We’re excited to have you join us for Wealtheon’s Interview with Craig Nenke. Our principal adviser, Kristopher Meuwissen recently sat down with business consultant and founder of Nenke Consulting, Craig Nenke, to have a chat about his impact on the business world, how he helps his clients smash their business goals, and what business life was like during Covid19.
Nenke Consulting are Australia’s leading Business Navigators, helping you take control of change within your business and harness it for growth. Craig and the team of skilled mentors can assist with navigating your business through and strengthen it for the future. They can support your business with smooth transitions and ongoing support through change. If you’d like to know more about Nenke Consulting or get in touch with Craig, let us know and you can find his contact details at the end of this post.
Kris: So, tell me a little bit about you, tell me about your business, and family life and that sort of thing.
Craig: I’m married with two kids, one just turned 18, she’s doing VCE so it’s a big year ahead. My youngest boy, he’s 15, and he’s sports mad. He loves his tennis and his cricket, his footy, and he’s pretty busy with all of that. My wife’s a dressmaker, she works very hard in the fashion field. She’s very well known and works really well in that sphere.
Business wise, I’ve been running my own business only for three years or so. Prior to that, I was a consultant and manager in corporate fields, you know, mainly with an IT background. I’ve worked a lot in places like BHP, Shell, I did a bit of work with the banks and Telstra, so you know, a lot of the large corporates, and then decided three or four years ago to start my own business.
Kris: Yeah, brilliant. Now we’ve spoken before Craig, but tell me a little bit about the kind of people that you help at the moment, the kind of guys that you can get in and really make some positive changes for.
Craig: Well, I’ve focused more on small to medium business since starting out on my own. One of my main clients is a food, meat and dairy importer and exporter, and they have 20 to 30 staff. They’ve grown a lot through COVID, which many haven’t, and they have a number of business issues. One of them is with their ERP, and so I helped them implement their ERP. So I work as a project manager and a general consultant to their company, and help them in how to go about implementing it, what the sort of typical issues are with change management, so training, staff issues, what impact that would have on people, as well as the technology side of it, and making sure the system works and is tested. So that’s an example of how I’ve helped that organization, and that’s led to other work in terms of measuring staff performance, and I’m currently doing a systems review for them.
Other businesses I have helped more in the CRM space, so with their sales process. I’m currently working with a signage company, they do complex signs for industry, and they had a lot of issues with following up their leads and following up their contacts. They’re doing well, but they know they don’t follow up their clients as well as they should, so we’re going through a process of fixing that with a CRM and fixing other related issues with proposals and things like that.
Kris: And obviously, during COVID, business has been up and down, what have you found has been the biggest challenge coming out of COVID? For not just your business, but as a business consultant for other businesses?
Craig: Yeah, well there was a lot of fatigue associated with COVID I found and I know others did as well once the lockdown ended in around November. I think because everyone was just sort of over it and didn’t want to do new things, and everyone just wanted a break. And so that November to sort of February period, I’ve found a lot of businesses are just really fatigued, and I think that it’ll take a little while for that to pick up. I’ve noticed recently there’s a bit of change, there’s a bit of momentum going on, and some new things happening. So I think it’s hopefully going to continue more and more throughout the year, but I still think there’s a fair bit of lag there in terms of people picking up new projects, new things and wanting to make changes.
Kris: Yeah! I know, personally, I’m definitely feeling some of that fatigue, and it’s not just from a point of view of being busy and that sort of stuff, it’s also just been a slog, it’s been an absolute slog, and having to come up with new things and new ways of doing things, and finding new clients and that sort of stuff. It’s definitely been a bit of process that’s for sure.
What do you think is the biggest opportunity coming into 2021? You know, we’re in the second quarter of 2021, what do you say are the biggest opportunities for us?
Craig: I think the biggest opportunity is really with teamwork. I think people have realized the importance of people in their business, and looking after people, and there’s been a lot of talk about things like mental health and so on. The main issue is sort of mental health and the stress of how to deal with change, and how to deal with lots of Zoom meetings, lots of working from home etc. And the opportunity then is, well, how am I going to motivate my staff, how am I going to keep my staff? And how am I going to, I guess, congratulate them for making it through, but what are the new techniques? And what are the new things that we can do to make ourselves a thriving business through our people? To me, I think managers and leaders of organizations have learned that lesson, and I hope we’re continuing to learn that lesson and a need to continually find ways to their staff and build strong teams.
