In this knowledge sharing dinner panelists for the areas of brand strategy, debtor management and business working capital share their insights on managing the risk to business that keep you awake at night.  Rather than addressing individual types of risks… which would have required a MUCH larger panel we focussed on four core business pillars that we think help make every business strong and resilient.

  • Starting with the right foundations,
  • creating the right culture,
  • putting the right systems in place, and
  • having a proactive forward thinking planning process

Meet the panel

Introduction

Now, the topic for tonight as you know, is risky business, managing the things that keep you awake at night. But what occurred to me was that if we were really going to address all the areas of risk, we would’ve needed a much bigger panel. When you think about all the things, all the risks that impact, or can impact business. In fact, you probably have all gone away tearing your hair out and going, “This is just all too awful, and I’m out of here.” So I decided with the panels’ consent, I did actually ask them all, to approach it completely differently. And take a more holistic approach, and have a discussion about what makes a strong resilient business. A business that minimizes risk exposure and minimizes the impact of those external things that you can’t guard against completely.

It’s impossible to risk proof completely any business, so we’re not going to profess to do that. But really looking at the holistic way you can put together a business, or mold your business, or the things you can look at, the things that will actually give you a more holistic approach to managing risk, as opposed to ticking little boxes, “Oh yeah. I’ve done that, I’ve done that, I’ve done that, I’ve done that.” And yes, those things are important, and we’ve got those in the workbooks for tonight from each of our specialists, but looking at it more holistically.

So when we were talking about this, we came up with four core business pillars that we think help make every business strong and resilient. We came up with starting with the right foundations, creating the right culture, putting the right systems in place, and having a proactive forward-thinking planning process.

We think with those four big-picture things in place that you will minimize risk and minimize the impact of risk. So I was going to start with the right foundations by asking Harvey. Unfortunately, as he was unable to join us tonight I’m not going to do that. My question to Harvey was going to be from a legal  perspective, what do you see as the core foundations of a strong resilient business? But I do have some of his notes, so I’ll start by just going over the talking points that he was going to talk to, and then I’m going to open it up to everybody else to talk about foundations. So the things that Harvey had on his checklist was obviously,

  • Do you have the right business structure?
  • Is the structure going to fit your goals as the business owner?
  • Making sure that all your IP is properly protected, and
  • Making sure that you’re not infringing on other people’s IP. 
  • Having all the appropriate contracts, terms and conditions, all those things in place.
  • Having compliant terms of use, and compliant privacy policy.

Those kind of like core foundational, legal, structural things. So those are the things that Harvey was going to talk about.

Brenda Thomson

Facilitator

Martin, one of the main reasons businesses fail is lack of money. So from a working capital and cashflow perspective, what do you see as the core foundations of a strong resilient business?

Well, firstly when it comes to being in business, you need to understand that it’s all about risk, and risk is the stock and trade of business. So people here, that are in business, realize that you manage risk every day. But having the right foundations to deal with risk is really important. I personally, and I don’t necessarily have a legal background, but I have a finance background, I like to see something that’s structured to manage that risk. And to me the easiest and best way to manage that risk is to be incorporated. I think incorporation is terribly important, it shifts the liability from you personally, in some circumstances, to the corporation. And means that what you’re doing is you’re not betting the family farm, once you go into business. Because incorporation means that you can manage the risk and people understand they’re dealing with a corporate entity, not yourself.

For example, I also think it’s bad strategy to name the company with your surname. Because one of the things is in business you go through changes and look, I tend to look at the taxi industry is an example. I had a client in the taxi industry 15 years ago, and had a substantial business, had a net worth, when you took into account all his taxi licenses, of about $8 million. That business now is lucky to be worth 800,000, that’s a risk he could not have anticipated. I had no idea that the entire taxi industry would change. But some of that can be offset, and particularly if things go terribly wrong, by being incorporated. So I think that’s the first structural thing that I would think about.

