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?
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
Here are a few nuggets of “wisdom” that startup founders should think twice about
before embracing, if not completely disregard.
1. JUST FOLLOW YOUR PASSION
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.
2. PERSIST IN YOUR VISION AND NEVER GIVE UP
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.
3. EMBRACE FAILURE
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.
4. BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME
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
‘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
5. YOU NEED A PATENT
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
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
- 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
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
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.
- 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.
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 www.accc.gov.au/uct).
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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 www.dob.nt.gov.au/bisi
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
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
Information on what the new labels will look like and how to get started
is available on the business.gov.au 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.
'INSIDE SMALL BUSINESS' MAGAZINE
The voice of micro and small business - supporting the BEC network across Australia