The Drivers

Finances: know the numbers

Like many successful business owners you may prefer to be actively involved in the cut and thrust of the day-to-day business and have little interest in financial accounts. Does the thought of reviewing out of date accounts make you glaze over and reach for your headache pills? As your focus is to make money do you leave the bean keepers to keep score and tell you how much tax they have saved you? So, what business advice do you need to be able to take control? Let me share a story as a way of explanation. Imagine you have a small motor launch that is moored at a marina on the southeast coast of England. You want to take a small group on a trip across the North Sea to Holland. Let’s get stuck in and plan the trip. So, ‘What do you need to know to plan the trip? Here are some of the answers I commonly get to that question: How far is it? What is the weather forecast? The wind and expected tides. How many passengers? So you can work out food and drink etc. How much fuel will you need? How fast is the boat and what is the fuel consumption? I’m sure you will agree all worthwhile information. But hang on a moment. The first thing you really need to confirm is the exact location of the boat. Perhaps it was moved in the last storm and is now beached up a creek! So, before you can plan your journey you need to know where you are starting from so that you will reach the... read more

How to Fall Back in Love with Your Business

Over the last ten years working with and advising successful business owners I have found that a common feeling is that so many have just fallen out of love with their business. The buzz and excitement of the early days of building and then growing the business is replaced by the day to day grind of …well just doing. It becomes humdrum and repetitive. The income is good, the trappings (the house, car and occasional holiday) have become the norm but where has the buzz gone? What has happened to the energy and drive? I have found that people start their own businesses for many reasons but all can be distilled down to the need for security. To secure their lifestyle, their future and the future of their family. But once that has been achieved then what? Again there are many answers to this question and I have no intention of going into the meaning of life. Still trying to work out that one myself! However, what I have learnt is that what most business owners want is freedom. Freedom of choice, freedom of actions, freedom of how to spend their time, freedom to persue their life dreams, freedom to just go off and play golf when they want without feeling guilty! (the last one is a real life example from a recent business coaching session). So what is it that stops so many business owners from achieving their freedom. What I see over and over again is that their business has grown over the years and has become stuck between two levels. The four key drivers of the... read more

Getting your team to take the pressure off you

The biggest factor causing owners of SMB (small and medium sized businesses) stress I come across is caused by time pressures. There are just not enough hours in the day. The business is busy and all the employees are also under pressure. No one has any time to take any of the pressure off the owner. Fear of taking on extra costs and the desire to ‘squeeze the pips’ before an investment results in the acceptance by the owner of the stress. It’s what has to be done in this competitive world we live in. Right? Well no! So here is an easy solution that will generate much needed time throughout an organisation. Conduct a ‘spring clean’ of all all the existing systems, processes and activities carried out in your business. I guarantee that in any organisation that has been running for some time there will be mini systems and processes that were set up to sort out an exceptional situation which are no longer relevant but which are still being carried out. Now I know it sounds too simple but I could spend hours giving you examples that I have found over the years. But that would be a waste of time! Just set up your mind to look for wastage. Ask what would happen if this task or process was no longer done? If the answer is nothing then why is it still being done? Go on have a go! Take a look, spend ten minutes and see what you find. Start with yourself, you might be surprised! Covered in ‘Can Your Business Step Up to the... read more

Forget Customer Service Now!

As business leaders we often want to know how are customers are finding our service. This is usually for many different reasons but usually they involve wanting to achieve repeat custom and influence our customers to refer us to their network. Interestingly we look at our customer service procedures like delivery time to indicate this effectiveness. With new technologies, various external organisations being involved in so many of our everyday transactions, ‘CUSTOMER SERVICE’ is now ‘CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE’. Let me explain by the way of a quick example that happened to me and highlights my point. Recently, at breakfast time at home, we realised that were about to run out of the specialised coffee for our coffee machine. No problem, couple of taps on the iPad and the coffee was ordered. Within seconds. ping, and an email showed the order had been received and processed. Later that day another email to say the coffee had been dispatched and would be delivered to my home the next day. Isn’t technology fantastic, brilliant service, totally inline with what I had experienced before and had come to expect. Then next day, as we were enjoying a cup of coffee in town, I got another email from the driver of the van to tell me he was going to deliver the goods in the next ten minutes. Good in theory but by the time I picked up the email there was another message to say the goods could not be delivered as there was no one in and telling me the goods were going back to the depot and giving options for redelivery. For... read more

Are you GUILTY of Productive Avoidance?

As the leader of a growing SMB (small or medium business) you will find that your time is precious. Maybe there’s just not enough hours in the day. The real key to business success is how we choose to invest our time. First of all, let’s be clear. There is nothing you can do to create more time for yourself. You, me and the President of the United States will all get through each day in the same way – 24 hours at a time! How you use your time is a different matter and what I want you to realise is that, to grow your business, it is up to you to become a better navigator of time. So how important is your time? So, yes, time is precious and time does fly but what’s important is how you manage your time and set priorities with realistic timescales. The fact is it takes much more than a good wristwatch to do that. A few years ago, in my own business, I employed a telemarketer and noticed their effectiveness had deteriorated. It looked like she was wasting time or indeed procrastinating. When I broached the subject with her she smiled and then said she did not want to admit to procrastination but did admit to something we now call ‘Productive Avoidance’ *. She neglected the things she knew she should do but did not want to do while keeping busy doing the things she liked doing and so had convinced herself were more important. It is so tempting for owners of growing businesses to revert to the role they... read more

Here’s how to keep your customers coming back

How satisfied are we, as customers, of the experience we receive from a company? As customers, we will unconsciously rate the experience against an expectation. Now that expectation is based on an opinion (perception) which is not always based on fact. It is based on emotion not logic. This expectation will be set by the service we receive from a wide range of suppliers. So when looking at customer service the expectation will be influenced by ‘competitors’ who may not even be in the same sector or industry. Have a think about the online service from Amazon. Love ’em or hate ’em their service levels have set a new benchmark. Next day delivery with regular updates at every stage of the process is now standard. We now know where our goods are at every stage. If the goods then don’t turn up on the day or time promised we feel disgruntled. Indeed now when I place an order with anyone online and there is an extended delivery I feel let down. What started in the online world has migrated into other markets I expect fast delivery, fast response and when I expected delivery every time. Think about it for a moment and consider how your service expectation have changed just over the last few years. If that expectation is not met how do you feel? How is your experience impacted? Monitor the innovations in other industries. Aim to be the best in your industry. Be aware of what innovations are impacting other industries and be prepared to adopt new ideas and adapt so that the experience your customers receive... read more