The Australian Small Business Blog

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Small Business Owners Christmas Party


At this time of year, we hear of all the extravagances of the corporate Christmas parties. Who says the self-employed can't have fun as well?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Small Business Blog in top 75 Globally - Breaking News

Thanks to our contributers, readers and commenters, The Australian Small Business Blog was ranked as one of the Top 75 Business Blogs Globally. (We came in at 43 and represent Australian/NZ. Not sure how the Kiwis will react.) And a special Thanks to Google!!

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Dr Greg Chapman
Author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Winning Business Strategy - Losing


Can you imagine a strategy for your business where you deliberately decided to come last? Does that sound crazy?

Most businesses struggle with strategy. Strategy is poorly understood and even more poorly executed. Strategy is all about positioning and not trying to win, or hit a six on every ball. Sometimes it is about surviving until the right ball comes your way, and then hitting a six.

That’s the strategy that Australian Steven Bradbury adopted in the final of the men’s short track skating in the 2002 Olympics. Australia had never won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. In the pool we are great, but on the snow, we are like the Jamaican bobsled team in Cool Runnings. Our tallest mountain would be regarded as a foothill in the Swiss Alps, so our winter athletes have none of the natural advantages that the athletes in cooler countries have.

Under these circumstances, reaching the final was a great achievement for Bradbury, but he knew that he would be the slowest in the next race. He knew that on most occasions his competitors could out race him – but he also knew that in this highly aggressive sport, collisions were frequent. He was just hoping that if there was a collision taking out 2 of the skaters, he could pick up a bronze just by staying clear of the collision by holding a position at the back of the pack and waiting for his chance.

In this event, however, four skaters went down, and he was able to skate past all the fallen competitors to pick up the gold!



If this race was held again 10 times, in all likelihood he would not have picked up any medal nine of the times. He knew he could not win in a head-to-head competition with his more experienced rivals in playing their game. He would simply exhaust himself. So he played a different game. Not one that would work every time, but one that would work often enough to make it worthwhile for his more modest and realistic ambitions.

Having seen how the top skaters raced, he identified a weakness that he could exploit by positioning himself. It was not a strategy for the top ranked competitors, but one a competitor with less capacity could adopt.

Do you have a business strategy that allows you to compete with your bigger rivals, that exploits their weaknesses rather than trying to take them where they are strongest? One that does not exhaust your resources while you wait for your chance? If you deplete all your resources playing your larger competitors’ game, you will have none left to play yours.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to Get the Best Marketing Advice for Free


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.

So how might this work for your business? Perhaps you have a motor mechanics business with half a dozen staff. You don't see yourself in competition with BMW, and BMW certainly doesn’t see you as a competitor. You worry about the guy who is about the same size half a kilometre away. So you spend your time checking out what he is doing. This will probably result in a me too strategy, and ultimately the death spiral of a price war.

Alternatively, you could look in another direct. You could pay the same high price marketing company that BMW uses for advice, or you could get that advice for nothing. Drop in to the local BMW service centre and look around. See how clean their service area is. Check out their comfortable waiting rooms. Look at how their staff is presented. BMW spends millions on developing their image.

Now how difficult would it be to give your garage a lick of paint. Supply clean uniforms for your staff. Clean up your waiting room and put in today's paper and a coffee machine? How much do you think that would cost you? Probably $1-2000.

You are still not trying to compete with BMW, just to learn from them. When you start to apply these ideas to your business, the guy down the road won't even be in the game. You will probably even be able to lift your prices! Savvy marketing does not mean high cost marketing.

It is always the little things that make a difference, and you can get all this high price marketing advice for nothing by just opening your eyes and turning your head in the right direction.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Defining Your Customers


An important part of any small business' marketing is understanding the nature of their customers. Are your customers Cats or Dogs?




May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Never Forget Marketing 101


So Chicago lost the Olympics. What happened? Clearly there was a lot of backroom manoeuvring - offers made, deals done. Then the US President and his wife attended the final IOC pitch to seal the deal. What did they then do? They talked about what getting the deal would mean to them. This was particularly the case for Michelle Obama.

They both forgot rule 101 in Marketing.

It is not about you, it is about your buyer. It is about everyone’s favourite radio station WIIFM.
That is: What’s In It for Me?

Now probably the deal had been done with Rio well before the Obamas arrived in Copenhagen, so the final pitches were just for show and the aggrandisement of the IOC. If that is the case, the Chicago bidding team did not understand the bidding process. If the deal was already lost (and clearly comprehensively lost to be eliminated in the first round) they played their trump card for nothing, and in the end, humiliated the Obamas. Do you think Chicago will get any support for future bids or favours?

