BLOW #4: Networking is important

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This week I have been away at the Microsoft MVP Summit, its been a week of meeting like minded people and a lots of intelligent people that I have a lot of respect for. Well there is no doubt that it is a lot of fun but is it good for business.

Before you take a week out of building your business you should always question is it all worth it, the answer is often hard to measure and of course there is no real exact answer. One thing is for sure business is built on relationships and all relationships need constant attention. Remember that best mate from school, yep you were always having fun but if you dont keep contact what happens ? yep they are just a facebook friend years later.

Another important fact is people who run similar businesses to you, especially in another country will be very happy to share solutions to problems they have solved and you with them since they wont see you as a direct competitor. What a great way to find a list of viable solutions to problem then people that have already faced and solved them.

So the business lesson is you need to keep in contact to keep relationships alive and next time your at an event dont be scared to walk up to a complete stranger introduce yourself and learn from them. In fact why dont you before you go to the next event identify a problem you have and would like to solve then see if you can find a solution. The worse thing that could happen is a few new facebook friends.

What good things have come out of your networking ? found a job ? found a great friend ?


BLOW #3: Compromise is always the solution to a dispute

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No matter how much effort you put into trying to keep people happy, there are always times when a dispute can occur and the cause most of these times comes down to a lack of communication.

So the first step to solving the problem is to try and take emotion out of the equation and make the past the past and have a focus on the future. Always listen to what the opposing case is, then try to understand which parts they are willing to compromise on then simply put forward places your willing to compromise and then can form the basis of a successful issue resolution.

Of course there are plenty of situations that parties are being totally inflexible and this is not going to work but I have always found sitting down with someone and asking them are they willing to comprise on a one or more points if you comprise on somethings as well then things do work out for the best, but after a dispute has occurred its easy to sweep it aside and blame the other party but it would be a great time to make sure how you have communicated to the other parties. Remember you always learn more from your mistakes then your successes so dont miss a chance to make yourself a better person.

Always be careful what life rules you put into place after a bad problem because there is always a tendancy to make global statements that are not effective.

BLOW #2: ATO loans are expensive

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The business lesson this week is how expensive things can get if you are tardy with supply the relevant information to the ATO. If you think the banks charge fees like wounded bulls you have not seen anything yet till the ATO gets hold of you. But of course they are very avoidable if you just keep on top of your paper work.

Running a business has lots of crucial elements to it, alot more than just coming up with a good idea, one of them of course is compliance. One thing you learn very quickly is the way the ATO treats businesses is a lot different to how they treat normal PAYG employees there is usually very little room for errors for they expect you to be professional, which of course is only fair and you should be.

I suppose the advice here is work with a good bookkeeper and accountant asking them lots of questions about when your supposed to do what by when. If you do fall behind work on some better solutions other than just ignoring it, see your bank about a loan and make sure the books are done regularly. Ignoring it just means a very expensive letter from the ATO.

Now the ATO have released a electronic calendar generator for business which is very poor but none the less it could be a handy to at least give you an idea of when things are due.

Do you have any advice on bookkeeping or compliance ?

BLOW: Actions means more than words

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What I have decided to do is try to regularly blog about what business lessons I have learnt or reinforced to me during each week. Now the acronym is BLOW (Business Lesson Of the Week ) is probably not the best but it will work I guess.

So this weeks lesson is how important it is to make sure people commit to agreed goals, now setting goals is a well document business process but it surprising how often a group of people sit around a table get very passionate about the new company and what great things it will be doing in the future but then have no real action plan once they leave the room.

The other important issue is to make sure all parties as individuals define those goals to the group and then also define what the reward is for making the goal and what the punishment is for not making not. Yes you need both and it must be the person themselves setting the reward and punishment for the goal, if the rest of the management team doesnt like it thinks its not enough work for reward etc or punishment is not enough then they should speak now and come to the right level of agreement.

The punishment could range from having to buy the team lunch up to forfeiting cash or even the shares in the business. Of course the team may explain when it comes to punishment a chance to redeem themselves. Its funny how when I use this technique with a team when a person says that they can definitely do something but when the push comes to shove and they could lose their weekly wage how the story changes.

A startup relies on people getting things done and not being distracted by other goals, make sure people in your management team are goal driven to the bigger picture.

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