Martin Cattach

Finance for Business

Also making sure that that’s all documented properly obviously. With Harvey and what he does with businesses, very, very important to just make sure your particular field, industry is looked after. That your terms and conditions of trade, whatever it is, is outlined. And Harvey is a pro at that, there are a lot of people that aren’t. So he knows the questions to ask, he knows where things can go wrong down the track, to make sure that at the start you mitigate your risk with those accurate terms and conditions, current, all the rest of it. Obviously with me, and I will reiterate, with contracts, default causes and jurisdiction, very important. So having a commercial lawyer that you trust, that doesn’t overcharge, that you can come back to for simple advice, having the ongoing relationship there is very important.

Jeanine Purdie

Business Credit Solutions

I think building on from that, actually Harvey and I did talk about it, and I didn’t write it down on this little checklist, was actually having a group of advisors. And of course I would say this, wouldn’t I? Since we’ve got one. But a group of advisors across all those areas of risk that you can trust, and getting that group of advisors in place early, not waiting until disaster strikes. So having your IT advisor, having your legal advisor, having your financials advisors, your debt collection advisers, your brand advisors. Actually putting those people in place, so that they can help make sure you’ve got the right foundations and they’re there when things do… Sometimes, external stuff you can’t necessarily forecast. Like the taxi thing. At least they can help you get get things in place right from the start.

 And the other thing that Harvey and I were talking about is it’s never too late. If you didn’t do all those things right at the beginning, then go back and fix them now. Because if you’re still in business, even though you didn’t do them back then, that’s great, let’s make sure you stay that way.

Brenda Thomson

Facilitator

As a brand strategist, I help SMEs with their branding, and most of them don’t understand what it means. Whereas 20 and 30 years ago, pre-computer days, every business out there was a big business, with a marketing arm, with expertise in that field. Today we are all fulfilling the roles, we’re small businesses. Small businesses are thriving, entrepreneurship is the new black. So we’re all running businesses and we’re all coming to marketers for advice. We’re all coming to branding people, designers, and we’re asking them to do things. Yet we’re lacking a lot of knowledge. We are winging it, we are tactic driven today. 20, 30 years ago that wasn’t the case. But as every man and his dog is now running a business, we have to understand the business is driven by strategy.

 Most of us are familiar with a marketing plan or maybe a business plan, although many don’t have them. But big businesses have a strategic plan, and that is, what’s our point of difference? And how are we going to win the war? And most people don’t understand that or address it, or think it’s a hill they can’t get over. Whereas you’re online competing with the big boys, you are judged the same way when people visit your website, because people are used to the experience. Now on David Jones’ website, or Amazon’s website, or Apple’s website, they come to your website. If you’re not answering their question, telling them why they should buy from you and not the competition in a split second, they move on, right?

So your competing with the big boys that use strategy. So I am an avid promoter of please think strategically, and solve the problem why someone should buy from you and not the competition. If you want to stay in business today and be relevant, it’s a little bit tricky, but it’s not that hard. It’s possible.

Peter Engelhardt

Plan2Brand

When we talk about culture being a critical element of being a risk resilient, strong business, are we talking about a risk averse culture, or are we talking about something completely different?

Completely different.    Everyone pulling in the same direction. So if you look at the multinationals, the leading brands, the leading businesses, Fortune 500s, they all sit around the table and talk about their point of difference and they have high HR, they have all of these things that make sure culture is immersed into the company. And that’s all based around promoting their point of difference, so they all think about that. So everyone would answer the same question on Saturday night around the dinner table. It doesn’t matter if you are an accountant in that company, if you manage the stock levels, or you’re in marketing, or you’re in sales. Doesn’t matter if you are working for Nike and you’re out on a Saturday night, someone would say to you, “What do you do?” And you’d go, “Well, I help inspire and innovate the athlete in everyone.” That’s what they do.

