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Ask an Adviser: Bringing Someone Into Your Small Business

Q&A 24 Nov 2017

I started my retail florist business 4 years ago. Its growing and going well but of course cash flow, BAS, tax etc are all challenges. I am paying off a $50,000 debt slowly but regularly.

My boyfriend, also a florist quit his other job and joined mine. Of course he is doing more hours than getting paid for. We are both on 40 hours per week. As much as he wants to grow the business with me, I am still protective of what i have grown on my own. He came on board 7 months ago and we both work physically very hard everyday and do what is needed.

I do all the paperwork and bill paying, quotes etc. with the help of my bookkeeper and often after hours. He does not help me at all in this department. There are some issues starting to occur He wants some sort of financial guarantee just for the extra hours he does which might be 20 to 30 per week depending on what jobs we have on. 

The extra hours are due to starting at 3:30am three days per week going to the flower market and then working all day in the shop. We are trying very hard to have allocated days off but sometimes that does not happen and annoys him every now and again. I know we need to go and get business advice but want to know from who? How do i protect what i have built but look after him also? thanks for any advice. 

 

2 Answers

Vote Answer

5

Hi Sally,

Thank you for taking the time to ask your question. As a small business owner myself, I can appreciate the need for more ‘hands on deck’ and have also struggled at times to fit life into the 24 hour days we are given.

Before tackling your question, I would first ask you to think through the next five years of your business and reflect on what you truly want from it. I suspect you will have two broad choices, either taking on a business partner at some point or remaining in full control.

If you want to remain in full control and do not want a business partner, unfortunately you will have to have an upfront and tough conversation with your boyfriend and explain that the extra hours must cease. This may mean you have to hire an extra person part time, which will obviously cost you extra in wages in the short term. However, it will reduce your complexity and cost substantially in the future if things don’t work out.

By being upfront with your partner, he will have more certainty about his role in the business and what is expected of him. No one wants to work for free and he will only end up feeling resentment if this continues. If you chose this path, you could potentially research some bonus structures so your boyfriend receives compensation if the business meets certain targets (sales, profit, etc). You could also consider engaging a Human Resources professional to assist.   

If you want to take on a business partner, it is essential to do so properly by engaging an accountant and solicitor. They will be able to assist with determining the most appropriate business structure and exploring the various funding options so that your boyfriend can become a part owner of the business. You have built the business up to where it is and therefore should receive some compensation for selling part of it to your boyfriend. The following government website has some useful information about small business https://www.business.gov.au/.

Another important point regarding bringing your boyfriend into the business is that your solicitor will also prepare business agreements detailing what will happen if things do not work out (ie your exit strategy). When going through this process, you both need to have input into and agree on the exit strategy. This will protect you both and also reduce potential disputes. Although uncomfortable, these conversations are extremely important and need to be done at the start of a new business partnership rather than the end.

Thank you once again for your question. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours and hope it all works out for both you and your boyfriend. Sally, with this in mind please note that I have not taken your full circumstances into account and you should engage with a financial adviser to discuss this in full. Most advisers will offer you a complimentary first appointment so you don’t have anything to lose. 

Bridges Financial Services Pty Limited (Bridges). ABN 60 003 474 977. ASX Participant. AFSL No 240837. This is general advice only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation and needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consult a financial planner.     

 

General Advice Disclaimer
Note: This advice is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal situation and all of your objectives, your financial situation or needs. Before making any decisions you should seek advice from a professional, qualified financial adviser.
Simon Pederson
Simon Pederson Bridges Financial Services Pty Limited

Adv Rating 99% Cust Rating 96.06% Reviews 20

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Vote Answer

3

Sally

Firstly, congratulations on starting and growing a small retail business in what has been a very challenging environment.  I can only assume you are great at what you do and your customers can see and value your passion.

I strongly agree that you need to see a small business advice specialist.  Business Victoria has a website which would provide a good start for you.  It covers areas such as cash flow management, how to structure your business, staff training and management and asset protection amongst many others.  If you haven’t already, you can find the website at www.business.gov.au.  Business Victoria also run workshops on various topics of interest.  They should also be able to direct you to consultants who specialise in small and micro businesses.  If you have an accountant, they might be able to help as well.  Some accountants are very good at supporting small business owners like yourself.

The biggest risks around small business are not necessarily directly financial.  As you are growing your business, it is often the case that the needs of the business grows at a faster rate than the business’s capacity to pay.  As the business owner in a start-up business, you are likely in frantic mode always feeling as if you are chasing your tail just to meet the basic cash flow needs of the business, leaving little left over to pay you and your partner a fair wage.  The risk here is that you could easily burn out.  I cannot emphasise this more.  You need to make sure you are looking after yourself properly, both physically and mentally.  My guess is that there would be no business at all if you weren’t there putting in the hours that you do.  You need to stay well.  Insurance is also something to look at to protect yourself against the possibility of illness taking you out of the business for some period of time.

What you also need to be aware of is that business partnerships fail at an even greater rate than personal relationships.  No matter how well you get on personally, being together all day and working long hours will put additional stress on your relationship and needs to be managed carefully.   When seeking advice, it is important that you not only develop a strategy based on your venture’s success and your partner’s role in the business but also a strategy as to what you need to put in place in case your relationship fails at either a business or personal level. This is where clear agreements around wages, offsets and business equity are critical. 

Finally, as I was growing my business, I found a lot of support from fellow female business people who often either were experiencing the same issues I was or had experienced them before.  I am still friends with a number of these women more than 20 years later.  One such group is BPW Australia.  I am sure there are now a number of others as well.

Good luck Sally and get professional advice.

General Advice Disclaimer
Note: This advice is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal situation and all of your objectives, your financial situation or needs. Before making any decisions you should seek advice from a professional, qualified financial adviser.
Kay Aarons
Kay Aarons Strategic Financial Solutions Pty Ltd

Adv Rating 84% Cust Rating 0% Reviews 0

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2 comments

"I agree - keep your business and personal life seperate!"

David Greene 15:02 on 24 Nov 17

"Great advice. I took on my girlfriend to work in my retail business to help her get a bit of extra cash and it almost ended our relationship (the end came later anyway...). Having to manage staff to do things they way you want is hard enough but at least with an employee there is a clear hierarchy between employee/employer that can be observed. That goes out the window when you get a friend, partner or family member involved. They say things to you that an employee would never dream of and in my case took simple suggestive advice as hard personal criticism. My advice? Beware!!!"

Andrew P 14:30 on 24 Nov 17

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