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Pathways to Profit: Entrepreneurs’ Expertise in Mastering Product Placement

Business owners networking scene photo

The concept of “placement” is one of the elements in the traditional marketing mix, also known as the 4Ps of marketing. The marketing mix consists of Product, Price, Place, and Promotion, and it’s a framework that businesses use to develop a strategic approach to marketing their products or services.

In this context, “place” refers to the distribution strategy, which includes getting the product to the right place at the right time to be easily accessible to the target customers. Which also determines your place in a competitive market.

Place (Distribution):

“Place” in the marketing mix refers to the strategies and channels a business uses to make its products or services available to the target customers. So, as a strategy, has more to do with your position in the market than a physical (or even virtual) location.

It involves decisions related to the distribution network, retail locations, and transportation, including transportation of data as well as data is the most traded commodity in the world (now ahead of Oil/Gas and coffee as numbers 2 and 3 respectively).

Add in inventory management and logistics, and you can quickly see how being an Entrepreneur becomes more of a full-time job than the laptop lifestyle sitting at the beach that you see on social media.

The goal of the “place” element is to ensure that customers can conveniently and efficiently access the product, which helps in maximizing sales and customer satisfaction. Entrepreneurs tend to use the “jobs to be done” theory, the practical application developed from the theory of disruptive innovation (Christensen). At its core, is the belief that customers don’t buy products, they hire them to do a job for the customer, which is the benefit of buying a product from you (it solves the customer’s problem).

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself

Peter Drucker

In business development, part of the startup process, your placement in the market determines the price, so must be decided first.

The price is then set by looking at Porter’s 6 forces model of profitability. If the strongest market force is the power of the buyer, then it drives prices down. So, you may not have a viable product.

However, if you place your product to do something no one else can, known as your unique selling point (USP), to power moves to the suppliers. As there is no comparison for customers, you can charge whatever you like.

I often hear people say, “I know what I’m worth, and I won’t drop my price”, but this is a fatal mistake. It is usually an indication of esteem sensitivity, one of the 3 psychosocial hazards behind the 3 reasons all businesses fail (as we explained in this blog).

It is usually followed up by “but my business model is ‘like’ Amazon, for [insert your industry here]”. If your product was really so good, wouldn’t Amazon (or Elon Musk) already be selling it?

Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are NOT in the room

Business owners networking scene photo
Business owners photo
Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder)

Entrepreneurs and Distribution Strategy:

The place in the marketing mix is an entrepreneur’s primary job role. So, for successful ones, this is their primary skill set – Thinking skills.

They normally outsource the rest (personal and action skills) as part of their implementation plan, which is why “key partners” is point #1 on a Business Model Canvas.

Most entrepreneurs still use the diffusion of Innovation to set timeframes for their dreams.

A dream is just a plan without a timeframe

Brett O’Connor, founder of Inception Network, cat lover.

Entrepreneurs need to carefully plan their distribution strategy to ensure their products reach customers effectively. The bigger the problems they solve, the more money they make.

It’s simple, but by no means easy. Otherwise, everyone would do it. Here’s how they approach it:

  1. Channel Selection: Entrepreneurs determine the most appropriate distribution channels for their products. They might choose between direct distribution (selling directly to customers) or indirect distribution (using intermediaries such as retailers, wholesalers, or distributors).
  2. Retail Partnerships: Entrepreneurs might collaborate with retailers or online marketplaces to showcase and sell their products. This could involve negotiations, creating appealing displays, and providing promotional support.
  3. Online Presence: In the digital age, having an online presence is crucial. Entrepreneurs set up e-commerce websites, partner with online retailers, or use social media platforms to sell and promote their products.
  4. Geographic Reach: Entrepreneurs decide where their products will be available geographically. This could involve targeting specific regions, countries, or even global markets.
  5. Logistics and Inventory: Entrepreneurs manage the logistical aspects of getting products from manufacturing to distribution centres to retail locations or customers. They also need to balance inventory levels to meet demand without excessive overstocking.
  6. Customer Convenience: The distribution strategy should prioritize customer convenience. Entrepreneurs aim to make products easily accessible, whether through brick-and-mortar stores, online platforms, or both.
  7. After-Sales Support: Entrepreneurs consider how customers will access after-sales services, warranties, repairs, or returns. A well-structured distribution network can aid in providing efficient support.
  8. Data and Analytics: Entrepreneurs often use data and analytics to track the performance of different distribution channels. This helps them make informed decisions to optimize their distribution strategy over time.

In essence, “place” within the marketing mix involves the strategic decisions entrepreneurs make to ensure their products are available to customers when and where they need them. It’s a critical aspect of a comprehensive marketing strategy that helps entrepreneurs effectively reach their target audience and drive sales.

How do you know who will pay for what?

This is something, again, most people struggle with. So having an Avatar in the previous step can usually help.

As avatars don’t buy products, people do, entrepreneurs now use their research in the previous step to find their first 5 customers. Why is 5 the magic number? To me, this seems to have more to do with putting humanity (back) into business. more to do with motivational psychology than mathematics:

we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with

Jim Rohn

Known as “foundation customers”, they are not your target market, and you don’t ask them what price they would pay. Early Adopters will find your target market, and what problems their friends have that need solving.

Early adopters are motivated by being the first. As Simon Sinek says, “They will line up all night to be the first to get the new iPhone”, when you could walk in next week and walk out with one straight away. They are also motivated to find the people who will pay 3 times more for a new product that is only twice as good, those people are the avatar you are looking for.


So, how do Entrepreneurs do it?

They have a process for everything. “SOPs” are part of scalability! And “monetizing” is the Entrepreneur catchphrase.

