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Phil Khor answered a question

Phil Khor

Phil Khor, Founder at SavvySME

I reckon it's grit, some people have it, others don't. Grit is a personality trait of passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. I wrote about it here https://www.savvysme.com.au/article/445-do-you-have-the-will-to-succeed-do-you-have-grit-to-grow-your-business

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Yee Trinh

Yee Trinh, Cofounder at SavvySME

Perseverance. Whether you're an actor, an entrepreneur, an athlete or otherwise, if you are aspiring to grand "success", you will encounter roadblock after roadblock after roadblock. What differentiates the failures from the Michael Jordans and Richard Bransons is often a string of setbacks in which the latter two pushed and persisted through.
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Nick Chernih answered a question

What was your the biggest marketing mistake?

One early mistake I made was to vastly over-estimate the interest my (assumed) target audience would have in a particular range of services. In a classic case of "plumber with a leaky tap", I sent out '000s of postcards offering a service no-one was interested in. Result: 3 (just three!) enquiries. 

I didn't research the market and ask them : a. do you need this service; b. can you afford this service;  c. are you the right audience for this service? It taught me an expensive lesson – it's not about what you DO, it's about what they GET.

Nick Chernih

Nick Chernih, Founder at LinkBuildSEO

The biggest mistake I made was too focus too much on SEO and too little on the actual consumer. 

My sites all rank without a problem, but I found adding a human element to my content made a big difference in conversions.

Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne , director at Steve Osborne / Smarthinking

That's a very important observation Nick. So how did you actually add the human element?
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Marcus Tjen answered a question

Do I need a bookkeeper?

I am a sole trader with my own small business. Can I do my own books or will I need a bookkeeper or accountant?

Marcus Tjen

Marcus Tjen, Owner at Rugged Computing

If you are a sole trader, you do not have to have a book keeper or an accountant. You can keep track of your income and expenses in a spreadsheet and file your own personal tax return at the end of the financial year. No need to file a business tax return.

If however you do a lot of small transactions (debit and credit) in your business, you might want to consider using a book keeper to help you keep track and save you time.

If you also want to have a financial statements at the end of financial year (balance sheet, profit and loss and cash flow statement) then you need to get an accountant.

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Sathyanarayanan Srinivasa

Sathyanarayanan Srinivasa, Owner at Taxfin Business Services

Understand from your query that you are a small business owner having a sole trader business model.If you have prior experience maintaining your books of accounts as well as dealing with ATO you may not need book keeper to start with In case if your business grows and do not find time and energy to do the book keeping as well as meeting GST compliance , you may need the assitance of the book keeper as well as Tax Accountant or Tax Agent . Many of the Tax Agents provide the services of Book keeping, Accounting & Tax Compliance services and the cost varies depending on the nature and number of transactions, For complex tax advisory matters the cost is fixed depending on the time spent by the Tax Agent or Advisor.You may please feel free to contact me at Taxfin Business services if you need further clarification or informartion in this regard. My name is Sathyanarayanan Srinivas and my contact number is 0424419130.Please visit www.taxfinservices.com.au for detailes on services provided.

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ITP . answered a question

ITP .

ITP .,

Yes.A portion of the home which is used for income producing activities and does have the character of being a place of business can be claimed. This would include where part of a home is set up as a sole base of operations and/or where clients can be attended to on site. The claims would be apportioned in most cases on the area of the home used and would include a portion of rent, mortgage interest, insurance, council and water rates. Claiming these expenses would also mean that for home owners there may be a capital gains tax consequence when the house is later sold. You may also be able to claim running costs on the home such as a portion of electricity for heating/cooling and lighting, cleaning costs and depreciation of furniture. Claiming running costs do not make the home subject to CGT when sold.

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Hitesh Mohanlal

Hitesh Mohanlal, Director at WOW! Advisors & Business Accountants

This is probably to most common question asked by my clients. It generally depends on the circumstances and exactly what you use your home for. Friends will tell you they have claimed for many years and not had a problem and that may be true but friends generally do not understand the entire consequences of claiming home expenses as business expenses.

Firstly, if you own the property you could, without realising it, end up paying capital gains tax on you home when you sell it. If you live in a home you own it is your principal private residence and is not subject to capital gains tax. When you start claiming home expenses like mortgage interest and electricity what you are saying is that it is no longer 100 % private use. So if you claim 25% expenses are business you have converted your home to 75% private and 25% commercial and when you sell you have to calculate 25% as a capital gain.

