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Future-proofing Your Business

Future proofing requires a new way of thinking so we asked Sandra Robinson, Director of Skills Strategies International to add to Richard Branson’s advice – yes, the Virgin founder whose tips we got from here!
1. Offer brand value as well as a brand name.
Branson says a long business history is meaningless unless you focus on providing the best-designed, most reliable products at competitive prices with the finest customer service. Studies have found the average life of a company has decreased to less than 20 years, compared to over 60 years life in 1958. “If you want to know how your customers experience your brand, buy your products and services yourself. Try them out, call in with a complaint, see how you’re treated. Did you get value?”

Sandra reckons…

Brand is clearly more than the design, words or logo we have. Our brand image is associated with credibility, quality and satisfaction in our customer’s minds. We’ve had known brands that were around from generation to generation. I remember Mills and Wares biscuits (the only biscuits to buy). How about Kodak film? They were part of every family; associated with quality and reliability, but now gone. Being known and respected doesn’t give you continuity. Adaptation is key.

We live in the knowledge economy. Today’s work world has massive developments in tech doubling every twelve months. Unless a business is being innovative they will become redundant. If we’re firmly in the innovation game, like Steve Jobs was, then anticipate what the market wants, because customers don’t always know. Then you need to maintain brand identity. The “Mystery Manager” approach provides customers experience feedback.   Retailers use this to find out where they’re doing well and what could be improved. Identify where skills training is needed; when you find gaps, invest in developing your team.

2. Don’t become complacent.

Branson stresses the need to keep innovating. Product development should be a quest for improvement. “Ask yourself and your team, does the company’s offering need a makeover? What are the opportunities for improvement?”   Sandra adds that your culture needs to have innovation ingrained.

A business goes through life stages. During start-up it’s like a toddler, trying new things, taking risks and learning. Once maturity is reached there is a plateau. If new ideas are not introduced then the business begins to die. Most innovation in businesses is small-scale resulting in incremental improvements, which is not too taxing for staff. However strategic innovation challenges us. We need to look beyond established boundaries and mental models; participate in open-minded, exploration of possibilities. While both approaches should be part of your culture, strategizing needs to be imbedded in the company DNA. Expansive visionary thinking with pragmatic implementation has the greatest business impact.

If you want your culture to be truly innovative your team needs to;

Listen to new voices
Ask new questions
Look from different perspectives
Be open to new passions
Be prepared to experiment and take risks

New information, questions and different eyes will lead to developments in products and operational structures bringing new life to your business.

3. Motivate and engage the your employees

Keeping employees motivated and engaged can be a challenge. Branson suggests to “talk with employees and find out what motivates them to go to work in the morning. Listen carefully.” Sandra says we need to look strategically considering the skills to develop in your team for the future.

High performers are excited and passionate about what they’re doing. They’re skilled and strategic in execution. Employ people who have a personal mission linked to the role rather than just doing it for a job. Being connected to your business vision motivates people to push through and find that bit more – especially during tough times.

We use personality analysis in our training based on DISC profiling to assist staff management and engagement. This provides insights into what motivates people. For example, I am motivated by having autonomy and being given a free reign. Others like specific tasks and to be monitored and recognised for their achievements. This “Blueprint” personality is motivated by systems and processes so they’re perfect for project management, ensuring compliance, but will be uncomfortable with risk. Compare this with “Action” personalities who thrive on risk and challenge.

BUT personality preferences aside here are some tips for all staff motivation:

Share positive feedback about exceptional performance
Create recognition rituals
Allow autonomy to achieve outcomes for projects
Take an interest in their personal life
Provide opportunities for ongoing learning and personal growth
Provide opportunities for them to get recognition directly from clients

4. Don’t let nostalgia block innovation

Branson’s advises to keep your brand fresh. You may need rebranding to tap into a new generation of customers. Branson believes that it is more than brand innovation that is needed. Sandra agrees.

