How much is my time worth?

Photo motorbikesA few years ago, one of my first business coaching sessions was with an entrepreneur who had spent a year and a half in development. He’d given up a well-paid job and spent about $25,000 on developing an App. He had no real business plan. When I pointed out that he had notionally invested about a quarter of million dollars on the App, he drew a deep breath of entrepreneurial fatigue, and said disheartenly, “Well, I suppose so.”

This back of the envelope calculation was done as follows: see calculations and read more here.

Will your business expenses trigger a personal audit?

phone deer horns

Are you worried your business tax deductions will make you stand out? New techniques and ever evolving technology, may make you more obvious than you think. Photo © Andrew McIntosh CPA

Some of us went crazy with the Game of Thrones grand finale, with the show becoming the most pirated program in history. Australians were the worst offenders. Digital piracy is illegal; so too is tax evasion.

If you have cheated the tax system, it may not impact you now as a struggling entrepreneur or business owner, but perhaps years later when you are held to account for your actions. Long after the moment of greed, or seeming need, you may have a partner, child and a thriving business by then.

Do you participate in the cash or hidden economy? Read the full article here.

Entrepreneurs: are you running a one person show?

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Many entrepreneurs start out as a one-man (or woman) show. While this can be challenging, exhausting and incredibly rewarding, ultimate success may not be determined by your business idea, but by how organised you are.

Experienced freelancers and small businesses that are single person operations need to be ultra-organised. Whether you are flying solo for the first time or well established, technology can improve your efficiency and performance. Here are some pointers based on my own experience running a one-man show.

See full article here: The Pulse

 

Minor CBA system upgrade leads to bank meltdown and social media backlash

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has taken a beating overnight on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook. What started as a ‘minor upgrade’ to NetBank ended in a social media and literal spat for cash. By 3am the issue had not been resolved, with CBA customers at the end of their tether.

Read the posts on Storify.

It all started with a small Facebook post on the CBA page on Sunday 27, 2013. It was not dissimilar to the outage notice of the night before (1am – 7am), about a minor upgrades, except this notice was of an earlier start to a 6 hour upgrade may impact some accounts from 6pm-12midnight on Sunday evening:

“We’re upgrading NetBank tonight, making several minor enhancements to Australia’s #1 online bank. NetBank, mobile, tablet and CommBank Kaching apps will be online, however some accounts and features will be unavailable 6pm-12midnight (AEDT) on Sunday 27 October. You can stay up-to-date commbank.com.au/update
 

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The post from the Saturday outage from 1am caused no ripples, with 56 people liking that update and about 25 comments. Sunday’s post, however, turned into something of a social media storm with 85 likes and nearly 500 Facebook comments on the post and over 100 comments directly on the Commonwealth Bank’s Facebook Page. The @NetBank Twitter account also did a short innocuous tweet about the same time, then seemed to go to sleep for two hours before it responded to the tweets for updates, cash and help. Initially mild queries and complaints came in of inconvenience came in:

  • small business owners lamented the timing for their Australian Taxation Office Business Activity Statement due on Monday;
  • some asked “is netbank not working at the moment?”

Then some more desperation started to appear in the posts, like from Angela on Facebook over a 2 hour period:

  • What is going on?? I tried to make a purchase from a store and my card was declined…I went to an ATM and i kept getting error messages…I have tried calling …no response…..NOT HAPPY
  • I’m pissed off…i’ve been a customer since forever..paid THOUSANDS in interest and this is the service I get????
  • And what is wrong with the call centre…why cant I get through to anybody ..it even hangs up on me!! Very frustrsting. Feel sorry for the person at my local branch in the morning

After several hours, the impact of the “minor up-grade” became more apparent, with CBA customers almost crying out for help:

  • unable to pay for dinner or takeaway
  • spending hours shopping then being unable to pay
  • “humiliation” and “embarrassment” at having their cards declined
  • people trapped at petrol stations with a full tank but unable to pay
  • others frantic to transfer money, pay rent or withdraw cash
  • customers unable to pay for flights and facing the possibility of losing flights
  • employers unable to pay their staff 

And so the list of individual dramas, tension and frustration continued. Several CBA employees jumped in to defend the corporate giant and leading to with a tongue in cheek poke at impatient customers, led to them being identified as employees and images of their full name, work role and other details being taken as screen shots and posted online. CommBank posted a warning directed at several individuals, deleted several customer posts that identified an employee and reminded the customers of the Facebook Community Guidelines.