The next issue is if the cost is genuine business use. So if you use a small desk in a room which is also used by your son to sleep in then the ATO will say that the small office is just incidental to the home - even if you spend 24 hrs a day in there. The same would be if you spend 4 days out on the road and spend 1 day at home in the office. The ATO is unlikely to allow you to claim significant costs relating to running the home.

At the other end if your garage and spare room is full of stock there is a genuine claim that a bigger home is required in order to run the business and you may be able to claim expenses.

My advise would be to talk to your advisor and do some calculations. I have done this for my clients and sometimes it make sense to claim home expenses and for others it does not.

Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt , Owner at Startup Chucktown

Here in the United States it is very similar. Essentially to claim a home office, you must only use the room for work and be able to close a door to prove it isn't being used when you are not conducting business.
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Sharon Latour answered a question

What are your marketing challenges in the new year?

Marketing Bee is currently creating a new site and also a new series of ebooks and workshops to help SME owners tackle their marketing.

The most recent feedback we have obtained from our last workshop included the following:

- Social media managemnet software is hard to use

- Difficulty to generate content continuously

- Lack of creative ideas

- Fear of being too adventurous

- "Marketing is too time consuming!"

- "We don't get any return from all our efforts."

- "We don't have a marketing plan and we don't know where to start."

- "We can't trust web designers and marketing agencies."

So what are your thoughts and challenges? How can we help?

Buzzing to hear!

Sharon.

Sharon Latour

Sharon Latour, Queen Bee/CMO at Marketing Bee

Hi Peter

Thanks for responding, it's great to hear about your business and thanks for sharing your challenges.

1. Regarding Pt1. understanting the levels of pricing you can place in your business and what your customers are ready to pay is possible with a solid business plan and a thorough marketing plan. Pricing strategies are usually created after market research and positioning are done, both help to establish a level of pricing which is adequate for your services and target market. These can be done through a marketing plan.

2. Going from a normal company/business to a franchise is a complicated and very involved process which would require a lot of planning, research and forecasting and although I would love to give you an exact answer, it is a bit hard to do so without knowing your company, financial goals, structure and more. May be you can send me some links and information at info@marketingbee.com.au and I will see how I can help.

Thanks again for sharing.

Feel free to add me on LinkedIn (Sha Latour) to connect.

Kind Regards

Sharon

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Peter Jones

Peter Jones, Founder at LinkSmart

Hi,

I maybe unique. I have online businesses and when I come up with a new online product, 1. How do I price it as most are different to what is currently avaiable. 2. Most importantly, do I market as an online business selling a product or market as a type of franchise.

Point 2 raises a couple of issues. All my products are subscription so do I have people subscribing monthly or do I franchise and get money upfront and then a monthly 'retainer'? I am still trying to get a happy medium and trying new formats.

Don't know is this is of any help but it is issues I have to face.

Regards Peter

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Albert Kelly answered a question

Is it worth hiring a good PR agency?

For those that had experience working with a PR agency, do you think it is worth the cost?

Also, where do they offer the most value? The fact they save you time or their network/connections, or something else?

Lastly, how much does a mid-tier PR agency charge, hourly fee, monthly fixed cost etc.?

Albert Kelly

Albert Kelly, Information Technology at Corporate Gifts Shop

I think that there are a lot of good SEO firms that do an "okay" PR for you on the web. I also think that there is a great number of PR firms that do an "okay" job of SEO. But the main point is if you want to improve your overall presence on the net then get an SEO firm to just focus on your SEO, this will get you more organic search and targeted advertising. If you just want to improve the public perception of your business on the web then go with the firm. Just do not get one firm to cover both PR and SEO, unless you would get your podiatrist to look at your teeth during the same appointment.

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Michelle Pecar

Michelle Pecar, Communications Manager at Belgrin

I work at a mid-tier PR agency and our focus is on small businesses. It is always dependant on the agencies structure but in our case we work with the client to tailor a PR package to maximise the value of our service as well as meet the clients needs. So, when choosing your agency make sure they are flexible in what they deliver, as you may want to utilise them for networking purposes (to help save you time and build more alliances) as well as more traditional PR methods of creating branding awareness. When it comes to pricing - each clients PR needs are different, and we come up with a fixed monthly fee based on these needs. If you are working with the right agency you will definitely see the value.

