Take a closer look at Australia’s industry landscape

The state of various industries in Australia can be very unpredictable as they are subject to changing market conditions. Achieving success for your business will depend on the health of these industries, and how you adapt to the current situation to gain a competitive advantage.

A Snapshot of Australia’s Industrial Topography

Last year, professional services firm Deloitte identified various industries in Australia that would enjoy continuous growth in the coming 20 years. And in the months since the study was conducted, market changes have already forced some industries to change course.  Those that found favour with the economy are considered “winners,” while those that didn’t are labelled as “losers.” Depending on where your business sits, you may need to apply certain strategies to be successful.

The Winners:

1. Tourism – The tourism industry is expected to reach its 2020 growth target of AUD 115 billion after an influx of tourists from Asia alone last year. Apart from the shopping sprees and beach holidays, international tourists are visiting Australia for its arts and culture, according to the Arts Nation study. Realising the strong demand from one side of the world, Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia teamed up and produced an ad showcasing the country’s best spots in the recent Oscars awarding ceremony in the U.S. to target more American tourists.

For professionals and businesses in tourism, these market conditions offer an opportunity to leverage the power of their networks and create strategic connections to expand their business as well as explore new markets while the industry is booming.

2. Tech Start-ups – The tech start up industry continues to show potential as several businesses have branched out to other countries, while others have launched themselves in the stock market. In fact, Google Australia and PricewaterhouseCoopers predict that the start-up industry could add 4% to the GDP by 2033. The growth of tech start-ups has not gone unnoticed by Salesforce, who is now working to equip tech entrepreneurs with tools to keep their businesses strong.

It is therefore advisable for owners of tech ventures to keep their eyes and ears open on the developments in the industry that will help predict the impact on their business. When opportunities similar to what is offered by Salesforce emerge, it is advisable to take advantage of them to maximise growth.

3. Broadcasting Industry – Amid the prevalence of short-form video content, the traditional sources of screen-based entertainment will remain a strong player in the market, according to Deloitte’s 14th annual Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) predictions. For media companies, this provides assurance for their businesses, but this does not mean they will stop at their efforts to win younger customers using various devices. This is especially crucial as Netflix rolls out its services in Australia. Shaun James, CEO of IPTV provider Presto, said that they are not yet concerned with the impact of Netflix on their business, but they are studying how it has expanded its business overseas.

Others in the industry may need to adapt products and/or services to changes in technology to broaden their customer base and prevent losing market share.

4. Retail – In the retail industry, the competition is tight among players, resulting in continuous cost-cutting to win more customers. Supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles are trying to outlast each other in offering lower prices as the industry faces the a recent entrant from the U.S.: Costco Wholesale. Meanwhile, retailer David Jones plans to build more boutique stores to reach a wider net of customers, and take advantage of an uptick in retail spending. Aside from this, online retailers are also reporting a surge in sales. Local online retailers, in particular, are enjoying a strong demand as they are able to maintain great customer service and meet clients’ expectations.

Faced with a competitive landscape, retailers are becoming more creative in how they provide a greater shopping experience for their customers. For instance, Woolworths teamed up with eBay to provide a “click-and-collect” service for its clients. With this program, people can shop online at participating retailers and have their package delivered at a nearby Woolworths store. Aside from adding convenience to online shoppers, the initiative can help boost in-store sales.

To stay afloat in this industry, retailers will need to have a broader perspective of their customers’ needs. With online shopping being more popular nowadays, retailers need to leverage the power of technology to provide an optimum shopping experience online or in-store. You may also need to be attentive to the other needs of your patrons, to differentiate yourself from the competition. For instance, offering an array of financial products, exemplified by Coles and Woolworths, provides customers with one more reason to do business with you.

5. Wealth Management – Due to local and international demand, the wealth management sector in Australia is poised for growth. The need for financial management will become more crucial as the country’s population ages and more people consider retirement and elderly care. Meanwhile, the middle class population is growing exponentially in Asia, and people there can turn to Australia as a hub for financial services. As such, the wealth management industry has received the lowest risk rating in the Industry Rating Report of IBISWorld.