At 2:15 am CBA updated their web page with “We’ve had an unexpected issue that we’re working hard to resolve. We still have more investigation and testing to do before we bring our systems back up.”

At 2:30am the CBA posted on Facebook “Hi everyone, we apologies that NetBank still isn’t available right now. We’ve had an unexpected issue that we’re working hard to resolve. We still have more investigation and testing to do before we bring our systems back up. This is all the information we have at present, our next update will be later this morning. Again, we apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.”

And that brings us to 3am when this writer will cease monitoring the situation. I became involved while trying to phone the CBA tonight to advise of overseas transactions on my account, only to eventually get the message “we have encountered a technical problem” and the call was terminated by the CBA.

London Olympic security failure… a lesson for small and medium business

This week’s contractual failure of the London Olympic security provider G4S provides some beautiful examples of business failure, crisis management and the value of having a “Plan B” in your back pocket. While the inability of G4S to deliver the security services under it’s £250m contract represent a business failure of ‘Olympic’ proportions, the lessons for small and medium businesses (SMBs) are stark.

Planning for success by planning for failure (Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Planning: G4S planners over-estimated their ability to deliver Olympic security personnel and had no workable plan to recover.

Variance from business plans is always expected (and should be planned for) and establishing realist business plans are critical to ensure operational success.

More advanced business plans can factor in probabilities of certain risks, failures or success occurring, but most SMBs should plan a realistic/expected outcome and supplement this with possible best case and worst case scenario plans.

A plan (for a project, business, campaign or event) should focus mainly on expected outcome and SMBs should spend some time documenting their approach to a possible best case / worst case scenario model.  This is part of basic contingency planning.  It is often overlooked and rarely done well outside of the IT space, however it is critical to ensure business has the resources, systems and processes in place to execute its mission.

Risk Management:  The quarter of a billion pound London Olympic security debacle clearly demonstrates the impact of operational and reputational risk.  Monitor the G4S stock value to assess the impact of this PR and operational disaster. Often businesses mainly consider risk in terms of information systems, privacy and legal compliance, but as G4S lawyers and insurance managers reach for their insurance policy and re-read the fine print, it’s a great example of operational risk materialising….. and then impacting reputation and ultimately eroding enterprise value.

No matter the size of a business or project, good insurance advice and coverage is basic element of good governance, as well as ensuring risk management extends to delivery of core business and contractual objectives… such as providing trained security personnel for major events.

Crisis Management: As private enterprise fails themselves and their client, the importance of a workable “Plan B” is clearly shown by how the UK Government responded to the crisis.  London Olympic and Government officials will be scolded for failing to manage the risks associated with the security contract, but they should be commended for the swift and effective solution to the crisis.

Thousands of military personnel were rapidly deployed to fill the security void.  G4S clearly did not have a workable “Plan B”, but the Government did.  This should be expected given the massive resources of State but still provides a graphic demonstration of a successful resolution to the corporate failure.

How the PR disaster is managed maybe a different story, but the Government is off to a reasonable start with its practical response and the swift bringing to account of the G4S executives in a televised public inquiry.

Leadership: The Independent yesterday reported Army chiefs have been dispatched to the headquarters of G4S to take a more active role in controlling security for the London Olympics…”  In coming blogs we will look at lessons for SMB from leadership structures in emergency services and the military.  These structures and management systems are built to manage in times of crisis, high stress and literal life and death situations – so important leadership and execution are critical to ensure success.

