The Australian Small Business Blog

The Australian Small Business Blog

This Blog has been providing a Forum where Australian Small Business Owners can exchange Ideas old & new and get Advice from experts in Australia on how to Improve their Businesses through better Business Management, Planning & Strategy, Business Systems and Marketing Strategy and Systems for over 10 years. They will also learn about the Small Business Best Practice Benchmarks that are critical for their success. Our Ultimate Objective is to help Australian Small Business Owners take their Business to the Next Level and achieve their Goals whatever they may be.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Start-Ups: Are You Serious?

by Dr Greg Chapman

As a business coach I get approached by lots of people who are thinking of starting a business, or who have just started. There is one thing in common with all start-ups: they either don’t have much money, or don’t want to spend any. This is understandable. They don’t know whether the business will actually work, and how much time and resources they will devote to it.

So the start-up tries to save money by printing business cards on their home inkjet printer using pre-perforated cards from Office-works. They have a hotmail email account, or maybe their home Bigpond account- only marginally better. Their only phone number is either a mobile, or a home phone number that goes to an answering machine when they are not there. The address is a home address or a PO Box.

All these cost saving attempts scream AMATEUR!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Don't be a Price Taker

by Dr Greg Chapman

Possibly the biggest opportunity I see with small business clients I have helped over the years is to increase their prices. It is also the one with which most struggle so they become price takers. Increasing your prices is a great strategy as in most cases, the extra revenue goes straight through to the bottom line. A 10% increase in prices can double your net profit…. as long as you don’t lose customers. That’s the challenge and fear. For this reason, my second book, to be released in July will be on how to increase your prices. It is called:

Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales

Friday, November 16, 2018

Mastering the Strategy of Failure

by Dr Greg Chapman

There is a saying: “If you owe the bank $100,000, you are in trouble but if you owe the bank $100,000,000, the bank is in trouble”

In this time of economic turmoil, the same goes in business. If you are a small business that employs, say five people, and you lay off one, ie 20% of your workforce, apart for the unfortunate person involved, no one takes notice. If you however employ 5000 people and you need to lay off 20% of your workforce to stay viable, and they belong to a union who funds the government’s re-election campaign, one of two things will happen. If you play the game, you get a bailout. If not, you are vilified in the media.

So the obvious choice, particularly for the largest businesses is to take the money. That works for a while. However, taking the money means that you don’t have to take the hard decisions necessary to have a sustainable business. Almost certainly, one bailout leads to another, where each time the stakes are higher. The management soon realises, they can afford to take risks because they know the government can’t afford to let them fail.

Just look at the auto-manufacturers. Each job is subsidised to the tune of $300,000. Apart from the sheer volume of jobs, why would the government subsidise so many unprofitable jobs? Well if your electoral fund providers would lose their ability to fund your next campaign if the businesses failed, you have to keep paying subsidies, albeit with other people’s money.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Best Salesperson in Your Business

by Dr Greg Chapman

A common myth in which many small business owners believe is that all they need to do is find a great salesperson to be successful. They already know how to make great widgets, and they are really good at providing their service to their clients, but if they just had someone who is good at door-to-door to bring in new customers, their business would be brilliant!

The problem is to find great salespeople. On average, most sales people are average. By definition, half are below average! You can, of course train a new sales person, but if you are not great at sales, it will be the blind leading the blind.

You may find a great salesperson – they certainly exist. A great salesperson may be good at selling lots of things, but the thing they are best at selling is themselves. They know their value. They know the value of the business they generate.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

How to Get the Best Marketing Advice for Free

by Dr Greg Chapman

Is there an elephant in your industry? There is usually at least one. They spend $100,000’s on branding, customer surveys, demographic analysis and focus groups. They spend even more on campaign analysis, testing and measuring to work out what works and what doesn’t. If you are a small guy, how can you compete with that?

Well you can. Just become a flea on the elephants back. That is what “Crazy John” Ilhan did. In retail, probably the most costly decision is your location. Go for a low cost location, and you get no traffic. If you go for a high cost location, and it is the wrong sort of traffic, you go out of business. Rather than spending a lot of money on geo-demographic surveys to identify customer shifts, he waited for Telstra or Optus to open a store in a new expanding area, and then open a store opposite and offered every passer-by lower prices.

By being a flea on the elephant’s back, he let the elephant take him to the fertile feeding locations they had spent large sums identifying.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Sales for People who hate Selling

by Dr Greg Chapman

Are you someone who could sell ice to Eskimos? Not everyone is a natural salesperson, but in business, nothing happens until a sale is made. So what do you do if you hate selling, or you can’t find staff to sell for you?

