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Warren Harmer
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Member Since November 2012

VIC,

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Small, fast growing and entrepreneurial businesses are my passion. I like to write business plans for them, grow them, advise them and write about them. My experience now spans over 17 years, including 3 businesses of my own.
My objective is to offer instructive, hands-on, ‘how to’ information to make business ownership easier, less stressful, more successful and more enjoyable.

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Warren Harmer answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Asked this question - Training and Development

What is the biggest challenge in coaching business owners?

Implementation is the most important component of any coaching program, but usually the most challenging. Usually the owners agree with the actions in the program, but constraints of time, discipline and money can so easily get in the way. To overcome this problem, I am very proactive, help them out when needed and keep the projects short and very specific.

It can't be overlooked, one of the biggest challenges working with small businesses is getting paid!

Selling a Business

Is It Time to Break Up With Your Business?

Starting a new business is one of the most hopeful things you can do. Just like a new romance, there is a lot of excitement and endless possibility. At first, they have no faults -- courtesy of that extra thick pair of rose coloured glasses you just put on. All the numbers add up and everything can only turn out at the top end of your expectations. What can possibly go wrong? That was me, aged 25...

Business Planning

Which Book to Read to Overcome Small Business Challenges

Owning your own business comes with way too many difficulties that need to be overcome, and you need to be ready for that. The best way to prepare your business for small business challenges is to have a solid business development plan. There are a lot of books and researches made to help you overcome your small business challenges and succeed, so check this out to find out more. Small busines...

Market Trend

When your marketing freeway.. becomes a carpark

Not so long ago Yellow Pages was the place for small businesses to advertise. Remember those thick books that were so heavy you could use them as a door stopper? Ten years ago I had clients spending $80,000 per year in those tomes. For that investment, you had the privilege of fighting for attention with a small box or bold line advert, against multinationals with serious budgets and big colour ...

Business Planning

Information overload: cutting to the chase.

Small business advice is big business, with an entire industry telling you how to run a better business, start your business, grow your business and every conceivable topic in between. You can choose from a smorgasbord of seminars, webinars, blogs, tips, magazines, podcasts, expos, books, TV shows and radio shows. If you actually took every piece of advice (and it worked) you would be working 4 ...

Business Management

Wallet wars: why clients won’t spend with you

Inspiring clients to slap their wallets shut would be the definition of insanity, but sadly, businesses do this every single day.  Even mine.  In my restaurant I hired a floor manager who was pure sweetness when I was around, but downright rude when I wasn’t. After a few months I received feedback from loyal customers about her attitude, and dealt with the situation accordingly. I’m jus...

Sales and Marketing

Marketing, from the inside out

Disciples: that’s what all business owners need. A band of dedicated converts that spend their time convincing everyone they know to do business with you. Marketing costs can be almost zero; selling becomes order-taking, since prospects arrive ready to buy. It sounds like a dream, but for a very small group of businesses this is reality. You can have it too, if you really want to. I often say...

Business Planning

My business name blooper

I have a confession to make. In my last business I made a fundamental mistake; not an uncommon mistake, but one that is easy to make even if you are experienced. Let me explain. What does the word “crecer” mean to you? Probably not much unless you speak Spanish, where it means to grow. That was the name of my small business consultancy and my mistake. When I chose that name, I was looking f...

Business Management

What is a "small business", anyway?

“Small business” is a term that gets thrown around by everyone from governments, media, lobby groups to business owners themselves. Definitions that I have heard include: a business run by one person or a couple, a business with only local reach, maybe a few employees and one or two outlets. Often we think of them as businesses that we interact with every day, such as a local supermarket, ...

Customer Retention

“Sorry?” where does it belong in business?

During the past few weeks the word “sorry” has been said to me on a few occasions, from suppliers, an insurance company and a colleague. It’s a very easy word to say. In our personal relationships, it smoothes over rough edges and overcomes small annoyances. But where does it belong in a business relationship? In the context of trying to maintain highest level service and professionalism, ...

Training and Development

Top 25 ways to be a bastard boss.

I work in a utopian workplace. A place where my colleagues are helpful, friendly, supportive and challenges are solved through open honest discussion. People are valued and appreciated, communication is proactive and honest. The CEO genuinely cares that everyone loves their job.  That’s how all workplaces are, isn’t it? After all, we all know that that’s how you get the most from your te...

Sales and Marketing

Small-business clients: the good, the bad and the ugly

Small businesses collectively add up to big business, with about 2 million of us in Australia. Journalists and governments love talking up the importance of the sector, whilst corporates drool at the potential for so many clients. Whilst the marketers out there would love to categorise all small businesses neatly into the same box, the vast range of personalities, industries and issues make such...

Finance and Accounting

Back to Financial Basics: Profits, Markups and Margins

Any business needs a proper financial management not only to spend their money wisely, but to also analyse based on previous actions and see whether your efforts are leading to your business's financial success or not. For a proper financial management, you need to make sure to know every single financial metric, starting from the differences between gross profit margin and markup and building yo...

