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Aishah Mustapha

Community Manager at

Member Since March 2017

Chatswood, NSW, 2067

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I'm a journalist turned content marketer specialising in B2B. Originally from Malaysia, I moved to Australia in 2012 for love and worked with MYOB in content marketing and social media for 2.5 years. I'm now a resident content marketer with Savvy SME while freelancing on the side.

I believe that great writing doesn't keep people on a page, but a great story does. I'm always looking for ways to tell a story better in every content I produce.

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Human Resources

How much is the average cost for payroll services for a small business?

It depends on the type of payroll services you need and the size of your business. When comparing costs for outsourcing, take into account how much it would cost you to hire an internal HR expert or manager instead, including recruitment, salary, superannuation, benefits and training. Generally, the cost to outsource payroll services gets cheaper the more employees you have on the payroll. If you check out this 2019 report by Australian Payroll Association, those with fewer than 50 employees pay the most, $200+ per payslip. For 50 – 100 employees, it comes down to about $64 per employee and then it reduces to less than $20 for 200 – 499 employees.

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Lifestyle and Health

Do you need to tip your caterer?

Generally, if you think your caterer has done a smashing job for your event, then you’re more than welcome to tip them on top of paying for their catering services. It’s also perfectly fine to not tip your caterers in Australia. Tipping is mainly an American culture and isn’t as common here when dining out.

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Cloud Computing

Who are the best cloud computing experts worth following on social media?

There are loads of tech experts and journalists online. If we are talking about experts specific to cloud computing, Amazon’s people are pretty active on Twitter, giving updates on their Amazon Web Services and also technology commentaries. You can try Jeff Bar, their tech evangelist. Another one is David Linthicum, Deloitte’s Chief Cloud Strategist. He tweets a lot of his articles, commentaries and opinions, so he is worthwhile to check out. Or try following tech journalists who cover cloud computing for small businesses.

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Selling a Business

What are the benefits of using a business broker to sell your business?

Just like using a real estate agent to sell your house, enlisting the help of a business broker saves you time, stress and can get the job done right. They take a commission of the sale price, but they do a lot of work that you may not have the expertise or knowledge of.This covers things such as marketing your business, using their wide network to find the right pool of buyers or new business opportunities, doing their due diligence on potential buyers and bringing their negotiating skills and experience to the table. In any case, there is no downside to chatting to several business brokers, even if you end up negotiating directly with buyers to sell your business.

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Lifestyle and Health

How late can you hire a caterer?

I'd imagine that you can get last-minute catering services if it is a small event, meeting, lunch break or tea. I know you can order Subway catering online with less than 24 hours notice, provided the Subway store is nearby your office. Some stores do delivery while some only offer pick up. They do sandwich and wrap platters, drinks, cookies, etc. It is a good option for when you need a light lunch or refreshment for your employees or visitors. 

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Graphic Design

Should you outsource your graphic design or hire a graphic designer in-house?

One of the most important factors is the volume of graphic design projects or tasks you need every month. If your business depends heavily on fresh and new designs constantly, then hiring a graphic designer in-house is better. E-commerce stores and online businesses should consider investing in full or part-timers. But if your website is more about online presence and marketing tool, which may not require regular design work, then it's better to outsource to graphic design agencies or freelance graphic designers. However, each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, in terms of turnaround times, cost, etc. 

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Business Finance and Loans

Why should you engage with a small business loan broker?

Small business loan brokers have access to all the available loans out there for your small business. They can compare rates, benefits and packages to get you the best one. It saves your time researching and talking to every single lender.However, some brokers are affiliated with certain banks and financial lenders. They may be more "bias" and push those loans to you, so take note. Brokers will also help you out to prepare your loan application and liaise with the financial lenders and banks you're interested in. Even if you don't end up using one, it's good to have a chat with a few.

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What is inbound marketing? How can it help your company?

Inbound is the opposite of outbound marketing. So, instead of cold calling and actively promoting yourself, inbound marketing's goal is to get new customers to enquire about your business or buy from you, which is inbound, through a long-term relationship that has been nurtured through content.The keyword here is long-term because inbound marketing is not an instant fix to your sales number. It works on educating prospects, helping them solve their issues and improving their lives without selling anything. You do this through many ways including regular blogging, webinars, live sessions, newsletters, social media posts, etc. Once they trust you or your brand, they will be more open to buying your products and hiring or using your services. Once you've built a useful and effective user's funnel, then inbound marketing can give higher ROI than advertisements and other forms of marketing. 

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Does anyone know how much TV advertising costs?

I think the TV advertising rates above is a good starting point. But the cost to advertise on tv is not as straightforward. For example, if a slot is $300, you don’t advertise once. It is a waste of your money and ineffective. You need take a few spots or advertise repeatedly on contract. Then you’re looking at, maybe, upwards of $5,000+ for a month of your TV advertising campaign. This is for 15-second slots of non-prime time.The cost also depends on where you advertise. It may not be just one channel. For example, if you want to advertise on channel 7, they have regional and metro channels, online and apps, and they affect the rates. People are consuming TV differently nowadays. It’s best to discuss with a sales rep to find out your options and get a more accurate tv advertising rates. 

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Is Ozbargain Profitable Enough For You To Make A Living?

Great insight into how Ozbargain makes money, though I’m not surprised that it is mostly ads. Their traffic is mostly organic and there are hardcore Ozbargain-ers out there who follow deals religiously. I have several friends who are always hunting for a bargain and have Ozbargain on their alerts and subscriptions. It fills a niche or gap in the market.

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Buying a Business

How to raise funding to buy a business?

If you don’t have enough funds, you can look at bank loans, line of credit, angel investors or do a vendor loan. A vendor loan is when the seller extends you a loan to buy the business, and the loan is paid from the profits of the business. It’s best to speak to your accountant and business broker on the best option.

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Insolvency

What's the difference between insolvency and bankruptcy?

Insolvency is when a person or company is unable to pay their debts, due to reasons such as cash flow, economic downturn, fraud, etc. An insolvent business does not have to cease operations. It has several options to resolve the insolvency. Meanwhile, bankruptcy is when a person, not a company, can’t pay his or her debts, and a bankruptcy proceeding needs to be taken to recover the debts.

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Exporting

Is there any financial assistance for exporters in Australia?

There’s the export market development grant, or EMDG. You can claim up to 50% of expenses used to promote your export. You must be a small business exporter with an income less than $50 million. You can also use export consultants to help apply for the grant. Check out more info from Austrade

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How to avoid misleading statements and advertising?

Misleading and false statements is not only about lying or exaggerating, it’s also about concealing an information. Social media has also made it easier to manipulate or create a false impression to people. According to the ACCC, a business is responsible for the all the information on its social media account, even if it’s not posted by them. This covers comments posted by people, so be careful when managing your social media.

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Employment Law

When is redundancy pay not required by law?

Casual and contract employees are not entitled to redundancy payments. You also don’t need to pay for making full-timers redundant, if they worked less than 12 months or there was a serious misconduct such as fraud. Some small businesses may be exempt from redundancy payment, and the rates are different for different industries. Check out Fair Work’s website for more information.

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Ananda Raj Pandey
Ananda Raj Pandey, Developer at SavvySME

Online Business

Is it necessary to have physical address for online business?

We now live in a gig economy where people freelance or run a profitable business from home. Therefore, I don’t think there is a need for a physical address for businesses. People may be able to guess you are a small business based on your address, but I don’t think it reduces their trust in you. I’d happily buy from a small business and deal with them if they are offering what I need or want at the right price, and they seem like decent people running a genuine small business.

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Michael Prior
Michael Prior, Principal at PB Advisory Group

Telecommunications, Mobile and Wireless

What were your experiences with Australian VOIP providers?

Almost all the big broadband providers like iiNet, TPG, Engin  are also VOIP providers in Australia. You can bundle your NBN or ADSL with VOIP services, and that cost usually starts from AUD $10 a month. It may be easier to configure and may save you money when you bundle voip and internet services.

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Wendy Huang
Wendy Huang, Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Lifestyle and Health

Do you know sustralian business that buys second-hand jewelry?