The Chicago bidding team were clearly not listening to the signals. They would have been there. You have to remember in any bidding process, the buyer will want the losers to stay in till the end, so they can extract the best deal from the winner, so they would be saying encouraging things even if they knew you had lost. Before they played their biggest ace, the bidding team should have known that they had the deal whether the Obamas were present or not, and their presence was just a payment of respect to the IOC for awarding them the bid.

It appeared, however, the Chicago bidding team must have really believed that great speeches by the Obamas would get Chicago over the line. If the speech was the thing that was going to change people’s mind and win the bid, it was the wrong speech. While the Obamas have a lot of goodwill in the international arena, the IOC still listens to WIIFM. Even the international general goodwill the Obamas have is based on WIIFM.

It is useful for small business owners to remember the lessons that too often the big guys forget. The same rules apply, no matter who you are.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Advertising - Can We Live Without It?


Imagine you walked into a supermarket, and you recognised almost none of the brands. There was aisle after aisle of goods to purchase, and you had to stop to read every single packet to see whether you would like this cereal or those biscuits.

This could only occur if you had not been exposed to any advertising before you walked into the supermarket. In our current world, of course, that is impossible, as we grow up with advertising around all around us, but yet this has happened to me.

I have encountered this situation a number of times when I have shopped in a supermarket in another country. I had no exposure to the local advertising and was confronted by a large variety of brands which were literally foreign to me. I was overwhelmed by choice. A simple buying decision, which might have only taken me a few minutes at my local supermarket while I located my favourite brands of particular categories, was greatly extended while I tried to determine which of these new brands would satisfy my needs.

Without the advertising, I did not know what the benefits of each brand were. I couldn’t find out the ingredients without lengthy label examinations. In a number of cases I just opted for the cheapest because I didn’t want to waste more time.

This is an interesting experiment you can try if you are travelling internationally, and you are looking after yourself, rather than just living in a hotel where everything is provided. I believe you cannot understand a country if you have not done your weekly shopping in one of its supermarkets.

Without advertising, there would be no range. Most products would become commodities with no points of difference. There would be only the most basic features. There would be no niche products for special needs. We would be unaware of all the benefits. Prices would probably be higher as there would be no competition.

So when your product is discovered on a store shelf, or on your website, can your buyers readily determine the benefits your product provides and for whom and your points of difference? Is your offer clear, and do you have a call to action? Ideally when they have found your product, they will have already been exposed to your advertising, so the final decision is quick and painless unlike the confusing frustrating ones I had to make without the benefit of advertising.

Enjoy this wonderful paean to Advertising – but a strong language warning at around second 6, after which all is ok and very funny.




May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, September 28, 2009

Making Your Business Run Without You


Most business owners waste their time doing low value work. They spend dollar time on penny jobs. Find out what brain surgeons do, and then change your business and your life.




May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, September 07, 2009

Growing Your Business by Accident


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.



The first stage in a business’ growth is when a one person business starts regularly paying for assistance in routine parts of their business. That is they are using routine external support. At this stage, the support is part-time. This usually occurs at the Adolescence stage of the business, when survival is not considered to be an issue. Before then, the owner is trying to save money by doing everything themselves and don’t believe they have the cash flow to pay for outside assistance.

The second stage in the growth of a business is the first employee. This usually occurs during late Adolescence or early Growing Pains. At this point they are likely to be very busy and they can no longer avoid having full time assistance. During this stage they may in fact, increase their staff to four or five people. Having hired the first employee, the second and third are not so hard.

The third stage also occurs in Growing Pains. This is the point at which they may hire a salesperson to assist bringing in extra business to support the additional staff. A salesperson unlike other members of staff has a very different role and is more like the owner than anyone else in the business. They must be entrepreneurial and require different skills to manage.

The fourth stage, also in Growing Pains, is the appointment of a supervisor. For the first time, the owner does not directly control the work of their employees. There is an intermediary. During this stage, there may be other supervisors appointed, and the business can grow to 15 to 20 people.

The fifth stage is the exit stage from small business to medium sized business. This will be the Second Wind stage of the business where it is completely re-invented. Managers are appointed for the first time. This might start with a full time accountant. The issues become organizational and the owner finds their primary role is not as manager, or even entrepreneur, it is as a leader. Few small businesses make it past this point.

The risk for small business is when they wander from one stage to the next by accident. Without understanding the implications of their growth, they will struggle. However, when a business grows by design it is possible to avoid many of the growing pains.

