The Australian Small Business Blog

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Your New Years Business Resolution

What a roller coaster ride for 2008. Never boring, and a bit scary towards the end! How did your business fare? Did you achieve your goals? Did you finish ahead of where you started in January?

Make sure 2009 turns out the way you want it to. Use my free New Years Business Resolution Tool located at to make sure that you start 2009 the right way.

May Your Business Be – As You Plan It

Dr Greg Chapman

The Australian Small Business Blog

Tips to Help SMEs Target their Advertising

Economic conditions are tough at the moment for small businesses, there is no doubt about that… In our latest Sensis® Business Index we found business confidence at its lowest point since we started the survey over 15 years ago.

Australia has been enjoying many years of strong economic growth, so if your business is relatively new, this will be the first period of significant economic slowdown that your business will have experienced. So you are not alone if you are looking for new business ideas to get you through this period.

The first thing to remember is not to panic – you will be hearing bad financial news every day in the news at the moment – remember that the majority of this is coming from financial markets – you probably don’t make your business decisions on what the Dow Jones did last night. The decisions that you make now for your business need to be able to see you through the next year and beyond.

The good news is that the Australian economy is in a much better position than most other advanced economies. We saw positive growth in Australia’s GDP in the September quarter and recent data on housing finance commitments and retail sales indicate that Australian consumers might be starting to regain confidence before the Federal Government’s economic stimulus package began distribution.

We are also measuring some turn around in consumer sentiment in the latest Sensis® Consumer Report – when we look at how consumers are feeling about the year ahead, they are now telling us they think things might be starting to improve moving forward.

Economic downturn mainly means one thing to many businesses – fewer customers. When we asked the businesses that had been impacted by economic downturn what they were doing about it, most told us that they were either cutting costs or advertising more – strategies aimed at addressing the two critical factors for any business – getting customers through the door and money in the bank.

Cutting costs aims to at least keep some money in the bank, and advertising more aims to bring businesses the ingredient they need most – customers.

So here are some key tips to help you target your advertising to keep bringing customers through the door during the current economic conditions:

  • Your print directory listing is the core listing on which the majority of people search – you can use innovative solutions like mobile codes that people can scan to take them to your latest offers on their mobile phone

  • ­ Make sure all your advertising, both print and online, have as much information as possible to make it easy for potential customers to choose your business – giving customers a good feel for the products and services they can expect from you, as well as locations, opening hours, payment methods and accreditation can all help customers call you first

  • ­ Measure the return you get from your advertising to make sure it works for you – develop strong relationships with your advertising account executives so that you can tap into the knowledge that they have built up working for many customers over the years.

Christena Singh is the author of the Sensis® Business Index, Sensis® Consumer Report and Sensis® e-Business report. For further commentary from Christena or for some smart business ideas, visit

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The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Problem with Business Targets

We often hear about targets and deadlines being set by organisations and governments that are never met. Most recently, there have been targets set for CO2 emissions reduction. The initial target equates to 34% per person reduction, and yet others are demanding targets double that. Even the initial target is heroic. (For example, 90% of Victoria’s power generation is from brown coal.)

Before that, most of the developed world signed on to Kyoto targets, and most missed by miles.

What is the relevance of this to small business? When you have targets with no mechanism to reach them, it is meaningless. In the case of governments, they often set ambitious targets to appease their political constituency and the smart politician makes these targets big, but sets them a long time in the future, long after they expect to be out of office. It might help them win the next term which is where their focus generally is, but at some point, like the widely missed Kyoto targets, reality comes home to roost, and a price must be paid.

When we set targets without a plan, it is almost guaranteed that we will miss them. If the plan is to do research to discover the answer (the government’s plan) rather than rely on proven strategies, we need to expect that it will take much longer, and there is a chance that it won’t work at all. (Which is why the government just loves 2020!)

When we set targets in small business, they should be ambitious, but we must have a mechanism to achieve them. If our target is to increase sales by 30%, we must have a plan to achieve it. Do we have a plan to increase enquiries- maybe a new advertising channel, or an alliance? Is our intention to increase our conversion to sales by improving our sales pipeline, or providing sales training?

If we don’t know how to achieve the target, the strategy would be to go get advice from someone who knows what strategies work. (For the government, this is not an option as on-one knows!)

So for each of your key targets, write down where you are today, and where you want to be in 12 months. For each gap, create a strategy and for each strategy write a plan to implement the strategy.

If you find this difficult, please use my free Mission Statement Tool on the Resources page of Now is the time to set your targets for the next year, but make sure you have a plan to back it up!

May Your Business Be – As You Plan It!

Dr Greg Chapman

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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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Control your computer (don't let it control you)

See your computer as part of the solution - not the solution itself.

Computers and applications can make life a lot easier as they allow you to do so much more than ever before. The problem is that just because there are tools that allow you do something, people sometimes don't question whether they should be doing it themselves - ie just because accounting software is available I should use it because it is "cheaper". What is not often considered are the hidden costs and the distraction from your core business, which can be costly.

You can effectively become a slave to the software - ie you are working for it.

With the internet there is now a whole different way of looking at, and engaging with computer systems; with the potential benefit of it working for you, rather than you working for it. With its in-built communication system the internet allows you to use applications built specifically so you can share information internally and with external providers that can do the non-core tasks for you, but still keep you in the picture - reducing the risk of business blindness (loss of direction) through abdication

The situation most businesses face today:

With the people being both internal and external.

With an integrated business system based on the internet, you get to solve two problems at once, at a business system level moving towards this:

and because the system is a fully hosted internet solution you don’t have the issues traditionally associated with PC based solution, like:

 Installing the software
 Installing updates / maintenance fixes
 Doing backups
 Purchasing servers etc
 Managing hardware servers etc

With added benefits of a internet based hosted solution, like:

 Potentially don’t need as much office space for people to work from, as people can work where best suits them, including at home if appropriate - saving time, money and the environment (less cars on the road!).
 Don’t need office space for servers and hardware
 People can be more productive, as have the information they need when the need it and don’t have to spend time communicating it.

Just because you can - doesn't mean you always should... to find out more benefits go to

Mark Byers is the CEO of myworkspace which is an Australian service that allows you to take control of your computer systems, allowing you to share the work out where needed and allowing you to focus back on the reason you got into business.

Over to You. What do You Think? We welcome comments but you need to contribute in a meaningful way to earn a backlink. Blatant commercial plugs will be rejected. Post Your Insights, Critiques amd Questions Below.

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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
The 5 Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success

The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success




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