 There’s that famous story about the janitor who worked for NASA. And NASA’s vision was to put a man on the moon. And They asked the janitor what he did, he said, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.” So this vision, this purpose, why does the company exist? What’s it’s why? Turns into the culture because everyone’s on board. They want to work for the company, they want to put a man on the moon. Or they want to work for the company that innovates and inspire the athlete in all of us. And that becomes this thing we don’t have to talk about, it’s measured. There’s KPIs built around it and all of that, but people go to work, say for Nike, to innovate, inspire. And everything’s measured, judged. Is that innovative enough? Is that inspiring enough? Yes, we’ll put that shoe on the market, otherwise it doesn’t make…

 So then these companies nuanced that purpose, their why, and they bring it down to values. And the values might be innovation, customer service and there’ll be three or four values that matter to the customer, that turn into their pillars and that’s what everybody who works for is judged on and measured on. And that becomes the culture, and that innately, that gets expressed externally just through actions. Everyone knows their priorities. Innovate, not keep prices low. Or as in Bunnings, everyone knows their job is to keep prices low and not innovate, right? It’s quite straight forward, but it’s very clear and that’s how they start boardroom discussions. It’s a bit like, “Okay, what did you do today to innovate?” Or, “Tell us a story about innovation this week that your team really, really cracked on to.”

So therefore it becomes culture and is expressed, and that’s the gold. And we’ve transformed cleaning companies around just the culture by getting them to understand this.

Facilitator:  I think that having everybody on the same page like that, I always like to think of Zappos story, the one where the customer service person was on the phone. And their KPIs are not around getting off the customer help line quickly, their criteria is to make the customer happy. So this person was rewarded for staying on the phone for an hour on a customer help because that made the customer happy.

 There are some unbelievable Zappos stories. People tour the Zappos business to understand the culture. Who knows Zappos? Hands up. They sell shoes online, that’s all they do. And they’ve been bought by Amazon, and we’re talking about a 300… It’s $1 billion company. It’s so big, it’s not funny. But all they do is customer service really will, and they will train you for about two months if you want to work for them. Doesn’t matter what division, you can be the accountant, doesn’t know what division. You will work in every division in that company to understand how the culture works in every division.

 And at the end of your training, you’re offered thousands of dollars, about 4,000 Australian, to leave or you turn down the money and stay because they know you want to work there because you believe in the brand. And that’s how much Americans treat culture. And Aussies don’t get this, they just don’t. Someone from Synergy48 actually went to Disney and do the same thing, toured through Disney. I was speaking to her the other week from the Melbourne group. And in her first job, she went to Disney and got exposed to their culture. So companies actually tour Disney, tour Zappos, to understand culture. It’s that important. And it’s small business that has to bring this up.

Peter Engelhardt

Plan2Brand

So what do we do as business owners? And I’m open to everybody answering this. What do we do as business owners to create that kind of culture?

I had an incident the other day where I needed to pick something up, and the usual traffic crises, and I’d been in the car quite a long time, trying to get there. And it was nearly at their closing hour. So I rang to say that I was on my way and I got the response of, “Oh, we’re all out the door at 4:30.”

And I happen to know, that turns out that person isn’t normally in the office answering the phone. So where was the culture? And that’s just a small business.

Brenda Thomson

Facilitator

Yeah, I think it’s very much a leadership thing. And from my perspective, culture is what gives value to a business. Now it can’t always be measured, but if you want to run a good business, you want some smart people working for you. Smart people are the real secret to making business work. And once you get smart people, they’re a rare commodity and they get poached. So one of the things you need with your culture is to retain those people and culture will retain them.

When I was doing some work in the social and policy research area, it’s been empirically proven that the fifth reason someone leaves an organization is money. There are four other things they do first. And the first one of those… And I can’t remember exactly what they are, but it’s culture driven. Why do you work here? Because I like it. I enjoy what I do. My services are valued. And if you can give people that sort of cultural feeling, you get to retain your smart people, and that means you’ve got a better business. So really to me that cultural value is somewhat economic to my perspective. And I think that comes from leadership. I always use the example of I want to get hold of a managing director, or an owner of a corporation, or a small business, there are two times I call them, that’s six o’clock at night, or 7:30 in the morning.

