Small Business Ru!e of the Month

Small Business Ru!e of the Month

01.11.2019 Your Suppliers Are Not Your Bankers


Keeping money in your bank account to save overdraft costs is a good thing. I agree. Stretching out payments to your suppliers as long as possible keeps money in your account, so it must also be a good thing, so the argument goes. Here I disagree with almost every bean counter in the world. Fast supplier payment is a great indication of the health of a business. There are only two reasons that a business does not pay its bills on time. The first reason is that the business simply do ..

01.10.2019 Don't Discount—Especially If Not Asked


The Simpson Desert is 176,500 square kilometres of barren landscape. Many years ago I rode a mountain bike across this desert—not really a smart thing to do, I admit. Five days of riding from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The last thing I wanted to happen in this process was for my bike to fail me. There was enough risk of my body doing just that, so I figured I needed to minimise the possibility of mechanical failure. I visited a bike shop and ordered the best mountain bike I co ..

01.9.2019 Ignorant ≠ Stupid


Ask me to cook a meal for 50 people, and I would have either a lot of hungry people or enough food to feed an army. Ask me to design a training program for an Olympic athlete, and I hope that person doesn’t plan on winning a medal. Ask me to climb a communications tower and repair the antenna while hovering 100 metres above the earth, and I would be telling people to send more letters. All of these tasks are performed by people across the world every day. Does that make me stu ..

01.8.2019 Be Professional From The Get-Go


I was attending a conference at Hamilton Island several years ago, and a peer in the industry asked me if he and his wife could sit down with me and grill me on a few business concepts. Of course I obliged. They believed their business had plateaued. Their business had stopped growing. The crunch question, though, astounded me. “Should we have a staff uniform?” This, to me, was like the pope asking if he should attend Mass on a Sunday! I firmly believe that from the day  ..

01.7.2019 Accentuate The Positive


On 23 April 1991, Gerald Ratner delivered a speech to the Institute of Directors. Almost overnight, he lost his job (along with the £650,000 salary), £500 million was wiped off the valuation of the company, and a billion-pound turnover was slashed. What did he say? During his speech, he explained the ongoing success of the Ratners Group, despite the economic downturn of the late 80s, with this joke: “We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses o ..

01.6.2019 Be Proactive Not Reactive


I was delivering a seminar recently, and sitting in the front row was a well-dressed IT professional looking very smart—apart from the embroidery on his shirt—it said “Reactive Technology.” I personally thought this was a terrible name with a terrible message to send to your clients. It screams that you are going to take a very simplistic approach, and when something goes wrong, you are going to react. You should be telling clients how you will solve their ..

01.5.2019 The Finish Line Is In Front Of You


When kids compete in their first running race, every parent gives their children advice. One nugget that is inevitably handed out is “Don’t look behind you—just keep running.” It is with good reason that this advice is often given. The key in a running event, and indeed in life, is to focus on your finish line. Focus on what you want to achieve. Concentrate on achieving your goals. You can only do this if you look ahead and run your own race. You want ev ..

01.4.2019 Everything You Do Is Marketing


Marketing is not A thing you do in business. Marketing is not a job for the wacky, zany people in marketing who spell their name with a double i. Most companies think that marketing is their advertising, Web site, and, with a bit of a stretch, maybe their logo. The reality is that it is so much more than that. Every little thing you do in business is marketing: the way you wear your uniform (you do, of course, have a uniform—if you don’t, that is a wasted marketing oppor ..

01.3.2019 Opportunity Is Nowhere


Most people read this as “Opportunity is Nowhere.” Look again and you see that it also says “Opportunity is Now Here.” With no letters changed, you have two opposite meanings. It is perfect that the true message is disguised because opportunity itself is usually not obvious. Opportunities may be buried in complexities that seem too hard to overcome. Seeing these opportunities is a great skill in business. In my computer business, the first 11 years were opera ..

01.2.2019 All The World's Problems Can Be Solved By Talking


There was a time very early in my business career that I asked a debt collector to follow up an amount that a woman had outstanding with us. The reaction I received was interesting, to say the least. I was not aware of it at the time, but this woman was married to a recently retired representative sportsperson—one that I was a huge fan of. I found this information out because no sooner had the debt collector sent his first letter than this particular gentleman was in m ..