This is an extract from The Small Business Achiever – Business Owner Brief Issue 119 where strategies on avoiding the mistakes of growth by accident are covered in detail.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Friday, September 04, 2009

Online Business Scam


As someone who owns quite a few domain names, whenever a domain name gets near for renewal, I get sent unsolicited offers presented like invoices for domain name renewals. They will offer to renew the domain for $245 with an incentive such as an iPod Shuffle. Details of domain name ownership and their expiry are available on public registers which is how they find out who you are.

Your website guru probably organised your domain for you when you first set up your website. They probably only charged you $40-50 for 2 years, which is quite reasonable if they included additional support which most do. If this is your first renewal, you may not even know how little the domain name cost you in your original website investment.

So when you see offers such as the one I mentioned above, remember the iPod is probably costing them $20, and bulk domain registrations wholesale below $30. Everyone is entitled to a margin depending on the service they supply, but $245 is just ripping you off.

I won’t mention the name of the organisation I received this latest offer from as I don’t want to give them a Google boost, but if you own domain names, they will find you.

If you are aware of other scams, I would be pleased to report them for the benefit of others here.


May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Can Business Planning Ruin Your Business?


When coming of age at Melbourne University many years ago, Lygon Street was a favourite haunt. One of our regular restaurants was Il Gambero. Unfortunately, due to a recent fire, it is no more. While this is obviously, significant for me, why am I writing about it here?


What struck me particularly was an interview with Frank Di Mattina, the owner. He made a comment (see video) that I am sure would resonate with all small business owners.

“Unbelievably, the whole family… it was the first time we have been away from the business, we have been on a business planning seminar.”

This comment raises a number of questions.

Had they been in Melbourne, would the fire still have happened? Fire investigators believe it was started by an old $3 power board in the kitchen. The fire had started 40 minutes after the restaurant had closed for the night. So if they had been in Melbourne, the fire would probably have still occurred. It was an accident waiting to happen.

Would business planning have prevented the fire? The owners may well have done business planning before, but had they undertaken a business risk analysis and developed a risk reduction plan? For example, did they have as part of their plan regular electrical audits by a qualified electrician?

If they had a risk mitigation strategy and plan, was it followed? If it was not, was it because there was insufficient training or some other factor?

Should they ever leave their business again? They should be building a business that does not require them to be present all the time. There should be systems for all parts of their business supported by training, reports and audits to ensure compliance. If these elements are in place, they should be able to be absent from their business as often as they would like.

This is not the family’s only restaurant and I hope they will be back soon, if for no other reason, I just love their Scaloppini Funghi.


May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Lifecycle of a Business


A recent interview with me on BTalk - CBS BNet Australia. This includes a discussion of the issues business owners face when growing their businesses.



May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, August 10, 2009

Marketing Awards 2009



Empower Business Solutions is a proud sponsor of the

Marketing and Communications Executives International Awards.



The winner last year spent two weeks on a dream trip to Italy with her partner – an awesome prize! This year the overall winner will go to Club Med in Phuket with a partner. That could be YOU!

Awards are also a great way of getting recognition for your business and creating a point of difference. Any Australian Business is eligible to enter. Even if you don’t win, you could be a finalist which is still a point of difference!

Categories to be judged are:-

-SME
-Small Business
-Micro Business
-Home Based Business
-Woman in Business
-Ethnic Business
-Young Entrepreneur (under 25 years of age)

The Awards close on October 1st, but start on your entry NOW so that you will be able to schedule it into your busy life.

Go to http://www.mcei.org.au/ then AWARDS for detailed information.

Please let me know if you decide to enter and feel free to nominate any of your business associates. When you find a good thing, share it!


May Your Business be as You Plan It!

Dr Greg Chapman

The Australian Small Business Blog


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Business Owner Winners July Blogging Competition and August Competition



I am pleased to announce the 3 winners of July's blogging competition. The winners will each receive a HP Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless All-in-One printers valued at $499 each.

Firstly a special mention s to both Steve Osborne and Brenda Thompson for their posts. However the three winners are (in no particular order):

Cynthia Colli for her passionate comment on Coles controversial marketing campaign.

Peter Grant for some extremely interesting marketing data about how many contacts it makes to make a sale.

Nerida Gill for commenting on other comments in the best tradition of blogging.

Ladies and Gentleman, your printers are in the mail!

Thank you everyone elso for their contributions.

The August competition will be for 3 months subscription to the Small Business Achiever valued at $141 for the best commenter.

Post Early and Post Often. Carry on Blogging!

May Your Business be as You Plan It!

Dr Greg Chapman

The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Last Week for July Business Owner's Competition



How would you like to win one of 3 HP Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless All-in-One printers valued at $499 each?

