Sunday, July 20, 2008

How not to run a small business

The problem with running a small business – especially if you’ve never done it before – is that you can be tempted, in my grandmother’s phrase, to ‘eat out of the shop.’

In her day she’d seen many young couples dream of opening a little corner store, only to go bankrupt because they helped themselves to the stock when they needed a loaf of bread, or a packet of bacon, or took a few pounds from the till when they needed to buy something for themselves. They went out of business, sooner or later.

The basics of running a small business are quite simple. You start with adequate capital to carry you through the tough times. And you keep a tight control of your debtors and expenses.

Too many treat their business as a personal bank – a sure-fire recipe for disaster. You pay yourself a salary that the business can realistically afford – and no more. If business income is less than expected, cut your salary. Never charge your personal expenses to the company – pay them out of your salary.

Secondly, you are dependent on your staff. Every staff member must be essential –you can’t afford frills. Always pay them before you pay yourself. Without staff, you don’t have a business, so there will be times when they take home a wage at the end of the week, and you don’t. That’s the risk you, as the owner take. You can’t outsource it to your staff.

Pay your essential suppliers. Take advantage of whatever credit terms you can get, but make sure you don’t abuse them. Without them, you’ve got nothing to sell.

Set aside enough to pay the GST, super contributions, tax. If you don’t, the money won’t be there when you have to pay them.

Never be the owner who pays himself, but is sometimes a bit late paying his staff. “Sorry, it’s been a difficult month. I’ll catch up in a week or two.” You never will, and you risk the loyalty of your staff.

Do not pays the mortgage, business loans, alimony, kids school fees, the installments on your car, the insurance, out of the business income.

Take advantage of generous credit terms, 30, or 60, or 90 days to pay your suppliers. If you get into problems, offer them installments on account. “Business is very tight, you now.” But make sure you met those installments without fail – and catch up as fast as you can.

Do not renege on the installments while opening up an account with an alternate supplier. If you can’t pay one supplier, you certainly won’t be able to pay two, even if it does buy you another 90 days credit your first supplier wil no longer extend you.

How are you going to get back in the black? Get rid of non-essential staff and do more yourself. You can’t be an absentee owner. Cut your own wage, or take none at all if you have other sources of income. Sell the car. Take the kids out of private school. Tell the wife she’ll have to wait for her maintenance money.

You can refinance, but be careful. Can you really afford to? Take out business loans and secure them against the family home. Remortgage the home. Sell our unpaid bills to a collection agency. Sell your invoices to a factor. Of course, you lose 20-30% of their value that way, but it’s still income. It keeps the cash flowing.

Do not lie to the people from whom you seek loans, or you may end up owing more than your assets are worth. Make sure all of the debts you sold to the collector haven’t in fact been paid and you just forgot to record it. And don’t be tempted to hold some payments back from the factor. Eventually, they will both come to know these things and hen hey won’t trust you any more.

Don’t be tempted to scrimp on wages. Once you’re down to essential staff, make sure you pay them in full and on time. Don’t be tempted to skip paying their super, either – that’s illegal.

It is fatal not to pay contractors on time, too. They can’t wait six, seven, eight weeks. You may be tempted, because if they don’t like it they will go elsewhere – no notice, no severance, no entitlements. Plenty more where they came from. Cheaper, too, if you hire younger, hungrier types. But sooner or later you will run out of people to cheat. And they will spread the word.

If you don’t keep up to date with your payments, sooner or later you’ll run out of suppliers to turn to as well. No-one will extend you any more credit. There’s no more equity in the house to support a loan. Maybe you’ve taken out some loans without telling the lender about the other loans secured on the same property.

That’s fraud, and that’s a crime. So is trading while insolvent. So if not paying super. Now you’re in over your head.

Suppliers lose patience and start legal action. You stop paying the rent. You stop paying the installments on the office equipment and furniture. Finally, you stop answering your phone, your emails, and stay at home, wondering where it all went wrong. It’s all too much. It isn’t fair. You can’t sleep. You’re going crazy. That’s it! You’re going crazy! Quick, into a mental hospital. You’re sick, you can’t be expected to deal with all this business now.

While you’re there, your loyal staff gamely try to keep the business going, but it’s hopeless. Eventually it all caves in.

And all because you didn’t obey the rules for running a small business.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rainbow Report Tonight

We’ll talk to Paul Harris, convenor of the gay catholic youth group Acceptance – they’ve been banned from holding an event as part of World Youth Day.

And we’ll also hear from Amelie, of Community Action Against Homophobia, who’s organized a protest called NoToPope, which will hand out condoms to the young pilgrims as they make their way to mass with the pope.

