Kochie launches Small Business September

05/09/11: Kochie launches Small Business September – In spite of my irritation at the event being called Small Business (is there anything small about small business? Not according to my world!), I attended the launch today of the annual Small Business September on the invitation of Dynamic Business magazine — thank you editor Jen Bishop.

Starting from today, there are hundreds of events across the country to promote, educate and inform on the topic of Small Business to help owners, founders and managers.

The initiative is run by the NSW Department of Trade and Investment and is well organised and worth attending. I spoke on the panel last year. Visit Small Business Month for more information.

The theme was “Selling from a new perspective” and it was a gathering of old mates, Iggy Pintado, David Koch and many other business spokespeople, all battling away to drive our businesses to new heights. Clover Moore, Mayor of Sydney, gave a relatively uninspired speech to open the event, and then hurried away, no doubt to open another cycle pathway to confine our movements around Sydney.

The panel, interviewed by Sunrise‘s David Koch, was made up of Charles Agee, Executive Director, Small Business Telstra, Todd Alexander, Director of Selling, eBay Australia and NZ and Dean McEvoy, Spreets CEO and co-founder.

The discussions were robust and the panellists were bright and informed. I enjoyed their responses. The new themes ranged from the emergence of group buying sites and coupon providers Shopadocket as the major new industry and advertising medium to promote your business (currently outgrowing retail by 38 percent) to one member of the audience claiming he would never shop online.

With the wide-reaching news this week that Shopadocket coupons are back in Woolworths, my team in the office are already lining up for the discount coupon offers. In hard times, people like value add offers and the difference is that now, particularly with the group buying sites emerging, the move is to online redemption of these. People are going to websites to redeem their coupons. A whole new industry is growing – fast.

Although for those of us who have been in business for years had heard much of the discussion topics before — there is usually something tangible to draw on from these events. Whether reminding us of what we already know we should be doing or suggestions for trying something new — Kochie’s jokes and case studies gave the audience colourful and real life examples to draw on. And the tips from the panel were fast and furious.

Here are some of them:

• Online is now king — if you are not online by now, make it a priority

• The key to successful business is hiring well and getting the right people on the bus — easier said than done I thought!

• Take time out to work on your business as well as in it

• SME owners are amongst the most disciplined business people but take more time out to plan

• Think about what you do best and focus, focus, focus

• Outsource what you don’t do well to those who love doing what you are NOT good at

• Use sales promotion ideas old and new, interchangeably

• Small, simple ideas still work

• Don’t be afraid to try new things

• In any business the three best tips are to add value, make it relevant and make it current

• Build your database as a priority — your database is your most important asset

• Invest in technology and use IT to leapfrog your competitors

• Watch cashflow, don’t trade faster than you collect funds

• The emerging database technology improving fast can dramatically affect your productivity — harness it

• In hard times, discount offers work — so this is the emerging age of the coupon business — rethink your promotional strategy if appropriate

• Remember, people still buy on one of several human emotions

I went from the Small Business September launch to an intimate TransTasman Business Chairman’s boardroom lunch of around 80 leaders including four of our Top 100 ASX Chairmen. I heard David Turner, Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank, give a funny and telling account of life and the associated responsibilities and historical journey as a board member. I took away a firm message to follow common sense — a theme that well matched the Business September launch this morning.

Overall theme I took away from today’s events was “embrace and extend” — a tagline I’m stealing for internal motivation for the next week. Onwards and upwards till next week! Have fun.

To view Sharon’s blog on Ninemsn, click here.