Skills Strategies International is going through a rebranding process. We’ve been around for twenty years and while the business has changed dramatically over that time we are now reconsidering how to present ourselves to the market, and what segment of the market we target. We don’t want to disregard our history because this value represents reliability. But we do want to expand our horizons and the customers we access.
So what does this all mean in terms of developing out workforce to maximise our business success? If we follow the lead of Richard Branson we will take risks and develop a culture of strategic innovation. We will ensure we employ the right people – and give them the autonomy to lead. It sounds simple and most of us don’t think we don’t have Branson’s skills and attitudes – but there are great lessons to be learned.
Learn all about Sandra Robinson and what she does here!

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Trifecta – Re-locations, Property and Philanthropy

Business Women Australia spoke to Sapphire member Sue Pember
BWA: Sue, where did your entrepreneurial journey start?

Sue: Well I could go back and tell you about my student days at WAAPA, or working for the ABC, or tell you about my days as a wedding planner at Crown dealing with some pretty ferocious Bridezillas, or being employed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but the truth is, my entrepreneurial streak has been in everything I’ve done right from the start, even before I founded Aussie Orientation Services in 2010.

BWA: Aussie has been operating now for over 6 years. How has that been for you?

Sue: Yep I started Aussie as a “global mobility” service specialising in relocation programs, cultural training and ongoing support programs to provide workers and their families a smooth transition to Australia. It was during the mining boom so we were very busy right from the start. Through the success of Aussie, in 2013 I was awarded the WA Today Female Entrepreneur of the Year and recognised as one of the top 40 under 40, receiving the people’s choice award. I was also a WA region nominee for the coveted Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. They were big moments and helped raise the profile of my businesses while opening new networks for me.

BWA: Your most recent venture is in real estate establishing Mi Casa Property Boutique in 2015. Is this a new learning curve for you?

Sue: Well, it’s actually a case of going back to my roots. I have a long family connection to Melville and to property. My Great Grandfather helped build the Canning Hwy out of limestone with his team of horses and my Grandmother was a Palmyra girl. I have always been interested in property, and have owned and developed properties in Willagee, Palmyra and Bicton, so it was a natural progression for me.

BWA: So why an all-female team?

Sue: Magic happens when you tap into the skills of talented women who have left the workforce to have kids, but who are looking for a flexible role where they can be rewarded for delivering quality. Mi Casa Property Boutique is built on this type of passion. The concept came about when I was brainstorming with my long-time employees Renee Jefferys and Susan Lam – together we came up with the concept and we joined forces as business partners. We wanted to take the stress out of buying or selling real estate and make the experience for clients really positive.

BWA: What are the most important ingredients for a successful business?

Sue:  I believe customer service is paramount, community is essential and your values need to be transparent in everything you do. Mi Casa Property Boutique combines all this with a simple and powerful philosophy – providing the best customer service and results, along with giving back to the community. Our name comes from the Spanish saying “Mi casa es su casa”, meaning “My house is your house”.

BWA: You do heaps of philanthropic work as well as running your own businesses while juggling the demands of a young family – how do you find the time?

Sue: Yes, I was recently appointed to the Board of Parkerville Children’s and Youth Care. I am very passionate about giving back to the community, it is just the way I am. I like to run community events and seminars hosting amazing women like Maggie Dent and the Conscious Mother Kirsten Boust to create opportunities for people. I am an Ambassador for Rare Birds and mentor many early stage entrepreneurs. And at Mi Casa we donate up to $500 for every property sold or leased to one of our chosen charities, Parkerville Children’s and Youth Care, St Pats Community Centre Fremantle or Asetts.   How do I find the time? Well, it’s a team effort at work, and a team effort at home. I have a very supportive husband, Matt, and awesome kids, Charlotte and Leo, plus a wonderful Au Pair, and my Golden Retriever, Elsa is happy for very ad hoc walks, and my moggie, Mango is very low maintenance.  My secret is to outsource as much as I can, so you won’t see me with a vacuum cleaner!

BWA: You recently announced a new service arm to Aussie – an Au Pair service?

