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The high road or the low road?

  for your business

The high road or the low road?
As part of our coaching practice, we ask programme members the following question:
 
Why did you start your own business?
 
The answers are generally very similar.
  • I felt I could make more money doing (what I do) myself
  • I wanted to be in control of my own time
  • I did not like the way I was treated at my last company
  • I had a great idea that I wanted to put into practice.
However, nobody starts a business which they believe will fail. Most people start a business in which they have expertise in what the business does. A florist starts a florist shop. An electrician starts working for himself as an electrician. A financial adviser like myself starts a financial advice business. This trend is very well covered in the excellent book for small business owners – the E- Myth Revisited. The book also covers the reasons that most new businesses fail in the first five years. The figure is around 80% which is alarming and terrible for the people concerned.
 
The main reason is, although they know how to do what the business does, they have no skills in how to run a business.
 
This skill of understanding how to run a business well is significantly more important than knowing how the work of the business is done.
 
A highly experienced business owner could probably make a success of a florists business, even if he or she did not have the slightest idea on how to be a good florist. Essentially, this is where a good business coach can help – they know the strategies which work and the ones which are less likely to.
 
Nearly everyone believes they can make more money working for themselves. This is normally is a primary driver for taking the risk of starting their own business. This is fine as an initial driver as we all have to live and pay our bills. However, once the business is relatively stable and profitable running a business purely for the money is the low road. This low road has a high potential to end in dissatisfaction, stress and burnout.
 
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as shown below says that once our physiological and safety needs are met, we all aim to satisfy our needs for self- fulfilment.maslow hierarchy of needs
 
Setting the main goal and purpose of the business as only making a large a profit as possible causes a problem. It will make it more difficult for the directors and team to stay motivated and aligned with that purpose in the longer term.
 
The high road is to set a purpose of contributing to the world and adding the most value possible. Of course, the bottom line of working as effectively and efficiently as possible does not go away. The business must continue to make a profit to thrive.
 
Delivering on this higher purpose will generate money as customers all appreciate good value. This higher mindset will align the directors and their teams to work harder. They will also have higher levels of job satisfaction that simply more money will not bring.

Action required

Review your company goals – are they set around the high road or the low road?

Explore what your business does. Ask your customers why they use your products and services. Talk to your employees. Ask them what value the company provides.
 
Once you have collected all the information, spend some time setting a vision for the future. This vision should encompass the contribution the company intends to make and the value it provides. Clarify and write down the company purpose, mission and values.
 
Get feedback on your statements from your employees and customers before settling on a finished version. Then keep these statements under review and set your company goals and direction around them.
 
This is the higher road which leads to self-fulfilment for all people working at the company. It also helps you employee people who are aligned with what you are trying to achieve.  These more engaged employees work harder and smarter to help achieve company goals and produce higher profits.
So in deciding on your business goals remember the high road or the low road is a conscious decision which can make a big difference in your approach
Enjoy the journey

Muhammad Ali – Inspirational thoughts

Muhammad Ali – Inspirational thoughts

Muhammad Ali – I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.

I must admit to being very surprised when I first came across this quote. “Hated every minute of training?” and yet he still went on to become what many would regard as the greatest boxer who ever lived? He was certainly an icon who transcended his sport.

Muhammad Ali must have spent thousands of hours training to become the best at what he did. This training is a testament to his basic beliefs. If you want outstanding results in your field of endeavour you have to train long and hard.

Many business owners wonder why their business is not progressing. They believe it should be performing better. And yet they have spent very little time training as opposed to “fighting in their ring.” They seem to believe their business is completely different to all other businesses. They ignore the benefits of a great training and coaching program.

This is a misplaced point of view. Every business may indeed be different. Indeed, every athlete is different. If those athletes want to become great,  the same principles of coaching apply to all athletes. In business, the same applies. Coaching will help you to develop as a person and a business owner.

How much time do you spend in the training zone?

How much time do you spend in the performance zone?

The training zone gives you help and feedback to improve your skills. In the performance zone, you have to achieve excellent results.

Nobody wants to have an operation done by a surgeon who is in training.

You want him to have trained to an excellent standard beforehand and then produce outstanding performance in your operation.

Allow yourself time to train to be the best you can be. This investment in yourself is the best investment you can make.

The results of such a change will have a huge positive impact on your life and business profitability.

