Even with great tools at your disposal, it’s not always easy to get all your ducks in a row when starting a business. And service businesses can be especially challenging. Unlike a cafe or retail business which may have an immediate opportunity to scale quickly in a location with a busy customer footprint, service businesses have to invest in finding clients and building relationships, alongside finding the right tools to help them start, run and grow without a huge outlay of capital.
Tim Watson from Good Dog Behaviour & Training knows the challenges of starting a business. Making the jump from full-time employment to investing 100 percent of his energy into his Melbourne-based dog training business was no easy feat. And he’s been utilising Square Reader (as well as our handy integration with QuickBooks Online to create some efficiency in his daily work.
We caught up with Tim (and his loyal pooch, Elliott) to hear how starting a business from scratch is changing his life.
Tell us exactly what Good Dog Behaviour & Training offers?
We offer an in-home dog training service to Melbourne’s people and their dogs. Typically, people working long hours don’t have the time to fit in group classes, so I visit them in their homes. Our training covers everything from general obedience and house manners to stemming undesirable behaviors such as aggression, jumping up and digging.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced while starting a business?
Running a small business is anything but small! But it is a lot of fun, because you get to work your own hours and really enjoy what you’re doing. You don’t get a lot of time to yourself which can be quite challenging. Managing cash flow is also a big challenge, especially when you’re trying so hard to build your client base. The last thing you want is to be worrying about what’s coming in and going out.
So time management is hard. How do you overcome this?
You need to be very scheduled and prioritise a lot better than you usually would in a normal job. Otherwise, the work never stops.
What tools do you use to help manage your time and cash flow?
Until recently, there wasn’t a lot of technology to support sole traders. I didn’t really look into accepting credit card payments because I thought it would be something I wouldn’t be able to afford. When I heard about Square, I was really excited because it opened up a lot of opportunity for small businesses like mine to start accepting credit card payments without the overhead costs.
How does being able to accept credit card payments on the spot help you in a service business?
It takes a lot of the awkwardness out of the payment process. The difficult discussions at the end of a session are no more, because quite often I’ve already spoken with people and informed them that I accept card payments. Customers are happy that they don’t have to go down to the bank to get cash out, and I can get paid immediately and see the money in my account.
You’ve integrated your Square account with your QuickBooks account, so your point-of-sale system and accounting data is fully integrated. Has it saved you time?
Having the sales data imported on a daily basis means I don’t have to do any manual entries anymore. I’m saving at least six hours a week, which means I have a lot more time to spend with my own dog! I know that every dollar that’s coming in is being recorded and I can spend more time doing the things that I love.
What does it mean for a dog training business like yours to be able to work on the go?
It means I can offer accessible services that complement the clientele I work with. I want to be able to enjoy what I do and also work my own hours while giving back to the community. Working with Square and QuickBooks means that I can run my business on the go and be anywhere I need to be.