Six ways to help turn around a failing small business

how to turn around a failing small business

By Anthony O’Brien for Money Magazine,  March 2021

More than 12% of small businesses closed in 2019, with 293,260 of them exiting stage left. This closure level is hardly a shock as countless challenges threaten to sink our businesses every year and 2020 was even tougher, thanks to restrictions, lockdowns and border closures. Yet failure rates could skyrocket further in 2021 and beyond.

Business turnaround specialist Adam Smith, a director of professional services firm Aurecon and a chartered accountant, says that while the federal government suspended the insolvency laws for financially distressed businesses until December 31, 2020, the number of businesses at risk is expected to rise.

“Australian businesses that were already suffering from liquidity issues before the pandemic have only received temporary relief, with the prospect of recovery for many companies still in doubt,” he says.

With JobKeeper due to end on March 28, businesses will need to be smarter, nimbler and more innovative than ever before to stand on their own two feet again.

“It could be blood on the streets,” warns Simon Winter, a certified practising accountant at Raine & Horne who sells hundreds of businesses each year. Apart from JobKeeper’s demise, he also expects the end of the moratorium on business insolvencies to begin to bite.

Continue reading “Six ways to help turn around a failing small business”

2021: The year of the media release

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By Anthony O’Brien, Jan 2021

Quality communication needs to be at the top of your business wish list for 2021.

January is always a good time to review what your business does well – and where it could improve. And chances are, your corporate communications strategy could benefit from a revamp.

According to a 2020 survey by small business lender (and Corpwrite client) OnDeck, 73% of business owners say “being a good communicator” is the leading attribute for business success; 14% say communication is the “most important” quality.

Yet many businesses fail to communicate effectively or give scant attention to a communications strategy.

In today’s disrupted environment, communication is especially important. Consider these findings[1]:

  • 59% of businesses across the Asia Pacific use their communications campaigns to enhance brand influence. The remaining 41% focus on sales conversion and growth
  • 70% of businesses say news websites are the preferred communications channel
  • 85% of businesses prefer press releases rather than social media or announcements on corporate websites to share significant business developments or promote a new product/service.

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Cut through copy can bring business to your door

The pen really is mightier than the sword but in a competitive business environment, the written word should be as sharp as a samurai blade, as incisive as a cutlass and above all, an interesting read.

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Quality copy is an effective, low cost marketing tool, but whether you’re writing a press release, a newsletter, blog, webpage or just staying in touch with customers, aiming for quality copy is essential. As my dearly departed business partner, Chris Walker, would regularly drum into me, when brandishing his red editing pen, “AOB, scrappily (expletives deleted) written copy can blot an otherwise professional business image.” I’ll forever miss Chris, but never the dreaded red ballpoint!

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Corpwrite bucks the trend of scaling back staff during COVID-19

By Nicola Field, Associate Director, Corpwrite 

Corporate communications specialist Corpwrite, is bucking the trend of scaling back staff. By growing its team, Corporate is able to serve the holistic needs of clients, and that’s good for revenue growth. 

Communications specialist Corpwrite, is no stranger to challenging times. As Director and Co-founder Anthony O’Brien explains, “Myself and Chris Walker set up the business in 2008 – just as the global financial crisis was kicking in. Several years later, as the business was really starting to ramp up, Chris was diagnosed with cancer, and was forced to take a backseat in the business to focus on his health.”

Sadly, Chris passed away in 2016. But despite the setbacks, Anthony was determined for Corpwrite to reach its full potential.

“What I took from those tough times was a really clear sense that a small business can get through some tremendous challenges. But it’s up to you – as the owner – to take charge of that survival process. You can’t simply hope the situation will turn itself around.” Continue reading “Corpwrite bucks the trend of scaling back staff during COVID-19”

Your country needs you: Write a media release

By Nicola Field, Associate Director, Corpwrite

I freely admit I’m a news junkie. I spend a lot of time (too much really) sifting through online news. But you don’t have to slavishly follow the newsfeed to know that COVID-19 has dominated headlines for much of 2020.

Yes, it’s critical for everyone to stay up to date with the latest on the Coronavirus. But right now, I suspect plenty of Australians are keen to hear other news stories.

As evidence of this, on 1 May the top ten topics trending on Google included the re-launch of a popular lip gloss, the re-opening of pubs in the Northern Territory, and the fast-tracked return of that iconic confection, the Polly Waffle.

It goes to show that even in the midst of a pandemic, people are still hungry for variety in the media.