If every great athlete like Muhammad Ali in the world has a coach why don’t you?

Do you know your clients?

get to know your clients

Do you know your clients? Yes, but do you really know?

We often think we know our businesses, and its true most us have a handle on the numbers and the history.  However, Sir Clive Woodward, at a recent conference talked about ‘The Data’, and the story behind the data is not often a true explanation of the facts.

Get the Facts. Truly, deep down can’t get any more data Facts.

You can look at your ROFE, yet behind that could be just a handful of great profitable customers that are masking the truth behind the vacuum of profit customer. Averages help get an overview but break them down and the character of the good bad and the ugly, start to show.

Ask your team, who is a pain to deal with, and why is that so. A client may serve you better by being referred to a nearby competitor. That client may have come from them in the first place.

I remember letting a client go once, and he was horrified. He got quite angry too. So, I explained to him that my average customer spent 20 hours a month of my time and gave me £300,000 turnover a year. I explained that my profit from my average customer was £100,000. On the other hand, he gave me 30 hours work a month and only contributed to £80,000 to my turnover.

Once I had explained the ‘Facts’ to him he calmed down and realised why I was making the decision and that had he known more, he would have looked at what I offered differently.

The result with this client was that I offered to charge him an hourly rate. He declined as he knew he could go and take advantage of a competitor, without paying the fees for his time. So, we agreed to no longer work together.

Unless I had got to the bottom of his way of dealing with us and backed it up with enough comparable facts, I may have continued to be bossed around by this client. It turns out the staff loved that I had ‘let him go’ because he was the proverbial heart sinker. A double win.

Working with clients you like is always a bonus. Ones that are profitable as well make a great business.

The sweet spot of what you offer is one number crunching exercise. Looking at clients who could be ten times more profitable than your average is another.

Which of your clients have the capacity to do so much more? Fewer clients to deal with could be a new option. The numbers will reveal them.

It could be that your top clients are not top clients. It could be that your low turnover/profit clients are capable of so much more, or, would refer you to others that can. Getting to know your clients in depth is important.

By getting ALL the numbers, the decisions are so much easier.

Yes, it felt good to remove Mr Pain. It was easier than I thought because I had got the facts. Numbers never lie if you dig deep enough.

So do you know your clients well enough?

Celebrate being a procrastinator

procrastinator

Celebrate being a procrastinator

We all do it. We don’t like to admit it. We consider it a failing and would hate to have a reputation of being a prolific procrastinator. I heard someone say, ‘ I used to procrastinate, but I keep putting it off now ‘. That’s a much better view.

However, it is ok to stand up and admit that you are. We all are to some extent. So, what is it that this seemingly poor habit creates in us and how is it best to deal with it?

When you analyse what procrastination is you start to uncover that your decision to avoid doing something, is pointing out the following three things;

  • That you need more information
  • That you may need to learn a new skill
  • That you may need help from others to be able to move forward.

Your cautious self is struggling to decide for fear of making a bad decision. That’s natural!

You don’t know what you don’t know and the importance of the decision or action could be very far-reaching. So, first, let’s look at the need for more information.

If you can’t decide which of the two candidates for a job to make the offer to, it maybe that you need to dig a bit deeper into their character or their abilities to help you sway your decision. If you put off finding out more, you procrastinate more and the postponement of choice, could mean you lose both candidates because they get snapped up by someone else.

If you made some more enquiries or another phone call and sought more information, you can help break through the procrastination. Find out all you can.

You may need to learn some new skill or read more about the subject.

Procrastinating about going to the gym, maybe because you do not have a routine that benefits your needs and goals. Going to the gym is too easy to postpone. If you had a plan that had been taught you by a great trainer, you would be more motivated to act. Knowing that the benefits would be far greater than just muddling along with what you already know, you start to avoid procrastination because you have learnt a new skill that helps your performance.

In other words, learn about what can be improved to enhance how efficient you can become. Learn a new skill or technique that will help you avoid the procrastination.

You may need other people’s help, opinion or ideas.

Their point of view will be different to yours. They may be able to offer help, to take you forward or give you an idea you previously had not considered. Some people are so inspiring that your natural hesitation gets diminished and you become spurred on.

Others may even know other people that would be useful for guidance, counsel or just a kick up the backside. Read a book, talk to those that have faced your hesitation before too.