So, from what I’ve seen over 30 years in business, the process of setting a price for a brand-new innovative products goes something a little like this:

  1. Talk about what you believe, and only talk to others that believe what you believe, as Sinek would (again) say, start with why you do what you do. Steve Jobs said “We believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently” (AKA, neurodiverse?)
  2. If you have to convince them why they should work with you, walk away. The late majority are the sceptics at the other end of the mass market you are looking for. Come back to them later on
  3. If they ask the “how” questions, how do I get it, how do I use it, you have what HR executives would call “management buy-in”. Empathic resonance is a key emotion that is an indicator that a customer is ready to make a purchase as part of the 5 step buyer behaviour process.
  4. That does not mean you are there yet. What you are looking for is the “what if” questions. What if [this] happens, etc. They are asking can you adapt it to another situation. Not their situation, early adopters don’t have problems, but they would have just thought of a friend that you have a solution for. They can ride in like a white knight on a bay mare, just like The Witcher, played by the same actor who was also Superman.
  5. This is where the horse-trading begins. They don’t want to pay, anything, but FOMO kicks in. But they will, as a free trial, in exchange for a testimonial. The line you use now is “I don’t think you are a potential customer, but maybe you know someone who is”?… “WELL, as matter of fact, I DO”, and just like that, hook, line, and sinker, you know their all in.

But it doesn’t end there…

You are teaching people how to fish, so they can feed themselves for life. You are NOT teaching fish how to bite.

The 2 key questions you need to teach foundation customers to ask their friends are:

  1. Is this a solution to your problem?
  2. What would you pay for it?
  3. What would you be willing to pay extra for?

See what I did there? Gave you extra value, right? No. If you don’t get a yes to the first one, no point asking the next 2. If you don’t ask the qualifying question, then you are not fishing for information. You are teaching fish how to bite, and they MUST (Make Up Stuff Too) answer questions that are irrelevant to them.

Startup Group
Startup Group

How do you know what price to charge?

This comes from the Airlie industry, specifically an HBR article from the 90s called “Right Away and All at Once: How We Saved Continental Airlines“.

This turnaround strategy works for startups too, or businesses restarting. This is effectively what many businesses are still trying to do after COVID. Particularly if they “rebranded” in the downtime during lockdown, which could be a factor in why 43% of all businesses failed to make a profit last year.

Step 3, in this process (again, Entrepreneurs love a good process), is “think money in, not money out. Which is why you ask question 2 in the above section. They will give you a list as long as your arm of what they will pay for. This is known as a “point of parity”, and Identifies what they see as the competition charge. However, this price places you in a crowded market and opens up the threat of substitution as a strong force against you.

Step 4 is “Ask the right customers the right questions“. Which we covered above already.

What’s next?

Step 5 out of 5 in the turnaround process above is “let the inmates run the asylum”. Sounds crazy, right?

But this is when a business transitions from being a startup into a going concern. The concern is, in a post-COVID economy, businesses have to go through this process again and again if they want to survive.

Not the full startup process but look at the data on the implementation of your placement strategy, in what many in business know as a 90-day “reset” (of goals and desired outcomes).

Find the wrong customers, in the business development phase and it will create a weakness in one of your 4 Ps that is difficult to recover from. Your business is doomed from the start, 100% of the time.

Customers are important, but not urgent. I think Henry Ford explained this best when he created a production line that is still used for manufacturing successful products today.

If I’d listened to my customers, I would have made faster horses.

Henry ford

If you’d like to chat about any of this, and how we can help you develop your business, click below and book a discovery call. Or if you don’t like talking to people, send an email. Whatever works for yo is fine with us too.

Inception Network, click to contact us.

About Inception Network:
Inception Network was founded five years ago with the mission to create self-employment opportunities for individuals. It focuses on supporting contractors and sole traders to grow their business so they receive regular work and can afford to put on staff to help.

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About Business and Jobs Expos:
The Business and Jobs Expos, formerly known as the Small Business Expos, have been successfully running for the past 8 years. These expos provide a platform for all businesses, Governments, education, and training providers to connect under one roof (three times this year), to collaborate and explore support options for local small businesses to grow across southeast Queensland. To book your spot at the next B2B marketplace Expo, go to their website.

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What Is The Eisenhower Matrix, And How To Use It?

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, is a simple yet effective tool for prioritizing tasks and making better use of your time. It was popularized by former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said, “I have two kinds of problems: urgent and important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” The matrix helps you distinguish between tasks that are urgent, important, both, or neither, and allocate your time and resources accordingly.

The matrix consists of four quadrants, each representing a different type of task:

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important
  • Quadrant 2: Important but Not Urgent
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent but Not Important
  • Quadrant 4: Neither Urgent nor Important

Now let’s explore how a small business owner could use the Eisenhower Matrix to grow their business:

What to do first

Quadrant 1:

Urgent and Important tasks are the top priority, as they require immediate attention and can have serious consequences if not dealt with promptly. As a business owner, these tasks may include putting out fires, dealing with customer complaints, handling urgent deadlines, or managing unexpected crises. It’s important to allocate the necessary resources to address these tasks quickly and to try to prevent them from happening again in the future.

Quadrant 2:

Important but Not Urgent tasks are the next priority, as they have long-term benefits but can be overlooked in the face of urgent tasks. As a business owner, these tasks may include developing new products or services, creating a marketing plan, building relationships with customers, or investing in staff development. It’s important to allocate time and resources to these tasks regularly, as they can have a significant impact on the success of your business over time.

Quadrant 3:

Urgent but Not Important tasks are the third priority, as they may seem urgent but don’t have a significant impact on the success of your business. As a business owner, these tasks may include responding to non-urgent emails, attending unnecessary meetings, or dealing with minor administrative tasks. It’s important to delegate or eliminate these tasks whenever possible, to free up time for more important tasks.

Quadrant 4:

Neither Urgent nor Important tasks are the lowest priority, as they don’t have a significant impact on the success of your business and can be a distraction from more important tasks. As a business owner, these tasks may include browsing social media, watching videos online, or engaging in other non-business-related activities. It’s important to minimize or eliminate these tasks altogether, to focus on the tasks that matter most to your business.

Common decisions Micro-Business owners need to make.

