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Essential Small Business Advice from a NEIS Mentor

As a mentor in MTC’s New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), Jonathan Wang (pictured below) spends his days giving personalised small business advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Here he shares some valuable insights…

I’ve had the privilege of mentoring more than 400 entrepreneurs in the NEIS program. Often, clients come to me with only a simple business idea. Many also have hesitations about starting their own business because they think it has to be big, corporate and commercial. I tell my clients that no matter the size and type of their business, its success is solely dependent on them.small business advice - jon

I have a Master’s of Psychology and a Diploma of Counselling, and these come in handy as I support, encourage and motivate my clients to stay focused on their business goals and ambitions.

Guiding a client from business idea to conception to establishment – to success! – provides me with great satisfaction and fulfilment.

My approach to mentoring

Although I have my own business, my role as a mentor isn’t about what I do or don’t know, but how I help clients make their own decisions that lead to progression and growth.

I’ll gladly provide direction based on my own experiences and be a listening ear – but I don’t run anyone’s business for them. Knowing this redirects the client’s mindset from one dependent on external circumstances towards greater self-ownership.

Entrepreneurs who embrace new sets of life practices, become more disciplined, accountable, purpose-driven, dare to take calculated risks, and have the confidence to promote their business stories are often those who eventually thrive in business.

Defining success as an entrepreneur

The NEIS program has been carefully designed to support clients as they aim for success – but first you need to define success.

Society largely defines success as what we can physically see or hold. However, entrepreneurs should realise that success encompasses more than that. Yes it’s important to be able to point to a dollar figure and count how much net profit we’ve earned at the end of the day – but success is also being able to recognise the steps we have taken to achieve a milestone, a profit and another returning client.

As a business owner myself, I cannot emphasise enough that success does not come easily. However, with hard work (dedication) and ‘heart’ work (passion), you eventually reap the benefits of your labour. A small business owner should consider every step they take as critical and defining.

Small business advice - mentor

Common problems for new business owners

In my experience, there are two major common problems new small business owners face: lack of financial assistance and enthusiasm to keep the business going. Fortunately I have some tips:

  • Financial assistance

Many clients don’t realise they’re allowed to be employed in casual or part-time work separate to their NEIS business – as long as they don’t exceed the income threshold and it doesn’t prevent them from running their business full time.

There are also external sources of support like the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) available, which comes in handy for eligible clients.

  • Enthusiasm

Realistically, the running of a small business is no easy feat. As business owners we’re required to invest time, resources and effort, which can mean working more than 70 hours a week! This takes a toll on family, social, recreational and rest time.

I often advise my clients to examine and make changes to their lifestyle to result in a better, more holistic way of living.

A snapshot of my clients

I’ve had some clients in my time here at MTC whose dedication, drive and willingness to take on new challenges really impressed me. They include:

Luke and Kate recently sat down with me to talk about their experiences with the NEIS program.

As their 12 months of mentoring with me draws to a close there are two things I tell my clients. First: Continue on this journey. You have progressed so much in life, do not look back. And second: If at any time you need small business advice, I’m just a simple phone call or email away!

Future trends in small business

Personally, I predict that businesses incorporating elements of education, health and/or technology stand a good chance of success. I had a NEIS client who ran a dog walking and grooming business. She added massage therapies and behavioural training sessions into her business plan and, in doing so, became a well-known local brand!

I believe the key to business success is innovation. Aspiring entrepreneurs willing to go against the norm and think outside the box (within legalities!) are positioned well for success.

The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme

If you have a great business idea, MTC can help you make it a reality. NEIS is a free program that will teach you how to start and run your own successful business.

MTC has helped lots of new business owners through NEIS, from family daycares, bookkeepers and mechanics to food services, tutoring, dressmakers and lots more.

Don’t be afraid to take the first step: phone 1300 232 663 for more information.