Companies and professionals within the financial management sector may take this opportunity to expand their training or build their skills to prepare for future growth. Consider putting systems in place to manage local customers while preparing for international demand. With Asia being the next, big clientele, you need to study the trends and cultures within this region to design the appropriate financial plans to maximise growth.

The Losers:

1. Mining – For 20 years, the mining industry has enjoyed rapid growth, mainly due to the strong demand of iron ore in China. Unfortunately, the demand has slowed down, and has adversely affected the industry. Crippling it further are the high royalty payments and taxes, which have discouraged mining investors. As a result, mining companies are vastly reducing their workforces.

With the mining sector at a standstill, it is advisable for businesses and professionals in this industry to re-examine their organisations to improve efficiency. There may be a need to shed redundant positions to reduce costs. Human resources personnel should focus on employees that have talent and develop them, to help the mining industry gear up for growth opportunities in the future.

2. Manufacturing– The manufacturing industry is struggling due to global competition and weak domestic demand. Cheap and imported goods from China are reducing the market share of local manufacturers, leading them to reduce their workforce. Apart from this, the demand from households and domestic businesses has declined, hurting the industry further. Though the weak Australian dollar drove exports, the weak domestic demand reversed its effect.

With weak market conditions, those in the manufacturing industry may need to adjust their operations and make it leaner to avoid major losses in profit. For instance, steel maker Bluescope Steel had to restructure its operations and shutter a blast furnace to maintain its business. On the other hand, furniture manufacturer Jimmy Possum had to establish its own stores after retailers stopped carrying its products in favour of cheaper, imported goods from China. It differentiated itself from the competition by using locally-sourced timber for its Australian-made chairs, rather than importing chairs from China.

3. Electricity and Fossil Fuels – Due to climate change, energy-efficient sources of electricity are gaining popularity. Of course, this threatens the market for fossil fuels and centralised electricity, making it a risky industry. More households are starting to turn toward solar panels and energy-efficient appliances to lessen their reliance on the grid, according to IBISWorld senior industry analyst Lauren Magner.

With energy-efficiency being the trend, businesses and professionals in the electricity industry should use this opportunity to expand the services they offer. This means including energy-efficiency technologies in the list of your services, to address the needs of your clients. Develop your knowledge on them, or partner with other businesses or energy-efficiency experts to gain a foothold in this relatively new market.

If you want your business to succeed in a changing economy, you need to have a mix of hindsight, creativity and resilience to make it work. You need to pay close attention to the trends within your industry to ensure that your company keeps up or ahead of competitors. Anticipate your customers’ ever-changing needs and address them, as this will help you set your business apart from your competition. To open new growth opportunities, be creative in harnessing technology to reap returns for your company, similar to how Woolworths involved eBay in its strategy. For entrepreneurs facing tough times, you may need to consider altering your operations to reduce costs, and focus on core business.


Click Energy’s Karen Wright Wins Behind Closed Doors’ Victorian EA Scholarship

Melbourne’s Karen Wright, Executive Assistant to the CEO at Click Energy Group, has won a scholarship for an intensive professional development and mentoring program for Executive Assistants and Personal Assistants.

The Behind Closed Doors (BCD) Executive Assistants program offers EAs and PAs the opportunity to develop their skills and networks.

Announcing the Scholarship Winner, BCD Managing Director, Donny Walford said, “EA and PA roles within an organisation are demanding, highly influential and they represent the thoughts and views of the Executive they support. Success as an EA doesn’t come easily. To thrive within the upper echelons of an organisation EA’s must be able to work effectively with all kinds of people and forge strong business relationships.”

Ms Walford established the professional development and mentoring program in Adelaide seven years ago in response to a gap in the market for professional development and female support networks, where businesswomen can discuss strategies, issues and challenges in a totally confidential environment, while at the same time encourage each other to extend themselves further to achieve and succeed in their environments. The Melbourne Executive Assistants program was established in 2014, following successful programs running in Adelaide.

Ms Walford said the scholarship program provides an opportunity for EAs and PAs to build their confidence and is also aimed at increasing the calibre and expertise of EAs and PAs within organisations.