Here are examples of common tasks done as part of an operational plan, and the skill required by people best suited to complete the tasks on the list:

Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important

  • Dealing with a sudden decrease (or increase) in sales
  • Fixing a production problem
  • Handling a major customer complaint
  • Meeting a critical deadline

The skill required to complete these tasks would likely come from the Thinking skills area, which includes critical thinking, creativity, adaptation, and innovation. As a business owner, if this is not your strength, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and get feedback from specialists in this area. But as it may be too late to get help when things come to this, lining up help before you need it is essential for the survival of micro-businesses.

You may have friends in business that will take your call. But without formal collaboration or advice agreements, you are taking a risk that you may lose more than the cost of employing someone with the skills in the following 2 quadrants if your friends don’t take your calls.

There is a saying, “you have no friends in business”. You also don’t support small businesses by asking them to do things for free. So if you can’t think ahead to what happens if you can’t get help when you really need it, then it’s likely you do not have the skills to run your business long term.

Quadrant 2: Important but Not Urgent

  • Developing a new product or service
  • Building a marketing plan
  • Networking with potential partners or customers
  • Investing in staff development

For this one, skills such as Initiative, Cultural Awareness, Ethics, and Empathy should be high on your list as they are used to decide what is important to your ideal customers.

These skills fall under the Personal Skills category, and you may hear business and leadership coaches like Gary Vaynerchuk and Simon Sinek say these skills are the most important to have for the long-term survival of your business, for a very good reason.

If you have someone working with you that does the important tasks before they become urgent, this is the reason some business owners can sit on a beach or go on a holiday, and others cannot.

While passive income is a buzz term that I don’t think exists, this is about as close as you will get. Particularly for people that want to keep earning income well into retirement. They have other things to think about and leave the action to the younger crowd.

People with Personal skills are also least likely to be replaced by AI anytime soon, unlike hard and soft skills. So ironically, the older workforce seems to have the future skills business needs. If you look at the jobs being taken by automation, they are likely to be the jobs done by Gen Z, who currently do jobs in the next section.

“Train them well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough so they don’t want to

Richard Branson

Quadrant 3: Urgent but Not Important

  • Responding to non-urgent emails
  • Attending unnecessary meetings
  • Filling out paperwork
  • Running errands
  • Annoying complaints about things you “should” do.

As you may have guessed, this quadrant primarily requires Action skills. If they make mistakes, the consequences are minor to the business. Everything is urgent and important to your customers, but not everyone is an ideal customer.

The 20% of your customers that cause 80% of your problems just care about what you do about their problems. The 20% of your customers cause 80% of your profits by telling you what to do and the ones the business owner listens to.

This can be hard to do when money is tight, and you think you need the sales, but it increases the costs of doing business, so think about what it costs you to give them your attention. There are other people you can get sales from.

But if you are looking to attract and retain talent to your organization, you are looking for people with action skill, which includes, using Digital Technologies, Communication skills, Collaboration, Problem Solving, and Customer Focus.

They will stick around to learn how to do the important stuff from you if you let them. But if you are too busy doing the urgent and important stuff to develop them, Gen Z will find someone who will. Often a competitor, who usually pays them less money long-term. So it’s not about the money that you make to afford them. They will cost you more if they leave, or if they stay and you don’t keep them engaged.

The only thing worse than training people up and they leave, is not training people well and they stay

Henry Ford

Quadrant 4: Neither Urgent nor Important

  • Browsing social media
  • Watching videos online
  • Checking personal emails
  • Playing games

This is for employees that are not interested in developing skills, likely because they don’t know what they love doing. If your heard the term “quiet quitting”, this is what those employees tend to do.

Micro-business owners can’t afford to pay people to do this, and they can’t hide it.

But there are jobs that pay them to do this, but you have to engage them in doing this activity in a work context.

Suggest if they would be interested in doing your business’ social media posts, or watching videos to learn how to use business technology. Playing games with customers is part of customer service too.

So if you can afford to put someone on to do the tasks in this quadrant, you can keep them by promoting from within to the roles above and see what they like.

His works especially well if you have family working in your business. They know you won’t sack them, but they are more productive if they do the things they do to overcome boredom to develop their skills.

That’s called a win-win if you use the Eisenhower matrix.

Inception Network, click to contact us.
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How to Adapt to a Changing Job Market with Transferable Skills


The terms “hard” and “soft” skills are not necessarily outdated, but they are becoming less commonly used in modern workplace discussions. The main reason for this is that the traditional categorization of skills as either hard or soft does not fully capture the complexity of skills that are valued in today’s job market.

Hard skills are typically defined as technical or specific abilities that are often easily quantifiable and measurable, such as proficiency in a programming language or knowledge of accounting principles. Soft skills, on the other hand, are often described as interpersonal or social skills, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.

While these categories may have been useful in the past, they can be limiting and fail to capture the full range of skills that are necessary for success in many modern workplaces. For example, skills such as adaptability, creativity, and critical thinking are increasingly valued in many industries, but may not fit neatly into either the hard or soft skill category.

As a result, many employers and professionals are beginning to use more nuanced language to describe the skills they value, such as “core” or “foundational” skills that are essential for any job, and “contextual” skills that are specific to a particular industry or job function.

Overall, while the terms “hard” and “soft” skills may still be useful in some contexts, they are increasingly seen as overly simplistic and inadequate for describing the full range of skills that are necessary for success in modern workplaces.

A new era of Human Resources (HR) Management


The post-industrial era brought about significant changes in the way businesses operate and manage their human resources (HR). One way to understand this shift is through the lens of Belbin team roles, which describe the different roles individuals can play within a team to maximize their effectiveness.

In the post-industrial era, businesses moved away from traditional hierarchies and towards more collaborative and flexible work environments. Belbin team roles became particularly relevant in this context, as businesses recognized the importance of building diverse teams that could work together effectively and efficiently.

Here is an overview of how each of the Belbin team roles could be applied in a post-industrial HR management context. As you read the roles below, think about which one sounds most like you, and which ones describe the people you like working with as part of a collaboration:


The plant role involves generating new ideas and concepts. In a post-industrial HR management context, this role might be particularly important for businesses seeking to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions.