Dr Graham Willet who lectures at the University of Melbourne, is organizing the 8th annual national gay history conference, which starts in nine days time. We’ll talk to him about the importance of gay history and the archives.

And Rodney Croome of the Tasmanian Gay & Lesbian Rights Group says there are now members of both main parties who are getting angry at their leaderships refusal to address the issue, and some of them may be getting close to rebellion.

That's tonight on the Rainbow Report 7-8pm Joy 94.9. Hosted by Doug Pollard, with this weeks guests Richard Watts of MCV and Pete Dillon. Streaming live at - join in live by emailing during the show

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Home

This blog will close shortly - I am now blogging at

Lies, damned lies and statistics

MCV today carries my latest article on statistics and how they are being used to deny us our rights. And it's no surprise that the worst abuser is - you guessed it - the Australian Christian Lobby.
One angle I didn't go into is the way the Australian census counts - or doesn't count - sexually non-mainstream individuals and relationships. That's a whole other issue.
But the basic point remains - unless we're adequately counted we won't be adequately provided for. And we won't be adequately counted until people are honest about heir sexuality when he census man comes calling.
And in answer to some critics, that's why backing people like Ken Campagnolo is important. As a community we have to be prepared to put our money where our mouth is and support people who pay the price for being open about their sexuality.
I headlined this piece with one cliche - let me end with another.
It's all connected.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Woman's Brain

When I was a student I fell madly in love, for the first time in my life, with a close straight friend. Though sympathetic, he wasn't much inclined to respond. The fact that he was a serial womaniser who tried to construct a harem for himself - only he called it a commune - may have had something to do with it.

When I made my declaration he confessed himself bewildered. I don't understand you at all, he said, confessing to a slight sexual frisson when confronted with an especially handsome bodybuilder, and a one-night stand with a truckie who once gave him a lift, but otherwise no gay inclinations at all.

That's because when it comes to sex, I said, I'm a man from the waist down and a woman from the neck up.

The New Scientist now tells me I had it right.

"in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood,
anxiety and aggressiveness resemble those in straight people of the
opposite sex," they say.
Not that I've ever wanted to BE a woman, you understand - I've always enjoyed being male and can't imagine myself any other way.

Of course, there will now be another argument about nature versus nurture. One side will say our brains were born this way, the other side will point to the evidence that brains change according to what you teach them.

The bit of the brain concerned with mapping and directions is bigger than normal in London cabbies, for example. Nuns with Alzheimers seem to stay sane and don't lose their marbles - they just their mental functions into those parts of their brains that still work. It's called brain plasticity.

My first love would have agreed. He enthusiastically road-tested women who he then passed on to me, suitably primed as to their task, hoping they could reprogram my sexuality.

Didn't work.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It only takes persistence

Lots of people have told me down the years that Gary Burns is 'a pain in the butt.

Well thank goodness for that - thanks to him, Laws and Price have finally been brought to book for their comments about Gav & Waz from The Block - five years later

Let's hope they learned their lesson. . . . . . . .

Some hopes!!

Brandis Interview Transcript

Apologies for the delay in getting this transcribed, but as Glen Milne quoted from it in The Australian today, I thought I'd better post it now!!

An interview with Shadow Attorney General George Brandis

The Rainbow Report, Thursday June 5, 2008 – 7-8pm, Joy 94.9 Melbourne


DP: Doug Pollard: Executive Producer/Presenter, The Rainbow Report

PD: Pete Dillon, Producer, John Faine, ABC Radio

RW: Richard Watts, Editor, Melbourne Community Voice

GB: Senator George Brandis, Shadow Attorney General

DP: Why has the coalition decided, after originally saying they’d give bipartisan support to this, why has the coalition suddenly decided to throw on the brakes for a while?

GB: We haven’t decided to do that at all, and I really find it very offensive that the suggestion is being made that that is what we’re doing. Let’s remember what the coalition’s position is. First of all, the coalition supports the bill in principle. Secondly, last night the coalition voted for the bill in the House of Representatives. Thirdly, when the bill comes to the senate, it will be referred to a senate enquiry.

That is absolutely routine, particularly with a complex piece of legislation as this is. You know, people are, in a way that frankly I think is dishonest, are misrepresenting the coalitions position by saying even though the coalition is supporting the bill, even though the coalition voted in favour of the bill in the house of representatives last night, because the bill is going to a senate committee, an utterly commonplace procedure, the coalition is somehow seeking to delay the bill.

DP: Well, is this likely to take the process of approving the bill beyond the end of the financial year, or is it likely to be cleared in time to meet the governments timetable?