All you have to do, is put a comment on this blog, on any posting you like. The more the merrier.

At the end of the month, the best 3 commentors will each receive one of these printers. The only catch is I can only ship them to Australian businesses.

*****Please Note: When you comment for the first time, just let me know that you have here so I can contact you if you win. (Blogger comments are usually anonymous unless you leave your email address in the post which I don't recommend).

Genuine commenters are also welcome to put a link in their comment which will help with their ranking from this highly Google ranked site for the Australian Small Business keywords.

May Your Business be as You Plan It!

Dr Greg Chapman

The Australian Small Business Blog

Competing with Your Business Owner Customers


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 Realestate.com 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.

A former CEO of REA a competitor of Realestate.com said:

"Google is moving from being a search engine to a portal," he said. "Instead of sending you to other websites - which have paid money to be there on its listings - it is now serving up the end data itself. That then raises the question: why would you need to go to the other sites and why would they then pay Google money [for search key words].

A Google spokesperson said they have received “great feedback”. I bet they have!

So if Google is giving this service away free, what’s in it for them? It is just one more free service Google offers to make it more difficult for competitor search engines to compete with it. Services such as free email, news, calendar, YouTube, and many others. As it expands, it will inevitably clash with those offering a paid similar service. If they are small, they can just ignore them, but it is more and more finding some hard boundaries and now Google seems to have taken the place of Microsoft in internet demonology and attracting the attention of the regulators.

If you are small like the landscape supplies business, there will be other suppliers who refuse to compete with their customers who will get their business.

There is a saying in business: “Stick to your knitting”. Business history is littered with examples of failures of businesses which tried to take over their customers knitting. While it may appear that the grass looks greener in your customers pastures, inevitably, there are just as many competitors grazing there as in your own paddock, and they will know much more about this paddock than you will.

Respect what your customers do, and help them be successful, and you too will be successful.

What do you think? Remember, the best commenters July 2009 will receive a $500 printer.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Working with Your Business Owner Friends


While driving around I heard a song on the radio from my youth. I didn’t truly understand it then, but I understand it more today. Although it was not written about business owners, it has a message for us.

The song is about how we need each others’ help to get what we need and want. In business, this means finding others of a like mind who we can work with. For large businesses regulatory competition issues come into play…. and lawyers. Two big businesses can’t combine and work together without getting a lot of unhelpful attention. There are just too many stakeholders – which is code for people who want to tell the business how it should be run for their benefit, but are not so interested in its success as to want to invest in it!

Take the alliance between Coles and Shell, and between Woolworths and Caltex, there have been a lot of complaints by ‘stakeholders’, although not from shareholders! The biggest losers from this arrangement have been the independent supermarkets and petrol stations. Some argue consumers may also have lost, but after scrutiny by the regulators and the government’s ill fated GroceryWatch and FuelWatch schemes, evidence of that has been very difficult to find.

In small business, because we aren’t changing the marketplace, we can be far more creative. You can exchange vouchers with as many business owners as you want to extend your reach. You can work on joint projects and events. You can advertise in each others’ newsletters.

You can create a referral ring. A classic example of that is the wedding mafia. This often consists of a photographer, a printer, a florist, a venue, and an event planner. If any one of them gets a wedding, they all do! This type of arrangement could quadruple a small business’ reach, which is very difficult for big businesses to do in the same way.

These strategies are the most powerful ones available for small businesses. They cost little to organise, although they will take time to find the right partners and time to plan.

Remember a small business owner is never alone and when they work with other owners, they are far more likely to achieve the success they desire.

To be successful in business, all you need is a little help from your business owner friends.

(OK I admit it, this is just a thinly veiled reason for me to post a song that brings back happy memories. Enjoy.)



What do you think? Remember, the best commenters this month will receive a $500 printer.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How One Business Spends 50 cents to Make $100


The best earning marketing dollars are spent on your customers rather on advertising where the money goes to some media mogul. Consider this example:

Coles is currently offering to pay the GST on feminine hygiene products under the banner “Why should you be taxed for being a Woman”. Why are they doing this and will it work?

This is a fairly emotional appeal, but as a male I can be objective on this (he says quickly ducking to avoid sharp objects being propelled at him by the females in his life).

Clearly many women feel this is an unjust tax. It was very controversial when first introduced, although the then opposition and now government has done nothing to remove it.

Firstly, by raising this issue, Coles gets far wider coverage than their advertising would otherwise reach. It becomes a topic for talkback radio and newsletters like this.

