Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business – how did the idea come about?
Marlo is at the mouth of the Snowy River in far eastern Victoria. It used to be a busy port with paddle steams taking goods to Orbost up the Snowy River. These days, it remains a small picturesque fishing town.
There’s only about 300 people living in Marlo, however the tourist numbers are starting to build up. So, myself and some friends are trying to tap into that market and give visitors something fun to do. It’s quite an isolated part of Victoria, but with beautiful landscapes – rivers, estuaries, rainforests. For me, it’s also a great place to live and a great place to go fishing. I don’t miss the city.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I’ve had other jobs over the years working in the natural environment with the Government. But, I’d always wanted to start my own thing. I’ve been really lucky to have worked in the Government, but there was always endless amounts of bureaucracy and constant changes in decisions, so I felt like I was always flip-flopping around.
Now that I’m working for myself doing something that I really love, I’m fully responsible, so I am in control of everything… except for the weather!
I had another business in the past, surf coaching, and I really enjoyed that. I guess I’ve always loved working on the water. These days, I’m using all of the things I learned on that journey to make Marlo Fishing Tours even more successful.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I always have a couple of fishing tours booked for the day, so it’s usually a very early morning start. I normally prepare everything the night before, then do some final boat and gear checks in the morning. I meet my clients at the jetty at about 7:00 am. If there’s any final transactions to be done, we sort that out on the spot (thanks Rounded!). Then I do a safety briefing, and show them around the boat.
Before the tour, I always like to have a brief chat with people to find out what their fishing experience is like and what they really want to see. I then tailor the trip depending on that information. If they’re a ‘hardcore’ fishing person, I’ll take them to a more challenging spot.
Is there anything about running your own business you find particularly tough?
There are definitely challenges of running your own business, whatever it is. For me, it’s the things I can’t control. The weather is a big factor, and the pressure is always on to catch fish – people come on a fishing tour and naturally, they expect to catch fish!
Obviously I can never guarantee that, but we’ve had really good success so far and once that first fish is in the boat, I tend to relax a little bit.
What are some of the challenges Aussie small business owners like yourself face?
In the beginning I really struggled with maintaining a professional look. My invoices weren’t up to scratch and that definitely contributed to the overall perception. I’m a new business, but I didn’t want to be perceived as a complete newbie.
Cashflow is also critical, whether it’s managing expenses or chasing invoice payments manually. When you’re busy trying to actually operate the business, it can be difficult to remain on top of the accounting side of things. It really is a challenge for owners/operators like myself who are mostly outdoors and have very little time in the day to juggle paperwork.
I’m always looking for something that can improve the way I do things. The surf coaching business I used to run was over 10 years ago, and of course, that was paper everything which from this perspective now seems impossible. I used cheques to take payments and I would also pay for things by cheque or cash. Then I’d have to prepare statements every quarter and year, and trying to keep it all together and organised was an enormous struggle, even on a small scale.
What made you choose Rounded for your accounting?
Rounded appealed to me because it helped solve most of the above challenges. Invoicing is quick and easy to manage – I can generate, customise, and send to a client within minutes. I don’t have to spend time fiddling around to make the document look good. I just drop my logo onto a template and straight away, I have a slick-looking invoice.
I really like that I can get a notification as soon as the customer has viewed the email or opened and paid the invoice. It’s a good feeling to see the payments coming in, and makes it much easier to track outstanding payments.
Ever since I started using Rounded I haven’t lost a single receipt, because I now snap photos of them and store copies across all my devices. It really helps with expense management and makes things at tax time a lot easier.
It’s also mobile, which these days is a necessity. It doesn’t matter where I am or what time it is, I can use it anywhere. If I bump into someone down the street or while boating, I can start doing business straight away. Sometimes I might be up at the pub having a beer and people come up and ask for a fishing tour. I then pull out my phone or my iPad and initiate a transaction.
Any words of wisdom for those looking to tap into the world of self-employed?
If you’re planning to start your own thing, or you’ve already got a business going and still doing your admin the old-fashioned way, I definitely suggest you consider moving to an online accounting app that’s tailored to the needs of the Australian sole trader. It’s 2017, technology is a big part of our day to day and small business owners should reap its benefits.