I haven’t heard of any such business in Australia, though it does sound like a good business idea. Your options are jewellery stores, consignment stores and pawnshops. Some jewellery stores will buy second hand jewellery, but they may not buy everything. It depends on their customer base, what type of jewelleries they like, and which designs appeal the most. So, if you’re selling a Tiffany & Co. necklace, approach jewellery stores in Sydney that sell preloved Tiffany & Co jewelleries too. The other quicker option is using consignment stores. There’s a few that’s online too such as Collector Square. People are open to buying jewelleries online. Consignment stores will sell your preloved jewelleries and valuables on your behalf, which means they take care of valuation, photos, finding buyers and selling. Of course, they will take a percentage of your sale proceeds. The last option is going to the pawnshop or Cash Converters. They won’t give you the best price so be prepared to take a big loss.   If you’re looking for independent jewellery appraiser to value your necklace, you can try the National Council of Jewellery Valuers. They have a list of valuers on their site.

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New Business Ideas

How to come up with good business name ideas?

What’s in a business name? Not too much if you execute well, and there is a need in the market for your product or service. Having said that, coming up with a good business name can help your marketing. It involves going down to the essence of your brand. What is your business’s purpose? What problem are you solving? How do you want to make people feel when they hear your name? Those are good starting points. Refer to competitors in your industry by looking at their name, tagline, values or motto. Try to understand why they resonate with customers. Next, you can use business name generators. There’s plenty but the best I’ve found is namelix.comIt even generates logos for you and checks if the domain name is available for that name.All you have to do is put in a few words you want your brand to be associated with and it uses AI to generate a unique name. It’s quite fun to play around with.

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Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Product Development

Is there an australian version of Alibaba website for products?

No, unfortunately there is no version of Alibaba in Australia but that’s certainly a business idea as there is a need. You will have to google according to your category and product and do your research yourself. There are a lot of Australian suppliers who are online and some only sell to registered businesses, not direct to the public. Those ones would be good to start with. Austrade has a list of suppliers on their website. It is not an online marketplace with reviews, messaging, business profiles, etc. You will have to search and approach them one by one. Another idea is to join relevant industry organisations for retailers, F&B producers, designers, trades, suppliers, etc. You can network, gain insider tips and find the recommended suppliers.Alternatively, you may also try the dropshipping route. They are low-risk and low-cost options if you are starting a business. There are a few big ones that’s tried and trusted such as  Oberlo and Salehoo.

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Michaela Clark
Michaela Clark, Virtual Assistant at mi virtual pa

Offline and Direct Marketing

What is the best way to market to tradies?

Bridget’s answers are spot on. Marketing to tradies is about marketing where they are at, such as in local papers or magazines because chances are, they are advertising there too. They will definitely see you. Try direct marketing with letter drop boxes to local tradies or posting snail mails to businesses you are targeting. Getting a shortlist of addresses are easy with online listings. You can find pretty much anyone nowadays. I’d also add that tradies with bigger businesses tend to have websites and Facebook or Instagram profiles too, they are also learning online marketing for tradies, so do not discount the power of online marketing. It can be effective with the right approach and messaging, if they are your target market.

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Nick Chernih
Nick Chernih, Founder at LinkBuildSEO

Virtual Assistance

How much does an australian virtual assistant (VA) cost?

Of course, you can get cheap virtual assistant overseas due to their lower cost of living and currency rate, but it may come at an expensive total cost for your small business, especially if they are not well versed in the subject or with little experience working for Australian businesses. Australian virtual assistants are great if your business is entirely local. They know the culture, lingo, news and how to deal with Aussies. The cost for a virtual assistant based in Australia can be as low as $20 an hour to a $100+ an hour. It depends on what you need done from basic data entries to personal virtual secretaries to bookkeeping that requires a qualification. Be aware that some virtual assistant businesses may be based in Australia but outsource all the work overseas and takes a cut. For blog commenting and social bookmark submission as you mentioned above, it is not a technical task but does require knowledge in the subject matter, some SEO and also online etiquette. You’ll be hard pressed to find $4 an hour in Australia, but I think you really need high quality content and comments from your virtual assistant as it may reflect on your business, and you should really consider hiring an Australian virtual assistant.

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Shane Gold
Shane Gold, Compliance Officer at First State Super

Website

Does either .com or .com.au domain have an advantage? ✅

Good question. With more and more businesses going online, you need to consider the domain name for your website early on when you’re brainstorming business names to register. I’d argue that your business name, and subsequently your domain name is more important than your domain extension. Between the default .com or .com.au domain extension, you could decide based on the obvious, whether you are targeting local customers or outside of Australia. Obviously, your customers outside of Australia may not even think of typing in the .au extension because they won’t know it. Apart from that, search engines are smarter nowadays and the domain extension doesn’t influence your ranking, anywhere near as much as your content, your site’s SEO and off-site SEOs. You could be a local business with a .com domain, but Google will still figure out you are a local business based on your online listings, reviews, website content, etc. Or you could be a global business with a .com.au extension, and search engines will still figure it out. This is only if you have done your SEO right and put some effort in it. Customers outside Australia can always google your business name and should be able to find your .com.au web address if your SEO is good. If possible, get both for your online address. The uncommon names or unique domain names are usually available across multiple domain extensions and are fairly affordable. This is good to protect your brand and online presence. 

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What's the difference in cloud and desktop accounting software

Cloud accounting or online accounting allows multi users to work at the same time, is accessible across multiple devices such as laptop, PC and mobile phone and all that’s needed is an internet connection, unlike a desktop accounting software. Furthermore, data is backed up automatically in cloud accounting, you don’t need to wait for the file to finish saving before exiting your cloud accounting software. Cost wise, you usually pay a monthly or yearly fee for cloud accounting instead of a one-off fee for desktop software.I think the best way to decide if cloud is for you is to do a free trial on popular brands among business owners, such as Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks online. They all usually offer a 30-day trial for new customers, or you can consult your bookkeeper or accountant.

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What are the best SEO tools for a small business?

There are plenty of SEO tools available that cover different areas of SEO such as keyword analysis, site checker, link building, competition spying, local listing and SEO-friendly content ideas. It really depends on what you need to do with your SEO. Some tools are all-encompassing while some only offer one area of SEO.  But here’s a list of the top or best SEO tools out there. Google’s full suite of products – this is the granddaddy of SEO and they offer a whole host of software and apps to help your SEO. All of them are free. Google Analytics help analyse your site traffic and user behaviour. Google Ads’ keyword planner tool is great for keyword research and analysis. Google Trends is another that analyses search trends and you can filter based on countries, duration and others. Google Search Console is a webmaster tool that highlights SEO issues on your site as well as monitor organic keywords.SEMRush – you need to pay for this if you want to unleash its full potential. SEMRush is a really good all-in-one tool that helps with site audits, improving your site’s SEO and content, spying on your competitors, keyword research, link building and generating SEO friendly content ideas.Moz – this is another all-in-one solution and they have been around for a long time.Afrefs – Ahrefs is another big name for SEO tools. They offer the complete SEO solution and their link building and off-site SEO solution is claimed to be one of the best.KWFinder – A wonderful and easier to use alternative to Google’s free Keyword Planner. Get long-tail keywords and ideas for your keyword research.WooRank – easy tool to analyse your site and other site’s performance and rankingYoast SEO plugin – this is one of the best tools if your website uses WordPress. Manage your on-site SEO in an all-in-one plugin.Answer The Public and Buzzsumo – these two are for generating content ideas and for expanding your keyword research. Answer The Public which is free gives you related terms to a keyword to create SEO friendly content, while BuzzSumo also shows you the top performing content based on keywords.  

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Advertising

When do you need to do online advertising for a small business?

The straightforward answer would be when your target buyers or clients are buying or transacting online. This applies even if your business doesn’t buy or service online. The other part of the answer would be when you have the right strategy for your goals and budget. Don’t spend on online ads for the sake of doing online ads. You’ll end up wasting money, getting burnt and then incorrectly assume that online ads are not for your business. First, you need to understand the different type of online advertising, how each platform works, the costs, audience’s demographics, and typical behaviour. It’s also advisable to see how your competitors or other businesses in the same industry are using online ads. And where you invest money will also depend on whether your business is local, national or global. The entire online advertising campaign must also be seamlessly integrated for the best customer experience. For example, where do your customers go after seeing your online ad? Where can they leave feedback and reviews? Small businesses should definitely consider online advertising as it is a low-cost alternative when done right and it hits the right spot to where your potential buyers are at. If you’re lost or not making decent returns on investment, please consult an advertising or marketing expert. It will save you money and time.

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Why should your small business outsource SEO?

