Small Fish - Small Business Tips and the Latest News

Leadership Summit - Jon Dale Guest Speaker on Leadership for Small Business

Jon is talking at the Macro Recruitment Leadership Summit, next week.

Someone reckons he's one of the top 20 leadership experts in the world, which seems unlikely (how do you measure that stuff?).

Anyway, he believes he's got a few interesting observations to make about leading people and how important that is if you are a leader (and you are if you employ people).

He's drawing from leadership training he received when at Optus, from his experience during that time and from his experience as a business coach, where leading is a little more direct and close and real world.

Expect some simplified theory and some real world do-able initiatives for you to take in your business, to make your people perform better.

It's completely free, did we mention that?

So if you want to hear your daily dose of wisdom from Jon and maybe become a better leader, be sure to book your ticket here:

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

My business is killing me - responses and further thoughts

Last weeks musing on whether you should get out of your business before it kills you got some emotional responses.

I won't name anybody (that wouldn't be fair) but one guy has had a rough year or three and is hanging on by the skin of his teeth - selling personal assets to carry the business through until orders start coming in again in a few months.

I can feel his pain as I write this. He even had a business coach (spent $60,000 over 18 months) who failed to foresee the changing markets that made life so hard (that's a whole different conversation, isn't it? - more of that one next time, perhaps)

There's still no easy answer to the problem, either - if he holds on and the deals come through and he gets his (rather interesting-looking business) back on track, I'm sure he'll be pleased and feel vindicated.

If he stops trading or finds a buyer and they make it succeed, he'll always wish he kept going.

And if he sells his last assets and fails anyway, he'll have wasted those too and end up with nothing.

Interestingly, they say that most of our most successful millionaires have been bust twice.....

So what would you do? We are interested to hear your thoughts on a situation like this, so leave your feedback in the comments below, or email them to me.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

My business is killing me, should I sell it?

On when it's time to consider giving a business up, the question is "My business is killing me, should I sell it?"

I'm going to try and answer this question as best I can in writing.

If it really is killing you, then it's time to go. If it's a figurative killing you, then the business and the owner need closer inspection. How bad is it? Are you a bit frustrated and needing to change something or are you at the and of your tether?

Are you burning through what little cash resources you have at an alarming rate? Because if you are then exiting immediately might be best. If you aren't, then you have more time to consider your options - can you recover the situation or is it lost altogether?

The figures are important, of course but so is how you feel. If I was talking to someone really in this position, I'd be trying to understand the depth of their need for change and why they wanted change - money, stress, hating it, burnout, frustration and also, could I see a way to help them be happy there again - is it fixable.

So it's not a simple question and it requires careful consideration for each individual and their business. And anyone in this position should obviously call a business coach and request a free session to consider this very question. :)

Now, I want to hear from you - have you ever felt as though your business was killing you, and you couldn't breathe? What was the decision you chose to go with and how do you feel about it? 

If this is the burning topic of the day, then email me and I can help with some clarity.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

Why Business Coaching Works: Measuring Results

I’m a believer in the power of measurement, which is why it’s one of the important tools that Small Fish uses with clients.

It’s been said that Peter Drucker stated that “What gets measured, gets done,” but it appears that may be stretching his words a little. Nevertheless, I’ve directly experienced the power of measures and metrics in many different contexts.

The business world might have you believe that it’s all about measuring the money – particularly, revenue, margins, and profit. I don’t have a problem with those, but they often don’t give much guidance for day-to-day decisions.

Should your front-line employee give a refund under somewhat questionable circumstances? If they do, revenue and profit will go down in the short term. But revenue and profit might go up in the long term, because that customer is out giving testimonials to their friends.

But the employee isn’t sure, so she’ll seek help from your company policies and guidelines, or her supervisor, or perhaps from you. Maybe that’s one reason why you’re running around addressing a thousand little trivial decisions all day.

You’re frustrated, perhaps. You thought you’d captured this in the employee training, yet you’re still getting these kinds of questions.

Oddly enough, this might just be fixed if you measured the right things. What if:
· You knew that employees understood and internalized the employee training?

· Your employees knew that their personal success was linked more to customer satisfaction than to the daily sales total?

· You made a big deal of every customer-satisfaction success in front of the employees?

These are exactly the kinds of conversations I have with my clients, as we search for the right balance of measures which powerfully represent the goals of the business. Every company is different, because the goals are different.

