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BUSINESS ADVICE •  8 SEPTEMBER 2022 • 8 MIN READ

Grow your sole trader business in 2022 with these 10 tips

Young photographer whose just started a sole trader business

Being a sole trader can be really appealing. You get to call the shots and design your own lifestyle (most of the time). You have full control over your business and assets. It’s also the simplest and cheapest business structure from a tax perspective.

Working for yourself is becoming increasingly popular. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics between 2021 and 2022: “Sole proprietors had the largest net growth of any type of legal organisation.”

Great, right? Well, yes… but it’s not without its pitfalls. On any given day, sole traders are wearing many hats and doing all the extras – think bookkeeping and marketing. If things go wrong, you’re legally responsible, and being in charge means the buck stops with you. 

As part of Xero’s 2021 Tipping Point study, they interviewed 814 existing and 201 aspiring sole traders in Australia. Xero uncovered that the five biggest challenges they’re facing today are resourcing, marketing, strategic planning, being responsible for everything and financing. 

With that in mind, here are Beany’s top 10 tips to grow your sole trader business.

1. It starts with you – develop a growth mindset

Smart Company encourages self-employed business owners to ask themselves: “Am I ready for growth?” 

If the buck stops with you, you need to have the willingness, resilience, and confidence to know that you can deal with challenges and change as it crops up. That’s why working on yourself and fostering the right mindset is key if you want to grow.

See mistakes as learning curves

You can have all the plans, systems, and structures in place, but if you don’t believe you can grow, you won’t. 

With a growth mindset, when you fail or make a mistake, you’re willing to see it as a learning experience rather than something that will ruin you. Growing pains and setbacks are inevitable; the key is to bounce back quickly and with more knowledge than you had before. 

Focus on self-improvement and gaining new skills

To be successfully self-employed, you need to learn new skills and be open to new perspectives so that you can stay current and adaptable to change.

2. Be strategic – look back to look forward

As you grow, you’ll need to steer away from tactics and towards strategy. 

Ask yourself: What’s your overall vision and what steps are you going to take to achieve it? Now’s the time to invest in your business rather than working in it. Can you drop the tools one day a month to reflect on the previous month? 

Carve out time to take stock of what’s going well, what needs to change, and reflect on your financials. If the monthly reflection is not achievable, consider taking time out every three months to set a 90-day plan.

3. Build your support crew – delegate to experts

Being everything to everyone is simply not sustainable over the long term. You risk burning out. 

That’s why you’ve got to surround yourself with experts as you grow. As a minimum, we recommend you have a trusted accountant (e.g. Beany), lawyer (e.g. Legal Vision), insurance adviser, and a coach or mentor on your side. 

Let someone with an objective perspective spot the risks and opportunities

These experts can relieve the pressure, spot opportunities and uncover your blind spots to ensure you’re doing everything safely, responsibly and legally.

4. Boost your productivity – outsource your workload

Depending on your business, when you’re growing it can be idea to employ an apprentice or junior so that you can dedicate your time to growth activities and more profitable work with your high-value clients. As well as making financial sense, training a mentor or junior can be a rewarding way of giving back and investing in the next generation.

Don’t forget your obligations as an employer

Make sure you take time in the recruitment phase to get the right candidate that fits your culture and vision. Ask a lawyer (e.g. Legal Vision) to help you with your contracts so that they’re watertight. Employ workers in your business to share the workload but remember you must pay their super

5. Systems and structures – automate to reduce waste

When it’s time to level up your sole trader business, you need to look at all the areas where there’s duplication, manual tasks or wastage. 

During times of growth, you’re at greater risk of data falling through the cracks, making you vulnerable to mistakes and unhappy customers. Systems and structures help you automate the mundane and ensure all your information is easily accessible – and up-to-date. Pick systems that are robust, cloud-based, secure and user-friendly like Xero.

Systems to think about

Start with upgrading your accounting software, your CRM (or customer relationship management) calendar bookings and workflow software. 

Remember, Beany can help you automate the mundane so you can get back to doing the stuff you love.

