What you need to consider before taking the plunge!

Research & Development (R&D)

Tell us about your business?

dta WORLDWIDE is a performance development consultancy which has been around for 30 years.  However, I bought the company in 2008, just before the financial crisis struck.  Not the best timing – although I am here to tell the tale! We specialise in providing training & development to business to enable improved outcomes.  Our main areas of expertise are sales, leadership and team effectiveness.

Why did you start up your business?
I had been in the corporate world in the UK & Australia for many years and felt that I could add something and make a better lifestyle for myself and family.  I knew I was likely to earn more and have more ‘freedom’ as a self employed person.

What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting your business?
I first started my business in the UK as a franchisee of dta.  There were two main hurdles then.  One was having lived in Australia for the preceding three and a half years, my network had diminished somewhat.  That meant much it took much longer to get into clients and starting to generate revenue.  The second hurdle was a result of the first – having no income!

What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting their own business?
The best tip I can give is that you really need to think seriously about how long it will take for you to generate a decent income to cover your business and personal financial needs.  Many whom I have talked to about setting up on their own always underestimate the speed with which and the difficulties in generating revenue.  When I started dta in the UK, I had money saved up which I had earned in the previous few years.  This was enough to keep us going personally whilst the overheads in the business were kept to an absolute minimum.

The second best tip would be to focus on the future and that you need a positive mindset.  When things don’t work out, keep at it.  If you are easily stressed, maybe running your own business isn’t for you.  You need positivity, belief in your ability to succeed and knowledge that with persistence and commitment you will create revenue.

What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?
Because I felt that I could earn more doing what I enjoyed and was good at.  Being in the corporate world can be cosy.  I had a company car, pension, lots of holidays etc. Yet, I knew that the work I was doing was generating a decent profit for the companies I worked in although I didn’t get a share of that.

How did your family and friends react?
My wife in particular was very supportive and almost 10 years on remains so.  I think that is a vital part of the recipe.  You need to have support and shared belief that you will succeed.  Friends were supportive and encouraged me.  The family factor to my mind is most important though.

How has your life changed?

I take fewer holidays – although I can take them when I want for as long as I want (within reason).

I have been able to be with my three sons throughout most of their lives and see them grow.  When I worked in companies as an employee, I was away on business a lot, missed school functions and wasn’t at home to see them and be there for them.  In my own business I made a point of changing that whenever I could.  Now I have three teenage sons with whom I have a great relationship because I worked from home, saw them, helped them and hopefully showed them I was interested in them.

I have more focus on finance – not necessarily good at it – but I do have a greater focus and understanding.

I enjoy not having the routine that corporate 9 – 5 brings.  It gives more variety and interest to life.

What is the vision for your business going forward?
The vision is to grow a network of partners who can make use of the intellectual property (IP) that the business has.  I would like to continue working in the business for at least another 10 years and develop the IP into a more accessible – digital format.

What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your start-up?

I think I have covered that to a degree in a previous answer.  However, the over – riding thing that has helped me is the total belief that I can make a success.  Not necessarily masses of money – just to be a success at what I do, to have a good lifestyle and enjoy!  Being positive is a lot more productive than seeing the negative in any given business challenge.

When you lose a piece of business – move on – don’t dwell on the lack of success.  Know that if you focus on the next piece of business and win that, it doesn’t matter about the business you were not successful in winning.

Read some books on self development – people like Seth Godin and his book ‘The Dip’ are great easy reads which will encourage you to keep going.  People like Bob Procter and his work on positive thinking.

Above all, focus on what you know will work and keep at it.  Those people who give up too early are usually the ones who didn’t spend long enough considering if going on your own was the right thing in the first place.

Malcolm Dawes

Managing Director


0411 232 962

Malcolm Dawes

Managing Director at

Owner and managing Director of dta Worldwide. Married with three teenage sons. I have worked in the UK, Australia, US and Asia in sales, management & training. The company has been around for 30 years and I have been both a client and a franchisee of dta until I bought the business in 2008. We specialise in Leadership, Sales and Team development. In particular helping people to be more effective when interacting with each other, whether clients, colleagues or other stakeholders.

Comments (2)
Todd Dewey

Todd Dewey, Consultant at Oakton

Great tips Malcolm - this provides a really sounds framework for a successful work life balance - inspirational stuff.

Malcolm Dawes

Malcolm Dawes, Managing Director at

Thanks Todd - I appreciate the feedback.