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Neil Steggall
Top 10% Measuring Startup Success

Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Member Since July 2013

South Yarra, VIC, 3141

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Neil is the CEO of Wardour Capital Partners, leading emerging growth & mid tier advisors. He is also a Non Executive Director of Family Planning Australia and The Australia Asia Business Alliance.

Neil is an experienced director & corporate mentor and has chaired or served on numerous board committees including finance & audit, governance, compliance, strategy, acquisition, remuneration & ethics.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Neil Steggall
Neil Steggall, Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Budgeting and Forecasting

Do you see the economy improving or deteriorating in 2014?

~~Good answer. I am far from convinced that a lower $AU will be beneficial. Yes in theory it is easier to obtain some export sales, however, currently mining, aviation and agribusiness have enjoyed the advantage of a high dollar by reducing fuel, industrial and agrochemical costs, veterinary medications and supplements, plus massive plant and equipment costs. Not only does the base cost of these items fall but the cost of shipping, freight etc.

In each of our intensive agribusiness investments; chemicals, mainly imported, are our second highest cost after labour, followed not far behind by fuel and freight. A tractor has a useful life (for us) of 4  years and (say) a slasher 2 so a low dollar pushes OPEX and CAPEX up.

Sure domestic travel may improve but fuel prices, aircraft and maintenance costs will rise therefore the days of ultra-cheap flights will be over. Sun hats, lotions, clothing and even the kids bucket and spade, all holiday essentials are probably manufactured off shore and thus even more inflationary pressure.

I am not an economist and there is much I cannot understand yet I question...."is a low dollar an outdated mantra?"

If the country was a business I would be concentrating on lifting revenues through core competencies, working to value add and lift unit returns, educating and motivating staff, improving cost and production efficiencies on a daily basis and investing the profits into building the future. The $ is very much like the interest rate for business, plan and work around it.

Exchange rate parity or comparison with the US is dated. The US  is a falling star. The US is where Britain was in 1918 and China sits where the US then sat. We need the next rising star as a partner. For how much longer will we buy and sell in US$? The world is no longer Eurocentric.

imagine the impact of a 2% interest rate increase, caused by inflation, over the next 2 to 3 years on young families who purchased houses at 5% interest and the flow on effect to property prices.

The 2.0m SME's in Australia are the silent majority. If they had access to funding, tax relief to adequately recompense risk, and better education the nation would move forward. 

 

 

Neil Steggall answered this question

What is in your media plan for the new year?

We have a media plan in place to commence March 1 and it is our first foray into an integrated campaign led by Social Media so we are quietly nervous and excited in equal measure. We see it as an ambitious 10 month campaign in a traditionally conservative sector.

It will be interesting to post review comments at this time next year.

Business Coaching

10 tips to organize a successful business meet

10 Tips to Organize a Successful Business Meet What do you do to ensure that the business meet you organized doesn’t fizzle out? As a top entrepreneur in the lead, you must take the initiative to arrange business meets to connect with others. But that isn’t all; you need to create an event that people enjoy. Not something they dread! If you create a platform where entrepreneurs share thei...

Measuring Startup Success

5 tips for a successful start-up

5 Tips for a SUCCESSFUL Start-up Starting a new business is an exciting and challenging task, one in which success brings a variety of rewards and yet failure can be a painful and damaging experience. Despite this there are 2.0 million SME’s in Australia and new start-ups opening every day. This is the entrepreneurial drive at work, the human need to try new things and to stretch and grow. T...

Neil Steggall answered this question

Would you pitch advertising/design/marketing concepts to clients?

For me it comes down to teamwork and the emerging trend to outsource. If the concept is well managed the outcome for the client (and this is what we should be focusing on) has to be better.

Leadership

Great communication drives success!

Communication is the #1 single skill needed at every level of business from a one man SME to multi-national corporations. To gain the most out of our lives we need great communication skills and yet I find a great deal of confusion as to what constitutes good communication. I have written in the past about the importance of SMILES; perhaps the earliest and most basic form of human communication....

Neil Steggall answered this question

Does every small business need an accountant ?

Wow, some good answers here. My view is very simple: get the best accountant you can afford and tell him or her up front that you expect them to be cost neutral. There are so many ways a good accountant can add value to your business and save money with the best leasing, borrowing, tax, government grants advice and more.

Agree on an annual budget to be billed monthly rather than at year end so as to fit in with your cash flows.

Use your accountant as an important team member but check their performance. If they are costing you money, question why?

Leadership

6 key causes of procrastination.

6 Key Causes of Procrastination. Procrastinate, Procrastinate, Procrastinate! Spoken aloud and with the correct intonation this little mantra sounds remarkably similar to the Daleks famous Exterminate, Exterminate and believe me Procrastination can lead to SME Extermination! Procrastination is a problem for the sufferer, it’s a problem for the SME and it’s a deal breaker for cohesive team ...