Secondly, the actual cost for Coles on a typical product of value around $5 will be 50 cents. Given the tight margins in supermarkets, this might be most if not all the gross profit on the item.

Thirdly, it is most unlikely that a woman will visit Coles to buy these products only and go somewhere else to do her weekly shopping. In fact she is likely to get her $100 weekly groceries at the same time as the purchase of these products.

Finally, would someone change where they do their weekly $100 grocery shopping for just 50 cents? If the 50 cents off had been for razor blades or Cornflakes it would just be seen as another special, easily ignored, but in this case, Coles are appealing to women’s feeling of injustice, and some might just change to support the principle.

Will it work? As in all these strategies there is only one way to find out.

Can you think of a way of spending money on your customers to get them to try you?

Will you convert to Coles, or do you just see this as cynical manipulation?

What do you think? Remember, the best commenters this month will receive a $500 printer.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Dangers of Passive Word of Mouth Marketing


Word of Mouth marketing is important in almost any business big or small. Every business lives or dies based on their reputation. So why would you risk leaving Word of Mouth to chance?

While positive reports about your service will get out there over time and create new business for you, bad reports travel like a rocket propelled by hard feelings and anger. Most of your clients who have enjoyed your services will mention you to help out friends and colleagues, but they aren’t active unpaid promoters of your business. When, however, you have let someone down, not delivered on your promise, and have not made things right, their only recourse is to damage you as much as they can.

Studies have shown that when you do a great job, people might tell 3 other people. When you don’t, they will tell eleven others that you haven’t, and those eleven will tell three others because people like to spread the bad news as it helps empowers the disempowered and provides a way to strike back at ‘the system’.

What if you let someone down who owns a megaphone? That is what happened to United Airlines when they let down a touring band, Sons of Maxwell, when they damaged a $3500 guitar when it was tossed around by baggage handlers, an act they witnessed while waiting to disembark. United then passed the buck on responsibility, and after wasting many hours chasing their claim, the band gave up on United, but not on getting even.

The wrote a song about their experience and posted it in on YouTube. At the time of posting, this had been viewed over 2 million times!



The claim for repair of the guitar was $1200, but there seems to be a general policy with United, and probably with most airlines, to make it as difficult as possible to claim damages. Consider the damage in reputation that has occurred to United, and the pain is not over yet. The band’s leader, Dave Carroll, has written a second song (currently being videoed) and is writing a third.

Belatedly United are now looking what they can learn from this incident, examining practices that have obviously been entrenched for years. Will anything good come from it? Well this has made the band’s music become far more widely known and has probably been great for business for them. However, for United, my suspicion is that their spokesperson is just in damage control, and as soon as the fuss is over, it will be business as usual. Am I being cynical? Well the comment from United was from a PR flack not the CEO. You be the judge.

The message for business is that when you give poor service, anyone of your customers may own a megaphone. In fact, today everyone has access to this same megaphone, and if the message hits a chord (sorry about the pun), or a stereotype prevalent in your industry, it will spread before you know it and you will be considered guilty until proven innocent while everyone has fun at your expense.

So treat every customer as if they had their own megaphone so that if they decide to use it, they will just be singing your praises.


May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Entitlements of a Small Business Owner



It can be intimidating for a small business owner visiting their corporate clients. They take the lift to the 41st floor and in a marble clad reception, they ask to speak with the executive with whom they have an appointment. They wait in a plush chair in a reception lounge with a magnificent view where they are served a cappuccino in a fine china cup. Finally, the executive assistant ushers them into the executive suite in a corner office, beautifully furnished with expensive artwork on the walls.

This is not the office of a small business owner, as they know they have a choice. They can have their own executive suite, or they can re-invest in their business to increase profits or increase their own dividends.

An executive on the other hand sees these trappings as perks. Along with first class travel and a luxury car. After all, they believe they are entitled to be treated this way. It is proof of their importance and authority. Besides which all the other executives at their level are getting the same perks and the company should provide them to demonstrate its strength and position in the business world.

Most executives don’t own the business, although they may hold some stock. They did not build the corporation from infancy. They are opportunity takers, and if things don’t work out, they will take another opportunity. The opportunity creators are the entrepreneurs.

So what are small business owners entitled to? Apart form hard work, long hours, stress about meeting their commitments to their customers, staff and suppliers?

They are entitled to keep their customers happy and see them return time after time. They are entitled to the referrals their customers give when they send their friends and colleagues to their business. They are entitled to the recognition and support they receive from their business owner colleagues who understand them better than anyone else.

