ShortPress Small Talk series: Job Capital


Small businesses in Australia continue to push the boundaries of our ‘glocal’ economy. The ShortPress Small Talk series profiles a diverse range of small business owners to find out what they do and what makes them tick.


Job Capital, founded in 2006, is a company that provides help with salary packaging, migration, and sponsorship and taxes. ShortPress sat down with the company’s founder and managing director, Jo Burston.

ShortPress: Describe your small business in less than 50 words.

Jo Burston: The business is full-service salary packaging, outsource payroll, and immigration firm.

SP: What inspires you as a small business owner?

JB: I’m inspired by entrepreneurs who are total ground breakers, and who really shift the world. I also enjoy watching … the success of women entrepreneurs in particular, and those that can combine what I call a profitable “smart heart”. They can actually run a very profitable company but still have some form of social and economic impact in their region or community.

SP: What does a typical day look like?

JB: I’ll usually be awake before the sun’s up. I’ll usually spend a bit of time thinking about my day. I’ll set my mind to how I want the day to be and who I want to be today, and [set] a specific goal. I’m very on the ground with the team. We huddle every single morning, we talk about our numbers, we talk about our priorities, and we talk about what we have left over from the day before. And without fail, I think about strategy every single day. Then I’ll usually go for a walk at some point in the afternoon … to move my body around before I come back to the office to wrap up.

SP: What have your biggest challenges been so far and how have you overcome them?

JB: Staying relevant – keeping relevant to the customer … and to the environment that surrounds us, which obviously is moving very, very fast. The challenges I think have always been people and culture, or unknown. We work in a very litigious space with migration and visas … so overcoming legislative changes when perhaps you have a change of government, that’s always been quite challenging.

SP: What about your biggest learnings?

JB: For me, it’s always been about hiring the very best of what you can afford. I guess in the early days I made some really bad hires … so now I hire very, very slowly. That’s always been a major challenge. Particularly if you’re hiring where you don’t have a lot of knowledge about what their skills are and what they need to do in the business.  

SP: If you could start over again, what would you do differently?

JB: In the early days, as well, you know technology was really expensive, and I made some big mistakes on how I chose developers. I didn’t know how to hire a really good developer – I didn’t know what I should be looking for.

SP: What advice would you give to budding small business owners?

JB: I would say my biggest advice is make sure your business story is really clear, make sure your personal story is clear, and know how to blend those two things together depending on the audience that you’re talking to. And try things out. You don’t necessarily have to go top-shelf to get a great result when there’s so many great apps that can automate and simplify and measure most parts of your business.

SP: Name the business leaders you look up to and why.

JB: Donna Guest. She’s the founder of Blue Illusion, which is a very, very successful high-street retailer. In a world where retail was really suffering, she’s absolutely growing the business, and also expanding overseas. But she also spends a lot of her time providing opportunities for women to work in the stores to upskill themselves. I really admire women like that and they inspire me because it’s not just all about the bottom line.

SP: Where to now for Job Capital?

JB: It’s a really tidy business and it really runs well, so I’m not going to disrupt something that works well. For the moment I don’t need to do anything but let it keep growing.