Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Bigger is not always better in your business garden

Size is not everything.

Over my time in owning and managing business across a large number of sectors - big and small, I have fallen into a trap of many business owners that size is everything.

True, a larger business should be in a better position to with stand the ebb and flow of business success, especially in small markets like Tasmania and even Australia, however it does depend on the type of your cost base.

If you have too large a fixed cost base, you are exposing yourself to changes in the business environment that you have no control over.

It is easy to get excited in the good times, see that that extra piece of plant or building will be able to allow an increase in production or output - the good times however do come to an end.

This also includes the manner in which you employ people.

The natural thing is to try to employ people in real jobs, full time with all the benefits, however this is an asset that is also fixed as compared to a variable asset as a part time or casual worker.

The huge increase in casual and part time workers across Australia I feel is due to the wider cyclical nature of the business environment and businesses have to manage this, rather than employers trying to rip off workers.

As an employee who at times had over 120 workers as team members - and truly good employers do see people working with them as team members, you want the best for them, so they will look after the business.

So in the excitement of building a BIG business, many business owners see expansion to be BIG becomes important, rather than the business and personal goals that you had set your self when you started the business.

Back to the garden it is like having a small garden patch to feed your self or a couple of chooks for a few eggs and then planting a couple of acres of peas or carrots because they grew so well in your small patch or suddenly having a couple batches of chickens and you have heaps of eggs to get rid off.

Today, August 21, 2013 there is a report on a Tasmanian company TASSAL who has a huge increase in profit by changing its business from a fish farming business to supply predominately International Market, to ONLY supplying the domestic market.

The company has failed twice before pushing growth and seeing that it could only happen into the International Market - mainly Japan, but only 12 months ago with the huge increase again of the Australian dollar, took the decision to only supply the domestic market.

Changing back to its core of making money for the investors and shareholders, rather than looking to be the worlds largest fish producer has seen this business be successful once again, while other similar business in this sector are struggling on that International stage.

What is success in your garden.

Tony Park
Head Gardener
Business Gardener

How to make a long term business

Q: How do I build a business that will last for decades?

A: With very few exceptions, the answer to this question is the same for any small business, whether it's looking to cash out in 50 months or 50 years. And it's not really about costs; it's about the structure of the business. Costs will flow naturally and efficiently out of a sound structure.
Many public companies operate shortsightedly, pumping up their quarterly numbers to boost their stock prices, with sometimes disastrous long-term results. A business with an owner who measures growth and progress in years, not months, is a much easier ship to steer.
Follow this basic checklist to increase your chances of growing for years to come--assuming, of course, that people want the product you're selling.
Establish strong financial controls. Doing so produces solid information for decision-making and reduces the risk of theft and fraud. Put simply, until you know where every penny's going, your business isn't on sound footing.
Minimize distractions.  I've seen firsthand how an owner, freed from daily worries over cash flow, can successfully concentrate on the future--building relationships, developing new products and services and overseeing other big-picture issues. Hire trustworthy and smart people to handle the details. They're worth it.
Increase sales. Obvious? Yes, but never forget that a larger company is inherently less risky than a smaller one.
Diversify products and services. Spreading sales over more customers, product lines or markets reduces risk and enhances opportunities for growth.
Streamline, codify and document processes. The hallmark of strong companies is the quality, consistency and documentation of the way they operate. (This is the first step wannabe franchisors take to determine if their ideas can be replicated.) I often tell owners that if they want to be a bigger company eventually, act like one now.
Improve efficiencies. Since most businesses are valued by a multiple of their earnings, every dollar of improvement here will result in more dollars of value, whether it's four years from now or 40.
Protect your intellectual propertyMake sure you have appropriate rights for your trademarksnames, designs, technologies, etc. Spending a few thousand dollars on an IP lawyer now can save millions--and headaches--later.
Maintain and improve property and equipment. Maintain access to money that can be used to take advantage of technological improvements, expand operations and keep everything in running order.
Reduce employee turnover. Bear in mind that shelling out more money doesn't necessarily create a loyal and productive work force. Respect, fair management and inclusion in decision-making go a long way.
Avoid competing on price. A focus on undercutting the competition can start a vicious cycle that destroys your profit margins. You want customers to choose you for your superior products and services, not because you're the cheapest.

A few ideas to assist you on your journey to build your business for your future.

Tony Park

Head Gardener

Business Gardener


Sunday, 11 August 2013


Some ideas on your next presentation with Power Point from Scott Schwertly  

We’ve all been there before: staring at the glow of your blank computer screen with no idea on how to open or start your talk. For starters, you should never be staring at PowerPoint with no clear objective (that’s a conversation for another day), but let’s be honest, we’ve all struggled with the best ways to open a presentation.

