The recipe for business

My girlfriend recently shared with me a facebook post which was about a man from the UK that had made Lemoncello for the first time and clearly did not follow the recipe as he had a very unsatisfactory result. If you don’t mind a bit of rich language view the clip at this link.

Guy Tries His Homemade Limoncello For The First Time

This is the best thing I've seen all year 🤣follow Phat Brit for the funniest UK content 🇬🇧 🙌🏼

Posted by Phat Brit on Friday, June 26, 2020

This made me think about how things could go wrong if you did not have the right ingredients when baking or making something tasty. It also highlighted what can happen if you do not follow the recipe or have all of the ingredients.

These thoughts can be applied to business as well. If you do not have the right recipe or all of the ingredients to make a strong business, then things can go wrong quite easily and can sometimes be disastrous.

What are the ingredients for business?

  1. Working Capital

In my experience in New Zealand, people try to start their businesses with insufficient cash available. They may start with enough to set up their business, but not enough to sustain it in its start up phase. This phase could be a number of months, or in some cases years,. This is true if you look at examples like Rocket Lab and Moa Brewery to name a few. The working capital may come from savings invested in the business, or from a lender or from another investor(s).

  1. Potential Customers

If you are going into business you need to know that there are potential customers that will buy the products or services that you are wanting to provide. You want to do some market testing and get specific about exactly who will buy your products or services. 

  1. Marketing Plan

This is how you will attract the potential customers to your business. Generally customers won’t all of a sudden start buying from you just because you have opened your doors. You need a plan that includes listing who your potential customers are and how you are going to entice them to buy from you.

  1. Business Alliance Plan

You need a plan of who you require  as a partner to enable you to conduct your business. This plan will include key suppliers, lawyer, accountant, business advisor and mentor, to name a few.

  1. Financial Plan

This is where you build the financial goals of your business with aims for 12 months out to possibly 10 years. This will highlight what resources you need to achieve those goals, and how you are going to get those resources, plus, what actions you need to take etc.

  1. Crisis Plan

Sometimes, things go wrong in business. So, you need to have a plan on how to operate if things do go wrong. This will include adequate insurances, understanding how your computer system can work if your premises are not able to be accessed, if you have staff how to engage with them if there is a disaster, and so forth.

  1. Key Document Storage Plan

You need to have a place where you can easily store your key business documents. Rather than keeping physical documents, this may well be in the cloud. It is where all contracts, tax compliance documents, employment records, and so on are stored and easily accessible.

  1. Systems Plan

The planning of strong efficient business systems will mean that as your business grows, your systems can cope with that growth and not hinder you from achieving your goals.

  1. Exit Plan

This is putting in place strategies, structure, and systems to lock in the value that you are creating in the business. It is so that when you decide that you do not want to do it anymore, others will see the value in what you have created and be willing to pay for it. There are various exit strategies such as succession, or direct sale, listing on the stock exchange, venture capital investment, shutting down, and a number of mixtures of all of these. Thinking about this ahead of time allows you to make sure you have the appropriate structure and strategies in place to allow it to happen when you are ready.

Proof of the pudding

Many New Zealand businesses do not follow a recipe with the ingredients outlined above and this could be why a large proportion of them fail within the first 12 to 24 months. A lot of the ingredients in the list above can be created by the business owners/prospective owners themselves with some time and discipline. 

Don’t be like the lemoncello guy and not follow the recipe, we saw how that went!

Help with the ingredients

Sometimes it can be hard to know which ingredients you need for your business, or which recipe you should be using. So, if you need help putting some of the ingredients together please feel free to contact Biz Assist for a free no commitment initial consultation.

Give yourself a gift this Christmas

Do you think that a Christmas gift for yourself is too expensive? Think again!

What’s that? The Christmas and New Years period is slow for your business? We hear you. That’s a common complaint, especially for service based businesses. Given that little snippet of knowledge, you’re probably thinking that giving yourself a Christmas gift is the last thing you’ll have the funds for.

