Year: 2014

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People Matter: The Formula for Business Growth

There is a hackneyed old phrase we all have heard—it is trotted out often enough by business owners, advisors and managers. “Your people are your biggest asset”, they chant in unison. And who has not rolled their eyes at the sound of yet another hollow platitude that makes not one iota of difference to the lives of staff and business owners? Greg Mitchell, Principal Consultant at HR Success in Penrith, says it is not the cliché we should listen to, but the sentiment underpinning it. An asset—as any trusty dictionary will tell you—is a positive quality, a benefit, a thing or a skill that gives an advantage. In business, we tend to use it to talk about objects—the equipment or premises that belong to the business. And that is perhaps where the problem lies: we think of assets as sunk costs. “I actively encourage many of the business owners and managers I work with to see their staff as one of their most critical investments,” Greg says. It is an important shift in terminology—an ‘investment’ …

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Melissa: Sovereign for the Brain

In 1699, English herbalist John Evelyn described Melissa—or lemon balm—as “sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory, and powerfully chasing away melancholy.” Robyn Simon, of Pure Oils International in Katoomba, says this three hundred year old quote is still the most accurate description she has ever read of Melissa Officinalis—but what is it, and what has it got to do with our busy modern lifestyles? Melissa oil—the essential oil distilled from the Melissa Officinalis plant—is one of the most expensive oils, but one that offers a powerful and natural way to manage a problem all of us suffer at one time or another—stress. Running a small business or being a sole trader can be as stressful as it is rewarding, and stress can reduce our ability to concentrate, stymie our creativity and make us sick—and that’s not good when business relies on your performance. In fact, 2008 research by Medicare Private found that stress costs Australian businesses over $10 billion a year. The research also noted that individuals are best placed to notice the ‘early …

From the Editor: Modewest Issue 1 Winter 2014

Welcome to the first issue of Modewest. We are very excited to present to you a fresh, new look into the encounters, experiences and golden opportunities available to all Greater Western Sydney businesses. Modewest stands firmly on the focus of business and life. Our contributors are all business owners, and—as business owners—we know what it’s like to juggle the challenges of life while running a business at the same time. Some of us have children growing up, some of us have health concerns, some of us have just started a business and need information and direction to market and run our businesses successfully. Some of us have been in business for a longer time and are looking to expand our horizons, find new ideas or just be entertained. None of us have much time. Modewest was created for all of us. Modewest is a free online magazine. Our digital issues can be viewed and downloaded online from the Modewest website or you can contact us at info@modewest.com.au for more information. In this first issue, we …

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Miners on Bicycles

I had driven along Great Western Highway past Blackheath and Mount Victoria when the scenery suddenly changed. Instead of endless, monotonous woods, there was a vast valley with open fields, farm houses, horses on paddocks and quaint little shops along the highway. I breathed a sigh of relief. The long and winding descent down the hill eased into a leisurely drive on a country road. The bright Australian sun was up and doing its best to put a smile on these pastoral surroundings. We both had a job to do and we were feeling fine. I was on my way to the “little house on the prairie”, as its owner called it. She had hired me to photograph her partner’s bicycle collection as a birthday surprise for him. The idea was to select one or two of the photos and make a canvas print to present to the hero of the day. It was a great idea and I wanted to help make it succeed. As I arrived at the little house, my client had …

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Soul Searching Sole Trader

Those of us who have launched into the life of a sole trader know why we did it—the lifestyle, the personal reward, the independence, the lack of office politics and fickle employers. But how do you make sure you have a truly viable business that will consistently deliver the income you want? Rob Drage, business mentor at Thexton Armstrong Drage in Faulconbridge, says that every sole trader needs to do some soul searching—and he recommends two regular review processes. Taking a good, hard look at your business might not be every sole trader’s idea of fun—it might even be terrifying—but it is essential. “The life of a sole trader can be rewarding, frustrating, exhilarating and stressful all at once,” says Rob. “Part of balancing these emotions is having a thorough understanding of the business, the customers and the competition.” Rob’s two review processes, the SWOT analysis and Business Definition, take time, thought and discussion to get the most benefit, and to most people they are far less exciting than just running the business. However without …