They are entitled to decide who they will work with and who they won’t. They don’t have to justify their actions to others who just want their job. They are entitled to the rewards of their efforts – without someone else claiming the credit and getting the bonus. They can take satisfaction in seeing their business grow and prosper as they do watching their children grow.

When business owners understand this, they no longer need to feel in awe of their executive clients. In many cases the have risked more and done more than many of the high flyers. They don’t have the arrogance of the corporate executive. Arrogance doesn’t sell. They have created a valuable asset with their own mind and hands. Of that, they are entitled to feel very proud.

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, June 29, 2009

July Small Business Owner Competition



How would you like to win one of 3 HP Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless All-in-One printers valued at $499 each?

All you have to do, is put a comment on this blog, on any posting you like. The more the merrier.

At the end of the month, the best 3 commentors will each receive one of these printers. The only catch is I can only ship them to Australian businesses.

*****Please Note: When you comment for the first time, just let me know that you have here so I can contact you if you win. (Blogger comments are usually anonymous unless you leave your email address in the post which I don't recommend).

Genuine commenters are also welcome to put a link in their comment which will help with their ranking from this highly Google ranked site for the Australian Small Business keywords.

May Your Business be as You Plan It!

Dr Greg Chapman

The Australian Small Business Blog


Hope is Not a Business Strategy



A record $90 million lottery has been announced for this week. Half the nation are buying tickets. Even my normally very sensible wife has asked me to buy a ticket, against my better judgement (although that is not the first time I have felt I have had to acquiesce to such things in the name of harmony at home, and I am sure it won’t be the last).

As someone who regards themselves as having good analytic skills, I find lotteries are an affront to commonsense. The only way they are commercially sustainable is that everyone on average loses. However with the odd ticket in a major jackpot and our annual flutter on the Melbourne Cup this is just a bit of fun for us. It is not our financial strategy. We are not banking on it to pay for our retirement, and our investment in it is petty cash, annually less than a nice night out.

Unfortunately, all too often, a lottery strategy is the one adopted by many business owners. That is something will turn up. One of their ads draw will draw in a whale customer. That their business gets profiled on a family talk show resulting in a huge surge of business. Maybe one time they do get lucky- but what happens next?

In most cases, not much. They blow their luck (like most lottery winners) and are back to where they started, because they were not prepared for it. They may have been depending on the luck, but didn’t expect it to happen.

Samuel Goldwyn once said to someone who commented that he had a lot of luck in his business “I agree and the harder I worked, the luckier I got
Now that is the kind of luck upon which you can depend.

Luck starts with a vision, but doesn’t finish there. It must be backed with a plan. A vision without a plan is just a dream. How many of those have come true for you lately?

Your strategy is how you bridge the gap from your current state and your ultimate objective. So write out the key things you want to achieve in your business. This might be more profit or just more time off. Next describe your strategies for bridging these gaps. These would include your Marketing Strategy, your Business Structure or your Operations and People Strategy. If there are gaps you can’t bridge seek advice.

When you add an action plan to these strategies you have what I refer to as the Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success.

So with the new Financial Year just commencing, don’t just hope that next year will be better, plan for it.

Or just buy a lottery ticket and hope.

All you need to do now is to Empower yourself and take action ...

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The 2009 Australian Small Business Summit Highlights


The Small Business Minister Dr Craig Emerson was asked to summarise in one word what he thought described the sector. The word he chose was “Resilience”. While the other R word (Recession) was in common usage (it even passed the lips of the Prime Minister 11 times) I think Resilience described the mood well.

I have attempted here to provide a brief summary of the issues that caught my attention at this year’s summit.

Mr Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister

While a large part of the Prime Minister's address was a repeat of his regular talking points there were a few specific comments made for a small business audience:

• 35% of GDP is due to small business
• The 50% tax break for capital investment by small business extended to the end of this year
• Reduction of PAYG instalment in 2009/10
• Small business online program announced in the budget to help businesses establish an online presence with the national broadband program
• Tax credit of 45% on research and development for small business
• A small business banking complaints clearing house for businesses that believe they have been unreasonably denied credit
• Announcing the detailed implementation framework for the Small Business Advisory Committee
• All federal government contracts up to $1 million with small business are subject to the “on-time payment guarantee”. That means accounts will be paid within 30 days, otherwise small businesses will have the right to charge penalty interest.

Mr Richard Brooks, Chairman Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA)

Key areas of concern raised by the Chairman included:

• Impact of the Fairwork rationalisation of awards increasing substantially rates of pay, particularly in the hospitality sector with little recognition that Australian no longer just works 9-5 Monday to Friday.
• The lack of balance in bank contracts
• Expected increase in ASIC fees when it takes over regulation of business names
• Training incentives for employees don’t apply to business owners
• The need to pay a $900 upgrade fee each year for accounting software because the ATO keeps changing their forms

Mr Malcolm Turnbull, MP Opposition Leader

Again putting the expected politics to one side he proposed some interesting policies.

