Let’s Talk Business 1
Let’s Talk Business Back To Basics Business Solutions - Support for Small Business
Volume 2 Issue 17 - April 2014
Inside this issue
Cover Story - COSBOA Chairman Resigns ……..........2
Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) Chairman Resigns Claiming Board Misconduct
The End of the Performance Review Dr Tim Baker ……...........…3
When Increased Sales is a Bad Thing Brett Chamberlain…….......5
Poor Employee Performance Dennis Chiron .......... ……...6
Every Pilot Has Got To Land Sometime Geoff Butler ………………..7
Outsourcing Jo-Anne Chaplin ………......8
“…. Learn to be Lazy” Dan Buzer ………………….9
How to Keep the “Google Monster” Happy Karen Ahl ………………...10
If it is to be, Then it is up to me Peter Nicol ………………..11
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) Ron Court …..…….….…...12
Demystifying the Cloud What is it, and why should you care? Karen Davey-Thorpe …....13
Your Credit History - What you must know Paul Gillmore ….................14
How Good Are Your Listening Skills? www.mindtools.com……...16
LTB Objectives …..........…17
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COSBOA Chairman Quits Alleging Board Misconduct and Legal Breaches *Front page photograph courtesy of: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/andrew-conway-fipa/52/863/759
The Council of Small Business of Australia has been dealt a blow, with chairman Andrew Conway and two other directors resigning, alleging “potentially serious breaches of the law”. Conway, the current chief executive of the Institute of Public Accountants, is alleging some COSBOA directors used their position to gain financial advantage, questioned the solvency of the organisation and says there have been “numerous examples of noncompliance”. In a letter sent to members yesterday, obtained by SmartCompany, Conway says he was unable to effect change because he was met with continual resistance from COSBOA directors and members, including executive director Peter Strong. “My sole intention has been to ensure COSBOA adheres to its objectives in the [organisation] Constitution and within the confines of the law. I have encountered numerous examples of non-compliance on both fronts,” Conway wrote in the letter. “From ignorance of the Constitution right through to a Director, in my view acting improperly by obstructing the business of the Board with the intention of preserving their personal financial contract with the entity.” Conway says the concerns are not “minutiae or trivial; they go to the very heart of the compliance, governance and the viability of COSBOA as a business.” “This is not only improper it offends any test of reasonableness and any sense of professional ethics.”
Conway had only been in the chair since November 2013, when he took over the role from Amanda Lynch, who, in turn, took over the role from Ken Phillips. And it was only a little over 12 months ago that COSBOA was in a similar turmoil when Ken Phillips resigned as chair after the council's accounts were unable to be signed off. Mr Phillips, at the time of his resignation stated one of his reasons for quitting was because of the involvement of “tobacco interests” in COSBOA. “They control the organisation and it’s financially dependent for its solvency on money from tobacco,” he says. Mr Phillips, who then, was the executive director of Independent Contractors of Australia, had stood down from the position of chair of COSBOA and had been succeeded by Amanda Lynch, the chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of Australia. The most recent turmoil and allegations raised by Andrew Conway, allege “potentially serious breaches of the law” by some board members and executive director, Peter Strong. In a letter to member associations, Conway said he held serious concerns about the conduct of executive director Peter Strong as well as the governance arrangements, business model and solvency, and has reported these to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Strong said he welcomes any comments from ASIC and denied any impropriety.
COSBOA accusations a “storm in a teacup”, former chair says A former chair of the Council of Small Business of Australia has spoken out saying the accusations levelled against the organisation and its executive director Peter Strong are largely unfounded and have been blown out of proportion. Institute of Public Accountants chief executive Andrew Conway recently resigned from the role of COSBOA alleging “potentially serious breaches of the law” and poor governance. But Geoff Fader, the current chairman of the Tasmania Small Business Council and former COSBOA chair, told SmartCompany the majority of members were 100% supportive of Peter Strong. “I’m disappointed in the turn of events. My small business council has been a member basically since COSBOA’s inception and totally supports the executive officer Peter Strong,” he says. “It’s no more than a storm in a teacup. In a week or so it will be on with business and the vast majority of membership totally support the work which has been done and totally support the executive office in his role. That support is based on performance, the only reasonable measure.” Fader’s sentiments mirrored those of another current member who wished to remain unnamed. COSBOA directors Yolanda Vega and Jackie Zelinsky also resigned last week. Extract
SmartCompany journalist Yolanda Redrup http://www.smartcompany.com.au/ 2
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Dr Tim Baker Managing Director WINNERS AT WORK Pty Ltd
The End of the Performance Review
A New Approach to Appraising Employee Performance
Telephone. +61 7 3899 8881
Editor’s Note: Dr. Tim Baker is an international consultant, successful author, keynote speaker, master trainer, executive coach, university lecturer and skilful facilitator. "“Dr Baker leads the world in offering an innovative new approach to appraising employee performance. His research and energy in the specialised field of performance management is evidenced by his international profile as a renowned speaker, management consultant and facilitator" . Stephen Hartley, Australia’s leading expert on project management and author of Project " Management: Principles, Processes and Practices.
Yes, it’s that time of year again - when the groans of managers can be heard over the mere mention of the words, annual performance reviews. Many managers see performance appraisals as nothing more than an empty, bureaucratic exercise forced on them by HR. Small business, like big business, is keen to extract maximum performance from their employees. Some small businesses conduct performance reviews, others do not. My advice to small business is this: if you are doing performance reviews, throw them out. If you are contemplating bring them in, don't! Why? Simple: The don't work and therefore a complete waste of time and money. My research of some 1,400 small businesses demonstrates eight things wrong with the conventional performance appraisal:
Appraisals are a costly exercise. Appraisals can be destructive. Appraisals are often a monologue
rather than a dialogue. The formality of the appraisal stifles discussion. Appraisals are too infrequent. Appraisals are an exercise in formfilling. Appraisals are rarely followed up. Most people find appraisals stressful.
