One of the most common pieces of advice for people setting out on the road to starting their own business is how important it is to find a mentor. Most founders and small business people can’t stress enough how valuable it was for them to have someone they could bounce ideas off and who could help clarify their thinking. At StartupSmart we’ve got some of Australia’s top mentors who offered compelling advice on a range of topics. Here we’ve collected some of the most popular that resonated with readers in 2013. Setting up a sales commission structure How to set up a sales commission structure for a business was one of the most popular posts of the year from mentor Vicki Crowe. But she explained that a key question to clarify is whether it’s a commission structure you actually want or a bonus scheme. “A commission structure usually applies when you are offering someone a piece of the action. For example: X % of the gross revenue or an amount for selling X amount of product(s). A bonus scheme, however, is based on meeting fixed monthly and/or annual targets,” she writes. She goes on to outline how she structured her own sales commission structure. Why LinkedIn is hot LinkedIn has become more than an online resume and Rolodex, writes social media expert Adam Franklin. In this post he sets out six reasons why it’s the best social media platform for start-ups. He notes it’s becoming the “go-to” place for business news and is a content sharing platform that can get your articles in front of your entire contact base. Using LinkedIn like a pro LinkedIn topics were favourites for readers, and this one, again from Adam Franklin, about how to use it effectively, was also popular. Here he guides LinkedIn novices through the basics of connecting with other professionals, through to building a profile and getting proactive. Follow his advice and soon you’ll be able to apply the platform to helping others and yourself. Pitching to new customers There are many things to get your head around when you’re running a new business, from branding to stock control, writes Michelle Bowden. “But a key skill you need to become brilliant at, and quickly, is pitching for business,” she says. “If you can fast-track your ability to bring new customers in the door and keep them as loyal clients you’ll be creating very strong foundations for your start-up business.” In this post she explains her seven secrets to pitching to new clients, from building relationships to making sure you make a good first impression. What’s the worst thing you can do in business – and life? For Rebekah Campbell, never ever telling a lie was one of the best bits of advice she’s been given and that she can offer. Something so simple and yet so powerful. “I seldom adopt esoteric business philosophies but its impact has been such that I believe this powerful secret should be talked about,” she writes. “Truth and its relationship to creativity, peace and ultimately success have played on my mind in the past couple of months. If you've read this post and thought, "that doesn't relate to me – I never tell a lie", then you're probably lying to yourself.” Some others worth reading and thinking about: Franz Madlener explored the discussion around calls to change the threshold on when GST should be applied to overseas online purchases and what impact it could have; Scott Robinson offered some advice on dealing with a bad review on social media; and Lauren Ridgway looks at what social media platform might be best for your business.
As Australians spend more of their money online, where and when they’re spending is becoming relevant for retailers considering how to target their marketing. According to the National Australia Bank’s latest Online Retail Sales Index, Australians spent $13.9 billion in the year ended June, up 21% on the 12 months ended June last year when $11.5 billion was spent. And according to research by data analytics and marketing strategy firm Quantium, much of that spending is happening in the middle of the week, with Wednesday the peak day for spending. National Online Retailers Association chief executive Paul Greenberg says the data could have implications for retailers and the timing of their digital marketing. He says retailers may take a “fish when the fish are biting” approach to their marketing. Quantium’s research shows Saturday and Sunday are the weakest days for online retail spending. Sales rise on Monday and Tuesday, peak on Wednesday at just over 16% of online spending, before tapering off Thursday and Friday. Greenberg adds that retailers may also consider targeting their marketing towards days when online spending falls in the hope of boosting it so they can “smooth out” sales across the week. Greenberg and Adam Ferrier, a consumer psychologist and founding partner of Naked Communications Australia, told StartupSmart higher spending online during the week was most likely because it was when consumers were mostly likely at work and in front of a computer. Ferrier says consumers could also be motivated to shop during the middle of the week as a break from work. “These days at work are normally more intense,” he says. “Potentially people are looking for a bit of retail therapy.” Ferrier adds that the research may redefine when impulse shopping may occur. “It might be during those times in the afternoon on ‘hump’ day when you need a break or are hungry for a distraction,” he says. Ferrier also says Friday may be a more “frivolous and fun” time at work in the lead-up to the weekend and leave workers less inclined to want to shop online. Greenberg suggests weekends are generally weaker for online retail because people are out and about with their families. Online shoe fashion retailer Shoes of Prey has found Wednesday is their best day for sales, with co-founder Jodie Fox telling StartupSmart they received around 20% more sales that day than the rest of the week. “I’m genuinely surprised,” she says, adding that it went against her own experience of not having a particular day when she did her own online shopping. Fox says while Wednesday may be their biggest sales day, they don’t target their marketing to a particular day. “When we want to share a message with our customers we look at what’s the best way to communicate that message, then the channel – whether email, video, Facebook – then we use that particular channel to its best advantage,” she says. Retail consultant Franz Madlener was sceptical of the Quantium research that Wednesday was the day consumers spent the most online. “Customers buy when they have money,” he says. “Most customers don’t have money on Wednesdays because most people don’t get paid on Tuesdays. It simply doesn’t make sense then that most people would shop online on Wednesdays unless there were extenuating circumstances such as Groupon having their best deals on a Wednesday, or Jetstar their best flight prices on a Wednesday, particularly if customers have never otherwise spent on Wednesdays compared to late week or weekends.”
This week’s Secret Soloist is answered by Villa and Hut founder Franz Madlener. Great question and great idea – but this is one of the biggest pitfalls for so many start-ups.
Today on StartupSmart, we chart the rising popularity of social entrepreneurship in Australia.
Today on StartupSmart, entrepreneurship expert Dr Tom McKaskill shares some of his top tips on people management – an incredibly important but often overlooked area of business.
Villa & Hut founder, Franz Madlener, says he will attempt to save the brand’s remaining 22 franchises despite admitting that it is “very unlikely” that he will avoid personal bankruptcy.
Allied Brands franchisees aren’t in any immediate danger following the company’s move into voluntary administration, according to chief executive Sean Corbin.