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Neil McVicar

Business Coaching Coffs Harbour

Neil knows that business owners face many challenges in their business, and that they often struggle to achieve the right balance in their work and personal life. He knows that without that balance, business owners can end up working long hours and miss out on having a personal life... Read More

Head Office:
Neil McVicar:
Postal Address:

02 5612 9836
0403 298 191
18 Clarence Cres, Coffs Harbour NSW

Business Coaching is a tool that you can use to help you drive change in your business

A business coaching program is just that - a structured and deliberate program of change in a business.

Whereas much is made of a coach or mentor’s role in bringing experience and expertise to a business (and this is undeniably important), to apply said expertise in a haphazard and uncontrolled way is not enough.

There is no substitute for the time- honoured process of having a look at what’s going on (our Audit), figuring out what to do and documenting it (our Plan), then getting on and doing it (taking Action).

Structure in your thinking and structure in what you do makes improving your business easier and make the improvements more long-lasting.

My Latest Articles

Have you made your business resolutions yet?

For many of you, the festive season signaled a time to assess business performance for the first half of the financial year, and to plan changes that hopefully will deliver you a prosperous new year.

And with all the hype of new year celebrations some of you may have even been tempted to make new year’s resolutions for you and your business!

But can a new year’s resolution represent a viable business strategy? I think the answer is “it depends.”

A new year’s resolution can be defined as “a promise that you make (often to yourself) to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year”.

A more flippant, but probably more accurate, definition is “an assessment of, and often delusional attempt to correct, one's shortcomings…. “

I say more accurate because a recent research study of 3000 people making a new year’s resolution found that, while 52% of participants were confident of success initially, only 12% actually achieved their goal - meaning an overall failure rate of 88%.

A range of other studies relating to new year’s resolutions shows that success increases as the level of accountability increases, especially where that accountability is to another person.

So, while a new year’s resolution is no substitute for a structured, well considered, business planning approach, maybe there is a place for it in the scheme of things.

When might this be? I think when the resolution relates not to working in or on the business, but rather to the owner working on him or her self.

So if you have a burning desire to make a new year’s resolution, maybe something along the following lines might give you a good chance of success:

• undertake a course of education or training to attain specific skills or knowledge you need;

• establish an accountability partner arrangement with a trusted confidant – so you can hold each other accountable for doing the things you know you need to do;

• work with someone who has certain abilities that can help you to improve a specific aspect of your business;

• surround yourself with positive people - people who inspire and motivate you; or

• delegate a specific area of business responsibility and accountability to a member of your team.

But in my view the best possible new year’s resolution would have to be:

• develop and implement (get help if you need it) a well constructed business planning process for the ongoing management of your business.

And if you forgot to make it in January, make it on 1 February, make it on 2 February, or 3 February, or 4 February or ….. You get the idea!

Then, when new year’s day 2015 rolls around, the only new year’s resolution you will need to make will be “to continue to manage my business in line with my business plan”.

Happy new year’s resolution making!

Neil McVicar
Small Fish Business Coaching Coffs Harbour

Business planning: comparative to travel

Business Planning: You Wouldn’t Pack Your Bags Before You Knew Where You Were Going

Woohoo. You’ve packed your bags and you’re ready to head off on that overseas trip of a lifetime. 

You’ve got your passport and travel money ready. Tomorrow you’ll head down to the airport and see if you can get on a plane that will take you to some place you’ll really like. You haven’t really decided where you want to go, but that’s no big deal – wherever you end up is sure to be fun, and anyway you’ve got enough money to go somewhere else, or to get a ticket home.

Sound familiar? Of course not.

Packing your bags might be the first practical step in going on a trip, but we all know that it certainly doesn’t start there.

Much planning and organisation goes into an overseas trip to ensure you get to see and do the things you want to.

First you decide where you’ll go. You look at your options, talk to travel consultants and your friends, and do your research. You imagine yourself in the places in the brochures.

You work out the places you’ll visit, what you’ll see and do there, how long you’ll spend in each place, and how you’ll get from one place to another.

You make up a checklist of all the things you need to do to get ready, and then you do them: book your flights, accommodation and tours; organise passports and visas; arrange travel insurance and travel money; get your shots; buy your travel gear; buy guide books; and learn about the culture and language of the countries you’ll visit.

And it’s all fun isn’t it! It’s all part of the journey.

“What’s any of this got to do with business planning?” I hear you ask.

Well, in my view planning for your business should be like planning a holiday.