• The small business minister is in the shadow cabinet, and would be in the cabinet if they were elected (different to both the Rudd and Howard cabinets). It is in cabinet where the decisions are all made and currently small business, in spite of its 35% contribution to GDP is unrepresented.
• Improved incentives for apprentices
• A tax loss carry back (we currently have the ability to carry forward losses, but not to claim a rebate against past tax payments.)
• Revision of insolvency laws to offer the equivalent of the US Chapter 11 protections to allow businesses to restructure and avoiding a fire sale of assets where creditors get very little.
• Tried to introduce an amendment into the award modernisation legislation to ensure no additional cost would be imposed on employers, but this was rejected. Job losses are expected.

He invited ideas for helping small business at the website www.jobsforaustralia.com

Mr Michael D’Ascenzo, Commissioner of Taxation, ATO

The commissioner reviewed some of the initiatives that the ATO has undertaken to assist small business owners

• 12 months interest free payment arrangements for businesses with less than $2m turnover
• Ability to defer payment of activity statement liabilities where there are cashflow timing issues
• Maintaining a level playing field by identifying those avoiding their obligations. They now use industry benchmarks to find businesses in high risk areas who seek an unfair competitive advantage.
• Undertook 8000 audits of those in the cash economy and are developing more benchmarks and doing more audits this year.

Dr Craig Emerson, Minister Small Business

The minister made the following observations:

• Retail sales for the last quarter were up 4.8%, 5.6% for small retailers
• Saw the stimulus package as a ‘tradies package’
• PAYG has been reduced by 20% and there will only be a 2% escalation in 09/10 rather than the usual 9%
• Red tape reduction in 27 areas- three examples- national trade licensing and a national system for business name registration, standard and simplified business reporting online.
• ETS will only directly affect 1000 big emitters, but there would be flow on costs to everyone else
• Awards have been simplified from 1600 to 18, and there only have been significant issues in three which are currently under discussion

Damian Karmelich, Director Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Dun & Bradstreet

Damian provided some great insights on how the future looks, based on analysis of their substantial database, and devoid of political spin. Very sobering.

• Every 4 minutes, a new company is formed in Australia and every 35 minutes a business goes insolvent
• Perceives much greater risks in China with high levels on unemployment – risking political instability. There is an unwritten compact in China which forgives many of the governments shortcomings as long as it delivers economic improvements to the population
• Expects Australian unemployment to exceed 8%
• Businesses are clearing out inventory and not restocking
• Expects a 20% increase in business failures, and has assessed a 130,000 increase in the risk of failure in the last 12 months along with a 150,000 risk increase in paying bills late from their database of 2 million businesses
• The average days for payment is now 58 , with big businesses delaying to 65. Late payments for big businesses ultimately cause delays in small business payments
• There has been a 49% increase in debts being referred for collection on 2008.
He also suggested, not only getting credit checks for new customers, but also for old ones, particularly where you have seen payment days deteriorating.

My Thoughts

Apart from being able to hear directly from key players in our economy, it was also an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback. This is my third such summit, and it is fair to say each has its own character. Progress is made between each, but I am always skeptical about depending on others to make you a success. In the end, our success is up to each of us individually.

Ron Barrassi (not present at the conference) said:
If its to be - its up to me

What's your plan?

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, June 08, 2009

Attention Small Business Owners – You can check out any time you want – but Can You Ever Leave?



Owning a business is a 24/7 job. Even when you are away from the office or store, it is hard to switch off. Almost everything you see somehow reminds you of something you need to do in your business.

You might be reading a book, and the hero enters a store that is selling in a way that gives you an idea for your business. The author may not own a store, but is likely to be very creative and wants to make their hero’s time in the store memorable in some way. Of course you would like that for your customers.

It is like the science fiction writer who dreams up all sorts of new devices to create a wonderland for avid science fiction fans. The funny thing is many scientists and inventors like science fiction, and are often inspired by the creativity of the science fiction writer who may have little or no science training. The scientist who reads about the idea then becomes intrigued by it, then obsessed, until they actually work out how to make it happen. There are numerous documentaries on inventions inspired by programs such as Star Trek.

When you leave your business at night, you too see ideas around you – what others are doing in the commercial world in other sectors, or even ideas dreamed up by TV writers. It is hard to switch off. The only time a business owner can switch off is when they sell their business when it becomes someone else’s problem.

