Author Archives: Business Chatter

About Business Chatter

Business Chatter is Australia's destination for business advice. Helping SMB Businesses Do Business.


Increase Your Sales with these Strategies

Every year’s business planning session or goal setting workshop would always include the words “increase sales” or any derivative of it. Increasing sales, as a goal, entails having strategic plans to enhance the chances of getting the business you need. This enhancement, in turn, will be a stepping stone to attain your year’s goals.

Throughout the next twelve months, the business you will gather will be based on the number of potential customers you can successfully identify and qualify. This increase in business will also depend on the number of your approaches these prospects and the number of initial meets that you can schedule.

What’s more is that basing your strategic sales plans on attracting potential customers, instead of approaching them, will be determined by how many marketing activities you can partake in. These activities can involve, but are not limited to, showcasing your business and getting more ‘face-time’ that will attract more potential customers to your product or service.

Here are five effective ways on how to craft strategies to increase your sales.

Craft a Solid Action Plan

One of the key factors in increasing sales is that you have a solid action plan in place. Once implemented, this robust plan will deliver your needed volume of prospective customers that you can include in your sales pipeline. Always remember that action plans are always ‘SMART;’ specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

Identify What you Can Implement NOW

Another key to hitting the required sales increase, as specified in your yearly goal, is to find out what action plans or activities that you can implement today. Doing so will take you a few steps nearer your goal within a very short amount of time.

Increase Your ‘Face-Time’ with Customers

To start off, you can create a list of all the activities and organizations (whether they’re events, organizations, seminars, and such) that your target prospects will most likely be attending within the year. Attending these will be great opportunities to expand your network, make your business more known in the industry, and get to meet prospective clients all in one go. Don’t wait until the last minute, reserve yourself a seat today.

Increase Your Visibility in Media Channels

You can also start this action plan off by creating a list of all media resources that you can review on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to further identify prospective customers. Once again, don’t wait until the last minute, get your subscription to these media channels today.

Implement action Plans that Attract Prospects

You can do this by identifying all the opportunities and taking part in activities that allow you to market your business. You can approach event organizers today and ask for the opportunity to address your target audience. You can also approach editors and journalists today and ask for the opportunity to write articles or get featured in a spot to better attract your target prospects.

business grow

Ten Tips on How To Make Your Business Flourish

The everyday struggle of the market competition can make or break you if you did not make the cut. Here are some business boosting points from business owners that use them to on top their games.

1. Do not be afraid to invest and expand your workforce and workload.

The addition of work force in the office can benefit your business enterprise. The addition of effective professional workforce will not only lighten up your daily workload, but it will also enhance the performance and quality of your workforce.

2. Make your Business visible.

Advertising an ad placement on newspapers and mainstream media can open up great market opportunities for you. If you are on a tight budget, blogs and internet content can also boost your visibility effectively without the cost of mainstream advertisement.

3. Train your personnel to work according to your management style.

Effectively training and making you personnel up to date with the latest trends and technology in the industry will make them more effective in the workplace. Training your personnel according to what suits your management style will configure your workplace the way you would want it.

4. Make your business the talk of the town.

Once in a while, you should offer promotion deals that could put your business’ name in the mouth of the public for its great deal. You will get more recognition thru the use of this strategy.

5. Make a good name for you and your business.

Sponsoring worthwhile community activities like that of a charity type of event can give an image of  you giving back to the community for their support of your business. In these events, you could also meet potential business deals with your co-philanthropists.

6. Invest in better record keeping and always keep tract with your contacts and transactions.

Managing your contacts and transactions will give you the edge of knowing who among your contacts have what you need, at what time, and at what price. This will save a lot of time in canvassing for the materials that you may need based on your previous interactions with past suppliers.

7. Be a Hands-on business owner; learn through practice.

Spending time in managing and running your business  real-time is priceless for an entrepreneur. The more you immerse yourself in your business enterprise, the more you can gather useful insights on how you can make your business work for you.

8. Maximize, utilize and minimize.

Maximize all available resources that are available to you. You can also use the offers and promos of other companies to turn the tables. Furthermore, always utilize your workforce effectively so that the amount of workload can be increased. Minimize costs and losses by proper handling of and management of your workforce and resources.

9. Hire specialists if you must.

As business owners,  we can do multitasking at times and effectively save money and resources. However, once your company starts expanding, hire additional personnel to accommodate the added workload.

10. Employ effective technological advances to your advantage.

Do not hesitate to try labor-saving and resource-maximizing technologies to your advantage. These technologies can save you the money that are usually spent on expensive manual work.


