First it was 30percent.com.au, now 50percent.com.au

So the other day I wrote here about a new site that we have launched – 30percent.com.au – which is all about the Government’s proposed 30% Investment Tax Break for small businesses and general business.

Well tonight during the Budget, the unthinkable happened.  They changed it to a 50% tax break for small businesses, and extended the time that small businesses are eligible for this unreal tax break!

So if you are not looking for information specific to the 50% Small Business Investment Tax Break, you can find it all at 50percent.com.au.

… and my experiment in small, fast, and low cost online entrepreneurship continues :)

Introducing 30percent.com.au – your guide to the 30% Investment Tax Break

If you are an Australian business owner, a business person, or just someone interested in entrepreneurship, you will more than likely have heard of the Federal Government’s proposed 30% Investment  Tax Break.

For those who missed it, back in February, our Prime Minister (Kevin Rudd), as part of his economic stimulus package announced the Small Business and General Business Tax Break.  Essentially, it means that if you are a small business (with revenue less than $2 million /year), you can claim an additional 30% tax allowance for investments in eligible tangible assets over $1 000.  Any other business can claim the allowance as long as the investment is over $10 000.

The catch is, that the investment needs to be made before 30 June 2009, and the asset needs to be installed and in use by 30 June 2010.

Whilst the announcement was welcomed by many, the fact of the matter is that the legislation that makes it a reality – the Tax Laws Amendment (Small Business and General Business Tax Break) Bill 2009 – still hasn’t passed through the parliament.  This has lead to not only hesitation, but also confusion in the business community.

I saw this as a great opportunity to build some content that helps reduce that confusion, and gives Australian business owners – small business owners in particular – enough easily understandable information that they can confidently have a conversation about the tax break with their accountant.  The outcome – 30percent.com.au

It is also an experiment in small, fast, and low cost online entrepreneurship which I will blog about at a later time.  Obviously there is a little design work to do (which will happen over the next week), but getting the content flowing was the first goal.

Aussie business owners – I am keen to hear your feedback on 30percent.com.au – email me paul@paul-woods.com with what you like and what you don’t like!

Ummm… Hi there

I can’t believe it.  It has been 163 days since I last posted here – how embarrassing!

I was going to give you all an update on what has been happening over the last 5 months, but I started writing it and to be honest – it wasn’t that interesting!  Work hard, play hard pretty much sums it up!

No need to dwell on that though – lets look at the future and plenty more posts on marketing, technology and entrepreneurship!

Paul W

Presenting at OfficeDevCon08

Last weekend Kerrina and I took a little side trip down to Sydney.  I had the opportunity to present at an event called OfficeDevCon08 about all things Office 2007.  It turned out to be a great community event, with somewhere between 100 and 150 people attending at Microsoft Australia HQ at North Ryde.

I delivered two presentations.  The first presentation was about comparing all the different business productivity suites that are out there in the market.  I called it the “Office Suite Smackdown!”

The second presentation I delivered was all about the frustrations that we all face when we first move to Office 2007, and how to avoid them.  I called it (funnily enough) “The 10 Most Common Office 2007 User Frustrations, and how to avoid them”.

Make sure you check the presentations out (thanks to SlideShare.net!) – however due to my presentation style they might seem a little confusing without me jumping around in front of a projector!  If you want to dive deeper into all things Office 2007, especially if you are looking for help – check out my site over at www.thenewpaperclip.com.

By the way.. a big hello to Microsoft MVPs Lucy Thomson and Glen Millar, as well as Microsoftie Alistair Speirs for their sparkling repartee over beers on Saturday night :)

Where have I been?

Yep… I have been pretty slack recently.  Especially where this blog is concerned.

To start with – work has been very busy recently.  Which is a great thing – but unfortunately when push comes to shove deadlines at work mean less time to post here.

Another reason why is that we have been overseas for a good part of this quarter.  32 days away from Australia touring Canada and the US – which was absolutely amazing.

We wrote about our travels on our “Northern Exposure” blog – http://holiday.paul-woods.com, and if you are keen you can catch the top 250 or so photos on Flickr.

One piece of advice for anyone thinking of taking 5 weeks leave…  it takes about 3 weeks to get your motivation back at work!  So make sure anything important gets done before you go!

The final reason why things have been slow on the www.paul-woods.com front is that I have been posting my thoughts fairly regularly on Twitter – 140 characters at a time.  You can follow me too – @paulwoods is where you will find my riffs on marketing, technology, and life .

So what is coming up for Paul?  Stay tuned for more.

Photosynth at the Amberley Air Show

Last weekend our local Air Force base (RAAF Amberley) hosted the semi-regular Defence Force Air Show. 

Usually I would just take a heap of photos of flying aircraft and leave them on my PC to have a look at every now and then, but this time I thought I would experiment with Microsoft Photosynth

For those that don’t know, Photosynth allows you to create 3D representations of environments with the photos that you take.  Pretty cool (Very cool infact!). 

I tried two different strategies to create the perfect Photosynth.  First was to walk around the static displays taking as many shots from as many angles as possible.  If only I had actually read up on how Photosynth “Photosynths” Photos.  I thought it matched edges.  But in fact it matches textures.  I had thought it would work just like a panoramic photo, but it didn’t.  Instead of getting away with a 10-15% overlap, I really needed 50%!  Bummer!  Oh well, here are a few examples that kind of worked.

(TIP – if you use what look like forward and back buttons on the top right hand side of the boxes below you will see all the different synth sets created, not just the photos in the synthiest part of the synth… if you know what I mean!)

Static Display of Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster and Two United States Air Force Fighters

Inside a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster

Walking around a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion

 

After spending 3 hours walking around the static displays (some multiple times), the flying displays began.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to see if I can do the “lazy mans photosynth”  I planned to take plenty of photos of aircraft as they flew past, and because it was a beautiful day with a great blue sky – I figured Photosynth would love these photos. 