What is this gift that we’re referring to? Actually, it’s more affordable than you think, and it doesn’t need all that fancy Christmas wrapping paper either.

Upskilling. Give yourself the gift of knowledge.

Your business may have slowed down as your customer base goes on holiday, but it doesn’t mean that you have to send your brain on holiday too. In fact, it’s probably the one time of the year where your business can afford to let you spend time doing non-income generating tasks.

Upskilling sounds like a really expensive thing to do in a financially quiet time of the year, but that’s not necessarily true. There are a number of free and low cost resources available that can help you in a range of areas within your business.

The key thing with any upskilling, is that you have a clear objective in mind. Take a moment to write down some of the key areas of your business that you’re keen to learn more about. Be brutally honest – do you properly understand your business financials? Do you know how to effectively analyse your chosen market and then put that data into a business plan? Does social media and all of its working parts sound like a foreign language to you?

You’re not alone! These are some common aspects of business that mystify business owners.

To save you time, and to kickstart your learning journey, we’ve done a bit of the work for you and found some great free resources you can tap into to get your upskilling started:

1. Libby

Let’s start with the basics and look at Libby first. Libby is an audio book and e-book reader. Most Libraries within New Zealand now offer a range of e-books and audio books via Libby. If you’ve got a holiday planned and you enjoy a bit of good reading, then Libby is for you! Download the app on your tablet and then follow the instructions to log in using your Library card. The sky is the limit with Libby and the books offered. Use the search term Small Business for example, and you’ll have access to heaps of great resources. If you’re not sure if Libby is supported by your Library, check out their website for more info.

2. Primer

Offered by Google, Primer is a free app that can be downloaded on your devices. Using short lessons in a slide based format, Primer has four main sections – Business & Operations, Brand & Identity, Career Development, and Marketing & Measurement. Each of these sections contains a range of topics that you can upskill in. By keeping lessons short and succinct, Primer is a great way to pick up new skills without being bogged down by irrelevant information. You can close the app in the middle of a lesson and then come back and pick up where you left off. It’s so simple!

3. LinkedIn Learning

Whilst Libby and Primer are somewhat easier platforms to upskill by, LinkedIn Learning should not be overlooked. Using video based lessons that are broken down into small topical bites, LinkedIn Learning offers a huge range of topics that you can search through. LinkedIn Learning utilises experts in various fields to give you relevant information that you can use straight away in your business. Want to learn about WordPress? LinkedIn Learning. Want to understand blogging for business? LinkedIn Learning. Social Media confusing for you? LinkedIn Learning! Most Libraries in New Zealand offer you free access to LinkedIn Learning, which is an absolute bonus. Visit your Library’s website to find out how you can access LinkedIn Learning, free.

4. Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

If you want to sink your teeth into something more substantial and have a Kaitiaki (navigator/tutor) help you on your journey, then the Mana Ora course offered by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is a great place to start. Chances are you’ve been winging it as a business owner for a while, so you’ll find some great resources in Mana Ora. Free to New Zealand citizens and residents, learn how to analyse your market using SWOT analysis and other tools. Discover how simple it is to put together a business plan and to get your thoughts onto paper. As you work through Mana Ora, you will also learn a Te Ao Māori perspective to broaden your horizons even further. The free resources you receive in this course are without a doubt, top notch.

Upskilling can almost sound like a dirty word as a business owner. It feels expensive and it sounds like time you don’t have. Use the Christmas period to give yourself the gift of fresh knowledge for the new year, and gain a new perspective as you march into 2022.

We’re always available to help you amalgamate all of the new knowledge you will gain into your current business. All you need to do is get in touch to have a free chat to get the ball rolling!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and an Upskilled New Year!

How to prepare for Christmas as a Small Business

Are you dreading Christmas? As a business owner, you’re likely dreading more than the present shopping and food prep for the big day. For a small business, cashflow is king, and the December/January period is often challenging financially.