If you don’t know what you’re doing, outsource your SEO. Sure, you can learn and do it yourself. But if you’re serious about getting results and SEO is a key strategy in your marketing, then get SEO experts in as soon as possible. SEO covers a big area, from keyword strategy and content to on-site and off-site SEO. There are always new updates with Google’s algorithm and ranking. You will have a lot of ground to cover if you go the DIY route. Your SEO strategy will also depend on whether your business is online or local, your target audience and their buying behaviour.   At the very least, you can consult a SEO expert who can guide you in the right direction, if you need to save money or if you can’t afford a full-time employee. Since SEO is a long-term investment, it’s important to start on the right footing. You should be working on areas that you’re good at, and outsource your SEO and any other areas you are not excelling at. Here are more information on hiring a SEO company or expert, including costs.

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Bookkeeping

Who can help you prepare and lodge a BAS statement?

A bookkeeper needs to be a BAS agent to provide BAS services. You can easily check if they are registered, as Kristy mentioned. This is only if you are outsourcing your bookkeeping to a third party. If you are preparing and lodging BAS statements yourself, you don’t need to be a BAS agent. In short, you can use an accountant or a bookkeeper who is a BAS agent. Accountants may not do it themselves. They and accounting firms typically have bookkeepers who will work on the BAS statements and lodge it for them. The cost should be around a few hundred dollars for a small business.

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Importing

How to source products from AliBaba to sell in Australia?

I've actually used AliBaba to find products. Firstly, to save you a lot of headache, make sure you do a thorough research on your product before you source for suppliers on AliBaba. This goes beyond knowing your target customer and product spec. Do research on the standards and regulations governing the product or parts of the product that you want to sell in Australia. For example, clothing has regulations on labelling, baby and kids’ products have more stringent regulations, as do organic items, etc. If you don’t get this right, your stock will be useless and unsellable in Australia. When you’re ready to source for suppliers, you’ll find that AliBaba is not difficult to use. It’s free for buyers to sign up. You can search for products and shortlist a number of suppliers to contact. All items on AliBaba have a price range and a minimum order quantity (MOQ). The final price depends on the order quantity, customisation and other arrangements. Or you can fill up an RFQ or request for quote form with your requirements, business and product details, price and MOQ. Interested suppliers will submit their quotes and you can check them out. There are several things you need to know about the sellers on AliBaba. There are manufacturers and resellers on the platform, depending on what you need, whether a ready-made product which just needs labelling and branding, or a product made to your specification. AliBaba have done a lot of work to vet the suppliers on their platform. Currently, they have two different type of suppliers, gold and verified supplier on AliBaba.  Depending on the type of membership, they do onsite checks to ensure you are dealing with a legitimate business, check their certifications, business license and other credentials for you.  They’ll also use independent third parties to check QC, production capability, etc. Check the supplier page thoroughly, looking at their ratings, history, photos and other details. Most suppliers will have a trade assurance capability. A Trade Assurance means your order will be protected by AliBaba in case there is a delay in shipment, issues with product’s quality, mismatch in order and final goods, etc. When you’re dealing with a “Trade Assurance” supplier, you can easily raise a dispute if you are not happy with the final goods, quality, and production time if it differs from the contract, and AliBaba will refund your money if you are on the right side. Furthermore, when you place a Trade Assurance order, the money won’t be deposited straight to any of the supplier’s account, but the supplier’s designated bank account as required by AliBaba, to prevent employee fraud. I’d suggest getting a sample first. Do several iterations of samples if needed before placing your order. Document everything and share pictures with your supplier. Always communicate with your supplier to establish a working relationship and trust. Skype if you can so you get a feel of what they are like to work with. It’s better to be dealing with one trade manager. If your contact person keeps changing, that will be difficult and may raise some red flags. Once you’ve found the right supplier for you, make sure your contract is as detailed as possible. It should be made through AliBaba, and not offline through emails or phone calls because any offline transactions will not be protected by AliBaba in case of a dispute. And finally, you can pay extra to request for an inspection by an independent third party once the goods have been manufactured to give you a piece of mind before shipment.

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Social Media

What's the best social media marketing strategy for a restaurant?

As more and more people use online delivery services and search online, I think a social media marketing strategy for a restaurant should place a big emphasis on reviews. Encourage them, solicit them, share them on social media. You must also respond to reviews, especially the negative ones, because it shows that you care about your customers. If possible, you can offer a compensation behind the scenes if you can identify them.  Of course, first you must make sure that you are online whether it is a website, a social media page or an online listing so people can look you up. Apart from that, all the usual rules should apply to your social media marketing strategy. Your profile, content and tone of voice should reflect your restaurant’s brand. You need to understand your target customers well enough such as which social media channel they are likely to be on, when they are likely to be searching for places to eat or order, and who influences their decisions. All these will determine your posting times, content type and ads. Another alternative to ads that’s popular nowadays, is using social influencer. Even micro influencers with a few thousand of followers can help market your restaurant, because word of mouth is valuable for F&B outlets.

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What's the difference between a copywriter and an SEO copywriter?

A copywriter is someone who writes content or copy to advertise or market something, whether a product, service, business or personality. It can be in many forms such as print advertising, billboards, tv, radio ads or website copy. Their job can be to educate, engage or convince readers and viewers through their writing. An SEO copywriter is a specialised type of copywriter, and their biggest strength is in writing online content. Their writings should not only sell or market something, but also help increase the ranking of the content online. It usually requires a combination of copywriting and SEO skills. They should know SEO techniques and rules to create search engine friendly content that can drive online traffic while increasing page ranking. This includes using the right keywords and writing good meta data. However, they may or may not know how to mine for keywords because their main job is to write SEO-friendly copy that sells. Keyword research is usually done by SEO experts. But please remember that great content is great content. You can’t fix or mask a bad copy with keywords you’re targeting. It is still bad content. Therefore, a good SEO copywriter is also a good copywriter. Who to hire depends on what your project is. You can still hire a copywriter to write online content. Nowadays, many copywriters have upskilled themselves with SEO knowledge because they understand the importance of SEO as more and more businesses go online. Just ask for a portfolio from them to get an understanding of how good they are.

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Sales and Marketing

What are some of the best marketing ideas you've seen by small businesses?

I like what the Thank You brand has done, though they are more non-profit business. They’ve expanded their products from just “Thank You” water bottles to body care and baby stuff today. When they first started a few years ago, they were trying to get their bottled water stocked in supermarkets. Their marketing was mainly done on social media especially using videos, which garnered a lot of momentum simply because it was refreshing, honest and different. I still remember that video where the founder talked about their mission and their impact. It got me on board to buying the Thank You water bottles. I think when we talk about marketing, sometimes we forget that it is as simple as telling your story honestly and well enough to connect with people who feel the same way you do. The best marketing can start from, merely, your business idea and mission.

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Advertising

How to increase the conversion rate or ROI of your advertisements?

There are a few time-tested principles that can persuade people to click on your ads. First, you must know your audience so that your ad feels like it is speaking to them. They should be able to see themselves in your ad. This is by addressing their pain points or aligning it with their lifestyle, issues, hopes and dreams. If possible, you should use the scarcity trick by making your offer, service or product scarce or rare, rather than one in dozen. Things such as limited-edition products or yearly offers are just some examples. The third is employing the urgency trick where you compel customers or prospects to act quickly as time is running out. Think hooks where your offer is only available today, have an expiration day or will increase in price after a certain time. Social proofing is also a great way to convince people to click on your ads. You can use testimonials, ambassadors, influencers, communities to demonstrate this. Psychologically, people like to imitate their role models and peers or be part of their social surroundings and activities. Above all, your ad also must be simple to understand within seconds without overwhelming or confusing the reader or viewer. It should be consistent across all platforms and highlight the important points. A bonus point is if your ad is memorable, whether in a conventional way such as evoking an emotion or unconventional ways that become a talking point, like the “CU in NT” ad by Northern Territory tourism. Whatever you do, always test your ads with a screen audience or A/B testing. It makes it easy to improve your ads on the fly and build on the next campaign.

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Advertising

Which is more effective: TV advertising vs YouTube advertising?