Well it kind of worked – not across 15 or 20 frames like I hoped, but more like two or three.  You can see my examples below.

I think if I upgrade my camera from a Canon 300d (which does something like 3fps from memory) to something a bit faster (like 12 frames per second) this might work.

Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster in flight

 

Are you playing with Photosynth yet?  Have you tried anything out of the box like the “lazy man’s photosynth”? If you have I would love to see how you have gone.

Review: Getting to Big the Small Way – Frank Prestipino

A few weeks ago the June edition of the Australian Marketing Institute’s Marketing Update newsletter was released – and in it is the second book review I have done for the AMI – Getting to Big the Small Way by Frank Prestipino.

For those who are not members of the AMI… here is the review

 

 BOOK REVIEW

Getting to Big the Small Way

By Frank Prestipino. Published by McGraw-Hill, New York, 2008. 322 pages. RRP AUD$39.95. ISBN 13: 9780071484404.

While taking on a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) can get you out of bed in the morning, chances are getting your project off the ground is fraught with challenges. Budget. Risk management. Board approval. Hmmm, all sounds too hard!

But what if you could fly under the radar and drive significant change in your organisation? In ‘Getting to Big the Small Way’, Frank Prestipino illustrates how taking baby steps to drive change is a sound business strategy.

The book’s argument focuses on the Pareto Principle — that 80% of the benefit is derived from 20% of the effort. Prestipino says that as a business you need to focus on the 20% (or even less) to drive incremental yet significant change in your organisation. All without the red tape and risk associated with big transformation projects.
Although the idea is similar to that of Tim Ferris in ‘The 4 Hour Work Week‘, ‘Getting to Big the Small Way’ targets what a business or marketing team (not an individual) should be focusing on to drive significant returns.

For example, moving into adjacent markets and exploiting the products, skills and resources that are already at your fingertips, or closing the perception gap between how you and your customers see your organisation. Prestipino supports each idea with plenty of real-world examples and draws significantly on his experience at Oracle and other organisations.

The book itself generally reads well, with practical tools that complement Prestipino’s arguments. Near the end of the book I felt the tools became very prescriptive and took too much of the focus — great if the tools fit your organisation perfectly, a little disappointing if you need to adapt them to meet the challenges of your business.

That being said, there are plenty of great ideas I have taken from this book and am implementing within the business I live and breathe every day. I would recommend this as worthwhile reading for anyone with a strategic marketing or communications bent.

My addition to Seth’s 36 point Email Checklist

37:  If it is going to more than 10 people – send it to someone else to check before you unleash the message on the masses… two, three, four pairs of eyes are better than one.

and how about…

38:  If you want me to respond, put me on the To: line.  If you don’t want a response, CC: me please (actually you should just reconsider if need to read it at all!)

… you can read #1 – #36 of the Email Checklist over at Seth’s blog.

My Broadband saga is now over…

Back in March I wrote my breakup letter to Virgin Broadband regarding their substandard offering.  Well after almost three months of troubleshooting, registered post letters, stern emails, negotiation, complaining to the ACCC and the TIO and a whole lot of patience we now have a reliable, fast connection at home.

The good folk at Virgin Broadband certainly lived up to the Virgin customer service standard and tried their best to sort out my problem (once my complaints got through to them) but unfortunately it just wasn’t to be. 

After a personal apology over the phone from the soon to be CEO of Virgin Mobile, and the offer of a release from the contract, I somewhat reluctantly cut my loses and walked away from Virgin Broadband.   I say reluctantly because my only other option was to sign up with the company I never wanted to sign up with again – Telstra.

… to cut a long story short, the signup with Telstra was easy, the problem is they can never ever meet any time commitments they make over the phone.  After eight phone calls to Telstra customer service over three weeks (that should have only been one), I now have a new phone line and ADSL2+ connection.

I guess the good part about poor customer service is that you can negotiate discounts at almost every occasion that something goes wrong, and Telstra are more than happy to come to the table – otherwise I would be incredibly unhappy at the moment, instead of content.

Lets just hope my Telstra ADSL2+ does not degrade like Virgin Broadband did.  Fingers crossed.

How I doubled traffic overnight! – the simple tweak that everyone can make

Last month I set myself a Search Engine Optimization challenge.  Essentially I wanted to substantially increase the traffic, ultimately revenue from a website that I run focused on Office 2007 help, tips, tricks, and tutorials called The New Paperclip.

The first tweak I made was to not focus on keywords, or backlinks or any other sexy SEO topic.  I know this might sound a little backward, but I actually focused on the reader first!

That’s right!  This wasn’t to increase my pagerank or anything like that… all I did was make it easier for someone using a search engine to make a decision on whether or not to click the search engine result that pointed to my site.

Obviously I was making it pretty hard for readers to make the right choice, because almost overnight (as soon as Google spidered my site again) traffic DOUBLED!  That’s right… DOUBLED!

How easy is it for your potential readers to decide if a page on your site is worthy or not?  Do a search and see what title comes up.  If it is long winded like “The New Paperclip: Tips, Tricks and Tutorials for Microsoft Office…” and does not have anything to do with not only the specific content of the page, but the search terms that the person used… then you are in big trouble!  You need to tweak straight away!

To learn about how I specifically made the tweak to my blog post titles using WordPress… click here

Remember – SEO isn’t all about the search engine – really it should be called Human Search Optimisation – because at the end of the day it is the reader looking for the content, not the search engine.

Actually the topic of Human Search Optimization sounds pretty interesting, I might see if I can dig up some more information or insight about it in the coming weeks.