The 12 days of Christmas

The 12 days of ChristmasAs you prepare to stuff the Christmas turkey, here’s another course to serve before the pudding. Some thoughts to ponder as you unwind over the festive season.

On the 12th day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

You can expect your accountant to deliver on three things:

1. Protect your assets
2. Minimise your tax
3. Create you wealth

Ask yourself: Is my accountant delivering me real value?

Your accountant is most likely a public, or chartered, accountant. The most common task they perform is compliance – to ensure you meet your tax and statutory obligations. Done well, you may minimise your tax bill. But a proactive accountant is an oxymoron. If you are a micro business, or self-employed, you are low in the pecking order. Yet there is enormous added value your accountant can provide but doesn’t. Hold your accountant accountable.

On the 11th day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

There are only two reasons you start a business:

1. To fund your lifestyle, or
2. To create wealth

Ask yourself: Why am I in business?

Over 50% of the 1,000,000+ registered small businesses in Australia are deemed ‘own-account’ workers by the ABS. It loosely means you are self-employed. And if you are earning less than $25k (or thereabouts) you’ve got a hobby, not a business and may not be able to claim tax deductions for your hobby – check with your value adding accountant.

And when contemplating your financial statements consider this: Cashflow funds your lifestyle, and your balance sheet is where you create wealth.

On the 10th day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

The number one objective of all marketing effort is to generate qualified leads.

Ask yourself: Is my marketing spend (time and money), directly or indirectly, generating qualified leads?

If it is not, then why you are investing in it? Marketers drive a functional activity that is easy to measure. Easy to measure, easy to manage and easy to reward. Are you paying performance or rewarding results? Marketing spend is an INVESTMENT and every investment has a Return on Investment (ROI). What is yours?

On the ninth day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

Are you running your business or is it running you?

Ask yourself: If I took a leave of absence, planned or otherwise, would my business/practice carry on, and prosper, in my absence?

If the answer is “No”, then you have yourself a job not a business. Look for ways you can turn your self-employment or practice into a business. Introduce robust business systems that operate without your presence. Business is more science than art. Save the art for your creative ideas, innovation and apply the science for delivery, processes, and the like.

On the eighth day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

Most people spend only 20% of their time doing things that reflects their natural talent or passion.

Ask yourself: Have I got the right people in the right roles?

And what about you, the principal, are you doing what you love and what you are talented, and skilled in? Doing what you love is a devotion, that’s where you’ll align with your talent and skills and be most productive and happy.

On the seventh day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

Leadership is about empowerment not delegation.

Ask yourself: Am I standing in the way of the bright lights in my business?

Organisational charts are for large corporations. Workflow must recognise the need for real time decision-making, autonomy and unlocking the potential in your talent. Remove the roadblocks, even if you are one of them.

On the sixth day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

Catch people doing things right.

Ask yourself: Is the glass half full or half empty? Do I affirm the positive behaviours and choices my people make, or do I just correct them when they make a mistake?

Leadership and parenting have similarities. Where you put your focus and attention will expand. Reaffirm positive behaviour and it multiplies. That’s leverage!

On the fifth day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

Everybody is time poor, including you, the first order of business is to identify what to STOP doing.

Ask yourself: Am I, as CEO, involved in roles other than business development, team building or strategy?

If you are then you are doing someone else’s job. You have high-end value to add to your business, give yourself every chance of success but focus your energy on the big ticket items.

On the fourth day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

Begin with the end in mind – over 25% of business proprietors will exit their business for one reason or another in the next three to five years. And sadly most don’t have an exit strategy or succession plan in place.

Ask yourself: What is my exit strategy?

Regardless of where you are at in your business life cycle, do you have a plan to exit? One that rewards you for your toil and effort? Do it now! It can be both a contingency and a staged exit.

On the third day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

If you have failed to plan, you have planned to fail.

As yourself: Do I have a business plan?

The primary purpose of a business plan is NOT to raise funding. No! No! No! The primary purpose of a business plan is to help the CEO (you) deliver on the strategic objectives of the business. If you report to a board then that is the primary role of the CEO.

On the second day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

People buy emotionally and justify rationally.

Ask yourself: Am I aware of how my communication affects people around me? Do I alter my communication style to best suit the recipient?

Soft skills confer real commercial benefit if you know what you’re doing with them. In financial markets they say, you are not trying to beat the market, you are trying to beat the traders in the market.

“There were two guys on safari in the wilds of Africa. They were lost. In the distance appeared a menacing lion with a voracious appetite. One of the guys reached into his backpack and began lacing up his running shoes. His mate turned to him and said, “You don’t seriously think you can out run that lion? He replied, “Of course not, I only need to out run you!”

On the first day of Christmas my business coach said to me…

“You’ve got to have a dream, you’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true?” Happy Talk, South Pacific

As an entrepreneur you do the world an enormous service; you, my friend, are custodian of commercial dreams. Without you, and your hopes, dreams and aspirations, the economic world that we know and love would simply not exist. You are the true keepers of the faith. Bon chance!

Dennis Roberts, MAICD, MBA, CPA is an executive coach/business mentor with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and organisations such as PwC, CBA, Hudson, Pfizer and a range of small to medium enterprise clients. If you, or your staff, aren’t performing at your optimum then it’s high time you worked smarter and not harder. Visit


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