You can create a marketing strategy that does not rely on strong sales skills. Imagine someone just comes into your business and when you ask: “How can I help you?”, they say: “I want to buy that and here is my money.”Does that sound too good to be true? Well it happens all the time. Look what happens when you go into McDonalds. The person just says: “May I take your order please?” They don’t spend time explaining why their burgers are superior to everyone else’s or that their prices are the best. They don’t have to, because this is all done by the marketing that the buyer is exposed to prior to entering the store- and when they enter, they will buy.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Growing Your Business by Accident

by Dr Greg Chapman

All businesses go through predictable changes throughout their lifecycle. From being a solo-preneur to having 20 or more people in the business. At each stage there is a step change in the way the business needs to be managed, and until these changes are made, growth will be difficult. Many businesses have stopped growing and have deliberately shrunk because the owners did not know how to make these changes and how to handle the resulting stress. Unable to cope, they have retreated to the comfort zone that existed in the time when their business was smaller and easier to manage.

Often growth is accidental, not planned, and the owner starts employing many others to get the work done without having in place the structure to manage them. They continue to manage their business in the same way they always have, but find that the old ways don’t work in the larger organisation, and may even be counterproductive. It is like driving from your home to participate in Formula 1 racing, but continuing to drive your old sedan on the racing track, rather than changing the vehicle for the new conditions.

When considering the Lifecycle of a business the following milestone stages can be identified.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Are you a victim of identity spam?

by Dr Greg Chapman

I have noticed on a couple of my older, personal email addresses that I was getting “Mail Delivery Failure” emails for mail I did not send to people I did not know. I was concerned that my computer was being hijacked and asked my computer guru Andrew what was happening.

Here I share his response as others may also be affected:

When I run some tests ( on the domains you mentioned I see the following:

Your domain does not have an SPF record. This means that spammers can easily send out E-mail that looks like it came from your domain, which can make your domain look bad (if the recipient thinks you really sent it), and can cost you money (when people complain to you, rather than the spammer). You may want to add an SPF record ASAP, as 01 Oct 2004 was the target date for domains to have SPF records in place (Hotmail, for example, started checking SPF records on 01 Oct 2004).

Friday, November 02, 2018

How Average are Your Salespeople?

by Dr Greg Chapman

On average, most salespeople are average. How surprising is that?

I often hear business owners complaining that their sales staff aren’t paying their way. They can’t produce the same the results as the owner. On one level this is not surprising, as the owner has the greatest incentive, with the profits going to them.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Competing with Your Business Owner Customers

by Dr Greg Chapman

Let’s say your business was to supply landscaping materials to landscapers and then you decided to get in the landscaping business yourself as a side business. What would your landscaper customers think?

For materials may be as much as a third of the cost of a job. So when they see their supplier competing with them, they will believe that they will have a significant cost advantage over them. They would also ask: “Why should I be giving money to a competitor to take business away from me?”

Which is why, most businesses in this situation go out of their way not to compete with their customers, even accidentally, as can happen sometimes. For example, distributors will in most cases refer retail sales to their retail resellers, but sometimes they may end up supplying a retail customer who has had a poor retail experience.

However recently, Google decided to compete with some of its customers, and they are not happy! Fairfax and News, owners of Domain and pay Google millions of dollars for keywords to send searchers to their websites. Now Google wants to provide listings of real estate directly on google maps for free. This will directly undercut the businesses of two of its largest advertisers. Another issue will be poor quality control from this free service on the accuracy of these free listings with out of date information appearing as well as allowing scammers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

When to hire a new employee?

by Dr Greg Chapman

As a business grows, owners are always concerned about how they will know it is the right time to bring in a new employee.

There is a temptation for the owner to do things they could pay someone else to do for as long as possible as they are trying to save money. So how do you know when to bring additional staff into the business, even on a part time basis?

One reason owners hesitate to increase their staff numbers is that they are unsure if it will be sustainable. That is, they may not be able to continue to afford to pay the additional person due to variations in their sales. What if the current busy period ends?

If the owner fears that their current sales may not last, or they just don’t feel in control, they must make the building of marketing systems and the development of their sales pipeline a priority.

With a well performing marketing system and an effective sales pipeline, the owner will know where their next sales will come from and will be able to hire with confidence. For owners in this situation, they can hire with confidence.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Are there Parasites eating your Profit?

by Dr Greg Chapman

Many hard working business owners find that in spite of an apparently healthy turnover, at the end of the month, there is little left over to pay themselves. The sales have been ok, their costs have not risen appreciably. What is eating their profits?

Even though sales may have been healthy, there are a number of factors that can be holes under the water line of your Profit Statement – invisible to the naked eye.

Firstly, are there hidden cross subsidies in your business?

This happens where you have a marginal or even unprofitable product or service being propped up by more profitable services. Every sale of the marginally profitable products suck gross profit from the healthy ones. These products are like parasites hidden inside your business’ body feeding off your body’s nutrients. As you increase the sales of these products, the more damage they do to your business.