GB: I think it likely, because the bill we’re speaking of now is going to be considered in conjunction with the larger omnibus bill which hasn’t been introduced yet, that it will go beyond the first of July, yes.

DP: Can we look at some at some of the specific things raised by some members of your party during the debate. There’s some confusion I think in people’s minds about exactly what interdependency means . . .

GB: Well, could I ask, before we go to those specifics, and I’m very happy to answer those specifics, can I make a more general point.

DP: Sure

GB: There are many many people in the coalition, in both the Liberal party and the National party, who have been urging this course for years. For years and years and years. And I think if I may say so with respect, it’s a little unfair of you to play speeches like that from Mr Perrett which we heard with the very eloquent sentiments he expressed, but not play speeches by people like Petro Georgiou, extracts from speeches by people like Christopher Pyne, or indeed the speech of Dr Nelson himself, which were just as glowing and moving in their affirmation of the rights of gay people to equal treatment . . . .

PD: Senator, with all due respect, I want to take you up on that point. We’re very well aware, as second class citizens, from a government of eleven years, how we sit with people like Petro Georgiou, who have constantly displayed an understanding of social justice. When you’ve got somebody like Donna Vale, who is a member of your team, questioning the very idea that what this is going to do is create equality, I have to ask, clearly there’s not full support from your team for the fact that this is going to bring us a little closer to equality.

GB: Well so it should, I mean, for God’s sake, I’ve spent years of my political life advancing this very cause, and many many many people in the coalition have done the same and it’s a matter of regret to me that it wasn’t done years ago, in fact well before the time of the Howard government, why it wasn’t done at an earlier time, decades ago, at the time the anti-discrimination laws were put on the statute book. But that’s not the point, the point is that you well know that both in the coalition and for that matter in the Labor Party here are very conservative people who have a different view from you and me.

PD: But why, as elected members of our parliament, why should those views be expressed and not those of their constituents?

GB: Well I think that the views they express, views that I don’t share, are views that are held by many of their constituents. And that’s my point. Any group seeking to be treated. . .to be the beneficiary of a law reform which is overdue, as this is, has nevertheless got to confront the fact that in a democracy there is going to be a body of conservative opinion, and those people are entitled to the expression of their views as well.

DP: Senator, with the greatest of respect I entirely agree with you there, and it’s certainly true that many members of your party, including yourself, have fought for these kind of things for a long time, but the point is that your party as a whole is not going down the direction where you and Petro Georgiou are going, your party is going down a different route. Your party is going down the route of trying to equate our relationships with interdependent relationships rather than accepting them as the equivalent of de facto relationships.

GB: Can I tell you that when I was formulating the Opposition’s position in relation to this issue, I consulted widely, I consulted with conservative groups, I consulted with church groups, I consulted with family organizations and I also consulted with the gay community. I consulted with the gay and lesbian rights lobby, I consulted with the gay and lesbian business association in Sydney for example. And I specifically asked them, do you have a problem if the reach of this legislation is broadened to include other interdependency relationships, and they said to me no, we don’t!

DP: Senator, nobody minds if you extend the reach of the legislation to include interdependent relationships, I think what people worry about is, there seems to be a move afoot, in listening to the speeches that were made yesterday, to bundle up same-sex relationships in with interdependent relationships, rather than in with de facto relationships.

GB: Ah, I think, er, that might be what, that might be a fair interpretation of a couple of those speeches, I’m not saying it’s not, but you know, I’ve got the running of this in the senate, not anyone who spoke in that debate last night.

DP: Right. You mentioned that this is likely now to run on until September or beyond. . .

GB: Well I didn’t say September or beyond but I should say in all fairness and candour, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did, because most of the law reform is going to be found in the omnibus bill because that apparently deals with, as I’m advised by the Attorney Generals office, about 60 or 70 different acts, the bill before the parliament now deals with nine.

DP: Well, OK, if I could just quote from John Challis of ComSuper, he said he was looking forward to these measures passing because then he could finally die knowing his partner was provided for. That could happen between now and September. Will you give a commitment on behalf of the coalition that if these changes take so long to go through you will backdate them to, say, June 30th?

GB: I’m not in a position to give that commitment because no such decision has been made by the coalition, but to give you some comfort though, can I point out that that suggestion was made in the house of representatives last night by Malcolm Turnbull, and it is an issue which we have in contemplation, but we haven’t actually made a decision along those lines. And I know that Malcolm had a talk to the Attorney General Robert McClelland about that after he spoke.

RW: Given that you’ve said you’ll have the running of this in the senate . . . .