Monitor Evaluator:

The monitor evaluator role involves analyzing ideas and assessing their potential value. This role can be particularly important in a post-industrial context where businesses need to make quick decisions based on incomplete information.


The coordinator role involves managing the team and delegating tasks. In a post-industrial context, the coordinator role may be particularly relevant for businesses seeking to build collaborative, cross-functional teams.

Resource Investigator:

The resource investigator role involves seeking out new opportunities and contacts. This role could be particularly important in a post-industrial context where businesses need to be proactive in identifying new markets and potential partners.


The implementer’s role involves turning ideas into action. In a post-industrial context, businesses may rely on implementers to rapidly prototype and test new products or services.

Completer Finisher:

The completer finisher role involves ensuring that tasks are completed to a high standard. In a post-industrial context, this role may be particularly important for businesses seeking to deliver high-quality products or services in a rapidly changing market.

Team worker:

The team worker role involves building relationships and promoting collaboration within the team. In a post-industrial context, the team worker role may be particularly important for businesses seeking to build diverse, inclusive teams that can work effectively together.


The specialist role involves providing expertise and knowledge in a specific area. In a post-industrial context, businesses may rely on specialists to provide deep domain expertise in rapidly evolving fields such as technology and digital marketing.

Overall, the post-industrial era brought about significant changes in the way businesses manage their HR. By focusing on building diverse, collaborative teams that can rapidly adapt to changing market conditions, businesses can maximize their chances of success in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

While the team roles at work defines the tasks the role undertakes as an example, it does not define what skills are required to do the tasks. And while this may suit larger businesses, what do small businesses do that can’t afford to employ 9 staff?

What does a Micro-business do if they don’t have the staff?

A micro-business is defined as a any business that has 4 or fewer employees, and make up 85% to 90% of all businesses (by number of businesses).

The answer under the team roles is to group the roles into 3 categories that require similar skill sets to complete tasks. This allows micro-business owners to create job descriptions with primary, secondary, and tertiary tasks relating to which of the job roles are most needed to implement an operational or marketing plan.

The Belbin team roles are grouped into three domains:

Action-oriented roles:

These roles are focused on achieving the team’s objectives and include the Plant, Implementer, and Completer Finisher roles. Action-oriented roles are often associated with getting things done and driving results.

People-oriented roles:

These roles are focused on building relationships and promoting collaboration within the team. The Teamworker, Resource Investigator, and Coordinator roles are all part of this domain. People-oriented roles are often associated with promoting communication and fostering teamwork.

Thought-oriented roles:

These roles are focused on generating new ideas and analyzing information. The Monitor Evaluator and Specialist roles are both part of this domain. Thought-oriented roles are often associated with innovation and intellectual curiosity.

By grouping the Belbin team roles into these three domains, businesses and organizations can better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and identify areas for improvement. By building teams that are diverse across all three domains, organizations can maximize their chances of success and adapt more effectively to changing market conditions.

Around 60% of all businesses do not employ anyone in Queensland, so they have to do all the 3 domains themselves. You don’t start your own business because you want to do things you don’t like doing, so “solopreneurs” tend to form collaborations with others in the market, known as “complimentors” rather than competitors, who refer work to each other rather than taking on customers that want the solopreneurs hate doing.

This is why networking events have become so successful in recent years at creating viable businesses from their membership. But if you don’t know what skills you have to offer first, it is unlikely others will form collaborations with you as you have nothing to offer in return. If all you have is money to offer, not skills, you may as well employ staff who will work with you for that.

Future skills for work


If this is all making sense so far, then this definition of what skills are will likely align with your business values. Both as a self-assessment, and what to look for in others to join your team.

The VeriSkills® (by QTAC) Human Capability Standards are sorted into three domains of learning and nontechnical practice. When constructed, each capability will focus on a distinct but complementary balance between cognition, personal character and emotions, and applied skills and knowledge.

Based on global research projects and extensive collaborative research work, the collaboration between The Institute for Working Futures Pty Ltd and Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC®) sought to validate the most important capabilities for the future workplace.

So for those of you out there, like me, who don’t have a PhD in education, here are the skills to develop to excel at the above job roles:

Thinking skills

Critical Thinking

Able to use a range of tools or methods to critically examine and assess existing information, thinking, assumptions and issues to present well-reasoned insights or to make judgements.


Able to actively contribute to creative works, ideas or novel solutions.

Adaptive Mindset

Able to adjust to change and maintain their curiosity, while dealing with disruption, pressure and setbacks,  in a resilient and positive manner.

Innovative Thinking

Able to be entrepreneurial and make connections between disparate ideas, challenge current thinking or practices, and actively use knowledge to create new products, solutions or opportunities.

Personal skills

Lifelong Learning

Able to identify and continuously develop one’s own knowledge, skills and personal attributes such as mindset and motivation.

Initiative and Drive

Able to appreciate personal strengths and weaknesses and effectively relate to others in a professional manner. This includes being able to work independently, set and attain personal and work-related goals, being motivated, and accepting responsibility for their actions.

Cultural Awareness

Able to engage with others with sensitivity and regard for diversity and the social or cultural differences impacting behaviour.


Able to act with integrity and in conformance with social and professional standards of ethical conduct.


Able to recognise and regulate their own emotions in any situation, while also being good at identifying and respecting the needs and feelings of other people.

Action skills


Able to communicate with clarity and impact to facilitate individual and collective understanding, action or information exchange.


Able to work collaboratively with all types of people, contribute to teamwork and to build relationships and networks across a range of people or groups.


Able to define and analyse problems, generate optimal solutions and make recommendations.

Digital Acumen

Able to use digital technology to undertake workplace tasks and outcomes.

Customer Focus

Able to focus on customer service requirements and works proactively to raise the customer experience.

Are skills transferable?

The short answer to this is yes, and no.

