|Posted by Michael Sausman on January 31, 2013 at 10:45 PM|
The tourism and hospitality industry has been strengthened through the establishment of
Workforce Futures, a new Workforce Development initiative worth $11.8 million. The
program funding has been provided through both industry contribution and from
government through the National Workforce Development Fund. A true industry driven
partnership approach has made this initiative a reality though the work done by Service
Skills Australia (SSA) who manage the project.
|Posted by Michael Sausman on March 6, 2012 at 7:45 PM|
Its been a busy week – another week with another new client who is in trouble because they were not getting the right advice. I love accountants – don’t get me wrong – its just that they are only very rarely experienced business managers or consultants.
1. Accountants are highly trained – to give tax and financial advice. Would you ask your bank manager to design your marketing programme? Or your website designer to recommend a new car for you? So why would you ask your accountant to help you with business strategy or running your business?
2. Your accountant will organise your accounts for his ease of use; your schedule of accounts needs to give YOU easily understandable information on your business, with expenses grouped together under headings such as marketing, production, IT, telecoms etc. Make your accountant work for you, not the other way around.
3. YOU understand your goals, why you are in business and where you are going. If you don’t, then you need to think about it urgently and write a (basic) strategic business plan now! Explain it to your accountant by all means but it is YOUR business.
4. Your accountant will probably charge an hourly rate – make sure you are only paying for their area of expertise. Use a business mentor, coach or consultant if needed – it will be cheaper and more helpful in the long run.
5. Finally, do your accountant a favour and let them do their job – listen to their advice and then make the decisions based on what’s best for your business.
Do you have views on this? Let me know @MSatBBS
|Posted by Michael Sausman on September 18, 2011 at 3:30 AM|
Most advertising we see is pretty mundane; I always recommend that clients should be really creative to get noticed amongst all the messages that compete for our attention. Here is a prime example of some very creative advertising from Warner Bros. Enjoy!
|Posted by Michael Sausman on March 17, 2011 at 9:17 PM|
So there you are, working (too) hard in your business and you identify that help is needed. If its something specific like financial help, you would probably talk to your accountant or bank manager. If they can't help then they can usuallly point you in one direction or another.
But what if its undefined, or general business, or marketing, or stragic help you need - who do you turn to then?
And do you need a consultant a coach or a mentor?
And what's the difference?
Birdwing Business Solutions deals with clients at all stages of business and uses different methods (or a combination of them) depending on the clients' needs. So at the risk of starting a discussion (argument?) here's how I interpret the differences:
Consulting: tends to be project and task based, and often driven by outside circumstances to look at processes within the business to help improve performance. This is usually only needed as required. Although this can be over the whole enterprise, the consultant frames the nature of the issues by making recommendations, based on their experience and the clients' circumstances.
Training: for completeness we should include this as coaching is often confused with it: training is specific to an issue of personal development; the content is framed by the nature of the issue and it is mainly about the transfer of knowledge.
Coaching: goes beyond training and gives new perspectives on issues or problems; it is very much driven by, and therefore controlled by, the coach. When successful, coaching can change mindsets and is crucial in any kind of change management.
Mentoring: this goes another step further and should be framed by the client. Done well, mentoring should look at strategic issues and make mentees think outside of the box. Examing new concepts with a mind to the overall strategic direction and goals of the enterprise make this suitable for business owners and directors who already know where they are going.
All the above have their place in business and all should be enjoyable for all involved - any kind of learning experience should be fun!
If you want to discuss any of the above, please email me - firstname.lastname@example.org
|Posted by Michael Sausman on March 2, 2011 at 9:34 PM|
The majority of SMEs believe their banks are not loyal to them and that access to funding hasn't got any easier over the past year, a new survey from accounting firm WHK reveals.
The survey of 531 SMEs from across the country, compiled by East &Partners, found that 94% of SMEs don't believe their banks have been loyal to them - up from 82% in August 2010.
WHK chief Carl Walsh says the issue is that businesses think theirbanks should trust them given they have been loyal customers for several years,often decades.
"The credit aspects are the most glaring here, and SMEs believe that despite having been customers for a number of years, their banks have been disloyal."
"The question is - why? And that lies in getting access to credit. They're being pinned with rate rises, which they feel is opportunistic coming out of the GFC."
Walsh says that given many entrepreneurs use their home as the security for many of their banking facilities, SME owners think banks should be more willing to take risks now the economic climate is improving.
"They look to the mortgage sector where they see a lot of press, and a lot of government commentary around mortgage rates, but nowhere near the amount of time being spent on improving conditions for SMEs and theirowners."
The survey also shows that more than 40% of SMEs have experienced rate increases during the past three financial quarters.
The results of the survey come just days after NAB business banking head Josef Healy told Smart Company that banks and other financial institutions need to do more to support SMEs coming out of the financial crisis.
Walsh says he welcomes those comments, and suggests they may prompt other finance institutions to ease up on lending criteria.