Neil Steggall answered this question

What content for newsletter would make you read one?

Hi Kevin, A good question and the answer is possibly different for each person. A few ideas I try to follow include:



To have impact a newsletter must "grab you" in that first glance so the visual imagery needs to be strong.

If sent by email the subject line requires almost as much thought as the newsletters headline.

The content its self should be king but a teaser, either a discount or a give away can help with engagement and subscriptions - use the top right hand corner.

Address the newsletter to your audience - we mail out four slightly different versions

Write in "speach" its more friendly, personal and easy to read.

Keep the paragraphs short but allow a click for more detail

Good graphics and humour work

Make sure the format is sound for smart phones and tablets

Ling Lee posted last week on SavvySME and I thought her layout was instantly appealing, drew the eye in and made you want to know more. I don't know how to give you a link to the post but I highly recommend it!

Cheers,

Neil.

Sales and Marketing

How to make a winning pitch for your SME?

We are often asked to assist our SME clients in preparing a “pitch” for major new business or for a new equity investment and it’s an area where our approach surprises the client as we strongly believe that the key to a winning pitch is “less is more” but the content and presentation must be perfect! If you're pitching your SME, whether for major new clients or investment, it's crucia...

Neil Steggall answered this question

Gino Lancaster
Gino Lancaster, Business Partner at Red Planet Design ~ Digital Marketing Company

Social Media

What Was Your Experience With Using Twitter For A Business?

Hi Gino, I have no experience to share but its a great question. Neil.

Human Resources

10 conversations best avoided at work

10 Conversations Best Avoided at Work. Earlier this year a university student I know, took on a job as a waiter in a hot inner suburban restaurant and bar and made a common mistake. Quite a sweet and innocent mistake really. The team would often finish late and enjoy a bottle of wine (or two) together, perhaps head out for a burger or a movie and soon she saw them as friends not colleagues and ...

Neil Steggall answered this question

Jayson Rodda
Jayson Rodda, Head of Digital Marketing at Find Your Ideal Customers

Sales and Marketing

What is better - SEO, Google Adwords or social media?

Thanks for the question and all of the answers. As someone looking to take a new (at least in Australia) company into this space in 2014 its a very confusing environment and not easy for the uninitiated to understand. Forums such as Savvysme are a great help 

Sales and Marketing

Old, blind or past it?

Old, Blind or Past it?Marketing in 21c Now before you leap to your key pads in a denouncement of such an offensive title allow me to confess. I have been asking this question of myself. In the dark distant past when coffee came without froth and computers were kept in sealed rooms and operated by bespectacled men (sorry ladies its true) in white coats, I spent a few years climbing the corporat...

Cashflow Management

High profits & about to crash?

High Profits & About to Crash? A relevant question for SME Management. “How important is profit?” this question in one form or another is one of the most common questions we receive from new SME owners or potential start-ups and surprisingly it’s not a simple one to answer. Some time ago I sat down for a chat with a highly intelligent friend who had recently joined the board of a mid...

Leadership

Creating your own successful & profitable entrepreneur

Creating Entrepreneurs Is it possible….you better believe it! Entrepreneurs are often the rocket fuel which drives new ideas, creates new businesses and indeed new industries. In common with such inflammable fuels entrepreneurs can often end with a bang but overall they have driven commerce and commercial ideas for millennia. Most entrepreneurs tend to be highly individual, difficult and unp...

Business Planning

5 tips for successful business development

5 Tips for Successful Business Development 1. Business Development Is Not Increasing Sales Managing the development of your business has a lot in common with conducting an orchestra. It’s a case of encouraging and leading the various differing components of your business forward, in harmony, to the same point at the same time to produce an extraordinary effect. You need to develop your uniqu...

Neil Steggall answered this question

Is it important for small business owners to understand their financial statement ?

If the small business owner doesn't understand their financial statements I cannot see how they can succeed. Its a worse situation than the driver who gets into the car and sets off for Paris without a map as the driver at least knows where they are headed.

For most SME's the accounting or financial management side of their business is a chore and one they would rather put off but its no more of a chore than keeping ones house clean and we all know what happens when we put that off.

If too busy get a bookkeeper or a house cleaner but get it done.

With the excellent accounting packages available so inexpensively and online help available 24/7 there is no need or excuse for sloppy book keeping.

Business Finance and Loans

Are banks lending to SME's?

A good deal has been written recently regarding the attitude to SME lending by the major banks. On the one hand, we have SME owners frustrated by their inability to attract bank funding and on the other, we have the banks advertising and talking up their preparedness to fund SME’s. Why do we have this disconnect between views? Clearly, since late 2008 and the commencement of the GFC, banks h...

Leadership

Persistence succeeds!

The Successful Spider A tale of persistence! Recently I have been starting my mornings immediately after waking, with a Facebook post from my bed, a mixture of ramblings and what became known as my quote of the day. I thought a positive start to the day was essential, so often the quote was leadership based and usually quite old fashioned by today’s standards. The leaders quoted included Fra...