Skills may be transferable, but performance in new job roles depends heavily on the level of skills you have in areas such as life-long learning, problem-solving, and of course collaboration skills if you are joining a new team.

To explain this we turn to Core Skills for Work framework which defines “when” skills are transferable in a given real-world situation.

The Core Skills for Work (CSfW) make up one part of the “foundations skills” listed as unit requirements in all Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications as part of the formal tertiary education system in Australia.

However, performance is not automatically transferrable to new contexts, as application of skills, knowledge and understandings in a new context requires an understanding of that context.

Hence, an individual who has only ever applied their skills in a classroom setting will need to learn about the protocols and expectations of a work situation, and gain practical experience in applying their skills in a work environment.

This is the source of the criticism from businesses for Uni or RTO courses that lead to a qualification that don’t require some form of work placement in and real-world business experience.

They may be competent to do the job, but to keep new employees on small business owners need to new employees to be proficient to keep their job. This means the new employee may have the skills, but not at the level a Micro-business owner needs them to be.

No business I know can afford to put 25% of their new employees through proficiency coaching as part of their onboarding process. Maybe during a 3-6 month probation, if the employees last that long.

This is a huge barrier for micro-business to put on just one new employee, even as a casual or contractor. A barrier we hope to overcome for around 8,500 businesses in Brisbane Southeast employment region through the Small Business and Jobs expo this year.

How will we do that?

Come along to Nissan Arena on June 13th, 2023, for the Brisbane expo, and find out for yourself.

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What is Executive Dysfunction, and how businesses can better manage it.


Executive dysfunction is a term used to describe a set of cognitive and behavioral difficulties that can affect an individual’s ability to plan, initiate, organize, and complete tasks. It is often associated with neurological conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and some forms of dementia.

Executive dysfunction can manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the individual and the specific condition involved. Some common symptoms may include:

  • 1. Difficulty with planning and organization: Individuals with executive dysfunction may struggle to plan and organize tasks, leading to disorganization and difficulty completing projects.
  • 2. Difficulty with time management: Individuals with executive dysfunction may struggle with time management and may have difficulty prioritizing tasks and meeting deadlines.
  • 3. Impulsivity: Individuals with executive dysfunction may act impulsively without considering the consequences of their actions.
  • 4. Difficulty with decision-making: Individuals with executive dysfunction may struggle to make decisions, especially when faced with complex or abstract information.
  • 5. Poor working memory: Individuals with executive dysfunction may struggle to hold information in their working memory, leading to difficulties with task completion and organization.
  • 6. Difficulty with flexibility and adaptability: Individuals with executive dysfunction may struggle with adapting to changes in routine or unexpected events.
  • 7. Poor self-monitoring: Individuals with executive dysfunction may struggle to monitor their own behavior and may have difficulty recognizing when they are making mistakes or need help.

Executive dysfunction can have a significant impact on an individual’s daily life, affecting their ability to work, study, and maintain relationships. However, with appropriate support and accommodations, individuals with executive dysfunction can learn strategies to manage their symptoms and improve their functioning.


Stress triggers of executive dysfunction for “neurotypicals”

The term neurotypical is used to describe individuals who do not have neurological or developmental differences or disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or Tourette syndrome.

As a society, we now have a greater understanding of “disorders”. A diagnosis these days often lead to people getting the help they have wanted all their life.

An example for me of this was a clip I saw of Lewis Capaldi, who was recently diagnosed with Tourette’s and had an attack on stage. The crowd, obviously aware of what was happening, leaped into song as one to give Lewis enough time to regain his composure which allowed him to continue doing his job (performing his songs).

It must have brought a tear to the eyes of every parent with a disability, who lives with the fear of who will look after their kids when the parents pass away, to see this sort of public show of support (for them and their children).

But executive dysfunction does not just affect the actions of a person with a diagnosed (or undiagnosed) disability. While people with a disability are invariably coached on how to manage executive dysfunction, when they become aware that it is happening, Sadly for neurotypicals, they do not.

The term neurotypical is often used within the context of discussing and understanding the experiences of individuals who do have neurological or developmental differences, such as those with ASD or ADHD. It helps to distinguish between those who may have different experiences and challenges due to their neurological or developmental differences and those who do not.

It is important to note that the term neurotypical is not intended to be a value judgment or to suggest that individuals who do not have neurological or developmental differences are somehow “normal” or “better” than those who do. Rather, it is simply a descriptive term that helps to categorize individuals based on their neurological and developmental profiles.

Startup Group
Startup Group

Symptoms of stress

When stress triggers an attack of executive dysfunction in neurotypicals, they generally don’t have the skills to defend themselves and require an intervention to pull them out of the downward spiral that results in mental and physical health issues.

Instead of being a disability, the ability to self-manage executive dysfunction gives neurodiverse people a competitive advantage in business.

Neurotypical individuals typically exhibit typical patterns of behavior, communication, and social interaction that are considered to be within the range of what is considered normal or typical for their age and developmental stage. They may have their own individual differences in these areas, but they are not considered to have significant impairments or differences that would be classified as a neurological or developmental disorders.

The symptoms of stress are obvious when you know what to look for. You don’t need to be a neuroscientist and research fellow (I didn’t even know what that was) from Harvard University’s medical school to see them. But I just happen to know one of them.

Here are some tips from Sathiya (sam) Ramakrishnan, PhD, on how to identify 4 symptoms of stress to look out for as a cue for early intervention in all human beings to help manage executive dysfunction:

Cognitive symptoms

Cognitive symptoms refer to difficulties with thinking and perception. These can affect various cognitive processes such as memory, attention, language, problem-solving, and decision-making. Cognitive symptoms can be a result of various medical conditions such as brain injury, neurological disorders, or mental illness, and they can also be a side effect of certain medications or treatments.

In simple terms, cognitive symptoms are problems with thinking and perception that can make it hard to remember things, pay attention, or understand what others are saying.

