John Knight is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of businessDEPOT.
Based in Fortitude Valley, the firm provides practical advice to more than 1000 businesses and entrepreneurs to help improve growth.
“We try to make it easy for people with entrepreneurial ideas,” he enthuses.
“There are plenty of places you can go for jargon and buzz words but we want to offer plain-talking, energetic and proactive advice, both for active growth businesses and for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit.”
A father of three young 'Star Wars' fans and a firm believer in business mentors, John also understands the appeal of being able to guide those in search of direction.
“If you’re in business you definitely need a Yoda figure,” he laughs.
“Having someone you can turn to for good advice is invaluable.”
Having grown businessDEPOT from around 25 to 35 staff in just over two years, the force is certainly with him.
What is your greatest business learning?
Make sure you stand out from the crowd and do something different.
What is your greatest business success?
The fact that businessDEPOT exists! You always feel as though you should be further along than you are but we focus on creating genuine relationships with businesses [and the people behind them].
What three things should someone consider before starting a business?
- Get your structure set up first. It sounds boring I know, but getting things like your Australian Business Number (ABN) sorted out early can save you time and money further down the line.
- Know the purpose of your business and the problems you’re trying to help people solve. This will give you focus and keeps you on track.
- Know who your Yoda is! We all need someone we can ask what may seem like silly questions. You don’t have to know everything but it is important to know who to ask.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I sometimes feel I should trust my gut a bit more. While you are running a business, its numbers and accounts, what you’re ultimately doing is helping to manage people and making strong connections.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
Word of mouth is obviously effective but it’s a no-brainer to do the right thing by people. I think the best way to promote your business is by providing genuine insight for your clients.
We run a lot of events for small to medium-sized businesses which wouldn’t normally get access to the sort of level of advice that big companies get.
How do you stay up to date with the latest business information?
There are certain subscriptions that are obviously useful but social media is my news channel.
If I see that my network is sharing something or talking about something then it’s important to know what it is and how it’s affecting them.
Where have you sought business advice?
I’m a big believer in business mentors.
I’ve also drawn on advice from people from a range of backgrounds from across our various networks. If you’re running a business, then advice from a lawyer who’s got a good commercial sense is always time well spent.
What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
Make sure you can fund the growth you’re looking to achieve.
It sounds obvious but when you grow you need that bit more cash in the bank for additional overheads – it’s not always something people factor in.
How do you manage risk?
As a Chartered Accountant I would say that financial projections for your business are very important. You have to know what you would do if the financial assumptions you initially made should change.
If you have a management team or board, then it’s also useful to ensure this is comprised of people with different perspectives in order to challenge yourself and challenge decisions.
What value do you place in business plans and why?
They are crucial, but it is important not to confuse the process of business planning with the document that is the end product. It’s not about how big the document is, it’s whether or not it’s effective!