Spend More Time in Marketing to Close More Sales

If you find selling to a potential customer very taxing, then you would be in for a big surprise. You hate selling because your marketing strategies are weak.

For most business owners, the idea of selling to potential clients brings about a shiver on the spine. I think I’ve heard hundreds among hundreds of entrepreneurs say that selling isn’t really the best tool in their drawer. If I had a dollar every time I’ve heard that, then I would’ve just established a business

The reason most of us loathe selling is because we always put a negative connotation to it. When it comes to sales, we always imagine someone trying to sell us something that we don’t really need or want. We also relate sales to an image of an annoying and pushy salesperson that we usually see on television or on used car lots.  These images, however, are the opposite of what we want our potential customers to perceive us.

Our goal, as business owners, is to have our customers genuinely want our products or services. As part of our business objectives, we want to convince them that we are the best at what we do. Ideally, we want them to already have that notion about our business even before our first contact; and we always yearn for a steady flow of prospects who are already advocates of what we do.

This is where your marketing strategies come in.

I started a business a few years ago in the UK. It was kind of a rocky start as I spent too much time knocking on customers’ doors only to have most of them shut. It was getting discouraging being in the shoes of a failed salesperson. It was then that I decided to change my approach.

During those most challenging times, I realized that I had been completely ignoring a very important area of my business that I was supposed to be good at – marketing. I had all the qualifications with the matching experience; but it had still taken me months to realize my mistake.

My new approach required me to create a demand for my product. Since this was the case, I reckoned to spend ninety percent of my time and energy on marketing my product. I also decided to put all sales on hold. The change in approach paid off as I started getting questions and queries for my product, globally. The only selling I had to do then was following up with the customer and closing the deal.

If you find selling a tedious task, then the best way to make it easier (or sometimes entirely taken care of) is to be really tacky on your marketing. Spend a little more time crafting a marketing strategy that best supports your goals and makes sure that you’re sending out the correct message to your dream clients. Doing so will make selling a little bit more fun for you.


I Heart My Own Business

When interviewing a candidate for a position, one trait a potential boss is in the lookout for is attitude.  Once that is found, the position is formally offered and the applicant becomes a probationary employee.  Why give a test period of employment?  Because in that short span of time, a superior will be able to truly find out if the applicant they offered the job to really is of the perfect fit.  Since attitude has already been stricken off the list, what other traits then will he be searching for? Oh, there are a lot.  But one thing is for sure, one check box will be under the term passion.  Like a probationary employee proving himself fit for a job, an entrepreneur must also find out for himself if he has the heart fit for the new business he has agreed to take care of.   If you have passion for your new business, chances are, you will persevere to succeed.

Louise, an acquaintance, is an example that best drives home this point.  She has always been connected with the hospitality and retail world.  Ever since college, she has worked in that industry and made a decent living out of it.  But early this year, she made a bold leap. Louise took and finished a stage management course at a local theater school and everyone could tell she has changed.

Before, Louise quietly made her living in the hospitality and retail business. If asked about her job, she’d come up with monosyllabic replies that no further conversations ensue.  Now, she is thriving in theater productions and creating waves of praises every step of the way.   She’d jump at every opportunity to share her career choice and what new productions she’s contributing to.

Indeed, Louise is a new person.   There is sheer excitement and infectious passion in her voice, her enthusiasm is highly contagious.   By leaving behind an industry she had no passion for and taking the chance to heed her heart, Louise stepped away from her once dreary survival attitude to one vibrant, excited and full of life.

According to a study conducted by Professor Charles Birch and Management Consultant David Paul titled Life and Work, 88% of people are dissatisfied with their job.  It is a pity, really.  To think that a regular human being spends nearly half of his life making a living before retiring to enjoy the fruits of his labor, to be stuck in a career that only brings you unhappiness may rob you of the chance to enjoy retirement.

So how do you know if you have the passion for the new business you are about to embark on?  Here’s a simple test: list down the three things that brightens your day when you engage yourself in it.  Is it people, sports, history, music, art, gardening, clothes, animals, languages, children, buildings, antiques or travel?  What genres of books are you usually hooked to? Conversation topics that get you excited?

Find your stage management course passion just like how Louise found hers.  Today, Louise shares that her work no longer feels like a job but simply, sheer enjoyment. It doesn’t matter if she has to work on weekends because to her, “everyday is a weekend!”  If you enjoy your own business, you will work and work without counting the hours. Your passion will be like the wind that pushes your ship forward without the need for fuel.  If there would be bumps on the road, you’ll look at them as exciting new learning opportunities and eventually, the earnings you will reap you will enjoy immensely.

art of selling

How Do We Go About Mastering This Age-Old Art Called Selling?

