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Message from the Manager


Just read the following article by Mark McDonald published in today’s startup smart e-newsletter that I subscribe to and thought it was worth passing on.

Here at the BEC we see a lot of new starters and it’s always interesting to try and understand what is driving them to start their own business, what advice they have already received and how they plan to move forward.

We provide a lot of advice, assistance, guidance and general information about starting businesses. However, we do try and stay away from the cliché’s and well worn phrases, some of which are highlighted in the article.

What’s the best advice you were given when you were starting off in business and more importantly, what’s the worse piece of advice you received?

Jack Hughes

The five worst pieces of advice you get as a startup founder!


By Mark McDonald

The startup space is filled with advice – giving advice to a starting entrepreneur is so popular that there’s an entire market built around it.

Bloggers, commentators, business gurus, social media experts and wantpreneurs seem to be obsessed with providing the top 10 tips on pretty much anything.

Sadly, many of the people giving advice to startups have never run companies themselves and don’t refer to any valuable, data-backed sources.

A lot of popular advice is, if not useless, plain wrong and can cause more damage than good.
Here are a few nuggets of “wisdom” that startup founders should think twice about before embracing, if not completely disregard.


If solving a customer problem or building a business is your passion there’s no problem with this advice. But if you use passion as the only guidance in what business you’re going to start then you might be in trouble.

In his post, “Don’t follow your passion, follow your effort”, Mark Cuban makes this point: “Follow your passion” is easily the worst advice you could ever give or get. He argues there will always be things we love to do and those passions aren’t worth a nickel. The real passions come with the effort and progress. When you invest your time in something, you become good at it and with that comes passion and motivation. While passion alone isn’t a good guide, passion combined with skills and the potential to monetise is a killer combination.


When taken too literally this piece of advice might be a surefire way to fail. Entrepreneurs often start with an idea, imagine a certain way to execute it and don’t want to give that vision up. True entrepreneurship is about adaptability – market conditions change and your assumptions can often be wrong. The ability to pivot and embrace secondary plans is crucial. It’s the customer who decides where they are going to spend their money, and no amount of sales can make them repeatedly purchase a product that doesn’t meet their needs.


Failure is not a bad thing – it’s not something to fear. But the entire ‘fail fast and hard’ culture has been taken a bit too far.

There are a number of blog posts where you can see entrepreneurs bragging about how they screwed up and are about to return the money to investors. There are examples of startups that pivoted their way towards bankruptcy. Be flexible, watch your metrics, and be willing to change the direction based on your data, instead of blindly following your business plan, but don’t give up on progress just because things didn’t work out. Try to learn from the mistakes of others instead of making them yourself, and find a way to succeed. There’s plenty of data indicating that success builds upon success, not the other way around. Be persistent but don’t be stubborn. Stubborn founders persist, despite plentiful evidence that they should not. Persistence is a vital attribute that includes the ability to acknowledge when one has made a mistake and that a new plan of action must take place.


The majority of startups that failed in recent years thought that too.

When the internet was a new, hot thing in the 1990s, it worked… for a while. Today, people are more distracted than ever before, and are overly cautious when it comes to giving their credit card details to an unknown startup. It turns out that, today, high customer acquisition costs are the number one reason why startups fail.

‘Build it and they will come’ is a mantra of the failed dot-com boom. While the popular belief may seem to work if you look at startups like Facebook, Dropbox or Instagram, the real reason behind their growth is that they had an excellent user acquisition strategy. 


Unless you have developed some truly breakthrough technology, you don’t need to waste $50,000 for a patent. Most of your idea will likely change anyway, so if your app is built around an incremental change on something that already exists, a patent will be a waste of your resources.

The best protection is fast execution – that’s what investors want to see the most.

Startup advice you get might be totally wrong. It all could also be 100% right. A lot of advice you get is biased. Ask for advice, listen to it, but make your own decisions and most importantly keep moving forward.

Australian Small Business Advisory Service Programme


BEC Darwin is a proud provider of low cost business advisory services as part of the ASBAS program.

The ASBAS program includes online and face to face business consultations, mentoring with an expert business advisor, completion of a business diagnostic tool, delivery of relevant small business workshops and seminars and access to a panel of professional business advisors, all designed and coordinated to assist businesses improve profits and reduce costs.