This is where you come in. If your business has a story to tell, why not tell it through a media release? You don’t have to be an ASX 200-listed company to merit media attention. In fact, it often amazes me just how many news articles are pretty obviously drawn from a press release.

If you think about it, it makes sense.  News outlets need a continual flow of content. And they need it to be low cost. The days when teams of Clark Kent-style reporters chased the latest scoop are behind us.

The challenge is that plenty of other businesses are also vying for media attention. So your media release needs to stand out. That means having something newsworthy to say. Continue reading “Your country needs you: Write a media release”

In hibernation, communication keeps you connected to customers

By Nicola Field, Associate Director, Corpwrite

In hibernation, communication keeps you connected to customers

The best decision I’ve made so far in 2020 was taking my 13-year-old son to London. It was a blast – but amid all the history and hustle of London, it was the squirrels that enchanted Nicholas.

A particular point of interest was the way squirrels hibernate during the UK’s cold winter. Frankly, I suspected the Hyde Park squirrels long ago ditched any notion of hibernation, preferring instead to live off the rich pickings of London’s year-round tourist trade. Nonetheless, I explained that squirrels stock up on nuts in summer to survive the leaner months.

When Nick asked how they know to prepare for hibernation, I was flummoxed. Maybe squirrels hand the message down across generations. Maybe it’s instinctive. Whatever the case, they do it, and it works.

So, I was intrigued when just weeks later, Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested that Australian businesses should go into hibernation as part of the COVID-19 lockdown.

It was a euphemistic way of saying “shut down until this is all passes by”. The trouble is, hibernation isn’t on the agenda of any business. It’s doubtful that even the best-laid continuity plans anticipate a near-total closure of activities for months on end.

The bottom line is that unlike squirrels, businesses don’t have a proverbial stash of nuts to get through the Coronavirus winter. Continue reading “In hibernation, communication keeps you connected to customers”

How Cricket Australia bounced back from defeat

By Anthony O’Brien for Leadership Matters,  December 2019

For many sports fans and members of the media, 24 March 2018 is a day that will forever live in infamy for Australian cricket.

To recap, Australia was playing a crucial test in Cape Town, South Africa, and the locals were on top. To try and stem the flow of runs, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft hatched a plan to use sandpaper on the red ball to help it swing. Simply put, a swinging cricket ball is harder to hit or can increase the chances of getting unwary batsmen out. The bottom line, whether you take sandpaper, dirt, or Brylcreem to a ball, is that it’s a form of cheating. In other words, it’s just not cricket.

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Mastering social media

By Anthony O’Brien for Leadership Matters,  February 2020

In digital marketing much has been said about the importance of data to drive decision-making. Much less is said about gut feel.

Yet it was instinct – not analytics – that led advertising guru Wendy Thompson to strike out on her own and establish a social media agency a decade ago.

She was proven correct in the most dramatic way possible. Today, 3.2 billion people are using social media worldwide. And Thompson’s Auckland-based social media business, named Socialites, has gone from strength to strength. The agency works with clients across the globe including New Zealand, Australia, North America, Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Thompson explains, “There are 13 official employees and a network of approximately 30 contractors whom we work with day to day.”

Last year, the Auckland-based firm was named Australasian Social Media Agency of the Year. Thompson was also a finalist in Next Woman of The Year.

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The simple way to cash in on your empty parking space

By Anthony O’Brien, Money Magazine, August 2019

If you live close to a train station or in the middle of the city and have space to park an extra car, you could generate thousands of dollars annually, according to the peer-to-peer platform Parkhound.

Users also benefit: they can secure affordable, accessible long-term parking, often in high-demand areas.

Parkhound has over 40,000 spots nationally from a variety of peer-to-peer spaces and car park operators. Since 2015 members, also called hosts, have earned more than $20 million collectively.

Where to start

Parkhound, a subsidiary of Spacer, is an online marketplace for storage and parking.

It connects drivers who want convenient parking with local property owners who have an extra space, such as a garage, carport, driveway or allocated space.

Continue reading “The simple way to cash in on your empty parking space”

Three top tips for 2019

By Anthony O’Brien, Professional Planner, January 19, 2019

With plenty of Australians still in holiday mode, January is the perfect opportunity to take stock of the wins and losses from last year and rip into fine-tuning the marketing plans for 2019.

Moreover, with plenty of global and local challenges, such as Brexit and the looming federal election, it always makes sense to get a jump on the competition.

Continue reading “Three top tips for 2019”