Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stress and mental health issues can seriously impact your organisation

Times are tough for those working in smaller organisations. Managers working in small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and non-government organisations (NGOs) face many pressures, often with few people or resources to turn to for support.

A free resource kit is now available;

Dont be afraid to ask for help if you are not coping. Stress in a small business is a common thing. Consider speaking to your GP, Business Adviser, Family Business Australia and mental health professionals. All can offer various forms of support.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Business Law basics - Contract laws risks

Everyday businesses create potential problems for themselves by entering into contracts.

Contracts, that are binding can be written, verbal or even implied. Imagine the difficulty in resolving the terms of a contract that is not written. Despite this, very rarely we stop to note all the details of all the business agreements we make - even though they are probably legally binding contracts.

There are set criteria to test impartially if an agreement is legally binding. The video below gives an explanation.

Also see;

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Case study for Importers - Timing and distribution

The process of distribution can eat into what seems to be a healthy profit margin. For example, two naive importers located some cheap gift lines in a trade catalogue from Taiwan. Preliminary market research indicated the items could be sold in Australia at a price which would return considerable profits. The importers requested some samples to test the market in Australia, but were advised that the minimum order quantity was 1000 items. They agreed to purchase that quantity believing that they could sell them in the lead up to Mothers Day. As airfreight was too expensive, they arranged for the cartons to be shipped as a part container load. Unfortunately, the container sat on the Melbourne docks for two months while the importers fumed in Adelaide.

Breaking into the retailing chain was not easy. They were not recognised wholesalers/importers and retailers were suspicious when they approached them. It was a physical impossibility for two people to get around to all the small gift shops who rarely ordered more than 10 items each. The larger stores already had completed their purchases for that season and were linked to major wholesalers for their supplies. Some of the retail chains even imported goods themselves and saw no reason for a middle man. There were distribution companies who were happy to carry their products on their regular calls on small businesses. However, the commissions they charged would have eroded the profits to the extent that the venture was no longer viable. As a consequence, the would-be importers were left with a quantity of goods which they quit at a loss.

The moral of the story is to investigate the proposed distribution channels before launching into a new venture. 'Quickly and efficiently' does not necessarily mean buying direct from a manufacturer and selling direct to the consumer. While you may be reluctant to use a distributor because of the additional costs involved, the alternative in many cases may be no sales at all.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Business class travel at economy cost

I cant bring myself to pay for Business class airline seats. I had a friend who flew first class to Hong Kong and got seat 1A and hated it (you cant get any closer to the front!).

Sure economy class can be a bit cramped - but I have come to the conclusion that if I start in the right frame on mind and I am on a direct flight - I don't care...

So the solution is not to be hurried in going to the airport and enjoy yourself while there. Arrange to meet friends there and turn it into a social occasion or indulge in the luxury of airport lounges to feel like you are at a resort.

If you are not a member to your airlines lounge program, many airports have pay per use lounges.

For example in Hong Kong, the Plaza premium lounge has been my little Oasis on several occasions. The package that includes use of the shower and a massage seems expensive at first look, but its worth it(about $70). This is far cheaper than business class airfare! Tell them Graham Bell sent you and they might even give you a voucher for a free drink! (Also at Beijing, Guangzhou, Hyderabad, Johore, Kuala Lumpur, Muscat, New Delhi, Shanghai, Singapore, Toronto and Vancouver).

Oasis at the Airport!
To get more ideas on doing business in Asia -click here - to visit Business Travel to China BLOG

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

why do small businesses use a consultant?

Many small business owners try to do everything themselves, this is not only unrealistic but can limit the growth of the business.

There are three main types of consultants that small businesses use;

1. Strategy consultants... these people concentrate on getting all the great ideas from your head, mixed with some expert and advise and and some reality of the world to help you work out WHAT TO DO NEXT. This is especially importrant for a rapidly growing business as often you can be busy fighting fires rather than staying focused on the long term so that decisions you make today, will be relevant tomorrow.

2. Implementation consultants help you ACTUALLY DO IT. They need specific expertise and experience in a related area and can really help with the diverse range of things a business owner must manage. This sometimes the "doctor syndrome" or a feeling of inadequacy that you can't do it yourself can creep in. In really its about getting the job done.

3. Systems consultants similar to strategy consultants are more focused on tomorrow rather than today; but rather than dealing with the dynamics of the business, concentrate on streamlining the day to day running. You can make the business more "scalable" by working on systems that maintain quality and allow to manage the business as it grows.

In an ideal world you would use outside people for all of these tasks to ensure you get the best expertise.

To get further help on your business, contact Graham Bell at Bell Management Consultants P/L on +61 0418 832 220 or Email

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rushing into a business relationship is like marrying someone you don’t know

Rushing into a business relationship is like marrying someone you don’t know – If you don’t plan to stay together long – it doesn’t matter... if you are looking for a partner with similar tastes and views – look around to find the right one.

The dangers of low engagement transactions. Business transactions rely on trust to a large degree; “trust has several connotations.[1] The typical definition of trust[2] follows the general intuition about trust and contains such elements as:

  • the willingness of one party (trustor) to be vulnerable to the actions of another party (trustee);
  • reasonable expectation (confidence) of the trustor that the trustee will behave in a way beneficial to the trustor;
  • risk of harm to the trustor if the trustee will not behave accordingly; and
  • the absence of trustor's enforcement or control over actions performed by the trustee.”


One of the most significant trends in International trade over the last 20 years has been the speed of transactions. As an old-timer – I remember placing orders with suppliers by Air Mail letter and Telex machine. The time taken just to get an order in place and make payment was often 3-4 weeks. Now with the advent of global sourcing sites such as Alibaba etc, people are looking to complete all aspects of a transaction in minutes. This has advantages but also some serious drawbacks especially when dealing with China as this represents a major cultural shift.

