About Me

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Born in the mid 1950's and raised in a very small country town situated in Northern Victoria. Resident of Melbourne since 1980 and happy to stay living in one of the world's most liveable cities. You can view my professional profile at http://www.linkedin/in/danielwatson

Monday, December 22, 2014

10 Reasons Why Your Business Needs External Advisors

Far too many business owners baulk at the perceived costs of engaging external advisors to assist them to improve the performance of their businesses. In the long run, this reluctance to invest in external advice, generally proves detrimental to the profitability and sustainability of their businesses. 

As a questionable but understandable cost saving measure, many owners of established businesses tend to rely on web-based information sites such as http://scoop.it/t/business-improvement or Government Small Business sites such as http://business.gov.au in preference to engaging external advisors.

Whilst accessing free advice from reputable online sites is a step in the right direction, the main problem with this approach is that often, the key link between the advice offered and the skills available in the relevant business to successfully apply the advice, is missing.

Sometimes, less experienced business owners, access information from sites where the business information on offer is not only of poor quality but is often wrong, and acting upon such advice, can create additional problems.

The other aspect which limits the value of free online advice is the assumptions made by the business owners or their managers, as to the actual problem that they are seeking information to help them to resolve. 

It is often the case, that a symptom of a problem is being addressed, where a more complete, focussed and analytical investigation by an experienced external advisor, would establish the real underlying problem, one that must be resolved before the business can move forward.

Aligned to the perceived cost of external advisors being a barrier to greater engagement between businesses and external advisors, is a poor understanding by many businesses of the benefits that external advisors bring to any assignment, and the real return on investment that building a short term or ongoing relationship with an external advisor, can provide.

The real benefits that external advisors bring to any business which has the foresight to engage them include;

1)     Fresh and different perspectives

External advisors are usually very experienced, well qualified, and through interacting with numerous businesses in a variety of industries over many years, they can look at your business from multiple perspectives, as distinct from your own limited perspective.

2)     Unbiased viewpoint

An external advisor is independent, unaligned to prevailing points of view within a business, and can call it exactly as they see it, usually without fear or favour. They are able to resist filtering information via the cultural bias of the prevailing culture, and as such, can readily spot the obvious.

3)     Greater and often more up to date expertise

Good external advisors generally hold relevant business related tertiary qualifications, are usually continuous learners, and generally hold memberships of relevant professional bodies that assist them to stay up to date with current business thinking, legislative changes and relevant technological advances. 

4)     Broader experience base

External advisors in general, work from a base of extensive experience, often across many industries, and most have held senior positions in listed and unlisted companies, as well as private companies, before becoming business advisors. They also come with an extensive base of contacts that they can draw upon depending on the situations they encounter.

5)     Time management

Your time is vital, and the more of it you can spend on areas which utilise your strengths, the better off your business will be for this focus. An external advisor, by focussing on what they do best, will complete assignments much faster that you can, and the results they deliver will usually be time effective in implementation, thereby saving you even more valuable time.

6)     Level of analytical skills

To survive in the business world, analytical skills of a high order are a pre-requisite for any professional business advisor. The skill to ask the right questions, of the right people, and analyse the information provided, before making recommendations or assisting to rectify a problem, is a skill not easily, or quickly, attained. 

7)     Add more weight to management change initiatives

Any management team attempting to introduce change initiatives, will find that support for the changes in the form of well justified recommendations coming from an external advisor, will assist greatly in selling those changes into the rest of the business.

8)     Transference of skills and methodologies

External advisors undertaking assignments in any business will interact with key employees, who will observe both the skills displayed by the external advisor, and the methodologies they utilise as they proceed, thereby obtaining skills and knowledge they would not otherwise had obtained.

9)     Stakeholder evidence of your mindset 

All businesses have stakeholders and whether they shareholders, vendors, suppliers, customers, clients or employees, they will notice the engagement of external advisors. The mindset of a business owner or manager who is willing to engage external advisors, is different than that of someone unwilling to do so, and engaging external advisors is a clear and positive mindset indication.

10)  Profitability enhancement

To build a successful reputation, leading to future engagements, an external advisor is very conscious of the need to deliver tangible and measurable outcomes. As a consequence, the usual outcome of the involvement of an external advisor, are changes which once bedded down, positively impact on bottom line performance.

