Andrew Miller of Thrive Advice sat down to chat with local entrepreneur Sean Ryan. Sean resides in the Central West, is a family man and natural problem solver. Sean is the owner and creator of Central West Trailers, along with numerous other accolades to his name. All at the young age of 30. At 12 years of age, Sean was breeding chickens and selling day-old chicks to layers at the local markets in Dubbo. He then expanded out by buying grain by the tonne and breaking it down to smaller 3kg, 5kg and 15kg bags to sell to his already established audience. From there Sean has taken on a range of businesses and built them into strong and stable entities. This is due to Sean’s natural entrepreneurial ability to see gaps in the market and then service that demand. Sean has an aptitude to market himself and his businesses. It is no wonder that Sean was recognised for his determination and drive in 2016, named Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2016 Orange Business Chambers Awards.
Sean loves start-ups. He loves to create a business from scratch which is not an easy feat. He is an artist in his own right.
We asked Sean a few questions about his experience and expertise of the business. Here is what he had to say.
Andrew: What draws you to create a business?
Sean: I never wake up one day and think “I am launching a business today”. It is ingrained in me. I have been at this since a young age. It is exciting to create something, map it all out and come to fruition.
Andrew: Do you have a philosophy for business? Are there rules you abide by?
Sean: I did have some set rules but then I became a father to two amazing little boys, 3 years and 1 year old. This was a game-changer for me. I had to readjust my way of thinking especially when it came to time management and what my goals were. However, my family is now my motivation. I don’t do 100 hours a week. I try and write a list and stick to it. I pick out 3 tasks or jobs for each day and I stick to getting them done or I don’t go home. I aim at working smarter not harder. We are all so connected that I try to control that as much as I can. I have turned off notifications on my phone and computer, so I am not distracted from my tasks. I check my emails 2-3 times a day, I don’t jump to every email as they come through. I batch them up so they can have my full attention at the time. I set an alarm to go home. I am prepared for each new day.
Andrew: We have spoken before about work-life balance and the existence of it. Is it just a theory or an achievable reality?
Sean: I believe in a “work-life harmony”. Your work and your life have to exist harmoniously. The main thing I try to do is be present. To be “present” can only happen for me by being prepared for my workday. Enabling me to complete my lists so, when I am home, I can enjoy the time with my family and friends. They are my motivation but also my number 1 priority.
Andrew: What do you believe are the biggest hurdles currently in business?
Sean: Firstly, consumer spending is at an all-time low. Which is hard when you have a product you want people to buy such as trailers. There needs to be a boost in consumer spending, and this can’t be done without an increase in wages but small businesses can’t afford to increase wages while consumer spending is low. There can’t be a shift unless the government is assisting and helping. There is a big knock-on effect from the drought too.
Andrew: If you could give another small business in the start-up phase some advice what would it be?
Sean: If you try to do everything yourself you will just do everything poorly. You need to remove yourself from those lower skill level tasks. However, at the very start, you will have to do it all. As you do the task, write a procedure. Policies and procedures from the smallest task at the very start will save you in the long run. I still look up procedures to complete a task as it saves me time ensuring I get it right. Some tasks you may only do once a year so instead for trying to figure it out you can pull out your procedure manual and nail it. This is also used for training staff when you engage them to complete the tasks the way you want it done. I cannot reiterate it enough to write down those procedures or record them as you go. Understanding your numbers. Get some financial literacy so you understand what targets you need to hit and keep on top of your balance sheet. Find a good accountant and see them regularly. If you run a business and only see your accountant once a year at tax time then you might as well get a job and become an employee again. Regularly seeing your accountant who understands your business can help head off any issues that might be coming your way or spot any holes in the net. Along with an accountant utilise a specialist. You can’t be an expert on everything, and no one expects you to be. Source experts to help grow your business.
Andrew: Thanks for your time Sean to wrap things up can you tell us your biggest achievement?
Sean: Central West Trailers is something I am very proud of. I have achieved a lot to pinpoint one thing is tough. CWT has gone from 6 trailers out the front and, no office space to two full-time office staff members, over 100 trailers in stock, selling 6 a week! I am proud of my marketing ability and brand awareness that I have developed for CWT, which is the white wheels. White wheels on a trailer mean it is a CWT product. I was also proud of being awarded the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year but the Orange Business Chambers. I’ve done all of this while creating an amazing family with my wife Katrina.