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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Warren Buffett suggestions for 2011

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...Image via WikipediaIn his 2011 annual letter to shareholders [pdf download], Warren Buffett offered a variety of insights for business owners. Here are five of my favorite pearls of wisdom from the Oracle of Omaha:
1. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water
Berkshire Hathaway has a significant exposure to the U.S. housing market, yet instead of selling assets or de-prioritizing the industry, Buffett made some additional investments in his housing-related businesses, including purchases of the largest brick manufacturer in Alabama, a new $55-million plant for roofer Johns Manville and five “bolt-on” acquisitions for MiTek.
Takeaway for business owners: Don’t mistake an industry in a cyclical downturn for a business in trouble.

2. Keep your “elephant gun” loaded
“Our elephant gun has been reloaded, and my trigger finger is itchy,” writes Buffett.
Berkshire Hathaway is sitting on $38 billion in cash, which means it has the resources to buy when others are keen to sell.  For example, Buffett deployed $15.6 billion in the 25 days of chaos that followed the Lehman bankruptcy of 2008. Although markets have stabilized, he is still on the hunt for opportunities.
Takeaway for business owners: Build up a war chest of cash — maybe one or two months’ revenue — to pounce on opportunities when others are playing defense.

3. Be cautious with leverage
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business ...Image via WikipediaBuffett is fiscally conservative, and in this year’s shareholder letter, he outlines his attitudes toward using debt to improve returns:
Unquestionably, some people have become very rich through the use of borrowed money. However, that’s also been a way to get very poor. When leverage works, it magnifies your gains. Your spouse thinks you’re clever, and your neighbors get envious. But leverage is addictive. Once having profited from its wonders, very few people retreat to more conservative practices. And as we all learned in third grade — and some relearned in 2008 — any series of positive numbers, however impressive the numbers may be, evaporates when multiplied by a single zero. History tells us that leverage all too often produces zeroes, even when it is employed by very smart people.
Leverage, of course, can be lethal to businesses as well. Companies with large debts often assume that these obligations can be refinanced as they mature. That assumption is usually valid. Occasionally, though, either because of company-specific problems or a worldwide shortage of credit, maturities must actually be met by payment. For that, only cash will do the job.
Borrowers then learn that credit is like oxygen. When either is abundant, its presence goes unnoticed. When either is missing, that’s all that is noticed. Even a short absence of credit can bring a company to its knees. In September 2008, in fact, its overnight disappearance in many sectors of the economy came dangerously close to bringing our entire country to its knees.
Takeaway for business owners: You probably got into business for yourself — at least in part — for the freedom of running your own company. Don’t undermine your independence by becoming beholden to a lender who can control your fate.

4. Have a replacement
Buffett’s 2011 annual letter to shareholders includes a memo he sent to his top managers requesting they send him their suggestions for their replacements in the event they become incapacitated. Berkshire Hathaway employs some 260,000 people and would have thousands of internal candidates for any job opening; it could also hire the very best headhunter in the country to find a new manager, yet despite all of these resources, Buffett wants his managers to mentor their replacements.
Takeaway for business owners: Grooming a second-in-command provides a great insurance policy in case you get sick, gives you more time away from your business, and ultimately makes your business a lot more valuable if you ever want to sell it.

5. Never stop selling
Warren Buffett is one of the world’s richest, most successful people, yet he wants to sell shareholders a $3 Dairy Queen Blizzard. His letter is, in part, a sales pitch aimed at getting shareholders to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual general meeting in Omaha. Instead of hosting an annual meeting in a stuffy hotel for a sterilized group of institutional investors, he creates a circuslike atmosphere and invites individual shareholders to the Qwest Center, where they can buy products from the businesses Berkshire owns. A full two pages of Buffett’s annual letter is devoted to selling investors on going to the annual meeting, where they can get a deal on car insurance from Geico or buy a pair of Justin boots or a box of See’s candy or just a Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard to enjoy as they listen to his pitch.Warren Buffett - Bridge @ Borsheims 2007Image by Ethan Bloch via Flickr
Takeaway for business owners: No matter how big and successful your business becomes, always be willing to do some selling yourself. It will demonstrate to everyone — from your staff to your customers to your investors — that you’re proud of the products you sell.

What’s your favorite kernel of wisdom from the Oracle of Omaha?
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Monday, 18 April 2011

Small Business get with smart Marketing

 You can’t be serious ….

 click image to expand
do I have to be in all this social media to have a successful future
We don’t know….we just want to make business fully aware of where the modern consumer is heading.  Here are tales of retail businesses - small, medium large and public.