It’s time to get unstuck. Here are 5 powerful ways to open a presentation:

1. Use Silence
Most people won’t be able to pull this off very easily, but if you are feeling like a rockstar during your next presentation, opt for silence. Say a few words then be quiet. Say a few more words then be quiet. It’s a quick and easy way to own the room. Just make sure you can hold your composure.

2. Point to the Future or Past
I have two simple statements for you:
-Prospective (looking to the future): “30 Years from now, your job won’t exist.”
-Retrospective (looking to the past): “In 1970, Japan owned 9% of the market. Today, they own 37%.”
The reality is that looking into the future or past always sparks engagement since that’s where our hearts live.

3. Quote Someone
The easiest way to open a talk is simply to quote someone. Think about that last presenter you heard when they opened their talk with a quote from Albert Einstein or Napoleon. A quote equals instant credibility.

4. Share Something Extraordinary
I don’t know about you, but I love Snapple. Even more so, I love their bottle caps since they always share fun facts or extraordinary insight into ordinary things. Is my life going to be improved because I know how many times a bee’s wings flaps in a second? No. Is it crazy interesting? Yes.

5. Tell a Story
Here’s the amazing thing about stories: If your presentation is based solely on facts and stats then your audience is going to react in one of two ways: 1) agree or 2) disagree. However, if you tell a story, your audience will participate with you. Still not sold? Stories have been known to increase audience retention by up to 26%.
So, what are you waiting for? Experiment. Try something new. Step outside your comfort zone. You’ll see some amazing results by trying any one of these techniques.

Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO of Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki. 

I have tried these many times both during debates with JCI in the world and training presentations in 20 countries around the world as an International recognised Business Coach - let me assist you in your next presentation.

Tony Park
Head Gardener at Business Gardener

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Old Farts Learn Differently


Looking at the first month at a 30 year break from University Schooling (what a wonderful word) it has become very apparent to me that the coaching from an old friend, Bill Potter from DU-IT in New Zealand was so so right when he showed me that Training/Coaching needs to be LIFE RELEVANT  to “OLDER PERSONS”

When one is younger, your brain is ready to learn as you don’t know what information you will need to live your life. You take all that information in, formula’s, equations, quotes and definitions are all part of the food of life.

A younger you, needs to take it all in because you may need it for a job so you can provide for you and your family, you may need it to understand if you may be under threat and you may need it so you can flee to a safer place to survive.

So the University system is made for this grinding out of information, some that may be relevant in your future, a lot that will not be, but what is what, so you had best take it all in.

However as an older person, to survive the grind of information that is bombarded day in and day out over the years, you have to sieve through it all to take in what could be relevant to your life. If it is not relevant, then you do not take it in and discard it.

So to learn in this type of environment that is targeted towards younger learning styles, is difficult for people that are better suited to a different style, a more relevant hands on – learning by doing styles.
So I have learnt that you have to change the way that the information is put across, so that it can be LIFE RELEVANT to me.

That is the same for the process with your team members, different learning methods not just for different people but also for different time frames of their lives.

This is important to understand if you are trying to give relevant information to your team to take your business forward, otherwise  you will not only waste time and resources, but your team will not have the relevant information to take your business forward.

If you wish to understand an ALE (Adult Learning Experiences) then contact me at tony@businessgardener.com.au.

As an International Accredited Learning Coach with JCI, I have the understanding that I can assist you in developing your teams knowledge to make your business grow.

Tony Park

Head Gardener.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Personal Brand - Business or Personal

At times you have to think of yourself or your business as a commodity that needs to be promoted and sold, for a job, selling something or a range of reasons - same as you need as a gardener to sell vegetables with good brand, representing good brand values.
 At those times you need a plan and a range of Brand Values that you represent, you have become a brand that these represent.
Whether it’s a higher salary, a better job or more influence in your industry that you’re after, your personal brand – how colleagues, headhunters and managers perceive you – could be your most vital tool. 
In a growing trend, more and more people are getting help in this area from people like Emily Kucukalic, Managing Director of Brand New You, a personal branding consultancy.

