I own and operate my own business. I have no background in running a business. I didn’t do a Commerce degree at university, nor do I have an MBA degree. I also didn’t have a business plan.
In terms of my career, it was one of two things that I always swore I’d never do. The other was to be a politician. My reluctance to own a business may be surprising for some people, who prefer to be their own boss. However, I have never had trouble working for someone else in my previous positions, in fact I enjoyed the team dynamic very much. I have no background in running a business. I didn’t do a Commerce degree at uni, nor do I have an MBA.
Running a business entails a high level of risk. Lawyers prefer to advise on risks rather than run them. I was lucky as I didn’t require a bank loan to start Anita’s Garden.
Like law, the higher you want to go with the business, the harder you have to work. Building an empire can be enriching. Businesses employ staff therefore increasing the workforce and are in a position to make a difference in the world.
For me, one of the most difficult aspects of running a business is accepting money from customers. At a law firm, funds are handled by the billing department so the issue is less uncomfortable, unless of course the client wants to complain about the bill. I also struggle with profit margins as it just seems wrong to make money from marking up stock.
One of the advantages is that it enables me to have a bit more freedom. Unlike at a large law firm with corporate clients, I can hold shares without being accused of insider trading. I also have more freedom in how I structure my day. The home, garden and office are conveniently rolled into one. This saves commuting time. As I am my own boss I am even able to go for a run in the middle of the day which is handy as the days are quite cool and short at this time of the year. I also get to spend more time with Ginger, a stray cat who was always hanging around in the garden and rapidly found a way into our home and hearts. But for those of you who do work in a large firm, you have to look on the bright side. Having a separation between work and home can be nice (unless of course you are constantly bringing work home or can’t stop thinking about work). Furthermore, if you ever get locked out of your home or apartment, at least you can rely on the law firm’s office always being open.
For those looking to launch their own venture, here are a few tips. Scribble all your ideas in a notebook. Don’t share them with anyone. You have to be secretive to have a competitive edge. You might also be teased by family and friends that they are pure grandeur.
Be prepared to be tenacious in promoting your business. Social media is the best (and often free) means of advertising.
Be careful what you say, both online and offline. You certainly don’t want to be sued for defamation!
Make sure that you keep accounting records for tax purposes. I feel fortunate that I studied accounting at school and also that Dad gave me extra tuition over the weekends as he was an accountant.
Businesses require open communication. This is quite different to law where you try to say as little as possible, while at the same time trying to cover the firm and the client as much as possible. Naturally, this is a difficult task and it is for this reason that lawyers can justify charging the earth for their services.
In the future, I am interested to see if I can help people overseas. I did end up practising international law so it is perhaps natural for my interest in gardening to take an international dimension. To me, it does not matter if climates or growing conditions are different to those in New Zealand. With adequate research, it should be possible to advise gardeners on how to adapt their growing methods accordingly. Concepts such as vertical gardening are relevant globally.