Leadership

Teamwork: the key to success

  A STRONG TEAM IS VITAL TO SUCCESS Early in my career it was noted that “I didn’t suffer fools gladly”. At the time I took it as a compliment as I couldn’t understand why some of the people in the organization just couldn’t grasp the problem, yet alone see the solution and fix it. Clearly they were fools! As I traveled around the organization from city to city reviewing performanc...

Cashflow Management

SME's starving for cash

SME’S: Starving for Cash Just how much cash does a start-up need? In my experience the simple answer is “a lot more than you think”. The lack of cash to fund SME growth is the single biggest cause of SME failures and yet it need not be so. With a proper understanding of business dynamics and risk, cautious budgeting and the regular monitoring of your performance against your budgets you...

Finance and Accounting

The three profits of SME's

The Three Profits of SME's Most SME operators tend to think that good management, innovation, hard work and productivity will result in a profitable business, well they should but that’s not the whole story. Not all profits are created equal and indeed some are much more valuable and more quickly and easily attained than others. Ah there must be a catch I hear you say; there is no catch but ...

Leadership

Showing Integrity, Leadership and Respect.

  Leadership goes hand in hand with Trust and Respect and to build a reputation for Trust and Respect you need to demonstrate a high level of Integrity, however, integrity can be a contradiction in today’s workplace. The label of integrity is hard to earn and yet it can be lost in a single action. It is not something we consciously look for in someone but we tend to notice when it is missing....

Leadership

Strength Through Diversity & Change

Diversity and Change are catalysts to growth and development, to new ideas and to improvement throughout the world in which we live. Darwin’s evolution of the species demonstrated how through diversity and change the world is able to constantly evolve and improve. Why then are so many of us suspicious of both diversity and change, why do we fight to protect the status quo? Is it as simple as a ...

Leadership

How to become a great negotiator

Most of our successful leaders and entrepreneurs are great negotiators. The skill of negotiation is recognised as one of the important factors in success and yet so few truly of us truly understand what it is that makes a great negotiator. It is often said that children are great negotiators; they are persistent and return to their objective time and time again, attempting differing angles to w...

Finance and Accounting

Why is my business stalling?

If you were to receive a substantial capital investment into your business would you engage outside expertise to help further develop and improve your business? There are few business leaders I know who would seriously answer no to this question, which if you really think it through is very odd. Why is it odd? Because if you need help after receiving a substantial capital investment you needed...

Team Management

Why do we Procrastinate? ......Well, I’ll tell you tomorrow!!

Procrastination is a problem for the sufferer, it’s a problem for business and it can ruin cohesive team work. It is a universal problem in businesses of all sizes and yet we rarely discuss it. "Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.” Napoleon Hill I was surprised when reading an article in Psycholog...

Leadership

5 traits of a great leader

Leadership is an extraordinary skill so much so that it is often difficult to define that certain something which differentiates the great from a good leader. When assessing investment opportunities we always look at the leadership first and foremost, particularly in start-ups. To guide us we have developed the 5 Key Trait test. It is rare to find all of the traits in one person but when we do ...

Leadership

Remember, persistence pays off. stay motivated with these 7 tips

Persistence and motivation are in many ways the rocket fuels of success. Immediately after waking each day I have started posting a motivational quote to test its effect on me and my friends. A positive start to the day is essential, so often the quote is leadership or persistence based and quite old fashioned by today’s standards. The leaders quoted include amongst many: Franklin D Roosevel...

Leadership

Leader or manager? – vive la différence!

The terms leadership and management are often used to describe the same person or even used as though the words are interchangeable. They are not. The differences between leadership and management are vast and varied and placing the wrong person in the wrong position could have dire consequences for your business. Leaders are rarely great managers and vice versa. Both are much needed and both h...

Budgeting and Forecasting

Pricing By The Hour? You're Wrecking Your Business

A friend of mine told me that she was “really getting on top of her charge out fees” this year. She proudly told me what her annual income target was. I asked if that allowed for full overhead recovery, car and travel costs, travel time, office expenses, telephone, computer, tablet, entertainment, sickness etc and was it inclusive or exclusive of superannuation. After an embarrassing pause ...

Business Management

The essence of time management

  “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” Peter F. Drucker How do you rate on time management? How many times have you said “there just aren’t enough hours in the day” well you are WRONG! there are 24 equally sized, nicely paced, hours in every day. Enough hours for some to build global corporations and others to run whole countries and even for mothers with Triplet...

Copywriting and Content Marketing

The essence of business writing

“The Essence of Business Writing” is number two in a series of ten “Essence of Management Articles” You may have rattled off brilliant essays throughout school or university; however, business writing is tough. It’s full of subtleties and more dangerous than a minefield it is a make or break art which everyone in business really needs to be on top of. If you cannot clearly and simply...

