FAQs with Business Consultants

This is where you can find answers to questions that have been submitted using our “Ask A Question” feature. Designed to help you grow, we will be updating this page regularly with new answers from our experts. Have you got a question? Ask here.

Shortcuts to answers for your stage of business:

Clarify Purpose

There are a few things that are really important here.

  1. Get clear on WHY you want to run a business. Is it freedom? Making a difference? Being able to spend more time with your kids?

  2. Ensure you’re clear on the realities of running your own business and whether they actually match your desires and expectations within the timeframes you need it to happen in. (Hint: Go talk to some small business owners).
  3. Get super clear on the purpose of your business. Make sure it’s something that also resonates with your personal beliefs, values, strengths and experience. Rather than just something you think is a ‘good idea’. Good ideas won’t see you through the hard times, when you’re working your butt off and there’s no one else but you to make it happen.
  4. Create a transition plan for how you’ll move from employed to self employed that fits your personal circumstances and risk appetite. Don’t just ‘take a leap’.

KATE MCCREADY – LEADING BEINGS

It is certainly possible – the common denominator among those who do this successfully is willingness to learn as well as the resourcefulness to apply what you do know, in new ways.

This answer assumes you’ve run a business of some kind before, or have a background in marketing and/or business. If not, it is important to understand that business is mostly everything but the thing you sell and being in this situation means there are two large unknowns: learning to run a business – and – learning to run a business in an industry you’re unfamiliar with.

There are two sides to the coin you’ll need support on:

  1. Understanding how to create a competitive business and a crave-able brand in the industry you’re entering.
  2. Operations in the industry you’re entering – otherwise you’ll be inefficient and you’ll be redesigning the wheel for no reason.

Getting both of these right is important, so find the #1 advisor you can afford in each of these areas and hire them. We can help you with the first and we can connect you with the latter.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Strategy Audit Call

Businesses are a double-edged sword – there’s more resources than ever to help you affordably begin but it’s precisely that which makes it so overwhelming. It requires tremendous personal motivation but also allows you the opportunity to build your dream life.

As you already know, not all ideas are created equal and this doesn’t just apply to the ideas about what you’re selling, but to the ideas around how you sell it – the business underneath. In Business Design, we squeeze every last drop of potential in your idea and ensure that the ‘machine’ that is your businesses structure has all the parts needed for you to succeed as the most competitive version of your business. We think of not only how to avoid what can go wrong but also how to make getting it right a lot of fun, and we’re with you every step of the way. It’s like ‘getting legit’ and ‘levelling up’ at the same time.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Business Concept

Those that tend to thrive in their own business often have a wide variety of skills as running a business requires you to wear many hats. Good news is, it’s also very satisfying for those of us who crave that variety.

  1. To start with, not all skills are created equal. I can write an email but I don’t want that to be my job. The difference? What lights my fire. Get a page and write a line down the middle and use this line to separate the skills that you’re good at and the ones that light you up.
  2. Next? Come up with a big bunch of business ideas – even more than you’ve already got now and right them all down. Get wild, get crazy, get inspired and have fun with this.
  3. Lastly, use a tool innovators call “How, Now, Wow”. Draw a quadrant graph (a huge square, divided into four) with the vertical line being a spectrum from easy to implement (at the bottom) and hard to implement (at the top). The horizontal line is normal ideas (on the left) and innovative ideas (on the right). If you’re not sure what I mean, Google it. On this graph, plot each of your ideas from the previous step into one of the four quadrants. The businesses worth making are any in the bottom right quadrant. We call this “Wow” – innovative ideas that are easy to implement.

Don’t have a “Wow”? Get us to help you with your next steps and we’ll get you there.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Business Concept

Generate Ideas

I see an effective approach to long range innovation as involving two key areas.

Mindset

When others look to you for advice about the future what they’re really asking is: How can I be the first to capture opportunities? And the more existential, how can I see change coming before it does? Being able to answer these questions starts with mindset. A futurist knows that literally anything – even what you took for granted as here for good – can change in a heartbeat. We can’t predict that specifically a coronavirus pandemic would force everyone home and require pivots in many industries. What we can do is get in the habit of regularly imagining any kind of radical change.

Any time big picture innovation is on the cards list all of your assumptions – especially about truths, ‘rules’ and normals within your industry, and flip them to imagine the opposite being true. Futurists are great at challenging assumptions and are willing to entertain the impossible, before refining ideas with critical thinking. Now you might be thinking - what a total waste of time to imagine changes because most of them certainly don’t occur? The magic in this process is that you can go through this flipped list of assumptions and ask the question – can we be the ones to bring about any of these changes? Behold, you’ve got a juicy list of super innovative competitive advantages, futurist style. As the saying goes “the best way to predict the future is to create it” and this is how. If you’re implementing these ideas your competitors and new entrants won’t beat you, because you beat you first.