Yes, I agree with Tom. It depends a lot on who you are trying to reach out to. TV still has a wider reach or higher penetration in Australia than YouTube but that number is slowly declining as the younger demographics between 18- 49 year olds are watching less and less. The over 50s are the ones who are propping up the numbers. The younger target audiences are moving to video on demand services such as Stan, Netflix and online entertainment such as YouTube, social media, etc. Therefore, it’s not just YouTube that’s luring TV audiences away. Back in the days, tv stars were big but now, online and social media influencers are also shaping market trends and consumer demand. At the end of 2018, YouTube has 15 million unique Australian visitors monthly, with a lot in the millennial generation. But TV still has the upper hand in terms of total viewership. Foxtel has about 2.8 million subscribers at the end of June 2018. TV ratings tend to peak for live sporting events such as footy, Olympics, cricket and the occasional blockbuster TV show episodes like MasterChef finale. If you compare ads, YouTube ads are more customisable, has a lower minimum spend and better analytics than TV. But is it more effective? This study by Google says it generates better ROI than TV, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. That being said, a lot of brands are using a mix of YouTube, TV and other type of ads to get the right conversion rate and effectiveness. For smaller businesses, YouTube at its current price point can be more attractive to start with.

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Advertising

Any memorable radio Ads by businesses stuck in your mind?

I don’t think National Tiles qualify as a small business, but their Frank Walker voice and accent stays in your head. There are a few lessons small businesses can learn from their radio ad. Their message is simple, and important information are repeated, which is like most good radio ads. But the one thing that stood out is the actor’s accent and way of speaking. It is so different from what you hear on other ads that it sticks out and pulls you out of your auto-pilot driving stupor. They did a great job with picking the voiceover guy. At first, I found the ad annoying but after listening to it a few times, it sunk in. I was in the midst of renovating my house and ended up browsing at National Tiles just because of the ad. I didn’t buy anything from them as I found cheaper options, but their radio ad managed to get me through their door.

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Accounting

How much does it cost to hire an accountant for a small business?

The cost to hire an accountant for a small business will depend on many things1.  Your small business structure. If you’re a sole trader with a relatively simple business and accounts, it will be way cheaper than a company or trust.2.  The type of service you’re looking for. Is it a one-off tax return? Just the monthly BAS and end of financial year tasks? Or do you need budgeting, cash flow review and projections, advisory tasks such as funding, restructuring, debt management? The more complex the service required, the more expensive it will cost your small business.3. The accountant’s skills and qualification, whether CPA, CA or none, and experience, whether senior or junior accountant.4.  The type of accounting firm, whether it is a big firm where you have 2-3 people handling your case or a smaller firm with just 1 junior person doing it. Of course, one-man shows will cost cheaper.5.  To a certain extent, your location. Capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne will be more expensive than regional locations. You can also use online or virtual ones, and they may be cheaper without any face-to-face meeting.When it comes down to actual pricing, different accountants have different fee structures. Some may charge by the hour, some per project or task, and some will charge a monthly retainer fee.An accountant’s hourly rate typically starts from $100+ per hour for a junior accountant and upwards of $300+ for a senior in an accounting firm. Of course, there are freelance accountants who charge lower than that.For a simple sole trader business, tax return cost can start from between $300 and $500. Company tax return will start from $1000 and get more expensive the more complicated the tax return is. BAS and IAS can start from $200 per quarter for a sole trader business and more for a company or trust.Bear in mind that an accountant can do a lot more for your business including budgeting, raising funds, debt reconsolidation, tax strategies, buying and selling businesses. These can be project based, part of a pricing package or paid based on a monthly retainer.The most important thing is to hire accountants or firms who will be upfront and transparent with their cost and pricing. Make sure you understand the total cost including the fine print and any changes in the work needed, and always maintain an open line of communication. 

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Accounting

What are the advantages, disadvantages and risk of using cloud accounting?

There are a lot of advantages in using cloud accounting. You can work and access your accounts anywhere with an internet connection and use it across many devices from desktop to mobile phone. Your accountant can access your files and collaborate with you too online. Technically, you can just whip up your phone and have all your financial numbers at your fingertips. It is super handy for when you are out and about or when you need to make decisions on the fly. E.g. “What’s my current cash flow looking like?” With cloud accounting, everything is stored in the cloud and you don’t have to worry about backing up or losing data while you work if the power goes off. You use less paper too as your documents are all online. You don’t need to install your accounting system unlike traditional software. Just create an account online. Software updates are now automatic as opposed to manual updates if you use traditional software. Cost wise, you usually pay a monthly fee for cloud accounting instead of a lump sum for a software, which translates to a smaller cost upfront, but it adds up over the years. The downside is you need an internet connection to access it. Cloud accounting could be more expensive in the long run than just buying an off-the-shelf software. With your data in the cloud, there’s always a small risk of a data breach or theft. But your provider such as Xero, Quickbooks or MYOB should have measures and processes in place in the event this happens. If there is a legal issue, there may be potential risks with data ownership.   

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Business Growth

How would drone delivery help your small business, if at all?

I think yes, absolutely – if the price point is right. It’s handy for small businesses with small packages. For bigger packages, maybe we can expect driverless cars to deliver in the future? But, of course, we need to look at issues such as privacy regulations, air traffic control for drones, potential risks of hijacking and impact to wildlife and animals, for it to go mainstream too. These are all kinks which need to be ironed out. In the long run, it would certainly help small businesses, if the price is right.

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Risk Management

What do retailers like Masters and Dick Smith have in common?

I think it comes down to two things:1.       No point of difference or unique selling proposition (USP)2.       High overhead costs either from rapid expansion or poor financial planning This applies to a lot of bankrupt retailers, regardless of what they sell.Masters expanded too rapidly and couldn’t differentiate itself from the incumbent Bunnings, whether from price, customer experience or product line. Dick Smith had a lot of obsolete or unsold stock when they folded, which signals that they failed to keep up with consumer demand changes. If you asked consumers to describe Dick Smith in fewer than 10 words, many would struggle simply because Dick Smith had no USP. It’s an important lesson to think about when you are starting a retail business nowadays, in this highly competitive environment – what is your USP? 

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Who can I get in touch with about advertising?

Hi Ramit! Advertising is broad, and I'm not sure which type you are looking for: online, print, tv or radio. Can you clarify?Otherwise, your best bet would be to contact an advertising agency. They would be able to cater for all types of ads. Even a small agency will be able to do loads for you, and help you with specs for specific advertising you're looking for. You can try putting in a quote on this site, and you'll get agencies to get in touch. https://www.savvysme.com.au/find-service-professionals Good luck!

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Chelsea Creamer
Chelsea Creamer, Community Manager at SavvySME

Advertising

What Do You Find The Best Strategy For Twitter Advertising?

It depends on what you use Twitter for, whether for branding purposes or to update your customers on discounts, promos, etc.With Twitter ads, visuals tend to do really well. Try to convey your message with a video, image, animated gif instead of words. A person should understand it without having to read 140+ characters. Lead cards are great for putting a call-to-action (CTA), which is super important but sometimes easily forgotten. As Twitter's audience isn't as big as Facebook or Instagram, working with Twitter influencers may be a better form of advertising as their reach is bigger. If you're a small cafe/restaurant, trying to build followers on Twitter, whether through ads or organically, may be painstaking and long. 

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How much do Facebook ads cost?

Yes, I agree with Paula. Boosting post is great if you are a brand that’s well-established, ppl or fans will tend to click on your content. Small business? Not quite, because there’s a big deluge of content out there, it’s competitive. Only boost the quality ones that have gained traction. Your budget depends on your goals, whether you’re looking to build a fan base, launch a product/service, remarket offers to those who have expressed interest, etc. The important thing is to set clear goals, select a highly targeted audience, and always monitor and calculate ROI.With FB, you can set daily budget or campaign budget. Eg: $50 a day for new product ad for 30 days, or $1500 for whole campaign. Let’s say your goal is for 300 ppl to click your offer, then you’re targeting $5 cost per click (CPC).On top of your budget, you can also set options for your cost per result, in this example your $5 CPC, either as lowest possible price, or biggest result possible. The first ensures your CPC is stays as cheap as possible, and the latter ensures you get as many clicks as possible to your target of 300. FB will then “deliver” the ads to achieve as close as possible based on your criteria and audience.There’s other metrics such as cost-per-impression, cost-per-engagement, etc. Note that the more you use FB ad, the more data you have such as which offer and content works best for which audience in which area, and how much each lead/impression/engagement cost. You’ll get an idea of whether you need to increase or cut your budget. FB is best used with other efforts such as content marketing, SEM.Remember, you need to always tie it back to your goal, because you can spend $5/day and get somewhere or $50/day and get a pittance.