In an interview with Steve Herzberg, Managing Director of NRG Solutions based in Australia, he shares with us some insights on what successful sales people are made of.

According to Steve, there’s no one solution to becoming a master sales person. He did mention though that doing a few things well can make you successful in selling; whether you’re working for a large organization or your own business.

Steve identifies three things that always occur in successful sales people during the interview.

Successful Sales People Have High Energy Levels

Successful sales people do a lot. They speak to a lot of people, they make more calls and stay in touch with more people than anyone.  Successful sales people also make their presence felt, and they do this through blogging or attending events. Successful sales people do a lot of things every day and they always find new and creative ways in communicating with a lot of people.

Successful Sales People Exude Confidence

According to Steve, one of the keys to being a successful sales person is to be confident in the products and services you’re selling. Likewise, he also stresses the point that in order to be successful in selling, you also have to be confident in who you are.

Think of it this way. If you’re planning to buy a flat screen television at the mall, you’ll be more inclined to buy from someone who’s confident in the product they’re selling. Moreover, technical skills, product knowledge, and knowledge of the Industry are very important competencies that effective sales people possess;  and these can be distinguished in the way they communicate

Successful Sales People are Good at Getting Their Customers to Articulate their Needs

Another characteristic of an effective sales person is that  he or she is good at asking questions. Furthermore, a successful sales person actively listens and asks follow up questions.

When asked what are the most effective questions that any sales person should ask, Steve replies that any question that shows interest in your customers business and the problems and challenges that they have are effective.

Most of the time people purchase something for pleasure, but occasionally, they also purchase things to cure the pain. As a sales person, you should always utilize your skills in finding out where these problems exists. Moreover, he also adds that asking questions on the impact of problems on customers are also helpful in getting a better understanding of what the customer is going through.

Finally, Steve also put in a lot of emphasis on following-up. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to find the right balance between being a stalker and staying in touch. Steve’s general rule of thumb is to maintain contact with customers at least once a month or every quarter.

There is always a time when the customer is ready to buy, and the key to is that you are always on top of mind compared to your competitors. Steve’s advice is to continually find creative ways on how to stay in touch. These can be in the form of a blog, a newsletter, setting up events or seminars for your customers.


The Three Types of Deductible Start-up Costs

Businesses, such as consultancies, can get started with very minimal cost; but most of the time, it costs quite a sum to get a business running. As an example, the average cost of setting up a diner costs almost half a million dollars. These start-up costs mean that you’re already shelling out money even before any profit comes in.

Business expenses are generally deductible to your company. On the other hand, start-up costs are different because there is no operational business yet to deduct the costs from. This therefore means that start-up costs are only deductible if your business has already been operational when you incurred them. However, there are certain costs during business startups that can be deductible. These can be deducted either in your first year of operations or over time. In taxation law, these are called start-up costs; and the same rules apply whether you’re running a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation.

Start-up costs are costs that are usually incurred even before your business starts operations. However, other costs such as purchasing a business or a franchise, and other capital costs are not included as startup costs. Moreover, acquiring properties and developing them are also not classified as part of a business’ startup cost.

So that you’d know, deductible start-up costs fall under three different categories. You might want to check your receipts or expenditure records to see if they fall under any of the three.

The first type of category are investigatory expenses. These expenses are incurred when you are usually gathering data or information on what business to buy or start. Examples of such costs are employing surveys, market analysis, and the corresponding products and labor costs. Moreover, you can also include travel costs when doing an ocular inspection of a business or site under this category.

The second category are costs that fall under business start-up costs that were incurred before the business began to operate. Such costs include advertising and employee training. Moreover, costs that are incurred when travelling to vendors, distributors, and customers can also be included. Likewise, these costs can also include consultation fees and fees to set-up your bookkeeping process.

The third category are costs that are incurred during the pre-opening phase of your business. These are costs either paid or incurred before the first operating day of the business.

You must always take note that not all costs that has to do with business start-ups fall under these three categories. Some examples are the cost of buying a business or acquiring properties that are related to the business.  Moreover, costs that are incurred due to building or developing a brick and mortar shop are not deductible as start-up costs.

If you’re planning to open a business, it is always best to keep records on what you’re spending money on. Save your receipts and take good notes on what the costs were for; and doing this will allow you to take full advantage of writing-off your business startup costs.