Our workshops cover five streams of assistance:

1. Funding avenues and financial analysis
2. Building your business
3. Making the most of your talent and team
4. Management capabilities
5. Digital engagement implementation

Upcoming workshops:

  • Subcontractors vs Employee; Casual vs Permanent - What's in a definition?
    Tuesday 10 May
  • Is your business easy to find online?
    Thursday 12 May
  • Business tenancies and negotiating a commercial lease
    Tuesday 17 May
  • HR Essentials for Small Business
    Thursday 2 June
  • Marketing and Strategy Plans
    Tuesday 7 June
  • Getting the most from your social media
    Thursday 9 June
  • Managing Poor Performance
    Thursday 16 June
  • Why you need an agreement for services and what to include in one
    Tuesday 21 June
  • Social Media Advertising
    Thursday 23 June

All workshops run for 2 hours from 7.30am – 9.30am and cost only $55 to attend. Register to attend these workshops on the BEC Darwin website.

Your new Ombudsman's office is open for business


Earlier this year the Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer, launched the Office of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO).

Ms Kate Carnell AO was appointed to the Ombudsman role. Ms Carnell AO brings extensive experience and knowledge to the position, including 15 years of running her own small business, and more recently as CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman will be:

  • a Commonwealth advocate for small businesses and family enterprises
  • a concierge for dispute resolution to allow businesses to resolve disputes without resorting to costly litigation, and
  • a contributor to the development of small business Commonwealth laws and regulations.

For more information visit the website.

The ASBFEO have released their first newsletter covering the launch of the interactive ‘thinkBIGsmallTALK’ platform and other news and advice for SME’s. Read it here.

Terrific Tips from Jurek Leon


Jurek Leon’s Terrific Tips e-newsletter that is packed with anecdotes, ideas and examples on service excellence, customer focused selling, motivation and marketing.

As a speaker, trainer and retail consultant Jurek Leon provides entertaining, energising seminars and workshops are filled with practical tips, ideas and down-to-earth examples on word-of-mouth marketing, motivation, customer focused selling and designing and managing the customer experience.

The April edition is filled with more great advice and tips including capitalising on cruise ships, who else has your customers and age matters.

Sign up for your monthly dose of Jurek style inspiration, and let us know what you think.

BEC Small Business Workshops


Dream of starting your own small business? We can help you with our FREE Small Business Workshops introducing you to five specific and important areas of business including business structures and tax, marketing and bookkeeping.

Alice Springs

  • Venue: QUEST, 9-10 South Terrace, The Gap, Alice Springs

  • Dates: 5-6 May


  • Venue: BEC Darwin, 20 Catterthun Street, Winnellie (Lower Level)

  • Dates: 23-25 May, 27-29 June, 19-25 July (evening workshops)

Bookings are essential, register online.

Open Territory


May is the final month of the NT Government’s Open Territory providing NT businesses, including small to medium enterprises (SMEs), with new means to enhance their national and international profiles through a series of events.

The calendar for May is jam-packed with business, sports and cultural events so don’t miss out! Visit the Open Territory website for more information.

Using mobile to empower APEC’s next CEOs on the go!


Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) is currently holding a promotional video contest for SMEs to share their video stories on how mobile technology is helping businesses grow in the Asia-Pacific.

Get that chance to represent your business at the APEC CEO Summit on 17-19 November 2016 in Lima, Peru!

We're looking for stories about how mobile technology helps small businesses grow in the Asia-Pacific. In a 60-second mobile phone video, tell yours.

Visit the website for more information.

