We caught up with two members of The Circle – First Nations Entrepreneur Hub, who are paving the way for future First Nations businesses and leading by example, offering business-saving advice with a strong social purpose.
Navigating the minefield of legal, financial and operational challenges are not always at the forefront of entrepreneurs’ minds as they leap into the unknown of building a business from scratch.
AMK Law’s (AMK’s) top three requested services from small business clients surround legal dispute resolution, often related to unpaid debts; advice in areas such as employment, contracts and liability; and drafting contracts and agreements.
Named one of Australia’s most innovative firms in 2020 by Australasian Lawyer, AMK has embraced technology to streamline operations and maximise efficiency, while increasing access to justice for people who can’t afford traditional legal fees.
A great example of this is the firm’s Boost Legal Templates. Designed with Australian small businesses in mind, the interactive templates host many of AMK’s commonly requested legal documents and can be purchased and customised online almost instantly.
“Boost Legal Templates is really aimed at bringing cost effective, quality driven legal products into the marketplace for clients who are starting out with a minimal budget,” Founder and Principal of AMK, Matthew Karakoulakis, says. “An added bonus is that for each sale, a percentage is donated to digital inclusion projects run by Dot Com Mob.”
A proud Aboriginal-owned business, AMK is incredibly motivated to support and promote others in the First Nations business sector, and does so by taking on pro bono clients, sub-contract work, external purchases, and delivering workshops.
Outside of his billable hours, Karakoulakis gives a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the life of a founder via social media, breaking down legal stereotypes and offering a mix of stories and legal tips; while injecting a fun and engaging look at how he applies his brown belt in Jiu Jitsu to the practice of law.
As Karakoulakis says, he’s all about keeping it real and being relatable, which in turn has fostered business through a sense of trust and humility.
Another member of The Circle and accounting firm, KML Business Solutions (KML), have a comparable mandate to AMK; working across a similar client base as a professional services business.
Accountants by trade, directors Kedeisha Kartinyeri and Mike Levy met at a mid-tier accounting firm where their similar interest and focus for providing critical business support services for First Nations organisations led them to createKML.
Traveling remotely throughout South Australia and the Northern Territory to build relationships and provide personalised services, KML’s mission is to increase First Nations participation in the accounting profession by providing opportunities and employment pathways.
Kartinyeri and Levy also currently work with The Circle to provide financial support to members, as a business service supplier, servicing 15 members thus far.
When asked where startups and small businesses face the most challenges when it comes to business planning and accounting, KML stated: initial business structure and bookkeeping system set-up; not separating business income and expenditure from personal funds; and not understanding GST and PAYG requirements as the most common factors.
Kartinyeri and Levy say with early, reliable business advice, startups and small businesses will reduce their risk of tripping over these common issues and set themselves up for a sustainable, healthy business model.
“Budgets and cashflow forecasts are significant, you must have tools to ensure you have efficient resources to operate at the scale the business is growing at,” Levy says.
“We are big advocates for using add-on apps to accounting software,” Kartinyeri says in relation to slashing admin time when bookkeeping.
“For example, Xero has hundreds of different apps to help manage business efficiency.
“Apps include receipt processing, timesheets, inventory, and online sales…there’s basically an app for everything.
“Although it takes time to implement a new process using an app, in the long run it will cut admin time and automate processes. We also suggest that businesses keep up to date with bookkeeping processes, by regularly reconciling accounts.”
Financial projections are critical to business sustainability and growth, and Kartinyeri and Levy say businesses commonly underestimate how financial projections can benefit them.
“By putting projections in place, you know what is upcoming and can therefore avoid any negative surprises,” they say.
“You can also plan what the future might look like for your business and get a better idea around whether you have the required level of sales to continue to be profitable. It can also indicate whether you are pricing correctly.”
A partnership between the Australian and South Australian Governments, and funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency, The Circle supports the First Nations business sector in South Australia, creating opportunities to build capacity, capability, and connections to thrive. To contact the businesses in this article and/or other First Nations businesses, visit: thecircle.sa.gov.au
The information contained in this article has been provided as general advice only. Before making any business decisions, consult your own financial and legal advisors to consider whether it meets your own objectives, financial and legal situation and needs.
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