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Melanie Gray answered a question

What are your best lead generation techniques?

For a web development business, Freelancer and Upwork are common, but the most competitive. Social media marketing, google Adwords and SEO are also there. Any other easy method besides these?

Melanie Gray

Melanie Gray, Managing Owner at MyCL (My Computer Lab)

I am a heavy user of Facebook.

  • One of my businesses is a computer repair business. I often search in local Facebook groups for the words 'computer' or 'laptop' and provide help through commenting on the post. Sometimes I tag my Facebook page which often leads into paid work. Because I already use Facebook a lot, to me these are 'free' leads for my business.
  • For my IT Business Analyst Consulting business, I use business based Facebook groups that allow advertising on certain days. I will advertise on those days which has lead to paid consulting work.

Face to face networking works well for both businesses.

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Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

The two techniques that I use that seem to have the most success (currently) for me are the following:

  • Digital - On Twitter - whenever someone follows me, I review their profile and follow up with a question targeted on what was in their profile. 7 out of 10 times I get a genuine response and it starts a dialogue (I don't send direct messages manually or automatically until the dialogue is started personally). When I follow someone, I also ask them a question and about 6 out of 10 times get a personal response. I find that social media works best when personal and non-automated. You may have less followers, but you'll have higher quality engagement.
  • Physical - In Person - when networking, I ask people what they do first (unless they get me by surprise). After a brief conversation, if they are interested I usually mention my business, but I do so like this, "Could you just checkout my website and give me 2 to 3 pieces of feedback? I don't expect you to buy anything right now, but if you are interested I'd appreciate you sharing it with others." It is simple and not pressured. I get a decent amount of word-of-mouth traction (locally).
  • Both of these techniques rely on nothing more than me being authentic and taking a few minutes to have a personal conversation with someone else. Perhaps it is a old-fashioned approach, but the results clearly indicate it is successful.

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    Lisa Ormenyessy answered a question

    Lisa Ormenyessy

    Lisa Ormenyessy, Business Coach and Marketing Specialist at Straight Talk Group

    Mick, I agree with Jef and Adrienne, may I also suggest some entrepreneurial pitch meet ups in your area.  This can be a great place to get your pitch right and to uncover any objections, issues or scenrios you may not yet have discovered.  Good Luck!

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    Adrienne McLean

    Adrienne McLean, Founder at The Speakers Practice

    There is an international not-for-profti organisation for entrepreneurs - TIE International. 

    This organisation is normally run by investors and "angels" - these are the types of people who are on the committee to run the TIE group. 

    I have been a member of TIE Sydney - they run all sorts of networking events, advisory groups, 1:1 mentoring. They run a fabulous "Pitching " competition and go through how to structure a pitch when looking for capital from investors. The winner of this pitching competition goes to Silicon Valley and pitches with the other international competitors. 

    TIE International members - from the investors side - help startups with information, they are also there looking for great ideas. Associating with this group can really help from an information viewpoint, meeting with investors and talking with them about how to source funding and basically networking - you never know who is in the room that might be interested in your idea. 

    Learning from investors who have been there, is really valuable. Look for your local TIE International chapter or for Startup networking groups - there will be investors in the room.

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    Jef Lippiatt answered a question

    What fonts do you find the most professional?

    Bit of an oddball one from me tonight, and I have no idea where it came from. Thought it would be fun and interesting. What fonts do you find the most professional? The least? What does a font say about you and your business?

    Jef Lippiatt

    Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

    John,

    I'll give you some insights from a designer's perspective (I do graphic, branding, web and user experience just to name some). Why is mentioning those disciplines important? They all factor into typography choices and ideas.

    First you must think about your format (or media). Fonts that look great on paper do not always translate well to online consumption.

    Unless a font is selected for artwork (poster, flyer, or a logo) you want to minimize the strain you are putting on your audience (e.g. would you want to read an entire book printed in cursive or calligraphy? No, the strain would hurt your eyes).

    There are literally 1000's of fonts you could choose from, however, you should always keep your audience and the amount of words in mind.

    Popular fonts online are Roboto (Android), Ubuntu, Helvetica Neue and San Francisco (iOS) as well as classic Helvetica and Arial.