Embedding Innovation

The processes that govern how we do business are the infrastructural equivalent to individual mindset. Companies that have full innovation pipelines, with game changing new product and service ideas tend to have the following features baked in to the way they do work:

  • Exposure to new ideas. You cannot learn something new by doing the same things. Staff are put in front of opportunities to think differently and stumble upon new information. This usually happens in the form of learning opportunities that push employees to expand their skillsets and mindsets. It can also take the form of research, the process that allows us to discover new opportunities and new thinking. Researching totally different industries can provide lots of analogous problem solving opportunities that feed back to new ideas in your industry.
  • Space and time. Environments full of natural light that provide opportunities to work independently and get in the ‘zone’ foster individual creativity. Collaborative opportunities like hackathons and 20% time give opportunities to cross-pollinate ideas across teams and challenges, nurturing group creativity. Ideas are slow so if we want the fruition 3-5 years down the track, we need to make space at least a year prior to working on and executing an idea for those ideas to be researched and to cook in the back of innovative minds. So each year, some of our time is on implementing and harvesting in the now, some is on nourishing and growing the next, and some time sows the seeds for the future. What particular mix of time will depend on what role innovation plays within your company structure or value discipline. Many companies find they don’t have any time or space dedicated to longer term ideas and just creating or expanding this time makes a big difference to the future bottom line.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Business Concept

As you already know, not all ideas are created equal and this doesn’t just apply to the ideas about what you’re selling, but to the ideas around how you sell it – the business underneath. As Business Designers, we use our unique methodology to develop not just an idea but a creative secret sauce that has you playing to your strengths, exciting customers, manoeuvring in the marketplace like a chess champion and having a lot of fun at the same time.

We love the idea of ‘Deus Ex Machina’ – the God in the machine, because of the role that creativity and innovation have for bringing a business to life.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Business Concept

There are lots of elements that come into play here. In determining whether an idea is good or not, we look at how the different pieces of the business puzzle fit together to form a business system. Those pieces include things like what you’re selling (what most people think of as their business idea), who you’re selling it to, how you’re selling it (the business structure), and what greater context all of this sits within. We do this through a unique methodology, called the DARE system. Good business ideas have big wow factor in the following four areas:

D – Is it interesting, does it have that magic?

A – Is it the most competitive idea you have the capacity to offer?

R – Is this culturally relevant and compelling?

E – Does this engage people to action?

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Strategy Audit Call

As a general rule, an ‘idea’ cannot be protected as intellectual property, but an expression of an idea (copyright), the goodwill attached to the markers by which your business is known (trade marks), or new ideas, processes, or information which are secret or only known within your business (patents, and confidential information/trade secrets) can be protected in various ways. Copyright and trade marks may come with certain automatic rights from creation, but trade marks and patents (as well as designs and plant breeders’ rights) can be registered in Australia, and registration creates additional rights and avenues for enforcement.

Where there is no system of registration, you’re not sure about whether your idea is ‘intellectual property’ as defined at law, or you just want to make really sure you’re protected, a lawyer can help you protect your business assets through confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements, robust contractual agreements, and corporate/business structuring. Intellectual property is a valuable asset to a business and should be afforded adequate consideration at the start of your journey.

ALEXANDRA SHAW & AMELIA EDWARDS – KHQ LAWYERS

Define Niche

As consumer preferences continue to shift toward ever more personalised product and service fits, the market for new products and services is becoming increasingly fragmented. Instead of a ‘one size fits all’ generic offering, markets are now divided into infinite smaller, targeted groups that cater to specific needs. Each of these smaller groups is known as a niche.

Instead of choosing a product option that meets their needs from a range that does not, customers prefer to buy from a brand where most of the products meet their unique needs and the brand directly communicates and resonates with this same specific interest. As a result we’re now seeing businesses that fulfil unmet needs and have brands that resonate with their target audience, gaining more traction quickly and becoming a trending product, compared with their generic mass-market equivalents.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Business Concept

A competitive advantage layers many points of difference all of which are connected by a common strategy and aimed at reaching specific groups of customers.