Because they will be the person who will answer the phone because they’re the ones that are still there. Look, I remember I was in Camberwell, had been in a meeting and I was riding down the lift, and there was a guy in a suit holding the garbage in a black plastic bag. And I looked at him and said, “You’re obviously the managing director because you’re taking out the rubbish.” And he said, “Yes, I am.” And that’s what cultural and leadership’s about. The old military one is first out of the trenches. You’ve got to lead from the front. And particularly in small business, because we have small organizations, three, 10, 15 staff, you as the leader is watched all the time. You set and take on that culture. So it’s hard to do that sort of leadership and it’s a big pressure on yourself, but it does give the results.

Peter Engelhardt

Plan2Brand

I think it’s leading, with  really strong vision, and mission, and values. If you’ve got those values, absolutely rock solid. Like something I read a while back was talking about your company values and putting against those values, this is the standard, this is exceeding and this is not acceptable. So the values aren’t just integrity. This is what this means, this is the standard, these are the behaviors. So every single person knows that if integrity is the… Well, with the Zappos example, customer’s happiness is the value.

So hanging up on a customer while they’re still unhappy is not acceptable. Anybody who hangs up on a customer while they’re still unhappy has just failed. So really, really as the leader pinpointing what those things mean. Jeanine, did you want to chuck in on that one?

Brenda Thomson

Facilitator

QUESTION GOES HERE

I was talking to Peter recently, earlier, about just emails and getting back to people, customer service. When did it become the norm to get back to people in the next three days. Not even in the next half an hour or the afternoon, but in three days time. That seems to be the norm with big organizations now. And I don’t think that that’s acceptable. And my team certainly they’d get crucified if something like-

Brenda Thomson:            But they know that because you’ve got the customer service as a standard. And these are the behaviors that meet that standard. These are the behaviors that don’t meet that standard.

Yeah. And it’s uniform with our correspondence that we send out, the timeframes that we get back to people, our suppliers. Just everything in our organization needs to be top quality and if they’re not, then they go. We move on to the next one.

Brenda Thomson:            This is the card carry sharing person. But yeah, you’re right.

But also from a very big customer service background. And that started when I was a checkout chick, when I was in year 10, at Coles. We initiated scanning technology in 1987. So it was all about customer service, and if you’ve ever met a front end controller, I’ll never forget her, but she instilled values in all of us. We’re all scared of her, and it was the biggest Coles in Queensland.

Brenda Thomson:            And I don’t necessarily think you have to be scared, but you do have to know what’s right and what’s not.

 Yeah. Well, she empowered us to do a great job.

Brenda Thomson:            I love that word. Empowered!

Yeah. And I try to empower my staff throughout my professions, nursing, News Limited sales manager, debt collection manager and owner. That that’s very, very powerful and it needs to be communicated to everyone. And then you lead from example, and from above and you get a great result, hopefully. I’m disappointed if we don’t. 

Jeanine Purdie

Business Credit Solutions

So our third core element was having the right systems in place, and I will start over here with you Jeanine because your business is an awful lot about systems, and you must see an awful lot of businesses who don’t have good systems.

And I see an awful lot of stress with people. You can’t imagine over the years, the people that I’ve seen that are pale and blood pressure increased, and just very, very stressed, worried, sleepless nights. So tonight’s is risky business causing you lack of sleep? Absolutely. And we see it all the time, and they need someone who can come in and help them because a lot of people just don’t know who to turn to. And Mr. Google, it will number one ranking will be the person that’s paying for that, not necessarily the person that’s going to look after you.

So systems, well, firstly, cash is king. But how many of us have that I guess that luxury of getting that? Often a lot of businesses don’t. So if you are giving credit, you need to look at your documentation firstly. And that’s your terms and conditions. Do you have that? I can honestly say that of new clients, probably half of them just don’t have it. And we talk about it and we say, “Look, you might not be able to afford it now. It might be $2,000 to get really good concrete terms and conditions drawn up.” And the first thing we look at is default causes ,so that we can add costs. So debt collection costs nothing, especially if it’s added to the debt. And when it goes legal as well, they look for those causes as well. As I just mentioned before, jurisdiction, interest charges, all the costs to be added on.