Business Planning

Business planning: The When (Part 6 of 6)

In the past 5 articles I have described many different activities that could all be categorized under Business Planning and keep telling you that it is a practice not a once off activity. To keep on top of it all and make business planning an ongoing (not overwhelming) activity, having a schedule to work by is the best approach. For your plan to become a useful document it should become a guide t...

Business Planning

Business planning: The How (Part 5 of 6)

In today’s installment I want to delve deeper into a business plan and describe some of the common sections to give you a clearer understanding. This list is by no means exhaustive but will cover most plans. Depending on the purpose of your plan, you may need to include other information that is relevant to the purpose, such as immigration, finance, investors, etc. Business description. One of...

Business Planning

Business Planning: The How (Part 4 of 6)

There are many ways to skin the proverbial business planning cat which will depend on the size of your business, how long you have been operating, who is involved and how much revenue you have. The essential elements that you will need to do are: Review your previous plans (if you have one). Analyse your business. Analyse your business landscape. Review the information that you have gathered. ...

Business Planning

Business Planning: The What (Part 3 of 6)

Hopefully by now you are feeling like you should be doing some kind of business planning. So what next? I have spoken about business planning practices in this series, so I would like to go through the types of activities that you should be doing. You have probably heard about lots of different business plans such as the ‘one page’ plan, compliance plans or business plans for finance or inves...

Business Planning

Small Business Planning: the Why, What, When and How. (Part 1 of 6)

Consulting is an interesting profession, not least because you are granted permission to look where others aren’t allowed. Small business owners are extremely private about what goes on behind the counter, yet my clients have let me poke, prod, peer and dissect their businesses. They have laid it all bare: the good and the bad: their triumphs, failings and incompetencies. It’s like the busines...

Public Relations (PR)

What I really meant to say was...

Wayne Swan would have to be awarded Salesman of the year for his delivery and after-sales effort of the 2013 budget. It’s like listening to a salesman that has rote learnt the company patter and just repeats it over and over. Repetition, he hopes, will help his message get through.. by osmosis, verbal assault or just resignation by those of us still listening.  But the battle has already been...

Sales and Marketing

Trick yourself to sell without selling

How much do you love sales? If I guessed "not much"', I think I would be right for most of you. Picking up the phone to make cold calls sends shivers down the spine of most people. Small business owners are no exception and are notoriously reluctant salespeople. This is a dangerous set of circumstances, since ‘business owner’ = ‘salesperson’ in many small businesses, so the health of the b...

Warren Harmer answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Asked this question - Training and Development

What is the biggest challenge in coaching business owners?

Implementation is the most important component of any coaching program, but usually the most challenging. Usually the owners agree with the actions in the program, but constraints of time, discipline and money can so easily get in the way. To overcome this problem, I am very proactive, help them out when needed and keep the projects short and very specific.

It can't be overlooked, one of the biggest challenges working with small businesses is getting paid!

Warren Harmer answered this question

Phil Khor
Phil Khor, Founder at

Asked this question - Business Coaching

How should a small business owner pick a business coach?

To get the best business coach/consultant to suit your needs, ask the following questions from a number of possible suppliers before you decide.


1. Has the consultant ever owned or started a business before their consulting business? Many coaches and consultant join networks, franchises and organisations without hands-on small business. It is vital that they understand your issues and challenges from personal experience. Corporate experience has limited application.



2. Was the previous business a success? Define that success. We all define success differently, so it is important to understand what your consultant values and how they think. Also find out if they have ever had a failed business and what they learnt from it. 



3. How they would run that business differently now? This will show you how they have grown and developed.



4. Will they seek equity share or profit share in your busienss, now or in the future? If they want profit share or equity in your business, say “No!” - unless they are willing to invest their own money into it. This is your business and the rewards are yours.



5. How much additional cost do you expect to incur during the program? There will usually be additional costs associated from items such as design, web sites, legal agreements, marketing, etc. that are required for a business development program. You need to have some idea how much. 



6. Ask to speak with some of their existing and previous clients. Testimonials are fine, but you need to really understand how they work.



7. Ask what areas of business management they are strong and weak in.We all have weaknesses! Ask how they manage those.



8. Look at how they run their own business. Ask for evidence. Look at their systems, procedures, website, business cards and other evidence of their professionalism.



9. Is the initial commitment large or small? Many companies ask for large up-front payments and long-term commitments that you can’t get out of. Choose one that gives you an opportunity to see how they think, their work practices and attitudes before you make a big commitment.


10. Are they available any time? Will it cost any more? You will have many questions as you go through your projects - they must be available.


Ask yourself - Is it about them or you? Do they just talk at you or listen and take great interest? 


Check out my blog post on small business advice at big-small-business.com.


Dr Warren Harmer  


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