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Brian Miller, Creative Director, Luxgraphicus Design Agency

Brian Miller, Creative Director, Luxgraphicus Design Agency

I’m a do it yourself type of person.

I like to have a go at lots of things, and don’t mind learning and experimenting with projects as a hobby. Most of these projects aren’t critical however, and most are just that, hobbies.

Sometimes I really apply myself and work on a project with a discipline and a degree of learned skill. In these cases I can do a good job, as good as the professional might do. It takes longer of course, but it costs less!

And sometimes this project fits in with my business operations. It means I can control my expenses as a small business owner by not having to pay the full costs of hiring a professional, and I still get a result which is good enough to drive the success of my business. I need to have the time available of course, and weigh up the benefits of missing out on time I could have spent on something I am an expert in. But in small business, sometimes, these compromises can mean the difference between getting the job done, or not doing it at all.

So how do you decide what to do, and what to leave for the professionals? Early on in your business development, you may find yourself with a longer list of tasks to handle in-house. Then as the business grows, the list can be reduced as you  manage towards success.

Think about the tasks that you actually do have a degree of skill, expertise, experience and knowledge in, and those that you honestly don’t! Some reality check may be appropriate here. A business coach or mentor might help. And think about the time it will take you to do a really good job. Could this time be better spent?

What do you value as a small business person? Getting things right first time. Satisfaction in doing a good job yourself. The bottom line on your business accounts. Your spare time. Doing what you think others think you should do?

We all need to make these value judgements. In small business you will make many of them, and it’s often a case of balancing what works for you when it comes to what to do for yourself. After all, that is one of the main reasons to start a business, to do it for yourself.

Brian Miller
Creative Director
Luxgraphicus Design Agency

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Donna Cox

By Donna Cox – Mantra Training & Development

As you may be aware from previous posts, I am addicted to learning and love absorbing information through books and experiences with others. Where ever I can sit in a room with inspirational people I will take up the opportunity. Recently I was fortunate enough to have one of those days…

I have a number of great Mentors who have contributed to my life in many ways and more importantly, pointed me in the direction of being a better person, team player and leader. I am fortunate enough to spend time once a month face to face with one of my mentors and reinforce learning’s and discover what he has learned from others.

Whilst attending a Future leaders Forum I was asked a question “Am I living above the line or below the line?,

O
A
R

______________________________________________________________
B
E
D

I wasn’t sure what OAR or BED meant as I don’t row boats and we all sleep in a bed. After some discussion with the group the lights went on! This was a metaphor and a great one at that ………..

I have recently seen first hand someone living under the line, totally at the effect not the cause. What I have observed is the negative effects both physical and emotional of living below the line and it seems to produce very negative outcomes for the person living there. This can be turned around in a heartbeat by moving above the line and taking ownership of the situation rather than blaming others for your outcome.

Ownership
Accountability
Responsibility

_______________________________________________________________
Blame
Excuses
Denial

I think to be honest we have all lived below the line at times, however if you aspire to be successful you would more than likely choose to live above the line as this will provide much better outcomes.

This was a great reminder of where I have lived at times and where I do not wish to live in the future. It is easy to blame others for things that go wrong, but it is a more rewarding place to be able to take responsibility and own the situation. This way you stay at cause in your life not at the effect of others.

Cause – be the cause of, produce, make happen

Effect – result or consequence of an action

If you would like to know more about cause and effect and many other strategies that can assist you in reaching your Goals then let Mantra Training & Development take you to the next level of awareness.
It is a known fact that we must continue to learn new things to develop skills but I think at time we need to refresh the skills we have. If you look back over history, books and the great philosopher that have written them have the same message or similar message. I believe this to be true because what they did centuries ago worked then as it still works now.

Donna Cox

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By Jean McIntyre

Marketing Angels

Why do small business owners often feel lost when we deal with large organisations like banks?

I was chatting on the phone today with my good friend Lana – relating the horrendous saga of my dealings with Westpac over several months while trying to set up a merchant facility for a start-up business.  The conversation got around to the general observation that small businesses often have little success dealing with large organisations.