  As well as the cost along the way that the client knows, it might be transport company, have they been able to add extra mileage onto the dental or whatever it is. It’s all they know, sort of pre-engagement that that’s what they’re up for. And hopefully it’s been explained to them because it needs to be, here’s our terms and conditions. And it might be that everyone involved in the process right from the start, the salespeople, are saying, it’s not just here’s the product, but here are our terms and conditions. Just make sure that you are aware of that. And so many salespeople aren’t.

  It’s a lovely, glamorous job often, and hosting corporate boxes, and all the rest of it, but things have to be paid for.

Brenda Thomson:  So it really comes down to having the right fully documented systems and processes in place for everything. From the person who’s doing the selling at the beginning, right through the whole process. All clearly documented.

 Absolutely. So that’s documentation. Knowing your customer and knowing your staff. Firstly, your customer, what’s their credit history? We subscribed to CreditorWatch. We can see who’s got judgements against them. Google who’s got default clauses, who’s gone into liquidation in the past, cross directorships, all that sort of stuff. Any of our clients can call us at any time and find out what’s gone on. Because you really need to be careful who you give credit to, and a lot of credit to, sort of minimize the risk at the start with perhaps only give a small amount of credit, and you can build up if necessary.

Brenda Thomson:            And I guess that comes down to actually having figured all of those things out as systems.

Yes. Definite system there. And your staff strengths too. Sometimes the junior receptionist isn’t the best debt collector. They might hate it, they just can’t ask, it’s not their strength. So knowing, as Martin mentioned before, your strengths of your staff and really empowering them is very important.

  From there, your accounts receivable process. These days, cloud-based systems, your bookkeeping systems are amazing, and they have the value added reminder notices and so forth. So there you really need to just stay on top and make sure you understand the programs, and be able to stay on it every week or phone calls, text messages, whatever it is. And there’s some really good stuff out there that also have payment gateways, and dispute buttons, and stuff. And the bigger ones, the dispute goes off to the department head that needs to handle that dispute, and it’s all handled really early. So great processes and early engagement are the big factors.

  And then as soon as it’s overdue or disputed, then the process is clearly defined that it needs to come across to a debt collection agency to be handled. And as I said before, if cost can be added, fantastic, cost you nothing. So that’s just there.

Jeanine Purdie

Business Credit Solutions

Yeah. Look what Jeanine is saying is so true. And in small business I see one of the risks they constantly face is this credit risk. And that’s because they provide credit to people that have built relationships with them, and they provide credit. And then I see businesses close to, or failing, when a major debtor doesn’t pay.

Brenda Thomson:            And I think that what you just said, it was really interesting about close relationships, but if you’ve got really strong systems in place, then it becomes much easier to say, “This is the way we do it in our organization and it just gets done.” As opposed to, “I’m a mate, why won’t you let me?”

I call that the small business conflict. And that is that because you’re so close to your customers as the boss, or MD, owner, whatever you want to call yourself, you lose objectivity because, Hey, it’s a big customer. This guys represents 25% of my sales, so I’m not going to upset him by asking for money. Whereas if you have systems in place, they bring you back from your small business conflict, the relationship conflict that you feel, and identify that risk, and you have to go through the process, and it can actually save a business in those circumstances.

Brenda Thomson:            Yeah, I think that’s such a valuable point. Peter, did you have anything to add to the systems debate?

Martin Cattach

Finance for Business

Well, believe it or not, there are systems around brand and brand strategy, and embedding values into a business. So when we work through, for instance, one section of a strategy is what are your values? What are your pillars? So it’s easy to say, “Well, it’s customer service, it’s innovation and it’s integrity.” And everyone just treats them as tick boxes. But if you then go, “All right. Well, what does that mean to the customer and how can we act on that within the business?” So you’ll literally get a wheel, and you slice the wheel up into the divisions within your business. Accounting, customer exposure, marketing.