A point of difference is like a tweak, easy to copy and often not globally unique. Whereas a competitive advantage seeks to secure a compelling position that is hard to copy and becomes even more effective with time. It also offers many other benefits such as a first mover advantage, which is where a business can grow quickly as the only one that can fulfil a certain segments need, without any direct competitors. First movers often get to set their own prices with high profit margins, enjoy fast growth and a strong emotional connection with their customers.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Business Strategy

Understand Customers

The underlying question here is actually how do I make my business earn more money. The answer lies not just in understanding each piece of the puzzle – the target customers, the business model, the competitive advantage, the brand, the context this all operates in. The answer is if these puzzle pieces come together to make a clear and exciting picture. In a Business Strategy session we analyse all the pieces of your puzzle and then use our methodology to create a compelling big picture that customers can’t get enough of, that is unique to you, and that creates ever more excited customers as time goes on.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Business Strategy

What customers say they’ll do is often not what they actually do. This isn’t deliberate or even something people are consciously aware of, the fact of the matter is that humans behave in many counterintuitive ways. The good news is there are usually many things a business can do to make the experience of buying with you more closely reflect how customers appear to feel about you. We think this is so important that it’s one of the four pillars of our methodology.

You’ll often hear that you need to “work out your target market” and this is true, however the way many typically do this is by looking at who currently engages with your content and then attempt to sell more to that group. However, we believe that the people worth targeting may not quite fit those profiles and ensure that when we’re developing target markets we don’t use data in self-fulfilling ways that reinforce a normal (customers not buying more) that you don’t actually wish was the case.

There’s an extra secret to our target market process as well. We call it the wallet-out customer. Every target market has at least one sub group who are particularly excited to buy what it is you sell and we find by discovering and then targeting this sub-group, that the connection between people liking what you sell and actually being ready to buy it, happens a lot faster.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Business Strategy

Build Brand

Typically, a customer recognises they have a desire to purchase from a product or service category before they have chosen the specific company they will purchase from. When they go looking, their emotions are the main decision maker and these emotions help them find the best fit. This makes a brand the number one persuasive tool that connects your company to anyone that may purchase from it.

Before people will buy your product, they must believe in your brand. Your brand is your promise. It is an ownable, emotional territory that is grounded in the crossover between cultural resonance and business capabilities.

A brand is an ecosystem of emotional touch points that signal to a customer ‘your search is over because you found us’. It includes everything from a businesses reputation through to their logo and language.

The biggest brands in the world know that a powerful brand actually begins with a powerful strategy. A powerful brand strategy articulates what ecosystem is most attractive to your customer and balances this with the competitive advantage of your business. The goal? A unique brand position that can make you a household name.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Brand Strategy

Firstly, you are going to need your business logos in more than 1 format. To be able to maintain brand consistency across all aspects of your operation, you will need a landscape, stacked and brand mark logo. The logo that you use as your hero logo more than likely won’t fit into small spaces such as a social media icon. Having a suite of logos will allow you to be visible across all channels, allowing your audience to recognise your brand.

Secondly, the file formats that you have your logos in is really important. Vector files are the designer files which will allow your logo to be enlarged on a billboard or truck, and are known as .eps or .ai. You more than likely won’t be able to open these files, but please keep them safe - they’re like a pot of gold for your business! The raster files are the files that you will be using on a day to day basis, and include .png .jpeg .pdf and more. Your designer should provide you with the vector and raster logos to enable you to utilise the logos in multiple ways. For example, if you are getting promotional items printed then the print company will ask you for the vector files so that your artwork on your promotional items are crisp and clear without blurry edges.

If you only have your logos in .png or .jpeg, you’ll be quite limited as to how you can use the logo. Get in touch with your designer to ensure you have the vector logos or if you DIY’d your logo, it might be time to chat to a designer about longevity of your brand assets.

BRODI-ROSE NEWSOME – BRODI-ROSE CREATIVE CO

Communications can only be only effective if written with your exact audience in mind! It's never about what you want to say; it's always about what your audience needs to hear and how they need to hear it.

Bring your ideal customer to life with audience personas, then use your written content to speak directly to them – communicating your key messages in a tone that resonates with them and showing that you understand their problems (and can solve them).

Combine this strategy with beautifully written content and clear calls to action, and you'll see a huge difference, not only in customer engagement, but in your own confidence as a business owner who understands his or her audience.

AUDREY PAIGE SCHUEREN – AUDREY PAIGE COMMUNICATIONS

It's important to work closely with a photographer that is experienced in commercial photography, be it personal or corporate.

Before any shoot we discuss our clients branding, and how we can make the photos work cohesively as we don't want imagery that is out of sync with their other brand assets. Important questions to cover include: What are your colours, who are your target markets, what are your competitors doing, and what message are you trying to portray?

