Michele Rawlins, Innovations Catering speaks to Public Accountant about her journey as a small business owner and advice for others making the leap.
Describe your business.
My accounting practice that I had for 17 years was my first business and I have been involved in several other businesses, including my current change management business, Connecting The Change. My husband Bob, a chef, and I have developed Innovations Catering over the last 16 years. A highly-regarded company, catering for over 16,000 functions. We cater for corporates, the private sector, weddings and other special events for two, to sit down three course meals for 700 people.
What are the biggest obstacles to being a business owner and how has COVID amplified these?
Mindset can be an obstacle in business, especially one resistant to change. Adapting your business to market fluctuations is essential today. We adapted quickly, by providing individually packaged meals through an online ordering system. We supported two charities providing meals to the people most affected by COVID, including Chemo at Home patients. In March, AUSMAT (Australian Medical Assistance Team) contacted us to provide our services for the Artania Cruise Ship, while in Perth under quarantine. We are now catering for our fourth quarantined ship in Fremantle. We have a new niche, unimaginable before COVID. We are very thankful that we have survived these extraordinary times.
How did your small business journey begin?
Both my parents were in business, predominately hospitality, owning hotels on three continents. My father encouraged me to become an accountant so that I could raise my children while in practice, and then move into other businesses. I seemed to have followed that advice, almost to the letter!
Would you encourage others to go into business for themselves and why?
Being in business is dependent on the individual’s natural ability and mindset. Being your own boss, is not for everyone. It is risky. Being self-employed can impact family, lifestyle, and mental health, so talking to other business owners and their accountant first is vital. However, being in control of your destiny can provide immense satisfaction.
What business advice do you swear by?
People are your biggest asset. Providing an environment of continuous improvement and empowerment, creates a workplace that thrives and builds loyalty. Happy, content, smiling staff delivering exceptional customer service is one of the factors to a successful business. Good systems are a close second.