Posted by Nick Phelps, Marketing Communications Manager
In early September, I was fortunate enough to host our first ever Good Business Get Together event. Held in Melbourne, it was a food and beverage exclusive session aimed at educating and inspiring business owners and decision makers through lively discussions and shared experiences.
We enlisted the help of two experts in the field. David Maher, who is the COO and CFO of Hey Tiger — the social enterprise changing the way chocolate is sourced and celebrated.
Maria Pearman is a Certified Public Accountant who provides accounting expertise and a deep operational knowledge to the brewing industry. Coming from Portland, Oregon, the home of craft brewing, she teaches Finance and Accounting for the Craft Brewer, and her book, “Small Brewery Finance: Accounting Principles and Planning for the Craft Brewer,” is being published by the Brewers Association this fall.
Maria was also sharing her wealth of knowledge recently at BrewCon, an annual conference and trade expo for Australian brewers.
While the learning session was most suitable for food and beverage brands, I’m confident that the issues we addressed and the advice David and Maria gave will be beneficial to many businesses across different verticals.
Perfectly positioned in the front row, I was up close and personal with the action — here are some key insights from the evening:
1. Brand has never been more important
Traditionally, brands were reliant on the retailers’ distribution network to get their products in front of their customers.
Fortunately, we are now in an era where multichannel business is a reality in many businesses. eCommerce gives savvy brands the chance to sell direct to customers; this multichannel approach also benefits customers, who get to shop at their convenience.
Decentralised commerce levels the playing field for many small but growing businesses against giants like Amazon. Small businesses no longer need to shell out big bucks for TV or radio presence. Instead, they can target ad spend on social media. Brand-savvy businesses who can tell an effective story and command consumer attention will succeed.
Hey Tiger has never spent a cent on above the line advertising (i.e. radio, TV, print advertising). They’ve collaborated with but have collaborated with an insta-famous pup, Tofu Chan — or better known online as @tofupupper — in an Instagram video post that has garnered over 117,000 views. This has helped to maximise their reach and sales without having to blow their budget on mass media advertising.
2. Now’s the time for smarter data
In a world of connected apps and powerful computer processing, it’s never been easier to collect and analyse your business data. The best businesses make use of automation and reporting to make compelling, data-driven decisions around process optimisation, visualisation and transparency.
Hey Tiger project the longitude and latitude of each of their online sales on a data visualisation map. This allows them to track their most profitable markets and motivate staff.
Using data from Shopify, Xero and Unleashed, they have also gamified their new product development process. Their chocolatier can test the waters on a potential new flavour without even having to make the chocolate — they input the raw ingredients of the potential new flavour, add projected processing costs and sales, and get a thumbs up or down!
Of course, not every business wants or has to use this method but instead should strive to make the most out of their wealth of data to drive good decision-making.
Accountants can introduce different cloud-based software that integrate so that their clients can have a seamless flow of back-end information to guide their business decisions.
3. Your accountant’s opinion should be the first sought
Too often, businesses use their accountants or finance teams reactively at the end of the financial period rather than proactively.
Maria and David, who are both admittedly accountants and economists by trade, reveal that your accountant and finance team play an important role in pricing strategies, new market analyses, product costing, campaign recording and more:
- Determining a wholesale margin on retail pricing
- Identifying export opportunities
- Determining cost of goods sold
- Recording ROI on marketing efforts
It’s my belief that many of the challenges that are keeping business owners up at night can be shared with other business owners who are likely to have been in the same position in their careers or business lifecycle and solved collectively; businesses helping businesses is the only way we’ll shorten the global productivity gap and improve business confidence levels.
- Brand-savvy businesses who can tell an effective story and command consumer attention will succeed through different channels
- Technology makes it a breeze to collect and analyse business data. The best businesses make use of automation and reporting to make data-driven decisions around process optimisation, visualisation and transparency
- Your accountant and finance team play an important role. Consult them proactively instead of reactively