Meet the panel

So that we’re all on the same page let’s start with a definition. What are we talking about when we say Strategic Planning for SMEs?

It’s a comprehensive planning process for business. Incorporating all elements of the business, considering all of the skills, the resources, the direction that you’re trying to go in, what you’re trying to achieve. And from that, it’s not just one element, it’s all elements. I also think that a strong component of any good strategic planning is the planning process. Because it’s not the output document that really matters, it’s the considered thought to create it in the first instance. And then, of course, it’s what you do off the back of the plan document. The actions. You can have a brilliant plan, but if it sits in the boardroom and goes nowhere…

Stewart Clark

What are the benefits of doing strategic planning?  Particularly if your business is doing OK

Okay. So you’re cruising along, but how do you know the business is going to keep going that way? What’s out there to come and bite you? What political party is going to get into power that’s going to change all the rules? What technological changes are happening? What are your competitors doing? What are the economic trends? If you’re not doing strategic planning, you’re not thinking about these things. You’re not taking yourselves outside your business and looking at where’s my business going and where do I want to take it anyway? You might just do nothing, but you can’t do nothing because things are changing out there the whole time. So you’ve got to be aware of what these changes are and what the impact’s going to be on your business. And if you want to grow, you’ve got to think “How am I going to get there?”. I want to expand my business to another state – what are the steps we’re going to take? You  don’t do a road journey without looking at a map and planning the milestones along the way. It’s the same principle with strategic planning.

So it’s a chance to step outside the business and think, maybe three to five years, would be typical for a small business. Forty years if you’re at Yarra Valley Water because you need to build a dam, but three to five years is enough for most of us. Where am I going to take this business? What do I need to do to do that? Do I need to up skill my staff? Do I need new machinery? Do I need bigger premises? Are there new market opportunities out there that we actually haven’t thought about? What are the trends in my business, am I selling more of the same or are there some new markets coming up that I didn’t actually track? You’ve got to look back at what’s happening so you’ve got the base to plan for the future. It’s really thinking hard about your business and where you’re taking it. And if you do that you’re going to ensure that your business remains viable, or gets better.

Robin Snelling

Stewart, you work with lots of SMEs, in your experience what are the consequences of not doing strategic planning?

Look,we can trip over the words “strategic planning” all we like, let’s just say “planning”  and that “strategic planning” is  the big version of that.

If you don’t plan, you can burn lots of money very, very fast.

It’s really, really cheap to plan on paper. Very expensive to experiment in the real world.

And that’s the consequence. If you don’t plan, and don’t consider all of those points – and that was a very good list – if you don’t consider all of those things, you’ll go down a course of action and you’ll get there and think “oh, that didn’t kind of work for me.” Or “that cost a lot more than I expected”, or “I didn’t think of that”. And that’s what I call experimenting. Now, if you want to experiment, fantastic. Crack on. Go for it. But just be aware that you’ll probably need a bit more money to start with, because you will burn quite a bit of it along the way.

Stewart Clark

Tony, you’re the digital marketing guru on the panel tonight. You work with lots of businesses, helping them with digital. How much does strategic planning, or lack of it, impact on the effectiveness of a businesses’ digital marketing strategy?

Yeah, I think it’s pretty obvious we’re talking about strategy tonight. The whole topic is about strategic planning, and digital marketing is a tactic. So it is meant to be the last thing you do. But because it’s so instant and it’s so satisfying when it works, we tend to jump into it straight away. It’s like “I’m going to start a business. Okay, I’m going to get myself some business cards, I’m going to do a website, and I’m going to talk to some guy to do some Google ads for it.” And that really works if you’re selling something that people need and that they have very little interest in who gets it done. When your toilet’s overflowing, you very rarely care about the person in your house. You just want to get someone there to fix it as soon as humanely possible.

 So, it’s really important for some businesses more than others, to get that strategy right at the start. But mind you a plumber will eventually burn out in doing what he is doing because we can get him plenty of work, but if he doesn’t plan what he’s going to do he’ll trip over a hurdle at a later point. I guess, a good example of that, is that we had a client that did garage doors, you know, new ones for your house and stuff like that. And they had absolutely no plan whatsoever. Purely just years of experience in it, working for someone and just said we’ll start a business together. And they came to us a few years ago, so it was back in the days when I would allow someone to work with us that didn’t have a strategy. And they did quite well for a little while. Because it’s very easy, if you want a garage door for your house you don’t really care about why this guy’s in business. He answered the phone, he had a good price, you use him.