Sue: Yes, it had to be done. With so many women asking me how I do what I do, I figured there is a real gap in the market. It’s the perfect addition to Aussie Orientation Services, so we have launched Aussie Au pair Services with a vision to provide one-on-one support to au-pairs and host families to ensure a happy and healthy workplace. I am on the hunt for Au pairs willing to go above and beyond for our clients. Introduce me if you know someone with this sort of passion…

BWA: We sure will.

About Sue Pember

Sue Pember is a Sapphire member of Business Women Australia and a Director of Aussie Orientation Services and Mi Casa Property Boutique.   A passionate entrepreneur with a knack for finding opportunities everywhere she looks. She constantly challenges herself to make a difference in the lives of friends, clients and her community. This path has led her from working as a stage manager at the ABC, to founding two companies based on her values of people, passion and personal touch – Aussie Orientation Services and Mi Casa Property Boutique.

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Eating for Success – A Business Woman’s Guide to Food

We spoke to Kate Barnes, our resident health coach and Sapphire member who has a passion for wellness, especially for busy working women. Kate has a comprehensive coaching philosophy that has helped many busy ladies transform their health, and their wealth.


‘Being healthy is your natural state. Eating nourishing foods, making empowered choices, not only changes the mind but your body too. Prevention is the cure and it is important to take responsibility knowing that our health is in our own hands’ Kate Barnes


Kate’s 6 Tips for Busy Business Women
1. Wash and chop: It’s so much easier to make a salad for lunch when the leafy greens and toppings are already washed, dried and chopped. When hunger sets in, throw together an energising salad in a second, leaving no excuse to rely on unsatisfying, less nourishing snacks.
2. Roast or grill some vegetables: Bake a few vegetables or if you’ve already got some on the menu cook double or triple so you’ve got some on the ready to add to a salad, have as a snack or something extra nourishing to add to your breakfast.
3. Cook whole grains: If you use whole grains e.g. oats, quinoa or buckwheat, it’s so easy when they are already cooked ready to go. (Whole grains should be soaked preferably at least 8 hours prior to cooking to make them more digestible. Use whole grains on a salad, as a snack or add to a stir-fry.
4. Make a dressing or condiment: Having a garden love pesto, homemade mayonnaise or a cashew cream sauce available will assure a more tasty meal in minutes too and they usually take no longer than 5 minutes to prepare and can be used and with most meals to give more interest and added sustaining nourishment.
5. Cook once eat twice or three times: If you’re not already doing this. This is gold. Whenever you’re spending time in the kitchen double or triple the quantity of what you’re preparing (usually it’s possible) so you’ve got leftovers for the next day or that can be transformed into a new dish for the following night’s dinner. Otherwise pop it into the freezer for next time you’re running short of time.
6. Stock the freezer and pantry – always: This is key. If you haven’t already downloaded my pantry checklist make sure you do. It’ll give you some great ideas for stocking your freezer and pantry so you’ve always got good food ready to go, a snack, main meal whatever is needed. Be prepared. It’s worth it.
Kate is very encouraging and says “If all else fails, don’t worry, you and your family will be absolutely fine with scrambled eggs or something similar for a night! Or, you can always pop into your local butcher for some organic meat to serve with any remaining veggies in the fridge, for a quick, easy and nutritious dinner for everyone. It’s not fancy, but it’ll do the trick.
… start by adding one thing into your routine and see how it helps e.g. ‘wash and chop’ or ‘cook once eat twice…’. Then once that’s part of your routine (or if it doesn’t work for you) try the next thing.”

About Kate Barnes, of Kate Barnes Health Consulting
After working as an executive in professional services, Kate started her global business as a Certified Holistic Health Coach. She has a Bachelor of Science and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business.

Kate Barnes of Kate Barnes Health Consulting

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5 Steps To Develop Your Good Business Ideas



If you’re a creative person you’ve probably generated more business ideas than you can ever implement.

In your mind your latest idea could be the best thing since sliced bread, but if you don’t put in enough strategic thinking BEFORE you get started, it could just lead you down a deep dark rabbit hole…

This 5 Step Strategy to Develop New Ideas will help you sort the “good ideas” from the “time wasters that look good on the surface” and show you how to get the outcome you really want.

