21 November 2017

Passion, Persistence and Patience

By Tina Zawila

If you are in business or are a business student, you have probably heard of the “4P’s of Marketing” – Price, Product, Promotion and Place.  It is argued that executing a marketing mix using these 4Ps is crucial to a successful product offering. 

Today, I want to introduce you to another set of P’s that I believe are just as crucial to launching a successful product offering, and in fact, to operate a successful business:

Passion – I know its cliché, but you must be passionate about what you do and what you can offer your customers to be successful in business.  If you don’t believe in yourself, and your product and service, no one else will! 

Your team must also be on board.  I visited a workplace recently, where the team members were demonstrating a new product that they had been working on and they could hardly contain their pride and excitement – they even had their personal mobile phones out to take photos of the demo!  

Persistence –Again there are many quotes and examples of how success is born from preparation, hard work and learning from failure.  Successful entrepreneurs persist even when they make mistakes or encounter challenges.  They keep trying and accept failure as part of the process.

Patience - Things take time.  There is no such thing as a true overnight success story.  Many instant entrepreneurs have in fact spent years researching, developing and honing their ideas, skills and ultimately their product or service offering.   They have often had to wait for the right time in the market, and then be patient while their product or service is adopted, accepted and embraced by their customers.

At Sothertons Gladstone we support entrepreneurs and business owners throughout their business journey.  Call us today on 4972 1300 and share your passion, persistence and patience stories with us. 

14 November 2017

The “Uber” for banking has arrived!

By Steve Marsten

Recently a bunch of Gladstone Businesses gathered to hear commentary from one of the big four banks. It was quite sobering as he candidly explained why it was necessary for the banking systems in Australia to change.

Currently 80% of all banking transactions is “preferred to be carried out by customers” on the internet. That’s probably true. Busy people do their banking at night. Most transactions and bill payments are currently being carried out via our phones, iPads and Laptops. 
Only 15% of customers “want” to walk into a bank. Clearly we can all see what’s coming. Why would a business maintain heaps of real estate and office space to service 15% of their clientele? AND that portion is shrinking.

What was also interesting is the speed in which Chinese banks are growing around the world. One Chinese financial institution that only operates online, has grown to 200 million customers in  just 2 years and is expected to double again in less then 12 months!

The other economic point is that it costs the average Chinese bank (who only operate online) 4c for every $1 of earnings they receive from customers. It costs Australian banks about 40 cents! Many people already think that Australian Banks are the bogeymen of big business however in the scheme of things they will need to compete in Global markets or face ever declining revenues and customer bases. I know many will say that “we would never use a foreign bank” but the fact is many people in this country are already using European and American banks. When foreign banks are established without the cost of real estate, its obvious to see them making very attractive offers to the Australian Market in the not too distant future that will lure many customers away from their traditional financial suppliers.

One Big bank has copped a hiding for saying that they will be laying of several thousand personnel. I think they are just being honest with their shareholders and their customers. This is going to be the case for all big banks in Australia. The future of the financial industry is going to change rapidly only this time their “Uber” is coming from Asia.

Remember for all your financial business advice contact the team at Sothertons on 49721300.

07 November 2017

Play Together, Stay Together

By Tina Zawila

What are you doing for the Race that Stops the Nation today?  Most workplaces will at least stop for a few minutes to watch the Melbourne Cup, however, many will take the opportunity to take a long lunch or even take the afternoon off.  

Australians all over the country take annual leave to go the Cup itself, or to attend a function or race day locally.  

So what does this lost time cost business and our economy?  Clearly there is a loss of productivity, and for retailers business is slow at best, or even non-existent after lunch. 

However, for employers who embrace the Cup and take the opportunity to reward their team with some extra time over lunch and/or organise a team event/luncheon, what does this do to boost morale and promote employee loyalty?  Often the value of this flow on effect cannot be accurately estimated or measured.

The benefits of a happy and engaged team are often qualitative rather than quantitative however, there is a mountain of anecdotal evidence which proves that quantitative business results improve when employee turnover is low and moral is high.

People don’t leave roles, they leave people.  Looking after your team, offering them regular (even small) rewards will reap significant benefits.  The cost of recruitment is often much higher than the investment in rewarding and nurturing your team. 

Let us know what you do to reward your team.  Call Sothertons Gladstone on 49721300.

02 November 2017

Obstacles to Small Businesses

By Steve Marsten

Small businesses are facing countless obstacles to their success at present - whether it’s performing day-to-day operations or planning long-term growth. From rising office supply costs to the health of the national economy, sometimes prioritising the issues to focus on is a huge challenge by itself.

We should be conscious though that there is no magic bullet in business. What we notice is that most of the things that people worry about are things that they have little or no control over. So, you should prepare for a variety of situations.

Hence the question – Well what situations should business owners be worried about? In a recent 2017 Small Business Survey of over 500 Small Businesses to find out the biggest business challenges they all face.

Here’s a look at those top concerns and how they could help shape your priorities.

Interest rates on funding and access to funding is a major issue. With the four big banks quietly increasing interest rates on many loans during 2017, one wonders what the reserve bank does anymore. Small Business owners are well aware of the banks controlling money rates more then ever and the cost of money is a great concern. Rate hikes have made securing funding for a small business more difficult than it already was. Cash management — and planning it properly — is also a common challenge for small companies and good advisors should be part of your management team to assist you.

Beware the banks offering extraordinarily low interest rates for the sting is in their charges. One of the four big banks appears initially to offer small business owners exceptionally low rates however when you add back the fees they are suddenly on equal par with their competitors. Where you pay more is that the fees do not reduce as you pay down your loan only the interest does hence the banks make more money.