What then do we do, if anything? I suggest adopting the Five Conversations Framework. This new approach consists of five 10 to 15 minute conversations. Each conversation occurs once a month over a five month period. The Five Conversations Framework shifts the emphasis from appraising employees to developing employees. Let's look at each of the five conversations briefly. Climate Review conversation A climate review is about determining the current atmosphere in a particular workplace. It is mainly concerned with employees' job satisfaction, morale and communication. Although people's opinion about these matters can - and often do - fluctuate over the course of a year, it can be useful to take a snapshot of the business occasionally. By having a conversation with direct reports about the state of the current climate, managers and owners have a handle on the current state of the business, and what needs to be done to improve the fundamentals of satisfaction, morale and communication. Listening and responding to this feedback is a good place to start. Strengths and Talents conversation
Most appraisals are fixated with what is going wrong; in other words, they focus on weaknesses and by-pass strengths and talents. Tom Rath in the # 1 Wall Street Journal bestseller: Strengths Finder 2.0 underscores the value of a conversation on this subject: Society's relentless focus on people's shortcomings has turned into a global obsession. What's more, we have discovered that people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies. Apart from being an edifying place to start discussing performance after the organizational climate, this conversation capitalizes on people's innate talents. As the positive psychology movement has preached for two decades: Building upon strengths has a higher payoff then working on overcoming weaknesses. Opportunities for Growth conversation This conversation invites an opportunity for employees to consider how they can improve their own work performance in key result areas. By doing so, the potential for both to gain a common perspective on areas for improved performance is possible. A dual understanding of current and expected standards performance is an important first step. The second step is to discuss and agree upon some tangible ways and means of improving the employee's performance to match expectations. *Continued on page 5 3
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The End of the Performance Review *continued from previous page
Thirdly and finally, this conversation is important in aligning performance expectations will the strategic direction of the business. Some opportunities identified can be put into practice straight away. Learning and Development conversation Conversations about learning and development capitalize on the previous two conversations. The core question here is: What leaning experiences can assist in building upon strengths and lifting performance in critical areas. Learning experiences can be either technical, personal development or problem-based. All three dimensions are important for growth in a small business. Innovation and Continuous Improvement conversation This conversation is about practical ways and means of improving both the employee's own efficiency and effectiveness and the business in general. What can I, and what can we do, to improve? is the focus here. Imagine for a moment the power of this conversation occurring in an enterprise during a particular month. Some of the ideas that surface will undoubtedly be too costly or impractical. But some would also be worth considering. Give this approach a go. It works. And it is far better than persevering with the dreaded performance review. This is an extract from Baker's newly released book: The End of the Performance Review: A New Approach to Appraising Employee Performance (www,winnersatwork.com.au) Dr Tim Baker is an international consultant to small business. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
All’s Fair In Business A shopkeeper was very concerned when a brand new business much like his own, opened up next door and erected a huge sign which read 'BEST DEALS.' He was equally horrified when another competitor opened up on the other side of his business, and announced its arrival with an even larger sign, reading 'LOWEST PRICES.' The shopkeeper was in a real panic, until he got an idea. He put the biggest sign of all over his own shop. It read: 'MAIN ENTRANCE' He’s a Good Boss Smith goes to see his supervisor in the front office. "Boss," he says, "we're doing some heavy house-cleaning at home tomorrow, and my wife needs me to help with the attic and the garage, moving and hauling stuff." "We're short-handed, Smith," the boss replies. "I can't give you the day off." "Thanks, boss," says Smith, "I knew I could count on you!"
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody This is the story of four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. Consequently, it wound up that Nobody told Anybody, so Everybody blamed Somebody.
Drum Up Business A few years ago, a large Sydney shoe company sent two sales representatives out to different parts of the Australian outback to see if they could drum up some business among the locals. Sometime later, the company received telegrams from both agents. The first said, "No business here... the local don't wear shoes." The second one said, "Great opportunity here... the locals don't wear shoes!"
Let’s Talk Business 5
Level 23, 127 Creek Street Brisbane Qld 4000 GPO Box 1092 Brisbane Qld 4001 Telephone: 07 3218 22172 Facsimile: 07 3839 4649 Email: email@example.com
Editor’s Note: Brett Chamberlain is an International Speaker; Author; Advisor and Consultant, and is one of Australia’s leading business improvement consultants and management advisors. During a 15 year consulting career he has been responsible for dramatically improving the profitability of literally hundreds of businesses around Australia and overseas, including many major corporations and hundreds of smaller businesses, by showing how to master fundamentals that deliver profitable growth.
It happens all the time. The business owner looks pensively at the chart on the wall, showing sales results over a period of time. Sometimes it’s an upward trending chart. Other times the chart is flat or heading ‘South’. Whatever the case, the business person tries to interpret the chart to work out what they should be doing next. Increased promotional activity? Increased production? Different pricing? A new marketing strategy? A whole new product!? Problem is, the LEAST valuable decision-making tool in your toolbox is the sales chart, or consideration of sales results in general. Sales results are usually the WRONG measure of performance and a horribly misleading indicator of what should be done next. Yet sales results are, by far, the most commonly considered data.