Kris: It’s really interesting as someone who is has a tilt and a focus towards technology background that you see the opportunities being people and the team that you’re building around you. It’s a really interesting thing, because a lot of people that I’ve spoken to in a similar sort of vein say you know, ‘technology, technology, technology’, you know, that it’s this all-encompassing way of the future. And I’m a big believer in technology being able to support your teams, but I have to say that I agree with you, I think people and the way that they actually come in and support business is probably going to be a massive opportunity, and working out how you can actually work with those people, and work with people that you previously didn’t have access to. It’s a Melbourne business being able to have access to an incredible person in Perth, or Karratha, or North Queensland, and you don’t have to have that same barrier to entry – you don’t have to have them come into the office and that sort of thing, and I think that’s a really good point.
Craig: Yeah, I think the power that you and I are here using technology to have a good discussion, which maybe previously we wouldn’t have thought of that, so there’s great benefits to it. But you need to have your limits, and you need to have your strategies around using technology in the best way, and that’s I think, the big opportunity this year in 2021.
Kris: Completely agree. And so from a financial point of view, have you ever seen a financial advisor in the past, and is it something that’s really had a lot of focus in your business?
Craig: Yeah I have, but I wouldn’t say I’ve had a big focus on it. With my clients I spend a lot of time talking about budgeting and finance, and not that I’m a financial expert, but obviously knowing your numbers, what your profitability is, and all that is very important. With my own finances I don’t always follow my own advice, so I guess I’m a bit mediocre when it comes to my own finances, but as far as financial advisors go, I haven’t really had a big focus on it throughout my career. I have worked with a firm that does insurance and financial advice, but I haven’t really used that to a great deal over the years.
Kris: And we’ll maybe touch on that a little bit later, because I think that most people are in exactly the same boat. I think most people haven’t actually spoken to an advisor. What has been the best thing that you’ve done from a financial perspective? What’s the best strategy that you’ve implemented, or what you’ve seen as the best success in your life from a financial strategic point of view?
Craig: I think it’s getting in a mode of knowing what your costs are, and to me, living within your means. Because you and I both know if you’re running a business, some years you have good years, and you think that’s going to go on forever, and of course then something hits, and it doesn’t. So you’ve got to have a view of your costs, and how you can safeguard against risks so that if you do have a couple of months or six months of practically no revenue, how can you survive? And so to me, finances is really about keeping within your limits and understanding what you can spend and when, and knowing your risks and the risk profile.
Kris: Yeah, totally, totally, totally agree. And one of the things that I see from working with a lot of people is that cash flow is king in a business, and you can be the most profitable business in the world, but if you can’t make it between now and when you get paid, it’s going to be really hard, because it’s just all accounts receivable, and that’s money that’s coming later. If you can’t actually get through to the point where you can get a hold of that money, then you’re up against the wall.
Following on from that, the biggest indicator of financial success that I’ve seen time and time again, is people’s ability to save money with every single time that they get paid. So if you can manage your expenses, manage your budgeting, so that way every time you’re getting paid you’re putting something away, or you have the ability to pay off more on your mortgage or put more towards investments or whatever it might be, your options just explode.
What would you say is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned in regards to your finances? So the mistake that hurt the most but also taught you this lesson?
Craig: That’s a tough question, Kris. But I think the biggest lesson to me is making sure you know what you’re purchasing. So if you’re purchasing an investment or a house, that you know if there’s room for growth there. I think we can get emotionally carried away with buying something new, whether it’s an investment property, or a new house or a share portfolio, whatever, that we think we’ve just got to do it and we’ve got to do it quickly. To me, it’s all about, ‘is that the right move?’ And is it going to be something that you can work with over the longer term, and not worry about every short-term spike. People have said to me over the years, you simply must buy these shares, or you must buy an investment property, or you must do this, you must do that, otherwise, you’re going to get too old. And I’ve I guess been bit conservative in that sphere, not been carried away with just doing something because you ‘should’ do it all because others have done it, you’ve got to do what’s right for you. And if that means, as you say, just paying down your mortgage quicker, or putting more into super, or a conservative investment, then you’ve got to do what’s right for you. I guess that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt over the years.
Kris: Yeah, perfect. It’s something that a lot of people wait a really long time to work out. I think that you’re absolutely spot on, it’s something that I see time and time again. I was speaking to a couple of clients the other day about it, and they’re talking to me about wanting to invest, and to buy an investment property. But then when we’re actually talking about what’s really important to them, and how they see risk, they’re all about not over-stretching and not going into debt. It’s all about doing the right thing for you, and knowing there’s more to it than just chasing a return.
You can get in touch with Craig and Nenke Consulting on 0438 524 506 or by visiting https://www.nenkeconsulting.com/contact-us/.
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