Updated consumer law guides now available


Five guides for business and legal practitioners on the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) have just been updated. The guides are now easier to read and feature case studies. The ACL applies to all Australian businesses, and these guides were produced to help businesses learn about their rights and obligations under the law. It’s also intended to help legal practitioners provide advice to their clients about how to comply with the ACL.
Updated editions are now available on the ACCC website:

  • Consumer guarantees: Covers what consumer guarantees apply to goods and services, who is responsible for those guarantees and when a remedy, such as a repair, replacement or refund, may be available.
  • Sales practices: Discusses unsolicited supplies, unsolicited consumer agreements, pyramid schemes, multiple pricing, lay-by agreements, referral selling, and harassment and coercion.
  • Avoiding unfair business practices: Deals with misleading or deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct, false or misleading representations and related offences, information standards and country of origin representations.
  • Product safety: This guide covers the national product safety and recall regime.
  • Unfair (consumer) contract terms: Explains how unfair contract terms apply to consumers. (Note: This guide does not cover the new business-to-business unfair contract terms law which will take effect on 12 November 2016. You can find information about this law at

Better Business Habits Darwin Networking Breakfast


The Better Business Habits Darwin Networking Breakfast brings businesses together that are looking to grow their businesses through referrals, and word of mouth marketing. Every member present is interested not only in generating new business for themselves, but also helping to support other members to generate business. Add this to the social aspect of creating relationships with people that you previously did not associate with – and it starts to make great business sense.

For information on how to come along as a guest or to find out about membership email President Sarah Roberts, or visit the website.

ATO Small Business Newsroom


Other capital expenses

You can claim a deduction for certain other business-related capital expenses you incur, as long as you can't claim a deduction for them under any other part of tax law. Examples include the cost of setting up or ceasing a business (commonly known as ‘blackhole expenditure’), and project-related expenses. For more information visit the website.

Non-Profit News

The final date to lodge your fringe benefits tax (FBT) this year is 23 May 2016. Different arrangements may apply if a tax practitioner is preparing your annual FBT return.
If you are an employer that provides fringe benefits to your employees, you may be required to lodge an FBT return.

You can lodge your FBT return:

  • electronically using Standard Business Reporting (SBR)-enabled software
  • through your tax practitioner
  • by post.

If you miss the due date for your FBT return, you may have to pay a penalty.

BISI Innovation Grants - Round 3 Open


Innovation grants under the Business Innovation Support Initiatives (BISI) program are still open via a competitive application process. The BISI grants provide up to 50% support for eligible projects, with a limited number of grants worth up to $60 000.

Open to 15 May 2016, this is a great opportunity for businesses to gain assistance with an innovative project to support their business.

Businesses may also apply for the Innovation voucher scheme which is open all year round, and provides up to 60% support for eligible projects, with each voucher worth up to $25,000.
Read and download the full guidelines and apply online at News


Are you looking to grow your business through exporting, but finding it hard to get finance? Efic's new Small Business Export Loan may be just what you need to take off!

Efic (Export Finance and Insurance Corporation) is Australia's export credit agency who helps Australian exporters get the finance their business needs when their bank is unable to help.

Find out more.

New country of origin food labelling laws


If you sell food in retail stores in Australia, new country of origin food labelling laws will apply to your products from 1 July 2016.
The new labelling requirements will vary depending on the type of food product and whether it was grown, produced, made or packed in Australia or another country. And while the new rules come into effect from 1 July, businesses will have time to implement their labelling changes over a two-year transition period. This means food products packaged up until 1 July 2018 can still be sold without the new labels.
A national information campaign has just begun to raise awareness among consumers of the new laws.

Key facts about the laws

  • All food that currently needs to be labelled with a country of origin will continue to do so.
  • Most food that is made, produced or grown in Australia will need to carry a label that also includes a kangaroo symbol, as well as text and a bar chart indicating the percentage of Australian ingredients.
  • Labels for most products packed in Australia that contain imported foods which have undergone no or only minor processing in Australia will carry a ‘packed’ statement, as well as text and a bar chart indicating the percentage of Australian ingredients. They will not carry the kangaroo symbol.
  • Imported food will continue to show where it was grown, produced, made. If the food was not grown, produced or made in a single country it will need to indicate where it was packed and that it is of multiple origins or comprises imported ingredients.

More information
Information on what the new labels will look like and how to get started is available on the website.

The ACCC has also updated its website:

Tax audits leave SMEs exposed to financial risk


Article via Inside Small Business

Tax audit insurance usually only amounts to a few hundred dollars and when you compare this to the thousands of dollars it could cost to engage accounts, bookkeepers and lawyers, tax audit insurance starts to make sound economic sense.

Small-business operators are unwittingly exposing their businesses to huge financial risk by not taking out tax audit insurance.

View full article online.


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