GB:….from the Opposition point of view….

RW: ….can we have a commitment from you that you do recognize and equate same-sex couples with de facto couples rather than lumping us in with interdependency?

GB: Well, I approach this in the basis that same-sex couples and de facto heterosexual couples ought to be treated equivalently. Now, having said that, I’m not going to give a commitment to a particular linguistic usage, because one of the purpose we’re going to have the senate enquiry is to see what the appropriate way is of dealing with the entitlements of these different groups, so that we can also extend the entitlements to interdependent relationships of a different character. But my own approach to this has always been not to regard there as being a moral or ethical distinction between a same-sex couple and a heterosexual de facto couple.

DP: Senator, we’ve had quite a few SMS messages in from listeners, I wonder if I could put a couple of those questions to you. This one’s from Matthew, “I’ve been working in the federal public service for three years now, I joined coming from the South Australian public service where they recognize same-sex couples for public sector superannuation, and so I’ve lost out and so has my partner I making the move to the federal public service, that’s among the reasons why I’m going back to South Australia. Why is the coalition refusing to fix this anomaly, or is it because really deep down you think the federal pubic service shouldn’t include gay employees?”

GB: Well, that’s a silly observation, and I don’t doubt that the person who sent you that text message feels very hurt about unequal treatment and they should feel hurt because it’s unfair that people should be treated unequally, but can I tell you, this is merely a question of timing. If the government had produced this legislation three months ago then it would probably be through by now.

PD: Senator, again with all due respect, your government had eleven years to produce a similar piece of legislation.

GB: …and can I tell you I think we should have, just as I think the Labor government before the Howard government should have, or the Liberal government before that government should have done, se we are in the closing weeks and months of this very very long campaign, that has been run by people on both sides of politics, and I think it is, with all due respect, a little mean spirited to suggest ill-intention on the part of the coalition in wanting to get this right.

DP: Well this is certainly the perception of quite a lot of our listeners.

GB: I think it is probably the perception of quite a lot of your listeners, because they’ve only heard one side of the story, the side of the story that suggests this is a delaying tactic.

PD: So you’re now accusing our community of being ignorant as well?

GB: Did I say that?

PD: You’re saying that we don’t read the Age, that we don’t listen to Parliament, that none of us can pick up Hansard and read it…

GB: Did I say that your community is ignorant?

PD: Well you’ve said that we’re only hearing one side of the argument – that’s an unfair comment senator.

GB: I think only one side of the argument has dominated this. It’s a very simple point! A really simple point. Is referring a complex piece of legislation to a senate committee, an utterly commonplace thing to do, a delaying tactic?

DP: But isn’t it true, senator, that’s there’s already a house standing committee on family, community, housing and youth that’s looking into some of these issues, particularly support for carers?

GB: Well with all due respect to house of representatives committees, these sorts of bills are always bills that are looked at by senate committees, that’s what senate committees do, that’s the great thing about the senate, its committee system, and I think most of your listeners would be aware of that.


DP: One question from a listener here : “Perhaps one way forward to financial equality would be to remove partner benefits altogether for all relationships and in that fashion everybody would be in the same boat that same sex couples have been rowing all these years.”

GB: Well I don’t think anybody’s suggesting that. I think the way to go forward and what I would like to see is people in same sex relationships face no form of discrimination in relation to their financial, taxation, superannuation affairs whatever, and that’s our objective, and I accept in good faith that it’s the government’s objective too.

PD: Senator, I’d just like to draw your attention to the amendment put by Brendan Nelson, the leader of the opposition, which amongst other things said, “whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House affirms its commitment to the central importance of the institution of marriage to Australian society.” Could you answer me and our listeners really really simply how a change in a piece of legislation regarding superannuation will in any way question or challenge of chip away at the institution of marriage?

GB: I don’t think it will, But you’ve got to understand why an amendment like that was moved.

PD: No, I don’t understand, that’s why I’m asking you.

GB: Well I’ve already given you a direct answer. But can I explain why an amendment like that was moved? Because there are many people in the community who do have that concern, who d have a concern that legislation like this will erode the status of marriage. Now I am not one of those people. I don’t think it will. But I think people who do have that concern are entitled to be reassured about what the oppositions position is.

DP: What it seems to say to us is, we want to continue to enshrine, as a pinnacle of Australian society, a discriminatory institution, marriage.