When Increased Sales Is A Bad Thing...
Don’t think that’s true? Try this test: ask the next dozen business people you meet, “How are your sales figures compared against last month?” Most will be able to confidently tell you sales are up, down or sideways. Then ask, “What’s your gross profitability in dollars this month, compared against last month?” In the majority of cases, you’ll see the business person blink ... and then go quiet. (They might have a vague notion of the difference, but most will be nowhere as clear about their $GP as they are about their $Sales.) That’s a worry, because $Sales is a measure of activity whereas $GP is a basic measure of productivity. If you have to make a choice between ‘active’ or ‘productive’, where would you prefer to invest your time, money and effort?
I sell for, say: $100 / unit I buy for, say: - $70 “ “ So my gross profit is: $30 “ “ Reducing my price by 10% will mean a sell price of: $90 After my cost of: - $70 My GP is reduced to: $20 / unit “But the lower price will result in increased sales,” say some. Possibly true. The lower price might produce more transactions. In fact, let’s say it generates a very significant 20% increase in sales. (Realistically, in the vast majority of cases, a mere 10% discount would be unlikely to generate such a positive difference.)
$Sales tells us how active things have been; how busy the business is. That is absolutely not the same as $GP, which gives a basic idea of whether all the running around has been worth the effort.
If we made 10 sales at full price, we made 10 x $30GP = $300GP from $1,000 in $Sales revenue. After a 20% increase in sales as a result of our discount, we make 12 x $20GP = $240GP on $1,080 in $Sales.
Business people who ‘get’ this idea have a much better opportunity to make powerful decisions which produce results where it really counts.
See the problem? Sales transactions and $Sales are up – and so is your ‘busy-ness’.
For example, would you rather have a 10% increase in sales, or a 5% increase in GP?
Yet the actual reward for your effort is way down. You’re working harder and earning less.
The two are not necessarily directly linked. If I discount my price, I might make more sales transactions and might even generate more $Sales revenue. But will that result in improved $GP? To find out, look at things like this...
Watching the $Sales will never alert you to this. Watch your $GP instead and you’ll enjoy a much better grip on your business – and you’ll be able to make much better decisions as a result. 5
Let’s Talk Business 6 Dennis Chiron Marketing Means Business 0451 184 599 www.marketingmeansbusiness.com
Poor Employee Performance
It’s Not Always Their Fault
ONS I T U L O S What exactly is Poor Performance? Poor performance is essentially a belief by you, the employer, that an employee’s work is not up to scratch. They may be missing sales or other business targets set by you, or they could be making mistakes at work. Capability (or lack of) is a potentially fair reason for dismissal. In order for a dismissal to be fair, however, you must also demonstrate that you have followed a fair procedure. There are fours basic reasons for poor employee’s performance, and they are:
Ineffective guidance Inexperience Limited abilities Lack of motivation
A simple definition of unsatisfactory job performance is a gap between the employee's actual performance and the level of performance required by the organisation. There are three basic types of poor performance:
1. Unsatisfactory work content or conditions— in terms of quantity, quality, etc;
of work practices, procedures and rules — such as breaching occupational health and safety requirements, excessive absenteeism, theft, harassment of other employees, etc; and,
personal problems — usually 'off-the -job' issues that affect their performance at work.
The key to dealing with the problem of poor performance is to determine which of the above point, or combination of the above points, lies at the root of an employee’s problem. 1. Ineffective guidance: The employee’s job needs to be more clearly defined 2. Inexperience: The employee should receive more training and experience 3. Limited Abilities: Possible restructuring of the job and the employee’s tasks will improve this 4. Lack of motivation: Will a change or a new challenge rekindle interest? In particular, if the employee lacks motivation, this can create low morale in the workplace and you will find that the employee is prone to making numerous mistakes. Mistakes in the workplace cost money in terms of:
Rework Material usage Poor quality product or service Untimely production Accidents
Regular and frequent communication is important with all employees, but it is especially important when dealing with a possible performance problem. Ongoing communication between the supervisor and the employee should ensure that there is a common understanding of how the supervisor
views the work being produced. While there may be disagreement, there should be no surprises. Usually, when an employee performs poorly owners and managers typically do not blame themselves. The employee doesn’t understand the work, or they are not motivated. Or the employee isn’t driven to succeed, can’t set priorities, or won’t take direction. Whatever the reason, the problem is assumed to be the employee’s fault. But is it? Sometimes, of course, the answer is yes. Some employees are not up to their assigned tasks and never will be, for lack of knowledge, skill, or simple desire. But sometimes an employee’s poor performance can also be the fault of you, the employer. The term is called “Set up to Fail”, and it simply means that you (or your manager) have hired the wrong person for the wrong job. Sometimes, if you have tried to resolve the problem and the employee still lacks motivation, still making mistakes, and impacting on workplace morale, you may have no alternative but to terminate employment for the good of all. 6
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Geoff Butler FAIM AP, MAITD MACE Principal/Business Improvement & Implementation Specialist Business Optimizers
Every Pilot Has Got To Land Sometime
Mobile: 0414 943072 Fax: 3036 6131 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: business.optimizers1
This may seem to be an unusual title for a business article but when you think about it there will be a time when you will want to get out of your business. For most of us there are only three main options; Sell it, Shut it down or Give it away. Nearly everybody’s preferred option is to sell it, because to shut it down or give it away (usually to the kids) seems a very poor option for disposing of something we’ve invested so much time and effort into. However, very few owners ever think about consciously building the value of their business prior to putting it on the market, even though most of us plan for it to be a significant part of our retirement nest egg. The average business owner in Australia is 56 years old, which means that 80% of all businesses are likely to come onto the market within the next decade. In a supply driven market buyers will be looking for well presented, self managed and systemised business with good potential for growth. This means it critical we focus on growing the value in the right parts of the business. In truth, there are only four assets
in your business that can grow in value, and these probably aren’t the ones you’re focussing on. They are: Your Brand – Just because you own your company name or a registered business name doesn’t mean you’re protected. The only way to really protect your business name or logo is by trademarking it, and despite what you think this can be a simple and relatively inexpensive process. However, there are a few tricks of the trade that can make it more effective; Your Intellectual Property and Systems – If you put yourself in a potential buyer’s position what they will be most interested in is how well the business will run without you, the current owner being there. If you haven’t documented your systems and procedures you will have immediately lessened the amount someone is likely to pay for your business. Similarly, if you haven’t patented an innovative process it’s going to cost you in the end; Your Database - This is not only your client and supplier contacts but also anyone who is engaged with your brand or business. The better structured and managed this information is, the greater the value to your business.
