Business Spotlight My Business Resource Centre
Paul and Sisse Newton
Paul and Sisse Newton took a bigger risk than most when they started their rubbish removal service 1300ClearOut in 2007. They packed up their kids and their cosy life in England to relocate to the Gold Coast, where they had no friends, no family and just four years to prove their business idea was viable or they’d be sent back to the UK.
In July 2009, they won the Gold Coast Emerging Business Award.
Above: Sisse and Paul Newton
While the recognition earned by award has been satisfying for Paul and Sisse, Paul remains most proud of his family’s achievement to relocate to a foreign country and make a real go of it.
“Without a doubt I’m most proud of my family,” Paul said.
“Coming to Australia has been our biggest achievement. Two and a half years ago I plucked us out of our cosy little life in England, sold every worldly possession and moved us all to the other side of the world. My wife and children had never even visited Australia and I’m so proud that they stuck by me and made it work,” he said.
“Starting a new business is tricky at the best of times and combining that with moving to a new country where we had no relatives, no friends and two young children was quite a test.
“We also had the added pressure from the Australian immigration department who gave us four years to employ full time staff and hit certain targets in order to stay.
“If we’d failed in the business we would’ve literally had to pack our bags and head back to the UK. Failure was not an option for us! We were granted our permanent residency in July 2009, which is a great relief for us all,” he said.
Paul and Sisse now employ six staff, with a mixture of full-time and casual employees to cope with fluctuation in demand.
The decision to go it alone
Paul spent 15 years self-employed in the mail order sector before deciding he needed a change. He researched a variety of industries in Australia, looking to identify a gap that he could capitalise on.
“I found that the rubbish removal industry is an area that was lacking in a number of ways. I thought it was an industry that was crying out for a professional service where customers get an up front price and the work in carried out by uniformed, courteous staff,” Paul said.
Even at the best of times, starting a new business can be a daunting prospect. Starting up in a new country is an especially formidable task.
“The main challenge was that we were also relocating our life at the same time. From a business point of view, we had the added challenge of not knowing the Australian ways of doing things, not knowing the market, suppliers and red tape,” Paul said.
“We used a large number of organisations for advice simply because everything was new to us,” he said.
“We used the government small business advisory centres to get an overview of what we had to do. We took on the services of a local marketing company for the first six months and found a local chartered accountant to make sure we set up the right business structure from the start.
“We also used a local MYOB advisor in Brisbane called Anise Consulting who helped us to become competent using MYOB and has also been helpful in marketing the business,” he said.
When Paul and Sisse launched 1300ClearOut, they had no time to waste.
“We had to get the business up and running quickly in order to meet our visa requirements. For this reason we spent a large part of our budget on promotion,” Paul said.
“We advertise with Yellow Pages and in 10 local newspapers in Brisbane. We also use Google online advertising and monthly leaflet drops.”
But it’s the website that Paul considers his most effective marketing tool.
“We try to encourage customers to look at our web site www.1300ClearOut.com.au. We find the best quality leads from our website primarily because our service and price is thoroughly explained on the website, and customers know exactly what to expect when we turn up,” he said.
1300ClearOut has also tapped into video sharing site YouTube, with a short clip about their business - you can check it out at the bottom of this article.
Variety is the spice of life
Paul enjoys the diverse challenges that come with running your own business.
“When you run your own business every day is different, which I find stimulating. For me, running my own business is an ultimate challenge where you’re well rewarded if you make the right decisions, and can face dire situations if you make the wrong decision,” Paul said.
“Delegation is probably my biggest challenge. I like to be involved in all parts of the business, which is simply not possible as the business grows. Luckily Sisse is aware of this trait and handles most of the staffing,” he said.
Paul and Sisse have very distinct roles within the business, and Paul sees their complementary skills as key to the success of the business.
“Sisse and I complement each other at work. I tend to come up with a thousand new ideas every day and she brings me down to earth,” he said.
“We do have different jobs. I tend to concentrate with the marketing and handle the larger enquiries, whereas Sisse is in charge of telemarketing and liasing with the drivers.”
Of course, any partnership has its challenges – especially when those partners live and work together.
“When we first started working together 15 years ago, you could say that there was quite a steep learning curve. Sometimes we can be accused of talking about work around the dinner table – but the kids usually put an end to that pretty quick,” Paul said.
“I’d say the main downside is that in the bad times you're both affected by the business. If your partner has a job outside the business, at least you have one guaranteed income to cover you for the odd bad month or two.
“On the positive side, you always know that your partner has your best interests at heart with no ulterior motive. Personally I would only consider going into business with your spouse as opposed to a business partner. Business partnerships never seem to end up happy, from what I have seen,” he said.
And Paul has this advice for other husband/wife/partner teams:
“When you do have a big problem at work, it’s inevitable that you talk about it outside work hours. A few beers and a glass of wine usually help!” he said.
“Talk about any issues you may have as they come up and try to respect your partner’s/spouse’s opinions even though they may be different from yours.
“Also, I’d try to pay your spouse/partner a wage that is the going rate for the work he/she is doing – it’s not always possible but from my experience it helps.”
Family holidays are another hurdle for family businesses, and Paul and Sisse have come up with a creative solution to free themselves up from the business.
“Holidays are always a problem. We try to train one staff member with all the important tasks that have to be done and pay a bonus while we are away on holiday. This has worked well for us so far. Of course you are always at the end of a phone!” Paul said.
1300ClearOut recently won the Gold Coast Emerging Business Award and Paul has noticed the benefits have been felt both within his business and externally.
“The recognition is very well received by my family and staff, and we’re looking forward to having a ball at the awards night in November,” he said.
“The award has also helped us focus on expanding the business and has put us in touch with some businesses that may be able to help with this.”
60 seconds with Paul Newton, 1300ClearOut
If you could have your time over, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
I would’ve gone into business as soon as I left university and not listened to all the advice about getting some work experience before going into business.
What’s the one thing you’d never change?
Apart from marrying my wife off course – I’d say that you should always listen to advice from family. You may not want to hear what they have to say, but they always have your best interests at heart.
Where do you see yourselves in 5, 10 years and beyond?
In five years, still growing the business. In 10 years – selling the business. Beyond – who knows!