It’s no secret that smaller businesses are often in a more ‘hand to mouth’ scenario money wise, making the impending festive season more than a little bit stressful. Two of the biggest stressors, especially for service based businesses at Christmas are:

  • Slow payment of invoices across December and January – this can put big strain on the ability of a business to meet overheads
  • A significant drop in revenue generating work across December/January – with many businesses taking leave, work coming in can slow down a lot, creating a large decrease in billing ability

With only a little under three months to go until the Big Fella makes his way down the chimney, what are some of the steps you can take to prepare your business for the quiet season?

Reminisce about Christmases Past

Whilst Aunty Glenda’s trifle may be on your mind here, think finances instead. Take a look at your figures for last Christmas. Was there enough in the pot to cover all of the overheads comfortably? What was the uptake of your products and services like at that time? Make some informed decisions about how you proceed into this Christmas by using those figures. It may be a good time to increase sales of products through some strong promotional activity in the lead up to and through November. If you’re service based, now is a good time to check on your customers and see what extra help they may need. You never know, they may be waiting for a call!

Talk to Ebenezer

Okay, so this really refers to your bank, and whilst they are strict with their money it is also worth speaking with your bank in the lead up to Christmas, to see what additional support and safety nets can be put in place for you. If through analysing your finances, you found you were more reliant on an overdraft during that period, now is the time to start talking to your bank about how you can ensure you have a big enough safety net to help you get through. Just remember to factor in how easily this overdraft can be serviced on the other side of Christmas.

Promote, Promote, Promote

There is never a bad time to promote your business, and in the lead up to the quiet season, now is probably the best time of all. What are your unique selling points? Are people really aware of them? Focus on what makes your product(s) or service(s) better or unique, and really drive that message. Your business is your baby, so don’t be ashamed to let people know how proud you are and encourage them to check you out.

Remind them of what you Really want for Christmas

If all you’ve received for Christmas in the past is the sound of crickets from the people who owe you money, get proactive. November is a great time to send out reminders to your customers about what they owe you. This gives you time to follow up any late payments in the early stages of December. Make sure you send your invoices for December and January out promptly and before Christmas. By doing this, you set yourself up to be paid more promptly, and your debtors have no excuse for not having paid, or arranged a payment arrangement with you.

Communicate with Suppliers

Worried that you might not quite have enough to make it through? Whatever you do, make sure you talk to your suppliers. They’re likely feeling the same stresses, but if you get in touch with them to make payment arrangements, they can then manage their cashflow better too. The added bonus is that by communicating with your suppliers, you’ll create a more trusting relationship with them and they’ll be more likely to want to help you in the future.

Whether you love Christmas or hate it, by taking some simple proactive steps between now and December, you can lift some of the stress that this time of year inevitably brings with it.

Of course, if you’re unsure how you’ll get through, or you need a little bit of help looking at your finances and making some plans, Biz Assist is always here to help. Get in touch by clicking here, to have a chat, and we can ensure that you’re celebrating this Christmas, rather than worrying about the finances.

How can you maximise your revenue generating time?

Many SME’s are one person or Husband and Wife operations.

The owner/operators often work much more than a standard work week, particularly when you take into account the administrative functions such invoicing customers, paying suppliers, and so on.

Some of these owner/operators are also self confessed control freaks so try to do absolutely everything themselves. This leaves them constantly stressed and tired, dreaming of a better work life balance.

To all business owners, I suggest looking at your systems and embrace technology to make life less busy and more enjoyable.


Is the time that you spend invoicing time that you could otherwise spend generating revenue?

If so, then one option is to generate the invoice on the job using a mobile app. This way you can also charge your customer for your admin time and not have to wait to get back to the office.

Another option is to pay someone less than your hourly charge out rate to do your invoicing, then you carry on doing the work that generates revenue. This could be done by employing someone for the appropriate hours or outsourcing to companies that do this as their day job.

Either method means that your net gain is greater than if you hadn’t taken that action.

With the affordable accounting packages available today you can still stay in complete control without having to physically do all of the data entry.


Look at how you approach the tasks that you need to undertake and work out the most efficient ways to do them. Then, create a standard operating procedure that you follow and continuously refine.