In today’s market information is a key commodity and will significantly raise the value what you have to sell when you want to exit your business; and lastly Your People – It amazes me that people will buy a new vehicle or piece of equipment for their business, and they shine it up and service it meticulously, but they will bash every ounce of enthusiasm out of that eager new employee. What we all fail to realise is that our people are one of those few assets that have the ability to grow in value if we invest in them. If you take the people out of your business you just end up with a pile of depreciating assets. Tom O’Toole, the famous Beechworth Baker says ‘People will say why train your staff because they’ll just leave. But what happens if I don’t train them and they stay?’
Spend some time focussing on the things that really count. I suggest getting your business valued every year or so to see what the market thinks its worth. When you see the figure the professionals provide, what you have to ask yourself is if the business was for sale for that amount, would you buy it? 7
Let’s Talk Business 8 Jo-Anne Chaplin Tax & Superannuation Professionals Pty Ltd PH 07 3410 8116 / Mobile 0457 960 566 Email : email@example.com Web: www.taxandsuperprofessionals.com.au
I am a qualified Accountant and will celebrate my 20 th anniversary as a Registered Tax Agent this year. During my time in Public Practice I have assisted clients to achieve business growth and prosperity. My earlier career included positions in banking, manufacturing, construction and retail. My particular interest is in promoting a culture of using local industries and business in order to build a strong community.
Outsourcing Is it Really For You? considered. We all like to do business with people we know, and can easily contact. I’m sure we have all had an issue with the 'faceless' corporation and not benefited from the experience.
A few thoughts on outsourcing. The Internet has dramatically changed the way we do business. Opportunities now exist for us to work from any location and at any time of the day or night. With these efficiencies has come a new industry, in the form of outsourcing to overseas countries to take advantage of lower wage rates & currency variances. Savings made by Australian businesses using these services can be substantial, hence their popularity. New laws are being implemented requiring business owners to disclose, and obtain permission from their clients, where personal information is transmitted over the ‘cloud’ to service businesses overseas. Protection and security of personal information is paramount. There is a dark side to this new way of doing business which is the human cost. The processes being outsourced are those which have traditionally been filled by unskilled or semiskilled labour such as school leavers, part time workers such as students, single parents with young family's or older workers not wanting to work full time. These groups are now being forced to find work in the servitude industries, in areas for which they are over qualified, or obtain government benefits, putting a further strain on the public purse.
The question has to be asked. How do we give our school leavers & university graduates the basic experience they need to pursue fulfilling careers in their chosen field? A graduate with a business degree does not emerge from university with enough suitable experience to be a fully-fledged business advisor, bank manager or financial controller. Similarly, for a graduate with a law degree or science degree. Who will employ them? Why have they invested thousands of dollars in obtaining a Bachelor degree if there is no work other than in restaurants and bars. With the growth in this industry being so strong, it's unlikely that the trend will reverse. However, I would urge all small business to strongly compare the benefits of outsourcing overseas with the benefits of hiring or outsourcing to local labour. And to use the overseas contractor services judicially. The economic benefits of supporting the local community need to be
The benefits to your business of receiving word of mouth referrals which come from community involvement will enhance the goodwill of your business. There are “slow food” and “shop local” movements which are a testament to value of these benefits. Other important issues to be considered is the degree of control over the work being done, who has access to your clients information. Using overseas sources will not provide the security of Australian laws & regulations should something go wrong. Most importantly you need to consider who will buy your product if most of your target market are unemployed. I believe that Australian academics and government should be opening a dialogue with the business and industry sectors in an effort to address the issues raised. Changes need to be made to our education system to provide appropriate skills for our workforce to enable them to cope with the changes in work methods as we move into the global environment. 8
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Dan Buzer Profit Mechanics 0414 567 188 www.profitmechanics.net/ firstname.lastname@example.org