All realised they need to use new techmarketing to reach new customers, to keep established customers, to react to changing buying behaviour and to broaden their reach from local, to national and even global.

A photo of a cup of coffee.Case Study one- Fix Espresso using   offered a $2.50 coffee special on the specials website sold 150  extra coffee vouchers in one day!   Followers of deal2day get daily specials emailed to them across a wide band of retail and service offerings.  Fix proprietor, Jonathan Myerson comments “why hope for a customer to pass your door when you can attract them from around the neighbourhood with a great offer?    “Once they come in on our special, I know they will enjoy the experience and be back again.”

Case study two
Kuzzunman Leather a family owned Australian business which sells leather goods and clothing related to the motor cycle sector and also for the work wear sector. The business has enjoyed tremendous growth in the past two years by developing online sales activity across Australia and has gone from 0% of sales  online to 30% in just a few years!

The business is located on the outer edges of Perth which restricts its door sales but the owners are selling online Australia wide. They have changed the business from a local business to a national business with the use of new technology marketing!

A exposure blended photo of the Sydney Opera H...Image via WikipediaCase Study three - PutersFrom a humble beginning with a single East Sydney store, they developed a virtual department store on the web.  Every conceivable home wares product from glassware, to cutlery, linen, jewellery, house fashions, electrical goods etc is available online and many of the world’s best brands are featured. 

Prices are below those of conventional department stores and the site is highly visual and easy to buy from. A massively successful site.


Case Study four - Myer Ltd -
Interior of a typical department store. This i...

Myer knows it needs to have an online offering, but doesn’t want to cannibalise its conventional department store sales by having its website discount the same goods.  The solution?
Myer has launched….which is a specials related site carrying selected department store lines. But you will not find ANY MYER LOGO anywhere on the myfind site!
In a way, it is a similar strategy to the Qantas -Jetstar double prong approach

Case study five
Central Insurance Brokers
Perth, Western Australia (suburb)
A medium size suburban Insurance Broker in South Perth West Australian. They engaged enthusiasm to embrace social media networks, they provided "gifts" through social networks to the Community, by gifts we mean free access to intellectual property.  Their transparency characterises their culture of trust and builds essential rapport for new and existing clients.

Central Insurance Brokers of South Perth WA were quick to embrace the social media market using the span of mediums such as google Maps, google docs, buzz me, Linked in, twitter, blogs. Consequently their popularity is search engines achieves highest ranking.  Try searching Insurance Broker Perth, South Perth or WA or West Australia you will find them fast. But that's not all, when you get there you'll see they identified customer values

a bold phone number - just call, but for those that need more they display a list of transarent options: Product knowledge, Direct contact details, Photos and more

The wisdom of their marketing think tank is extensive.
  • They were fast and passionate about connecting with the customer in the virtual world but it does not end there.
  • They offer free virtual gifts - Community service Information
  • They offer free real gifts - documentation to clients is supported with value added intel
  • They invest substantially in wellness values
  • Clients receive token gifts during regular dealings
  • Staff are hosted to team building bootcamps local and overseas 
  • They focusing, like most on customer service values, but more they constantly re assess with intent to deliver value.
  • Their service is models are based on customer feedback not organisational regime
The company was founded in 1978 and it continues with their founding Director Phillip Smith and strong leadership from the Board of Directors Simon Wardman and Noel Carter.  

Wait, there’s more!  An exceptional group of Associate partners - Team Managers or Account Executives (another aspect of their success is equity participation). 

It is inarguable they are the leading suburban based General Insurance Broker in Perth West Australia. Try them at