If you have repetitive tasks that you undertake all the time, look at the possibility of automating those tasks, getting someone with a lower skill set to undertake that part of the task at a lower cost than you pay for your skill set, or outsource that part of the task.

This frees you up to concentrate on revenue generation and being more productive.

I could write a novel on the things that your business could do to maximise their revenue generating ability. But, the core of what I am saying is question why you do things the way you do in your business – are there better ways that can improve your productivity, profitability, and life in general?

If you would like to discuss or get assistance in improving your systems give Biz Assist a call and we will help you achieve your goals. Reach out today.

The Challenges of being in business.

The challenges of being in business

Recently I was involved in some Business Mentors New Zealand training with about 30 other mentors.

It was great to meet others that were part of this organisation and to share experiences.

There were widely varying stories of how some businesses were struggling post Covid 19 and how others were going absolutely gang busters.

The ones that were going really well were the ones that were able to adjust their business operations quickly and satisfy certain needs of customers that became apparent.

In the discussion there were a number of common points that, while people were extremely passionate about what it is that they do, many business owners struggled with in 2020. 

I list these below:

  • Insufficient working capital to achieve their aims
  • Business financial understanding
  • Business strategic planning
  • Resilience planning for if adverse events occur
  • Understanding technology and the opportunities it presents
  • Thinking outside of the square
  • Communication and people skills

If you are one of the business owners that have one or more of these struggles, then there are experts that can help you overcome them,  building your capability and confidence with them.

If you need reassurance, guidance, or some hands on assistance, go to someone with experience. Graeme from Biz Assist has years of experience in these matters so feel free to make contact with him if you need help. Reach out today. 

Cupcakes are a good thing!

Last month I participated in Movember. The funds raised by Movember go into aiding the improvement of a number of men’s health issues. It is worth the aggravation of a tickly upper lip that for some reason I cannot stop touching.

The one issue closest to home for me at this point in time is mental health and suicide prevention.

The issues in New Zealand with mental health are well documented and reported. 

Globally, on average, 1 man dies by suicide every minute of everyday. That is a terrible and sobering statistic.

We all have our highs and lows in life, I have certainly had my share of both.

In my business, I deal with generally small business owners. People running their own businesses that fill all of the roles that larger businesses have lots of staff to do. At times it can feel like a very lonely place; particularly when things are not going well.

Males are especially bad at sharing these stressful times and there is still a fair bit of the “harden up” attitude around, despite the best efforts of society and some prominent celebrities telling us that that is no longer an option.

I am ashamed to say I used to be one of those with the “harden up cupcake” attitude until I myself hit the wall. Thankfully I followed some sound advice given to me and found someone independent to talk to who gave sound strategies to work through my issues.

One of the most damaging things for me was a lack of work life balance. I worked long hours in a senior stressful role for a long period of time. Even on days off and holidays I was often interrupted by work calls or sometimes took some work with me.

My simple advice to anyone that is feeling the burn is this:

  • Don’t be afraid to turn your phone off. The world will not end if you do.
  • If you are in business find someone to help you get your operation in order so that you do have work life balance
  • Do not be afraid to talk to people about how you are feeling
  • Find an impartial confidential counsellor that can give you some strategies to help you through the hard patches

Business owners need to pay themselves!

Money… the magic word on every business owner’s lips.

You may not go into business with the sole purpose of making money, but it should be one of the things you strongly consider.

What you earn can feel like a bit of a taboo subject and is not talked about publically. But, it should be talked about within your business. Here’s why!

The Questions.

When I meet with a prospective or new client, one of the first questions I ask them is are you making money?  The second question I ask is, are you paying yourself what you should be earning in the role you are performing?

The Answers.

Often the answer to question one is that we are not sure, or our accountant tells us we are doing well but we never have any money.

The answer to the second question ranges from, We are just trying to get the business running before we take anything out, to, we are paying ourselves but not as much as we would be if we were paying someone else to do the role we are performing. 

