Coming from a hardware background didn’t make me a natural entrepreneur. In the early stages of my career, I was immersed in the backend, building sales system devices that were to be put inside restaurants, allowing them to take orders online.
Fast forward and almost a decade later, I’ve launched multiple successful businesses, taking on both leadership and people management roles. The transition wasn’t easy, but my programming background gave me the skills I used to launch successful businesses.
Iterate, iterate then iterate again
Starting a business is littered with unknowns, and it’s difficult to decide what to focus on. It can feel like you’re walking in the dark with only assumptions and estimations to guide you. Starting out in software taught me that when in doubt, use the iterative approach. Develop your product or service, release it, and gain feedback from customers before launching anything else. This way your offering is constantly being improved based on real feedback, rather than guesswork. Initially, this can be applied to smaller projects, and then scaled up once you perfect the formula.
The iteration method is also effective internally as you begin to grow and put internal structures in place. By keeping the lines of communication open, your employees can constantly feedback on what is and isn’t working, and any potential solutions they feel could help them achieve the business’ goals and objectives.
Having the ability to write software for various parts of the business opened my eyes to how much automation can improve efficiency. This is especially important for early stage businesses when money and resources are tight. I assess the validity of any hiring activity by asking if we can use software or some other technology to make processes more efficient. This means that when I put new a business process together, I know which areas can be automated and which areas will require a human touch.
For example, the process for putting salons live on the bookwell.com.au platform uses mostly automation. There is human verification and some data entry, but the underlying process is automated. From assigning tasks to the relevant person to venues receiving email notifications and updates. This allows for more free hands, all of which can be used in growing other areas of the business.
Keep learning and improving
With technology moving at such a rapid pace, continual learning is a key attribute for a good programmer. This career-long commitment to learning is also key to business success. No matter how large, or small, exposing yourself to new opportunities and technologies is part and parcel of developing a thriving business. For example, we wanted to measure how long it was taking for bookings to be accepted by venues. We compiled some research and were able to source and implement software that put together this data. This allowed us to improve our customer experience and ensure we were providing the best possible service.
Nathan Airey co-founded Bookwell in 2017 after working as Head of Operations at MenuLog Group. With a background in commodities and hardware, Nathan has used his no-nonsense approach to problem-solving to successfully overcome the challenges of scaling multiple businesses.