SMBs get control of their numbers.

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I was privileged to be a speaker at Victoria University Logistics and Supply Chain Conference in Melbourne on Aug 25th 2009.

Matthews Steer Chartered Accountants and  leading business advisory firm, were the gold sponsors of the event entitled “Logistics Insights – Strategic Information for Strategic Decisions 

Having been a transport man for many years, I was happy to engage with many transport & logistics providers and others present. Participants were mainly from the Small to Medium Business (SMB) community. The session, was entitled Financial Management for Logistics and Supply Chains Post the Global Financial Crisis. In the backdrop of the economic climate it was a discussion around solutions to issues that come up when the question is asked, “Have you got a handle on your numbers?”

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Cash Management

According to an interview with Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz by Suttichai Yoon of National Multimedia, Asia itself has a huge domestic potential by having a large population base with savings and a wide demand for investment.

This is extremely true especially when your business is a service base and revenues are generated from services. Services business more or less focuses more on domestic economy compared to international trade like US or Europe.

In an article “THE CFO’S ROLE IN THE DOWNTURN”written by Colin Walter from PWC. He mentioned

Cash is king: Companies that came out of the last recession on top had an average net debt-to-equity ratio before the downturn of half that of the companies that were not successful. They also had more cash on hand.

and Taking out the wrong costs can be worse than taking out no costs at all.

I’ve meet business owners that focuses on cutting cost no matter what, the question is “where in the company should we start focusing?” Confidence on these questions comes from a reliable management information as cited by Colin that;

Reliable Management Information: The more volatile the market, the more you need to be able to trust your information.

Curiously, most companies stick with their same old reporting templates and key performance indicators (KPIs) because "this is how we’ve always done it". Forecasting and scenario modeling are critical in volatile markets.

Service companies are now likely starting to invest in building their data warehouse and investing in Business Intelligent to support their business needs in volatile markets.

Those already served or underway will benefit especially now as the economy is showing signs of up turn.. Those who don’t begin  to address this and get this capability will surely have difficulty to sustain

Small Business Models to Go

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Morphing a single idea into a multinational organization is not new. The concept of using affiliates and alliances to do this has also been with us since we had people on the planet.

Big or small, building a brand is the key and this in turns is about getting trust loyalty and buying habits of consumer communities established the higher this is the higher the value to grow. To be successful Brands therefore need to be a intuitive metaphor of of value, quality and service that customers accept without question. 

For big business the recipe for growth is getting partners and affiliates also joining the game. It is also equally key to do this well to make the supply chain robust and impregnable. In combination it builds up a barrier to competitor entry and an ability to be able to add to the mix as product life cycles revolve in and out. Continue reading

Performance Management Seminar

Last year, we did a series of tailored seminars in Singapore, Melbourne, and Thailand. Each had a different local theme.

In Singapore, for example, we looked at future directions, in Australian we looked at maturity holding models for business and in Thailand we looked at the dichotomies of the internal and regional economic situation.

That was a year ago at the time when world economies were facing big downturn issues and before the recession took its deep rooted hold. It is now interesting to look back on what we were thinking as we are now starting to see signs of recovery.

Here is the Thailand version we recorded at Bangkok at the Sukhothai Convention Center event. It looked at the economic position from a Thai perspective. We used this to make generic points about performance management and how to use it as a methodology in business everywhere.

This session was sponsored by Infor, vendors of performance management software, We used that software to support our discussion.

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IBM: Service Model for Small Business

Former IBM head Thomas J. Watson Jr, is listed as one of Time Magazines 100 most influential people of the 20th century.He lead one of the worlds best selling machines.from 1952 to 1971, In this 30 second voice clip he says that service is something most companies forget. Listen  for yourself in this item recorded in 1993 the year he died. it says so much about what makes for success. [Audio:ibmservice.mp3] 

Thomas Watson Sr, his father, joined IBM in 1915 the year after his first son was born. His regime began with a concept that the company would grow by THINKING as he said:

“We must study through reading, listening, discussing, observing and thinking. We must not neglect any one of those ways. The trouble with most of us is that we fall down on the latter – THINKING — because it’s hard work.

I found it quite interesting when I listen to the 1993 dated clip of his son who had headed up one of the worlds largest and most successful selling companies and his father who built it from less than 300 people  after he joined it from NCR in 1915.

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Tiny Business Lessons to Learn

I prefer not to copy others for 3 reasons, 1. Original thinking is more fun plus it forces me to improve my game, 2. Readers and search engines will mark me down for good reason and of course abandon me for the original.  3.  I want to build my own credibility by doing the work and being  judged for that on its own merits.

In this case I make an exception, if only to share the work of a  master I follow and admire  myself, as do so many, He is one that cannot be ignored.

So  just in case you missed Seth Godin’s post today here it is. It speaks for itself as he hits the spot with the human essence of all business.  If you prefer just go straight to his blog, which I would hope by now is on your email subscription or RSS feed anyway. then you get his daily updates like me.

If you read my cut and paste version below and make any comment, the trackbacks on this post are set to go to Seth anyway. , Enjoy!

Lessons from very tiny businesses 

(by Seth Godin)

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Jobs for our Kids as Giant’s Merge

Finally, the joining of Yahoo and Microsoft seems done. Microsoft has invested $100 million on advertising Bing on just one theme: Searching must be as satisfying an experience as it could be. Their ads clearly direct criticism at Google, whose dominant brand name is synonymous with search. But the market share that Bing was imagewinning was at the expense of Yahoo rather than Google. So now they are working together this will change.

Careers in advertising are now topping the lists. This straw poll clearly shows that. I just wonder what happened to the practical things like, being a policeman, a doctor, rocket scientist or a fireman or even making something. How things have changed! Or have they?  Of course we do know one thing for sure. As the advertising market battles of such giants continue, we will always see mega money being spent for market share. So it is little or no wonder this is a focus for jobs for our kids.

And “selling the sizzle not the sausage” has always been the bit that robots cannot do. This is even more important now with Information products becoming as important as physical products. That needs clever people to ensure the emotional and social value of the benefits, as well as the functional value, is understood and delivered in the buying experience. So it seems advertising is all the go now to get a share of the market or just get you to buy, whatever it may be.

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