“… Dan, if you’re serious about getting rich, you’re going to have to learn to be lazy …” This was advice I was given from Mr Maloney, a self-made BRW Rich List member worth $350 Million Dollars. At the time I didn’t know Mr Maloney was worth that amount. I knew he owned the Bondi Beach Hotel, where I was employed at the time, but not the other vast portfolio of Real Estate he controlled. An opportunity came up to run the bistro in the hotel and I convinced the manager to give me the chance to improve it. Mr Maloney personally met with me every few weeks to review the performance of the business and gently gave me advice. I was 19 years old and had nothing but enthusiasm and a vague idea in my head to become an employer someday, instead of an employee. Mr Maloney gave me three distinct lessons … Lesson 1: If you’re serious about getting rich, you’re going to have to learn to be lazy. Mr Maloney did not work hard. He had lots of people working hard for him. He had managers, accountants and employees that did the work. This is the same philosophy as Richard Branson. Joe Polish, one of Branson’s charity partners, asked Richard ‘How do you manage over 300 companies, when most people struggle to manage one?”. Richard’s answer was “The secret is I have to make sure I do nothing”. This is the biggest mistake I personally see
many business owners make. They are not comfortable to not be seen as the hardest worker, biggest contributor or smartest person in their business. This is what keeps them small. Lesson 2: Business is about ‘who’ you know. I found a better butcher to supply the bistro meat. I took the initiative and sought out better quality meat for a better price. After interviewing several alternative suppliers I chose one and started ordering from him. I gave the previous butcher a chance to match the quality and price and he didn’t, so I went with the new supplier. A few weeks later the old butcher turned up with the order of meat. I was surprised by 2 things. First, the quality was much better and second, the price was reasonable. The 60 year old local butcher said that Mr Maloney was going to ‘have a chat’ with me. Mr Maloney said I had done the right thing for the bistro, but he had other businesses dealings that involved a few key people. Many of these key people were involved with this butcher. The lesson was to look beyond the first connection and learn to be aware of and manage the next levels of connection. Lesson 3: Make a little bit of money every day and put it away. This is probably, the simplest, most commonly known and yet the most challenging lesson for most people today. Small steps done regularly compound into bigger things in the
future. The actor Will Smith was taught by his father at a young age to “focus on laying each brick perfectly, rather than the big wall you’re aiming to build”. Mr Maloney was always experimenting, tweaking and changing things in his businesses, but he always remembered the important thing was to consistently put a little bit of money away every day. At the time I didn’t understand how lucky I was (and how rare the opportunity) to be mentored by someone like Mr Maloney. He was wealthy, happy and a true Gentleman. He calmly managed and built a very successful chain of businesses. Since this time I have read many books, attended many seminars and owned a few companies of my own. Only after I have had more experience in the world have I come to realise that these lessons are the most important and helped guide me in my journey of becoming a successful business person. I hope these lessons resonate with you as well. Mention this article and you can also have a copy of the Profit Mechanics Sales & Marketing Diagnostic Questionnaire along with a 30 minute phone chat to help guide you through the tool and apply your business objectives to it. Remember … Business is More Fun, When There’s Profit! 9
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Karen Ahl Bac. Bus (Mark, Man), TAE40110, Cert IV IT Caboolture, Queensland Ph 0415 142 178
How to keep the “Google Monster” Happy The purpose of any search engine, and Google does this very well, is to provide a list of the most relevant websites when someone does a search. The more relevant the website, the more likely it is to appear on the first page of search results. In my previous article, What is Link Building, Why Bother and Where to Start? I covered the benefits of Link Building (adding your website to online directories) and how this can influence your website. Google, and most of the other search engines do take these “links” into consideration. Link building is commonly classified as OFF-SITE Optimisation as it does not directly happen ON your website. ON and OFF-SITE Optimisation My favourite example is the word “Marshmallow”. If you want your website to rank for the word “marshmallow”, mention it several times in your website wording. It should also be mentioned in the background coding/Meta Tags of your site (known as ON-SITE Optimisation) as well as in any directory LINKS you create (OFFSITE). Example: If you are creating a Truelocal Listing, ensure the words you want to rank for appear in the description wording (OFF-SITE). If a search engine reads your Truelocal listing (or any other directory listing) and it sees the word “Marshmallow” it is going to
assume that your site is about “marshmallow”. Now, if it gets to your site and there is no mention of “Marshmallow” – then expect a poor rank. This is how both On-Site and Off-Site Optimisation are meant to complement each other.
Title and Description and are what Google displays on their Google search results page.
The more competitive your industry, the more important all of this is.