Business owners need to be aware of the terms of any loan, line of credit or business credit card they have and how interest rates could impact monthly payments.

Interestingly, other issues that came up were the health of the National and local economies and the rising cost of health care in this country. That will need to be a discussion for another day.

If you have any questions regarding small business concerns, feel free to phone the team at Sothertons on 4972 1300 for more information.

24 October 2017

A Different Perspective

By Tina Zawila

Steve and I were both out of the office in early October attending our annual Centrepoint Alliance Partner Summit for Financial Planners and Accountants.  This conference is held overseas in a different location each year.  Every year the quality of the speakers and technical content is outstanding, enabling us to continually improve our professional skills and knowledge to best serve our clients.

I’ve often been asked “Why is an Australian conference held overseas and why do you invest the time and money to go?”  Aside from the technical content, there are a number of other invaluable learning’s gained from these conferences that may not be obvious at first.

  • ·         A different time zone – minimises distractions during the conference.  Delegates are often less likely to have to take phone calls or answer emails and messages allowing them to focus on the content and network with other delegates.  
  • ·         A different economy/political landscape – as Financial Advisors learning about the strengths and weaknesses of different economies and political environments enhances our ability to analyse and assess our own economy and government policies.
  • ·         A different currency – aside from sharpening our ability to do conversions in our heads, the value of currency and the cost of living provides an insight into another financial system.
  • ·         A different culture – witnessing different ways of life, living standards and the attitudes of the people to their governments/rulers provides us with perspective on the Australian lifestyle.
Another important associated benefit is the ability to review and assess our own professional and personal development, and our business’ performance and position, with the benefit of distance and a different perspective. 

We often talk to our clients about Working IN versus Working ON your business.  These conferences are our opportunity to work ON our own business and take our own advice.

Finally, travel teaches you patience and to acknowledge what you can and can’t control! 

If you are looking for a different perspective on your business or career, take some time out to talk to our professional team at Sothertons on 4972 1300. 

17 October 2017

Are you an abrogator or a delegator?

By Steve Marsten
Recently I came across a situation where some business owners discussed the fact that good “management” could be defined briefly as “getting things done through others.” Such an expression succinctly captures the complexity of delegation of responsibility within an organisation.
In general, winning businesses tend to have a system of delegating responsibility that works effectively. It is a combination of art and science. It’s the system of delegating responsibility without losing control of the business for which business owners, CEO’s or Directors are ultimately responsible.
One particular business owner receives regular reports and measures performance within each department or cost centre. He seems to have a sixth-sense for when things are going well and when a department is floundering. It is more than pouring over reports and data though. It has a lot to do with the tone and tenor of the human interactions between him and the mangers, supervisors or leading hands.
It is not complicated. When you ask a manager a series of questions and clear crisp and enlightened answers snap back, you develop a confidence that the manager has effective control over their area of responsibility. Indeed, it is within these organizations we normally find success by most any measure.
Unfortunately, we occasionally find a manager or CEO who substitutes “abrogation” for “delegation.” One definition of abrogation is, . . . .” to treat as non-existent.” In these circumstances there is a detachment between the “executive” and the “department head”.
Sometimes business owners shirk their basic responsibilities by, in their eyes, allowing their people to do their jobs unhindered but without appropriate follow-up and check-ups. Hence it’s not until there is a major issue or break in the system that the manager can subsequently blame someone for the issue without first looking in the mirror.
In summary, business owners need to understand that their team expects them to lead. They’ll expect them to take responsibility and they will expect them to solve problems. Most importantly, they also expect them to converse with them and listen as much as they advise. They are not necessarily expecting you to be their friends however an empathetic approach while taking an interest in people will gain respect far more easily such that your team will want to work for you.

For more information on better leadership and culture settings, contact our team at Sothertons on 4972 1300.

03 October 2017

Business Grants are available to growing businesses

By Steve Marsten

There is not a better time then now to be a small business! Right now the Queensland Government has several funding programs available to assist small business to grow and accelerate. The State Government is providing $3 million in grant funding over 3 years to established small businesses to engage business mentors, coaches, specialist consultants or an advisory board, for a 6 to 12 month period. This is a great opportunity for sole traders and partners to take the loneliness out of small business. It helps build ideas or put them into practice with professional guidance. It helps with continuity and sustainability.

The Program allows for targeted assistance to small businesses that demonstrate high-growth and employment aspirations, to enable them to engage high-level experts and strategic advisors and thinkers to work closely with them in their business.

Funding of up to $10,000 (excluding GST) may be provided to eligible businesses to engage business professionals. The funding must be matched by a cash contribution from the participating business. So its $1 for $1 or a 50% discount for such services.

To be eligible for this grant, the business must:

  • have a minimum trading history of 3 years at the time of application
  • have a minimum turnover of $500,000 in the previous 12 months
  • have a maximum headcount of 20 employees at the time of application
  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and be registered for GST
  • have competitive opportunities in domestic or international markets
  • have growth opportunities
Growth is important to your business plan and businesses with a goal to have a 20% increase in turnover or employment are best placed to be successful for this grant.

Only 1 application per year is accepted from an individual ABN or business address. Note - this is not the only funding available either. Business owners should check out the Small Business Digital Grants Program as well. This grant provides small businesses with access to digital technologies and services to enable them to work smarter and engage with the global economy while making the most of online business opportunities arising from digital disruption.

At Sothertons we have assisted many businesses to obtain government grants. For any assistance or questions feel free to call us on 0749 721300.