"Healy and I know each other, and I believe he's one of the few that actually recognises the needs of SMEs. He spent a lot of time in Britain where the SME sector is very important, and treated as very important by both banks and government."
However, there is some reprieve on the horizon. The WHK survey found that more than half of SMEs surveyed did not experience a rate rise in the last six months, suggesting some stabilisation is occurring in the business loan market.
That stabilisation will be welcomed given that the number of SMEs planning to increase the size of their lending facilities grew to 44.1% of the third consecutive quarter.
Walsh says the banks need to start making things easier for SMEs -and they can start by ensuring it remains easy to switch to another bank.
"It's extremely hard to leave your bank, and not just becauseof the fees. If you're working six or seven days then it's extremely difficult. I know it's a statistic that we use often, but it is true that Australians are more likely to divorce than leave their bank."
"And SMEs are no different. They have their personal affairs tied up, and business affairs, in their bank and it becomes extremely difficult to exit when you want to."
Going forward, Walsh says SMEs will benefit from the current interest rate environment, as the RBA seems content to sit on the sidelines for now.
"I believe we're going to see successive surveys prove this. Rates and access to credit will improve."
However, there are more problems ahead - 80% of SMEs believe the natural disasters that occurred over the past few months will negatively impact the economy, and therefore their business.
"We were a little surprised by that, because the overall talk has been that we may see some decline but we'll also see a resurgence as the year goes ahead."
"But this is obviously a national survey, so it's been weighted by the Queensland and Victorian people hit. But I think the SME sector is resilient, and we're going to see a better response in three months' time."
|Posted by Michael Sausman on February 13, 2011 at 10:04 PM|
The CEO at a company I once worked for had a favourite saying, "If it smells, it probably stinks."
At the time, the senior management used to think this was very amusing, but though its not how I would phrase it, it is actually often true.
One of my clients had signed an overseas distribution contract that was going sour through no fault of theirs. We eventually brought this to some kind of a conclusion but during our discussions the client said that prior to signing the agreement they had had some second thoughts and felt uncertainty but felt that they were pressured into signing it.
Now quite often this can be cleared up by a bit of further questioning as it is due to a misunderstanding, lack of explanation or just natural caution in the face of a risk.
Sometimes, however, it can be due to the agreement being too one sided or one of the parties trying to make a quick buck.
So, if it smells.... Talk to a lawyer about the commitment you are making, but make sure you talk to someone like me, with commercial experience, as well. Often we have seen these deals before and can save you money and a lot of stress.
|Posted by Michael Sausman on February 1, 2011 at 8:44 AM|
So there you are, doing what you always wanted to do or earning lots of money, or - even better – earning lots of money and doing what you always wanted to do……. So why aren’t you enjoying it?
Planning – a broken record?
I hate to say it again, but planning is so important. If you have a plan – where you are going, how you will achieve it and how you will get out of it (or move to the next stage) –it takes a lot of stress out of the day to day management of the company.
Cliché – work on (not in) the business
You have a plan but its not working the way you thought it would? Business plans must grow with your business and change with what is happening in the environment. If you have a plan but have not re-examined it in the past 3 months, now is a good time to do it. Yes – even before reading the rest of this!
I’m working hard but not making any money….
Well there can be lots of reasons; if you really think about your business you are probably able to realise what the issues are; often though, it helps to talk to someone who is independent but with a lot of experience of various businesses. There may not be easy answers but talking helps!
|Posted by Michael Sausman on January 21, 2011 at 7:14 PM|
Business advisors spend much of our lives trying to convince business owners and managers to have written strategic or business plans, but perhaps we should be asking why so many of them don’t.
Common reasons I’m given are: “Its ok, its all in my head”, “I don’t need a bank loan so I don’t need a plan”, “I don’t want my competitors to find out what I’m trying to do”, “I don’t have the time to plan” and “I’ll get round to it one day” – recognise any of those?
All of my clients tell me that not only do they have a clearer picture of their business with their plan but also that the process has helped them to develop new ideas, see new opportunities and pitfalls, allowed them to step back and look at the business, given them a feeling of being more in control and helped them explain their business to others. And all are making more profit, have more free time or have sold their businesses.
Keep it Simple
The plan does not have to be long and complex (especially for a small business) and you can do it yourself. There are lots of templates available on the web and most of them include everything (and more) that a business needs to plan. It may only be 2 pages or could be 30 pages – but it needs to be clear and meaningful - and remember its YOUR plan for YOUR business.
Don’t stress about getting it 100% perfect – accept that you will need to review it regularly (every 3 months) and you can add to it as you grow and develop your business so that the plan is always up to date.
Of course you can pay someone like me to help you write it, (click here for our Business Planning page) review it or for general ongoing advice, but the point is to start your plan today; and if you already have one then re-examine it at least every 3 months.
|Posted by Michael Sausman on January 17, 2011 at 1:00 AM|