Lana is of the view that it’s because a single instance of poor service is often not noticed in a large organisation and those who deliver it just get complacent about the impact of their actions on the people at the other end.  Lana works for a large Government service delivery organisation and says the same thing happens there.

Let’s look at what happened with Westpac

Early in November 2009 I went to the website of an online payment facility and completed an application and paid my fee.  I was then directed to a page that said I needed to apply with one of the big banks for a merchant facility.  I had vowed 20 years ago never to deal with a bank again so I wasn’t impressed with this but went ahead as I had no choice.

I completed a simple online application and was informed that I’d receive a package from Westpac in due course.  A couple of days later I received an email from a Westpac employee with some prices in a table and no explanation.

I wrote to Westpac and asked what the prices related to and exactly what I would be up for initially and on an ongoing basis.  The reply I received was full of jargon like ‘chargeback’ , ‘service fee’, ‘participation fee’ and it took me some time to get information from Westpac as to exactly what I was signing up for.

Westpac Gives Vague Instructions

Soon after, I received another email – with vague instructions and some pdfs of forms that it seemed I had to complete.  I wrote back to Westpac saying that I thought I’d received the wrong forms as what I had appeared to be a mortage application.  I was concerned because I was applying for the merchant account on behalf of a company – that had limited assets apart from a bank account and a website – but it was asking for details of all my personal assets.

The response from Westpac was that this was the way it was and Westpac had the most robust application process of all the banks and that this was necessary to protect this. 

I wondered at that point where I and my needs sat in that equation.

The website needs to be fully-functioning

Now at this point, the website is in development and testing and so the actual site is just a shell – ready to be populated.  I’m waiting on the merchant ID to finalise the online purchasing infrastructure and pricing.

I then received an email from Westpac saying that they need a copy of my ‘registration’ and that the website didn’t meet their requirements.  I asked “what requirements” and was told that among the many forms that were sent with the second email, there was a page of ‘Website Requirements’ that was not mentioned in the email.  I looked at the requirements page and could not see anything in this that didn’t comply – even though the site was in testing.

I also queried exactly what registration was required – my ABN registration, company registration, registration of a business name or some other registration that I was unaware of.  The woman from Westpac was unable to answer that question and so suggested that I send all of the above.

Feeling trapped – Jean complies

Of course, feeling trapped and powerless – I complied.  It turns out that she had searched for the business using the incorrect name and was now suspicious that I was trying to do something dodgy.

The Westpac employee then said that I needed a referral from my building society – where I had said on the initial form that I wanted money deposited (I love my building society).  I asked her what this was for but she didn’t answer me.  She also asked me to explain in detail on the website, the products I was selling, how the payment and pricing would work as this information was required for the website.

The Westpac officer wrote: ” Website needs to be developed before they will assess the application.  All banks have the same requirements of viewing the site before approval.  It is because banks need to view what products are being sold, that there is adequate information on the Website for a credit card holder to make the decision whether they are going to use their credit card on your website and get the products they are paying for.”

Westpac is not a police officer

I was no clearer after this and I was quite cross by this time.  I explained that I would not put this information up on the site as I was going to protect my intellectual property until the site is ready for publication – including the payment processes.  I said in no uncertain terms that it was none of Westpac’s business what information I put on my site (apart from privacy and security details). 

In my frustraion I said in my reply email: “Banks DON’T need to view what products are being sold.  It is up to the individual business to comply with the law.  The bank is not a police officer.” 

This of course fell on deaf ears.

I asked who I could speak with about the unreasonable requests and delays from Westpac and yet again in a further email. I received no response.

Tell us EXACTLY what we have to do

I went back to my web developer and said that we needed to get the test website as close to fully-functioning as possible – otherwise Westpac would not approve the merchant facility.  I put in a lot of work, we organised a Security Certificate for the site and gave them access to the development site.  I then asked if they could look at it and explain EXACTLY what was needed now to approve the site.

I received an email back saying “thanks” and informing me that (despite my being a sole signatory for the company) they required a signature from my husband (who is a silent partner) as another director.  Rather than argue this was not necessary, and feeling even more powerless, I and my husband complied.