Budgeting and Forecasting

Budget 2017: 10-Minute Guide for SMEs

While there were a few clear winners from Budget 2017/18, small business owners may feel somewhat left out in the cold. Although there were a few incentives specifically targeted for small business owners and entrepreneurs, most of the big-ticket items announced in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s second budget gave big cheers to first-home buyers, those living with disabilities and possibly, the ge...

Budgeting and Forecasting

Budget 2017: 10-Minute Guide for SMEs

While there were a few clear winners from Budget 2017/18, small business owners may feel somewhat left out in the cold. Although there were a few incentives specifically targeted for small business owners and entrepreneurs, most of the big-ticket items announced in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s second budget gave big cheers to first-home buyers, those living with disabilities and possibly, the ge...

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Human Resources

How much is the average cost for payroll services for a small business?

It depends on the type of payroll services you need and the size of your business. When comparing costs for outsourcing, take into account how much it would cost you to hire an internal HR expert or manager instead, including recruitment, salary, superannuation, benefits and training. Generally, the cost to outsource payroll services gets cheaper the more employees you have on the payroll. If you check out this 2019 report by Australian Payroll Association, those with fewer than 50 employees pay the most, $200+ per payslip. For 50 – 100 employees, it comes down to about $64 per employee and then it reduces to less than $20 for 200 – 499 employees.

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Lifestyle and Health

Do you need to tip your caterer?

Generally, if you think your caterer has done a smashing job for your event, then you’re more than welcome to tip them on top of paying for their catering services. It’s also perfectly fine to not tip your caterers in Australia. Tipping is mainly an American culture and isn’t as common here when dining out.

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Cloud Computing

Who are the best cloud computing experts worth following on social media?

There are loads of tech experts and journalists online. If we are talking about experts specific to cloud computing, Amazon’s people are pretty active on Twitter, giving updates on their Amazon Web Services and also technology commentaries. You can try Jeff Bar, their tech evangelist. Another one is David Linthicum, Deloitte’s Chief Cloud Strategist. He tweets a lot of his articles, commentaries and opinions, so he is worthwhile to check out. Or try following tech journalists who cover cloud computing for small businesses.

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Selling a Business

What are the benefits of using a business broker to sell your business?

Just like using a real estate agent to sell your house, enlisting the help of a business broker saves you time, stress and can get the job done right. They take a commission of the sale price, but they do a lot of work that you may not have the expertise or knowledge of.This covers things such as marketing your business, using their wide network to find the right pool of buyers or new business opportunities, doing their due diligence on potential buyers and bringing their negotiating skills and experience to the table. In any case, there is no downside to chatting to several business brokers, even if you end up negotiating directly with buyers to sell your business.

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Lifestyle and Health

How late can you hire a caterer?

I'd imagine that you can get last-minute catering services if it is a small event, meeting, lunch break or tea. I know you can order Subway catering online with less than 24 hours notice, provided the Subway store is nearby your office. Some stores do delivery while some only offer pick up. They do sandwich and wrap platters, drinks, cookies, etc. It is a good option for when you need a light lunch or refreshment for your employees or visitors. 

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Graphic Design

Should you outsource your graphic design or hire a graphic designer in-house?

One of the most important factors is the volume of graphic design projects or tasks you need every month. If your business depends heavily on fresh and new designs constantly, then hiring a graphic designer in-house is better. E-commerce stores and online businesses should consider investing in full or part-timers. But if your website is more about online presence and marketing tool, which may not require regular design work, then it's better to outsource to graphic design agencies or freelance graphic designers. However, each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, in terms of turnaround times, cost, etc. 

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Business Finance and Loans

Why should you engage with a small business loan broker?

Small business loan brokers have access to all the available loans out there for your small business. They can compare rates, benefits and packages to get you the best one. It saves your time researching and talking to every single lender.However, some brokers are affiliated with certain banks and financial lenders. They may be more "bias" and push those loans to you, so take note. Brokers will also help you out to prepare your loan application and liaise with the financial lenders and banks you're interested in. Even if you don't end up using one, it's good to have a chat with a few.

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What is inbound marketing? How can it help your company?

Inbound is the opposite of outbound marketing. So, instead of cold calling and actively promoting yourself, inbound marketing's goal is to get new customers to enquire about your business or buy from you, which is inbound, through a long-term relationship that has been nurtured through content.The keyword here is long-term because inbound marketing is not an instant fix to your sales number. It works on educating prospects, helping them solve their issues and improving their lives without selling anything. You do this through many ways including regular blogging, webinars, live sessions, newsletters, social media posts, etc. Once they trust you or your brand, they will be more open to buying your products and hiring or using your services. Once you've built a useful and effective user's funnel, then inbound marketing can give higher ROI than advertisements and other forms of marketing. 

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Does anyone know how much TV advertising costs?

I think the TV advertising rates above is a good starting point. But the cost to advertise on tv is not as straightforward. For example, if a slot is $300, you don’t advertise once. It is a waste of your money and ineffective. You need take a few spots or advertise repeatedly on contract. Then you’re looking at, maybe, upwards of $5,000+ for a month of your TV advertising campaign. This is for 15-second slots of non-prime time.The cost also depends on where you advertise. It may not be just one channel. For example, if you want to advertise on channel 7, they have regional and metro channels, online and apps, and they affect the rates. People are consuming TV differently nowadays. It’s best to discuss with a sales rep to find out your options and get a more accurate tv advertising rates. 

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Is Ozbargain Profitable Enough For You To Make A Living?

Great insight into how Ozbargain makes money, though I’m not surprised that it is mostly ads. Their traffic is mostly organic and there are hardcore Ozbargain-ers out there who follow deals religiously. I have several friends who are always hunting for a bargain and have Ozbargain on their alerts and subscriptions. It fills a niche or gap in the market.

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Buying a Business

How to raise funding to buy a business?

If you don’t have enough funds, you can look at bank loans, line of credit, angel investors or do a vendor loan. A vendor loan is when the seller extends you a loan to buy the business, and the loan is paid from the profits of the business. It’s best to speak to your accountant and business broker on the best option.

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Insolvency

What's the difference between insolvency and bankruptcy?

Insolvency is when a person or company is unable to pay their debts, due to reasons such as cash flow, economic downturn, fraud, etc. An insolvent business does not have to cease operations. It has several options to resolve the insolvency. Meanwhile, bankruptcy is when a person, not a company, can’t pay his or her debts, and a bankruptcy proceeding needs to be taken to recover the debts.

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Exporting

Is there any financial assistance for exporters in Australia?

There’s the export market development grant, or EMDG. You can claim up to 50% of expenses used to promote your export. You must be a small business exporter with an income less than $50 million. You can also use export consultants to help apply for the grant. Check out more info from Austrade

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How to avoid misleading statements and advertising?

Misleading and false statements is not only about lying or exaggerating, it’s also about concealing an information. Social media has also made it easier to manipulate or create a false impression to people. According to the ACCC, a business is responsible for the all the information on its social media account, even if it’s not posted by them. This covers comments posted by people, so be careful when managing your social media.

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Employment Law

When is redundancy pay not required by law?

Casual and contract employees are not entitled to redundancy payments. You also don’t need to pay for making full-timers redundant, if they worked less than 12 months or there was a serious misconduct such as fraud. Some small businesses may be exempt from redundancy payment, and the rates are different for different industries. Check out Fair Work’s website for more information.

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Ananda Raj Pandey
Ananda Raj Pandey, Developer at SavvySME

Online Business

Is it necessary to have physical address for online business?

We now live in a gig economy where people freelance or run a profitable business from home. Therefore, I don’t think there is a need for a physical address for businesses. People may be able to guess you are a small business based on your address, but I don’t think it reduces their trust in you. I’d happily buy from a small business and deal with them if they are offering what I need or want at the right price, and they seem like decent people running a genuine small business.

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Michael Prior
Michael Prior, Principal at PB Advisory Group

Telecommunications, Mobile and Wireless

What were your experiences with Australian VOIP providers?

Almost all the big broadband providers like iiNet, TPG, Engin  are also VOIP providers in Australia. You can bundle your NBN or ADSL with VOIP services, and that cost usually starts from AUD $10 a month. It may be easier to configure and may save you money when you bundle voip and internet services.

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Wendy Huang
Wendy Huang, Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Lifestyle and Health

Do you know sustralian business that buys second-hand jewelry?

