had pushed myself so hard and I knew clearly all the sacrifices I had made. On my anniversary, my commitment to you – my public audience – is that the next 10 will see the balance come back. I’ve already made some big decisions to see this happen.
To rephrase in 10 years, I have:
- Three very well adapted, independent and capable children
- A steady income that keeps us comfortable
- Committed to never “bet the house” again
- An advisory team that ensure I have clear targets and measures
- Keen stakeholders who want the best for me and my business
- A “second-time round” loving relationship and a friendly, amicable relationship with my ex who himself is happily engaged
To all the amazing business owners out there, who really keep our country going… I salute you!
Maree Herath, Director, Harvest Talent Recruitment & People Solutions
With over twenty five years working in recruitment, Maree has significant global experience recruiting for some of APACs leading brands across Melbourne, Perth and Hong Kong.
Returning to her hometown of Geelong in 2009, Maree established Harvest to bring best-practice talent acquisition and Executive search to the Geelong and South West Victoria regions.
Today, Harvest is a well-known player in the Geelong talent recruitment, Executive search and human resources field with strong experience in placing some of the region’s most difficult to fill roles.
Maree’s focus is on strategic account management and business development, but has a particular soft spot for recruiting across:
Oil & gas and petrochemicals;
Manufacturing and logistics;
Resources and energy; and