GB: Well this gets into a different argument, and that is the argument about whether or not same-sex relationships should be treated as the equivalent of marriages, and I don’t believe they should, that’s not the oppositions position, you’ve got to . . . well you don’t have to . . . but I would think that the traditional and cultural centrality of marriage in all human civilization has been recognized to be a relationship between a man and a woman, that’s not a discriminatory thing to say, it’s not a particularly radical thing to say, far from it, it’s been the situation with marriage in one form or another throughout the entire recorded human history. And can I say this, to you as well. If you want to lose this argument, if you want to get the more conservative elements of the community right offside, then elaborate this into an argument about gay marriage.

DP: Oh yes. And it was very clear from what everyone said yesterday – no gay marriage, no gay IVF, no gay surrogacy – was very firmly placed off limits, at least for now.

GB: Yes.

Milne Off Song

It's nice to see my recent interview with Senator George Brandis finally quoted in The Australian, but galling that they didn't mention my name and said it hadn't been broadcast yet!! It suggested it had been 'leaked' ahead of broadcast for some political purpose, when in fact it's already gone to air.

The article, by Glen Milne, articulates the fix Brendan Nelson has got himself into with regards to same-sex equality, and in particular superannuation.

On the one hand, he personally doesn't have a problem with it, but on the other hand he owes his leadership to the arse-end of Howardite right-wingers, who think that to even mention 'gay' in the same breath as 'equality' means an instant epidemic of men in drag galloping down the aisles of every parish church.

So instead of telling them to shut up, sit down, and stop being so dense, Nelson displays his lack of fitness to lead by appeasing them, which is never a good idea.

The interview with Senator Brandis does display the split in the Liberal ranks very clearly, with Brandis at some pains to point out that he didn't agree with what some of the more rabid members of the party were spouting during the debate.

He spent a lot of time trying to establish how wonderfully pro-gay the Liberals had been in the past (but not during the last 11 years) and in the states (but not in Canberra), and how he personally (but not his colleagues) had supported the gay community.

In fact he rather dismissed the troglodyte faux-Christian faction, saying HE was in charge of steering this matter in the Senate, not them, implying that it was just a matter of allowing them to have a say but that in the end they didn't count. I wonder if any of them have heard it?

They can check out the post I made at the time and download the interview for the full story, any time!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

World Youth Day Struggles

Sydney's major Pope-fest, the World Youth Day, seems to be in trouble.
Reports say that initial estimates of 70% hotel occupancy rates during the event have been scaled back to no more than 30%, and now the church has backed away from a commitment to pay for any damage to Hyde Park.
The church is refusing to pay a $150,000 upfront bond for use of the park, saying the state government should be responsible.
Mayor Clover Moore said if they don't pay the bond they won't be allowed to use the park.
She told the Sydney Morning Herald, "The City supports the event, but not at the expense of our most famous park. WYD organisers have applied to install structures in many parts of Hyde Park, some of which will be in place from June 20 to August 1. There is no question that many of the grassed areas of Hyde Park will need to be re-turfed after this event but now, just weeks before it's due to start, organisers are backing down on a commitment to fully fund the cost of restoring Hyde Park to its pre-WYD condition."
Moore said that overall the event would cost the city $2.2m.

Friday, June 13, 2008


My what a period piece we are, stylus on the gramophone and a kitsch eighties band theme!

Never mind - it's radiothon time again, and with Joy 94.9 looking healthier than ever before in it's history, with amazing new studios in the heart of the city, a new members mag and bags of enthusiasm - why not bring on the City Village People!!

We want you, we want you, we want you as a new recruit
- er, sorry, got a bit carried away there.

Do you realise that Joy is UNIQUE? There isn't another 24/7/365 gay and lesbian radio station IN THE WORLD!!!

That's amazing! And all of it supported by sponsors, members and volunteers.

Did you know that the government severely restricts the amount of airtime we can sell to sponsors? That means most of the day-to-day costs of running the station depend on the money we get from members and donors.

What do you get for your money? Well, most importantly (as far as I'm concerned, but then I'm biased) you get me and The Rainbow Report - an hour of GLBTI news and current affairs once a week (the station also throws in a whole load of other stuff - music programs, programs for yoof and programs for old, for trannies, women - but that's just the icing on the cake.)

And you know what? You get me - and all the other stuff - for just18 cents a day - less if you join as a family. What else can you get for 18 cents a day that's half so much fun, so informative, so very, very you?

Oh, and you also get HEAPS of prizes every day during the radiothon and the chance of MORE prizes every day of the year. But you don't care about that, do you?

Tax time is almost here so remember, you can get a tax deduction for every $2+ you donate to Joy.

Call the station NOW on +61 (0)3 9699 2949 and sign up - or renew. Not due for renewal yet? Fear not - we'll tack a year onto the end of your existing membership.

+61 (0)3 9699 2949