  Where they tripped up was they were just chasing different tactics. So they’d be like “Oh yeah we got up to there, now we’re going to try phone calling, now we’re going to do Yellow Pages, and then we’re going to just try these bunch of different things.” So they would burn a lot of money, as Stuart was saying, because they have no plan and they’re not willing to talk to anyone about doing a plan. But the other problem they had was they found out that they couldn’t scale. Because there’s only so many people that will want a brand new garage door in Melbourne, and they weren’t willing to expand Nationally like that, because you can only… if you’re not a planner you can’t go National. So they had to totally reboot their business, which meant they burnt all this money on vans and all sorts of things. So that’s a very good example of that you can go from zero to a few hundred K and think you’re kicking goals, but they didn’t actually even start with an idea of where they wanted to be so they were doomed for failure. 

Tony Sambell

Martin. You’re the person who gets them the money to implement the plan, So, what mistakes do you see businesses making when it comes to planning? And how does that impact their ability to get the money?

Well, firstly I see that anyone who’s in business has a plan. The reality is that they didn’t wake up one morning and decide they wanted to be self-employed. They had a plan. And the problem is, perhaps, to start – to get them to articulate their plan correctly. Particularly in the very small business, someone has a vision and starts to implement it and it starts to work. And you have to talk to them about, okay, how are we going to look forward? Let’s get out our crystal ball, let’s look in the future and see what we have to do. And as the business starts to grow a little bit, and they get busy, they’re sort of overwhelmed by the tactical situation. I’ve got to keep Client A happy, Client B has a problem, what about Client C? And what they don’t understand is that the most value they can get from their time is to step back from that tactical situation and start thinking ahead on what they have to do next.

So, in that… I try and talk to people, and often they don’t see it. I’m a numbers guy, so I want to talk about “let’s look at the turnover/gross margins/profits” all those sorts of things. But, often, people don’t see it in that number terms. And I’d say to them when they’re sitting down, so look, we need to work through a strategic plan now, so we can get some sort of numerical formula that we can present to an institution to raise capital or whatever. We need to have some numbers, so how many employees do you want two years from now? How many employees do you want five years from now? Or what sort of premises do you want? Or whatever it is to try to give it something that matches their vision of their growth. And then I try and sit back and work, well if we’re going to have 12 months from now, 10 employees, and in another 12 months we’re going to have 35, let’s convert that to a numerical model and see how much money we have to make and how much turnover we have to get to support those sort of overheads. And then sort of extract what our principle bottom line will be.

But the thing that I always talk about with the numbers is that a strategic plan sounds like a great terminology, and building this great model that’s going to move forward. Strategic plan is something that has to be consistently reviewed. Because the market and conditions change. So it’s a bit like, I put together the Lego blocks, here they are, this is the way we’re moving forward. But I might have to put some more blocks on this side, or a few more on that side as the circumstances and markets change. So it’s a document you do once up to sort of get a focus, and then you modify and review as you move forward because the markets and circumstances always change.

So in answer to the last part of the question… no plan and no numbers equals no money!

Martin Cattach

We’ve talked lots about money, but strategic plans also seem to have things like Mission and Vision, and Purpose Statements in them.  We often talk about Why. So how important is that touchy-feely why, purposey-driven stuff Stewart?

Look, I said to you a little bit tongue-in-cheek earlier, you don’t need any of the fluffy stuff providing you don’t have any staff, and you don’t deal with any people. But the other 100% of businesses I’ve ever come across,  you are dealing with people. And I can put together the best spreadsheet that you can imagine, and I can write you the 30 page plan, and it looks wonderful. But it’s also a heart and minds game. You can put the best considered thought on the plate, but you need to bring the people along for the ride. They need to have been able to have put some input in along the way, in the development of that plan and that strategy, and that’s where the Mission Statement comes in. What’s the values, what it is that you’re about, the vision, where are we going to?

