Reflect and Review

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

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

The Best of the Year

Well as we roll to the end of another year and are bombarded with the ‘Best of the Year’  I thought I would add the Five Best Levels Blogs of the Year to the list. 1.   Here’s how to set the rules of a team meeting. 2.   5 differences between amateurs and professionals in business. 3.   The day I was thrown out of the office! 4.    The hardest part of the business growth challenge. 5.    Family members prove to be the tough issues.   The list is the most viewed of my blogs. I hope you enjoy re-reading or perhaps reading these blogs for the first time. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! ——– 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!... read more

How heavy is a glass of water?

There’s a story that has been doing the rounds on the internet which you may have come across already but I’d like to share with you here and give business advice. It goes something like this: A psychology professor walked around a room with a glass of water in her hand. As she raised the glass, her students exchanged knowing glances, expecting they were about to be asked the usual “half empty or half full” question. Instead, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Various answers were called out, ranging from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralysed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralysed – incapable of doing anything.” Aside from it being a great lesson in stress management, there was something else that struck me about this analogy. Isn’t this what a lot of business owners end up doing? Caught in the daily grind, they carry all the burdens of the business around with them... read more

As a business owner, when is a great time to take stock?

Have you ever noticed that in all aspects of life including business one brief moment, one small change can have a huge impact on your future? Sometimes that change may be intentionally engineered but so often it just happens. Call it ‘fate’ if you like. Whether we always strive to be proactive and avoid being reactive, an event can come completely out of the blue and knock us for six. We may like to feel we can control our destiny but short term fear can quickly over-ride our long term view. Let’s look briefly at a common scenario in business. What would your initial response be to a long term key employee suddenly handing in their notice? Threatening to leave, maybe even going to a competitor. Mild panic? How are you going to cope loosing all that experience? Maybe, your knee jerk reaction is to immediately match or better their new salary package to convince them to stay. When it becomes clear that they are on the move you start recruiting a replacement to fill the vacant seat as quickly as possible. A straight like for like replacement. But hang on a moment, let’s STOP, REFLECT and REVIEW. Let’s not be rushed into that hasty decision. It’s a great time to consider the role that they have been performing and review whether that is now inline with what is best for the future of the company. Has the original job description been lost over the years and the role they perform morphed to reflect their own needs and requirements not that of the business. The business outgrew them a... read more

Here’s why reviewing the systems in your business is so important.

The thought of installing a new computer system or upgrading an existing system is often a daunting prospect. Sometimes the decision to upgrade is left until it is forced upon us like in the case of Microsoft’s recent decision to withdraw support for Windows XP. The review of the systems is a fundamental part of ‘Setting out the Stall’ which I covered in Chapter 6 of ‘The Levels‘. Will the system be able support the business to the next Level and beyond? Interestingly the main decisions when upgrading the system revolve around efficiency and reducing staffing costs. Whilst this is obviously important little time is taken to consider what is the true output of the system and indeed what is the reason for system. Without understanding this fundamental point so much of the potential will be missed- leading to the system will not being fully integrated within the business. Individual functions or departments will develop their own subsystems as the purpose is only seen as the process of doing rather than aligning the true output. The real question to ask is what information will the system provide to help me make informed decisions about the future direction of the business. How does it help me make decisions based on facts rather than opinion? This blog is based on strategies found in Can Your Business Step Up to the Growth Challenge? By Ray Moore — I hope you enjoyed the post and found it thought provoking. I published The Levels: Can Your Business Step Up to the Growth Challenge in 2013 and The Levels: Can YOU Step Up to the Growth Challenge... read more