Procrastination is a positive thing, if you use it to develop a new skill, seek help, destroy a fear, gain a new insight or even decide not to go any further. It is a sign that you can progress if you just recognise why you are doing it.

Ask yourself why you are procrastinating. It is a great question that changes your habits and your ability to eliminate too much procrastination.

Using a very strong system of accountability built into our Giant Leap program will help you avoid procrastination and eventually build a habit that will reduce it significantly in your life helping you to achieve your goals and dreams.

 

After a tiring day what do you do?

Tiring

After a tiring day what do you do?

You know that sometimes the first thing to do after a tiring day is to get a meal, possibly a glass of wine, slump in a sofa and perhaps sit in the quiet or watch some favourite TV.

You know that the day has been a challenge and that you have earned some downtime and with a fair chance you can nod off and get an early night. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

As we get older, that becomes an easier decision too. The next instalment of your latest chosen box set is on Netflix and is begging to be watched. The meal will be easy to devour because you put in such an effort today, there is no guilt about it and relaxation follows a meal quickly too. Bring it on!

Are we suggesting anything different? Is all the above what makes you happy? So why not? Well surprisingly most of us will either do this if we can or hope to and focus very hard on making it happen, so, not so much a change.

However, can we suggest a review?

If you find that a day has been challenging, the best you can get from that day is to review it. If you spend ten minutes asking the following questions of yourself, it can be a fabulous day.

Three questions then:

  1. What did I learn from today that can serve me going forward?
  2. What progress did I make that allows me to feel better about the challenges I had?
  3. How can I use this to make tomorrow a better day, with fewer challenges?

Ok, we know, it is enough that the day was challenging anyway. However, everything that tests us makes us stronger. Especially when we use it to improve going forward.

To make the same mistakes every day and then just keep repeating them, is improving our resilience, but not the outcomes. Our ability to reflect and review is incredibly powerful. Each progress step made is a motivator, and the plan to make life better makes us amazing.

Looking back to enable us to look forward and plan sets us apart from the reactionary world. Ask the three questions above and then a short to do list for tomorrow. You will enjoy the food, the TV, the wine and the company you share so much more then. The advantage it gives us is release from the day and a buzz about the seed of growth potential.

We get the start on the next day faster because we have already given ourselves a track to start on. No more wasting thinking time to decide what to do today as it is already done.

The immediate to-do list after the event of the day is the best time to be able to focus on it fast and be accurate. Trying to remember what to do the day after, is much less efficient.

Learn to be good to yourself and pat yourself on the back. Tough day, learned quite a bit and tomorrow I will do………….

The question then is not what do you do; it is what you will decide to do?

Your life, your choices, your time and of course your outcomes.

Good luck.

How to determine what action to take or habits to build

habits

How to determine what action to take or habits to build

We live our lives in the ever changing moment. There is nothing we can do about what has passed, and we have little control over the future.  We all seek to improve either our life situation or our experience of life by our daily actions and the habits we build.

How should we keep ourselves on track to at least plan to take the right actions? It helps to determine firstly what you are currently doing and classify the experience.

There are essentially 4 classes of experience:

Class 1: You do something that feels good to you, is good for you, is good for others and is good for the greater good of the world. –  doing charitable work or helping somebody.

Class 2: You do something that does not feel good to you, is good for you, is good for others and is good for the greater good of the world. –  Exercise and eating healthy food

Class 3: You do something that feels good to you, is not good for you, is not good for others and is not good for the greater good of the world.- Drinking a lot or eating a lot of ice cream

Class 4: You do something that does not feel good to you, is not good for you, is not good for others and is not good for the greater good of the world. – Complaining or doing work you hate.

The first step is to make a record of the things and actions you have taken during the day and then place them as best you can into one of the 4 categories.

If the activity falls into Class 1 – Great, carry on doing it or even better do more of it.

If the activity falls into class 4 – Just stop. If you struggle to stop seek help to stop – for instance asking someone to ensure you pay a fine or donate to a cause you hate every time you do whatever it is.

If the activity is classified as Class 3  this is going to be more difficult to stop as you like doing it. Use the same habit breaking strategies as for Class 4 experiences but be more careful to get help as it will be easy to slip back into a habit.

The great movement forward in life is seeking to convert Class 2 activities into Class 1 by adjusting them slightly to make them enjoyable.