Strangely enough I don’t actually start with the business vision when I put a plan together, I start with the owner’s personal vision. And then I get to the business vision. Because if those two don’t align well, probably the next few steps aren’t going to go terribly well.  I find that I deal as much with emotion as I do with cash flow. With stress as much as I do with strategy. And that’s because of the people.

Stewart Clark

I think it’s one of the most important things for a business owner to get sorted – is why you’re doing it. Because I think we all usually start a business without even thinking that far ahead, to be fair. A lot of them, we just love it. And we’re weird. We’re crazy people for starting a business because you are likely not going to make much more money than you were in a job, for a long time until you do well. And when you start doing well then other things start coming up and that’s why strategy is really important. And knowing your numbers is really important because you’re going to trip over.

 But the biggest thing we find when we’re talking about doing marketing for someone is just trying to get them to say why they’re doing it, and not answer of what they’re doing, because they keep answering with a what. And I get that, because it’s really hard to vocalise that because it’s not a normal answer. It’s like trying to say why you love your wife; aww she’s pretty and she cooks, and she’s funny and it’s like, well so is a billion other women.

 But the fact is it’s really hard to vocalise, but you just need to find a way. Because if you figure out why you’re doing it, then you can build all that… the ways to vocalise it to your team, which will make you attract the right people. But it also helps for when you start scaling. I haven’t seen a business scale very well, ever, without figuring out why they’re even existing. Because it’s usually when you start scaling and doing well that things start to fall apart. And that’s because initially you just started it because something inside you said “I want to do this.” And you start enjoying it, and you love doing it. But when you start scaling, that’s when all these other things which are intangible, need to be done, and if you don’t do it, you really struggle.

Tony Sambell

We’ve talked a fair bit about the why and the what.. let’s have a look at how. What are the key steps in a strategic planning process?

So there are a number of different approaches. But a typical one is first of all, analysing where you are right now. And you look at the SWOT, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strengths being: what are we good at? What should we do more of to build our business? The weaknesses: what are we not good at? What should we perhaps avoid? And don’t get into those markets which we’re no good at it. Or what do we need to improve to build our business up. The opportunities out there. I mean, look at the growth of the retirement/aged care sector. Anyone who got into that five or so years ago should be booming now because that’s a growing area. So it’s looking ahead to see what’s there, the growing markets. And the threats: government regulations. Just think what’s happening to the mortgage brokers at the moment, with their loss of trailing commissions. Having to rethink their whole business model. They’re the sorts of things to think about in the early stages of a strategic plan.

 And when you’ve set the scene and you’ve looked at the trends in your business, then you start to say well where do we want to go to? What’s our vision? What are the goals that we’re setting? Which could be business, financial – although financial usually comes at the end. First of all you say “which customers do we want to service?”, “which people… which demographic do we want to get to?”, “what’s the process of doing that?”, “how do we do all this?”, and then the finance people start to crunch the numbers to make sure it’s viable.

When you set a goal, you might set the goal and then work backwards to see how it can be done. So when I was in the newspaper industry, and this is going back awhile, colour real estate sections were quite the “in” thing back in the 80s. And we had to do it to keep newspapers viable with real estate agents demanding colour real estate sections. So we said we’ve got to do this, now how are we going to do it? We need to organise printers and pre-press people to put the books together, and we had to organise new deadlines because it took longer to put the gloss real estate books together. And then we had to train our people, and then we had to train the customers. So we worked back from that end vision, back to the start of how we were going to do it. So there’s a lot of detail in putting a strategic plan in place. Once you’ve got those broader goals set up.

Robin Snelling

I like to have people like virtual CFOs that can build nice financial business models on how things are going. But,  but the thing that you really need to do – and this is something that you can really only do on a numbers type basis – is measure your progress down that line. It’s fine to throw the stake in the ground in the future and this is what we’re going to be. To me that’s things like revenues and turnover and those sorts of numbers on a sheet, and those are the goals that we can set, and then we can measure against by looking at our performance. And the simple way that we all see that is budgeting and achieving budget. That’s part of that progress on the strategic plan, because the future budget should be set in line with the strategic plan. So it’s about looking at it numerically, so you can measure how you’re proceeding and understand how you’re doing.