6. Continue to do right by your customers – remember who pays your bills

Have you heard of the Pareto distribution (80/20 rule)? 20% of your clients make up 80% of your income. Identify your high-value clients and make sure you don’t leave them in your dust as your business reaches new heights. Continue to meet their needs and solve their pain points. 

Compared with corporates, you get to be nimbler and inject more personality into each of your transactions with your clients. Use this to your advantage. 

Take care of your customers at every step of the customer journey

Be confident that your customers are being looked after at every touchpoint – from when they first get in touch to after you’ve completed the job – and identify and fill any gaps if necessary. It’s easier to get more business from your existing clients than it is to attract new business. 

Communication is key – check in with your clients that they are happy with your product and/ or service. Focus on building clear communication channels so that their expectations are well understood so that you can meet and even exceed them.

Don’t fall into the trap of always obtaining new clients and forgetting to service your existing clients. As a smaller player, you can’t rely on widespread brand awareness, so word of mouth will continue to be one of the most cost-effective ways to get new and repeat business.

7. Stand out with your unique selling point (USP)

Do you know the main factors that make you more attractive to your clients than your competitors? You may be in a very competitive or saturated industry, so it’s important to have something that’s unique about what you do. 

If you’re not sure what your USP is, ask! Go back to your regular customers and ask them what three words come to mind when they think of you.

And once you know your USP, share the message on all your marketing and socials. 

8. Protect yourself with insurance and know the rules

The financial consequences of not having business insurance can be devastating for sole traders. It’s important you have the right level of cover in place because you have unlimited liability. 

The insurance cover you might need includes public liability, professional indemnity and cyber liability.

Have you asked yourself: what if?

You also need to know the rules and regulations you’re operating within. Do you have policies and processes in place that prepare you for the worst-case scenario? What happens if you have an accident and are unable to work for an extended period? Are you operating safely, legally and within best practice? Know the rules and what’s available to protect you, so that you can be confident and sleep easy at night.

9. Know your numbers – manage and see your finances

Every business needs visibility of its data – especially if they’re growing. You need to see and understand the basic financials – a cashflow forecast, a profit and loss account and a budget

You may have started your enterprise with a spreadsheet and paper invoices, but these tools are not going to cut it when you’re bigger. Moving on to user-friendly accounting software, Xero gives you visibility of your finances and can help you make the right decisions around pricing, suppliers, areas of growth and much more.

Remember, it’s important you have an accountant on your side who can help you interpret your figures, explain them in plain English, and help you to make decisions based on them in your wider business’ context. It’s easy to allow finances to be swept to the side as you focus on the operations of your business but it’s important to keep on top of the administration of finances.

10. Get social – be seen on the right platforms

According to a July 2022 report published by DataReportal, in partnership with We Are Social and Hootsuite, there is solid growth in the number of people adopting technology and the level of digital activity globally.

Love it or hate it, no growing business can deny the reach and impact of social media. 

You don’t have to do it all yourself

Content creation is a great activity to outsource, particularly if you find writing posts difficult and time consuming.

Be strategic in your choice of platforms

Don’t worry – you don’t have to start dancing for reels or appear on every platform. Take some time to see where your ideal clients hang out and show up there. Being social on social media means also engaging with other people’s content – like, share and comment.

Have an opinion but remember you’re representing your brand

It’s okay to have a point of view, but don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. Remember when you’re on social media, you’re representing your business and brand. 

Who are Beany? 

We’re an online accounting firm that is always right here for you, your accounting pain relief. The most advanced technology lets us work way more closely with you than a normal accountant world. ​

We have a dedicated team of certified accountants and a support team to take care of your business no matter where you are, so you can focus on growing your business. We take out the ‘fluff’, break down the barriers and get things done. Looking out for you is what we are all about. Get started for free today.

Pete, Problem Solver

Got any questions about Beany?

Chat to one of our friendly problem solvers today to get clarity.

Katie Rickson

Katie Rickson

Freelance Copywriter and Editor

Based in the beautiful town of Helensville in Auckland, New Zealand. A soft spot for long-form content, she loves writing blogs, case studies, and white papers for specialists and service-based businesses. She is also a mum and enjoys acting, dancing and writing poetry. 

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