Market Trend

The importance of market perception

Perception Marketing has become big business and until recently I had applied little thought to the question of perception versus reality. People apparently now build entire careers around Perception Management, they are not involved in Product Development and Product Improvement, their mission in life involves changing us! Changing our Consumer Perception! My regular readers are familiar with...

Leadership

“The essence of leadership”

I recently completed a series of short presentations on the 10 key aspects of SME Management. They are deliberately short, condensed and to the point, so much so that I have used an expression from the kitchen and called the series the “Essence of Management” Those of you who know me or are regular readers of my articles you know my reputation as an unmitigated waffler so reducing complex p...

Cashflow Management

The profitable power of positive pricing! and how to use positive pricing to double your profits!!!

When discussing management theory some subjects are greeted with much more enthusiasm than others and recently I addressed a group of SME owners on “Improving Profits” a subject dear to all and a topic pretty well guaranteed to ensure rapt audience attention irrespective of the speakers skill. Yes profit was in everyone’s mind and the subject was greeted with enthusiasm, yet as I probed, ...

Leadership

The power of marginal gains

I first heard of the power marginal gain as a student. Back then “the power” of ideas such as marginal gain, marginal pricing,  marginal costing, marginal probability and compound interest were all being used in business studies to show how something didn’t have to be “wiz, bang, new, fast and you beaut” to make a difference. It was power man! Compounding interest has continued to fa...

Leadership

What does a woman know……?

Quite a lot actually! My offensively sexist headline was used as a “hook” to encourage you to think about gender equality in business. In my years in business very little management discussion has focused on the simple fact that our population is more or less and equal split between males and females. When gender is discussed it is usually in terms of targeting a product at either men or w...

Leadership

Those terrible teams!

We Aussies know all about teams. We have the AFL the NRL, the Premier League, not to mention cricket, hockey, swimming, tennis, netball, bowls and of course the local drinking team. Every one of us passionately follows a team or two so of course we know all about team work…..don’t we? In management speak we come across the words team, teamwork, team building, team targets every day withou...

Business Planning

Meetings - less pose, more work!

A good friend of mine is a leading global advisor to life insurance companies, he travels extensively and consults at board level. Recently I asked where his London office is now situated, "any Starbucks" was his answer. "Why have an office?" was his question, "the people I meet are too busy to travel and yet they appreciate 30 minutes relaxing over a coffee". For more formal presentations and ...

Social Media

The naked entrepreneur!

“to thine own self be true……………” Do you remember when Jamie Oliver first bust onto our screens as “The Naked Chef”? He was fully clothed but he had stripped away the unnecessary bullsh*t and mystery surrounding cooking. The world fell in love with Jamie a self-confessed dyslexic, school dropout from Essex – he was simply and wonderfully himself! As I read online profiles I ...

Cashflow Management

When Should You Ask For Help With Cash Flow?

At which stage do you accept that without a cash injection your business is probably doomed? Looking at the ABS statistics they show that in any three year period around 42% of registered SME’s fail. So the answer is that we should look for and accept cash and or help a lot sooner! It is very hard when investing the enormous time, energy and focus needed to start and build an SME, to then fin...

Training and Development

Speak clearly and communicate

How well do you convey your messages? Is it a question you examine or do you concentrate on the content of your speech? We spend plenty of time thinking about what we say in business, but not necessarily how we say it. When it comes to professional settings the way we speak including tone, pitch, and volume is every bit as important as content and dramatically affects how our message is receive...

Business Planning

What is success? & can everyone succeed?

Have you ever gone along to one of those meetings where only as you arrive do you realise the objective is to recruit you into Multi-Level Marketing? I have. At first analysis the system is fool proof. Follow the program, build your team, sell some product and you are going to be rich and successful! It demonstrates the simplicity of applied logic and the leveraging of numbers; and yet…….l...

Leadership

Leading with Integrity

Some years ago I had to dismiss a team member who was great at his job and he and his wife had become good family friends. The reason was simple; he had made a fatal error of judgement and in doing so had, to the wider team, lost his integrity. The label of integrity is hard to earn and yet it can be lost in a single action. I am not even sure it is something we consciously look for in someone ...

Ecommerce

SME’s desperate for “e-business” help

To be “in the right place at the right time” is always seen as paramount to winning the lottery. Unfortunately most of us only realise later that we had been in the place and time doing nothing in particular. I think that training and assisting SME’s in understanding and the wide range of computing, internet and social media options now open to them is huge. It’s huge because a real yet...

Leadership

Mind mapping: let it work for you.

MIND MAPPINGSome of us think better in pictures etc. Before thinking through a big idea, I usually visualise it as a diagram. I have always “solved problems” graphically. Sometimes entirely within my mind and then A1 sheets of paper, followed by whiteboards, and eventually computers. Now I use a combination of all three. I called it mind mapping long before the phrase became popular – it j...

