Wednesday, 8 May 2013

EXPO Interview: Bruce Patten On Where The Money Is

Shoalhaven Business Exchange EXPO
Friday 17th May, 3.30pm
tel: 4423 3582 

Workshop 6: 
Government Programs & Grants

Bruce Patten
Pattens Group

How would you describe your role in business?
I have one of the best jobs in the world. As Managing Director of Pattens Group I visit and meet with some of the most brilliant minds and business people in the country.  I discuss what their business is currently doing and where they want to take it.  Only then am I able to assess which grants may be applicable to help them achieve their goals. I am then able to work with them, to secure the grants and see their dreams become reality.

What are the most common things most of us small business people DON'T know about getting grants or funding?
Most SMEs are unaware of the grants that are available to assist their business.  They don’t believe their business is entitled to receive money from the government.  Others believe the cost of preparing a grant application would be the same as the value of the grant they will receive.   So money that is being offered to help SME businesses is being rejected.

Many regional businesses are doing it tough. From your point of view what do we need to do to change the game?
Australia is doing it tough all over.  I meet with over 1000 business owners each year so I have a fair idea of the health of the Australian economy.  Everyone is struggling so you can’t change the game, you can only change how well you play the game.  Firstly eliminate from your concern all the things you have no control over, like interest and exchange rates.  Don’t worry unnecessarily about things you cannot change, just manage them.  Focus on the things you can control.  Like increasing the number of customers you have and the frequency they buy from you, the number of inquiries or referrals you receive and their conversion rate, the average value of each sale, the loyalty of your customers, the profit per sale, etc.  Your business is an asset, so make decisions that will increase the long term value of that asset.

Can you give us some examples of funding success stories?
We have hundreds, no thousands, of success stories over the years, each one unique.  For instance I was asked by a medical company who were struggling to survive to lodge an application for a grant of $300k to develop a new product.  After listening to the proposal over lunch I politely said “No.” I then followed with “If we claim $2m could you spend it?”  The application was successful and the company received nearly $3m in grant funding, successfully developed the new product and was eventually sold several years later for over $50m.
Another example is a company in Sydney that received a $100k Dairy Grant.  Why is that unusual?  Well they have no cows anywhere near their factory or car park.  But they use a milk derivative in their product and so were eligible for the grant.
When I was at Cochlear I claimed the Computer Bounty which was running at that time and reimbursed 25% of the manufacturing cost of “computers.”  While Cochlear manufactured the bionic ear I argued that the definition of a computer in the legislation made Cochlear eligible for the bounty.  After much argument from the government they finally conceded and forwarded a cheque for over $600k followed by many others until the scheme closed.

Name two business leaders who inspire you and why?
There is no secret to success or magic wand that can make a business succeed. Success is a by-product of skill, dedication and hard work. So the people that inspire me are those who play the game in an ethically and morally superior way.

Like Mark Bouris of The Celebrity Apprentice who runs his businesses exceptionally well but also has his family as a priority and still finds time to assist several charities.  He dresses up as Santa and hands out presents to the needy in Sydney.  His role on The Celebrity Apprentice while unpaid is motivated to some extent by the money raised for celebrities charities which now exceeds $20m.

Richard Branson is another self- made successful businessman who is very inspirational.  He has very strong ethics standing very strong for what he believes, does not shy away from challenges or opportunities but takes calculated risks.  His family is also very critical and important to him but as busy as he is, he still includes charities in his business structure through various foundations.
It’s never about whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

EXPO Interview: HR expert Karolina Kondovski

Shoalhaven Business Exchange EXPO
Friday 17th May, 1pm - 3pm
tel: 4423 3582 

Workshop 4: 
Workplace Structure, Protocol & Rules 
- for all generations! 
Knowing about compliance and your requirements as an employer.

Karolina Kondovski
Director, KMB Resources

How would you describe your role in business?
Principally, we lead and guide organizations through process of organizational design and development, strategic utilization of employees, development of business goals, oversee, and keep talent management and development in check. We assist organizations to improve their performance, primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and development of plans for improvement, while ensuring we keep a close eye on compliance.

What are some of the key HR issues for regional businesses?
 The significant issues for business today is to keep in step with workplace obligations while they continue to look for innovative and creative competitive edge operational methodologies that deliver on efficiencies and bottom line.   

The key HR issues are the same for all business irrespective of locality

·        Compliance with legislation
·        Compliance with Industrial Relations
·        Recruitment Management 
·        Employee Development & Retention
·        Performance Management
·        Performance Reviews
·        Employee Compensation such as salary, bonus, incentive etc.

How have attitudes changed over generations?
Traditionally, the role of Human Resources in many organizations was more closely aligned with personnel and administration functions, payroll orientated and linked to finance.  Still these bastions of old thinking continue to pervade organisation with the assumption that HR can be easily undertaken by a well organised Payroll Officer, Executive Assistant or Administrations Manager.
Today, as the impost and governance of legislation washes over business and the need for competitive thinking becomes the driver for success, HR & Business Management Consulting seems to have grown in esteem and a sought after skill set, gaining momentum across small and large business.