I haven’t heard of any such business in Australia, though it does sound like a good business idea. Your options are jewellery stores, consignment stores and pawnshops. Some jewellery stores will buy second hand jewellery, but they may not buy everything. It depends on their customer base, what type of jewelleries they like, and which designs appeal the most. So, if you’re selling a Tiffany & Co. necklace, approach jewellery stores in Sydney that sell preloved Tiffany & Co jewelleries too. The other quicker option is using consignment stores. There’s a few that’s online too such as Collector Square. People are open to buying jewelleries online. Consignment stores will sell your preloved jewelleries and valuables on your behalf, which means they take care of valuation, photos, finding buyers and selling. Of course, they will take a percentage of your sale proceeds. The last option is going to the pawnshop or Cash Converters. They won’t give you the best price so be prepared to take a big loss.   If you’re looking for independent jewellery appraiser to value your necklace, you can try the National Council of Jewellery Valuers. They have a list of valuers on their site.

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New Business Ideas

How to come up with good business name ideas?

What’s in a business name? Not too much if you execute well, and there is a need in the market for your product or service. Having said that, coming up with a good business name can help your marketing. It involves going down to the essence of your brand. What is your business’s purpose? What problem are you solving? How do you want to make people feel when they hear your name? Those are good starting points. Refer to competitors in your industry by looking at their name, tagline, values or motto. Try to understand why they resonate with customers. Next, you can use business name generators. There’s plenty but the best I’ve found is namelix.comIt even generates logos for you and checks if the domain name is available for that name.All you have to do is put in a few words you want your brand to be associated with and it uses AI to generate a unique name. It’s quite fun to play around with.

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Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Product Development

Is there an australian version of Alibaba website for products?

No, unfortunately there is no version of Alibaba in Australia but that’s certainly a business idea as there is a need. You will have to google according to your category and product and do your research yourself. There are a lot of Australian suppliers who are online and some only sell to registered businesses, not direct to the public. Those ones would be good to start with. Austrade has a list of suppliers on their website. It is not an online marketplace with reviews, messaging, business profiles, etc. You will have to search and approach them one by one. Another idea is to join relevant industry organisations for retailers, F&B producers, designers, trades, suppliers, etc. You can network, gain insider tips and find the recommended suppliers.Alternatively, you may also try the dropshipping route. They are low-risk and low-cost options if you are starting a business. There are a few big ones that’s tried and trusted such as  Oberlo and Salehoo.

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Michaela Clark
Michaela Clark, Virtual Assistant at mi virtual pa

Offline and Direct Marketing

What is the best way to market to tradies?

Bridget’s answers are spot on. Marketing to tradies is about marketing where they are at, such as in local papers or magazines because chances are, they are advertising there too. They will definitely see you. Try direct marketing with letter drop boxes to local tradies or posting snail mails to businesses you are targeting. Getting a shortlist of addresses are easy with online listings. You can find pretty much anyone nowadays. I’d also add that tradies with bigger businesses tend to have websites and Facebook or Instagram profiles too, they are also learning online marketing for tradies, so do not discount the power of online marketing. It can be effective with the right approach and messaging, if they are your target market.

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Nick Chernih
Nick Chernih, Founder at LinkBuildSEO

Virtual Assistance

How much does an australian virtual assistant (VA) cost?

Of course, you can get cheap virtual assistant overseas due to their lower cost of living and currency rate, but it may come at an expensive total cost for your small business, especially if they are not well versed in the subject or with little experience working for Australian businesses. Australian virtual assistants are great if your business is entirely local. They know the culture, lingo, news and how to deal with Aussies. The cost for a virtual assistant based in Australia can be as low as $20 an hour to a $100+ an hour. It depends on what you need done from basic data entries to personal virtual secretaries to bookkeeping that requires a qualification. Be aware that some virtual assistant businesses may be based in Australia but outsource all the work overseas and takes a cut. For blog commenting and social bookmark submission as you mentioned above, it is not a technical task but does require knowledge in the subject matter, some SEO and also online etiquette. You’ll be hard pressed to find $4 an hour in Australia, but I think you really need high quality content and comments from your virtual assistant as it may reflect on your business, and you should really consider hiring an Australian virtual assistant.

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Shane Gold
Shane Gold, Compliance Officer at First State Super

Website

Does either .com or .com.au domain have an advantage? ✅

Good question. With more and more businesses going online, you need to consider the domain name for your website early on when you’re brainstorming business names to register. I’d argue that your business name, and subsequently your domain name is more important than your domain extension. Between the default .com or .com.au domain extension, you could decide based on the obvious, whether you are targeting local customers or outside of Australia. Obviously, your customers outside of Australia may not even think of typing in the .au extension because they won’t know it. Apart from that, search engines are smarter nowadays and the domain extension doesn’t influence your ranking, anywhere near as much as your content, your site’s SEO and off-site SEOs. You could be a local business with a .com domain, but Google will still figure out you are a local business based on your online listings, reviews, website content, etc. Or you could be a global business with a .com.au extension, and search engines will still figure it out. This is only if you have done your SEO right and put some effort in it. Customers outside Australia can always google your business name and should be able to find your .com.au web address if your SEO is good. If possible, get both for your online address. The uncommon names or unique domain names are usually available across multiple domain extensions and are fairly affordable. This is good to protect your brand and online presence. 

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What's the difference in cloud and desktop accounting software

Cloud accounting or online accounting allows multi users to work at the same time, is accessible across multiple devices such as laptop, PC and mobile phone and all that’s needed is an internet connection, unlike a desktop accounting software. Furthermore, data is backed up automatically in cloud accounting, you don’t need to wait for the file to finish saving before exiting your cloud accounting software. Cost wise, you usually pay a monthly or yearly fee for cloud accounting instead of a one-off fee for desktop software.I think the best way to decide if cloud is for you is to do a free trial on popular brands among business owners, such as Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks online. They all usually offer a 30-day trial for new customers, or you can consult your bookkeeper or accountant.

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What are the best SEO tools for a small business?

There are plenty of SEO tools available that cover different areas of SEO such as keyword analysis, site checker, link building, competition spying, local listing and SEO-friendly content ideas. It really depends on what you need to do with your SEO. Some tools are all-encompassing while some only offer one area of SEO.  But here’s a list of the top or best SEO tools out there. Google’s full suite of products – this is the granddaddy of SEO and they offer a whole host of software and apps to help your SEO. All of them are free. Google Analytics help analyse your site traffic and user behaviour. Google Ads’ keyword planner tool is great for keyword research and analysis. Google Trends is another that analyses search trends and you can filter based on countries, duration and others. Google Search Console is a webmaster tool that highlights SEO issues on your site as well as monitor organic keywords.SEMRush – you need to pay for this if you want to unleash its full potential. SEMRush is a really good all-in-one tool that helps with site audits, improving your site’s SEO and content, spying on your competitors, keyword research, link building and generating SEO friendly content ideas.Moz – this is another all-in-one solution and they have been around for a long time.Afrefs – Ahrefs is another big name for SEO tools. They offer the complete SEO solution and their link building and off-site SEO solution is claimed to be one of the best.KWFinder – A wonderful and easier to use alternative to Google’s free Keyword Planner. Get long-tail keywords and ideas for your keyword research.WooRank – easy tool to analyse your site and other site’s performance and rankingYoast SEO plugin – this is one of the best tools if your website uses WordPress. Manage your on-site SEO in an all-in-one plugin.Answer The Public and Buzzsumo – these two are for generating content ideas and for expanding your keyword research. Answer The Public which is free gives you related terms to a keyword to create SEO friendly content, while BuzzSumo also shows you the top performing content based on keywords.  

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Advertising

When do you need to do online advertising for a small business?

The straightforward answer would be when your target buyers or clients are buying or transacting online. This applies even if your business doesn’t buy or service online. The other part of the answer would be when you have the right strategy for your goals and budget. Don’t spend on online ads for the sake of doing online ads. You’ll end up wasting money, getting burnt and then incorrectly assume that online ads are not for your business. First, you need to understand the different type of online advertising, how each platform works, the costs, audience’s demographics, and typical behaviour. It’s also advisable to see how your competitors or other businesses in the same industry are using online ads. And where you invest money will also depend on whether your business is local, national or global. The entire online advertising campaign must also be seamlessly integrated for the best customer experience. For example, where do your customers go after seeing your online ad? Where can they leave feedback and reviews? Small businesses should definitely consider online advertising as it is a low-cost alternative when done right and it hits the right spot to where your potential buyers are at. If you’re lost or not making decent returns on investment, please consult an advertising or marketing expert. It will save you money and time.

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Why should your small business outsource SEO?