Pushed, Shoved or Jumped Into Your Own Business – Does It Really Matter?

Not all trailblazing scientific discoveries of our time came from well-calculated, well-thought of laboratory procedures and analysis.  Some, if not a good chunk of it, came from that unexpected yet exciting “Eureka!” moment.  Like these important scientific discoveries, ask successful entrepreneurs today and realize that not all of them jumpstarted their business after making careful plans and programs prior to their launch – some were actually forced into it at first.

Below is an anecdote an online blogger once shared as to how he was pushed into striking it on his own and finding out that he would be immensely grateful about it today.

The year was 1999, this blogger of ours was just 25 then and was fresh out of college.  With the sheen of a freshly polished hardwood floor, he sailed from UK to Sydney to experience life on his own.  Offered a post at the Tourism New South Wales where he quickly made friends, he got the rare opportunity to actually mix business with pleasure and get paid doing it. It was indeed a gig that gave a pay check but nevertheless, simply a gig.  To this young lad of education, it was a temporary thing so when the offer to take on a full time job came, he quickly grabbed it.

The full time position offered was that of a Sales Director’s secretary.  It was a sweet deal.  After all, a degree from one of England’s top universities will have surely equipped the young man with all the skills necessary to type, print and answer telephones, right?

Imagine then his surprise when come performance evaluation time, his superior marked his card a simple and glaring ‘Average.’ Average! Horror of horrors for a secretary who has always been receiving straight As in college!

Dazed and unwilling to accept such a crude appraisal, the young man confronted his boss on the evaluation.  The boss, kind and wise, decided to patronize the young man by explaining his rationale for the grade.  His boss’ reply?  “It’s not that you’re unable to do this job, Sam, but it’s obvious you don’t want to. So you shouldn’t do it. You’re just not cut out for it. I need more engagement, more commitment from my secretary.”

Both men knew then that these essential “secretary qualities” would never manifest in the young man. In the end, our blogger resigned from his post.

It was a bitter pill to take for our young man. It was, to him, failure. But instead of admitting defeat and indulging in bitter thoughts for his boss, our lad decided to do some honest self-assessment.

Today, Sam is one of the most sought after copywriters in Australia.  His target market, although very much exposed to his competition, remain loyal to him because of his impressive outputs. And his very first client was? It was his boss.

To gain a closer step to success, one must remember what our peers from the East believe in – that the Chinese character for success looks a lot like the character for opportunity. In other words, don’t look at disaster and stay fearful of it.  Look it in the eye, understand it, then find that single “Eureka!” key behind its exterior that you may use to turn it into an opportunity for your development.  Pushed, shoved or jumped into your own business – really, does it matter that much?

business awards

How Entering a Business Awards Program Can Help You and Your Business

One creative way to get some stars under your business’ belt is to enter an awards program.

Immersing yourself in the process of a business awards program, is like hitting two birds with one stone. First, you get to rediscover yourself and what makes you tick as a business owner.  Second, you also let everyone – particularly the panel, sponsors, potential clients, and the entire industry that you’re there, and you’ve got the credentials to compete!

Here’s how participation in an awards program can benefit you.

The Application Process

Getting involved in the application process can make you stop and think as to your and your business’ mission. Being immersed in the application process allows you to do a little bit of soul-searching as to why you’re doing what you’re doing. It also allows you to have a look-back on your milestones and achievements.

Justifying your Results

Making your business accomplishments known, and explaining how you’ve made them possible can be a real uplifting experience. Doing this not only pushes your ability to communicate well as a business owner to the limit, but it also allows you to clearly communicate your business directions to a professional and scrutinizing audience. The experience of justifying business results in front of a panel makes you realize a lot of things about yourself and your business’ achievements. This experience of being put on the spot is invaluable when it comes to interactions with your business’ stakeholders.

Presenting the Financials

Closely studying and scrutinizing your financials can give you a deeper understanding of your performance coming from a monetary perspective. This experience is invaluable in crafting your business plan if you ever plan to go to a financial institution or in getting potential business investors.

Speaking in Front or Experts

Speaking in front of a crowd of business experts, professionals, and a panel of judges can be quite an exhilarating experience. It is the time when you either stand  up and be heard or forever shut up. Being in a situation where you know that every aspect of your business is scrutinized can nothing but only build up your confidence and character. It can be an interview wherein every answer feels like your life depended on it – a mind-blowing experience indeed!