What business leader inspires you and why?
Jack Welch – GE – CEO  he was the early and insightful business leader to recognise that HR was vital to business growth and had a significant role to play in the evolution of strategic business;
• he proposed that these 3 rules for business in understanding and promoting HR be on the agenda of every business - I agree and apply these at every opportunity.
1. Directors  and executives need to get the importance of HR. Most importantly, they need to understand that they probably aren’t very good at HR themselves and need to find somebody who is.
2.  Exceptional HR people are both pastors and parents. They have to listen like a pastor and maintain confidentiality, but they have to tell it straight like a parent.
3.  HR needs to pound the table to get a voice in the organization. Riding along, being a bureaucrat, or playing less than a critical role in the organization is unacceptable

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Shoalhaven Business Exchange EXPO: Workshop 6: Funding

Workshop 6: Government Programs & Grants 
- Innovation, R&D tax incentives, Small Business Advisory Service, Clean Technology programs.
Guest Speaker: Peter Masterson, AusIndustry

Book Now:
Phone: 4423 3582
FREE for Chamber members, $20 non-members

Business Leaders Series: Kate Cummins

Kate Cummins Talks about Doing Business in the Shoalhaven.
Kate was the winner of Young Business Person of the Year at the 2011 Shoalhaven Business Awards. Kate looks after the property management side of Integrity Real Estate in Nowra, Huskisson and Berry.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Shoalhaven Business Leader SERIES - John Lamont, Nowchem

John Lamont
Shoalhaven Business Leader of the Year 2012

As a business owner and Deputy Chair of the RDA Far South Coast, John Lamont shares his views and vision for local business.

Video by Flickapolitan

Monday, 29 April 2013

Shoalhaven Business Exchange EXPO - Workshop

EXPO Interview: Dr Simon McArthur

Simon McArthur, business doctor, change agent.
Shoalhaven Business Exchange EXPO
Friday 17th May, 9.30am 

Workshop 2: 
Stand-Out Business Identities
Dr Simon McArthur

How would you describe your role in business?
Day to day I am like a tourism and business doctor – I diagnose why a destination or business is struggling and determine what needs to be done to get it healthy again. People pay me to do this because they are so operationally focused every day, they lose their big picture. They lose sight of who their target market is and what these people want. They don't know any more whether they are meeting their customer's needs better than their competitors, and they need to know what to do to strengthen that competitive advantage before they get overtaken.

Most of this work I do in the tourism sector, because I love the extra challenge the sector presents. The diversity of tourism and its markets makes it one of the most challenging to competitively position. The key market (leisure tourists) are one of the hardest to predict because they make so many of their decisions intuitively rather than logically. I am seeing the smart operators use a deeper understanding of these people to adjust their offer and prioritise their scarce resources to capture more market share. Meanwhile the lazy ones that don't change, trade down their market and its spend, and eventually lose market share. Sometimes it's too late to help them.

Branding and promotional activities are often thought of as a luxury smaller businesses don't have much time or resources for. What are your thoughts on this?
Wow…I cannot understand any business saying that it's a luxury to understand how their customer views them and what unique competitive advantage they have. A branded product is easier to choose over a non-branded product, because the brand shows what people think, feel and expect from the product – the brand is your distinctive and compelling promise.

It's not expensive or onerous to determine a brand, especially when you contemplate the opportunity cost of not having one. I think people avoid branding because they don't understand what it is and how it can make their life easier, and / or because they can't be bothered to be different, and try and really connect with their customers.

Can you give us some examples of branding success stories?
The big companies are the easy picks, like: Facebook, You Tube, Virgin, Apple, Disney and Red Bull. Yes they have budget to build brand awareness, but before they had budget they still had to do the hard thinking to determine how they could stand out. What's more, after defining their brand, everything they did with their business was aligned to it.

Some success stories among smaller Australian business that I like include: Circus Oz, VIVO Café, Boost Juice, SBA (Small Business Accounting), Jimmy Possum, Republica Coffee and Red Balloon Days.

What thinking can regional businesses apply to succeed in a dynamic, increasingly global market?
Well, the usual 'one liner' is work up a brand and Business Plan, and make sure that every working day implements both. Going a little deeper, it's about going outside your normal operating environment to look at potential markets that are evolving into new needs that you might be able to meet. We also encourage some competitor research to not only know who you are up against and what they might be doing better, but to start thinking about what they are not doing so well that you might be able to do a touch better. Then you've got to get this stuff into big poster-like tables so you can see patterns, holes and opportunities – stick them up on the wall and stare at them while you're having a coffee, and see what they trigger.

Name two business leaders who inspire you and why?

Grant Hunt, Anthology Travel
It would be easy to name the usual suspects like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson, but I'll put up two Aussies from the tourism sector.

First there's Grant Hunt, the Chairman and Founder of Anthology Travel, a boutique nature based tourism management and marketing company. He is best known for his pioneering work in the development of projects such as Longitude 131 in Central Australia and Wildman Wilderness. He has created some amazing tourism experiences in some of our most sensitive landscapes, connecting people with our wilderness, outback and heritage in ways that are authentic and cutting edge. 

Grant gives back beyond what could be expected of him. He has acted as Chairman of Tourism Northern Territory, as a Director of Tourism Australia, ATEC, the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management, and Voyages Hotels and Resorts, and is currently a member of the CSIRO Stakeholder Group on Climate Change. Grant has been an industry pioneer in the area of corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices.

Then there's Jason King, of Bells Milk Bar in Broken Hill. At the tender age of 25, Jason’s mum convinced him to move to Broken Hill to manage Bells Milk Bar, a run down local milk bar on the wrong side of the famous ‘Line of Lode’. Jason has restored the milk bar to its 1950s glory, added an Australian Milk Bar Museum and is developing a new market for the Bells handmade syrups and cordials by packaging and selling them in a range of retail sizes, both in-store and online. 

Jason King of Bells Milk Bar, Broken Hill
Jason has turned a struggling business into a tourism icon, and Bells has been recognised for tourism at a local, state and national level. At the same time, Jason has been actively involved in his local community, representing many boards and committees over the years, including music festivals and tourism and film advisory boards. Recently, Jason became the founding Chairman of the Patton Village Community and Business Association, which aims to promote sustainable living learning and enterprise in the Patton Street shopping and recreation precinct, and breathe new life into South Broken Hill. The PVCBA has created a brand and logo for the precinct and made a real difference to the community.