The Australian
Edition 1 - PreprintsFRI 31 OCT 2003, Page T10
Keep the inner fires burning - Business Solutions: Business Surveys Series
By Kate Castellari

Small business owners need to see the big picture, writes Kate Castellari

SMALL business owners begin by being passionate about what they do. But what happens years down the track when the work they enjoyed so much becomes a job taking up 80 hours a week?
Business mentor and coach Tony Gattari, owner of Achievers Group, offers solutions aimed at reinvigorating business owners and their businesses through individual mentoring and coaching as well as workshops.
``The greatest challenge I think for business owners is that they start the business with enormous passion but, over a number of years, (become) just producers and not involved in marketing or managing nor enjoying themselves,'' he says.
Often they don't want to grow the business because this means more pain.
Gattari draws on his own background as a former business manager of Harvey Norman's computer and communications division, from his own business and e-tail company Smart Buy and as CEO of Unique World.
He uses this experience to offer solutions and advice to help owners step back, manage better and develop their businesses. He will act as a mentor to a company over a period of about six months but does not stand over the owner.
``The business is a reflection of the owner,'' he says. ``I don't drive the business, the owner drives the business and I aim to provide education, mentoring, goal setting and clarity.''
Throughout the six-month period, he encourages the owner to evaluate all aspects of the business, including developing marketing plans, forecasts and flow charts.
Aside from dealing directly with the owners, he also mentors staff and conducts different workshops designed to lift their performance.
Workshops range in length and content but focus on subjects such as increasing business profits through five key variables: advertising and networking, customer service, the power of selling and closing techniques, marketing, attitude, influence and leadership.
Troy Thomas, computer proprietor of Domayne Liverpool, says that in the two weeks following a series of two-hour training sessions, the company was able to increase profitability by up to 3 per cent.
``All of my staff said they got a lot from the workshop and even some of the guys who thought they were pretty hot sales people got a lot from it,'' Thomas says.
An advertising workshop points out how millions of dollars are wasted and focuses on how to get more from the advertising dollar.
Customer service is another important topic, with most businesses suffering because they clearly feel that getting the customer in the front door is the greatest challenge. In his workshop on the subject, Gattari says this is untrue.
``It's about serving them well, so that they keep coming back,'' he says.
Gattari also offers workshops on attitude, leadership, influence and the power of success.
But the power of success, he says, only comes when the business owner is willing to take a step back, put some time into planning and be willing to delegate.
``Fundamentally, the owner should not only be working in the business but on building the business and always developing a business plan for the next two to three years.''
``Great businesses and lives don't just happen, they are caused. Caused through desire, decision, determination and faith,'' he says. ``Caused by those who get desperate enough to buck the system and say `no' to mediocrity.''

Caption:  Desire:Tony Gattari
Illus:  Photo
Section:  FEATURES Type:  Series

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