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Which do you consider the most important in building a sustainable business?

In terms of building a sustainable business which do you consider most important revenues or... read more

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Neil Steggall Partner at Wardour Capital Partners
Jef LippiattCo-founder at Startup Chucktown
I would say margins, but specifically their reinvestment. Revenue is great to show traction, but that won't keep a business afloat long term. Your profit margins show a healthy business that has demand and larger margins help show your business is growing.However, it is important to think about the constant pace of change in the business world. You can't expect to make those margins continuously. You must plan for the margins to taper off as your customer, market or product change.Your margins should be split among several categories such as generating additional new business, supporting the existing business and investment. I want to focus on last point, "investment", for a minute. I don't necessarily mean an investment account for the business (although that isn't a terrible idea). I mean investing in the future of your company. Think of efforts like Research and Development, improving your current product, adapting your product into a line of products, or creating an entirely new product.Yes, you fund those activities through your margins. Those activities when managed correctly will need to new margins (not always more or better, but possibly) for your company. Diversifying your offering will create multiple streams of business income. These will help even other products as their demand goes up and down in the marketplace.Margins can be a safety net, but they should also be the coffers to the future of your business. You don't want to focus so much on the margins today that you have no margins down the road. Look at ways to keep your margins consistent regardless of the market.
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Business planning

Google Apps for Business: Taking Over the World Today

Success in entrepreneurship does not come out of big fat pockets of money, nor does it come out of... read more

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Ling Lee Director at Japanese Sword Auctions Australia
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Ling LeeDirector at Japanese Sword Auctions Australia
I guess people do have their preferences :D but isn't it interesting how the concept of "lifetime patronage" comes into play especially in regards to technology?
I loved Google apps, and now I have made the $13.00 financial commitment to use Microsoft Office 365, which now I have my Hosted Exchange, SharePoint, Microsoft Lync and SkyDrive pro which I cannot live without. I know it is not a free service, but the small fee has rewarded me with a lot of resources. Clearly I am not an apple user :)
Business planning

Business Tips For a Great Year Ahead: Planning The Post-Christmas Hang Over

As we approach Christmas, no doubt, we are all very busy both on the work and home front finalising... read more

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Business planning

How to create a S.M.A.R.T Business Plan

It's a general rule among entrepreneurs that before a business gets built from the ground up,... read more

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Kerry Blake
Thank you for your kind words Roland. Your comment (short article) is great addition to my article.
Lovely article Kerry... Love the focus on learning from your competition... have a look what they do and then make it better. Business planning is a big soapbox of mine. Most business owners know they should have one but few of them do and the ones that do have one haven't looked at it in the last couple of years and the plan is gathering dust at the bottom of a pile of books. The problem is that people don't get clear about the purpose of the business plan that they create. There is a world of difference between a business plan that is written to impress a bank manager when applying for an overdraft and a plan that is aimed at engaging your people and the main tool that is used to guide the development of the business. The first one is what I call an external plan and the second one is what I refer to as an internal business plan. And the 6 criteria for an effective internal business plan are these: - It's got to be Live and kept alive...constantly - Make sure it's written for the right people - And easily accessible for those people - Including the Short, medium, long-term Goals of the business (SMART goals) - Referencing the Purpose and Mission of the business - And short (ideally no more than one page) As it happens I've written in more detail about effective business planning, on this site as well as on my blog... and I have a couple of recorded webinars available about Business plans that work (for free)... if anyone is interested drop me a line or let me know here and I'll share a link to one of them. Cheers Roland Hanekroot
Business planning

How to get your business organised

Successful people and business have a clear vision and a road map which guides their actions each... read more

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Ling LeeDirector at Japanese Sword Auctions Australia
The SMART goal principle is just one of many I always tell myself to implement. Maybe it really is time to actually implement it to my routines! I usually just ricochet from one task to another with no actual goal in mind.
Leo EliadesOwner at INSPIRENOW PTY LTD
thank you Andrew, a great reminder for those very special and important things! Filing your day with what matters - YES s true, and it is very easy to get caught on this one Leo
Business planning

‘System’ is not a dirty word

Business owners are wary of ‘systems’, feeling they deprive them of flexibility. However, a... read more

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Thanks Brian. I have been told that the value of your business is not just in the assets, but also the systems. The better the systems, the better the value.
Wendy HuangFull Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes
Quick and to the point. I'm all for Systems :)
Business planning

Do you plan but not implement it?

Yogi Berra, the great American baseball player, once said, "If you don't know where you're going,... read more

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John Millar Managing Director at More Profit Less Time
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Business planning

Information overload: cutting to the chase.

Small business advice is big business, with an entire industry telling you how to run a better... read more

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Thanks Steve.
Steve OsborneOwner at Smarthinking
All excellent advice. Clearly, the voice of experience speaking. I agree that it's easy for business owners to become overwhelmed with superfluous information. I'm also convinced most already have the (marketing) knowledge they need within themselves. They simply don't know how, when or why they should use it. Which is why good advice, when given, creates the "aha" light bulb moment. A sympathetic, experienced business advisor is invaluable for shedding light.
Business planning

Do you really need a business plan?

Why do we have architects and engineers?  It’s simple really.  Every great man-made structure,... read more

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Allan Bennetto Founder at JMango
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Business planning

My business name blooper

I have a confession to make. In my last business I made a fundamental mistake; not an uncommon... read more

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Thanks I appreciate the feedback.
Ling LeeDirector at Japanese Sword Auctions Australia
thanks for sharing this!
Business planning

9 tips and tricks to forecasting - avoid the hockey stick

Let’s face it, today is not the best of times for most businesses.  With the roller coaster ride... read more

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Allan Bennetto Founder at JMango
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Business planning

6 tips for buying a business

6 Tips for buying a business – Have you thought about being self employed and would like to buy... read more

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Business planning

What is success? & can everyone succeed?