Image is everything
While the idea of having a personal brand is not new, it was first spoken about in 1997, the idea has reached its time. Business is booming for Emily, who says the company has grown by 200% every year in the four years it has been operating. What is perhaps surprising however, is that more men than women have taken up their services, with a roughly 70%-30% ratio.
“Men actually love the program,” she laughs. “Because most men don’t want to think or worry about this stuff.”
And Emily points to examples of clients who have received major promotions and pay hikes after presenting themselves differently in the work space. The message; improving your personal brand might significantly transform, or fast-track your career.
Self promotion
Here, we outline five simple ways in which you can build and promote your personal brand, in order to achieve your business and career goals.
1.    Know your strengths
Emily says it’s all about finding the one thing that makes you different, and learning how to embrace and enhance it. “The fundamental idea behind what we do at Brand New You, is to get an understanding of who our clients are, work out the best parts of them, and then enable them to demonstrate in two seconds, to anyone they meet, just what they’ve got to give,” she says. Unearthing those characteristics that make you such a great asset, then knowing how to promote them, is key.
2.    Conduct a social media audit on yourself
Brad Schepp, co-author of, How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+, says it’s not just about making sure those drunken party snaps are safely hidden from your public profile, but making sure the information that is available publicly paints you in the right light. “Build compelling, professional profiles for yourself that include your job history, going back no more than 15 to 20 years,” he advises. “LinkedIn is an obvious place for such a profile, but Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, among others, are also sites where you can include this kind of information. These profiles should demonstrate not only what you've accomplished, but where your strengths are and what you can offer future employers.”
3.    Position yourself as an expert
In today’s economy, it’s more important than ever to differentiate yourself as someone an employer can’t afford NOT to hire. “People are looking for specialists, not generalists when recruiting and promoting now,” says Dan Schawbel, author of the upcoming, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success. “If you can become the best at what you do you will become sought-after”. It seems like obvious advice, but honing your skills in an area that differentiates you as a leader is a great way to fast-track your career goals.
4.    Publish and Curate
You don’t have to be an author to publish great content these days -  in fact, anyone with a Facebook profile or Instagram account is already an experienced publisher. Think about the information you’re putting out there. Can you contribute to a project, or write a guest-blog post about your field of expertise? Can you share fantastic and relevant articles with your professional networks to prove you have your finger on the pulse? The best way to become known in your field is to engage with ideas and concepts that are relevant to your work. If you can establish yourself a thought-leader, then most of the work is already done.
Educate people as to why they need your services

Part of developing a personal brand is identifying the reasons an employer or business partner couldn't so without your skills. Once you’ve got that figured out, it’s time to let them in on the secret, and make them see why you’re such a valuable asset. “You have to learn how to listen and pull out of people the things that they want or do research to find out what companies want, then tie what you do well to what they want, so that you can directly link successes you’ve had in the past to a goal they are trying to achieve,” says Pamela Rucker, Chairwoman of the CIO’s Executive Council’s Executive Women in IT.
So we have a range of activities to assist you to build and promote your brand and the brand values that you are representing.
To help you with this - contact the Business Gardener = Tony Park

Friday, 2 August 2013

It is hard being an Entrepreneur

It is hard being a Gardner, you have done all the hard work in preparation of the bed, you have watered along the way, weeded when necessary  pruned and now you are waiting for the plants to grow - the waiting is the worst and its not always easy to be positive that you will have a great harvest.

Business is the same, you think you have done all the right things to make your business successful and you now have to wait to see if it will - at times its hard to be positive.
So here are some ideas to help you be positive as you continue to grow your business.

12 Positive thoughts for the Entrepreneur

1Go for it. Having something half done is worse than not having it all. Commit to doing everything you can to make it work.
2There’s always a lag between doing something new and seeing results. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t look up right away.
3If Plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet.
4Ambition is good, but don’t always live for the ending. Enjoy the process of building something from nothing, meeting customers’ needs, and providing jobs for your employees.
5Do you need to look at the situation from a new perspective to find the solution? A coach, a friend, or a walk in the park can sometimes help you see new options.
6When you fail, you’re one step closer to success.
7If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough or pushing yourself enough. What would you do if you had no fear? Go do that.
8Believe in yourself and your vision. Some days, that will be all you have.
9Related to that, trust your gut. Your instinct can be more instructive than a million books on entrepreneurship. Don’t ignore the small, nagging voice when it wants your attention.
10Don’t rely only on yourself, though. You can’t do everything. Find a great team and do whatever is necessary to keep them close. The road to success — or failure — is more fun with people who believe and trust one another.
11Listen to the naysayers just long enough to hear what you need to refine your business. Then, tune them out. It can be helpful to hear criticism, but you should surround yourself with people who want to help fulfill your vision.
12Be in love with the problem more than you are with the solution. In other words, care more about solving the problem than solving it the way you think it should work. Sometimes, your first hypothesis is simply wrong, and you need to be open to trying new things.

It’s a challenge to start and run your own business. You won’t even imagine most of the obstacles you’ll face until you see them. But, success is 50 percent attitude, and if you give yourself a little pep talk when you’re struggling, you can keep your attitude in check.
Truly creating change requires a lot of work — and just the right amount of optimism.

Tony Park
Business Gardener