Clearly understanding the range of benefits that an external advisor can bring to a business, allows a business owner to conduct a more balanced assessment of the potential return on investment available, from engaging a suitable external advisor. 

In most cases, a balanced assessment will establish that the returns on offer will fully justify a business owner’s decision, to advance down the path of engaging an external advisor.

What problems are you currently struggling to address in your business, that could benefit from a fresh perspective delivered by an experienced, well qualified and independent, external advisor? 

Perhaps it is time for you to throw a key problem or two, and a dollar or two, in the direction of an external advisor, and find out what a difference one can make in assisting you to improve the overall performance of your business.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Trade Show Mistakes Costing Business Dearly

Last week, I had the occasion to visit a major five day trade show, and what I witnessed, I found hard to comprehend.

I couldn’t believe some of the poor performances that I witnessed from many of those manning the booths for companies, most which had paid big attendance fees and were also incurring high daily expenses, to participate.

Deadly Trade Show Sins on Display

Just a few of the litany of poor performances witnessed included;
  • Three caffeine addicts having their mid afternoon coffees, chatting aimlessly about sporting performances, with their bodies facing the back of their booth, completely oblivious to to the six people who were reading their brochures and wall posters, and the one person in particular who obviously wanted to engage with the company, but after a minute of being ignored, just shook his head and walked away.
  • One young lady, left to man a booth alone, engrossed in a heavy duty conversation via her mobile phone, totally ignoring three separate visitors, in the space of two minutes.
  • The failure of 9 out of 12 booth staff to ask for a business card or contact details from myself after answering questions relating to their products or services.
  • Three sales people all dealing with responding to the questions being asked by one demanding enquirer, whilst ignoring everyone else who passed through their large booth, in the space of five minutes.
  • Young, inexperienced, female staff accosting passing foot traffic with pleas to enter their competition to win a pitiful prize. An affront resulting in the majority of people, other than young men, bypassing their booth completely.
  • Two young male spruikers, far more intent on picking up the cute hostesses at a neighbouring booth, than performing the roles for which their company was paying them to perform.
  • Two booths completely unmanned and without at least having substantial information boards, business literature, and business cards that those passing by, during the absence of the booth operator, could at least take advantage of if they had interest in the products on offer.
  • With two and a half days still to go in the show, far too many staffers displaying far too obvious signs of boredom and preferences to be anywhere other than in the booth they have been employed to man.
  • Apart from five or six well trained operators (perhaps actual business owners), the general reluctance of booth operators to step out from the bowels of their booths to actively engage with the traffic passing the front of their booth, was a too common occurrence.

Cost of Poor Trade Show Performance

The return on investment (ROI) for participating in a trade show has to be measured in terms of;
  • leads generated,
  • products sold,
  • contracts entered into,
  • contacts made, and
  • brand awareness created.
The performances I witnessed, as outlined above, will obviously have affected the ROI of the individual companies concerned, and may possibly lead to some companies electing to bypass the event in future, to the detriment of their businesses.

Failure to achieve an adequate return on investment in such a major, enduring and popular trade show is really unacceptable, and speaks badly of the management skills of those charged with conducting the event for their companies.

Preventing Poor Trade Show Performance

What gets measured gets done. This is a truism and if you want to prevent poor performance at your next trade show you need to;
  • Outline company expectations in term of the ROI expected from the participation.
  • Make all participants aware of the cost the company is incurring by attending.
  • Set individual targets for those manning the both.
  • Ensure adequate training is provided to all staff attending.
  • Monitor performance throughout the event and provide constant feedback.
  • Be aware of brand reputation when selecting staff to attend.
  • Debrief after the event to determine ways to do better next time.

Ask Yourself

How does your company manage its trade show participation?

Does your company set the required return on its investment in advance of committing the funds?

Are all of the staff deployed adequately trained, provided with performance targets, made aware of the costs involved, and effectively monitored throughout the show?

BLOGGERS THRIVE WHEN READERS COMMENT - if you have a moment, please provide your feedback /reactions.