Make it relevant! Here is a checklist on how to make your site RELEVANT. Review and change the words on your website. The search engines can “Read” all of the text within your website using this to help assess a websites’ relevance. Example: If you want to rank for “Pest control Caboolture” you need to have this mentioned within the physical words on your website to even have a chance of appearing in the search engines. NOTE: The search engines cannot read words inside a graphic e.g. your logo. If you have a website which is all photos, graphics and very little text, this can limit the likelihood of ranking on the first few pages (if at all). Add wording…Google recommends up to 300 words. Add Alternative Text (ALT TAGS) in behind your images. These need to relate to what is on that page and use some of the same keywords found in the physical wording on that page. Add the necessary code into the background of your website. These are called Meta Tags –
Finding the right balance between a great visual impact and keeping Google happy = a successful and profitable website. Here are some tips: 1. Use wording that relates to your industry as well as use general terminology that your potential customer might type into Google. 2. Do not copy – Google can penalise your site if you have duplicate content…don’t just copy and paste the same wording on every directory listing, blog post or page on your site. Tweak it each and every time. 3. Pick out 5 to 10 search phrases that you think people are most likely to search for – these are usually pretty generic, broad things that you offer e.g. “Morayfield Mechanic” as opposed to “Fan Belts Morayfield” – most people will assume a Mechanic can fix a Fan belt and are more than likely to search for “Morayfield Mechanic”. 10
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Peter Nicol Wisdom Marketing & Management Services 0417627097 www.wisdommarketing.com.au email@example.com
If It Is To Be Then It Is Up To Me On an almost daily basis we seem of late to be bombarded with negativity. It is real and very concerning. Layoffs seem to happen everywhere. It is not about blame it is about the raw realities of the way the next year or so are going to pan out. At my age I have seen these periods come and go. The periods in the early 1990’s recession, 1980-83 was not real flash and as a very young executive in the 1972-73 period I was caught up in the middle of it all. And, I can still recall a period as a boy that was called the “Credit Squeeze” during the Menzies days. Yes I will be 70 next year. Bad times bring out the fighter in all of us and I think anyone in business will have a fight on their hands over the coming year or so. Failing to plan is planning to fail as they say and now is the time to have a plan for your business and yourself that will allow it and you to weather the stormy patches we are going to have yet enjoy the economic sunshine that usually follows. So just where do you start? Like many of you reading this column I am self-employed and experience those days (even weeks) where the phone does not ring or it just goes as quiet as the grave. Now you have several options. Shuffle papers and do some filing in the hope that it will get better, go home and mow the lawn (and be riddled with guilt) or just get out on the road. Yes make some appointments with some customers, take them for a coffee. Ask them how
they are finding things (probably they will be in a similar position as a rising tide lifts all ships). Share your thoughts and ideas freely as to what the cause of this might be and help each other. In the process you have workshopped the problems, made a closer relationship with that client, and just possibly developed a few leads. You can also go to network meetings like Chambers of Commerce, Government sponsored workshops, maybe even do an Accredited Course, and use the time to enhance or have your skills upgraded. Some 6 years ago I found myself in this position and set about doing a series of qualifications via Dennis Chiron. Dennis is a most able trainer and assessor and was able to take me through a series of competencies that made me a trainer and assessor. He also took me through a number of business qualifications. I ended up with a role that allowed me 4 of the best commercial years I had in a long time. So use these times to better yourself and work through the issues that you will have to address when you come out the other end. No point in being there at the end of this period without the tools to take advantage of the economic sunshine that follows these tough times. So what can you do? I can tell you now that the Government want everyone in the Australian workforce
to have at least a Certificate111. That is a Nationally Accredited qualification. You can pick the subject but I encourage you to talk with Dennis as to what you might able to do with him. It is a wise and indeed shrewd investment. As a young man I wasted a lot of time thinking that it would get better and I would just pick up where I left off. Self-improvement was not on my radar. Having no kids and having a fair degree of a particular talent I just thought that it would all be rosy. Not so I am afraid. Those who studied after work, took degrees are now in positions that I would never have dreamed they could achieve. In no way am I jealous of their success. I am just peeved (and I am using polite words) at myself for not recognising the elephant in the room. Yup it is a tough time but as they say when the going gets tough the tough get going. If the numbers are not coming in and no amount of work on your part is going to make a difference in the short term then use the time to get some formal training under your belt. There are plenty of trainers around but my money is on Dennis Chiron’s capacity to train. He has been doing this all of his life. Your call. Your future. 11
Let’s Talk Business 12
Ron Court, AMC Dip (Funerals) MQJA JP
OH&S Advisor 0419 679 619 firstname.lastname@example.org
DUTY OF CARE
Duty of care is owed by one person to another and the concept of general duty of care is the cornerstone of OH&S in many jurisdictions.
greater level of control the employer has over working conditions, compared to the employee, and the employer's consequent greater control over matters affecting OHS.
training to experienced employees who have previously had relevant health and safety training. An employer should not assume that an experienced person does not need to be instructed about the obvious.
The terms "general duty of care", "duty of care" or "general duties" relate to broad responsibilities, expressed in general terms, of a wide range of persons who are connected with the work or working environment. These may include employers, employees, selfemployed persons and others, such as people who control workplaces, design and construct buildings or manufacture and supply plant. The concept reflects the fact that a "duty of care" is owed in law by one person to another. Examples of such duties include:
In common law, an employee may claim damages through a civil court for injuries arising from an employer's failure to take reasonable care. These are commonly called "negligence claims".
Further training or re-training is particularly required when the methods, environment, equipment, procedures, or job change; and if new laws are introduced.
An employer must, as far as practicable, provide a work environment in which employees are not exposed to hazards; Employees must take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and that of others, at work; and Self-employed persons must, as far as practicable, ensure the work does not adversely affect the health and safety of others.
The general duty of care concept is based on principles established under common law and has subsequently been incorporated into statute law. Courts have determined the common law duty to mean that all employers must take reasonable care for the safety of their employees. This recognises the
Under statute law there is no need for an injury to occur before enforcement action can be taken to have an unsafe situation fixed. The focus is on prevention of such unsafe situations, through enforceable duties. Under statute law, the courts may impose fines for breaches of the legislation, and there are usually no payouts for negligence to injured parties. In common law, each case is decided on its merits and the courts determine whether the action taken by the employer is reasonable in any particular case. A workplace is defined as any place where employees or selfemployed persons work or are likely to be in the course of their work. A safe system of work implies that all aspects of the work have been considered as an integrated whole. Instruction to Experienced Employees Employers should continue to provide information instruction and
All injuries are preventable; one would hope that it is all of us. The emphasis is on health as well as safety. Injuries caused by mechanical equipment are usually quite obvious. Workplaces should have a reporting and recording system which includes details of the location where the accident occurred and the action taken to prevent further similar injuries. Reporting of all incidents or "near misses" to the employer is also important (as required under the employee's duty). Recording of these incidents provides valuable data to improve health and safety, and allows for steps to be taken to prevent injury. You can get information about your OH&S obligations and other valuable OH&S resources both in hard copy and online from their websites. http:// www.deir.qld.gov.au Always seek independent legal advice on what is applicable to your situation.
