Office chats – Own a business? Don’t understand Government Grants?

Oct 23

 

Luke:

Good afternoon everybody, Luke again for the Matias Group. We are here in our wonderful…actually, it’s a change of scenery. We’ve actually come downstairs for this office chat. We thought it was a lot more relevant, because in the house today we have Madonna from Melrose International. Welcome my lovely.

 

Madonna:

Hello, how are you?

 

Luke:

I could not be better.

 

Madonna:

Wonderful.

 

Luke:

And Madonna is a bit of a stylish cat, so we thought well we better come and film downstairs in the, in the wooden hanger showroom. With our, with one of our sells going on for Bi-Timo at the moment. We thought Madonna would be a lot more comfortable.

 

Madonna:

Well, I suggested to come down here, because I’m going to steal some stuff on my way out.

 

Luke:

Whatever you like. Whatever you like. Wonderful having you along here.

 

Madonna:

Thank you.

 

Luke:

Madonna is a close friend of ours and to be honest with you, makes us look really good whenever we introduce you, which is why I can’t wait to introduce you to the rest of my network. Madonna is in government grants. And Madonna is a part of a networking group I’m well entrenched in, and her nick-name is Money Bags Melrose. Amongst other things. So, what Madonna does is basically pull money from the government and reimburse it into your balance sheets and into your profit and loss. Monies that you’ve already spent on the production and development of items and assets, and services. And then I’m looking forward to learning a bit more about the whole, the whole, the whole journey.

 

Madonna:

Well, you’re doing very well already.

 

Luke:

Well, listen to you, I introduce you to everybody and it makes me look really good. So, I need to know the product.

 

Madonna:

Absolutely.

 

Luke:

Madonna. Why don’t you spend a couple of moments, giving us a quick brief on what you do and then we’ll, we’ll look out for when to bring you in, when, when your sort of product is relevant, when, when it can really help people because your, your product, your service has the chance to change people’s businesses.

 

Madonna:

It does. It does, it changes, transforms lives, businesses. I like to be brought in, in the beginning of a person’s journey. Because planning is so important for any business. And knowing what is available to you, knowing where you spend is going to be reimbursed. We can help maximise that reimbursement for you. So, to know and be a part of your journey and plan from the beginning, is a really good time to, to engage us. Purely for a conversation even. You know, a no-obligation conversation, just to see what your future plans are, for your product, for your service. Are you thinking of exporting, you know, are you developing a product that eventually you want to take to the rest of the world? They are all stages that we can assist with.

 

Luke:

Absolutely. So, you’ve got the R&D sort of grant. And then you’ve got the export grant. They are the two things that we’ve worked on together with, with, with our clients, with our friends. And then you’ve got another arm coming along where you help export the product and you help provide a client in the end, at the other end of the export?

 

Madonna:

Yes, so what we do now. Melrose International is now diversifying and we are not wanting to let go of our beautiful clients, because we go on that amazing journey with them for so long. We are now opening up distribution channels for products into Dubai, which is a very hard market, it’s a very lucrative market, it’s a very new market. But you need to know your stuff. So, we have people in place in Dubai now that can help with that transition, of getting your product or service from Australia into Dubai. And we have a similar set up now, just beginning with the Asian market. A lot of Australians think Asia is so close, must be easy just to head over there, take a, you know. Suitcase full of beautiful clothes and just sell. But no, to understand a countries culture, to understand the process of you know, it’s going to take you 10, 15 trips to get in front of the right people. Once you are in front of those right people, how do you behave? How do you react? What are their customs? What do they understand in business, that we don’t understand? How do they want to do business with us? It’s simple little things of you know, the way you hold your business card in the Asian countries. And you might notice it immediately, they’ll turn the card over, they’ll know your serious if on the flipside of business card, is your English version, written in you know, Mandarin, Chinese, Indonesian. So, there are all little things.

 

Luke:

Make a note of that, make a note of that. Before we go over there, we need, we need to really do the business card, okay.

 

Madonna:

Exactly. It’s the little things like that and it’s the, it’s the, the gift giving. It’s the like, you know, yes we give a gift. But what’s too much of a gift, what’s too extravagant, what’s going to be laughed at? You never place someone’s business card on top of someone else’s, because then that person thinks that you think lesser of them. So, there, it’s an amazing thing.

 

Luke:

It’s a beautiful culture.

 

Madonna:

So, once you start you delving into things like that, it’s like you know, we need help because you know, you are great at making a product, delivering a product. Might be great in your business side of things, but to know and encompass everything – is too much. So, to call in people that know it and have lived it, and breathed it, and understand it. It’s going to make such a marked difference to your business.