If you don’t know what you’re doing, outsource your SEO. Sure, you can learn and do it yourself. But if you’re serious about getting results and SEO is a key strategy in your marketing, then get SEO experts in as soon as possible. SEO covers a big area, from keyword strategy and content to on-site and off-site SEO. There are always new updates with Google’s algorithm and ranking. You will have a lot of ground to cover if you go the DIY route. Your SEO strategy will also depend on whether your business is online or local, your target audience and their buying behaviour.   At the very least, you can consult a SEO expert who can guide you in the right direction, if you need to save money or if you can’t afford a full-time employee. Since SEO is a long-term investment, it’s important to start on the right footing. You should be working on areas that you’re good at, and outsource your SEO and any other areas you are not excelling at. Here are more information on hiring a SEO company or expert, including costs.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Bookkeeping

Who can help you prepare and lodge a BAS statement?

A bookkeeper needs to be a BAS agent to provide BAS services. You can easily check if they are registered, as Kristy mentioned. This is only if you are outsourcing your bookkeeping to a third party. If you are preparing and lodging BAS statements yourself, you don’t need to be a BAS agent. In short, you can use an accountant or a bookkeeper who is a BAS agent. Accountants may not do it themselves. They and accounting firms typically have bookkeepers who will work on the BAS statements and lodge it for them. The cost should be around a few hundred dollars for a small business.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Importing

How to source products from AliBaba to sell in Australia?

I've actually used AliBaba to find products. Firstly, to save you a lot of headache, make sure you do a thorough research on your product before you source for suppliers on AliBaba. This goes beyond knowing your target customer and product spec. Do research on the standards and regulations governing the product or parts of the product that you want to sell in Australia. For example, clothing has regulations on labelling, baby and kids’ products have more stringent regulations, as do organic items, etc. If you don’t get this right, your stock will be useless and unsellable in Australia. When you’re ready to source for suppliers, you’ll find that AliBaba is not difficult to use. It’s free for buyers to sign up. You can search for products and shortlist a number of suppliers to contact. All items on AliBaba have a price range and a minimum order quantity (MOQ). The final price depends on the order quantity, customisation and other arrangements. Or you can fill up an RFQ or request for quote form with your requirements, business and product details, price and MOQ. Interested suppliers will submit their quotes and you can check them out. There are several things you need to know about the sellers on AliBaba. There are manufacturers and resellers on the platform, depending on what you need, whether a ready-made product which just needs labelling and branding, or a product made to your specification. AliBaba have done a lot of work to vet the suppliers on their platform. Currently, they have two different type of suppliers, gold and verified supplier on AliBaba.  Depending on the type of membership, they do onsite checks to ensure you are dealing with a legitimate business, check their certifications, business license and other credentials for you.  They’ll also use independent third parties to check QC, production capability, etc. Check the supplier page thoroughly, looking at their ratings, history, photos and other details. Most suppliers will have a trade assurance capability. A Trade Assurance means your order will be protected by AliBaba in case there is a delay in shipment, issues with product’s quality, mismatch in order and final goods, etc. When you’re dealing with a “Trade Assurance” supplier, you can easily raise a dispute if you are not happy with the final goods, quality, and production time if it differs from the contract, and AliBaba will refund your money if you are on the right side. Furthermore, when you place a Trade Assurance order, the money won’t be deposited straight to any of the supplier’s account, but the supplier’s designated bank account as required by AliBaba, to prevent employee fraud. I’d suggest getting a sample first. Do several iterations of samples if needed before placing your order. Document everything and share pictures with your supplier. Always communicate with your supplier to establish a working relationship and trust. Skype if you can so you get a feel of what they are like to work with. It’s better to be dealing with one trade manager. If your contact person keeps changing, that will be difficult and may raise some red flags. Once you’ve found the right supplier for you, make sure your contract is as detailed as possible. It should be made through AliBaba, and not offline through emails or phone calls because any offline transactions will not be protected by AliBaba in case of a dispute. And finally, you can pay extra to request for an inspection by an independent third party once the goods have been manufactured to give you a piece of mind before shipment.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Social Media

What's the best social media marketing strategy for a restaurant?

As more and more people use online delivery services and search online, I think a social media marketing strategy for a restaurant should place a big emphasis on reviews. Encourage them, solicit them, share them on social media. You must also respond to reviews, especially the negative ones, because it shows that you care about your customers. If possible, you can offer a compensation behind the scenes if you can identify them.  Of course, first you must make sure that you are online whether it is a website, a social media page or an online listing so people can look you up. Apart from that, all the usual rules should apply to your social media marketing strategy. Your profile, content and tone of voice should reflect your restaurant’s brand. You need to understand your target customers well enough such as which social media channel they are likely to be on, when they are likely to be searching for places to eat or order, and who influences their decisions. All these will determine your posting times, content type and ads. Another alternative to ads that’s popular nowadays, is using social influencer. Even micro influencers with a few thousand of followers can help market your restaurant, because word of mouth is valuable for F&B outlets.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

What's the difference between a copywriter and an SEO copywriter?

A copywriter is someone who writes content or copy to advertise or market something, whether a product, service, business or personality. It can be in many forms such as print advertising, billboards, tv, radio ads or website copy. Their job can be to educate, engage or convince readers and viewers through their writing. An SEO copywriter is a specialised type of copywriter, and their biggest strength is in writing online content. Their writings should not only sell or market something, but also help increase the ranking of the content online. It usually requires a combination of copywriting and SEO skills. They should know SEO techniques and rules to create search engine friendly content that can drive online traffic while increasing page ranking. This includes using the right keywords and writing good meta data. However, they may or may not know how to mine for keywords because their main job is to write SEO-friendly copy that sells. Keyword research is usually done by SEO experts. But please remember that great content is great content. You can’t fix or mask a bad copy with keywords you’re targeting. It is still bad content. Therefore, a good SEO copywriter is also a good copywriter. Who to hire depends on what your project is. You can still hire a copywriter to write online content. Nowadays, many copywriters have upskilled themselves with SEO knowledge because they understand the importance of SEO as more and more businesses go online. Just ask for a portfolio from them to get an understanding of how good they are.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Sales and Marketing

What are some of the best marketing ideas you've seen by small businesses?

I like what the Thank You brand has done, though they are more non-profit business. They’ve expanded their products from just “Thank You” water bottles to body care and baby stuff today. When they first started a few years ago, they were trying to get their bottled water stocked in supermarkets. Their marketing was mainly done on social media especially using videos, which garnered a lot of momentum simply because it was refreshing, honest and different. I still remember that video where the founder talked about their mission and their impact. It got me on board to buying the Thank You water bottles. I think when we talk about marketing, sometimes we forget that it is as simple as telling your story honestly and well enough to connect with people who feel the same way you do. The best marketing can start from, merely, your business idea and mission.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Advertising

How to increase the conversion rate or ROI of your advertisements?

There are a few time-tested principles that can persuade people to click on your ads. First, you must know your audience so that your ad feels like it is speaking to them. They should be able to see themselves in your ad. This is by addressing their pain points or aligning it with their lifestyle, issues, hopes and dreams. If possible, you should use the scarcity trick by making your offer, service or product scarce or rare, rather than one in dozen. Things such as limited-edition products or yearly offers are just some examples. The third is employing the urgency trick where you compel customers or prospects to act quickly as time is running out. Think hooks where your offer is only available today, have an expiration day or will increase in price after a certain time. Social proofing is also a great way to convince people to click on your ads. You can use testimonials, ambassadors, influencers, communities to demonstrate this. Psychologically, people like to imitate their role models and peers or be part of their social surroundings and activities. Above all, your ad also must be simple to understand within seconds without overwhelming or confusing the reader or viewer. It should be consistent across all platforms and highlight the important points. A bonus point is if your ad is memorable, whether in a conventional way such as evoking an emotion or unconventional ways that become a talking point, like the “CU in NT” ad by Northern Territory tourism. Whatever you do, always test your ads with a screen audience or A/B testing. It makes it easy to improve your ads on the fly and build on the next campaign.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Advertising

Which is more effective: TV advertising vs YouTube advertising?

