By Kaytlyn Poberznick
NAIT alumni, Mark Steier, a graduate of the Bachelor of Applied Business Administration-Accounting program, has been a founding partner of Breakaway Chartered Professional Accountants for three years.
Steier suggests to those who want to start their own business that planning is the first thing to do before diving in.
“You definitely want to put together a business plan that looks at every aspect of the environment you’re starting a business in,” said Steier.
“The more planning and the more of an idea of how you’re going to gain a bit of competitive advantage before you start, the better off you’ll be. The caveat to that is nothing ever goes according to plan, but at least if you’ve thought about it and you have an idea of where you want to get and what exactly it’s going to take to get there, pivoting will be a lot easier.”
Not all business owners have taken university courses to educate themselves on how to run or where to find guidance when starting the undertaking of owning a business. However, Steier encourages anyone and everyone going into the field to reach out and gain as much knowledge prior to jumping in.
“A more general type of way to educate yourself would be through your local Chamber of Commerce. A lot of times, they have really good workshops and materials that are geared towards people with no formal business background that are looking to get into business,” said Steier.
Getting advice from professionals is the way to go when starting up. Establishing those connections will help dodge expensive bullets in the early stages of the process. Having the proper footing will help get the business off the ground.
“One of the biggest mistakes that I see small businesses do is they go to their local registry office, and they incorporate a business, and they forget to do all sorts of things. They don’t think about share structure or think to issue share certificates for themselves. They don’t register their company properly. A lot of times, they’ll register federally and then fail to register in a province,” said Steier.
Steier suggests it’s a smart move to invest the money into talking to a lawyer and working with an accountant to learn how to set up bookkeeping correctly.
The amount of money one should have before starting a business depends on the business they’re creating. Still, Steier believes that around the $3,000 to $5,000 dollar mark is a good place to start to make sure beginners are setting themselves up for success.
“That [money] is to get a bank account going, to talk to an account and make sure you understand your responsibilities as far as tax filings, bookkeeping, and record-keeping. Also getting some software set up to help you organize yourself from an operational perspective and a financial perspective,” said Steier.
Having the proper marketing for the style of business that is going to take place is key. Gear it towards the type of environment that it is going into.
“For somebody like an accountant starting up, no amount of marketing and social media is going to get you any clients. You have to at least have a foot in the door as far as industries you’d like to operate in. Whereas other businesses, businesses that are a bit more visible, learn how to use social media and Google. Learn how ‘Google My Business’ works, and network. Network like crazy,” said Steier.
Another tip that Steier has for those looking to dabble in the world of business is to have some sort of client base.
“If you’re going to quit your job or go right out of school and you’re going to invest all this money into a business, I’d certainly hope that as part of that planning process, you’ve identified at least a few customers that are a sure thing,” said Steier.
He adds that although it isn’t a necessary prerequisite to have a client base prepared, potential entrepreneurs should be able to identify a market they are able to serve.
“If it’s a side hustle and it’s something you’re really passionate about, but you’re not putting in your 9 to 5, by all means, do a plan, identify what your strengths are…You have to start somewhere. You just want to make sure you’re doing so responsibly.”
Partnering with trusted professionals and having a solid plan will make the journey of starting a business that much easier.