Our business experts are here to help you or your small business get ahead of the curve
and make smarter business and technology decisions. Delve into best practice, how-to guides
and other handy information across a range of topics.


9 apps to help you get more done in less time

Are you plagued by mundane tasks that suck up valuable time? You probably know there’s an app for that, right? But you’re too busy to find out which ones work for you. That’s why we’ve done the donkey work for you…


How big data helps big businesses think bigger

There’s a new business phrase doing the rounds: big data. It sounds impressive, complicated, even a bit mysterious. However, in many respects, big data is an evolution of previous buzzwords such as ‘business intelligence’ and good old-fashioned market research and analysis. Regardless, it’s the key to business success…


The holiday bonus your employees really want

If you ask your staff what they want for Christmas, they will probably say cash, a pay rise or a promotion. And who can blame them? Unfortunately, in tough times that may not be on the cards. So how do we send them away with that warm fuzzy “I love my job” feeling that will see them through the inevitable holiday ruminations of “Is this really what I want to do with my life?” Here are a few ideas to get your staff to return to work all fired up for the year to come.


Top five employee gifts

Gift giving to employees can be fraught with problems. What if they don’t like them, or feel they are too cheap or even meaningless? Do you give every employee the same gift to avoid jealously, or will that leave them feeling that you can’t be bothered individualising them?

Don’t worry. There are some ways around these problems.


Six ways to spoil your clients this Christmas

Christmas is a great time to make an impression on your clients that can help to secure the relationship into the new year. It’s also one of the few times you can legitimately give something to your clients without being accused of graft, bribery or flattery. The trick is in getting the right gift – one that isn’t over the top but also isn’t seen as cheap. We want our clients to feel like we have taken the time to put some real thought into it, and that it reflects the value we place on our professional relationship with them.

The key is to make it personal and tailored. A gift doesn’t have to be expensive if it is meaningful to the client. However, if it’s a high-value client you might want to consider spending a little extra.


Are you really ready to start a business?

Let's assume that you already know that going into business isn't a walk in the park and that most businesses fail within five years. There are still a few questions you should answer before trading in your current boss for that lunatic in the mirror.


Common setbacks in small business (and how to avoid them)

Experiencing failure and disappointments when running a business is par for the course. Whether it's a poor return on a marketing investment, a partnership explosion or a financial hurdle, setbacks are inevitable. But they can also provide some of the biggest and best personal and professional breakthroughs, if you allow them.


How to be a happy freelancer

Working for yourself. Working from home. Laptop on your pyjama-clad lap until lunchtime... It's the making of daydreams for many office workers. But once you're in the world of freelancing or consulting as a one-man operation, issues of flow start to arise and create stress. Work flow and cash flow being two of the most difficult to wrangle.


Do you have what it takes to be a sole trader?

So you're sick and tired of working for the man and you're thinking you might go it alone. Fair enough, being your own boss has some real benefits to it. Whatever you make is all yours, you can enjoy greater flexibility, you take holidays when you want and no one is telling you what to do, right?


Introducing modern practices into an old-fashioned business

The business world changed with the advent of the internet. For a long time, smaller operators have been able to continue without having to do too much, continuing to manage using invoice books and the yellow pages for marketing. Good service and old-fashioned business practices were sufficient.


Why you need a five-year plan

Perhaps one of the most well-known sayings in business is "those who fail to plan are planning to fail". Business statistics would appear to support this idea, with nine out of 10 businesses closing within 10 years. Doing business without a plan is like going sailing without a chart and compass.


Have you got what it takes to be a mumpreneur?

For thousands of years, mothers have run home-based businesses producing everything from cottage crafts to gourmet foods. Mums have been midwives, healers, butchers, fishmongers, grocers, tavern keepers, writers, artists and so much more. Being a 'mumpreneur' isn't new - it's just got a new name and a whole lot of new potential.


When is it time to call in a consultant?

We all know calling in the consultants can be costly. The trick is in working out exactly when the time is right. However, figuring out when to make the call can be as simple as understanding the five reasons for calling in the big guns.


Understanding NDAs

Non-disclosure agreements (NDA) are an important tool to help small businesses protect intellectual property (IP) or trade secrets.


Independent business vs. franchise: What are the pros and cons?

Do you buy an independent business or go down the franchise path? Here are the pros and cons. Owning a business is the dream of many Australians, but do you buy an independent one or go down the franchise path? Each type has its own pros and cons and what works best for you will depend largely on your personality and business goals.


Do you go niche, or try to be a one-stop shop?

Should a business specialise in one particular product or service, or become a one-stop shop that offers the widest range? Here are the pros and cons.


Customer service in the digital era

Customer service excellence is a moving target, particularly in the current digital era. The rate of change for all things in life and business is accelerating. So too are customer expectations. Achieving and maintaining customer satisfaction requires discipline, focus and a commitment to four key service fundamentals.


Customer surveys: Beneficial or bothersome?

Customer surveys have been around for a long time. They are basically tools for measuring customer satisfaction. But in an age when customers blog, tweet and text about their experiences in real-time, these independent reviews, assessments and spontaneous protests serve as critical feedback for companies. The smart ones monitor what's said about them in social media and follow up with surveys.


The key to building customer loyalty

Customer loyalty is the holy grail of business. A repeat customer saves business significant money on customer acquisition and service costs as well as being a powerful brand ambassador. Building customer loyalty simply comes down to service and rewards.


Five ways to deal with pushy customers

Did you know that pushy customers can become your greatest brand ambassadors? Sure, they can be annoying, demanding, unreasonable and tiresome, but the key is in understanding what a pushy customer really wants and learning how to give it to them. Let's start with some 'pushy' psychology.


