The Australian Small Business Blog

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Driving Business Growth with Calculated Risks

Business is all about confidence. Confidence that the risks you must take will have a high chance of success. The reason this is essential is that you must provide all the resources (time and money) to make the strategy succeed. Too often, businesses are timid with their actions, and are looking for a 2-way bet.

More tightrope walkers fall while using a net than those that don’t.

An example of this was a residential program I attended during my MBA course some years ago. The program was run by 3 university lecturers. Two of these lecturers worked full time for the university and one only part time, and had his own property development business.

Each year they ran a business game for the course participants. The participants would be placed in teams and act as directors of a company in competition with the other teams. As they only ran this program once a year, the lecturers would have a dry run of the game beforehand, the three competing against each other. Every time they did this practice run of the game, the part-time lecturer always won. So this particular year, the two full time lecturers out and out colluded to defeat the part time lecturer, but he still won!

At this point the penny dropped, and one of the two full time lecturers said, that’s why he drives a Porsche and we don’t.

What the part time lecturer did was take risks, just like he did in his business. He did not wait to have all the facts before he made a decision, and when he made the decision, he backed it. Not every decision paid out, but he quickly cut his losses when he saw it wasn’t working rather than obstinately throwing resources at something that was never going to turn around. As he knew he was taking risks, he was also more vigilant in the signs that it was working or not.

The other two lecturers, by the very nature of being full time, were conservative, not wanting to take a decision until they had all the facts, by which time, they had missed the opportunity. They made fewer mistakes, but also made less money.

You never score goals from balls you don’t kick.

So understand the risks you want to take, put in place measure to monitor the strategy, and once you take the decision, make a commitment to provide the right effort that success requires. Like the tightrope walker who is halfway across Niagara Falls, turning around and going back to where you came from is not an option. You should have made that decision before you started.

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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Link Employee Motivation to Success in Customer Service

by Kevin Cahalane

Do you ‘motivate’ your people by delivering platitudes and sermons? Or, do you provide them with a ‘success motive’ by giving them the skills, knowledge and attributes required to excel at the work they do?

Motivation is a natural consequence of being successful, happy and focussed in your work (for most people anyway; you will never achieve 100% in any endeavour involving people and motivation – but you will come close!). Below are some thoughts to provide a motive to your team, and encourage their self motivation:

Ensure that employees have the resources they need to be successful. Do staff members have the tools they need to succeed? Is company equipment up-to-date? Does it support efficiency and success?

Provide employees with the necessary training. What skills do employees need, but currently lack? Is there a commitment to ongoing skills development at your company? Are employees encouraged to attend seminars or conferences to stay abreast of industry changes and trends?

Put everybody on the same page … develop standards for how the work gets accomplished. Do employees know what is expected of them or does the company rely on common sense? Are standards documented, understood and agreed to by both employer and employee?

Provide an environment that supports success. Is the workplace neat and orderly? Is their a sense of productivity or does chaos prevail? Are people provided the uninterrupted time they need to achieve success or do unnecessary disruptions limit their efficiency…and effectiveness?

Develop your employees. Ask employees what their career goals are and help them achieve them. Why would someone want to excel at a job that is not rewarding and fulfilling?

Promote success by providing consistent, open and honest feedback. Never miss an opportunity to acknowledge an employee. Employees need recognition and praise. Give ample feedback and public recognition whenever possible. When employees need to alter habits or change course, communicate with them as soon as possible; don’t wait for annual reviews.

Be a model of success yourself. People will respond according to the actions – not the words - of their leaders. Effective leadership is difficult if a manager has one set of standard for themselves and another for everybody else

Innovate! Foster an environment of creativity in the workplace. Elevate the self-esteem of your staff by asking them their opinions and ideas. Solicit, encourage, and implement new ideas and ways of producing results. Employees with high self-esteem tend to experience greater success in their jobs

Kevin Cahalane Sales and Customer Service Training Professional. See what Kevin can do for you at

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Why 90% of Your Website Spend is Wasted

by Ron Stark

Every visitor to your website is armed with a .45 calibre mouse. One click and your website is killed off. At that moment the impression they have gained from your website is the lasting impression they have of your business – good or bad. A website therefore has equal capacity to help or harm your business.

What is your website doing for your business?

When your prospect asks “What’s your web address?” they’re really asking “Show me your business”. However, when they find you through a search engine, they’re not looking for your business – they’re looking for the fulfilment of a need they have at that particular time.

Many businesses think that websites are somehow something that you need computer expertise to understand and IT skills to build. This myth is perpetuated by website developers who tout technology instead of business value.

The “language” of the Internet has rapidly evolved, along with the expectations of your clients and prospects. An obviously old or dated website will brand your business as being out of date or worse, out of business. No website at all brands you as a business not worth bothering about.

Your visitors have a unique type of relationship with your business while they’re on your website. In a matter of seconds they will quickly gather an impression of your credibility and who you are, whether you’re easy to deal with and whether you are able to resolve their needs at the time. In minutes they will come to a conclusion of whether they will bother to contact you.

Unlike a face-to-face meeting or a telephone conversation, you don’t have the luxury of body language, intonation, inflexion, eye contact or the multitude of other forms of non-verbal communication on which we all depend. Your website has to encompass the entire spectrum of communication and interaction you have with a person you can’t see, can’t react to and don’t even know exists. You don’t even know who they are, what they want or what their needs are.

It’s no wonder, then, that a website designed and built as a technology instead of a business tool will consistently fail to benefit the business that owns it. More often than not, such a website actively damages your business.

When your website succeeds in delivering enquiries and requests for information to your business, that prospect does so with high expectations that you are able to provide them with the information, product or service they’re looking for. After all, that’s what your website is supposed to do.

Your off-line business process must effectively deal with that enquiry, consistent with the expectations you have created; if you cannot, or neglect to do so, you have a disappointed customer as well.

Ron Stark is the author of “Websites are like motor cars, and technology doesn’t really matter”. He has extensive experience in business systems, website development and business process. Ron is the founder of Snapsite (, a provider that helps make your website an integral part of how you do business.

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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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