This could include:

  1. Memory loss: Inability to recall past events or information.
  2. Difficulty to focus: Difficulty in maintaining concentration or attention on a task or activity.
  3. Impaired judgment: Decreased ability to make sound decisions or choices.
  4. Negative life outlook: Pessimistic view or expectation of future events or experiences.
  5. Anxious thoughts: Excessive worry or fear about potential future events or outcomes.
  6. Constant worry: Persistent and ongoing feeling of anxiety or concern about different aspects of life.

Emotional symptoms

Emotional symptoms refer to changes or disturbances in a person’s emotional state or mood. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can impact a person’s ability to function in daily life.

Some common emotional symptoms include:

  • Anxiety: feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease.
  • Depression: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in life.
  • Irritability: easily getting angry or frustrated.
  • Mood swings: rapid and significant changes in mood or emotions.
  • Crying spells: frequent or sudden outbursts of tears.
  • Loss of interest: decreased enjoyment or motivation in previously enjoyable activities.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt: negative self-perception and negative self-talk.

Emotional symptoms can be a result of various medical conditions such as mood disorders, neurological conditions, or physical health issues. Substance abuse, grief, or stress can also contribute to emotional symptoms.

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms are changes in the body that are a result of stress. These symptoms can be the body’s response to stressors, such as physical or emotional events, and can range from mild to severe. Some common physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Headaches: tension headaches or migraines can be a result of stress.
  • Muscle tension: stress can cause muscle tension, leading to pain or discomfort.
  • Fatigue: stress can drain a person’s energy, leading to feelings of exhaustion.
  • Insomnia: difficulty sleeping or staying asleep can be a physical symptom of stress.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: stress can cause digestive issues, such as upset stomach, acid reflux, or constipation.
  • Rapid heartbeat: stress can cause an increase in heart rate or palpitations.
  • Chest pain: stress can cause chest pain or discomfort, mimicking the symptoms of a heart attack.
  • Skin problems: stress can cause skin problems such as hives, eczema, or psoriasis to worsen.

It’s important to note that while stress can cause physical symptoms, physical symptoms can also be a result of other medical conditions. If you experience physical symptoms that persist or worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention.

Behavioral symptoms

Behavioral symptoms of stress refer to changes in a person’s behavior or habits that are a result of stress. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can impact a person’s daily life and relationships. Some common behavioral symptoms of stress include:

  • Overeating or undereating: changes in appetite can be a result of stress.
  • Substance abuse: some people may turn to alcohol, drugs, or nicotine to cope with stress.
  • Withdrawal: stress can cause a person to withdraw from social activities or relationships.
  • Aggression: stress can cause a person to become more irritable, angry, or aggressive.
  • Nail biting, hair pulling, or skin picking: stress can cause a person to engage in these types of behaviors, known as “nervous habits.”
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior: stress can cause a person to act impulsively or recklessly without thinking about the consequences.
  • Difficulty concentrating: stress can make it hard for a person to focus or pay attention.
  • Lack of motivation: stress can decrease a person’s motivation or drive.

In simple terms, behavioral symptoms of stress are changes in behavior or habits that are a result of stress. These can range from changes in appetite and substance abuse to impulsive behavior and lack of motivation. These symptoms can impact a person’s daily life and relationships.

If you want to learn more about managing executive dysfunction,

or other stress management and self-care techniques, form an actual Neuroscientist who can explain what’s really going on in your body right down to a cellular level, connect with Dr Sam from SMB health.

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Essential implementation skills required in a small business


Small businesses often allocate tasks to people that work for them above the level of authority in a larger business. This can be a great source of frustration for employees who have experience working in the industry.

As the team workers have direct access to the business owner who is used to doing the work themselves, often the business owner may not realize that they are actually allocating management tasks.

This may seem to the business owner as just how you do things in a small business. However, what you are doing is giving the worker management experience to put on their resume. This gives the worker the confidence to apply for management jobs, which pay better, even in a small business.

People don’t leave a job for better money. How do they know they can get better money for another company if they are not looking for a better-paying job? And a job is no longer an employment agreement.

What is a “Job”?

Working under an ABN as a “Solopreneur”, AKA, a business as a sole trader, is also considered a “job” by the ATO. It is categorized as a “self-employment agreement”, and now you can get funding (as a wage subsidy through Centrelink) and 12 months of coaching to set yourself up with a job. With all of the flexible work arrangements, the Fair Work Commission is trying to get larger businesses to do.

The key definition from the ATO as to if you are a “contractor” or under an “employment agreement” is contractors have the ability to set their own hours of work, and also are allowed to subcontract their work to meet the demands of the client outcomes. So if you are looking for that, read our previous blog on Thinking of starting a business, and want to know how to do that. But for Employers and employees, please read on.

You don’t hear people talking at the pub, saying “I love my job”, and their friends say “yeah, but you could get better money working for another company”. Usually, they say, “wow, how can I get a job like that”. Money doesn’t even come up unless they say they don’t like their job.

People who are doing what they love, and are allowed to do regularly, don’t say they don’t like their job. If they don’t love what the do in their job they say “it’s OK”, so don’t want to leave. However, this is what has been coined as “quiet quitting”, which is the situation employees (and business owners) find themselves in where they stay because they don’t know what else they can do.

This is becoming the biggest problem in Business today, as part of the “great resignation” debate. Job ads were at their highest levels since before the GFC. It takes 8 weeks (at least) to replace good employees, who only have to give you 1 or 2 weeks’ notice. That is a big cost to micro-businesses if 20% of their staff leave.

What’s the problem?

2 quotes spring to mind whenever I have this discussion with Small Business owners.

  1. The problem is not “what if we train them well and they leave?”, the problem (for any business) is “what if we don’t train them well, and they stay” – Henry Ford. That want really costs a small business money, customers, and time, as there is nowhere for them to hide
  2. Train them well enough so they can leave, then treat them well so they don’t have to – Richard Branson

A third quote, from this century, is “people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses” – Simon Sinek.

What makes a bad boss? Lots of things, but in this case, it’s poor delegation skills.

