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.

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.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Married to the Business - Honey I Love You, but our Business Sucks!

by Dr Greg Chapman

"As I began 'browsing'. I became so engrossed; a couple of hours later I felt as though you knew me and my problems personally. The book is enlightening, informative and very easy to read. The style of the book is very clear and draws the honest reader in. The central characters are very engaging. They are anyone and everyone in business. I believe the true value to couples reading your book is how to keep the monster they have created growing and fed!

Your book has given me the understanding and motivation to keep going towards our dream and get help before the business swallows everything we have worked for. Thank you!

Every business should be given a copy of your book before they start up and it make mandatory that they re-read it periodically before reporting to their advisor." Yvonne Rutherford - RD Foundations

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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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Leveraged Marketing – How much are you missing?

by Dr Greg Chapman

Do you have several marketing campaigns running simultaneously? Perhaps you run an Adwords campaign, have a joint venture with another business and an ad in the local paper. All quite independent campaigns you might think, that bring in a regular supply of enquiries.

Adwords sends leads to your website- possibly your most important piece of marketing collateral. Your JV partner emails you whenever they want to refer you to someone, and you then give them a call. Your ad in the paper encourages readers to call you.

If you were to link these campaigns, this this would enable you to leverage your marketing investment by connecting all your marketing collateral, resulting in both increased enquiries and sales. How might that look?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How Big are Small Businesses?

by Dr Greg Chapman

The official Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) definition of a small business is one with less than 20 employees which, according to their latest data, make up 96% of all businesses. Together they contribute 35% to industry GDP, so they are important.

Another way of looking at business size is by turnover. The ABS found that 94% of businesses turned over less than $2 million and 63% earned less than $200,000. While both turnover and the number of employees are an important way of defining business size, they really don’t give much insight into how they are run.

As a business grows in size, its sophistication must also increase if it is to survive. That means better management, better systems and better reporting because the owners are unable to be everywhere and watch everything. There will be organisational changes as well. At some point an operations supervisor will be appointed so the owners can focus on growing the business, but I would still regard such a business as being small.

The next stage is the appointment of managers for key business areas. This is the real point where a business moves from small to medium size. However, it is not just the organisation structure that makes the difference between a small and medium sized business, it is the way they operate. Not only is there more delegated responsibility, but the owners share the decision making with their management team, although the owners may still reserve the right to set the vision.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Director’s Risks on a Small Business Board

by Dr Greg Chapman

An interesting article has been published on the liability of directors based on the recent court decision on Centro.

Many small business owners will consider that these types of rules do not apply to them, but in fact they do. In this case, the non-executive directors relied, at least in part, on the results of an external audit by a highly reputable external accounting firm, that their company was not insolvent. Clearly, for a large company which is likely to consist of multiple entities, this can be extremely complex to assess, and hence the need to resort to a top tier accounting firm to pick through the structures and accounts.

Even though you may argue that the non-executives did all that could reasonably be expected to ensure solvency, the courts disagreed.

While these complexities don’t exist for most small businesses, there can still be big risks where there are multiple partners, some of whom may not be as active as others, or who might be even silent partners. All directors are equally liable; in legal jargon, jointly and severally.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Couples in Business - Are You Arthur or Martha?

by Dr Greg Chapman

Small business owners are usually chief cooks and bottle washers. They have to be capable of doing everything while they are watching everything. It is a little easier if you have a partner in business to watch your back, but if you are in a personal relationship with your partner, roles can easily become blurred. The question is, if you are in business with your personal partner, are you Arthur or Martha?

If it is true opposites attract, couples in business have an advantage. Roles in any business are crucially important. Too often in business you see situations where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, or alternatively, there are two left hands and no right hands, and a lot of balls get dropped. However, for couples in business, despite the distractions, they tend to take on complementary roles, ones the partners prefer naturally.

These preferred roles have little to do with gender stereotypes. It may be that they are either extroverts or thinkers, risk takers or cautious, and big picture people or implementers. All roles are important and must exist in every business to a greater or lesser degree. While these differences occur in all partnerships, for couples in business, there is one other type of division that occurs far more often than in other partnerships – the technical vs the business focus.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Benchmarking Franchisee Performance: Comparing Apples and Oranges

by Dr Greg Chapman

Even though comparing the performance of your franchisees can be a minefield, it is still best practice to do so. How else do you know which franchisees are leading the way, and which need further support? What better way to discover the new ideas that have proved to work and should be spread across the whole franchise?

However, comparisons between franchisees can be like comparing apples with oranges.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Does Your business suffer from Growing Pains?

by Dr Greg Chapman

Busier than a one armed wallpaper hanger? Don’t have time to scratch yourself? Have a waiting list for new clients? Has previous exponential growth rate has slowed to a crawl? If so, then it’s likely your business is experiencing growing pains.

Chances are you are working longer hours than any of your staff, and are the last to get paid. Your business is a victim of its own success.

If you do take any time off, when your return, you wish you had never left. It’s as if nothing happened at all when you were absent. Sure, work was done, but nothing progressed, and your inbox is full of unanswered enquiries. Your business has become its own version of groundhog’s day. While it feels like a trap, it’s also an opportunity.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Accountants Are You a Business Advisor or Bean Counter?

by Dr Greg Chapman

[This article was originally published in National Accountant Magazine]

Almost every small business owner has an accountant but how many actually use their accountant as the primary source of (non-tax) business advice? When an owner first starts their business, they are usually very dependent on their accountant for advice. They are seen as knowledgeable, independent – someone they can trust. They help them set-up the business, suggest the right structure and who can help them do the many things a new business owner must do.