“Women often need to build their confidence and position themselves at work and in the marketplace to secure senior EA and PA roles. The BCD Executive Assistants program aims to develop emotional intelligence, strategic thinking and deliver practical skills sessions relevant to EAs and PAs.”

Ms Wright is looking to use the 12 month scholarship to broaden her networks and extend herself professionally.

“I know the Behind Closed Doors EA program will greatly assist my professional and personal development. I am looking forward to the opportunity to regularly network and interact with likeminded professionals and share in their experiences,” Ms Wright said when she applied for the scholarship.
“I currently work for an organisation that has a small headcount and I have no one within the business who performs a role similar to mine. As a result, I sometimes feel that I am missing opportunities to drive better outcomes for the business because I don’t have the ability to talk through ideas with my peers. The expertise of the women I will meet on the BCD program and the insights I gain, will be invaluable for me,” Ms Wright said.

The runner up for the BCD scholarship was Mandy Dalton, Executive Assistant to Deputy Secretary, Executive Services Division for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Clinician Scientist wins Behind Closed Doors’ “Not for Loss” Scholarship in Melbourne

Principal Research Fellow at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Professor Julie Bernhardt BSc, PhD is the winner of the inaugural Behind Closed Doors’ (BCD) “Not for Loss” Scholarship in Melbourne for 2015.

Professor Bernhardt, the Clinical Head of the Stroke Division, will look to use the experience to open new doors, tap into the minds of some of Melbourne’s most influential leaders and broaden her horizons.

Founder and Managing Director of the respected professional development and mentoring company Donny Walford, said the 12-month scholarship was awarded to a successful female executive in the NFP sector to further expand and challenge their current leadership and business practices to further enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of our society.

“Not for Loss organisations play a vital role in our society and are the social fabric that holds our community together.

“Professor Bernhardt is the only active female member of the Executive team of the Florey and has worked on many levels within her field to push forward a gender equity platform and remove some barriers to the progress of women in science.

“The BCD Executive program will provide Professor Bernhardt with a professional sounding board and support network where she can discuss professional and personal issues, challenges and strategies in a totally confidential environment while, at the same time, encourage other members to extend themselves to achieve and succeed in new environments,” Ms Walford said.

Professor Bernhardt believes the BCD Executive program will also assist her in the planning process for her 5-10 year career plan.

“I am in the process of planning my next 5-10 year career plan and have a diverse range of skills that could apply to a large number of sectors. I would value the opportunity to broaden my networks,” she said.

“One of the BCD Executive program’s major aims,” concluded Ms Walford, “is to increase women’s representation on Boards, committees and in executive management roles and BCD has an enviable track record in successfully supporting our members to achieve these types of roles.”

Time Alone for Strategic Thinking is Crucial for Executives

With gruelling demands of meetings, email messages, social media and clients, Executives may find it difficult to allocate time for strategy. Executives who manage these competing demands enhance the performance of their organisation.

How satisfied CEOs manage their time

Company Executives can be hampered in their time management as they face the gruelling demands of employees, email and social media messages, clients and other business concerns. In an international survey by McKinsey & Company of about 1,500 Executives in November 2011, it was found that one-third were “actively dissatisfied” about the way they used their time. Almost half of them admitted that the daily challenges of work have hindered them from formulating strategies to lead their company.

These Executives were then categorised into four different groups, depending on where the bulk of their time was spent. For “schmoozers,” they spent most of their time communicating with the company’s external stakeholders face-to-face or through phone. “Cheerleaders,” on the other hand, placed more time on motivating employees. “Online junkies” allocated most of their schedule toward emails or other impersonal messaging tools, while “fire fighters” dedicated most of their time on resolving issues in the company. Of course, Executives belonging to any one of these groups are unable to perform well as they tend to focus on one part of management, instead of leading the enterprise as a whole.

Strikingly, the survey also shed light on Executives that can balance their time properly. Out of the respondents, only 9% said they were satisfied with how they allocated their time.

So how do they do it?

According to the survey results, these outstanding Executives spent 34% of their schedule on interacting with external stakeholders, 39% for meetings with employees and 24% for working alone. As a result, they were able to manage different parts of their organisation, while still having the time to think about strategy when they were working alone.

