Blog

The 12 Days of Giftmas!

It’s that time of year again and the festivities have begun. For the first 12 days of December, I’ll be giving away a whole range of business-growth tools to help you and your business become the best in 2018. The grand total of all the prizes is £4,000! Each day you’ll find out how to enter and you’ll be in the draw to win a whole range of prizes, absolutely free! To receive daily updates, simply follow myself or Fluid Business Coaching on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Alternatively you can register for email updates below. Best of luck and Merry... read more

Is it fact or is it opinion

Imagine a market stallholder who pitches up in a different town each day to sell an array of variously flavoured olives. She has a reliable supplier for her goods, a stream of regular customers and sometimes manages to generate new interest from passers-by. Then, one day, a bigger pitch becomes available in one of the towns she frequents. It’s double the size of her existing pitch, offering our olive lady a great opportunity to expand the business. Now, does she simply accept her previously held opinion that the olive market is thriving, order greater quantities from her olive supplier and carry on doing exactly what she has done so far? Well, the problem with that is that olives can be a bit of an acquired taste and the fact of the matter could be that her particular market for olive sales is already at capacity. It seems as though she will continue to sell the same amount of olives to her regular customers, while having to pay a higher rate for her pitch and probably ending up with a significant amount of stock left over at the end of the day. A path towards ruin looms ahead. To manage the opportunity, the stallholder needs to look at all the facts, taking the time out to find out what other offering her customers might like, along with sourcing potential new suppliers and closely examining costs and profitability.   This is a great example of the reason business decisions should be based on facts. Opinions can often skew our view of the truth and lead to poor decisions making. The opinions... read more

How to become a great business leader

In a previous blog post I wrote about how many business owners believe they should lead from the front, as “only the lead dog in a dog sled team gets a change of view” or indeed the clearest view. But, in reality, that lead dog is doing all the work and can’t see what’s going on behind them. It’s the person at the back of the sled that has the time and energy to motivate and direct the team. Which got me thinking about what makes a good leader and there are two attributes that great leaders have in common:   Inspirational Inspiring people and enrolling a team is a key leadership skill. Getting people to see your vision and move in the same direction as you, because they want to, not because they have to. A true leader will inspire their team to want to achieve the same goals as them. It’s the multiplier effect; one plus one equals more than two when everyone is moving in the same direction.   Surrounded with a likeminded team Building the right team is another important part of being a leader. The aim is not to create followers, but to create more leaders that share your vision and values and contribute to your company’s culture. But you, as the business owner, need to ensure that the team is achieving goals and milestones along the way. It’s important to understand though, not everyone does share the same values as you. It’s your job to establish who does and who does not!   Not everyone is a born leader, but by having your... read more

How to Get the Most Value From 2017

It’s that time of year again, the beginning of January, where people decide to make a grand resolution to change something in their lives. Often we hear the words, “New Year, New Me!” It is now the time to review! It’s why, if you are a member of a gym like I am, you will notice that in January the gym is packed. You can’t get on to any of the machines and classes are fully booked. Why? Because of that common New Year’s resolution, “this year I must get myself fit”. The issue is, New Year’s resolutions never seem to last. Statistically, people will stick to their resolutions for, on average, six weeks before throwing in the towel. Now before you accuse me of just being an old grouch, there is a positive spin on the whole New Year thing. What New Year’s Day does is highlight the passage of time. It marks the passing of the last 52 weeks and allows us to welcome the next 52 weeks.   So what can we do that will be useful for our businesses in 2017?   Start by taking time to reflect how 2016 went for you and your business. As a natural calendar break, it’s a great time to review the whole year, month by month. What went well, what didn’t go so well? What did you plan at the beginning of the year that you achieved or didn’t achieve? Then, what do you have planned going forward? By actually committing this to writing, suddenly you have a log of what has been going on. Initially, you may... read more

Keep it simple……

I was flicking through the TV channels one evening recently and came across a rerun of a programme titled ‘Wonders of the Universe.’ Professor Brian Cox reveals how the fundamental scientific principles and laws explain not only the story of the universe but also answer one of mankind’s greatest questions – “Where did we come from?” Now that sounded an understated claim and a bit of light viewing before bed! Unfortunately, I quickly became engrossed and before I knew an hour had flown by as he revealed the wonder of the universe. It was clear that Brian’s purpose was not to complicate the underlying principles which are undoubtedly complex but to pass on his understanding in a concise and simple way. What Brian did was take that complex subject and made it simple so that even I could understand it. Brian’s use of everyday language allows his audience to understand. We weren’t bemused by technical jargon. His communication skills are clear, straight forward and to the point. No doubt when talking to fellow scientists he uses complicated scientific concepts that would be unintelligible to a layperson, like me. Brian’s key to success is his skill of using language appropriate to his audience. He is a great communicator, he passes on his understanding so that in turn his audience can understand. Surely, in business that must be the holy grail. To clearly communicate our message simply to our target audience. Never to over complicate. Now that’s good communication skills! However, the next day I realised that in business the direct opposite is so often true. I so often see and hear people... read more

How to get the right people doing the right things right.