 

Luke:

Absolutely, so there are a lot of outsourced services, products in, in my network. In, in your network. And it’s all around being a strategist, a specialist in a certain area. And that’s the real value and had a, a friend, Bernie Fernandes from Agero Group. He helped us move into this office and we had the conversation around, you know, we could change the IT, we could do the desks and we could do the layout, and find this, and find that. Except it’s taking away from what you do on a daily basis. So, by bringing in specialists, like you in certain areas, is just so valuable. Because you don’t have time to become a specialist in what you do, otherwise everyone would be.

 

Madonna:

That’s right. And you can miss so many important factors when you are trying to do it all. And you know, once you miss those opportunities, they could be gone forever.

 

Luke:

Could be gone. Now, lets take it back a step. So, I’m an Australian looking, a Pom in Australia. Whatever. I’m going to become a citizen soon.

 

Madonna:

That accent, I tell you what, you’re not Australian.

 

Luke:

I’m going to become a citizen soon.

 

Madonna:

Good.

 

Luke:

If they take me.

 

Madonna:

We love you, we want you.

 

Luke:

So, I have an idea potentially in, we’ve done skin care, we’ve done health and fitness products, we’ve done. I know chocolate and alcohol are big things in your, in your networking, in your sort of clientele.

 

Madonna:

In my life. Yes, go on.

 

Luke:

Yes. Now, if I’m developing a product. I might have a new beer company or a, just a product with a little bit of innovation to it. You can help with the, the R&D side of things?

 

Madonna:

Yes, so R&D.

 

Luke:

How does that work? Just tell us a little bit more about that and, and sort of, areas to think about when potentially looking at R&D?

 

Madonna:

Certainly. So, R&D encompasses finding an answer to a hypothesis. That answer could be given in a positive or a negative. So, your work could turn out. Or it may not work out. Doesn’t matter. The fact that you are trying to innovate and produce something that doesn’t yet exist, becomes an R&D project. So, it’s based on that, what didn’t you know? What couldn’t you source? What couldn’t you find out? What couldn’t you ask somebody, say in the, the manufacturing space? How do you, how do I make this product? If you can’t find the answers to your questions, then you decide to endeavour to spend your own money and go out there and trial and error, and experiment. That would encompass the R&D. It’s the unknown. You had to do x, y, z to either.

 

Luke:

But you can’t buy off the shelf?

 

Madonna:

Yeah, certainly not buying anything off the shelf, certainly not taking anybody else’s IP or knowledge. It is very much producing your own new content, from start to finish. But it doesn’t have to be a product, it can be a service.

 

Luke:

Yip, okay. So, things like, things come to mind like I don’t know. Potato Gin, or something, do you know these, these new versions of, of.

 

Madonna:

Yes, there is a beautiful ink gin? Yes. Beautiful.

 

Luke:

Ink gin? Okay, so ink gin is relevant for R&D grants? That you can help put in place for a business. Now, after that. Where does, so we go from the R&D grant, which is the development. And then we go into, you have a market in Australia, you’re moving nicely. But you want to grow, you want to go even further because no one else has this ink gin. You can help them export, so what does the export grant look like? What do you need to show, what are the things that you need to think about along that journey? Where are, where are the key points for the?

 

Madonna:

Yeah, absolutely. With the export grant, it’s very much about developing and moving your product into any other country outside Australia, New Zealand and North Korea. Don’t ask me why they bundle New Zealand and North Korea together, but they do.

 

Luke:

The obvious one.

 

Madonna:

But if you want to get your product into any other part of the world, you need to get there yourself. You need to get in front of these people and say hi, I’ve got the best product, pick me, I want to be in your stores. That costs you money, costs you time.

 

Luke:

The travel, IT.

 

Madonna:

The travel costs, per diem’s while they are away, obviously your sampling. You give away a lot of product. Your marketing, your brochures, your marketing material. All falls under banners of claimable export expenditure. But how it all comes about, is that the government believes that every dollar they reimburse you, Australia’s going to make about $8 or $9 in return. Because effectively, when you are over there on your own dime, you are selling Australia. Hi, I’m this new Australia gin. Hi, I’m this new Australian chocolate. Hi, I’m this new Australian skin care. Even though it’s your own company, you are effectively.

 

Luke:

You’re selling Australia.

 

Madonna:

Effectively, selling Australia.

 

Luke:

That’s interesting.

 

Madonna:
So, the government reimburses you 50% of your expenditure, because you’ve put your money, your business money up front and you believe in yourself, and you believe in your product. So, therefore you’re entitled.

 

Luke:

So, I’ve got a product that I’m going to go sell overseas. Whether it be fashion, whether it be a service. I go over there, I’ve got flights, I’ve got accommodation, I’ve got trade shows, I’ve got dinners with clients. This is all genuine sort of claimable?