 But once again, I’m not all that rigid that, because you need to look a fair way down the track, the environment of business changes so much that the strategic plan has to be something that’s malleable, that you can move to meet changes in market environment. Like… we only achieved 90% of our objectives two years out, that’s okay with me. Because in the third year we’re looking at achieving 120% of our objectives, because we’ve adapted to market conditions. We thought we would sell 1000 widgets A, and we’ve gone and sold 4000 widget B and only 500 widget A. Okay, let’s alter our strategic plan because that’s what the market wants. They’re things that you can’t necessarily predict, so it’s the revising of the strategic plan as you move forward. Because you have to revise the dollars, you either don’t have enough to spend, or you do. And you don’t have enough to pay your staff, or you do. So they’re simple hard facts that you have to deal with, so you need to have the vision and the fluffy stuff, but when it comes down to the numbers you’ve got to keep it within those constraints. That’s the thing that makes the business work.

Martin Cattach

I agree and disagree with the points so far.

Firstly just for context. I only work in a family owned businesses and I’m a realist. It’d be nice to take a business offline for a month, do an absolute deep-dive with all the relevant staff and create a plan. That doesn’t happen in the real world I work in. So, I work with the availability of people, I work with budgets and who is available to actually put this together. So sometimes it’s not perfect, and I accept that.

 The only place I’ll ever start a plan is with the owners. Once again, family owned businesses. And I need to understand what they’re trying to achieve. Are they looking at a sales succession? Are they looking at growth? What is it? What do they want out of that business? Three years or five years – those are the only two metrics I’ll use, unless it’s a sale. And then I might look at something a little bit shorter.

If I can’t get them to be present as to where they want to get to, then I’ve got no chance of even getting close to getting anything done. Once we’ve got that down on paper, and that might be a full typed page of content.  Then it’s the business vision, same deal. What are we actually trying to achieve with the business? Where is the business going… where you want it to be?  And the owners’ objectives and the business vison need to be in alignment. There’s no point if the owner wants to work 20 hours, but in the short term, their vision for the business is going to require 60 hours. That ain’t going to work. So I need to have alignment. At that point in time, that’s when I’m looking at the strategy – the how’s. I’m looking at the SWOTs, and then I’ve got a very refined process that I go through each time.  If you read a business plan, it’s a very logical story.  But the way that you collate that information is illogical. I’m bouncing from the top to the middle to the bottom because that’s the order in which I need to collect the information with the considered thought, to be able to put into a document that actually makes sense.

And to the point, in regard to the numbers, look if you don’t know the numbers, it’s a really good way to go broke. So I support the modelling, I support the overhead cost recovery, the budget, the breakeven, all of that sort of stuff. But that is lower in the plan when you’ve got more detail to work to.

Stewart Clark

Tony, we’ve heard from the people who tell people how to do it, and help them do it. As a young successful entrepreneur with a fast growing, fast changing business, what does a strategic planning process look like at Spicy Web?

It’s interesting, because I often have to do this with a client. So when I walk into a meeting, I ask the client “What does success look like?” And they’ll say something that they’ve been told or thought is the correct answer, which is “We earn this much money.” or “We want to expand into New South Wales.” and that’s… you won’t feel successful if that happens. You won’t. That’s a goal that you want to achieve. What will make you feel successful at the end of this? In 12 months? Five years? How will you know that you’re doing the right thing? Because the biggest thing, and I’m in this, is you see business owners that end up five, 10 years, 20 years later and they’re just like “I’m tired”. And you hear them, and they say “I’m tired, and I just want to sell it.” But if they structure it better they’ll sell it for better. But the fact that they go to that point, and it wasn’t planned to get to that point is depressing. Because you started this with so much energy and vigour and spunk, and now you’re just going “I’m tired.” And it’s because you didn’t figure out what you wanted to do.

So for me, being an entrepreneur, especially as a young person. Probably a lot of you, I started it just because the situation went that way. I was young, I didn’t quit my job, I started straight out of uni. And I had absolutely no plan. My plan was I need to feed me and my wife. And I had zero contact and zero expertise, because I was straight out of uni. So I decided I was going to start a business and walk down the main street knocking on business doors saying “I’ll build your website, $699.” I knew that 699 sounded cheaper than 700, that’s about as far as my marketing knowledge went. And I got three jobs and turned three jobs.