Aside from the McKinsey survey, another study delved into the schedule of executives. The Executive Time Use project found that CEOs devote about 18 hours out of their 55-hour workweek into meetings, more than three hours for calls and five hours for business meals. For executives that work with direct reports, their meeting hours stretch longer as they monitor business operations. All of these can hinder them from having the time to think about strategy. Executives ought to equate their time with money so that they will be more thoughtful about using it, according to Steven Kaplan, a management practice professor at Harvard Business School.

Apparently, most CEOs are struggling hard to balance their time, as seen from these two studies. Nevertheless, it is not impossible for them to manage their time well, as shown by the 9% from the McKinsey survey. It is especially vital for executives to have time allotted for strategy to ensure that they are leading their company to achieve long-term success.

Great CEOs “work on their business”

For Chief Executives to be effective, they need to stop “working in the business, and instead work on the business.” In addressing emails, social media messages, clients and employees, CEOs are mostly preoccupied with the day-to-day details of their company, instead of making it profitable and successful in the long run. They need to reduce their focus on these things and devote more of their attention toward growth opportunities, strategic networking, and making sure that the company meets its goals.

To qualify for the Inc. 500 ranking, CEOs need to enable their companies to reach net sales of USD $100,000 in its first year, and USD $2 million in its fourth year. For those that have made it to the Inc 500, it was noticed that their executives spend 50% to 90% of their time on strategy and business development. As a result, these companies achieve fast-paced growth.

Jeff Immelt, CEO of LinkedIn, is a huge believer of CEOs allocating time to think about strategy. Having time alone has helped him chart the course of his business and make sound decisions. “You’re not only thinking strategically, thinking proactively, thinking longer-term, but you’re literally thinking about what is urgent versus important, and trying to strike that right balance,” he said.

Some time-management tips for Executives

Since devoting time for strategy pays off, here are some tips for how Executives can balance out their schedule:

1. Prioritise tasks and delegate – Activities that pave the way toward growth should be your top priority, while operational and other daily tasks can be delegated.

2. Use email technology – You can avoid being pinned down by your email by using apps that filter your messages according to importance, such as SaneBox.

3. Wake Up Early – Rising early helps some of the most progressive CEOs exercise, meditate and start their day in the right frame of mind, which helps them become productive in their role.

4. Divide your day into chunks of activities – In the morning, when your mind is in its sharpest state, you can block an hour at a minimum for brainstorming, strategic planning or for working on creative projects. When your focus wanes in the afternoon, you may devote your time to reactive tasks such as holding meetings.

Must Have Ingredients for a Successful Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurial SuccessWhat makes a successful entrepreneur, and can their success be attributed to innate characteristics, hard work or both?

In a competitive world with tough economies and ever-changing industry landscapes, some individuals have stepped up, built disruptive businesses from the ground up and a name for themselves.

How were they able to do it?

Are they simply wired to become entrepreneurs, or are they just ordinary people with deeper commitments to what they do? Let’s examine how entrepreneurs set themselves apart, and how they are able to achieve success.

1. They are not afraid to take risks

To get their idea or invention out to the market, entrepreneurs are willing to take risks to make it happen. They don’t allow their fear of failure to stand in the way. Establishing a business is akin to a “leap of faith,” as entrepreneurs do not know with complete certainty whether their venture will be successful or not. Sometimes, they need to leave their comfort zones, such as dropping out of University or leaving their day job to get started. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs are not reckless and before making any drastic life changes, entrepreneurs consider their options carefully. They assess their reasons, and test the market for their idea. If the demand for their business is strong enough, they then proceed with necessary actions to establish the business. Once they commence, they also use strategies to manage risk such as lean start-ups or beta launches.

2. They act quickly on their ideas

Since entrepreneurs are not afraid to take risks, they take immediate action on their idea. People who go on to become successful entrepreneurs are said to be “effectual thinkers,” or they do not need to know the future to determine their plans. Instead, they will start out on what they know, and make the most out of new opportunities. They set out new and different goals as they go along, and are often flexible to changes.