How to get real value from 2014 for your business

Well it’s the start of another year and it’s tempting to write yet another motivational piece around fresh start, new goals blah, blah, blah…….. But, most of you are aware that with all the greatest of intentions your New Year Resolutions will quickly disappear into the mist. In fact, statistically the vast majority of New Year resolutions will have been broken or will be broken within the next six weeks. Indeed, I often hear ‘thank heavens that year is over, things will now get better!’ putting some mystical relevance to this day. Let’s be honest, your fortunes are not going to miraculously change with the change of a year number. Now before you accuse me of just being an old grouch there is a positive spin on the whole New Year thing. When you think about it, New Year’s Day just highlights the passage of time. It marks the passing of the last 52 weeks and allows us to welcome the next 52 weeks. It’s a great time to take stock, to reflect and plan. Perhaps it is a good time to decide to throw out the old and welcome in the new. So as we start a New Year- Stop, Reflect and Review the last 52 weeks. Just how quickly did last year go for you? Let’s start by me asking you a couple of questions. What happened in the last 52 weeks? Can you truly remember what you did every day last year? Probably not! Doesn’t it seem that the days blurred into weeks which then blurred into months and suddenly it’s the end of another year.... read more

How wrong can we be?

With business sales, it is so easy to become inward looking, only viewing the world from our own perspective. Surely, to be truly successful we must start to be outward looking and view the world through the eyes of all the stakeholders of our business, including customers, suppliers, employees etc. It is so easy to assume that these two views are exactly the same and that we know what all our stakeholders want. But, oh how wrong can we be? Let’s briefly look at customers as an example. It never ceases to amaze me how many salespeople have not mastered the core sales skill of listening. So much has been written about it over the years but this fundamental part of the sales process is done badly time and again. To listen to and then understand to what the client requires is surely the single most important factor in maintaining a consistent customer experience, the bedrock of all long term sales relationships. It’s not what the salesperson thinks the customer wants but what they really require that is critical. So why is this still so common? When selling, the salesperson, the ‘listener’, can often jump to a conclusion. Then from that point they start to selectively listen to the customer’s needs whilst they are actually formulating their solution in response to what they have only partially heard. They are not thinking WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) from the customer’s point of view but from their own point of view. Perhaps thinking about their commission or hitting their target. At that point they are inward looking, so that they... read more

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Shoes

Have you ever experienced a situation where you couldn’t see something that was right in front of you. It may be a jar of pickle or bottle of brown sauce that you know is in the cupboard but no matter how long you stand in front of the open door you just can’t see it. You can’t see it for looking! That is, not until someone points it out to you. There it was right in front of your nose all the time. Exactly where you had left it! Did you smile remembering a recent event when you experienced a similar blind spot? These types of blind spots, sometimes referred to as skitomas, are when our brain’s view of reality is distorted by our senses. In the case above your eyes saw what you believed was there (or not there), not what was really there. To explain a little more. Recently, a pair of my wife’s shoes mysteriously went missing for two days. She knew they must be somewhere in the house as she remembered the last time she wore them was earlier that week. She had searched high and low but could not find them. I joined the search and although we both scoured the house from top to bottom, three or four times, we were both baffled as neither of us could find them. It really was a total mystery. On a last ditched effort before resorting to buying a replacement pair, I had one last look round the whole house and out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving one of the bedrooms... read more

Why do you go to work?

When asked this question, there are many, many reasons people give for going to work. Interestingly, the underlying reason for both business owners and their employees is the same, it has a common root. Before I explain further have a think about yourself, why do you go to work? Quickly write down your gut reaction. Here are some of the most common responses. To earn money. To pay the mortgage and bills. To keep roof over families head. To pay for children’s education. To maintain or improve lifestyle. I’m sure you may have come up with something along the similar lines. Related Blog: Why did you start your business? Interestingly, underlying all these responses is one of the real core needs of all humans and that is security. Actually we all strive for long-term sustainable security (in the past that was the promise of pension funds). Yes, business owners and their employees are seeking the same thing, long-term sustainable security albeit the exact definition may differ widely from individual to individual. Surely, the key purpose of a business is to create long-term sustainable excess cash-flow that builds long-term sustainable wealth which provides long-term sustainable security for all those involved, owners, employees, suppliers etc. (the stakeholders). So why have I repeated long-term sustainable so many times. Well if you think about it that is the really important point. To build a long-term sustainable business it can’t be reliant on a single factor for the lion share of its cash-flow. That could be a person (the owner or a salesperson) or a customer or a supplier. It’s the classic ‘all the... read more