Brenda Thomson:            Even if you’re doing all of them yourself?

Yeah. Yeah. And you go, “Okay, well when the phone’s answered, can we demonstrate innovation? Can we demonstrate customer service when the phone’s answered? Or when an invoice goes out? Or when the website’s assessed?” You just go around the wheel and you make sure that all of those values are expressed or continually being addressed as you… Yeah.

Brenda Thomson:            So when you’re putting together your systems, so there’s every step in the system, for every single step in that system, you’re looking at it and going, “How are our values being applied to that step?”

So let’s say you ran a hotel and you said your core promise was all the comforts from home. All right, you’re a little country hotel, all the comforts from home. You’d sit there and go, “How can we make sure that they’re going to feel like they’re getting all the comforts from home?” So you’re talking about the furniture. You’re talking about the way they’re greeted. You’re talking about the way the bills handled, the furniture in the reception. If you just think about it, and some people do this naturally, some people would run a business innately, and they do this correctly. But yeah, it just takes-

Brenda Thomson:            I think other people they might have been going to do innately, but then they go, “Oh-“

Well, they grow and other staff aren’t following them.

Brenda Thomson:            And then they lose it. Whereas if… I just saw Kerry Anne over there, I mean our systems guru. And if every single step in that system has got the values and the why I attached to it, then that’s going to deal with the culture.

 That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, it’s a machine. It’s a finely oiled machine.

Peter Engelhardt

Plan2Brand

So fourth, lucky last, but definitely, definitely, definitely not the least important, was having a proactive, forward thinking strategic planning process. I read recently, in fact I think it was Stewart who’s one of our facilitators, said that two out of every three failed businesses had no current planning in place. And on the other side of the coin, the top 10% of businesses said that planning helped them reduce costs, increase performance and improve foresight in their market. As Winston Churchill said, “He or she who fails to plan, is planning to fail.” So Martin, I’ll let you kick off the strategic planning thing because I know that’s something that hot on.

Yeah, well look, I think that risk management and strategic planning are sort of interrelated. When you look at strategic planning, it’s about vision, thinking about where do we want to go, how are we going to get there? And we put together a plan to achieve this. The risk management is about the same thing, except instead of thinking positively when we put together a strategic plan, you think negatively. So you sort of almost have to wear two hats. And the first day this to say, “Okay, I’m putting together a positive strategic plan. I want to achieve this, this, this. Here are the steps I’m going to put in between to achieve those outcomes.”

And then to look at the risk side, you then reverse and say, “Okay, what are all the threats that happen along here?” Like for example, I’m going to expand the business. My plan is to double my turnover in the next two years. Okay, that’s really good. I like that as a strategic plan. You put in some steps to achieve that, but then you have to start thinking, what’s the negative side of that? Okay, how am I going to fund that growth? How am I going to have the working capital to grow the business to that level? And people, when they’re thinking about growth, you don’t sort of realize that you get this thing called physical drag.

And by physical drag, I mean that I’ve grown my income by 50% in this year. Let’s make it 100 because it makes the mathematics simple, and let’s make it 100,000 to 200,000. Okay, so I’ve run that, but unfortunately it means that my debtors, or the people that have outstanding are normally 100,000 a year, now people owe me 200,000 a year. So how do I manage that difference? Because I now need twice the working capital I had before just to grow the business. And as I grow the business, things change and I face greater risks. I’ve got a sales team that’s aggressively chasing new business.

I’ve got an innovative product, a lower price point, or whatever my differentiator is, so I’m making lots of sales, but am I continuing to manage the credit risk? Because the thing that kills a lot of business a thing called hubris. We get all excited when things are rolling well, and then we start to see a downturn in the market. I have a lot of clients in the construction industry, and at the moment that’s an industry that’s been in boom for about the last five years, and at the moment it’s beginning to contract. And some of my clients are going to have real problems with that because they have only ridden a wake and they haven’t done a lot of swimming in between.

