Major changes were made to the Australian men’s test cricket team after another poor performance in Hobart last November. This bold and risky change has seen Australia victorious in their last four tests; it worked. In business, we need to be regularly changing and improving and it is best if it is done with sound objective advice so that the changes are the right ones. Both Federal and state funding is available to make it more affordable to get good advice.

Last fortnight I talked about beginning the new year with new thinking. Having our thinking challenged develops new thinking and perspectives. Engaging with an advisor that asks those thought provoking questions can help us to put our finger on the cause of a problem or an important area that needs change.

Do you know the areas of your business that needs the most change? Often the obvious area is not the real problem, but you need to dig deeper to find the real cause. For example, we had a case where sales were not growing. As we questioned and investigated it became clear the real cause was weak customer service.

The change needed may be the business model. Another example here was a business losing money because its manufacturing was no longer competitive. They decided to outsource manufacturing and changed their business model to a sales based model.

Other areas where your business could benefit from external advice is:

  • Succession and retirement planning
  • Strategic planning
  • Budgeting and cash flow forecasting that links with the strategic plan
  • Marketing – digital, getting access to the key people etc
  • Mentoring the business leaders to mentor key people in the business
  • Training and coaching in execution and implementation
  • Bringing clarity of goals into the whole organisation

How do you know if an advisor is a good one? Some traits I have found provides some good indicators:

  • Do they seek to understand your business and listen well?
  • Do they ask questions that make you think?
  • Do they have a structured approach that will also adapt to your business?
  • Do they keep it simple? People that do not know what they are talking about, make it sound complicated.

There are some excellent government funding programs to assist with advice.

Federal Funding:
The Entrepreneurs Program (funding for Business Growth):
This provides up to $20,000 in government funding and pays 50% of the cost of advisors fees. To qualify your turnover needs to be over $1.5mill and you need to be in or supply to one of five different business areas, for example, the food and agribusiness area.

State (QLD) Funding:
The Accelerate Small Business Digital Grants:
This provides up to $10,000 in government funding and pays 50% of advisors fees. To qualify your turnover needs to be over $750,000 and have less than 20 employees.

A small business grants program, funding from March 2017:
It covers digital marketing, online sales, digital technology and software, and advice and training. This covers 50% of the cost up to $10,000. The main criteria are to have fewer than 20 employees.

The start of a new year is a good time to take advantage of this funding to ensure your business achieves your goals for it.

Published by Toowoomba Chronicle www.thechronicle.com.au on Saturday 21 January 2017.

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