10 Things I wish I’d known when I started my own business – interview with Jackie Maxted

With over 13 years of experience in digital media Jackie Maxted become a highly visible innovator in the Australian beauty industry. Jackie has a talent in building active digital communities with her 2 sister websites www.beautydirectory.com.au for beauty journalists and www.beautyheaven.com.au for consumers.

Jackie established annual beautydirectory’s Star Awards in 2003, which celebrate beauty journalism and PR. She introduced regular seminars for the beauty industry on online developments and she also acts as a consultant to the industry on issues specific to growth in the digital domain.


Today Jackie shared with me 10 things she wishes she’d known when she started her own business.

1 The people you employ are just as important (and sometimes more important) as (than?)  you.  As the business grows and you bring people in, choose those who have skills which you don’t, who challenge rather than conform, who you like and whose values you admire.

2 Understand your strengths and weaknesses (ask someone who will give honest feedback if you don’t already know). Knowing where you excel will give you an idea as to where the business could be vulnerable.

An understanding of a profit & loss account (P&L), balance sheet and basic accounting practices could save your business a lot of time and money.  If I had my time again I would have done a basic bookkeeping and accounting course right at the start.  If this isn’t possible, have the services of a really good accountant to hand!

It’s exciting to have an idea and to turn that idea into a business – but don’t get carried away with the product concept, and the details about it until you’ve also done some hard-nosed calculations on the profitability.  It’s easy to have a good idea, but have you asked yourself the difficult questions about what it might take to turn that into reality?

Expect the life of a new business owner to be tough.  I didn’t always get paid, our services were rejected over and over again by businesses who we believed needed us, loyal and trusted employees who mean a lot to you (and to the business) will move on to new jobs – that’s life, but it can hurt!


Learn to recognise the need for new practices as the business grows.  When things go wrong and mistakes happen, pointing fingers and assigning blame won’t help – understanding why it happened and changing the way the business functions with new systems or structures will.

Being challenged by your clients and staff will present a great opportunity for personal development. Be prepared to listen to constructive feedback about your management skills and try to avoid taking offence – rather, listen, consider whether comments are fair and be prepared to change.

Business owners may think that they need to be involved in everything simply because they have been there since the start and know the history. It’s a reassuring idea because it’s lovely to feel important, but the reality is that having great people in your team means that you can step out, leaving them to do their jobs.   Get involved when you know your expertise or decision making is needed and when it’s asked for.

Invest in people to grow your business.  There were times I was stuck wondering what to do next and one of the best decisions I made was to find someone outside the business who worked closely alongside me as a consultant and advisor.  Choose someone who you like and respect, who understands you but who has a different approach based on their career.

10  Don’t panic – rather, enjoy the ride!  In the early days I didn’t always sleep well because I was worrying about how the business was doing and what to do next.   Now, I know that there will be times that are rough with a steady stream of challenges and at other times it will be a breeze and I’ll be smiling on my way to work.  I take holidays, I take time out for lunches, and definitely like to have a laugh with everyone on Friday afternoons over a glass of wine.   If you don’t do these things, for me there’s no point in striving to create a successful business.

Jackie Maxted is a Managing Director of Directories Group Pty Ltd, digital publisher of beautydirectory.com.au (1999) and beautyheaven.com.au (2005).

Outside of the office, Jackie is a mother of four, a very part-time aspiring actress and can’t live without Iyengar Yoga.