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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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success

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