 

Madonna:

That is all claimable expense. It’s broken down, there is a few categories for it. The airfare definitely, is 50% refundable. You get a per diem, you get $350 you are away, every staff member that travels with you. And that covers food, accommodation and ground transport. So, you don’t have to keep receipts for a $2 coffee and that sort of thing. So, you get a blanketed $350 per day. You’re allowed to stay away for 21 days. That’s the max where you’ll get your $350. So, you can stay longer or less. If you stay longer, you start supporting yourself. All the marketing materials, so these beautiful brochures and catalogues for all these divine clothes behind us, they cost you money. And you might hand out, you know 1,000 of them over a weekend at a trade show. So, that is marketing material, so you would claim 50% back of the cost of that to you. The cost of the stand, I mean we’d all love to exhibit in some of these amazing, amazing shows and exhibits overseas. That costs money, so the cost of the floor plan, the stand, cost of shipping. All of this, the freight to get all of that over there. So, everything that you do, out of pocket expense to get you in front of potential buyers and retailers, and distributors of your product, is part of the export grant.

 

Luke:

This is fantastic. This is fantastic to know and, and to sort of scream from the rooftops here. Because there’s so many conversations I’ve had where friends and, and businesses I’m aware of are doing this, but they’re just not aware that they can, they can genuinely claim this. Legally, above, above the board. There is no, no messing around. It’s, it’s just a grant that is there, ready to go.

 

Madonna:

And it’s not actually a given grant. There are, sorry it’s not a competitive grant. These are actually given grants. So, it’s your money. If you’ve spent it on eligible expenditure, you are entitled to it back. So, you are not competing with another fashion designer for.

 

Luke:

A certain amount.

 

Madonna:

A little stake of the government pool. It is actually your money, if it shows up in your P&L for that financial year. You go from financial year, to financial year. Then you are entitled to it back.

 

Luke:

Wow. So, if Johnny owns his business exporting. When do you, when do we get in, what is the process? Do we bring him into you?

 

Madonna:

As soon as you start thinking, as you start wondering whether there is a market outside Australia for your product. And before your first trip. Call us in, and we will guide you, we will help you through. We will plan it, because with the export grant there is 8 grants in total. The first grant you can combine 2 years of trading. The first 2 grants are at 50% of expenditure, then it becomes a sliding scale and a bit of a mathematical equation in terms of are you getting revenue from your products as yet? So, therefore your revenue versus your expenditure, whichever is lesser. But we can help you in that early stage, because in those first two grants, if you’re getting 50% back – go hard. Maximise your return. So, instead of thinking oh, should I do that second or third trade show?

 

Luke:

Do it.

 

Madonna:

Knowing and this helps incentivise you to go, okay lets build this budget, lets pull it all together, lets go hard. And that is where you can maximise your return on the export grant.

 

Luke:

I love this.

 

Madonna:

So, knowing that up front really, really helps.

 

Luke:

Yep, I, I love this. And Madonna and her team have just, they are terrific to deal with. It’s such a laid back conversation. We have fun.

 

Madonna:

We have fun with this. It’s government and you think oh boring beige, but I’ve come from the fashion and beauty world. And Tom who heads up my, my export department. He’s, he’s been in the industry for 30 years so there is nothing about export he doesn’t know. So, together we, we have fun and you see the fun side of life and work.

 

Luke:

It’s fantastic. And as we’re developing our own brand in Rohingen [? unsure of spelling], we’re exporting. It’s, we are using Madonna’s service and that’s why we can sort of push it out to my network because there is, there is genuine value there. I wouldn’t introduce anyone who I would be afraid of or uncertain to deal with on a personal level. So, love having you here and love you being on a part of this journey through business that we are all one.

 

Madonna:

It’s amazing. It’s having fun too. And I say to a lot of people that I never actually work a day in my life, because how can you call this work? Seriously.

 

Luke:

Some people call it very hard work, to deal with me.

 

Madonna:

No, you’re hard work.

 

Luke:

Okay, there we go!

 

Madonna:

But this isn’t hard work. No, it’s like you know, we’ve talked about many times. You attract your tribe and, and you’re drawn to spaces and people, and the industry that you want to work in. And I’m meant to help, how I got into this was I was producing and manufacturing my own skin care and make-up range. I had three retail stores across Melbourne. I had no idea these grants existed and if I had of known it would have made such a difference, my skin care and make-up range would most probably still be going now.

 

Luke:

But then I wouldn’t have met you.

 

Madonna:

No, well that’s true. Well we may of, who knows. Fate, we would have met somewhere else. So, yeah. It’s like when I found out about these grants, I made it my life mission to champion them to people out there. Let them know that this exists. There is something there to help you.

 

Luke:

Because it makes difference in people’s lives.

 

Madonna:

Yeah. Because the government is not going to say hey, I’ve got money here for you. We have to let them know.

 

Luke:

So, come to us. Within our network, we have money for you.

 

Madonna:

We have money. I’m the ATM.

 

Luke:

Think about buying new cars and all sorts of things, Money Bags Melrose is in the house.

