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 
BOOK: events@shoalhavenbusiness.com.au

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.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Business Exchange EXPO Interview: Matthew Ayres

Shoalhaven Business Exchange EXPO
Friday 17th May, 9.30am 
BOOK: events@shoalhavenbusiness.com.au

Workshop 1: 
Rock Your World - how entrepreneurial strategy and innovation drive
sustainable long-term growth.

Matthew Ayres FAIBF, EMBA
How would you describe your role in business? 
My role in business is to help businesses grow by understanding their marketplace and the key changes taking place within it. Every business faces change and competition; every business faces strong parts of the business cycle and also challenging parts of the business cycle. Those businesses that can respond and adapt to change using discipline increase their probability of success significantly.  

Who are some of the companies you have worked with and and what type of challenges have you assisted them with? 
I have worked with many large and mid sized companies, all with a common theme around growth and innovation. A few examples include:

AMP limited: worked on a project to lift productivity of their national distribution by 400% - establishing the best practice model in Australia.
General Electric: worked on pricing for credit cards that listed profitability by some 30% in one year.
Lend Lease: developed the global approach to strategy growth and rolled this out across Australia, USA, Europe and Asia.
Vodafone: developed the digital and social media strategy.
ANZ Bank: I developed the online product growth strategy for Australia.
Deloitte: developed an approach to win a large bid.
Boral: established an approach to manage innovation across their business.

Name two business leaders who inspire you and why? 

Steve Jobs, Apple. his passion for innovative and leading the market with new products and services.
Craig Dunn, AMP. His ability to inspire his team and staff to keep renewing the business in very tough times. 

Can you give us some examples of well known brands that have turned their fortunes through innovation? 

Apple: An undoubted leader in the field of innovation and stuck to its focus on product excellence over many decades.
Amazon: Made access to book buying easy and available to millions (all at a lower cost).
eBay: Developed a market for trading small and low cost items both for mum and dad consumers as well as businesses.

What thinking can small regional businesses apply to succeed in a dynamic, increasingly global market? 

Partnering and alliances are now critical in a globally connected world. For example, an electrician may be able to obtain supplies from overseas or alliance through a national purchasing alliance from another buying agent in a major city. Savings can be >20%. Also representing a major company in a regional area has benefits for both parties without losing independence.

Global markets allow new services to be created using online capabilities. Many companies are using online services supplied from USA or Europe as part of their business. A simple example is backup of files and computer storage. Dropbox allows massive storage for $5m per month, vs a cost and risk of doing this by hard drives. Each small saving on running a business increases cash flow. Many businesses (large and small) are moving towards 'cloud based solutions'