This will often require creative thinking on your part but is worthwhile if you want to build great habits into your life.

Building great habits is a core component of our “Giant leap” program. Using powerful strategies like experience classification will help you move forward rapidly in both your business and personal life.

Call us to book a place on our program today.

Hire slow fire fast

Hire Slow Fire Fast

Hire slow fire fast

When we employ enough staff, we start to realise that employees are transitional. They come and go based on their agendas, lifestyle, circumstances, competence or even just boredom.

Hiring people is an art form. Get it wrong and you will be going through a tough time. Hire well and it can be extremely rewarding and fruitful. Good staff and stability is a great measure of how you run your business.

If you consider staff to be friends then lines can get blurred. Complacency, familiarity and lack of progress are tell-tale signs that the job isn’t the job hoped for and must be guarded against.

Building a team of people that complement each other or generate a powerhouse of work completed takes time, awareness and attention.

The question is, who does that for you and what systems do you use to ensure great productivity? How much do you develop a relationship with staff or them with each other for optimal performance?

It could be considered formulaic. However, people are people and by that, I mean, we are all different. We may have skills that are needed to compliment others or complete a team. Overall though we need to feel human, fulfilled, valued, cared for, respected, listened to and appreciated.

Even if you are all the above, turnover of staff will occur. Loyalty cannot be bought. Life changes outside work and life impacts.

When trust breaks down, fire fast. No employee should be allowed to continue in their job if the trust has gone. It is better to pay them all they are entitled to and change the locks and passwords. If you find yourself compromised, shut up shop. Get rid and move on.

The opposite is true. Hire slow. Take your time to find the right person. Do not react by getting in the first person you can. Take your time. You could be with them for years to come. Valuable people are out there. People who have skills that are rich and useful and underutilised do exist. People who are looking for a breath of fresh air and want to be part of a company that is fertile ground that enhances their natural abilities and captures their great ideas are keen to be with you.

Where would you like to work and under what conditions? Create the type of environment that people will want to come to. They will want to work hard and feel appreciated. That must be better than trying to fill the bank account with enough money each month, just to get by. That style of thinking will never serve your businesses, the employee or others who work there.

We can stifle great people. We can micromanage them to the point of strangulation. I could not think of a worse job.

When selecting someone to take on board, they need to be self-starters. Batteries included. Your role in making that happen is important and worthy of investment.

Ask the candidate, how do you see yourself in three years’ time. You already know what you want to hear, and they will already know what you want to hear too. However, those that can easily answer and are excited about the prospect of growth and learning as well as being able to articulate that in a way that you know isn’t contrived should be sought after, cared for, protected, nurtured, cherished and included in your vision for the future.

Keeping your promises

Keeping your promises

Keeping your promises

Keeping your promises can be a measure of how well you do in business. We all know what it feels like to be let down. The disappointment, the reduction of trust levels and worse the promise you made on the back of someone else’s promise. I remember seeing a slogan from a delivery company, “Delivering your promises” and concluded that we all need to rely so much on others, it’s hardly surprising that we trip up or get let down. So many of the things we need to do rely on others and in a multi-complex interlinked society, the probabilities of things going wrong are magnified.

So, what is the solution? Firstly, know that the average person struggles with this too. To be above average, outperform or get a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy, the leap is not a big one. You do need some rules though, or you will become the also-ran we are sadly all used to these days.

Rule No 1.

Do not make a promise or say yes, unless you can consider all the elements of the equation at that point. It is better to delay a yes than to promise it and need to or be forced to break it. This rule seems simple, yet there are many layers. How do you hold a diary? Is it electronic, so that all who could be involved, would see it and you cannot clash with them if you said yes and put it in the diary now? How do you think others would feel if you said yes and as the impact would change things for them, you would be treating them to a disappointment? People, resources, timelines, other elements of impact and even your energy or commitment levels are all in play here. DO NOT SAY YES UNLESS YOU ARE SURE.

Rule No 2.

Does keeping this new promise align with your goals, your needs or does it compromise them. This test rule is easy to overlook. Clog or cleanse, enhance or undermine, compromise or build? If you are asked by a client to cut corners, how does this sit with your moral compass? Does eating the pudding mean you’ll feel less fit and struggle to play the game you promised to tomorrow with your team members because you’ll feel sluggish? BE AWARE OF THE CONGRUENCY OF YOUR PROMISE.