However for most business owners they can check out – but they can never leave.
They are their business, and when they are not there- nothing happens. No-one wants to buy a business like this. Certainly, their family wants nothing to do with it, and the staff are just hanging around for a payout.

In order to be able to leave your business, you must have an Exit Strategy. The best time to create an exit strategy is when you start-up, but it is never too late.

Three things can turn your business into a Saleable Asset:

1. A Marketing System that generates predictable sales
2. A Business System that allows others to run your business without you
3. A Reporting System that enables you to manage your business when you are not there.

With these three systems you will be to check out from your business when ever want, and ultimately be able to leave it to some one else.


All you need to do now is to Empower yourself and take action ...

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Are Your Customers Cats or Dogs?



Our dog is not particularly active, suffering as he does from a touch of arthritis, but he loves his food. If you give him fillet steak, or just plain dog food from the can, he eats it with equal gusto. He will eat what our cat doesn’t finish from her bowl. In fact if she throws any of it up, he will eat that too. He is just not that fussy. In fact the only thing we have found he won’t eat is brussels sprouts. (I can’t say that I can blame him.)

Our cat on the other hand is quite fussy. She is rather partial to mince topside- and won’t eat cheap cat food. It has to be the type of food you get from those small containers which are twice the cost of the larger cheap brands. If you put out something she regards as inferior, she will leave it… for our dog. She would never go near the dog’s bowl.


So what are your customers like? Are they cats or dogs? Are they only interested in the premium cuts, or couldn’t tell the difference between topside and reprocessed meat.

The problem many business owners create for themselves is trying to sell a service that only felines will appreciate and pay for to their canine clients and then are upset when they focus on price. There is nothing wrong with having canines as clients, but they will not appreciate and pay for topside.

If you have canine clients (and there are a lot more of them than the felines) make sure that your service is designed to meet their needs rather than your ego.


You can of course have both feline and canine clients but make sure the message you present to each does not confuse.


When you understand if your clients are dogs or cats, you will know what food they will appreciate and pay for and be able to keep them happy and faithful for many years.



All you need to do now is to Empower yourself and take action ...

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Comparing Your Business With Others


As a small business owner you probably regularly meet with other business owners. (If you don’t, you need to get out more as that is where the opportunities are.) However when you do, are you finding that when you leave an event you end up feeling disenchanted? Everyone seems to be doing so much better than you?

Are you comparing everyone else’s fiction with your own reality?

Think of it this way, if someone’s business was actually not doing so well, and in fact their sales had dropped significantly, do you they would tell everyone they know? Of course not as it would potentially make things worse for them. People don’t want to do business with someone who they think may not be around for long, so the talk is always positive and it is quite likely that many of the people who say things are just fine, are in no better shape than you.


Armed with this information, you can carry on attending such events with a fixed grin hoping that something will turn up from someone who may be even worse off than you, making promises to you that they will not deliver on. You can waste a lot of time at such events hoping for a big opportunity. It can be like someone who can’t swim hoping to be rescued by a drowning man.


Alternatively you can take matters into your own hands. If the things that you are doing are not working, you need to change them. Start to experiment more.
If you don’t know what to do you need to seek some kind of advice.

The Advice Catch 22

When things are going well, people don’t tend to seek advice. They see it as a cost (time & money) and don’t believe they need it. When times are tough, they need it but can’t afford it. Catch 22.


The correct approach is to regularly have a range of different sources of advice, from reading books, attending workshops or coaching. In the good times, you need to be prepared for the tough times. In the tough times, the need for advice is even greater.

While cash might be scarce in the tough times, if the person was convinced that advice they got would work, they would, of course pay for it. So how do you know it will work for you?

Here are some questions to ask:

-Are there others you are aware of that are doing well in your sector?
-Do you believe there is something they might be doing that you are not doing at the moment?
-Do you believe that if you could learn what they are doing, that you could also be successful?

When learning to drive a car, you start off being unconsciously incompetent. You really don’t know how hard it can be. Once you start to drive, you soon learn you need lessons. At this point you are consciously incompetent. If you answered yes to the 3 questions above, this is you. You know there are answers out there, you just don’t know what they are.

At this point you can decide to remain unconsciously incompetent and learn by trial and error (smashing up your car in the process), or you can get advice. People think advice is expensive.

Abraham Lincoln said; “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Advice is a catalyst to change, and if you change nothing, nothing changes.


What’s your Plan?

Dr Greg Chapman holds regular workshops for small business owners:
Visit www.events.fivepillarsbusinesssuccess.com

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club 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.


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