    In my opinion fonts that should always be avoided are (Comic Sans, Papyrus and Stencil). These fonts are typically overused, hard to read and just plain obnoxious.

    Good fonts for printed material are Verdana, Univers, Gill Sans and Courier New. These are easier to read printed out than many other fonts.

    Again, adapt for your needs, but do try to avoid mixing more than 2 to 3 typefaces (in all applications).

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    Steve Osborne

    Steve Osborne, director at Steve Osborne / Smarthinking

    John

    Your question reminds me of the Desert Island typography game. You can only take 10 fonts with you, so list your go-to typefaces to cover every conceivable written situation. Yes, it's fun and interesting, but no, it can never be definitive.

    What the font "says" about the business depends on whether it has been selected for corporate/internal use and is therefore standardised across multiple media, or for a piece of promotion. For the latter, the only consideration is whether the type appropriately conveys the message to the market.

    In every case, font choice is down to the skill of the designer, and how successful S/He is in creating the desired impression in the reader.

    Font choice is completely subjective. One man's Helvetica is another man's Comic Sans. What I consider professional may not carry the same connotation with others.

    In the most basic sense, most typographers and designers I know generally accept that serifs can traditionally be invested with impressions of: conservatism, elegance, legibility, high quality etc. And sans are often associated with: modernism, clarity, adaptability, etc.

    Equally, the reverse can be true, depending who you're talking to.

    I have a short list of personal Desert Island favourites, but none are selected on the basis of "professional appearance." All are selected for their appropriateness to the project. Horses for courses.

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    Neil Steggall answered a question

    How far ahead should we plan for funding to get the business started?

    That is, when your business is still an idea in formation (as ours is) how far ahead should I approach people for money? What should I do and put in place before it's a good idea to connect with potential investors?

    Neil Steggall

    Neil Steggall, Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

    I would suggest that the issue of investor funding and your required levels of future equity should form a key part of your initial business thinking, planning and strategy and be detailed and factored into your plan and budgets.

    Waiting until investor funds are needed is usually too late and the business risks stalling or failing.

    Most investors are happy to be approached at an early stage of thinking, they have much to gain by investing in a winning idea and so they will most likely be prepared to offer help in developing your plans, speaking to banks and even bringing along other investors.

    Early stage investors also make great business mentors or advisory board members often bringing on board many years of experience and knowledge.

    Look at it this way....would you jump in your car and set off on a lengthy road trip without first checking you had the fuel and cash to complete the journey?

    Good Luck

    Cheers,

    Neil.

    Lisa Ormenyessy

    Lisa Ormenyessy , Business Coach and Marketing Specialist at Straight Talk Group

    Great Advice and Spot on Neil "Early stage investors also make great business mentors or advisory board members often bringing on board many years of experience and knowledge." Ava, consider outside advice from mentors/early stage investors etc as great navigators. Your road map may be able to be considerably shortened saving you both time and money and achieving your goal much quicker. Or dare I say it - they may also be able to save you years of pain from going down a road that leads to a cliff. The good news is that these types of people in the business community are generous with their advice and care for the enthusiasm of the start up entrepreneur. Good Luck!
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    Jessica McGrath

    Jessica McGrath, Marketing Consultant at Stoke Marketing

    Not a definitive time but think like the investor.

    What value would they like to see in your product to make it worthy of investment? Have you got "skin in the game". Show how much effort? What are the $ for? What makes your product different and appealing to gain traction in the community. Show them this and either the tangible product or a prototype, or the service offering at the least. Show them what problem you are solving and why it's an awesome and compelling solution. Who are you competing against. If no competition, then why would someone want your solution if they are existing with no solution at all. When is a return on investment likely? What's your forecasted uptake? How did you work that out?

    Just some thoughts.

    Best of luck!

    Jef Lippiatt

    Jef Lippiatt , Owner at Startup Chucktown

    I'd say additionally that you want to show that your product or service is being used. Record and track the number of people signing up for your service, the number returning, the amount of money they are paying (1 time or recurring). If you have secured any agreements with businesses to use your product or service, mention that and the amount they were willing to pay. It has often been said "ideas are worthless". Why? Because an idea that is never implemented isn't making money therefore has no monetary value. Execution and implementation are both key. Be sure to differentiate yourself from competitors. Offer something different and meaningful that adds value to customers and can add to your bank account.
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