Let’s Talk Business 13
Karen Davey-Thorpe AAIDC CC Smart n Savvy Business Solutions 1800 899 198 email@example.com
Demystifying the Cloud – What is it and why should you care? cloud services, planned a cloud implementation or had already implemented a cloud strategy. Fewer than one in 10 said they had no immediate plans to start using the cloud. No matter how businesses decide to move to the cloud, one thing's clear: businesses are transitioning to the cloud.
Not so long ago when you heard the word ‘Cloud’ you knew exactly what it meant. Today that same word seems to generate blank looks and a lot of confusion. This article will be the first in a series to explore the subject of cloud computing. The intention is to help you better understand what cloud computing is, how it may benefit your business, or why it won’t. I will also share some of the risks you should be aware of before you begin transitioning your business to the cloud, thus avoiding some of the costly mistakes other businesses have made. So what is cloud computing? Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing resources – including everything from applications to data storage over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis. With cloud computing, instead of outlaying a lump sum to purchase licensed software and installing it on your computer, you sign up to a ‘pay-as-you-go’ service on the Internet and access the program via your web browser. You pay the cloud vendor for access to the software until you no longer need it. The scenario is similar for data storage. Instead of buying additional data storage devices
such as an external hard drive from your local computer store and backing up your data each night, you simply pay an ongoing subscription fee to the cloud vendor to store it on their servers. The amount you pay is often based on the volume of data you have to store and the level of security, availability and reliability you need. One of the benefits of cloud is you no longer have to make a capital outlay to purchase technology. The cloud subscription model provides businesses with greater flexibility to meet dynamic changes in the market without impinging heavily on their cash flow. Further, you never have to worry about managing licenses, upgrades or patches as these are taken care of by the cloud vendor and included with your subscription. Why should you care? A recent study conducted by KPMG found that 81% of businesses were either evaluating
So what does this mean for your business? Well, it will mean different things for each business depending on the type of business you run and the industry you are in. Some businesses will have to rethink their operating model in order to remain in business. For others, cloud may provide them with opportunities for growth and expansion. For others there will be very little impact. The marketing of cloud has been very effective in promoting the positive aspects of what cloud computing can deliver for business (quicker, cheaper, better) however it’s very rare for the potential risks and business impacts to be discussed in equal measure. Next month we’ll explore some of these further. In the interim, if you’d like to learn more about whether cloud should be part of your business strategy, please call me.
Let’s Talk Business 14
Paul GILLMORE DFS Founder and Director Southern Cross Financial Services 07 5429 5561 0402 685 032 firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Credit History – what you must know From March 2014, there is more financial data recorded and stored about you and this extra data is available to a lender or anyone else who accesses your credit history. Negative vs Positive Data Until now, only negative data was recorded on your personal credit file. That is, all applications for all types of credit such as home loans, credit cards, store cards, phone contracts, personal loans and online applications for credit were listed. On first impressions this might seem OK but if you wanted to get a comparison or better still, make them compete for your business, you could easily end up with a series of “enquires” on your credit file. Each time an application for credit is made, an entry is listed on your file immediately, that is, before any assessment is made on the loan, mobile contract, credit card or home loan. It goes further because there is no record of which, if any, of the credit contracts you took – only that you applied. So you could have several applications for a credit card or a phone contract listed. To a potential lender it appears that you are ‘madly seeking credit’ (credit assessors are very negative thinkers because their job requires it). In truth, you might just be seeking the best deal
however, you could be viewed as a credit risk and potentially declined. Positive data records which contracts you took and you ‘Loan Conduct” which is whether you made payments on time. Broadly, you will be allowed three days grace but anything longer will be recorded. Credit institutions have collected this data for the past 2 years but as of March ’14 they are recording it on your credit history. Naturally, this means that if you only take conservative credit contracts and always make your payments on time, this will be reflected in your credit file. However if life deals you a blow such as unemployment, a relationship split from a spendthrift partner or injury preventing you from working then things can look very bad very quickly. Being Funnelled Please be aware that credit providers will funnel you through a process where they will obtain your permission (usually in the fine print) to access and place entry on your credit file. We are all vulnerable to this but particularly when we research credit products online. When you click ‘Yes” to the terms and conditions you are receiving an event on your file. The Problems with Direct Debits (DD’s) Direct debits are usually taken from your account on a pre-determined date
in the month. Most people are paid weekly or fortnightly. This means that up to twice a year, your DD’s will fall ‘out of sync’ with your pay cycle creating a potential default of which you may not be aware. If you don’t keep your eye on it, your default could end up on your credit file. The problem is that DD’s are marketed as ‘You don’t have to worry about making payments’ but the ultimate responsibility remains with YOU ! Another problem is that you might be charged a penalty by your bank for failing to make a payment creating a reduction in your account balance for which you probably haven’t budgeted. This can lead to further defaults because of ‘lack of funds’. This ‘snowball effect’ can go unnoticed for some time meaning that you gain defaults on your credit history without knowing it ! Credit providers’ attitude will be “It’s up to you to ensure that there are sufficient funds in your account” When you allow a DD you are giving ‘the right’ to access your bank account. You might be surprised to know that you lose the right to cease the DD. That’s right, if you tell the bank to stop a DD, they will not follow your instructions. You have to politely ask the credit provider to stop but they may not comply, might continue to debit for an unspecified time citing costs or ‘the agreement’ or they might deduct ‘penalties’.