Just don’t get too many measurements in place. Each one represents work and expense, and having too many sends the message that you’re not focused on anything in particular.

How do you measure your progress towards success in YOUR business?

Carl Dierschow
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins

Want to live and work in NZ?

My client, Precise Consulting, is growing rapidly and needs a senior laboratory technician or analyst. They are based in Christchurch, near the ski fields and bunjee jumping.

If you know anyone who might be interested in living and working there for a while, please pass this on.

Click here for the job description - Senior Laboratory Technician Analyst

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching

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

Mining tax doesn't affect you? Think again

Repeal of ‘Mining Tax’ (MRRT) and other consequential changes

You may think that the introduction of the Mining Tax and its proposed repeal by the Abbott Government would have no impact on your business.

You would be wrong in this belief.

When the MRRT was introduced, the government of the day incorporated a number of measures that ‘gave’ some of the taxes (that were expected to be collected) to small business and low income earners.

The repeal of the MRRT will now reverse some of the original ‘relief’ measures.

You need to recognise that this repeal is not yet legislation and needs to pass both Houses of Federal Parliament where it could be altered from the current proposals.

Despite that possibility, some of the measures have a time consequence which might be relevant to your business decisions in the short term, so are worth your immediate consideration.

The items listed below are the ones most likely to be of relevance and are explained briefly including the ‘timing’ aspects. In its current form, the Repeal Bill would discontinue or re-phase the following measures:

1. Repeal loss carry back for companies.

This measure ONLY applies to businesses set up as COMPANIES (and Trusts which are taxed as companies). The repeal will mean that the original measure only applies to the 2013 FY. There is no ‘tax planning’ that can be implemented to utilise this measure in 2013 – it is a question of ‘fact’ and most businesses will get no benefit for the 1 year that the rule applies.

I will speak specifically to my clients who may be able to use the measure in 2013.

2. Reduce small business immediate asset purchase write-off threshold

This is the big change.

Since 1 July 2013, small businesses have been able to claim a full deduction for capital expenditure up to $6,500 per item of plant and equipment in the year of purchase.

This is going to revert to the old limit of less than $1,000 per item if acquired after 31st December 2013. Back to the Future!!!

If your business is contemplating asset purchases greater than $999.00 and less than $6,500, it could be important to ensure that purchase is completed before 31st be entitled to the immediate write-off in 2014 Financial Year.

Assets costing $1,000 or more acquired after 31st their ‘effective life’ or may be ‘pooled’ and depreciated under the special rules applicable to small businesses as they previously were, so all that has changed is the asset purchase cost threshold will revert to its old $1,000 level.

3. Repeal accelerated depreciation for motor vehicles purchased

Since 1 July 2013, small businesses have been able to claim a $5,000 immediate deduction for the cost of new or second hand motor vehicle expenditure. The amount above $5,000 was then able to be depreciated over effective life of the asset or via the ‘pooling’ rules.

This special ‘accelerated depreciation’ for motor vehicles will be abandoned from 31st
December 2013 and such purchases will be treated the same as described in 2 above (ie revert to the $1,000 cost threshold just like any other asset).

If your business is contemplating purchasing a motor vehicle (of any price), you should consider whether the purchase is best completed before 31st to be entitled to the
$5,000 write-off in 2014 Financial Year (plus depreciation for the cost above $5,000).

4. Extend by two years the phase-in period for increase in compulsory super guarantee

Unlike 1-3 above, this change is a ‘plus’ for business cash-flows.

The current compulsory super contribution for employees has been 9.25% since 1st July 2013. This is scheduled to increase progressively until it is 12%.

The rate will remain at 9.25% until June 2016 and increase to 9.5% from 1st July 2016

The rate will still phase-up to 12% by 1st July 2021, but the 9.25% rate remains in place for an extra 2 years

5. Repeal the low income super contribution

This change won’t affect businesses – only low income earners (who of course could be the business owner).

Under the current rules, a low income earner (defined as ‘adjusted taxable income’ up to $37,000) could get an amount up to $500 contributed to their super by the Government.

The repeal of this rule will apply from 1st July 2013 so there is no 'tax-planning' opportunity on this measure.

This is only a brief outline of the proposed measures and need to be fully considered as applicable to your business. You should therefore speak with me before you choose to act on these matters.

Bruce Garnett
Chartered Accountants
Registered Tax Agent

Why business coaching works - trust

To work with a coach, you have to have great trust that he or she is only interested in YOUR goals.