Yes, I agree with Tom. It depends a lot on who you are trying to reach out to. TV still has a wider reach or higher penetration in Australia than YouTube but that number is slowly declining as the younger demographics between 18- 49 year olds are watching less and less. The over 50s are the ones who are propping up the numbers. The younger target audiences are moving to video on demand services such as Stan, Netflix and online entertainment such as YouTube, social media, etc. Therefore, it’s not just YouTube that’s luring TV audiences away. Back in the days, tv stars were big but now, online and social media influencers are also shaping market trends and consumer demand. At the end of 2018, YouTube has 15 million unique Australian visitors monthly, with a lot in the millennial generation. But TV still has the upper hand in terms of total viewership. Foxtel has about 2.8 million subscribers at the end of June 2018. TV ratings tend to peak for live sporting events such as footy, Olympics, cricket and the occasional blockbuster TV show episodes like MasterChef finale. If you compare ads, YouTube ads are more customisable, has a lower minimum spend and better analytics than TV. But is it more effective? This study by Google says it generates better ROI than TV, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. That being said, a lot of brands are using a mix of YouTube, TV and other type of ads to get the right conversion rate and effectiveness. For smaller businesses, YouTube at its current price point can be more attractive to start with.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Advertising

Any memorable radio Ads by businesses stuck in your mind?

I don’t think National Tiles qualify as a small business, but their Frank Walker voice and accent stays in your head. There are a few lessons small businesses can learn from their radio ad. Their message is simple, and important information are repeated, which is like most good radio ads. But the one thing that stood out is the actor’s accent and way of speaking. It is so different from what you hear on other ads that it sticks out and pulls you out of your auto-pilot driving stupor. They did a great job with picking the voiceover guy. At first, I found the ad annoying but after listening to it a few times, it sunk in. I was in the midst of renovating my house and ended up browsing at National Tiles just because of the ad. I didn’t buy anything from them as I found cheaper options, but their radio ad managed to get me through their door.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Accounting

How much does it cost to hire an accountant for a small business?

The cost to hire an accountant for a small business will depend on many things1.  Your small business structure. If you’re a sole trader with a relatively simple business and accounts, it will be way cheaper than a company or trust.2.  The type of service you’re looking for. Is it a one-off tax return? Just the monthly BAS and end of financial year tasks? Or do you need budgeting, cash flow review and projections, advisory tasks such as funding, restructuring, debt management? The more complex the service required, the more expensive it will cost your small business.3. The accountant’s skills and qualification, whether CPA, CA or none, and experience, whether senior or junior accountant.4.  The type of accounting firm, whether it is a big firm where you have 2-3 people handling your case or a smaller firm with just 1 junior person doing it. Of course, one-man shows will cost cheaper.5.  To a certain extent, your location. Capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne will be more expensive than regional locations. You can also use online or virtual ones, and they may be cheaper without any face-to-face meeting.When it comes down to actual pricing, different accountants have different fee structures. Some may charge by the hour, some per project or task, and some will charge a monthly retainer fee.An accountant’s hourly rate typically starts from $100+ per hour for a junior accountant and upwards of $300+ for a senior in an accounting firm. Of course, there are freelance accountants who charge lower than that.For a simple sole trader business, tax return cost can start from between $300 and $500. Company tax return will start from $1000 and get more expensive the more complicated the tax return is. BAS and IAS can start from $200 per quarter for a sole trader business and more for a company or trust.Bear in mind that an accountant can do a lot more for your business including budgeting, raising funds, debt reconsolidation, tax strategies, buying and selling businesses. These can be project based, part of a pricing package or paid based on a monthly retainer.The most important thing is to hire accountants or firms who will be upfront and transparent with their cost and pricing. Make sure you understand the total cost including the fine print and any changes in the work needed, and always maintain an open line of communication. 

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Accounting

What are the advantages, disadvantages and risk of using cloud accounting?

There are a lot of advantages in using cloud accounting. You can work and access your accounts anywhere with an internet connection and use it across many devices from desktop to mobile phone. Your accountant can access your files and collaborate with you too online. Technically, you can just whip up your phone and have all your financial numbers at your fingertips. It is super handy for when you are out and about or when you need to make decisions on the fly. E.g. “What’s my current cash flow looking like?” With cloud accounting, everything is stored in the cloud and you don’t have to worry about backing up or losing data while you work if the power goes off. You use less paper too as your documents are all online. You don’t need to install your accounting system unlike traditional software. Just create an account online. Software updates are now automatic as opposed to manual updates if you use traditional software. Cost wise, you usually pay a monthly fee for cloud accounting instead of a lump sum for a software, which translates to a smaller cost upfront, but it adds up over the years. The downside is you need an internet connection to access it. Cloud accounting could be more expensive in the long run than just buying an off-the-shelf software. With your data in the cloud, there’s always a small risk of a data breach or theft. But your provider such as Xero, Quickbooks or MYOB should have measures and processes in place in the event this happens. If there is a legal issue, there may be potential risks with data ownership.   

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Business Growth

How would drone delivery help your small business, if at all?

I think yes, absolutely – if the price point is right. It’s handy for small businesses with small packages. For bigger packages, maybe we can expect driverless cars to deliver in the future? But, of course, we need to look at issues such as privacy regulations, air traffic control for drones, potential risks of hijacking and impact to wildlife and animals, for it to go mainstream too. These are all kinks which need to be ironed out. In the long run, it would certainly help small businesses, if the price is right.

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Risk Management

What do retailers like Masters and Dick Smith have in common?

I think it comes down to two things:1.       No point of difference or unique selling proposition (USP)2.       High overhead costs either from rapid expansion or poor financial planning This applies to a lot of bankrupt retailers, regardless of what they sell.Masters expanded too rapidly and couldn’t differentiate itself from the incumbent Bunnings, whether from price, customer experience or product line. Dick Smith had a lot of obsolete or unsold stock when they folded, which signals that they failed to keep up with consumer demand changes. If you asked consumers to describe Dick Smith in fewer than 10 words, many would struggle simply because Dick Smith had no USP. It’s an important lesson to think about when you are starting a retail business nowadays, in this highly competitive environment – what is your USP? 

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Who can I get in touch with about advertising?

Hi Ramit! Advertising is broad, and I'm not sure which type you are looking for: online, print, tv or radio. Can you clarify?Otherwise, your best bet would be to contact an advertising agency. They would be able to cater for all types of ads. Even a small agency will be able to do loads for you, and help you with specs for specific advertising you're looking for. You can try putting in a quote on this site, and you'll get agencies to get in touch. https://www.savvysme.com.au/find-service-professionals Good luck!

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

Chelsea Creamer
Chelsea Creamer, Community Manager at SavvySME

Advertising

What Do You Find The Best Strategy For Twitter Advertising?

It depends on what you use Twitter for, whether for branding purposes or to update your customers on discounts, promos, etc.With Twitter ads, visuals tend to do really well. Try to convey your message with a video, image, animated gif instead of words. A person should understand it without having to read 140+ characters. Lead cards are great for putting a call-to-action (CTA), which is super important but sometimes easily forgotten. As Twitter's audience isn't as big as Facebook or Instagram, working with Twitter influencers may be a better form of advertising as their reach is bigger. If you're a small cafe/restaurant, trying to build followers on Twitter, whether through ads or organically, may be painstaking and long. 

Aishah Mustapha answered this question

How much do Facebook ads cost?

Yes, I agree with Paula. Boosting post is great if you are a brand that’s well-established, ppl or fans will tend to click on your content. Small business? Not quite, because there’s a big deluge of content out there, it’s competitive. Only boost the quality ones that have gained traction. Your budget depends on your goals, whether you’re looking to build a fan base, launch a product/service, remarket offers to those who have expressed interest, etc. The important thing is to set clear goals, select a highly targeted audience, and always monitor and calculate ROI.With FB, you can set daily budget or campaign budget. Eg: $50 a day for new product ad for 30 days, or $1500 for whole campaign. Let’s say your goal is for 300 ppl to click your offer, then you’re targeting $5 cost per click (CPC).On top of your budget, you can also set options for your cost per result, in this example your $5 CPC, either as lowest possible price, or biggest result possible. The first ensures your CPC is stays as cheap as possible, and the latter ensures you get as many clicks as possible to your target of 300. FB will then “deliver” the ads to achieve as close as possible based on your criteria and audience.There’s other metrics such as cost-per-impression, cost-per-engagement, etc. Note that the more you use FB ad, the more data you have such as which offer and content works best for which audience in which area, and how much each lead/impression/engagement cost. You’ll get an idea of whether you need to increase or cut your budget. FB is best used with other efforts such as content marketing, SEM.Remember, you need to always tie it back to your goal, because you can spend $5/day and get somewhere or $50/day and get a pittance.

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