I faxed off the form and emailed the Westpac employee to say I had done so and said I still hadn’t had a response on what was wrong with the website.  By this time it was 2nd January (two months from initial contact) and the employee was on Holidays.

Westpac finally gets back

On 11th January I received a phonecall from another staff member responding to my email.  She said that the website had been given conditional approval – “subject to the Westpac Account”.  I asked her what this meant.  She explained that they would only issue a merchant ID if the business opened a Westpac Business Account to distribute the money to.

I was astounded and said that this was the first time anyone had told me in over 2 months that I was required to have a Westpac Account.  I said that had I known this – I’d have gone to the bank I had an account with previously.  I related that I had told them at the very beginning that I wanted the funds put into the IMB.  She said that she had tried to get me “an exemption” but that this had failed.  All I needed to do was go into a Westpac branch with all my registrations and IDs and they would open it up for me.

I did that today. Walked in to my local branch and said I was here to open a business account.  The teller walked over and got the ‘Business Manager’ who immediately asked “What kind of business is it?” 

Jean cries on John’s shoulder

That was the wrong question to ask the wrong person who had been through everything I had been through.  I said “Why do you need to know that?”  I told him it was an online business.  He looked for a while at his computer screen (he didn’t look once at me) and said “I can’t see you today – it will have to wait until next week”.

I walked out and cried on my husband’s shoulder.  I said “they really don’t want my business do they?”

Jean gets help from the IMB

In despair – I just drove home.  Back in my office I started wondering if the IMB could help me.  I looked at their website and they said that they will open merchant facilities for their clients.  I knew that they did this through Westpac and so wondered fi they could help me.

I rang the call centre and they put me through to their business banking area.  The man I spoke with was very helpful and explained the relationship they have with Westpac and said he’d give them a call and get back to me.

He did that within an hour and said that the people I had been dealing with should have realised that I was an IMB customer early in the piece and applied a general exemption.  He said he had sorted this out for me and the woman from Westpac would ring me today to advise me of the approval.  I said I wished I had come to them months ago instead of putting myself through all this trauma.

I’m still waiting 7 hours later for Westpac to call me.

So what’s the upshot.

There’s a simple message in this that I won’t spend too much time explaining.

The advantage that small organisations (and small businesses) have is that they are much more connected to their customers and much more likely to act when there has been a problem.

Make caring about serving your customers part of your marketing plan and you’ll never lose them to big business.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with big banks.

Jean Mc

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dsc011271Donna Cox – www.mantratraining.com.au

Being in business is filled with uncertainty so why is this any different?

The life of the Business owner  is a very exciting one, it has it moments of hardships but above all it has more moments of achievement, prosperity and triumph.
We get to make the rules, we get to create the opportunities and we also have to take on the task of keeping motivated. One of the greatest opportunities I have been blessed with is meeting other like minded people. I have a mission to stay away from Dream Stealer’s, you know those  people, they tell you it’s not possible or it won’t work or you’re not smart enough. I am here to tell you if you have a big enough WHY, the how will come.

So here are some tips I use to stay motivated.

o Free seminars and go to them first.…there are many of them happening all the time.
o Set clear goals with time frames attached to keep you accountable
o Share my vision and desire for the ultimate success of my Business and my personal life (what ever success means to you) Its amazing what happens when you say them out loud. Some one might hear you.
o Develop new and exciting ideas and challenges to take my Business to the next level.
o Network…someone once said go to the opening of an envelope
o Making customer service a priority
o Support staff and establish their goals
o University in the car. I take every opportunity to learn so I do it on the road as well

As a Woman/Mother and Business owner I am very proud to say that I look forward to what the year and the economic climate has to offer and I will be looking for ways to ensure my company continues it’s growth and staff development.

I am always inspired to become better and learn from my mistakes and let me tell you I made my fair share of them. However I also like making mistakes because it gives me an opportunity to learn and grow.

A dear friend once asked me. “Why put energy into something that may never happen”? To keep this in perspective I will explain. How often do we worry about something that may never happen? Putting energy into the unknown rather than the known is not a worthwhile thing to do. If I am going to worry about something because I fear it may happen well I may as well give up now because it is going to happen.

Focus on what works and deal with the unknown when its know.

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