Jason Whitby, Gundy Handyman

Roma QLD | September 2018


RomaWhat is your business? How long has the business been operating?
I have a handyman business that’s been going over 2 years. It’s almost 3 years on and off now. About halfway through that, I started a franchise for transportable trade sheds. They approached me to be a reseller.

What were you doing before you made contact with Many Rivers? What was your previous work experience?
I’m a mechanic, diesel fitter by trade and then went out and started in oil and gas, realised I could make more money there. I did that for 12 years and worked my way up to be a rig manager and get qualified. I was made redundant so started the handyman business on my 2 weeks off and was still doing it on the side when my old employer offered me the same position again. When I was made redundant a second time, I started the business full time. It’s been over 2 years and I haven’t had to look for any work ever since.

Who referred you to Many Rivers? When?
When I was made redundant I went to Centrelink for the first time in 15 years and then had to go to an employment agency where I told them I was starting a business. They put me onto Colin.

Why did you want to go into business?
I’ve always been hands on and my father was always teaching me things. It was actually one of my mates who suggested it, saying I could do this on the side and I thought it was a good idea to eventually get out of oil and gas and top up the funds a little bit. It’s sort of evolved from there.

What services did you receive from Many Rivers? How did it help?
Colin helped me when I first started. I was doing everything by paper, printing out invoices and by the end of 6 months I had a pile of receipts that took me hours and hours to go through. He introduced me to Xero and this will be the first financial year that I won’t have to do anything on paper.

After a while, the business grew and I had to register for GST. That process was a bit daunting but Colin helped me through that. We went through the business plan as well which is something I would never have thought of. It wasn’t huge but it’s good to have if I need it. He had a fair few tips and ideas for the business to get going which was really helpful.

What did you find the most useful about the assistance from Many Rivers?
The biggest help was getting my books and invoices in line. It was the biggest problem I had from the start. I was more interested in getting out and getting the work done rather than getting home to do the paperwork. Colin gave me a lot of recordkeeping programs and we worked out what worked best for me. Even the other day he mentioned another program that was free. After all this time, he’s still looking out for me.

When I started the second business for the sheds, the support he gave me – going over the contracts, sourcing business lawyers and setting up 3-way conversations with the lawyers who explained what was in the contracts – that was really good. He approached a couple of the other resellers as well to find out what the business was and did a bit of research for me. We both came to the conclusion that it would be a good way to top up the handyman business and so he was a big help for that.

I definitely wouldn’t be where I’m at without Colin helping me along. I would have stumbled and wouldn’t have gotten here as easily.

Do you have any current employees? If so, how many employees? Are they full time or part-time?
No but I’ve got a mate a Mungindi who works for me and I work for him. He’s a concreter so we sole trade together and call each other for jobs when we need it.

What has been the biggest challenge to date?
From the start the biggest thing was recordkeeping and doing the books. Starting a business has been a challenge as well because I’ve never done it before. I always just worked for a wage.

After that, it’s probably been organising jobs and making sure I’m picking the right customers. I have one person who keeps calling me up but has no money so I can’t take those jobs because then I’ll end up broke. I have to be nice enough but need to move along and keep going. Some busy periods can get challenging as well, trying to organise the jobs and keep everyone happy.

What has been the biggest success to date?
When I first started the handyman business I didn’t know what to expect but to come to a point after 2 years or so and have jobs just coming in, not to have to go out looking for work… I guess that’s been the biggest success. I’ve picked up a few big maintenance companies as well.

What has been the biggest change for you/your family since you started your business?
|Having the flexibility and not having to be at the job at a certain time. The flexibility to take the kids to school or start a job when I need. Any work can be challenging but the biggest difference is just being my own boss and the difference in opportunities compared to working for someone.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I’d like to be a little more active with the sheds business and build that up, and just to increase our current income. It’s enough to survive and get going but I’d like to have just that little bit extra to put more saving away.

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