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Monday, 21 February 2011

Truck Insurance it's a goodyear

Veronica538 at work as truckdriverImage via Wikipedia
You’re a truck driver and driving alone at night. Suddenly, headlights from an oncoming vehicle point straight at your eyes. The sharp swerve missed the car, but you hit a tree instead, and the impact overturned your vehicle. You’re lucky to be alive.
We hear about truck and machinery accidents on the news all the time, but most of us think we are indestructible and such things will never happen to us.
Truck drivers could be driving with their eyes closed due to fatigue from working long hours. This may increase the possibility of having an accident.
Believe it or not, many accidents are not caused by the truck drivers. Most people are intimidated by huge trucks driving next to them, or don’t have patience being stuck behind a big, slow truck. So what do drivers do about this? They speed up and overtake the truck (ignoring placards not to do so), or speed up to avoid giving way to a truck wanting to overtake them.
Whatever the reason for accidents, they happen.
A container truck. Cab-over design.Image via WikipediaI’ve dealt with claims relating to trucks being vandalised, set on fire, stolen, colliding with other vehicles, hitting trees and kangaroos, or being clipped by other vehicles.
Are you insured?!?
As a truck driver, your truck is your largest and most important asset of your business. You may have one, two, or a fleet of vehicles in your company to help you earn an income. Why wouldn’t you protect your assets against a disaster? If you have insurance for a trucking business, check if you have the following covers in place:
    Rob Knell, monster truck driverImage via Wikipedia
  • Accidental damage, fire & theft on the truck or machinery
  • Public Liability
  • Hazardous goods
  • Care, custody & control
  • Business Interruption
  • Damage as a result of work involving digging
  • Marine cargo
I get nervous hearing about uninsured or under-insured businesses or vehicles. Without the right cover, your business could possibly come to a halt, unless you have thousands of dollars lying around to continue running the business. What if you carry hazardous toxic chemicals and your truck has overturned on a busy highway?

What if it was your negligence that caused the accident and you are sued? If due to a disaster, you can’t operate your business, and as a result there is no income for the business, how will you  pay for the fixed expenses of the business (such as rent and wages)? These are all the scenarios you need to think about when taking out insurance.
Insurance is the determining factor on the survival of your business after a major accident.
You can hire an insurance broker to give you professional advice and find the right cover to protect your business properly.
Cynthia Yap is an experienced Insurance Broker who has been with Central Insurance Brokers for the past decade. Having witnessed many businesses go down as a result of business owners not taking sensible insurance advice, she can keep you on the Road.

Here is a quick reference guide to covers

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Crazy Storms are you Protected?

Cynthia Yap is an experienced Insurance Broker who has been with Central Insurance Brokers for the past decade. She talks about using insurance to protect your assets.
Different parts of Australia have encountered some unexpected weather during the first month of autumn.

I am talking about the severe hail storms in Melbourne and Western Australia and flash flooding in different parts of the Eastern States, and winter hasn’t even arrived! What about the flooding caused by record-breaking rainfalls in Queensland?
Location of Western Australia.Image via WikipediaMost scientists will tell you there is evidence that our climate is changing. Even though there is much debate on the causes of climate change, the most intense argument is over the human impact on this matter. To some, humans are the sole cause of global warming, while others don’t think we are responsible at all.
Observed changes in Australia include increased temperatures, declining rainfall in certain areas (causing drought), rising sea levels, and extreme weather occurring more frequently.
Apart from actively taking steps to help improve the environment, don’t forget to protect yourself and your assets from any disaster.
You can insure your personal assets like your house, contents and motor vehicle against damage caused by natural disasters, fire, theft and accidents. Cover for accidental damage and flood need to be nominated, as they are usually not automatically included in policies.

For business owners, depending on whether you are a service provider, retailer or manufacturer, check to see if you have any of the below summarised covers:
·         Fire – damage to a building, stock or contents caused by fire.
·         Theft – stock or contents stolen from your business premises.
·         Business Interruption – this covers the loss of income you would have made in the period your business was closed (as a result of a disaster). It covers costs involved in moving to and operating from a temporary location, and fixed expenses including wages, utilities and rent. This section may be the most valuable cover for your business, because a business that is not operating cannot produce income.
·         Public Liability – if you cause injury to third party or damage to third party property arising from carrying out your business.
·         General Property – covers your business tools and equipment during transit and on-site, damaged as a result of fire, collision or overturning of the vehicle. Theft is also covered if the tools are stolen from a locked vehicle or by forced entry.
·         Glass – internal or external glass on the premises, including windows, ceramic basins, mirrors and neon signs.
·         Money – covers loss or damage of money from the premises during and after business hours, at your residence, in a safe and during transit.
·         Machinery Breakdown – covers plant, machinery and mechanical equipment in the event of a sudden and unforseen event.
To avoid disappointment when lodging a claim, be sure to read your policy wording and understand exactly what you are and are not insured for. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your policy. At renewal time, make sure you check the sum insured of your assets, so you are not underinsured.
As an insurance broker, it’s always heartbreaking to witness a limited claim, due to a restrictive or inadequate policy, just to save a few dollars. What’s even worse than underinsurance is if you don’t even have a cover in place to begin with.
Remember! Insurance is like a parachute. The only opportunity to test it is when you have to use it, at which time, one is more concerned with the quality rather than the price.

For obligation free advice contact
Cindy at Central Insurance Brokers Perth WA
T: 08 93688999
Central Insurance Brokers are leading Independent Brokers in Perth W.A.
Est., 1980