While leaders and managers may have been promoted because of their skills in the job they were doing, if they are not trained well in leadership and management, then this becomes a big problem.

Job ads are back to the level they were before the GFC, but this time, the unemployment rate is much lower. So if staff leave you, it will be very tough to replace them anytime soon.

From the Australian Government Internet Vacancy Index 2006 to 2022
From the Australian Government Internet Vacancy Index

What good leaders and managers both do

Good leaders and managers know the capabilities of the people in their care. If they delegate work above the person’s required skill level for their job, good managers reward their team no matter if they ask for it or not.

It’s not about the money, it’s usually acknowledgment that they are performing above their pay grade, and they feel appreciated and secure in their job. Why would they look for another one?

If this is a problem for you, here is something that might help you out. This list is from the core skills for work framework used in business training qualifications.

Do an audit on yourself and your delegation skills before saying “don’t you know how hard it is to get good staff”?

Maybe you need to employ a supervisor or manager, even if you have no other staff. Sometimes business owners need to accept they are not the best person to be managing the business

Team member skills

  • Plans a range of routine, and some non-routine, tasks, accepting stated goals and aiming to achieve them efficiently
  • Applies formal processes when planning more complex/unfamiliar tasks, producing plans with logically sequenced steps, reflecting some awareness of time and resource constraints and the needs of others in the immediate vicinity
  • Implements actions as per plan, making slight adjustments if necessary, and addressing some unexpected issues
  • Seeks assistance from more experienced colleagues as required
  • May use ICT based systems and programs to assist with planning, implementing and tracking progress
  • Assesses effectiveness in terms of how well-stated goals were achieved and how closely the process followed the original plan and timeframes


  • Develops plans to manage relatively complex, non-routine tasks with an awareness of how they may contribute to longer term operational and strategic goals
  • Begins to recognise the importance of other stakeholders throughout the process and is learning to clarify goals and proposed methodology with others, maintain communication and manage expectations and understanding
  • Monitors actions against stated goals, adjusting plans and resources to cope with contingencies
  • Uses a combination of formal, logical planning processes and an increasingly intuitive understanding of context to identify relevant information and risks, identify and evaluate alternative strategies and resources
  • Sequences and schedules complex activities, monitors implementation and manages relevant communication e.g. formal project management processes and associated technology
  • Reflects on outcomes and feedback from others in order to identify general principles and concepts that may be applicable in new situations
  • Recognises the need for flexibility and is learning how to adjust or even abandon plans as circumstances and priorities change

Manager skills

  • Develops flexible plans for complex, high impact activities with strategic implications that involve a diverse range of stakeholders with potentially competing demands
  • Recognises the critical importance of clarifying, focusing and aligning goals and expectations, and may use the process to build ownership of, and broad commitment to achieving outcomes
  • Uses a mix of intuitive and formal processes to identify key information and issues, evaluate alternative strategies, anticipate consequences and consider implementation issues and contingencies
  • May operate from a broad conceptual plan, developing the operational detail in stages, regularly reviewing priorities and performance during implementation, identifying and addressing issues and reallocating resources
  • Skilfully utilises existing structures and systems to coordinate activity, or designs new processes as required
  • Focuses effort on what is most important, delegating to others as required, managing interruptions, recognising potential issues and taking quick action to identify and resolve problems
  • Gathers data and seeks feedback from others to gain new perspectives and identify ways to strengthen planning processes in the future

If you need more help with this, or in a hole and can’t see a way out, let’s have a chat. Every business goes through this at some point. We have options anyone can do, and people in our network that can help anyone too.

If this looks like you, you’ll feel much better if we are on the other end of the phone with options. Let’s chat.
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What does every successful TED talk do?


TED curator Chris Anderson shares this secret. But is it really a secret seeing as so many speaker coaches out there can teach you how to do a TED talk?

When Inception Training started putting together the 8-week Professional Speaker Development Program, speaking to collaborators we wanted to work with, we discovered quickly Small Business owners don’t really need to be taught how to speak. In fact, getting them to shut up seemed to be a harder task.

The question was how do I write a speech? Speakers want to know what to say. And particularly when speaking one-to-many, how do you please everyone?

How to get everyone on the same page?

Stop TRYING to talk to everyone would be the first advice.

To do this, you have to trust that the organizer has not just attracted anyone to the room. then you’ll have a fighting chance of captivation your audience.

TED curator Chris Anderson says “your job as a speaker is to get everyone in the audience on the same page” (literally if you have a book). This is why TED talks are so successful and have propelled speakers like Tony Robbins and Simon Sinek into a continuing long-term speaker career.

There’s no single formula for a great talk, but there is a secret ingredient that all the best ones have in common.

In the video below, Chris Anderson shares this secret – along with four ways to make it work for you. Do you have what it takes to share an idea worth spreading?

So if you accept that your number one task as a speaker is to build an idea inside the minds of your audience, here are four guidelines for how you should go about that task: 

  1. limit your talk to just one major idea. Ideas are complex things; you need to slash back your content so that you can focus on the single idea you’re most passionate about, and give yourself a chance to explain that one thing properly. 
  2. Give your listeners a reason to care. Before you can start building things inside the minds of your audience, you have to get their permission to welcome you in. And the main tool to achieve that? Curiosity. Stir your audience’s curiosity. 
  3. Build your idea, piece by piece, out of concepts that your audience already understands. You use the power of language to weave together concepts that already exist in your listeners’ minds — but not your language, their language. 
  4. Here’s the final tip: Make your idea worth sharing. By that I mean, ask yourself the question: “Who does this idea benefit?” And I need you to be honest with the answer. If the idea only serves you or your organization, then, I’m sorry to say, it’s probably not worth sharing. 

You can watch the video here. And just to show you the skill of a true speaking professional, Chris Anderson’s talk is under 8 mins, 10 mins under the TED talk time limit.

Giving more doesn’t add value if your audience can’t use it right now.

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How to find your ideal client at an event

How do you find these mythical beings?