 It wasn’t until about four years later that I actually started strategizing, because I was booked out three months advance for a 12 month straight, and I went “well, what am I going to do?”. You know, and I had my second kid on the way, and I had to figure out what am I going to do. Because I am booked out constantly. So I’m doing good work, I’m getting plenty of work, that’s not the issue. Now what do I want to do? And I also realised something about myself. Is I do extremely well by being challenged. Which means I couldn’t… feeling successful wasn’t what some other people think success is. Some other people think feeling successful is hitting a million bucks or something like that. But that wouldn’t satisfy me, never. I actually strive really well when things aren’t going well, because that’s a challenge. So I found a way to manipulate myself, as my wife does well as well, and I found out that I can manipulate myself into success by putting myself under stress. Which means constantly wanting to achieve new goals.

Now, for the last 18 months, I’ve felt extremely successful, because all the big picture things I wanted to do were hit, but I didn’t want to get stuck there. So I set up a strategy that we were going to change market. So we were going to go from servicing these clientele, to this clientele. And I decided why we’re going to do it and I decided what we needed to do it, and the risk of doing it, how we can manage our coin, our money. Because it was a bad financial decision, but I had how many months we could do it before we could figure out whether this plan was working or not working.

 So it’s making sure you’re satisfying yourself. If you’re the sole business owner, you need to satisfy yourself first of all. Because then otherwise it will just suffer down the line. For me, that’s feeling challenged constantly. Which is really hard when you’re running a business, because everyone’s all about that end goal, like chilling on a yacht or something like that, that’d be my… I mean, I like boats, but the idea of having nothing to do and feeling like you’re at the finish line would be my idea of hell. So I like being challenged, so that’s why I have totally done our business structure in that way. And it’s also what my team… we bought in, we know why we’re doing things. We’re very restrictive in who we’ll do work for.

 But essentially, it was at the very start – no plan. Like everyone. Someone that goes in with a plan, they’re shifty. I don’t trust them. It’s not the entrepreneur way. Entrepreneurs don’t have plans. That’s not their way. If you have a plan, there’s something wrong with you. It’s later on that you need it, otherwise you are utterly screwed. Because you will either end up depressed, or you will flip it because, for me… CFOs are my man. These guys are the best, especially in marketing. Because, in digital marketing, we are literally saying “for this amount of dollar, we’ll make you this many dollars.” So you get a CFO that sorts your numbers out, you can go flying, and they’re also good at identifying it.

So, when… like I said, what I do with myself and what I do with clients, what’s success look like? Make sure that the person will be happy, and then you come down from that like you were saying, work your way down. So if you find success is working two days a week and having three days with your family and kids, and working with a great team that are self managed and that’s where you see your future, then it’s like “Alright, well how do we get there?” For that to happen, you’ll eventually have to hire a manager, which means you’ll have to be earning this much, and then you eventually figure out the numbers. Because in marketing, numbers are literally what you have to work with. Otherwise you’re just working on, we call them distraction metrics, in digital marketing. When someone’s saying, I want to get 1000 impressions, and I want to get 1000 clicks, and I want to get 1000 conversions, when really you just need to figure out how much money you need to make, and then you filter that back. But I don’t want to get lost in any more tangents.

Brenda:                Is it written down? Your plan?

Yeah, but who said it evolves? Or changes? Or something like that? Ours changes so often we’ve got to keep ours a digital file. We’ve never even had a chance to print it. But that’s just because that’s the way we work. We have a 80/20 rule. So we spend 20% of our time and money on, we call them sticky wall things, so throw it at the wall and see if it sticks, building software and plugins and all sorts of random things. Because when something sticks you’re like oh crap, that worked really well, and you’ve got to put more money into it. So we’ve got our 80/20 rule. And you can have a strategy, and that strategy can involve testing. There’s nothing wrong with pissing away money on figuring out whether something works. As long as you have defined how much you will spend on that experiment.

Tony Sambell

What’s an example of a company that we might have heard of, or that you’ve worked with, that does strategic planning particularly well? And what makes it stand out from the crowd?