Leadership

The power of communication

And……..How-to-become-a-great-communicator Often after first drafting a speech or an article I look through and ask myself the question “what would my wife cut out of this?” Invariably its 60% or so of what I have written. My wife, I should add, is a successful author, journalist and historian and she can paint amazing mind images with such an economy of words. What I realise is that wi...

Leadership

4 words to avoid in 2014

I have never really believed in New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps because as a child I constantly resolved to behave better the next year only to be involved in further mischief the first day school resumed.  Move forward many years and I find myself contemplating change and wondering how I can improve myself in 2014. Along with many others I need to be more positive, to look at the stars aga...

Business Coaching

10 tips to organize a successful business meet

10 Tips to Organize a Successful Business Meet What do you do to ensure that the business meet you organized doesn’t fizzle out? As a top entrepreneur in the lead, you must take the initiative to arrange business meets to connect with others. But that isn’t all; you need to create an event that people enjoy. Not something they dread! If you create a platform where entrepreneurs share thei...

Measuring Startup Success

5 tips for a successful start-up

5 Tips for a SUCCESSFUL Start-up Starting a new business is an exciting and challenging task, one in which success brings a variety of rewards and yet failure can be a painful and damaging experience. Despite this there are 2.0 million SME’s in Australia and new start-ups opening every day. This is the entrepreneurial drive at work, the human need to try new things and to stretch and grow. T...

Leadership

Great communication drives success!

Communication is the #1 single skill needed at every level of business from a one man SME to multi-national corporations. To gain the most out of our lives we need great communication skills and yet I find a great deal of confusion as to what constitutes good communication. I have written in the past about the importance of SMILES; perhaps the earliest and most basic form of human communication....

Leadership

6 key causes of procrastination.

6 Key Causes of Procrastination. Procrastinate, Procrastinate, Procrastinate! Spoken aloud and with the correct intonation this little mantra sounds remarkably similar to the Daleks famous Exterminate, Exterminate and believe me Procrastination can lead to SME Extermination! Procrastination is a problem for the sufferer, it’s a problem for the SME and it’s a deal breaker for cohesive team ...

Sales and Marketing

How to make a winning pitch for your SME?

We are often asked to assist our SME clients in preparing a “pitch” for major new business or for a new equity investment and it’s an area where our approach surprises the client as we strongly believe that the key to a winning pitch is “less is more” but the content and presentation must be perfect! If you're pitching your SME, whether for major new clients or investment, it's crucia...

Human Resources

10 conversations best avoided at work

10 Conversations Best Avoided at Work. Earlier this year a university student I know, took on a job as a waiter in a hot inner suburban restaurant and bar and made a common mistake. Quite a sweet and innocent mistake really. The team would often finish late and enjoy a bottle of wine (or two) together, perhaps head out for a burger or a movie and soon she saw them as friends not colleagues and ...

Sales and Marketing

Old, blind or past it?

Old, Blind or Past it?Marketing in 21c Now before you leap to your key pads in a denouncement of such an offensive title allow me to confess. I have been asking this question of myself. In the dark distant past when coffee came without froth and computers were kept in sealed rooms and operated by bespectacled men (sorry ladies its true) in white coats, I spent a few years climbing the corporat...

Cashflow Management

High profits & about to crash?

High Profits & About to Crash? A relevant question for SME Management. “How important is profit?” this question in one form or another is one of the most common questions we receive from new SME owners or potential start-ups and surprisingly it’s not a simple one to answer. Some time ago I sat down for a chat with a highly intelligent friend who had recently joined the board of a mid...

Business Planning

5 tips for successful business development

5 Tips for Successful Business Development 1. Business Development Is Not Increasing Sales Managing the development of your business has a lot in common with conducting an orchestra. It’s a case of encouraging and leading the various differing components of your business forward, in harmony, to the same point at the same time to produce an extraordinary effect. You need to develop your uniqu...

Leadership

Creating your own successful & profitable entrepreneur

Creating Entrepreneurs Is it possible….you better believe it! Entrepreneurs are often the rocket fuel which drives new ideas, creates new businesses and indeed new industries. In common with such inflammable fuels entrepreneurs can often end with a bang but overall they have driven commerce and commercial ideas for millennia. Most entrepreneurs tend to be highly individual, difficult and unp...

Leadership

Persistence succeeds!

The Successful Spider A tale of persistence! Recently I have been starting my mornings immediately after waking, with a Facebook post from my bed, a mixture of ramblings and what became known as my quote of the day. I thought a positive start to the day was essential, so often the quote was leadership based and usually quite old fashioned by today’s standards. The leaders quoted included Fra...

Business Finance and Loans

Are banks lending to SME's?

A good deal has been written recently regarding the attitude to SME lending by the major banks. On the one hand, we have SME owners frustrated by their inability to attract bank funding and on the other, we have the banks advertising and talking up their preparedness to fund SME’s. Why do we have this disconnect between views? Clearly, since late 2008 and the commencement of the GFC, banks h...