Even if you just try filing your application, or even if you don’t “win,” just going through the application process can be a life-changing experience. Applying for a business awards program and having your application accepted can make you feel like as if you’ve already won the competition. Going through the different stages of selection, is already a bonus. Winning the award is just the cherry on top.


Merge To Emerge

Starting up a small company is one thing; merging your company with another company is another. Merging, or a merger, is an act of unifying the accounts, assets, and liabilities of two or more companies to produce a bigger and stronger company. This bigger entity can then specialize in a broader range of operations; depending on the type of companies that had undergone the merge.

Merging is a common business tool that can make the big difference for your existing entrepreneurial base. A well-planned and agreed on merger can take on larger credit loads and accommodate a larger workload. This therefore means that the overall production rate of your company and the other merging company will be dramatically increased.

Mergers can open worlds of opportunities for you. The increase in assets will make it possible for you to get bank loans easier; hence, capital will not be of much concern when you try to expand your operations. In the case of nearing bankruptcy, the balancing value of the merging company can check out the liabilities threatening your company for bank embargo. Utilizing this business tool therefore can make your business stable, economics-wise.

The joining together of both workforces will lead to higher production targets resulting to you taking on larger markets and supplying more deals. Furthermore, merging companies will also share and expand on more market and consumer lists by combining the ones that they already have. Customers that are loyal to you or the other company could be more satisfied with the combined services that you will now give. In this sense, you are not just marketing to create demands from customers, but you are also  making your customers happier and more satisfied.

Synergizing both companies’ staff and workforce could scout and spot new talents and manage them according to what role you want them to assume. In this sense, a merger brings new and fresh workforce into your business without the additional cost of hiring them independently.

The development of a more effective pitch for sales is also one of the good effects of a merger. Your existing public relations line will be reinforced by the public relations line of the merging company. This is like getting an additional PR line for free. The combination of the two entities can form a cohesive unit that can launch big media campaigns. Likewise, this can also lower costs thru sharing of contacts, ideas, and tools.

Another benefit is found on the field of product innovation. The sharing of manufacturing or servicing techniques can generate you a new line of products and services to launch in the market. The differences between the technical approaches of both in servicing and manufacturing processes can create a condition for your technical staff to adopt an improved version of your own technological formula. The merger can then adapt these new processes as their own; therefore resulting to an improved version of both processes.

With all the benefits of mergers, there is so little reason for you not to consider it.  So if I were you, I will merge to emerge.

business growth

5 Tips on How to Grow Your Company in Today’s Business Climate

Watching news and hearing reports about market crashes, inflation, and big companies going belly-up can make you quite unsure of your business’ future. However, entrepreneurs have a long history of finding ways around whatever situation that the business environment gives them; even finding more opportunities in the process. As a business owner, you can also do the same; even if the current environment is quite challenging and uncertain. Here are a few strategies that can help you nurture your own company despite today’s business climate.

The first tip is to always continue seeking more business from your most profitable clients. Doing careful market research will tell you which of your clients in your niche can double your sales. Experts also advise to always keep in touch with clients; ideally every two weeks or so. They also suggest alternating your communication between email, phone, and snail mail until you get to set an appointment or get to talk to them by phone.

Another thing to always remember is that doubling sales will take some time; so, don’t expect it to happen overnight. However, building strong working relationships with prized clients today will put you in a much better disposition in the long run.

Another tip to keep your business competitive is to try education-based marketing. This is one of the best ways to reach your prospective clients. Doing education-based marketing can increase your clients’ interest in your business because you will be providing them information on how they, or their employees, can do their jobs better. Education-based marketing can be done by just informing your potential clients some data or information you’ve gathered in the industry that might be useful to them. Taking on this approach gives your client the impression that you are an industry expert. This can turn into a high level of trust and rapport. Sharing this expertise can put you on the top of your prospective clients’ list when it comes to them selecting a product or service provider.

The third tip to keep your business competitive during these times is to use your website to get more leads. You can offer something valuable for free, or for a low cost, on your website in exchange for a potential customer’s contact information. This in turn, will build you a list. It is now your business’ task to contact these potential customers for follow-up, or to sell them something.

Fourthly, always find out what things matter most to your prospective clients. When talking to existing and potential clients, make sure you ask what are the reasons why they’re getting your products or services. Doing a little bit of extra questioning allows you to find out what your customers’ needs are so that you can close the deal earlier and easier.

Finally, always remember to invest in your business; even if budget is tight. Strategic investments are what will make your business move forward. We ask our customers to take a risk and choose us among all the others. It’s also a good idea to take a risk and choose your business as an investment as well.