Occasionally they say yes we are to which I give them appropriate praise.

The Issues.

One of the very common issues when people start a business is that they have not put together enough capital to start the business off properly. So then the first thing that goes out the window is making sure that the person taking all of the risk in the business is getting paid appropriately i.e. them, the business owner.

Unfortunately this can filter through into their pricing model and they get awarded work at a much lower rate than it really costs to do the work and make a profit. Or, they sell products at a much lower price than they need to to make an acceptable living.

It is much easier to get all of the components to create a successful business in place at the beginning, rather than try and correct things further down the track when customary process has become the norm.

The Business Plan.

An important component of setting up a viable business is planning to pay yourself properly. You also need to  put the in place a robust business plan that ensures you have sufficient working capital, a marketing plan appropriate for the type of business, budgets and cashflow projections that support the business operations, as well as various other components.

Assistance Available.

Unfortunately, putting a business plan together is not everyones area of expertise. You have the ideas, but may be uncertain of how to compile that into a business plan that has all of the components required covered off.

Luckily, there are experts that can help you assemble a practical business plan that is designed to help your business pay you a fair wage.

If you need reassurance, guidance, or some hands on assistance in preparing your business plan and covering all angles, go to someone with experience. Graeme from Biz Assist has years of experience in these matters so feel free to make contact with him if you need help. Reach out today. 

Riding the Wave

When I was starting my business I started from a zero base. That is, no customers.

I needed an accounting system but I did not want to spend very much as I needed to protect my cash as much as I could. This is always wise no matter how early or late your business is in its maturity.

A friend of mine introduced me to Wave Accounting which she had been using for a number of years.

Wave Accounting Features

I took a look at Wave and decided that was the way I would go. It has many of the features of the accounting software packages that you pay for. Wave is funded by the transaction fees that are generated if you receive your payments via credit card, and the fees that they charge in association with that are very reasonable. They also provide some other paid services if you want them.

It is completely cloud based, you can run several businesses off the one login and it is easily configured. So, perfect for a small business such as my consultancy.

The Benefits Of Wave

It produces very professional looking invoices for your customers and has a mobile invoicing app for on your smartphone which I really like. It even sends you an alert when customers view the invoices that you have sent them.

You can scan and email your receipts to your wave instance and then when it appears in the app you then code the invoices. Alternatively, there’s a smartphone app that allows you to scan the receipt and then code it from your phone.

The system allows you to enter and manage your accounts payable and tells you if accounts receivable and Payable are overdue. It will send reminders to your customers if they have not paid within the required timeframe.

When setting up Wave, you need to load the New Zealand GST rate into it. You also need to take care when entering Supplier invoices (Bills) to ensure the GST is reflected correctly.

Reporting And Add Ons In Wave

Reporting in  Wave is clear and simple in relation to Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, and GST (or Sales Tax as the app calls it).

What it does not have is an inventory system, fixed asset system, or allow you to load budgets in the system to report against.

What many companies do in relation to the fixed asset system is run a spreadsheet and record the depreciation each month by entering a journal that captures it.

Wave has a great add on in Google Sheets that allows you to easily export the reports to Google sheets. I use this to then do my reporting against budgets.

Recommendation For Wave Accounting

All in all I am very pleased that I choose Wave Accounting. You could not get better value for no money.

If you need guidance with your Wave accounting or would like assistance in its setup and reporting, Biz Assist would be only too pleased to assist. Enquiries can be made via .

Positive Relationships

Throughout my career I have built many business relationships within the organisations I worked in, as well as outside of the organisation with suppliers and customers. 

This had always been while I was employed by someone else. I did not have to worry too much about building the business as that was not my role, but I did maintain the relationships. 

I was always professional and friendly as that is my nature.

Now that I am my own master and building my own business I have found that keeping those relationships going and talking to those people about their needs, experiences, or in some cases their clients needs pays dividends. Here’s why…

The Power Of Positive Business Relationships

 Building and maintaining positive relationships has been a significant source of revenue in my business. Plus, I get to work with people that I enjoy working with. 