Cashflow Management

SME's starving for cash

SME’S: Starving for Cash Just how much cash does a start-up need? In my experience the simple answer is “a lot more than you think”. The lack of cash to fund SME growth is the single biggest cause of SME failures and yet it need not be so. With a proper understanding of business dynamics and risk, cautious budgeting and the regular monitoring of your performance against your budgets you...

Leadership

Teamwork: the key to success

  A STRONG TEAM IS VITAL TO SUCCESS Early in my career it was noted that “I didn’t suffer fools gladly”. At the time I took it as a compliment as I couldn’t understand why some of the people in the organization just couldn’t grasp the problem, yet alone see the solution and fix it. Clearly they were fools! As I traveled around the organization from city to city reviewing performanc...

Finance and Accounting

The three profits of SME's

The Three Profits of SME's Most SME operators tend to think that good management, innovation, hard work and productivity will result in a profitable business, well they should but that’s not the whole story. Not all profits are created equal and indeed some are much more valuable and more quickly and easily attained than others. Ah there must be a catch I hear you say; there is no catch but ...

Neil Steggall answered this question

Lisa Ormenyessy
Lisa Ormenyessy, Business Coach and Marketing Specialist at

Business Partnership

Melbourne business owners....Want to date?

Hi Lisa,A great post and a great idea! I would enjoy catching up over a coffee and taking time to discuss possible synergies. Tuesday of next week would suit me and I am happy to meet wherever suits you.In addition to my SSME profile you can find me on www.wardourcapital.com or LinkedIn.Cheers,Neil.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Which of these do you think is the most and which the least important when it comes to a healthy working environment?

Hi Derek,For me recognition of employee effort would rank well ahead of the others. Recognition demonstrates not only your appreciation but importantly your respect for your employees and will always help develop a strong and winning team. Health insurance.........well its better than a pay cut but only just!Cheers,Neil.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Are you pricing your products and services correctly?

Hi Marty,I agree with Jef''s comments but would add that a common error made in pricing products and services is a failure to understand your fixed cost structure (including your anticipated wages) and accounting for this when building you costing and quoting.If when all costs are calculated you are above the market ask:Is your product or service better than your competitors and if so why/howWill your customers recognise this and pay the differenceIf the answer to either question is no, you need to review your structure, costings & business model.We often find clients say "oh our customers just won't spend the money". Quite often the client is trying to sell what they perceive their customers "need" whereas long term research shows both B2B and consumers buy what they "want". It is often only a small, emotive change yet the difference in meeting wants is usually the difference between profit and loss.To understand this better check out this youtube clip re Apple: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/simon_sinek_how_g...Another good source is Peter Drucker re satisfying customer wants.Hope this helps,Cheers,Neil.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Does anyone know where to download free sample board resolutions for Australian companies?

Hi Mircea,The ASIC site ( http://asic.gov.au/for-business/changes-to-your-co... ) is quite user friendly and answers many of the common questions SME's may have.If you follow the link above you will find easy to understand guidelines for resolutions etc. Dont try to use overly complex language when framing resolutions, plain English is best. Think through what you are resolving and explain it as though speaking with a friend or family member.I hope this helps, feel free to contact me directly if you need more help,Cheers,Neil.

Neil Steggall answered this question

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

I would suggest that the issue of investor funding and your required levels of future equity should form a key part of your initial business thinking, planning and strategy and be detailed and factored into your plan and budgets. Waiting until investor funds are needed is usually too late and the business risks stalling or failing.Most investors are happy to be approached at an early stage of thinking, they have much to gain by investing in a winning idea and so they will most likely be prepared to offer help in developing your plans, speaking to banks and even bringing along other investors.Early stage investors also make great business mentors or advisory board members often bringing on board many years of experience and knowledge.Look at it this way....would you jump in your car and set off on a lengthy road trip without first checking you had the fuel and cash to complete the journey?Good LuckCheers,Neil.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Importing

What were your experiences with wholesale buying from India or China?

One of our long term clients buys from China on a frequent basis and in relatively small orders. They have built an excellent long term relationship with an independent local buying agent who places orders, supervises quality and shipping (usually by mail) and advises on new products emerging. This is both cost effective and efficient

Neil Steggall answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Importing

What were your experiences with wholesale buying from India or China?

One of our long term clients buys from China on a frequent basis and in relatively small orders. They have built an excellent long term relationship with an independent local buying agent who places orders, supervises quality and shipping (usually by mail) and advises on new products emerging. This is both cost effective and efficient

Neil Steggall answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Is SEO categorised as part of IT or Marketing?

SEO is a critical component of any marketing strategy yet I fear some organisations still look to their IT professionals for SEO development.A great question Ling!

Neil Steggall answered this question

How many small to medium size Australian businesses are sold every year in Australia?