And when things get tight then the risks really begin to come out. And as the market shrinks, and things become more competitive, a lot of your competitors are going to do crazy things to take market share. Because I like to cook and I read a lot of chef’s books, I always use the one about restaurants. Restaurant business is the worst business to be in the world because everybody thinks they can run a restaurant. So what they do is they open up a restaurant and they open up a restaurant next to you. And you might know how to run a restaurant properly, but they don’t. So they run their restaurant and then they’ve been open two years and they starting to go broke. So they drop their prices and start pinching your customers. They change their menus, and they do all this and they start to ruin your business only because food is such a universal type business, they go broke.

And if you’re not careful, they’ll send you broke. Even though you run a proper business. Because your competitors, when things get tight, do crazy things. And they’re going down to undercut you, and just take on jobs just to get the work. And that has an effect on all the businesses in the industry. So that’s a real risk that you’ve got to think about when you’re in business and when things get tight, you’ve got to learn to stand your ground and maintain your margins, or don’t do the work.

You better to cut your own cloth, reduce your staff, shrink the business, do these sorts of things, rather than try and maintain market share in a declining market. And a lot of people get caught in the hubris. “I’m in business, I love what I do, I want to keep going on and doing this.” And I just do not see the writing on the wall, and that’s why many people needed independent advice on these things. And that’s where if someone like Synergy48 people can help.

Martin Cattach

Finance for Business

With my research, the number one reason people go broke is lack of money and maybe they can’t hold on for long enough, you through a downtime, et cetera. The second reason that seems to be cited a lot of is lack of strategic planning, and that can come in a lot of disguises. So what is strategic planning is a very broad field, but generally from my perspective, from a brand perspective that is what is your point of difference? Because if you don’t have a point of difference, something that you can discuss, talk about, say, “Well, we’re different because…” And people go, “That’s interesting. Tell me a bit more about that.” Without that point of difference, you’re just competing on price.

Peter Engelhardt

Plan2Brand

I was thinking about what you were saying about looking at the negative Martin, which is really doing the W and T part of the SWOT analysis. So actually looking at your weaknesses and your threats. And I think where it comes back to what we said at the very beginning, and you said it about Synergy48 as well. It’s about when you’re doing your SWOT analysis, don’t just try to analyze your own weaknesses because you don’t know what you don’t know. If you’ve got a really good team of experts around you, then they can help you make sure that you actually have identified those weaknesses. Because weaknesses can be fixed. Threats, you’ve got to try and figure out how you’re going to manage them. But again, if you’ve got the right team of experts around you, and you incorporate them as part of your strategic planning process You don’t just wait until the disaster strikes. You actually have them as part of your process.

Whether it’s in the form of a business coach, or whether it’s in the form of a group of experts. But I think it’s the scope of the experts. So you’ve got really strong experts across a wide range of areas, that really helps you to do that analysis effectively.

Brenda Thomson

Facilitator

Brenda Thomson

Brenda Thomson

CEO and Founder, Synergy48 Group

Brenda has an honours degree in organizational psychology and a Graduate Certificate in training and development and she is an experienced trainer, facilitator and counsellor. She is a firm believer in mutual collaboration combined with a practical, hands on tools, strategies and systems as the most effective way to achieve real results in business. 

Brenda has over 20 years of experience training in communication, team work, time management, productivity, organisation and strategic planning in large organisations. She is also the developer of the Business Benchmarking Toolkit used by Synergy48 Group members and clients to identify areas for improvement in their business processes.

Brenda is a sought after mentor, speaker and trainer in the areas of strategic partnerships and networking with a difference.  She is passionate about actively giving back to the community. In addition to donating her speaking fees and a proportion of every Synergy48 Group membership to provide microfinance to help women in Malawi to start their own businesses, Brenda has climbed the Himalayas to raise money for Kids Help Line and helped lay a pipeline to supply water to a remote village in Tanzania.

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