But not just any holiday - the trip of a lifetime. And it should be fun, not some long, drawn out, complicated, academic process.

Start by imagining where you want to go – a place where your business is exactly how you want it to be. Imagine it in detail – your customers, turnover and profit, products and services, prices, number of outlets, premises, staff, and what your role will be, the hours you’ll be working (and the time you’ll have to travel!). This becomes your destination. (Your business coach can be your travel consultant!)

Then establish where you are now, and what you need to do to get to where you want to be. The things you need to do become the strategies that go into your business plan.

I find that in practice many business owners start fiddling with their businesses before they’ve determined their destination: chasing more customers; changing their products and services, their prices, their marketing, their overheads, their staffing, or their premises; or taking on more roles in the business themselves.

Tell me - would you jump in and pack your bags for a trip before you knew where you were going? Or would you find it less stressful to figure out your destination and then start your packing. Comment below!

Neil McVicar
Small Fish Business Coaching Coffs Harbour

New Homepage - Does it work?

We're hoping our new home page helps people make a quick decision about whether to try a free coaching session.

Does it make you want one?

Look here and, if you can be bothered, let us know if it makes you all hot for a free session :)

If you actually want one, that's even better !

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

Get What You Expect From Going Into Business

People go into business for a whole range of reasons.

Some people do it because they’re frustrated working for someone else, or they can’t get a job doing the work they like. Many want more money, more freedom and more control. Others want to follow a dream, or to challenge themselves to achieve success.

What was it for you, and is your business delivering what you were looking for? If not, are the reasons still important? If they are, what can you do about it?

Why not take a test to see whether or not going into business has delivered for you.

The table below sets out 15 of the most commonly mentioned reasons people give for going into business. Ask yourself:

• was this a reason for me?
• has this become a reality for me?
• if not, can I still make this a reality and what do I need to do?

(Add any other reasons you had that are not on this list?)

So what if a whole lot of the reasons you originally went into business haven’t become a reality for you? What can you do about it?

One approach might be to develop a detailed vision for how your business and work/life balance would look in the ideal world. From this you can develop a new set of business objectives which you can define in the context of your personal goals - and vice versa – to ensure your business and personal goals are (and remain) properly aligned.

These goals can be stated in a way that reflects your specific expectations, and wherever possible they should be measurable. For example:

• a good work/life balance might mean working 8 hours a day 5 days a week, with 6 weeks holidays a year;
• financial rewards might equate to an annual salary level, a return on investment, or an hourly rate of pay; and
• success might relate to building the business to a defined level, or winning certain awards.

(Of course, all these goals have some interdependency.)

Once the detailed vision and the business and personal goals are defined, you can develop strategies for making them a reality and put them all into a business strategy plan - hopefully a plan on a page. Then go about taking the necessary action to make them a reality.

Neil McVicar
Small Fish Business Coaching Coffs Harbour

Could "Confidence" Be The Most Important Word In Business?

Could Confidence Be The Most Important Word In Business?We’ve all heard of Business Confidence. The Business Confidence Index (1) is a tool that is used to assess the strength of businesses in Australia.

The most recent NAB report states “business confidence strengthened in October, bolstering the sharp pick up in sentiment in September. The improvement in confidence in the month was consistent with increased speculation that the RBA would cut rates ...... while European Finance Ministers appeared to be taking more decisive steps to try to resolve European sovereign debt problems and more favourable activity data out of the US appeared to have allayed fears of a double dip recession."

Then there’s Consumer Confidence. Consumer confidence is the degree of optimism that consumers feel about the overall state of the economy and their personal financial situation. Across Australia, consumer confidence rose 6.3% in November to 103.4 points from 97.2 points in October of 2011. (2)

So, based on these reports, as business owners, we should all be feeling a little more confident about our business prospects, right? Well maybe.

There are other forms of confidence which to me are far more important to the success of your business. What are they?

Well, first there’s confidence in your product. Are you confident that you have a product or service people want, and will this continue to be the case in the future? Do customers have confidence in your product or service?

Second, there’s confidence in your systems. Are you confident you have the systems in place that will deliver the best solutions for your customers? Are customers confident you can meet their needs?

Third, there’s confidence in your people. Do you have confidence that your people are able to deliver products and services in a way that will keep your customers coming back? Have you ensured your people have the confidence they need to be good at their job?

And fourth, there’s your own confidence. Do you have the confidence to drive your own business success? Do you have confidence in your own skills and abilities – enough to take control and make the important decisions?

