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Get To Know Patsy Lim, CEO Of Equipped 4 Success

What would be the most important thing to look into if you want to start a business in Australia?

Hi Patsy, can you please share a little about yourself and what are you up to at Equipped 4 Success?

Gosh. At my age “a little” is very difficult to do. How do you cram over 40 years of business experience into a few short lines?  In simpler words, I’m an accountant who saw the light, quit accounting and do real business. But that would upset my accounting friends because it suggests that accounting is not a “real job”. But honestly, some accountants I know do an amazing job … just not for me anymore.

So now I’m the CEO of Equipped 4 Success. In between quitting as an accountant and starting Equipped 4 Success, I did a myriad of other fun businesses including running a bed and breakfast, medical tourism, environmental products, project management, property development … even a fruit and veggie business. I do love the challenge of starting a new business! I must be a sucker for punishment ☺.

Why did you decided to start Equipped 4 Success?

For me, this is about my  legacy. I can’t take it with me.  I don’t want to see everything that I’ve learnt along my journey go with me when I go. I want to pass on my knowledge to next generation. I learnt the hard way – making the mistakes, testing the strategies, etc. It is not clever to do that if you can avoid it!

I know if I had a mentor when I first started in business, I wouldn’t have made half the mistakes I made, I definitely wouldn’t have lost half the money I lost and I would definitely have come to that realisation of what I really wanted to do much earlier than I did.

Life mastery or Business Mastery, which one comes first?

That’s like asking which comes first – the chicken or the egg? They go together.

Business mastery without life mastery doesn’t work. You see, if you want to grow your business, you must first grow your people. You can’t grow your people if you haven’t grown yourself because you cannot take your people where you haven’t been. And you can’t grow yourself if you do not even know yourself. THAT is life mastery – when you truly know yourself.

By the same token, if you know yourself, but you don’t know the first thing about business, then your business will fail miserably. You will likely make the most basic of mistakes. You would never dream of, say, becoming a doctor unless you did the appropriate training. Yet, people will start a business without any training at all. There is a belief that anybody can start a business. Yes they can. BUT not everybody will do it right … in fact, most don’t. That’s why the failure rate for small business is so high.

40 years of business experience is one heck of a journey. So, what have you learned?

For a start, social media didn’t exist then. Nobody had computers. Some had typewriters … Not even word processors that auto correct and do all your spell check. I’m talking of those old clunky typewriters. The secretaries in those days were amazing then. They didn’t make mistakes when they type … there was no backspace to correct.

And EVERYBODY advertised in Yellow Pages and when you can, you stretch your budget and advertise in the local newspapers. BNI didn’t even start till 1985 – so there weren’t even any formal networking groups you could join. You couldn’t just google to find what you want – the internet didn’t start till 1983. Starting a business is so easy today. Everything is at your fingertips.

Back then, I had to get really resourceful if I wanted information. Research was a different ball game altogether. I bet you haven’t had to use a microfilm reader at the local library. Photos were expensive. You couldn’t just happily snap away and delete whatever you didn’t want. I’ve seen the fax machine come and go in my 40 years in business.

Business has actually gone full circle back to the “old” ways of doing business … its the same strategies I used when I first started in business applied to modern technology.

You’ve been through the traditional to digital marketing transition. What’s the toughest struggle that you’ve faced thus far?

It’s really more a case of moving with the times. Analogue marketing had its own challenges too. They were just different. For example, with analogue marketing we had to get “out there” to network if we want to build our referral system.

Well, that hasn’t changed. We’re still expected to get “out there” to network – but this time, we network on the social media platforms.  Getting “out there” means you have to put yourself on video – I believe this is the biggest challenge for most people. Most of us do not enjoy seeing ourselves on camera. And talking to an empty room is something you have to get used to! The old way of meeting a real person, shaking their hands and having a proper conversation beats that any day.

Although I am sure there are many people, especially if they are introverts, who did not enjoy having to go out to a networking function, go into a room full of strangers, meet a real person and carry on a real conversation.

Is there still a future in the traditional marketing, especially in Australia?

I think it is a foolish marketer who will completely discount the traditional marketing completely. It’s like everything in business – you must always keep what works, be open to the new and always test the strategy.

Many of the old analogue strategies still work today. It’s only a case of adapting the delivery to the modern platforms. In fact, I wrote a blog on this a while back and I also did a 1 page summary on this. There’s a link to this for your readers if they want to grab a copy of it.

What I’m seeing on the digital platforms is that people are craving the old “real” relationships we use to have. Look at it this way – when you walk into a café and the owner greets you by name and brings out your coffee just the way you like it, I’m sure you will keep going back to that café. THAT is old fashion analogue marketing. THAT will never disappear. No amount of digital marketing will replace that.

Is it hard to start a business in Australia nowadays?

Its easy – if you know how ☺.

Starting a business in Australia is no different to starting a business in UK, Canada, etc. You have to do your research (and research today is so easy compared to pre-interent days). There are rules you have to comply with. You just need to know what they are. And if you don’t, you just need to know who to ask.

The mistake people make is that they won’t pay for proper advice. So they get on a public forum and ask the general public for advice. Why would you do that? You would never dream of, say, asking your plumber how you should treat your medical condition. Yet, we think nothing of asking strangers about complex tax matters.

What would be the most important thing to look into if you want to start a business in Australia?

Make sure you have the structure for your business. And get yourself a good accountant – one that is appropriate to your needs. For instance, if you have a relatively simple business, then you probably do not need to appoint a big firm with, say, 100 professionals. Their fees will reflect the range of expertise they offer. A smaller, say, 2 partner practice may be more appropriate for you.  

A good accountant is worth their weight in gold. A bad accountant will cost you dearly. The right structure can save you lots of money. The wrong structure usually means you end up paying more tax than you need to. In Australia, tax avoidance is legal – tax evasion is not!

Because I’m no longer in practice myself, my friends often ask me how do they find a good accountant. I found myself answering that question so many times that I ended up writing a little book on it. Your readers can have a copy of that if they like.

Any good advice for those out there that want to start a business?

Biggest one is – don’t try and do it all by yourself. Get advice. Get help. Get a mentor – you can shortcut your business journey with a mentor. Join a proper mastermind. Both Carnegie and Ford said they owed their success and incredible wealth to being in a mastermind.

Can you do it all by yourself? Of course, you can. Nobody NEEDS a mentor. I wish I had that when I first started in business. It never even crossed my mind in the early days that I should get one … I was young, foolish and I thought I knew it all. I thought I could do it all by myself. It took me 40 years … and I have the advantage of being a qualified Chartered Accountant. I reckon I could have gotten to where I am today in half the time if I hadn’t tried to do it all by myself.

How can we get in touch with you?

Connect with me on Linkedin. You can also find my details on either of my personal website or Equipped 4 Success website.  

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