This is the reason why our contract is structured the way it is. We just charge a flat amount each month, with no hidden charges or year-long lockin. This gets the payment discussion out of the way, and lets the coach and client focus 100% on the goals that have been set out.

When a client’s hired me as their coach, they know that I’m going to dedicate my coaching on their needs, and nothing else.

Trust is a funny thing, though – it takes time to build and an instant to destroy. No doubt you’ve experienced that with friends, associates, employees, or partners. That’s one reason why it’s not uncommon for me to have a continuing dialog with someone for weeks, months, or sometimes years before they decide to invest in a coaching relationship.

And that’s quite OK. I’d much rather work with a client who trusts me (and who I can trust!) than someone who was pushed into it. This is about deep, important, and lasting business improvement, not just making an income.

It’s interesting that I now have clients which have extended well past the usual 12-month engagement. They’re continuing to get value, so they want to continue working with me. But that doesn’t allow me to lose my focus on their goals.

Who are you working with who you trust?

Carl Dierschow
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins

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

How to pick yourself back up after a fall

Jon has been interviewed for a series of articles in the MPA online magazine (Mortgage Professionals Australia).

Every business goes through its rough patches, and many brokers have had more than their fair share in recent years. So how can you pick yourself back up after a setback? And what happens if you have to completely rebuild?

Jon Dale, director of Small Fish Business Coaching, learnt his lessons the hard way, when tough times during the GFC forced him to shut down his franchises and downsize his business.

“I went from being the CEO of a global business coaching franchise back to being largely a business coach again. It was a complete rebuild, going back to focusing on doing my own marketing and meeting clients… back to the basics and all the things you did in the beginning – except you’ve got no money to do it with.”

While Dale admits his confidence was shaken, he didn’t let his setbacks bring him down. He put in the hard yards to keep his business afloat, and now employs a team of business coaches across Australia, with a view to continue to expand Small Fish in the future.

“I’ve gone out there trying to be a business coach and find clients again, and it’s harder than it was in 2006 when I started but there’s still business out there. I’ve worked really hard and done all of the things that I know worked, and lo and behold it’s starting to pay off.”

The key to finding the motivation to keep going has been the realisation that, while the market has shrunk, it hasn’t disappeared altogether, says Dale.

“I use that to reassure myself that I’m not wasting my time. You have to focus on the process a little bit too and you have to know that going to your networking group or investing time and energy in your website is worthwhile.”

Persistence is one of the most crucial, and difficult, aspects to recovery after a setback, says Dale.

“It’s very easy for people to try things and give up, move on, say ‘That’s not working’ and go and try something else, whereas really a lot of these things that we do require a good long go. You can’t go and see five people and say ‘Oh no one’s interested anymore I’m going to stop' or 'I’m going to stop putting my ad out there because of four people who called me who weren’t suitable'.”

Dale found breaking goals down into manageable chunks, using something he terms ‘reduction to the ridiculous’, helps with this.

“How many loans are written every year? Millions. And how many does a broker need to succeed?,” he asks.

Work out approximately how many loans you need to write each year to earn a comfortable income, break that down into a weekly and daily number, followed by approximately how many meetings or phone calls you think you'll need to have to write that number.

“It’s about breaking it down into things you can influence,” says Dale. “You can’t sit there and say ‘I’ll write 200 loans in a year’ but you can get up every day and make enough phone calls or go to enough meetings to get you on the right track.”

Dale gives similar advice to his staff, and also requires them to report to him regularly on their marketing, lead generation and communications.

“If you’ve got mortgage brokers working for you hold them accountable for that activity. I’d ask my clients to report back to me and I’d ask them ‘How many times yesterday did your business ask somebody to consider your service or product?’

“It’s particularly important for people like mortgage brokers because we’ve got to go and prospect ourselves. You can’t sit and expect your aggregator’s website to send you enquiries. You can buy a shop front if you’re Mortgage Choice or somebody and expect your signage to draw a few people in but you’ve got to go and see people and network and ask them to consider you in a very direct way.”

Picking yourself back up after a fall is never easy, but by focusing on the small things and determining what gets you motivated you can find success again, says Dale.

“It’s about that persistence. Most of the people that have failed have failed because they gave up. If you keep the faith and you do the things that you know work you can succeed.”

Have you faced setbacks in your business? How did you deal with them? Share your thoughts below.

Written by: Amy Rosenfeld - Mortgage Professional Australia