small business

A 10-post collection

Copyright must address modern ways of working, learning and living

Last Friday’s decision of the full bench of the Federal Court must be appealed to the High Court and the High Court should over turn this poor decision. I established one of the first multimedia development companies in Australia in 1985 and since then I have had to address the many practical problems caused by copyright law in building innovative products using multimedia technologies. It is never good for the wider public good when monopolies use the law to protect their lucrative revenue streams which is what the AFL is trying to do in this case. The law was sensibly changed in 2006 to allow recording of free to air broadcast content for later viewing and as there is...

Small Business Boards: Practice Vs Theory

The public and private feedback to my last post lamented that the real world does not usually align with my description of how boards should operate. But others like Dan Stojanovichopined that “boards do need considered, intelligent, informed, compassionate, practical, adventurous, creative, ethical and shrewd thinking, in order for the board to help clarify vision, articulate a binding narrative and motivate people to commit to the plan within an environment and culture which not only facilitates but energises planned achievement.” The Most Important to Get Right Human relationships– a Chairman, CEO and board members who collaborate, cooperate and who are effective communicators will usually add more value than a board lacking these qualities. Therefore as noted in my earlier Blog...

Company Boards that Create Value

The value that a board can bring a small to medium sized company is to: assess the context and environment within which the company operates provide independent evaluation of management access to important relationships not otherwise available to management drive strategic planning, and verify the execution of plans Directors need to give valuable insights, assessments, contacts/networks and leverage to bring about results not otherwise available to the company or they need to be able to get those things or they should get off the board. Get the Basics Right Getting the board and management structure right is tricky. Boards must set the goals (desired results) and strategy (approach to achieve results) for the company whilst ensuring that the necessary...

Increasing Business Value in Business Planning

How to make the best decisions on what your business should do in the short and medium term At this time of the year many small businesses are in the middle of their planning for the next financial year. Some engage external facilitators, others involve their trusted business advisor or accountant. No matter how it is done the goal is to make the most of your resources and add as much value to your business as is possible. Easier said than done! To increase the value of the business, business planning must influence everyday activities so that all activities are aligned with the company goals. Critically these activities have to produce the outcomes necessary to achieve the desired company goals....

Set Direction Align Actions to Goals

Engage your staff to align their every day tasks to company goals Since I sold my business in 2007 I have worked with a number of talented entrepreneurs to rapidly grow their businesses. I’ve enjoyed sharing my 25 years experience but because I no longer have the pressures of running my own business I’ve been able to reflect on our decisions and actions and feel I’ve been much more objective about what is working and which strategies have added the most value. In this Blog I discuss how the ideas in my earlier Blogs and this presentation have been applied and what I’ve learnt. In competitive fast growing markets the leaders of successful companies rarely have...

Addressing Business Frustrations can add Value to Your Business

A Q&A flashed up on my LinkedIN home page recently asking “What is Your Biggest Business Frustration?”Reading through the many responses I was reminded of what I was taught at IBM, focus on those things that are within your ability and facility to fix and a much later lesson that being held responsible to fix things for which you have no authority will send you insane. Using my 23 years of experience owning and operating several small businesses I created the following approaches to help any business owner address the frustrations from the LinkedIN Q&A: 1.     Turn your frustration with customers failing to value your ideas, time and assets by building real partnerships with your...

Mass Collaboration is Driving Specialisation

The things we are best at we enjoy doing The converse is also true the things we don’t do so well we rarely enjoy doing. Most small businesses are built around the passion and specific expertise of the founder. But there are many things that must be done if a small business is to grow and prosper.  Cold calls must be made to find prospects. Proposal written before contracts are signed. The work must be done well to meet the needs of the customers. Invoices must be prepared and sent before the cash can be collected for all the good work done. The accounts must be kept to financially manage the business. Be honest with yourself. Think about your...

Business Planning: It's a Lot More Than Strategy

The word ‘strategic’ has become pretty meaningless through overuse. What is strategic and what is tactical? Is strategy just about direction and tactics just about the doing or operations? Company boards are said to be responsible for strategy and the management team responsible for operations. But boards seem to spend most of their time reviewing management decisions, operations and shadowing the management team. Therefore it must be easier to review actions than set direction and allocate resources. How can we best develop strategy and also excel at execution? A start-up has a small bundle of cash and some highly energetic people who are passionate about an idea. Each and every day they make decisions about spending their limited cash and...

The Web is changing how we live and how we create wealth

Acumentum’s catch cry was “Creating Better Ways of Working, Learning and Living” and now 10 years later the world’s web designers and entrepreneurs have changed how we live. eBay has given us an online garage sale, Facebook a much better way to share photos and organise parties, and no one would search for a new job or buy a car or house without spending hours and hours researching these most important decisions using the Web. In short the Web has changed the way we make decisions and because of this it has changed the way our economy works. The way we co-ordinate, co-operate and collaborate has been radically changed because we can rapidly and globally share ideas to...

Small Businesses need to collaborate to drive innovation so they can grow even in tough times

Back in 1996 as Managing Director of Acumentum I was invited to lunch with the managing directors of Quantum Market Research, Campaign Palace, FHA, Geyer Design, Invetech, Cambridge Consulting and Mann Judd. What do these companies have in common we were all providing services that retailers wanted to buy; web design, market research, advertising, branding, interior architectural services, recruitment and accounting services. Our companies all overlapped in skills and expertise but none of us were competitors. Over the next 10 years we met maybe more than 100 times. We enjoyed each other’s counsel, friendship and trust. In various combinations these companies shared tens of millions of dollars worth of business and we pushed and encouraged each other to become...