Have you ever gone along to one of those meetings where only as you arrive do you realise the... read more

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Neil Steggall Partner at Wardour Capital Partners
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Michelle TupyBlog and Epublishing Manager at Clever Streak
I love the fact that you can define your own success and it does not always involve big cars, big spending and private jets.
Questions

Will SME's spend & invest in consultancy skills to help build their businesses in 2014?

To place this into context two recent comments have caused me to pause and really think on this... read more

Asked by:
Neil Steggall Partner at Wardour Capital Partners
Steve GrayDirector at Gray Capital Investments
SMEs, a few issues to consider - Busy - so time stops them (can't find enough if they did they might not spend it on more work related 'stuff') - Over it... business has sapped their energy, they survive and hope for the best... not willing to try things. - Spend, only if I have to - It's hard won $$ therefore you want it you need to be very persuasive to pry it from them. - Consultant! - I'll do it myself, someday... (too proud to get in outside assistance). Just a few thoughts :)
Wendy HuangFull Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes
I'm sure small business will spend if they can see a direct result of the consultancy, but I feel a lot of sales messages for consultancy these days promise great results, but the pitches are not specific enough for me to justify spend. Wallets are tight these days so I feel that consultants have an even bigger job and more pressure to do a great pitch for business.  I wonder if the money is the real barrier or the trust for the consultant to bring about change that will increase in revenue. Because logically speaking if revenue increase was higher then expenses it should be a straight forward decision.
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Business planning

8 Ingredients Every App and Software Business Plan Needs

Business & Small Business Log In | Join Log In | Join Log In Join...read more

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Business planning

Some common themes impacting small business.

This discussion is not so much about copywriting, although effective business communications is... read more

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Wendy HuangFull Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes
Looking forwards to your next article Helen!
Questions

Is the "Traditional Office" still relevant?

As our leases expire we are moving into serviced offices with most staff being encouraged to work... read more

Asked by:
Neil Steggall Partner at Wardour Capital Partners
Wendy HuangFull Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes
I still think the traditional office is relevant for a lot of larger companies but I think the real value in the new trend of virtual office is more about flexibility. For me the downside of the traditional office is not the location itself but the requirement to be there. I personally believe that adults that are committed to a company should be allowed to make a choice as to how they will work most efficiently. There are some type of projects that will be more efficient face to face and whether this is done in a coffee shop or in an office it doesn't matter. In addition there are some projects where people work better in a quieter environment with no interruptions (e.g. workmates) and they should be given the flexibility to go sit in a quite area or coffee shop or even at home to complete the task. I think the ideal situation will be a mix of both worlds. Days where you may physically meet people and days where you can do the hard tasks that require absolute focus and quite and no interruptions. I personally love the idea of co-working spaces for smaller startups because it gives them the access to a bunch of people with various skills that you don't have to hire for - like asking the designer sitting across the table from you their opinion on one of your banners, and you can come in and out of the co-working space as you please. I think that's the best of both worlds for startups and smaller businesses and removes the isolation :) Even some of the larger start-ups that have outgrown the co-working spaces choose to stay near or continue working in co-working spaces because you just get access to a bunch of amazing motivated entrepreneurs :)  
Anna JamesOwner/Manager at ABS Office Affordable Business Solutions
I think a lot of people still find it a novelty Neil. I will qualify my comments as being biased - we provide serviced offices and virtual receptionist services - my target market is businesses who are already comfortable with the concept.  I can tell you though that the acceptance and awareness of virtual workplaces is better now it was 5 years ago. I live 3 hours from Brisbane and have staff working both in the offices (based in Brisbane) and at their own homes so I practice what I preach when it comes to virtual offices. My personal experience is that many people are reluctant to meet virtually, preferring to have a face to face. I've had 'those' calls from the technology companies who are keen to have their 'Business Analyst' meet with you about getting your technology in order, but they refuse to schedule a Skype meeting or Google Hangout - go figure.  Many of my clients are comfortable with it all, as you would expect, but for them, if they need face-to-face I will either get in the car and go see them, or one of the team will.  My approach is to continuously sell the benefits, of which there are many, and be prepared to compromise on occasion. I strongly believe that broader acceptance of virtual workplaces is an evolutionary process and if we just keep doing what we're doing, other businesses will eventually catch on. 
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Business planning

3 steps to uncovering your big priorities for 2014

Coming to the close of 2013, like most of us, it’s a time for some downtime, fun with family and... read more

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Phil KhorFounder at SavvySME
Great article Andrew. Couldn't agree more, personally Christmas is the best time to regroup and set priorities for the new year. I love how simplistic your planning advice is, it's the perfect start! Thanks! :)
Andrew OldhamOwner at Shoebooks
Thanks Neil, i wish they would also!
Business planning

5 tips for successful business development

5 Tips for Successful Business Development 1. Business Development Is Not Increasing... read more

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Neil Steggall Partner at Wardour Capital Partners
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Business planning

The best business book you'll read this year

I’ve just finished reading one of the best books on business I’ve read for a long time. Why is... read more

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Thanks Wendy for fixing up the heading - much appreciated. Darryn
I agree Wendy. 37 signals are a great company - and a great model for business. On another note, something went wrong with the article title? It was supposed to be just "The best business book you'll read this year." Not sure what happened there. Regards, Darryn