The diffusion of innovation has been around for years, so it is no secret. However, many speakers don’t how to use the diffusion of Innovation for what they do.

Professional speakers do know how to use this model, or they don’t get paid to speak for long.

Many speakers see their talk as a product or are doing the audience a service. But what a speaker is really selling an idea. What the Audience is buying is an experience.

the customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling them

Peter Drucker

Many learned through trial and error, but if you are looking to use speaking to build a business, any business, you can’t afford not to focus your efforts and know whom you are talking to.

Here’s how you can use the diffusion of Innovation to build your speaking business:

The speakers are the innovators

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Or trying to look like an innovator, but “fake it till you make it” rarely works in the information age. If speakers just talk about what they do/have done, only 2 out of the 100 people in the room will connect with their personality. When dealing with people you “know, like, and trust”, trust comes first.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Good speakers ask questions. “Have you ever…”, “who excited to be here?”, “is it just me or is it hot in here? Can we get the aircon turned down?”. All ways Professional speakers connect and score check who is in the room.

The early adopters

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These can be very disruptive and undermining at a summit. They are not potential clients, more looking for validation from you for what they do. early adopters want to know what speakers do, and how speakers do it, but have a desire to be the first out of their circle of friends to do it.

They generally have an esteem sensitivity, which means they have an unspoken desire to be acknowledged for their specialness.

Early adopters are unlikely to come up to a speaker directly, more likely identified networking saying “wow, how great was that talk, but here’s what I’m going to do…”. They generally have a fear of missing out, and that is their main motivation for buying a ticket.

Early adopters are also likely to pay for premium tickets if they get exclusive access to talk with speakers, so are the cash cows for an organiser. However, the early adopter is likely to just want to pitch their own ideas to the speaker. Good for the organizers to get a higher ticket price, but more of an annoyance to the speaker. None the less, they have high value to speakers as affiliate marketers.

 Early Majority

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The 34% of the population that ARE in your client target market at a summit is the early majority. Usually well researched, and ready to act, they just need know it will work for them and that is all the information the early majority will need to sign on the dotted line.

The Early Majority rely heavily on feedback from early adopters who have usually tested your products/service/advice. However, if a speaker has been too dismissive of the early adopters, it put doubts in the minds of the early majority too. It’s Hard to manage this at an event unless you have help from your network.

Speakers may also be excited about what they think are early majority running up and saying “just tell me what I have to do”. As Admiral Ackbar would say, “It’s a trap!”.

Red flags, in this case, may include horror stories of being ripped off, or not given enough support from other programs. Or when a speaker asks why the attendee wants to sign up you get “I just want to help, and can see how great it is what you do”.

Separation sensitive have an unspoken desire to be known as the victim in situations to get what they want, which in the case of a summit could be an even better deal on your amazing upsell offer. This could be extra support, but it is not support they want, Separation sensitive will want you to carry them. If 20% of your customers cause 80% of your problems, this client will be in your 20%.

I’m not saying don’t take them on as a client, but I’d suggest you offer “done for you” package. I’ve seen Separation sensitive often use “learned helplessness” to get attention even though you know they can do it, with a goal of maintaining the relationship. They can be very high maintenance clients.

Late Majority

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These are the people that “have to know” why. Not your why, why it works, and why other things don’t work. They need to know how the engine works to drive a car. Late majority are hard to deal with at a summit as you don’t have time to answer all their questions.

Late Majority tend to have a safety sensitivity. They want to keep speakers in the “goldilocks” zone of information. Lots of information about speaker is great, but the late majority usually are not prepared (particularly in public) to give away the information about themselves.

This open Late Majority up (in their mind) to manipulation and abuse. Speakers will not be able to find out enough about the individual to work out if the late majority is a suitable client, so don’t chase them. They’ll chase you.

This segment of the market is will to spend more, and will generally pay 3 times as much for a product they know is just twice as good. Late Majority see products and services as a long term investment, but can also be disruptive in a Q&A at a summit.

The early majority that has come to learn how to do it and is ready to buy gets frustrated with the seeming endless irrelevant questions, and can walk may out. Particularly if the late majority is an extrovert and thinks out loud. Everyone know “that person”, except if you are that person.

I suggest getting (an assistant to get) details and tell the late majority “I need to get more information from you about your unique situation” (which Late Majority likely believes they are in). I’ve seen speakers offer a 1 on 1 consult, booked at the event. Then I’ve seen the late majority give glowing endorsements about how much the speaker “must know”, even before they talk again.

If you dismiss the late majority and don’t want to answer all their questions (even if others are lined up waiting) they may see it as you don’t know what you are talking about. Even if you do get back to them, their research bias would have switched to negative, so already lost them as a customer.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek


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Laggards are just there because they have been “told” it’s what they have to do. Not a potential client (yet), and may not even know whom the speakers are let alone what the speakers do. But if Laggards feel the speaker is like them, storytelling can confirm this and you can build trust. As trust comes first in “know, like, and trust, if you get the interest of the laggards, they won’t look at other options. They only need one

They are the reason speakers go over the speaker Bio in their talk. Sounds silly when you think about it. Why would someone pay for a ticket and turn up to hear people they don’t know. So why would speakers talk to Laggard? Because speakers chase people that are not their customers too.

This is why organisers should have the speaker bio’s and photo in a handout a registration, for the 16% of the population otherwise you exclude them from networking conversations. It saves the embarrassment (both ways) when an attendee goes up to a speaker during networking and say “so, what do you do?”.

How to get everyone on the same page?

Stop trying to talk to everyone would be the first advice.

Or, the TED talk option is “your job as a speaker is to get everyone in the audience on the same page” (literally if you have a book). This is why TED talks are so successful and have propelled speakers like Tony Robbins and Simon Sinek into a continuing long-term speaker career.

What to see this in action? Come along to the Professional Speaker Development Summit in Brisbane on April 4th, 2020.

Early bird tickets to the summit for $99 end Feb 29th, and go up to $247.

Get yours here:

See you at the summit!