Some businesses will thrive while others will struggle, no matter what the broad indicators are showing. But your business will always perform better if you pay attention to your products, your systems and your people, including yourself. I am confident about that.


(1) This index is managed by the National Australia Bank, who publishes monthly and quarterly the result of business surveys carried out on Australian organizations and businesses. Hence, it acts as a useful tool for evaluating the overall economy of Australia.

(2) The Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment is an average of five component indexes which reflect consumers' evaluations of their household financial situation over the past year and the coming year. How confident people feel about stability of their incomes determines their spending activity and therefore serves as one of the key indicators for the overall shape of the economy. In essence, if consumer confidence is higher, consumers are making more purchases, boosting the economic expansion.

Neil McVicar

Small Fish Business Coaching Coffs Harbour

How Much Profit Is Your Business Leaking?

Most businesses leak profit, often for simple reasons, which can easily be fixed. Is your business leaking profit?

The Business Audit Consultancy will help you identify and plug profit leaks. And help you make more money. And who doesn't want that?

Just ask Noven Purnell-Webb from Magedata – he says

"The questionnaire was a really easy way to get some quick and effective insights into how my business is running. By merely asking the questions, the obvious things can no longer be ignored and some surprising results emerged. A highly effective tool for any business owner trying to clear up the bigger picture."

Click below to read more or to book yourself in for a good probing (with questions of course). We think you’ll like it.

Read More Now >>>

The Small Fish Team

Small Business Strategy Made Simple

Develop A Business StrategyMany small business owners I talk to do not have a strategic or business plan of any kind. However, they do have reasonably clear ideas about where they’d like to take their business (and the challenges they face in doing so) and agree that some sort of strategic business plan would be helpful. So how can their ideas be easily incorporated into a planning framework?

Most strategic planning models involve complicated planning processes beyond the scope and resources of smaller to medium sized businesses. However, there are two common concepts we can borrow from these models and use in developing a simpler approach. These are the vision and the mission.

The vision is a fancy term for what you want your business to be. When I talk to business owners during coaching or even in the course of a free coaching session, I find that just about everybody has a date or timeframe in mind for achieving key things in their business – “
by the time I’m 55”, or ”when I’ve had the business for 10 years”, or “when I retire”, or “x years from now,” etc.

Once the timeframe is identified I simply ask them to close their eyes and imagine what their business will look like at that point in time. In particular, I ask them:

  • what products and services will you be providing?
  • what does your customer profile look like?
  • what is your turnover?
  • how much will your business be worth?
  • what geographic area will your business be servicing?
  • what sort of premises will you have and where will they be located?
  • what is your role in the business?
  • who is in your team, and what are they doing?
  • how is your business operating (how will it be different)?
  • what are people saying about your business?

This is their vision.

Using this information, the vision can be articulated as a high level description of the business in the future, underpinned by a set of goals relating to some or all of the specific points above.

mission is a broad statement about how the vision is to be achieved. It can be developed by answering the question “what is it you need to do or change to take your business from where it is now to where you want it to be?” The mission statement is a set of high level strategies which incorporate the key things that need to occur - i.e. expanding product/service lines, increasing the customer base, establishing strategic alliances, opening new outlets, modernising equipment, introducing new management arrangements, automating systems, etc.

From the information contained in the mission statement, a detailed plan with timeframes can be developed for managing the changes. At Small Fish, we use a Strategic Buiness Plan on a page with a 12 to 18 month time frame for this purpose.

Neil McVicar

Small Fish Business Coaching Coffs Harbour


Riding The Recovery

riding the recoveryThe other day I found a useful little book at the newsagents which is good value at under $10. It’s titled Riding the Recovery
and is authored by Alexandra Cain and David Koch (Wilkinson Publishing). It boasts “101 success strategies for business and life”.

It’s an easy read and a good checklist for all business owners, and offers some useful tips. It provides information and advice about: financial discipline and responsibility; maximising government incentives for small business; increasing cash flow; becoming more entrepreneurial and innovative; winning more business; and working less and achieving more.

One recommendation in the book is to get a business coach. “A business coach is a wonderful way to get a different perspective on your business. Ask people in your network who they use as a business coach and what they think of them to find someone who can make a real difference to your business. The beauty of working with a good business coach is that they can help you define your strategy, work out your business priorities, and help keep you focused on what you need to be doing to execute the strategy.”

Neil McVicar
Small Fish Business Coaching Coffs Harbour


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