Hi Johnathan,

I did a little checking and came up with a June 2014 report prepared for the Australian Institute of Business Brokers (AABB) which could provide the info you are looking for. I cannot attach the file here but if you email me - neils@ (wardourcapital.com - added as the site blocks email addresses!) I will forward a copy of the report to you.

A good site for statistics on various industries is bizstats (.com.au)they have a good selection of free data and a wide range of specific industry data available at low cost.

I hope this helps, let me know how you go,

Cheers,

Neil.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Accounting

What accounting systems do I need for a startup?

I should have stated that as a minimum you need to maintain:-

A statement of income and expenditure - P&L
A simple statement of assets and liabilities - Balance sheet
A record of any bills you owe - creditors ledger
A record of any monies owed to you - debtors ledger
Bank Statements
Bank Reconciliation 
An Excel spreadsheet will suffice at a base level.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Accounting

What accounting systems do I need for a startup?

Hi Ling,

Accounting can be both daunting and appear unnecessary. It is also best if you can look at it differently as "what records do I need and why" rather than what does the government, ATO or ASIC need.

You need accounting records for many reasons but the key ones are:-



To help you map and monitor your business so that you can maximise your returns

To demonstrate to others (say future investors or partners) the true value of your business

To assist in any future finance applications either as a business or as a self employed person

To meet statutory requirements. 

If computer savvy (I know you are) there are several inexpensive, easy to learn programs available off the shelf or by download - such as MYOB. These really are excellent and come with great guidelines or even guides such as Dummies. They can auto calculate everything you need with just a little set up.

There are even more basic guides available free on-line but I would suggest the basic accounting package from a trusted supplier.

To help more would involve me writing a book, if you want to talk it through feel free to call me or use my Wardour email or Skype am very happy to chat! Andrew would be well placed to help too!!

Cheers & good luck,

Neil.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Is the Australian economy picking up based on your experience?

Demand for our services has increased steadily through 2014 but I believe the demand is driven by a concern re the economy and the inefficiency of the banks in meeting small to mid cap business needs. My personal belief is that we are balancing close to the economic edge and are in desperate need of strong leadership and fiscal motivation.

Neil Steggall answered this question

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

Research and Innovation

How does satisfaction with your personal life affect your business?

When a business is running on or ahead of budget its impact on family life is generally positive to minimal. Once a business slips into trouble then the impact on family life becomes significant and negative. Longer hours are worked, the working day is stressful and its hard to arrive home looking and sounding cheerful after a day of tough conversations and stress.

In instances where the family home has been pledged to the bank to secure business debt the mood at home can become intolerable and can often lead to the break down of relationships and angst all around.

In our home we have maintained a general rule that no business is discussed after 6.00pm or on weekends. This generally works well but occasionally you know one family member is struggling with cash flow or a target is slipping away and you read it in their demeanor.

I often say to people "yes you can earn great rewards in business both emotionally and financially but its a long tough road and not one for the faint hearted"

To enjoy a complex business  and a happy and harmonious family requires maturity, awareness of others and a preparedness to forgive and work hard at relationships.

Neil Steggall answered this question

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

Research and Innovation

How does satisfaction with your personal life affect your business?

When a business is running on or ahead of budget its impact on family life is generally positive to minimal. Once a business slips into trouble then the impact on family life becomes significant and negative. Longer hours are worked, the working day is stressful and its hard to arrive home looking and sounding cheerful after a day of tough conversations and stress.

In instances where the family home has been pledged to the bank to secure business debt the mood at home can become intolerable and can often lead to the break down of relationships and angst all around.

In our home we have maintained a general rule that no business is discussed after 6.00pm or on weekends. This generally works well but occasionally you know one family member is struggling with cash flow or a target is slipping away and you read it in their demeanor.

I often say to people "yes you can earn great rewards in business both emotionally and financially but its a long tough road and not one for the faint hearted"

To enjoy a complex business  and a happy and harmonious family requires maturity, awareness of others and a preparedness to forgive and work hard at relationships.

Neil Steggall answered this question

How do you celebrate your wins?

Quietly with immense gratitude and profound relief! And certainly not before the cheque has cleared.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Are leaders in SMEs keen on developing leadership skills?

When one looks at the statistics available on Australia's 2.0 million SME's the one that always worries me the most is that 95%+ of SME's do not have a business plan. As savvySME members we mostly fit into the second largest SME category of "Professionals" which includes everything from the corner store consultant through to heart surgeons and as such we tend to think issues through in more detail than those in the other 6 categories and most of us think about business plans, leadership etc.

In answer to the question I do not believe most SME's consider leadership at all.

SME's employ 71.4% of the Australian work force, represent 99.7% of trading entities and have the highest level of female CEO's at 31.5% (compared with 3% in the corporate world) and yet the majority of SME's are lacking in core business skills and "flying blind" without a business plan.

Giving assistance, skills and education to SME operators is a way for the "Professional" category to make a game changing difference.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Neil Steggall
Neil Steggall, Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Budgeting and Forecasting

Do you see the economy improving or deteriorating in 2014?

