Sunday, 7 June 2020
Attention METS SMEs - How can Austmine's Business Advisers Help You?
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Attention METS SMEs - How can Austmine's Business Advisers Help You?

On 1 July 2015, Austmine were delighted to announce seven new Business Advisers (BA) joined our team as part of the Entrepreneurs' Programme. Mark Nesci is our local Sydney BA so we caught up with him to understand more about what his role and the wider programme means for SME METS companies.

What is your background prior to joining Austmine as a Business Adviser?

My career to date has been broadly divided between manufacturing, mining and construction. I’ve worked in both operations and sales functions, from people management to direct solution selling, for a range of companies including Siemens, Sandvik, Bechtel, CH2M Hill, Barclay Mowlem (Laing O’Rourke), plus a short stint in telecommunications at Telstra! I also worked briefly in supply chain, within the e-commerce space back when mining companies were trying to set up e-hubs for large purchases. All my roles ultimately relate back to mining, or oil and gas. Having worked at both the front and back ends of mining, I am well positioned to help companies in the Entrepreneurs’ Programme across their entire business value chain.

Can you explain to us a little more about how the Entrepreneurs’ Programme (EP) works and the type of companies who should be approaching you for a free consultation?

The Entrepreneurs' Programme is a great opportunity for the SME end of the METS market, where some companies are struggling to be competitive in an increasingly globalised mining economy. Many of these companies need to define their differentiators in a crowded marketplace that is competing with cheaper products or services from Asia.

Any company whose annual turnover is below $100million can apply to participate in the EP (a couple of other restrictions apply, contact me directly to learn more). The EP works by sending in the Business Adviser to the business in question, to work with and observe how the organisation runs. Often the small end of town can lack the technology and streamlined processes that are required to keep their businesses sustainable. However, that is often the best demographic for supplying technologies or services that can give a mining operation its competitive edge.

Once the BA is on site and observing, we’re focusing broadly speaking on three areas:

  1. Processes
  2. Marketing
  3. Systems

My role is to examine all three and identify any gaps, and feedback accordingly to the SME.

The EP is there to give companies a leg up, or an edge. This could even come down to redesigning the layout in their workshop, or implementing a simple, yet intelligent, back office system for Accounts Receivable. Small systems that cut operational costs can make a big difference to SMEs.

The programme has some unique templates. The Power of One is a fantastic template we have that should be used by all SMEs! It allows the business to go through their numbers and look at how a 1% difference or 1 day saving at a certain level can make a significant impact on cash flow.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen made by SMEs looking to grow their business in the past?

The single biggest mistake I’ve seen made is taking on work when their systems aren’t up to scratch; they try to take on large projects, but don’t have the systems or resources in place to manage it correctly. Winning the work and then figuring out how you will deliver on it is not a smart business model!

I’ve seen several SME companies who feel if they have complex and expensive internal systems, they will be uncompetitive (when quoting for a project), but that’s not necessarily the case. There are a number of cost savings around efficiencies and smart systems, when it comes to project estimating and execution.

Some SMEs can limit themselves with the notion of “business as we’ve always done it” and being afraid to embrace change. This mindset will absolutely hamper sustainable growth. When this happens, we do see companies lost amongst larger, more robust brands coming in from overseas.

Linked to this, is an unwillingness to diversify, in terms of product offerings, but also your entire sales and marketing approach. Sometimes companies can become hung up on winning business with just one or two large clients. In the current market, you need to be able to sell to more than just one company to survive.

What do you see as the major opportunities for Australian METS SMEs to improve their businesses and win more work in the current market?

I would say it ultimately comes down to having good processes, good marketing and also good quality systems. By this, I mean SMEs should make sure their back end operations are running efficiently; their front end has a strong brand presence and lastly that they have the systems in place to be seen as cutting edge and therefore preferable to large companies.

SMEs need to have the right combination of all of these. You can maintain your business with one of these factors missing, but you won’t be growing your business with one of these factors missing!

The EP provides a truly unique opportunity to have an objective, external pair of eyes cast over your business operations. The Business Advisers are not clients, or partners, but truly independent opinions on your organisation. It’s similar to having your essay proof read at university, or your accountant check over the books – a fresh pair of eyes will often spot mistakes you cannot.

Do you want to get in touch with one of our Business Advisors for a free consultation? Contact your local BA (if your particular geography isn't listed, contact the nearest one):

Sydney: Mark Nesci 0400 820 055
Newcastle/Hunter Valley: Marianne Cummings 0401 029 813
Victoria: Dale Thompson 0407 819 522
Western Australia: Martin Collard 0449 901 615
Joe Ippolito 0411 069 353
Noel Meagher 0400 662 546
Neil Platt 0429 438 777

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