The solution is to undertake a proper analysis of your profit structure so that the parasitic products are revealed, and appropriate treatment can be provided.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ad of the Month – A Reminder

by Dr Greg Chapman

Every once in a while it’s worth while to go back to the basics for an advertiser. They have established a brand, and everyone is used to and expects ads for the products they know and like, but it’s also a good thing to go behind the product.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Your Marketing’s Weakest Link

by Dr Greg Chapman

Definition: Marketing (noun): Finding and Attracting people who want to buy what you have to sell for the price you want to charge. Marketing is not a single event, it’s a sequence. The first step is the Finding and Attracting, but there is a qualifier. The right kind of people.

So firstly, do you have lots of enquiries? No? Then getting more might be your priority. Yes? But are they difficult to convert to sales? If so, this could be either due to them not being the right kind of enquiries, or it could be that you aren’t handling them well. If they are the wrong kind of enquiries, it means that you are wasting a lot of your marketing time and money on attracting unqualified people. More...

May You Business Be - As You Plan It!

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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

An Upsell too far? Do you want vitamins with that?

by Dr Greg Chapman

A joint venture between Blackmores and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to recommend ‘companion range’ dietary supplements to patients who were purchasing common prescription medicines has been axed. The idea was the pharmacist should recommend relevant supplements that might be useful for patients with particular conditions suggested by the prescribed medicine.

Clearly if a pharmacist suggests a particular supplement with the medication, this would be considered compelling to many purchasers due to the trust people place in the professionalism of the pharmacist. Is it an abuse of their position of trust?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

When Branding Backfires

by Dr Greg Chapman

Businesses work hard to create a brand and connect to their target market, but this can sometimes backfire on the business. A perfect example of this was the riots in Britain a few years back.

A number of stores, chose as their branding, Gangster Chic. One group particularly hit hard during the riots was the JD Sports Chain. One retail expert said:

"It has clearly positioned itself as a purveyor of very aspirational product amongst the UK's youth. Curry’s and Comet [both electrical/computer goods stores] got raided because they sell high-value products. But JD was very clearly in their minds as [the place] where they'd get the stuff they aspired to. JD has almost been a victim of its own success. It worked hard to appeal to the youth market and, when the country tipped into lawlessness, it still appealed to that market."

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Whining Australian Retailers – Thank Goodness for Amazon

by Dr Greg Chapman

I wanted to buy a gift for a client, a book I thought he would find of value. I could have ordered via Amazon, but it was not a US book, and I knew it was readily available here, as I had purchased it locally myself.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The Secret of Business Success

by Dr Greg Chapman

As business owners, we are continually bombarded with unbelievable promises of get rich quick schemes. It seems, every day someone has discovered some amazing secret formula that they are willing to share with you, which will make you millions, for just $99.95…plus tax, of course.

You know, if I had a secret formula on how to make millions, I wouldn’t be selling it for $99.95 (many of these schemes just show you how to sell to others what you just bought!)

Everyone is looking for a success formula— a ‘Silver Bullet’. Maybe a recipe that you can follow, like the ones you see in books by TV chefs. Isn’t it funny that when you follow the recipe, the result never looks quite like the picture in the book?

Why don’t these recipe books work for most people? The problem is usually not with the recipe. It is that each step in the recipe is actually several steps which assume a certain level of skill. It’s like giving someone who has never driven a car, a map on how to get from one side of the country to the other. There is nothing wrong with the directions, but they do assume you know how to drive a car.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Selling a Business

by Dr Greg Chapman

Selling a business is much different to selling a property, a car, real estate or anything for that matter. The process can be relatively simple and seem easy though this is where most people go wrong.

Business Brokers charge fees upwards of 5% and have been known to charge 5k plus in initial marketing. This is where most small business owners decide to take on the role of selling a business by themselves.

Two quick facts :

1) Up to 80% of the Private businesses advertised NEVER SELL

2) Of the small number that do sell, 1% actually sell for the asking price

This is not a good way to finish up after many years of hard work put into the business.
Below I cover some points on how you can drastically increase your chance of a sale if you want to have a try at selling the business yourself.

The first thing you will do after you have decided to sell your business is research similar businesses to try put a price on yours. Each business is different and really can't be valued the same way as property or a car by just looking online and guessing. I strongly recommend having a proper business valuation of your business. This will help you justify your asking price, give you a true value of your business and not just an opinion based on your own research.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Managing a Star Employee with an Attitude

by Dr Greg Chapman

In any business there are 4 types of employees. If you understand these types and their key attributes, how you manage them becomes much easier. The first attribute is the person’s Ability. How capable are they in doing their job? They may have low ability, or be highly capable, with their ability (good or bad) recognised by others in your business. The second attribute is their Attitude. This may vary from poor, just there for the pay cheque, to enthusiastic and willing to do whatever the job requires to make your business a success. When we combine these attributes, we get a clearer picture of the employee and the management strategy for them. For those with a poor attitude and low ability, the solution is simple. These individuals appear unwilling to improve and they constantly disrupt the business causing problems for others to fix. If they are not removed from the business, the people who do the fixing will leave. The second group are those who have great ability and a great attitude. These are your Superstars. They are ambassadors for your business and they should be honoured, nurtured and rewarded.


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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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