However, this dependence does not last.

Their advice is often not sought as the business grows and becomes more complex. There is, of course, much more an accountant can do to advise their clients, but they seem unable to convince them that they are the right person to provide them the answers they seek. The owners baulk at the accountant’s hourly charges and the lack of clarity in their offer of advice. In the end, they decide to use their accountants just for tax, as it is clear that there is no other group that is as knowledgeable on tax, but they seek alternatives whose value proposition is clearer for other business advice.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Ad of the Month – Another Winner UPDATED

by Dr Greg Chapman

About a year ago I posted an Ad of the Month - Winner . It was about an advertiser associating itself with a winner with the implication that if you bought their product, you would be one too. The ad in question was with Roger Federer. This time, the ad is with Serena Williams. What a contrast.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Extra Dollar More

by Dr Greg Chapman

"Upselling", or the "add-on sale", is an opportunity open to every business, yet most business owners and their staff don't ask for the extra purchase.

Fact is, once the customer has made the decision to buy from you, they have entered into a relationship of trust. And once the initial buying decision, or trust in you, is made, then they will more readily say yes to an additional offer. So why not make it?

In this podcast I reveal how to get that extra dollar more for zero cost.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Price Comparison Websites

by Dr Greg Chapman

To list, or not to list, that is the question, as Hamlet probably never asked. There are numerous websites now offering customers the ability to get multiple quotes for a service. This is great for the customer because they are able to find the best service at the lowest cost in a side-by-side comparison- but is it the right thing for your business?

The attraction for businesses listing on such sites, if they have been properly promoted, is that it will be another channel for referrals of business that you may not have otherwise received. Unfortunately, this business will likely be won on price.

While such comparison websites offer a convenience to customers, there is limited capability to interact with the businesses. This is necessary as these websites don’t want to be cut out by either customer or the business with them dealing directly, and so losing their commission. This means that it’s difficult for businesses to demonstrate their point of difference and speak with the customer directly. Usually, they just have a text box to describe their offer with limited ability to link to their own website, if at all.

This restriction in communication encourages the customer to focus on price as asking questions, and waiting for responses takes time. From the customer’s perspective, if the job is straight forward, requiring little creativity, this may be quite acceptable, even efficient, but is this the sort of job you want to win?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Are You Promoting the Right Products and Services?

by Dr Greg Chapman

Most businesses have a range of products and services they sell, and hopefully they all make a positive contribution to your bottomline, but this is not always the case. Too often marginal products and services are being promoted generating profitless turnover and therefore a loss when the cost of the sale is included.

It’s essential when deciding how to allocate your precious marketing resources, that they are focused on your most profitable products and services. The problem is that many business owners don’t understand the true cost of goods sold, and thus the profit for each of their products and services. While consumables are readily identifiable, the labor and other business resources are not properly allocated, resulting in a distorted picture of the profitability of each product and service. In addition, the true cost of the sale for each has not been calculated.

As a result of an inadequate understanding of the profitability of the individual products and services poor marketing decisions are made by the business. More...

Share this article: Are You Promoting the Right Products and Services?

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below. [Note to those seeking a free ride on our google ranking, blog spam will be deleted,but genuine contributions will be happily published.]

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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To send this article to a friend, click on the envelope below.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Microsoft Scam Alert

by Dr Greg Chapman

Recently I was contacted by a business claiming to be ‘Microsoft Authorised’ regarding a malware notification they had received from my computer network. The sophistication of the approach was quite convincing, but there were warning signs that I will expose here to protect others who may be contacted by this group.

The person ‘Mark’ claimed to be a Microsoft certified technician tasked with contacting users whose systems had sent automatic notification of their vulnerabilities. The purpose of the call was to show me how I could remove this dangerous malware which would infect all other computers on the network.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Married to the Business – Who’s the Boss?

by Dr Greg Chapman

Married to the Business is a series of posts about a couple who together run a building business. Mike is the builder and Lyn runs the office. (See earlier posts here.)

Up till now, Lyn had just ran the office. She would pay the accounts and issue invoices and pay the staff. She would balance the books and manage most the other office paperwork.

Mike met the clients, did the quotes, organised the onsite staff and contractors, co-ordinated the suppliers and oversaw the works. Almost none of this could be managed by Lyn as she did not have the technical background, but even she could see that things never seemed to go to plan. There was a lot of wasted time and fixing of mistakes, which Lyn believed should never have occurred.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Is Traffic Killing Your Business?

by Dr Greg Chapman

I live in Melbourne where the population has increased by 45% this century. Unfortunately, as anyone here who has travelled by road knows, the infrastructure growth that services the population is only a fraction of that amount. This means there is now no off-peak time when travelling. The traffic is always heavy. This is affecting any business that spends time on the road, and not just in Melbourne, but also in all big Australian cities.

Businesses that may been able to do 5-6 jobs a day can now only do 3-4, which of course means a hit to their turnover. Travel time is business dead time. How have businesses adapted?

It’s now common to see businesses that might have advertised to service customers Melbourne wide now just offering their services to people within say, a 20 minute travel time of their offices, but this travel time radius shrinks geographically as traffic inevitably worsens. How do such businesses survive?


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