The Australian Small Business Blog

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Leveraged Marketing – How much are you missing?

by Dr Greg Chapman

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How Big are Small Businesses?

by Dr Greg Chapman

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Director’s Risks on a Small Business Board

by Dr Greg Chapman

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Couples in Business - Are You Arthur or Martha?

by Dr Greg Chapman

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Benchmarking Franchisee Performance: Comparing Apples and Oranges

by Dr Greg Chapman

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

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

Monday, September 10, 2018

Does Your business suffer from Growing Pains?

by Dr Greg Chapman

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Accountants Are You a Business Advisor or Bean Counter?

by Dr Greg Chapman

[This article was originally published in National Accountant Magazine]

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

However, this dependence does not last.

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

Monday, September 03, 2018

Ad of the Month – Another Winner UPDATED

by Dr Greg Chapman

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


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