We then use that information to come up with a concept for photography that will work with your brand. Most of the time, with small businesses or personal branding, we are the creative directors as well as the photographers, so it's important to understand the marketing elements and to stay completely up to date with current trends and techniques.

LEE BIDEROVSKY – LEE BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

A real story about your brand is a powerful way to appeal to an audience with emotion and relatability. It can show the human side of what you do and demonstrate the meaningful impact of your products and services on real people.

Brainstorm the stories within your organisation and your scope of work that people should know about. Think especially of those stories that reflect your values and embody your purpose.

To make a brand story work, you’ll need to identify characters. It could be you, your customers or your co-workers/employees —basically anyone who can speak from the heart about your brand and who is comfortable in front of camera. From there, identify a journey that has a start, middle and end. Be prepared to put resources into making these stories as immersive as possible; you will need scenes of actuality to bring the story to life.

DAVID ELLIOT-JONES – WALKING FISH PRODUCTIONS

Go To Market

If you want to make demand for a product or service that’s not yet (or newly) available, take a few leaves from our book:

  1. Create an idea that attracts customers by being intriguing, memorable, interesting and relevant.
  2. Make the buy in to that desire require buying what you are launching.
  3. Surge into cult-like status by shining a light on your successes as they occur, to create a self-fulfilling cycle of contagion.
  4. Celebrate, because your dream is now a reality.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Campaign Concept

Hoping this answer would show you growth ideas that you’ve never seen before? You’ve just found treasure.

To get in front of customers you need to be where they are. That isn’t news, but what is news is that you need to stop looking at what platform customers are on and instead look at what trends they care about. Trends are a measure of cultural attention.

Picture an orchard – customers walk along picking and choosing which fruits to place in their basket. These fruits are trends and the mix is different to each customer based on their unique combination of memories, interests and personality.

We designed a service that looks at global and local trends that are relevant to your business and work out clever ways to hijack these trends so that you become the very fruit your customer wants to pick. Then, instead of becoming the millionth person to try tactic’s x, y and z – you become the very first person to try out tactics built exactly for you.

MELISSA PEPERS – BONBO – Trend Analysis

PR isn’t just for big enterprise businesses! PR is a key marketing strategy for businesses of every shape and size. Essentially, think of PR as exposure. You’ve got a great product, brand or idea. You need people to hear about it. That’s where PR comes in. We have the skills and contacts to make sure the right people hear about you. Every business needs media exposure. We take the grunt work out of that for you.

If you’re wondering whether you need PR help, ask yourself: Do I want a clearer brand narrative and better brand exposure? Do I want more customers? If your answer is, ‘heck yes!’ - then you should get some PR power on your side.

KATHRYN PRICE – RUBY AGENCY

Make sure you have done your research.

Ensure you fully understand your category, your competitors and the retailer you are meeting with. What is your product’s point of difference? Always remember, the buyer does not need to take on your product. Their store is doing just fine with out it. So you need show them WHY they need to put your product on their shelves. HOW will you be bringing sales into their store?

And lastly, make sure you have your practical information with you - your sell sheet (or product price list). Don’t leave any info out that they will have to chase you for... because they will probably choose not to! Make it EASY.

KARYN REDFORD – RETAILFEED

The key answer to this is showcasing your unique selling point. This isn’t your usual USP, I’m talking about YOU, the business owner or the staff, that’s what makes a business unique.

People connect with people and when they can see a business owner on their stories or in the posts, they automatically feel like they can trust them and ultimately move them down the line of the customer journey! Having a social media manager means that business owners don’t need to stress about what to post, what to write or how to resonate with their ideal client.

Your social media manager is an expert in this area and will position your brand as an authority.

MONIQUE LOMBARDO – THE SOCIALISTA

Yes, but it also depends on the business as well as the goals you are trying to achieve. Influencer marketing is pretty much word of mouth on steroids.

Influencer campaigns can help with the following goals:

  • Increase your audience/followers
  • Boost social media profile views and web traffic
  • Improve brand awareness
  • Get sales

The most important aspect in influencer marketing which many don't get right is making sure to work with influencers that align with the brand's values and ethos.

MIA HOOD – MIA GORENG

Marketing Strategy depends on many factors, such as product, service and industry to name just a few. However, success all comes down to your end goals and business objectives.

When these are clear there are many meaningful tactics to achieve them and a great Marketing Strategy tailors these tactics to get the best results for your business.

AGATHA IOANNOU – EMPORIA MARKETING