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Hard Surface Repairs
This business is no quick fix
After 33 years with the same employer, David Rohrlach needed an ‘IT change’.
David had filled a range of IT and training roles and often had no control over the issues he dealt with, which could be very stressful.
He decided to start a business, Hard Surface Repairs, which is the only one of its kind in Sunraysia and nearby areas. David now has the freedom to be his own boss, work his own hours and build a successful small enterprise.
“I was looking for a complete change in lifestyle, an opportunity to scale back my hours, control my own time and begin my transition to retirement,” he says.
Hard Surface Repairs fixes surface damage, such as chips, cracks, scratches, burns, poorly finished joints, exposed drill holes and timber knot holes.
David works on most hard surfaces and the repairs are carried out onsite, in the shop, unit or home. The service is mobile, so he can work locally and interstate.
While he had a solid business idea and had conducted some research, David wanted to ensure he had everything covered, including tax, business and insurance obligations, before he started. “I soon realised that I needed professional advice to ensure I covered all bases,” he says.
David heard about SBMS through the Mildura Regional Development Business eNews and had a session with mentor Kellie Coff when the Small Business Bus visited.
An experienced small business owner and operator, Kellie holds an MBA from La Trobe University and is completing a PhD with Swinburne University of Technology’s Faculty of Business and Law.
She advised David on start-up issues, business registration, operating as a hobby and the need to consult an insurance broker and accounting advice around retirement transition.
Kellie also helped with a business and marketing plan and social media marketing. “I reassured David that he was already on the right track and doing everything he needed to do, in terms of seeking the right advice, to ensure a successful start-up and transition to retirement,” she says.
“David is now more confident in his decision making, has left his fulltime job and established himself as the only hard surface repairer in the area using this method and technology.”
Kellie says David was keen for sound advice, structure and reassurance that he was on the right track. “He is very passionate about what he is doing and had lots of ideas,” she says.
David found Kellie’s business and marketing plan advice invaluable. They discussed his plan at length, prompting many questions and suggestions. The idea was to start small and build slowly.
The ‘homework’ and links Kellie provided helped to reduce the stress and ensure that David was ready to start his business organised and prepared. He says good planning ensured that his business began successfully as he had determined his core market, such as real estate agents, builders and landlords, and how to market to them.
Without Kellie’s help, David says he may have overlooked some of his legal, tax and insurance obligations. He may have ignored other opportunities, started later and wasted time and resources on letter-box drops.
“On a personal level, the most important aspect was how encouraging Kellie was – and still is,” he says. “She acknowledged the research and effort I had already put into my draft business plan and confirmed specific aspects in a way that gave me the confidence to keep going.
The Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS) is a non-government, non-profit organisation of volunteer expert mentors who give their time and experience to help small business. It is supported by Small Business Victoria, which refers clients to it. Website: www.sbms.org.au
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