Andrew Wall M.L.A – Brindabella
In a special edition of the ‘small’ interview project, Liberal member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, representing the electorate of Brindabella- Mr Andrew Wall answers an amended set of questions for me.
In 30 seconds or less, give me your elevator pitch of ‘what you do’
I am a Liberal member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, representing the electorate of Brindabella. I take my electorates views into the Assembly, I help keep the government accountable and try to make sure the best outcomes are achieved to create a city that is attractive to live and conduct business in.
Prior to being elected into the ACT Legislative Assembly I owned and operated my family’s construction business.
Why do you think thousands of people go into business?
I believe first and foremost that many people go in to business for themselves because they feel they have a product or service they can provide better than anyone else.
Operating your own business is also an extremely rewarding experience as is it can offer greater freedom around lifestyle and opportunities for financial reward. Running a business is an opportunity to shape a part of society that reflects your own vision, and can have a positive impact on your customers and the wider community.
Have you ever been in business and if so what was your biggest challenge, if not, why did you choose to get a job vs. business?
Before entering politics I had spent almost seven years working in my family’s construction business, specializing in sunrooms, patio covers and small extensions. We employ up to 20 people on varying arrangements, either full time or casual contracts. Like any business there are many day to day challenges. A trend that we and many other businesses are experiencing is the increased challenge of collecting payment for services rendered. Keeping on top of this is often time consuming but it is essential to maintain cash flow.
Another challenge is keeping up to date with changes to the rules and regulations that cover business and the sector you operate in. In recent years there have been some significant changes to the rules around staff, financial reporting at tax time and constant tweaking of planning rules in the ACT that added additional complexity to the operation of our business.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge in business?
The main reason I got involved in politics was as a result of poor communication between government and the business sector. Changes to rules and regulations are poorly explained to businesses, and government is all too often unaware of the impact and burden that the changes will impose.
In the ACT we have seen over the past decade an increase in the amount of regulation and also an increase in the complexity of meeting the reporting requirements to government.
Whilst it is important to have rules that set the parameters for industries to operate in, it is counterproductive for governments to continue to impose excessive restrictions on the business sector. Small businesses are the creators of jobs and prosperity in Australia and government should let business do what they do best with minimal interference.
How would you advise business owners balance working ‘on’ vs. ‘in’ their business?
Working ‘on’ vs. ‘in’ a business is always a balancing act. It is essential to spend time working on it but often it is so time consuming working in a business that the bigger picture is not reviewed. A good strategy is to diarise time for working on your business. If you treat it like an appointment it will happen. Starting small, perhaps just an hour or two a week, depending on the complexity of the business is a good idea. I found that leaving the office and turning the phone off was the only way to reflect on the bigger picture and assess what is working and what could be improved.
What advice would you have for potential or existing newcomers to business?
Develop a network of experts, people that are like minded or have experience in your industry. Issues will arise when you may need to get the perspective of someone that isn’t consumed by the day to day running of your business. Often the local Chamber of Commerce or an industry group will provide the opportunity to meet with other businesses and also give you access to workshops and training to improve your skills.
Speaking to your customers provides invaluable feedback. Customers will often provide an honest critique of what you do well and what they would like to see done better.
Many thanks to Andrew for taking up the offer to answer the ‘small’ interview project questions.