I’ve got an example. PayPal. So the banking industry is supposedly very hard to get into, but it’s not kind of. I’ve worked it, by the way. But it’s a good example of strategic planning. And they said, how can we get into the banking industry without going through the front door? And so, they first of all worked with eBay, and became the financial partner for eBay. And that worked well. In fact, eBay ended up buying out PayPal. And then they found other online retailers, and they worked in partnership with them for secure payments. And it even got to a point, the banks said we’re never going to work with retail, we don’t need partnerships. We’re going to work with MasterCard and Visa, and they’ll work with the retailers. But it ended up, MasterCard actually worked in partnership with PayPal. So by the end of it, PayPal have a dominant share of the banking market around the world, and they never operated like a normal bank. It’s a good plan.

Robin Snelling

I think probably that, we were talking about it before –  there’s always the assumption that the big guys do it really well.

 And having spent a fair amount of my life working for some of the big guys, my view is very simple. That they’re just as dysfunctional as everyone else, they just have better premises. And when we see some of the successes in business, I have no doubt some of that is just pure luck. Just the… you do the math, the probability will add up that somebody will get it right luckily every now and again. But typically, the good successes, there’s really some good plans, some good thought. There’s a lot of execution of the right tasks at the right time to actually deliver that. You just kind of look at the amount of iPhones we have floating around the room and those sorts of things. Some of the design concepts, they weren’t just flukes. The end result might have looked a little bit different, but it was quite deliberate. And that’s where… I look to the success, I look to the fails, and you can often sort of pick what was done well, and maybe what was missing.

Stewart Clark

I think a lot of the companies we look at, if you want to talk about any tech company that’s hugely well known and everyone goes “Oh that’s so cool, they had a million dollar idea, I can’t believe they’re so lucky, or they’re so driven.” Usually, you’ll find that the founder and CEO or whatever position they currently hold, people talk about their passion and stuff like that. But that’s not getting that overarching “Why”.

Like Tesla, Elon is a nutter. Absolute Nutter. But I love everything to do with it. And people buying the first Teslas, which were an utter hunk of crap, for a fortune, just because they believed in his vision. They believed everything he said, and all you’ve got to do is just get a few people to back you – and that’s all he did. And then you create a movement, and you’ve got all these people following you. And I guarantee you that’s exactly… that was his strategy. I’ve read nothing about him. I’m not a very well read person. But, that first Tesla – the idea was to release a super expensive roadster. And performance cars of that level, the competition is like McLaren and Ferrari who’ve been doing it forever and get it perfect okay. They’re hardly even Italian anymore, there’s more German than there is Italian. And the idea that Tesla could come in and release a buggy car, that people are paying the same amount of money for; it was like that’ll never work.

 But it’s like, the earlier doctors are the ones that will help you. So he knew that if I sell this, I’ll get enough money to do this car. And then that’ll help finance… the end consumer car, the mass market car, which is the Model 3 for Tesla. That would have never existed if everyone didn’t buy the overpriced buggy pieces of crap before.

 And that was a plan. He knew exactly how to launch an electric car company, and it only took someone driven like him, someone that had a following like him, and also someone that had a brain and money. Because he needed money, and he was so driven that he couldn’t be bought out and destroyed by all the petrol/oil people. Because in all fairness, no oil company wanted an electric car to exist. But you get someone that’s mental, with enough money and loud enough, with a following, and he succeeded. So it wasn’t luck. He was driven like crazy, and he had a plan from the very start. Even crazy people have plans.

Tony Sambell

Look, one of the things I’d like to say, and it’s by way of a business example. Some of the great people I’ve worked with are thinkers. And that’s a talent we all have. And when we talk about strategic plans, and the things we’ve been discussing tonight, it’s really about thinking about it. Not necessarily, and what I see in many small businesses – particularly when they’re under pressure, is they worry about it. Worry is not the right term. It’s about thinking about it.

I was once told in a very competitive environment, how are we going to beat the opposition? And the quote was “We’ll out-think the bastards.” So, the real power that we all have, that strategic plan is perhaps, it’s the manifestation of that, is to put the thought in. Really, really think about it. And that’s what I talk about the review process. Think about some more six months down the track, or three months down the track, but it’s thinking about it that’s the real power. Rather than worrying about it. Because the circumstances, it’s always a rocky road. Famous statement is “Something goes wrong every day.” It does. You know, if you run a small business, that’s what it’s like. But it’s not concentrating on that tactical small bit of what’s going wrong. It’s about thinking about where you’re going and just using that intellectual horsepower, is the real secret. In the right way.

Martin Cattach

Meet the host

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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