If your business is based in Melbourne Australia, and you need assistance to develop and grow it in order to provide you with a certain level of future prosperity, check out our website http://www.rhodan.com.au and, if you think we can help you, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Avoid Personal Flat Battery Syndrome

Small business owners are notorious for burning the candle at both ends as they struggle to meet all of the demands placed upon them as they build and develop their businesses. Eventually, the constant demands on one’s time, the lack of sufficient rest and respite, and the constant pressures of making the weekly payroll, can take their toll and the business owner may find themselves ending up with a very flat battery.

The temptation to simply soldier on and hope for the best, regardless of the price paid personally, is generally overwhelming for most small business owners who find themselves in this difficult situation. Unfortunately, for most who reach this point, it is hard for them to see that they are fighting against themselves in a battle they can’t, realistically, ever expect to win.

The Problem

The problem for a business owner of soldiering on without the necessary battery power to provide forward momentum, is that they will find that at very best their business slowly grinds to a standstill, and at worst, they will find themself operating a business that is actually sliding downhill fast.

Prevention is Easier than the Cure

As with most ailments that develop over time, prevention is usually far easier than the cure. As a business owner, it is most advisable that you ensure that the energy level in your personal battery never dips below the level where it can fire you up each morning, full of energy and enthusiasm for the challenges of the coming day.

So what can a business owner do to avoid their energy levels dropping to the point where their battery is absolutely flat?

Firstly, understand and accept the following;
  • The human body was not created to function 24/7 and perform effectively under constant stress, and the body itself requires adequate rest, exercise, and appropriate fuel to operate at its optimum level.
  • The human brain needs strong blood flow to deliver the oxygen it needs, and deep breathing whilst not stressed out, is a good way to deliver the oxygen needed to enhance the brains ability to reason, exercise sound judgement, and make effective decisions.
  • If you don’t give your body and your brain what they need on a regular and consistent basis, they will both adjust to lower levels of performance, making it much harder for them to be encouraged back to peak performance in the future. The longer this situation is allowed to continue, the harder and longer the recovery period will be, and the less likely a return to full peak performance, will be achieved.
Secondly, consider the following business truisms, and take appropriate action;
  • Doing everything that you can possible do yourself, rather than delegating or outsourcing non critical activities, is never going to make the best use of your time, skills or energy.
  • No business plan ever properly formulated, had a key objective of killing or destroying the mental or physical health, of the business owner.
  •  Working on the business itself is as important, if not more important in most cases, than working in the business.
  • No business owner ever got wealthy or lived to a ripe age through flogging a dead horse.
  • Without sound foundations, good support mechanisms, consistent and regular cash flows, competent and committed staff, sound business policies, procedures and practices, and good leadership, the chances of long term business success are minimal.
Thirdly, a separate focus on a range of activities outside the business itself is necessary to provide;
  • A sense of balance and a mental break from constantly focussing on the business.
  • Alternative experiences to encourage development of different perspectives of problems and issues, new perspectives which can be applied back in the business.
  • Self development both personally and professionally in an environment more conducive of delivering the required learning outcomes.
  • Activities which involve socialising with family and friends and letting them know that their support helps both sustain you in your business, and provides the reasons to continue.
Finally, make time just for yourself to;
  • Regularly sit quietly alone and uninterrupted and reflect on your own contributions to your business and the effectiveness of those contributions, and note any adjustments you can make to reduce the personal impost, that the business places upon you as the owner.
  • Reward yourself with a bit of regular personal pleasure, be that a massage, a long walk, a hard run, a quiet drink in your favourite bar, an afternoon nap, a bit fishing or gardening, or any other activity that is for your pleasure alone.
  • Contemplate what life after your business life will look like (assuming the business doesn’t kill you first).
Self Protection

There you have it, four areas in which you can take appropriate action to ensure that your personal battery never goes flat and causes your business to grind to a standstill, or rapidly go downhill.

Ask Yourself

Are you finding that you are rapidly approaching the stage when you might end up with a flat battery?

Are you aware of the needs of your body and brain for adequate rest, exercise and fuel?

What are you going to do to ensure that your battery never goes flat?

BLOGGERS THRIVE WHEN READERS COMMENT - if you have a moment, please provide your feedback /reactions.
If your business is based in Melbourne Australia, and you need assistance to develop and grow it in order to provide you with a certain level of future prosperity, check out our website http://www.rhodan.com.au and, if you think we can help you, please don't hesitate to contact us.