3. They challenge regular products, processes and assumptions

Due to unlikely situations, entrepreneurs are able to identify opportunities for innovation or do something new. In 1979, a couple of years before desktops and laptops became mainstream, Steve Jobs realised that computers were the future for most of us after seeing a rough, graphical user interface being demonstrated at the research facility of Xerox in Palo Alto, California. This led him on a journey to start Apple, and create various devices that enhanced the user experience. Meanwhile, Sarah Blakely decided to create a woman’s undergarment known as Spanx after struggling to wear a pair of white pants comfortably. She cut off the feet from pantyhose to go with the pants, and from this her booming business was born.

4. They see money as an investment

Entrepreneurs view money as a resource that can be multiplied by investing it. Instead of spending it on material things, entrepreneurs use their money to make more. When Warren Buffett was young, he and a friend chipped in $25USD and bought a used pinball machine. Instead of playing with it, they placed it in a barbershop, and within months they were earning a regular income from it. They used their earnings to buy more machines, which then generated more profit.

5. They have a high level of confidence in their business

Entrepreneurs possess a high level of confidence, which allows them to pursue their ideas without hesitation. Essentially, they believe that their ideas are better than others, and they use this confidence to get investors and customers on-board with their business. When faced with challenging situations, entrepreneurs see these as opportunities. Because of their strong self-belief, they are not afraid in expanding the range of products and services that their company offers as they aspire for future growth. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, was able to diversify his business into airlines, mobile phones, media and more because of his confidence on the brand as well as on his ability to detect new opportunities in the market.

With these traits coupled with confidence and the willingness to take risks, entrepreneurs can effectively overcome doubts and are able to get their ideas off the ground, establishing a name for their business. However, launching a business is only the first step for the entrepreneur; making sure that it achieves success requires additional work. How can entrepreneurs ensure success?

Never accept defeat

In business, it is inevitable to encounter obstacles. Failure is likely to happen often and if you can embrace it and take the challenge on in reinvigorated ways, you are more likely to succeed in the long term. Before J.K. Rowling became a household name for the Harry Potter series, she experienced rejection several times from different publishers. She was divorced, and was too poor to afford a computer. She submitted typewritten versions to several publishers, only to be turned down. Finally, Bloomsbury agreed to take on her novel, which achieved widespread success.

Communicate your passion effectively

Your communication skills will enable you to win the hearts of investors and customers and get your message across. Improve your verbal and writing skills, and practice, practice, practice to effectively pitch your products/services to the world. With creativity, back your brand with a compelling story that is authentic and the ‘why’ to your journey as an entrepreneur, as this will entice more customers to engage with your business.

Find ways to improve your product/service delivery

To achieve continuous growth, you need to adopt strategies that will allow you to sell more of your products and/or services in the market. Thankyou, a social enterprise, was able to successfully expand its product range by rallying around its purpose. The business started out in 2008 by selling bottled waters, where every purchase would deliver one month’s supply of clean water to areas in need. In 2013, Thankyou announced that it would offer food and body care products. Similar to their original brand concept, purchase of Thankyou food products would provide food and long-term food support program for those in need, while sales of body care products would provide these regions with health and hygiene training. In addition, to establish a relationship with supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, they ran a unique social media campaign rallying widespread support for their products and putting pressure on the retailers to stock them, which ended successfully.

Seek out learning from others, such as mentors

Having the right mentors is important for your success. Good mentors can help you avoid making poor decisions; and provide you with feedback on business strategy as well as boost your confidence. They should have also experienced how it is to run a business and are often entrepreneurs themselves.

Mentors can give you direction in managing your finances, carrying out your marketing plans and fine-tuning your strategy. For those with large companies, you can benefit from having an advisory board, which can help you evaluate your business strategy to achieve long-term growth. Similar to a mentor, an advisory board can provide your company with guidance on expansion plans, exploring new markets or in seeking equity investments.

Build networks to enrich your business

With the right connections, you can gain access to strategic business alliances, find opportunities to drive sales or gain new information about your industry. Through different networks, you can get to know new investors, suppliers and even new customers. These may also provide you with more opportunities for partnerships, and provide additional growth. Furthermore, having the right connections can fuel the support and the motivation you need to keep moving forward.


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