© Andrew McIntosh CPA: OptimizeBusiness.org@gmail.com

Can you hear your customers? They are talking about you!

Great food attracts a lot of customers. How many are on smart phones? How many are letting their friends know they are enjoying a burger at your restaurant… and how would you know? As it turns out, there could be hundreds or thousands of social media ‘check-ins’ at your business.

“Unfortunately, some business managers and owners don’t even know their customers are trying to talk to them.  One Templestowe business has hundreds of fans and over 10,000 customers using social media to tell others they were at this local business…

Sadly that restaurant owner is not using social media to talk to this captive & loyal audience – the ‘Fans’ of the restaurant – in the channel they chose to communicate with the business”

Ask us about our complimentary 30 Minute Social Media Assessment for your business.  If Social Media is for you, sign up before 30 June 2012 for our special introductory offer to get our Entry-level Business Facebook package at a 50% saving.  Call us now on 0448516151. Location based services of social media sites are generating millions of check-ins and ‘likes’ for small businesses.  Unfortunately, small and medium businesses are way behind big business in understanding this new social phenomenon.  It is also clearly visible to social media users that do ‘check-in’ that your business either understands social media or ‘just doesn’t get it.’  Give Optimize Business a call to find out how this impacts your business and sign up for our 30 Minute Social Media Assessment.

How fresh is your business strategy?

When was the last time you sat down with an independent business professional and critically evaluated your business strategy and business plan?


Sales and marketing, your product offerings and customer service delivery are the heart of your business. Is it still fresh and appealing to customers…. or in need of a refresh? When was the last time you innovated and customers noticed? If you can see it, prospective customers and loyal customers will see it too. This is a risky place for a business to be. Speak to Optimize Business about refreshing your business: our business coaching provides independent and experienced business professionals to help keep you innovating.

Do you even still have a current business strategy or are you just on ‘auto pilot’?

Let Optimize Business coaching help you refresh your approach to business. The market place continues its rapid pace of change and small business owners need to constantly re-assess their direction.

Are you starting a new business? An accountant and legal advisor are critical, but who is helping you assess your key strategic decisions? Who is your business relying on for independent, current and experienced business guidance on these critical decisions?

At Optimize Business, our coaches will be with you every step of the way.  From social media to team building, our business coaches never lose sight of the big picture.  Call us now, on 0448516151 to speak to Andrew McIntosh CPA and discuss how we can help you achieve your goals.

© Andrew McIntosh CPA: OptimizeBusiness.org@gmail.com

Welcome to OptimizeBusiness.org

A healthy start

No matter what type of business you run, we can help you Optimize Business.

OptimizeBusiness.org is open for business.

We look forward to working with you and your business on achieving your goals.

If you are serving brunch in the Yarra Valley, selling homes in Warrandyte or retailing in Doncaster, customers are crying out to speak to businesses via social media.  Unfortunately, some business owners are so consumed in day to day operations, they are not listening to their customers…. while others are increasing customer loyalty, creating advocates and enhancing the value of their business through new channels.

How small to medium sized enterprises engage in social media can be indicative of how well management approaches new opportunities. Let a business coach help you explore social media in the broader context of your overall strategy and you will be amazed at the simple and effective steps you can take to Optimize Business and enhance your enterprise value.

When was the last time you allocated time to think outside the box and assess new sales or communication channels?  When was the last time you re-assessed your overall business strategy?

We offer a diverse range of products and services to small to medium sized enterprises:

  • Optimize Business Coaching
  • Optimize Planning & Strategy
  • Optimize Sales & Marketing
  • Optimize 360 Focus Groups
  • Optimize Team Building
  • Optimize Training and Facilitation
  • Optimize Social Media

If it has been a while, call Andrew McIntosh CPA ay Optimize Business on 0448516151 or email OptimizeBusiness.org@gmail.com to schedule an obligation free discussion about business coaching.