The Small Business Success Guide
Whether you're a budding entrepreneur or you already own a small business, The Small Business Success Guide will help you fast-track your business on the ride from good to great.
get your business foundations right
manage your people power
pump up sales and marketing volumes
use the web effectively
take the hard work out of accounting
nut out the legals and logistics.
The Small Business Success Guide is brimming with practical ideas and proven strategies to make your small business a winner. Including inspiration and guidance from some of Australia's leading small business experts, this handy resource has the answers to turn your dream into a profitable reality.
Readers will discover how to:
This is the essential guide to unlocking the secrets of small business success. In its easy-to-read, Q&A format, The Small Business Success Guide provides Australian and New Zealand entrepreneurs and small business owners with a one-stop resource of vital business information. It deals with the many issues surrounding small business including what to do if business is slowing, how to prepare the right staffing plan, making sure your marketing and publicity are effective, ensuring your financing is on track and your tax strategy isn't going to land you in trouble plus coping with/planning for growth and much more.
Margie Sheedy is a freelance journalist and small business owner. She writes extensively for national magazines and newspapers as well as online; and advises small businesses on how they can work smarter, not harder. Previously Margie has been the Editor of national magazine Women's Health, Associate Editor of ELLE Cuisine magazine and Deputy Editor of ELLE magazine.
The Small Business Success Guide
Author: Margie Sheedy
Interview with Margie Sheedy
Question: Why did you originally decide to write The Small Business Success Guide?
Margie Sheedy: Having set up and run two small businesses in the last 10 years, I know how frustrating it can be to be in the throes of success and then realise you need more information. However I couldn't find a book that had practical, non-business speak answers to my questions.
So I decided to do a massive amount of research, interview experts, and write The Small Business Success Guide (published by John Wiley) as a resource for other time-poor small business owners who want to quickly work out how they can do things better.
My blog http://bit.ly/sbsuccess is an extension of my book, with relevant insights and solutions to real small business issues. If, by reading my book and my blog, small business owners simply look more critically at their business, then my efforts have been worthwhile. If any of the tips and techniques I offer can help them fast-track their success, then I've succeeded in my endeavour.
Question: How much of your own personal experience went into The Small Business Success Guide?
Margie Sheedy: As a journalist with 20-plus years' experience writing for national magazines and newspapers, I've always thrived on finding practical information from experts, and presenting their ideas in a dynamic, easy-to-understand way. That's why I wrote The Small Business Success Guide in its unique question and answer format: so that all the practical information you need to successfully run a small business is in one digestible resource.
As far as my business experience, I certainly drew from all the questions I had about starting, managing and growing a business. Those questions formed the bones of the book. Then I set about finding the best experts to give me their insights, and fill in what all small business owners should know so they can fast-track their success. The payback for me is the wonderful feedback the book has received from hundreds of small business owners around Australia and New Zealand.
Question: Why did you decide to write the book in a Q&A format?
Margie Sheedy: I know how time consuming running a business can be. So my book needed to be in a format that would allow small business owners to quickly find the answers to a particular problem, issue or idea. Every small business owner also has so many questions along their road to success, at many different stages of the journey, that it made sense to address each one in digestible chunks. That way, they can dip in and out of The Small Business Success Guide as they need to. I like to think of it as a portable brains trust for every business.
Question: How can a business get their business foundations right, to begin with?
Margie Sheedy: Set your goals and write them down. If you don't know your goals, being in business is a bit like going on a trip without any idea of where you're going. Sure you might get to a destination in the end, but it's going to be full of unforeseen frustrations and some major detours along the way. So write down your goals and put them in to a business plan. The majority of small businesses don't plan to fail, they just fail to plan. The humble piece of paper that is your business plan can help you, and your team, to work towards some tangible goals. And celebrate when you get there!
Really understand what your customers want. This comes down to spending a lot of time in the start-up phase researching your market. Which particular group of people needs a product or service like yours? How big is this group? Would they pay for it? How much would they pay? These questions are vital. Otherwise, how do you know that your idea really is feasible and has the potential to make you money? Doing some basic market research can reduce your risk: you'll go into the business knowing what your customers want, and how you're going to give it to them. There are many online tips on doing market research that means something (there's a comprehensive list in my book). One that's particularly worth looking at is from the Queensland Government's site called Smart Skills (go to www.sdi.qld.gov.au/virtualand click on 'Marketing and promotions').
Get the best advice you can from a variety of sources. The advice you get needs to be professional: don't just rely on business owning friends (they may only know what they know). Create your own 'brains trust' - professionals you can call on for a range of advice, whether it's financial, legal, marketing or HR. Reputable advisers are always members of a particular professional association, and these associations are good places to start your search for trustworthy and relevant advice. Just make sure you always check an adviser's credentials and levels of professional indemnity insurance cover before you sign up their services.
Question: Can you talk about why and how business can work smarter, not harder?
Margie Sheedy: Business owners should regularly lift their heads up out of their operations and think strategically about their business. Thinking strategically is all about considering the big picture, knowing where you want your business to go and how you're going to get there, and what your customers really want. Get this right, and you will be working smarter, not harder. You'll be amazed at how working on your business, not just in your business, can fast-track you on the ride from good to great.
You should also think of yourself as the brain surgeon of your business. Is your business paying a brain surgeon to prep the operating theatre, set out the scalpels and clean up afterwards? Should you be doing something else that will benefit your business' potential? Start valuing your time and the 'smarts' of business will flow.
And finally, always keep your eye on your cash flow. So many small business owners fly blind because they don't work out their current and future cash flows. Remember, even the most profitable business can go bust if you can't pay your bills. So write down how much cash your business has access to. Then look at how much cash you need to keep your business operating on a daily or weekly basis. While the numbers can and will change, if you always keep your eye on your cash flow, and keep revising your business plan, you won't have any unexpected surprises.