Initially I was not confident to approach people that I knew. I overcame that. You should too. 

You do not have to be aggressive, just catch up for a coffee or some other form of beverage and you will be surprised about what can develop.

Building Positive Relationships

My advice to anyone commencing or building their business is this:

  • Do not be afraid to talk to people that you know first. They can offer advice or connections and in some cases, need to use your services and are relieved you have come along.
  • Join the local chamber of commerce and attend their networking events.
  • Join a networking organisation and build relationships through that.
  • Do not be afraid to offer some free advice initially. There will be payback for that in the future.
  • Feel confident to become involved in online discussions. This helps to build your profile.
  • Refer people to others in your network that may have the skills that they need.
  • Follow up at regular intervals as sometimes people have been really busy and need to be reminded of your offering.
  • Use your network to brainstorm ideas.
  • Be courageous.

Looking to build positive relationships in your business? Biz Assist can help you to form ideas on how to build your business and put in place strategies and systems to enable you to be successful. Book a free strategy call with us today.

Pricing Proposals for Success

A Proposal Success story

I was recently helping a client to price a proposal for a significant contract. 

She had done everything right. The team she assembled had read the evaluation criteria and addressed all of the items that required addressing in the RFP. She had enlisted the right expertise to help her define and cost the services that she was going to need to provide. The team had looked at the cashflow side of things to come up with an appropriate payment system that would ensure that the contract would be cashflow positive through the contract.

The proposal was excellent.

The client was shortlisted and asked to present to an evaluation team. The client’s team did a sterling job of presentation. A short while later, they were told that they were the preferred Service Provider and asked to attend another meeting.

At the meeting the team were congratulated on their success and told they were not the lowest priced tenderer and nor were they the highest. The problem was that while the Customer could see that the service that my client was going to provide was very high quality the price was too high and was there anyway that it could be reduced to fit the budget? 

There was great discussion and some options kicked around that gave my client some options to work on.

My client and her team went away and worked on this. They found that they were able to meet the requests of the Customer, restructure their payment system, remain cashflow positive and make a more than acceptable return.

This is a great story but unfortunately not such a common one when it comes to pricing proposals. Often, you don’t get that second chance to submit.

A guide to success

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to give your proposals the best chance for success. Here are some easy tips to help you be as successful as my client:

  1. Read the documentation thoroughly and make notes of requirements and evaluation criteria. This gives you an idea of where to put the most effort in your written proposal.
  2. Make sure you know the deadlines for submitting pricing and also the award timeframe. If the deadlines are too close for you to give the proposal proper attention, do not be afraid to ask for an extension. Do this as early as possible.
  3. If there is some external information required, such as insurance costs, quotes for materials, costs of bonds and so forth, that take time, get those requests off early.
  4. If you are uncertain on some aspects, get help from others that know about them. Sometimes this will cost you money but it will be money well spent.
  5. When pricing, think about how much margin you are prepared to accept for this project. This can be in dollar terms or a percentage and may be set at different levels depending on how much you need the work, how many competitors are pricing the job and so on.
  6. Always submit a bid that complies with the Customer’s requests and if you have some alternative ideas that may be better for the customer, then submit them as an appendix or alternative bid.
  7. Always look at and understand the payment terms of the contract, then look at how the cashflow will work for the contract. Always offer something that works for you rather than just accepting. This may mean that you need to talk to your suppliers to get them to accept the same payment terms so that you are not needing to pay them before you get paid.
  8. Always look at what it is going to cost you to set up for the project and make you get an upfront payment to more than cover this.
  9. Be careful of the impact of retentions on cashflow.

Hands on Assistance is available

There is a lot of pressure to get a proposal right and it can be an intimidating process to go through. Fortunately, you are able to seek expert advice on how to correctly assemble your next proposal.

If you are responding to requests for pricing or putting together a proposal and need reassurance or guidance, go to someone with experience for that assistance. Graeme from Biz Assist has years of experience in these matters so feel free to make contact with him if you need help.