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How do i Expand my business for Australia wide coverage, Finance the Expansion and still have time for my family

I started my business in Melbourne over 11 years ago as a service provider for the Refrigerated Transport Industry. The business quickly grew off good affordable service and reputation to the extend where within 3 years we had 18 employees. By the 5th year of being in business i had noticed a shift in this market, money was cheap with banks lending to anyone who applied for a loan along with low interest rates so rather than having costly repairs my customers were opting to replace their equipment with new, with the dealers selling new equipment on a service contract, my customers and services i was providing them i found diminishing at an alarming rate. As a result my business turn over and profit diminished, staff level had dropped and the business was beginning to suffer. In my quest to still grow my business and secure its future i was able to (after 3 years of negotiation) secure an distribution agreement with one of the worlds largest Japanese manufacturing companies to supply their product to the Australian market but i would recieve no financial support from the manufacturer to do so. With the Australian market up until this point being a duopoly for over 35 years and customers screaming for an alternative to the 2 brands available i believe the brand i distribute already being a household name has the ability to disrupt the market and be the 3rd choice the market has been looking for. So far since 2015 we have seen moderate sales with a lot of interest in our product. Being that trucks do not just stay in the one place we expanded the brand exposure by having other small businesses become dealers for states outside of Victoria, this has has been an exhausting exercise that has resulted in myself being time deprived and inconsistent customer experiences. The beginning of 2019 has seen me resign another 3 year distribution contract with the manufacturer but this time the manufacturer has requested it be my business that expands for full Australia wide coverage so customers receive consistent pricing and experiences. My question is, how do i expand my business to have facilities in each capital city of each state (mostly the eastern seaboard as these areas make up over 80% of the market), How do i finance such an expansion when my business has had no support or very little to do with banks in the past and still find time to spend with my young family? (i have a 2 year old daughter and 4 year old son who both deserve my attention and time as much as the business does). Also how do i combat, fight back against my competitors when they have a turn over in the 100's of millions of dollars but my business seems stuck in the $2.5 mill range, as it has been for the past 7 or so years. I have the product with the big household known name that already has the reputation for its reliability and technology behind my business to make this expansion work and be successful but i am unsure how i go about it.

1 Answer

Hi Daniel. It sounds like you've been on quite a journey! I would like to address a few points. (1) Don't try to compete on a level playing field as your competitors. You don't have the budget or reach. What you do have though is you, and the flexibility to do things your way without the red tape and bottle necks larger businesses encounter. How can you differentiate yourself from your competitors? Are there markets that you could tap into that they haven't? (2) I'm super passionate about work life balance - it is achievable. The key is systems and support. Make sure you have robust systems for every department of your business, documented in detail. Support can come internally or externally - internally through your trusted and highly competent staff, externally through experts such as bookkeeper, mentor, marketer, web developer, etc. (4) Know what your numbers are and do forecast scenarios based on your goals. With insight comes the ability to make good business decisions. (4) With regard to finance, ensure you have a business plan and good financials with projections. This will be more attractive and informative for potential investors. If you need assistance with bookkeeping, business development or mentoring, I'm happy to chat further. Kind regards, Sarah. Mobile: 0402811088.

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