 

Madonna:

Yeah, I’ll get you the money and you spend it all with Luke!

 

Luke:

Oh, perfect, perfect!

 

Madonna:

Well with the clothes out the back here, I’ve got my eye on some of these clothes I tell you.

 

Luke:

Now, while we are, while we are here. You have been on the business journey, your company is growing beautifully.

 

Madonna:

40 years now I think.

 

Luke:

And adding values and smiles along the way. Now, you’ve recently undertaken a different sort of journey, haven’t you?

 

Madonna:

I have indeed Luke.

 

Luke:

And Madonna’s always come across very smiley and energetic and, and beautiful. But she’s recently taken the bull by the horns and done something for herself.

 

Madonna:

I have indeed.

 

Luke:

And you’ve, you’ve got a new habit. And you’re seeing friends of ours, and.

 

Madonna:

I have many new habits, yes.

 

Luke:

Why don’t you talk to us a bit about your, your journey that you are currently on. And what it, what it means to you in business. What difference has it made in, in life?

 

Madonna:

Oh, where to start. I guess ending a very long relationship was a very hard thing to do. We all get stuck in places. And you know, finding that strength and courage to move out of that situation, but coming from the heart and knowing that the separation and change would be good for both parties. It wasn’t just a selfish, get out, I want something different. It was like together, you know, people tend to, to not work anymore. So, that was a situation I found myself in late last year. And as a result of that, I guess in the last 8 or so months, maybe 9 months. I’ve lost nearly 35 kilos. And it, it keeps coming off, I can’t stop it.

 

Luke:

35 kilos!

 

Madonna:

Yeah, and talking about fashion. I mean, you know, I was a, a size 18, sometimes 22. I’m now a size 8, extra small. But my mind hasn’t quite caught up to the body. I mean, I look at these clothes here and it’s like oh I could wear them, I could fit into them now. And it’s, but yeah. Getting, marrying that mind and body is still, still, I’ve still got some work to do. But physically I’m just, I have so much energy, so much clarity. I’m up for anything, I’m just ready to embrace. I don’t want to die. I saw my trainer this morning and I said I don’t want to die. I just want to keep living, because I feel so good. Whereas you know, picture me 18 months ago, 2 years ago. I was nearly dead. I was huge. I was over, I mean I’m 5 foot, I was over, I was over 100kgs.

 

Luke:

What’s it meant to your, have you seen the difference between obviously your personal side and, and the actual weight loss. But mental clarity and what effect has that had on your business along the way? Because it seems, I’m fairly close with you and you know, I watch your business grow, as I watch your dress sizes shrink. You know, what’s the alignment here?

 

Madonna:

We’ve got this dichotomy, who am I? Oh look, the alignment is that I now truly believe that I can do anything. And it’s that focus, it’s that determination and it’s like, you know, losing weight is I think very, very difficult. But if you can do that, setting up deals in Dubai and China, that’s going to be easy. So, yeah it’s just, it’s just allowed me to think. I was so trapped. I mean, weight traps you. You put it on as a protective barrier and it weighs you down, literally. And it traps you. And now that I’m free, I’m free to accept and encourage and ask, and pull in so many other ideas, business opportunities, personal opportunities. And that’s just what, what keeps coming at the moment. And that’s the next stage, as I said, of you know. Helping my clients, I don’t want them to leave once I’ve you know, helped them with all their export grants and everything. I don’t want to let go of them. So, to assist them into getting into other areas of you know, the export countries, is just something else. But I’m doing an interior design course too now.

 

Luke:

Just throw it in.

 

Madonna:

I hadn’t told you that. Yeah, just thought I’d throw that in.

 

Luke:

Don’t talk to my wife, I don’t. You’ve got expensive taste, I don’t want you having a bad influence on. That conversation has got me mesmerised. People often as why I’m energetic and why I bounce around a lot, and it is without equivocation because I feed from the people around me. In a business sense, in a mentoring sense, in an energy sense. And surrounding yourself with good people, like perfect example here, makes me a better person. Makes me a better person everyday, makes me a better leader, makes me a better business person, makes me just better in all, in all assets of live. So, I would love to thank you for being a part of that, being an influence on me, being an influence on my, my clients and being able to add value to them. So, it makes me look good and then they are smiling from the other side, and there is smiles all around. And it’s just a, just a good world to be a part of when you surround yourself with good people, and you are one of those Madonna.

 

Madonna:

Thank you.

 

Luke:

So, thank you so very much for being a part of my network.

 

Madonna:

You’re welcome.

 

Luke:

And coming into our office today.

 

Madonna:

Thank you.

 

Luke:

And please if anyone has any questions, or wants to know anything further, send us an email, get in touch with us. I’m always more than happy recommending Madonna and her team, so beautiful.

 

Madonna:

Thanks Luke, thank you.

 

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