Is the customer always right?

The idea that the customer is always right is responsible for the success of numerous businesses. So is the customer always right? Heck no, but don’t tell them that. The idea that the customer is always right has transcended time and is responsible for the success of numerous businesses, including the Ritz Hotel chain and Wanamaker's department stores, which revolutionised retail in the early 1800s. The phrase is most commonly attributed to Marshall Field, an American retailer who coined the principle 'give them what they want'.


Developing a customer service strategy

How to create a customer service strategy that guides all employees in providing the best customer service possible. The truism that it takes months to find a customer and seconds to lose one has never been more accurate. Social media and online review sites can quickly amplify a single customer's bad customer service experience and inflict significant damage on your business. Major companies now emphasise the importance of their customer service strategies not only when marketing to customers, but also when speaking to investors, underlining the impact customer service can have on a company's bottom line.


Five-step guide to handling customer complaints

Small business owners can handle complaining customers by following a few simple steps.


Should you prioritise high-value clients?

There's no denying some clients are more profitable for your business than others. But should you prioritise high-value clients?


Should your account managers be on call 24/7?

Is it necessary for account managers to be on call at all hours, ready to answer a client's every need at any time?


How to write a mission statement

Mission and vision statements might help clarify a company's strategy and purpose. But the problems start when the promise, often pinned up on walls and elevators in the workplace, fails to match the reality.


How to be the world's best boss

An awesome employer is often the difference between a productivity powerhouse and a revolving-door workplace. Great bosses have higher staff retention, more innovative and productive teams, better business outcomes and they enjoy their work.


5 ways to motivate your staff

Well, that takes some next-level motivation - something beyond the ordinary. Gold stars and a meat tray aren’t going to cut it!


Turning obstacles into opportunities

Thomas Edison summed up how to turn obstacles into opportunities: "I have not failed," he said, "I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."


The world’s coolest offices

Let's face it - the modern office is a byproduct of the industrial revolution, which saw people more as machines than living organisms. Tightly packed grey cubicles, harsh fluorescent lighting and a plastic pot plant are pretty much the norm. More likely to inspire anxiety than productivity!


How to attract great employees (and keep them!)

There are many creative ways to help you compete to gain and keep the best. Many small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) can offer the sort of work-life balance, flexibility, personal care and opportunities for growth and advancement that bigger businesses just can’t match. No way? Consider the following.


Legal for start ups cutting through the red tape

Setting up your own business can be a daunting prospect and going through a stack of legal processes is no exception. Unfortunately in the rush to go to market, many business owners forget to tick off some crucial legal basics. Here are a few must-dos.


Are business partnerships worth the legal stress?

Business partnerships are like marriages. You start out full of optimism, knowing that combining your skills and strengths will create a formidable team, 'till death do you part'. But partnerships can be fraught with tension, stress and financial problems, and sometimes you discover your goals are far apart. Which raises the question, are business partnerships worth the legal stress?


Eight reasons why owning your own business is awesome!

When it comes to running your own small business, there are some very cool upsides to balance out the risks. Sure there are pitfalls to running your own business - no paid holidays, no overtime, high workplace stress, and the boss can be a real slave driver (that's you!). So why do people keep trying to become business owners, and why do those who have had their own businesses often go back to 'paid work' kicking and screaming?


Open plan versus closed office space

The type of office you work in can be a reflection of your status within a company. When a stockbroker was filmed live on television looking at revealing pictures of model Miranda Kerr while his colleague was being interviewed, you can bet he wished he had his own private office rather than an open plan one. However, there are pros and cons of both.


How to nurture leaders, not followers

How do you bring out leadership in your staff? Try these approaches for nurturing leaders, not followers. Let's face it, not every member of your staff is destined for high leadership positions. Most of them aren't. That doesn't mean that they aren't all leaders in their own right, or at least capable of it. The trick is to not fall into the trap of seeing people as either leaders or followers.


Business lessons from the cricket pitch

Cricket, like business, is a long-haul activity that requires a long-term strategy. Here are a few things cricket can teach us.


Knowing how and when to push your staff

The trick is learning how to push with our staff and inspire them to push with us. Newton's third law of motion states, "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction." It's just as true with people. That doesn't mean we can't get more from our employees at those times when we really need it. The trick is learning how to push with our staff and inspire them to push with us.


Why every employee needs a job description

Employment is a contract between you/your company and an individual. Most people wouldn't dream of entering into a contractual arrangement without a clearly written document that specifies the rights and responsibilities of all parties, yet this basic step is still overlooked by some employers. There are very good reasons why it shouldn't be.


Why SMEs should embrace flexible working hours

It seems the concept of the nine-to-five workday has gone the way of the dinosaur in recent years, as technology has stretched the workplace beyond the traditional office environment.


Destination burnout: Why you should book a holiday!

All work and no play can make Jack or Jill a basket case. Stress is the buzzword of modern times, and with good reason. Most people know that too much stress isn't good for us, but what might surprise you is that too little is also detrimental. Research indicates that most people perform at their best, and feel their best, when they are under some degree of pressure.


Building an elite small-business team

The SAS (Special Air Service) is an elite team in the Australian Defence Force. Its motto is telling: Who Dares Wins. Team members constantly push the envelope; that is, they go beyond set parameters.


What happens if you face being sued?

Being sued is an ordeal for anyone unfortunate enough to have it happen to them. So what can you do in order to protect your small business?


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Tax time

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Understanding your Telco bill

How to break down and analyse your telco bill