*Continued on next page
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Your Credit History – what you must know
from you regular spending account so it isn’t depleted accidently
Continued from previous page
Bill Shock and Dominos Ever had a phone bill, power or water bill that was MUCH higher than you expected and budgeted for? Most of us have and it might be out of your control. Things such as international roaming charges on your mobile when you are on holidays, dramatic or continual increases in power or water prices or simply all your bills coming at once ! You might have a triple mobile bill direct debited, which takes the money set aside for other bills, which means you experience a default which creates the next and the next . . . (domino effect). You might not be aware of this at the time because’ DDs just occur’ but when you experience several defaults and you do not pick them up in less than three days, you will be breached on your credit file.
The Result We give away control but we are encumbered with the TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY. Solutions It’s a new world of credit reporting that we must master so please
consider whether my solutions might be appropriate for you. 1. Resist DD’s – that is, tell credit providers that you do not wish to allow a DD because you away control of your finances. Instead, you could offer a Direct Credit. This is where you set up your own regular payment through your own internet banking. There are still penalties if you don’t have the funds available but you can turn it on or off and you can negotiate with your credit provider if your circumstances change. With a DD, you have little power of negotiation if any. Resisting DD’s is difficult though because many providers will tell you that it is THE ONLY WAY they will do business. However, stand your ground, insist that a DC is almost identical to a DD, and then ask for the manager because call centre people are not allowed to vary the rules their employer lays down. If enough of us resist then more flexible and user friendly arrangements might prevail – it won’t be easy though ! 2. Improve your budgeting system – you might like to consider a ‘sub account’ for bills only. You could work out your bills for the year, month or quarter and set funds aside each pay. Please separate
3. If you use a credit card for DDs you could pre-pay your credit card. That’s right, it’s possible to run a credit card with a positive balance rather than a negative balance. Banks don’t necessarily like it (because they are not making money out of you) but it is entirely legal. If your bank won’t allow this then research credit cards and seek a good change over deal. 4. Set your diary and pay your own bills – I know this can be tedious but it is becoming ever more necessary to be on top of your finances and nothing beats doing it yourself regularly to know where you are. 5. Internet Banking – is very good these days i.e. sites are well encrypted and if you run your anti-virus/anti-malware software just prior to internet banking you should be right (please refer to your IT consultant). You can make a cuppa, sit down and pay your bills allowing you to stay on top and be in control. Finally, you could write to your federal member of parliament and the Minister for Finance complaining that you are being forced into DDs against your will and you want laws passed that give consumers more suitable options. You can find out how to manage this, how to get a copy of your credit file and how to ‘Clean your Credit File’ by simply contacting us. 15
Let’s Talk Business 16
How Good are Your Listening Skills? Reproduced in part, with the permission of Mind Tools: www.mindtools.com
For many of us, listening is the communication skill we use the most. Yet, many people listen poorly, and they rarely think to improve this important skill. Poor listeners "hear" what's being said, but they rarely "listen" to the whole message. They get distracted by their own thoughts or by what's going on around them, and they formulate their responses before the person they're talking to has finished speaking. Because of this, they miss crucial information. Good listeners, on the other hand, enjoy better relationships, because they fully understand what other people are saying. Their team members are also more productive, because they feel that they can discuss problems easily, and talk through solutions. You can learn to be a better listener. Test your skills below, and then find out how you can improve. Preparing to Listen Good preparation is essential for effective listening. Without it, it's hard to listen to people successfully. Before you have an important conversation, remove anything that may distract you from it, so that you can focus, and so that you can show the other person that she has your full attention. Switch off your cell phone, turn off instant messaging and email alerts, put your work away, close your meeting room door, and do what you can to make sure that you won't
be interrupted. If you know that you won't be able to offer the other person your full attention – for example, if you're working on an urgent task – schedule a better time to speak. However, make sure that the other person knows that the conversation is important to you. Also, do what you can to make the other person feel at ease. Use open body language, and a friendly tone. If he indicates that he wants to speak about a sensitive subject, and if this is appropriate, remind him that the conversation is in confidence, and that he can be honest with you. (If you're a manager, there may be some things that you cannot keep confidential. If your conversation is beginning to encroach on these, make this clear to the other person.)
Active Listening When you listen actively , you not only make a conscious effort to hear the other person's words, but, more importantly, you try to understand their whole message. To do this, learn how to read people's body language and tone, so that you can identify "hidden" nonverbal messages. Also, don't interrupt people, and don't allow yourself to become distracted by your own thoughts or opinions. Instead, focus completely on what the other person is saying.
wait for people to finish what they're saying before you ask for clarification. Above all, don't formulate a response until people have communicated their whole message, and avoid any judgment or criticism until it's your turn to speak. If you argue or "play devil's advocate" while you listen, you may discourage them from opening up to you. Tip: It can be difficult not to formulate a response while the other person is talking. This is because we typically think much faster than other people can speak, so our brains are often "whirring away" while they are talking. You'll need to concentrate hard to stay focused on the person who's speaking, and this can take a lot of effort. Empathic Listening When you demonstrate empathy, you recognize other people's emotions, and you do what you can to understand their perspectives. As such, it really helps you take active listening to the next level.
Nod or say "OK" occasionally to acknowledge that you're listening.
To listen empathically, put yourself "in other people's shoes," and try to see things from their point of view. Then, summarize what they say, in your own words, to show them that you understand their perspectives.
If you don't understand something,
Let’s Talk Business 17
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Published on Apr 24, 2014
A collection of articles from a diverse range of Australian small business experts; intended to help small business owners grow their busine...