If you could ‘sack’ everyone within your team or company today (without fear of tribunal, notice or termination payments or indeed without any other repercussion) who would you re-employ tomorrow? Now that may bring a wry smile to your face or a serious frown but read the question again and then go through your whole team one at a time. The decision to re-employ has to be without qualification. No get out of jail cards like:- ‘I wouldn’t want to employ her again but she brings in 75% of the sales!’ ‘I definitely wouldn’t want to employ him but he’s family!’ The answers from this question may be uncomfortable but the awareness will be worth the discomfort. As a business grows it becomes necessary to create a more formal structure and appoint managers to take on some of the responsibility of running the business. Who better than the loyal and trusted employees who have helped the business owner in the early stages of growth to take on more responsibility. Over the years I have seen so many companies being run by these ‘home grown managers’. Home grown managers are the life blood in the early stages of a growing business. They hold the culture, knowledge and understanding of the business. However, when the business is ready to scale it can start to outgrow the ‘home grown managers’. Feeling more and more out of their depth these managers resist change to maintain the status quo and protect their position. From a business owner’s point of view, the temptation can be to blame the old guard and to look to introduce... read more

Message from America

Last month I went to Atlanta in Georgia, USA to attend the training to become a certified Gazelle Coach. For me it was a stretch, there was the 30 hours of learning that needed to be completed before flying out together with a mountain of background reading and an exam!   An exam!   I haven’t done an exam for many a year!   I have to admit that there were moments when I thought maybe I’m getting too long in the tooth for all this!   Then I remembered Bertie Gladwin who I wrote about in my last book.   In 2012, Bertie became Britain’s oldest recorded graduate (with his third degree) at the age of 90!   Bertie left school aged 14 to take up a delivery job, served in the Royal Air Force during WW2 and spent most of his working life at MI6 as an electronics engineer.   While in his sixties, Bertie gained two degrees from the Open University – a BA in psychology and a BSc in molecular biology. His latest accolade was a degree in Intelligence History, specialising on Bletchley Park.   Compared to Bertie I’m still a spring chicken!   The week away from the office mixing with like minded people was great fun. It left me mental stretched but emotionally energised. It was a great investment of my time and money, just brilliant to be at the cutting edge of business thinking.   Now, my challenge is to truly understand what one of my clients calls ” That West Coast Thinking” which can sometimes be seen as overly complex and... read more

I’m not a salesman, I’m a kitchen designer!

At home we are in the throws of having our kitchen updated. Well, I say updated, it has been totally gutted, back to bare walls. Now that we are coming to the end (we have a fridge in the house, rather than taking trips to the garage, and the washing machine is back in operation) I am happy to recount a story that happened before the carnage started when we were deciding on the design.   Having whittled down the list of contractors we had made our decision on who we wanted to work with. We met with their salesperson to finalize our requirements. We had dealt with this individual from the start and he had built a trusted relationship. During this final meeting he professionally answered our objections, he helped us, up sold us and at the end we felt confident that we made the right choice as we signed the agreement.   As we were leaving I complimented him on his professional salesmanship. Well, I thought it was a compliment but it was as if I had insulted him and that is when he said “I’m not a salesman, I’m a kitchen designer!’   Well this got me thinking. When working with business owners and their teams I meet a lot of people who claim they are not salespeople but in reality that is what they do.   The trouble with the word salesperson is that archetypal pushy person in our head. I’m not going to list out the negative traits that come cascading out when we ask the question. Why not take a moment and write... read more

How to develop your homegrown managers.

As a business grows it becomes necessary to create a more formal structure and appoint managers to take on some of the responsibility of running the business. Who better than the loyal and trusted employees who have helped the business owner in the early stages of growth to take on more responsibility. Often the business started by the owner is a continuation of their former employment. The experience and skills they needed to start the business were acquired through training and mentoring perhaps even an apprenticeship. Interesting, there is the assumption that with this experience comes a natural insight in how to manage. Somehow the necessary skills will be picked up along the way by just doing the job. Can you imagine the scenario of say an electrician or structural engineer picking up their skills on the job. It just wouldn’t happen. The consequences could be catastrophic! Over the years I have seen so many companies being run by these ‘homegrown managers’. Homegrown managers are the life blood in the early stages of a growing business. They hold the culture, knowledge and understanding of the business. They have their fingers in many pies and by sheer hard work and tenacity they ‘manage’ to get by. However, the business will eventually become restricted and unable to scale up the business will not achieve it’s potential. The business starts to outgrow the ‘homegrown managers’. Feeling more and more out of their depth they resist change to maintain the status quo and protect their position. Often the temptation is to blame the old guard and to look to introduce ‘professional’ managers from... read more

The Levels Books on Audible.co.uk!

I am delighted and excited to announce that my popular business book series ‘The Levels’ is now available in audio format on Audible.co.uk – both of my books are now live on Amazon and Audible. The Levels: Can Your Business Step Up To The Growth Challenge on Audible The Levels: Can YOU Step Up To The Growth Challenge on Audible I’ll be honest with you. As a business owner and author, I have spent so much time, blood, sweat and tears writing my books that the thought of recording them as audio books for Audible.co.uk was pretty daunting for a while! Much like when a tired, stressed and demotivated business owner arrives at my coaching office but leaves on-track and motivated about their business; the process of recording the books was so much fun, it made me fall in love with ‘my business (of writing)’ all over again. So I hope you enjoy listening to both of the books as much as I enjoyed recording them for you. You can get started with Audible.co.uk for free here. __ I hope you enjoyed this post and found it thought provoking. Don’t forget to send me your feedback at ray@thelevelsblog.com! Using The Levels Framework, I help business owners achieve long-term sustainable growth using strategies I used successfully for many years. Now it’s your opportunity to discover The Levels! Click here to get your paperback copy of: ‘Can Your Business Step Up to the Growth Challenge?’ and kick start your business growth today! Ray.... read more