Try this:

Capture the ideas – it doesn’t matter how crazy they might seem – just get them down in a journal of some sort. Use words, pictures, links… anything that sparks off the original idea and intention.

What is the problem that THIS is the Solution to? You’ll need a framework to assess the idea. What is your greatest need – your “Burning Desire” right now? Is it to make more money, to get better customers, to have better structure in your business? Whatever that burning desire is write it down at the top of a page. “I need to make more money” (remember to state exactly how much money that is – e.g. $500 more in turnover each week”) You’re going to brainstorm the strategies.

Take each idea you came up with and run it by the Burning Desire. If the idea can help you achieve that exact outcome, without spending too much money or wasting too much time, then it’s time to develop the idea. All other ideas have been captured in the journal so you can come back to them later. Work on ONE idea at a time – go deep.

If you have more than one idea or strategy, assess the idea for ease of implementation. Ask yourself qualifying questions: “Can it be done, by me (or can I pay someone else to do it)? What tools, people, skills will I need to make it successful? How long would it take to implement? How much will it cost? What return do I want for my time and effort?” Write it down. Can you do a “test run” before you throw lots of money at it?

Start the test run – run it by people who would use it or buy it – get some feedback. Don’t try to develop the idea and build a new product / service / system until you know there is a genuine need or market for it or that people actually want what you’ve created.

This may seem like “hard work” from the outside but if you take a little time to plan it out first you’ll save yourself vast amounts of time and energy and money – and you’ll end up with a much better creation from your brilliant ideas.

About Pauline Bright

Pauline Bright is a Sapphire member of Business Women Australia and the Leader at our Success Circle in Mandurah. She is Business Strategist, Coach and Mentor who has been a business owner for over 30 years in lots of businesses and industries and has coached hundreds of businesses.

More information at or contact Pauline on 0413 739 196.

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Five Steps to be the Leader your business needs

There is something special about Jen Froome.   She operates from the heart with integrity, honesty and humility… and her clients rave about her. But it’s more than that. Our interview with Jen this month delved into the importance of any business leader striving to be the best they can be, and she shared with us the steps they can take.

“75% of employees leave their jobs because of their boss.  As a Leader, if you are wanting to keep your business stable or get it going, then you have to be someone who is grounded and acting with integrity.  So many leaders try to be demanding or not inclusive of their team or are so busy that they are just not present.  What is important is to recognise yourself and your team.  This can be done by following five steps…”   Jen Froome

Jen believes that leaders who follow the following five steps can become powerful, engaging leaders that people will want to stay with.

Here we cover some of Jen’s wisdom and advice. She stresses that each step should be undertaken in the correct order. If you go to the last one first, you won’t have a foundation to run your business. If you step into #4 without being present and accountable you will not be perceived as trustworthy or inspiring.


Work through each one to get it correct, and then go to the next one.

BE PRESENT within yourself so you are your true self with your team. This allows you to engage with yourself and others so that people perceive you as being aware and acknowledging. This also allows you to be a role model so your team can be present in themselves as well.
BE ACCOUNTABLE externally and internally to become influential and trustable.
BE CLEAR within yourself from stress and old beliefs that are tripping you up or the backlog of emotions, this way you can be yourself and be energised. This allows others to connect as you are safe to approach and acting with integrity.
BE POWERFUL to experience strength and authenticity so others perceive you as capable and inspiring.
BE SUSTAINABLE to experience balance within yourself so others know you are the protector that holds the space for them to grow and learn.

“Followed in sequence, these steps will have a prevailing impact on the success of your business and your life.”   Jen Froome


About Jen Froome

Jen Froome is a Sapphire member of Business Women Australia.  She is a Leading Transformational Expert, Coach & Owner of Step Into Your Future.  For over 25 years Jen has been helping individuals to heal and transform, in order to relax, maintain success and enjoy life.   Advocates of Jen’s unique coaching technique have engaged her for a 6 to 12 month journey that has helped them heal and find the belief that they deserve to have a better life, not the external life, the internal one.

More information at or contact Jen on 0401 500 049.

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