~~Good answer. I am far from convinced that a lower $AU will be beneficial. Yes in theory it is easier to obtain some export sales, however, currently mining, aviation and agribusiness have enjoyed the advantage of a high dollar by reducing fuel, industrial and agrochemical costs, veterinary medications and supplements, plus massive plant and equipment costs. Not only does the base cost of these items fall but the cost of shipping, freight etc.

In each of our intensive agribusiness investments; chemicals, mainly imported, are our second highest cost after labour, followed not far behind by fuel and freight. A tractor has a useful life (for us) of 4  years and (say) a slasher 2 so a low dollar pushes OPEX and CAPEX up.

Sure domestic travel may improve but fuel prices, aircraft and maintenance costs will rise therefore the days of ultra-cheap flights will be over. Sun hats, lotions, clothing and even the kids bucket and spade, all holiday essentials are probably manufactured off shore and thus even more inflationary pressure.

I am not an economist and there is much I cannot understand yet I question...."is a low dollar an outdated mantra?"

If the country was a business I would be concentrating on lifting revenues through core competencies, working to value add and lift unit returns, educating and motivating staff, improving cost and production efficiencies on a daily basis and investing the profits into building the future. The $ is very much like the interest rate for business, plan and work around it.

Exchange rate parity or comparison with the US is dated. The US  is a falling star. The US is where Britain was in 1918 and China sits where the US then sat. We need the next rising star as a partner. For how much longer will we buy and sell in US$? The world is no longer Eurocentric.

imagine the impact of a 2% interest rate increase, caused by inflation, over the next 2 to 3 years on young families who purchased houses at 5% interest and the flow on effect to property prices.

The 2.0m SME's in Australia are the silent majority. If they had access to funding, tax relief to adequately recompense risk, and better education the nation would move forward. 

 

 

Neil Steggall answered this question

What is in your media plan for the new year?

We have a media plan in place to commence March 1 and it is our first foray into an integrated campaign led by Social Media so we are quietly nervous and excited in equal measure. We see it as an ambitious 10 month campaign in a traditionally conservative sector.

It will be interesting to post review comments at this time next year.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Would you pitch advertising/design/marketing concepts to clients?

For me it comes down to teamwork and the emerging trend to outsource. If the concept is well managed the outcome for the client (and this is what we should be focusing on) has to be better.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Does every small business need an accountant ?

Wow, some good answers here. My view is very simple: get the best accountant you can afford and tell him or her up front that you expect them to be cost neutral. There are so many ways a good accountant can add value to your business and save money with the best leasing, borrowing, tax, government grants advice and more.

Agree on an annual budget to be billed monthly rather than at year end so as to fit in with your cash flows.

Use your accountant as an important team member but check their performance. If they are costing you money, question why?

Neil Steggall answered this question

What content for newsletter would make you read one?

Hi Kevin, A good question and the answer is possibly different for each person. A few ideas I try to follow include:



To have impact a newsletter must "grab you" in that first glance so the visual imagery needs to be strong.

If sent by email the subject line requires almost as much thought as the newsletters headline.

The content its self should be king but a teaser, either a discount or a give away can help with engagement and subscriptions - use the top right hand corner.

Address the newsletter to your audience - we mail out four slightly different versions

Write in "speach" its more friendly, personal and easy to read.

Keep the paragraphs short but allow a click for more detail

Good graphics and humour work

Make sure the format is sound for smart phones and tablets

Ling Lee posted last week on SavvySME and I thought her layout was instantly appealing, drew the eye in and made you want to know more. I don't know how to give you a link to the post but I highly recommend it!

Cheers,

Neil.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Gino Lancaster
Gino Lancaster, Business Partner at Red Planet Design ~ Digital Marketing Company

Social Media

What Was Your Experience With Using Twitter For A Business?

Hi Gino, I have no experience to share but its a great question. Neil.

Neil Steggall answered this question

Jayson Rodda
Jayson Rodda, Head of Digital Marketing at Find Your Ideal Customers

Sales and Marketing

What is better - SEO, Google Adwords or social media?

Thanks for the question and all of the answers. As someone looking to take a new (at least in Australia) company into this space in 2014 its a very confusing environment and not easy for the uninitiated to understand. Forums such as Savvysme are a great help 

Neil Steggall answered this question

Is it important for small business owners to understand their financial statement ?

If the small business owner doesn't understand their financial statements I cannot see how they can succeed. Its a worse situation than the driver who gets into the car and sets off for Paris without a map as the driver at least knows where they are headed.

For most SME's the accounting or financial management side of their business is a chore and one they would rather put off but its no more of a chore than keeping ones house clean and we all know what happens when we put that off.

If too busy get a bookkeeper or a house cleaner but get it done.

With the excellent accounting packages available so inexpensively and online help available 24/7 there is no need or excuse for sloppy book keeping.

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