Some of my fondest memories of China are extended business meetings that flowed on to extended meals and sometimes even Karaoke – when I was on trips to meet with new clients. The idea of meeting with, understanding the philosophy of , and building a solid basis for communication was paramount. This made resolving disputes so much easier after meeting someone as you had some idea how they were going to react. In short you felt you knew whether you could trust them.

It was not always possible to meet every one that you are going to do business with but it is still possible to build a relationship. For new exporters/importers, I suggest working on a “relationship development model”.

For example, an Importer may look at a system like this;

Step 1, send an general email to the company asking about their range of products and whether they already have any local distributors.

Step 2, Ask about the cost of samples for two or three of their products.

Step 3 Once you have the samples ask about packaging, shipment port and warranties.

Once you have this information, then ask about pricing etc.

The idea of this process is that if at any time you feel that you do not get the level of service you expect: consider ending the relationship. The other advantage of slowing down the process is that is gives you chance to look at the value proposition (quality, service, suitability etc) rather than just price.

Governments world wide are reducing red tape and regulations to small business – this is a good thing but it also means that the barriers to entry of new business have never been lower. This coupled with “Gen y” people now going into business means that the values of these newcomers may be different to yours. Some product sourcing and auction sites encourage new starters but some of their clients do not consider customer service to be important and are more interested in turning a quick buck. For many of them it is only a part time income – so if it does not work out after a year or so – they will just shut it down.

Rather than you go from this article feeling that the writer is a grumpy old man, I would like you to consider that the temptation to stray away from your core product focus can lead you into a world of low involvement transactions that just may not be fun!

On a positive note, the many facets of web 2.0 and social media provide the new opportunities for high levels of engagement. Explore, engage, - ENJOY!

Further reading at;

Depth Perception,

Engagement Understanding It, Measuring It, Achieving It

Passive and active social media high and low engagement

Written by Graham Bell of Bell Management Consultants

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Board or Advisory Panel… what’s right for YOU?

Many small and medium businesses fail to get input into their management.

Having a management "board" of some form makes real sense. It is difficult - if not impossible to keep an eye on everything. Even if the skill set is within the company - a board can be a great catalyst for making things happen in a logical process while adding accountability and equity to management.

In the worst cases, the idea of a board is rejected due to ego or internal political reasons.

Often the most common reason for not setting up a board is from not knowing about the process as it is not really the type of thing that Accountants or Lawyers help with - or is it?

Find out about the latest trends and opportunities for improvements at a workshop presented by Family Business Australia. On Monday 24 October 2011 at 6.15 Adelaide

More details - click here

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why you need your own email address?

Many people - even those with businesses still have an email address attached to their Internet Service Provider (ISP) - the ISP's love it because they know you will be more loyal to them rather than missing emails. (eg

This is ridiculous - what if your ISP closes down - several have, what if you find a better deal or bundle elsewhere?

Setting up your own email address is pretty simple and does not cost much - if anything!

The simplest solution is to get a free email account with someone you expect to be around a while - you would expect Yahoo, Hotmail or GMail (Google) etc, to be around for a while. The advantage with most of these types of account is that they are easy to access (Webmail) from any computer/phone that has access to the internet - so it you are a mobile person this may increase productivity. These services also have calendar functions that allow you access your calendar as well (or link it to your Outlook calendar).

If you are like me and have to give your email address to people over the phone - consider registering the shortest and simplest domain name just for your email that you can afford. For example - I registered so that I could create my own email addresses that were short and independent of the several websites that I maintain. This costs me $15US per year for the domain registration with a company( that offers free and unlimited email alias and redirect (read: make up your own email address and sends the emails to your other email account) This company do .com names and there are several that do if that is what you want such as ( check the pricing and ensure that you get Email redirect.

If this all sounds too hard - consider paying an IT person for an hour or two to do it for you - never having to change your email address ever again may be well worth it!

If you want more help - email me on or phone 0418 832 220

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Family Business Australia - The Association

Family Business Australia is the Peak Body for Family Business committed to fostering the success and sustainability of all Australian families in business.

We invite you to become involved with FBA and:

  • Meet other like minded family businesses
  • Join a Forum Group
  • Attend courses designed specifically to meet the needs of families in business
  • Come along to our conferences and networking events
  • Find an FBA Accredited Adviser to assist you with your family business issues
  • Be part of a voice to government as we represent the engine room of Australia's economy
More information - click here

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Shift - It's Happening on 25 October

The Shift!

A one-day forum giving you the information, resources and networks to establish an effective online presence. It’s no longer a matter of if you’re online, but how well you’re using it!

It's Happening!

By local businesses, for local businesses, focusing on businesses sharing their expertise and real-life stories with establishing a successful online presence.

Delivered by Regional Development Australia (Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu, and Kangaroo Island), and an alliance of local businesses already engaged – and benefiting – from being online.

25th October

10:00am – 4:00pm
(Doors open from 9:30am to 5:00pm for networking)

The Emmanuel Community Centre
West Terrace, Strathalbyn
$75.00 per person

Lunch and afternoon tea provided

More details;
Click here

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Changes to the Builders license in SA causes problems

Some people that have had a builders license in South Australia for a number of years are now at risk of not having their license renewed.

As we change to Federal regulations - we find that the new criteria require most people to have a trade qualification AND a business qualification to hold a license. If it comes to renewal time and you dont have one or both - you could be in deep trouble.

You may be eligible for RPL (Recognition of existing skills) to get either or both. Speak to your trade association or a training provider for help.

Details from OCBA - click here

An example of one training organisation that can help;

You can contact us through email or call us at 08 8367 5615.

Flexible Construction Training & Assessment
Unit 5/30 Jacobsen Crescent
Holden Hill 5088, SA