Rule No 3.

Can you ensure follow through? When you make a promise, and you only get 80% of it completed, you’re still letting that person down. Just because your got most of it done, you are not let off the hook. Ask yourself or the person asking for the promise, what does finished or completed promise look like? How will I know I have met my promise to you?

MAKE SURE YOU CAN FINISH WHAT YOU PROMISE TO DO.

Often, we hear the phrase, under promise and over deliver and unfortunately, this is disingenuous.  What truly makes a difference is keeping your promise. Keeping your promise helps build relationships, businesses faith and families. The future seems so much more possible with a promise keeper than a person who lets you down, even if they do so only now and then.

 

A Strategic Alliance

A Strategic Alliance

A Strategic Alliance

Forming a strategic alliance has been a tactic used on many occasions by businesses, government parties and even countries to form a common goal to get better results. Not surprisingly the conservative party talked today about forming a new government with an alliance with the DUP, due to having fewer seats than before the election and being short of the magical 326 majority seats. Would they have been prepared to form any alliance before today?

Your position as a business owner often means being on your own, but a marry with another business could be extremely beneficial. A good example of this is the M & S shops in BP garages. They are everywhere now. It lifts both brands and is symbiotic in many ways. Nothing new I hear you say. However, please consider, who could you ally with that would lift you to new heights? Financial Advisers and Accountants could be a great one for instance. You know your industry better than anyone else. If you looked at all your suppliers and customers, who could you parley with for a mutual benefit? One plus one can often make more than two. Is it blinkered thinking to not be open to this style of suggestion? Sure, there are businesses out there you would not want any strategic alliance with, yet there may be some that could enhance what you do. It is an example of synergy that benefits all.

The questions to ask yourself are;

  • What businesses do I know that are like my own and have a trustworthy outlook that I can feel confident endorsing?
  • What professions do I engage with that I like and are respected?
  • Who do I know with a success based attitude that has a future based outlook I admire?

This will open your thinking to opportunities and ideas you may not previously have thought of and following that train of exploration could bring a eureka moment worth capturing.

Many businesses are often swallowed up by bigger companies merging or buying and this can seem a great way to grow. The trouble with this is that creative and ground-breaking experience gets merged and diluted. A good alliance will bring to the table regular, different and new formats and ideas that set us apart. Economies of scale are useful too but do not let that be your driver. An enhancement of credibility and a win-win environment is the real goal.

So, whatever happens with our new political parties and how they cooperate with each other will be interesting to watch unfold. They perhaps will both have their own selfish goals and reason for teaming up. It could be very useful. In politics, nothing surprises us these days. In the business world though, those that create healthy strategic alliances show their strength of character and a willingness to support others with a common goal. Admirable qualities to transmit to clients in a way that will draw them to you.

Consider for now what that could do for you and where you want your business to be in the next few years.

 

 

 

 

Are you generating mistrust?

Are you generating mistrust?

Are you generating mistrust?

Are you always running late for meetings? Business or social. If so you could be generating mistrust in the minds of people who are important to you.

In our society, everyone seems to be rushing from one point to the next. What is the impact on your relationships? How can you build simple habits to improve your trustworthiness?

Integrity is a word that seems to carry different meanings to different people. In this post, I will simply ask you to consider that if you have agreed to meet someone at a certain time and place and if you are not there exactly on time you have no integrity on that occasion. As such you are generating mistrust.

Is that a bit strong? Maybe, but it depends on how you define the words integrity and mistrust. If you take it to mean that you always keep your word on everything you say, including timekeeping, then it’s not strong at all.

A little story might help illustrate this.

Many years ago when my daughter was just leaving school, we agreed on a meeting at my office at 11 am to review her university application. She strolled in 15 minutes late, which bearing in mind, it is one minute’s walk to my office from our home, was not a great start. When I challenged her on the time she got agitated and said: “It’s only 15 minutes – why do you have to be so uptight about it?” I bit my tongue and said, “don’t worry we can discuss it later”.

A few days later I catch 30 minutes with her to discuss the issue of timekeeping and its importance.

I start off with – “You are going to your prom night next week, and you need your brand new dress turning up a few inches. The only person you trust to do it properly is your grandmother who lives 15 minutes’ drive away. However, she can only do the job on the day of the prom itself. You are working all day in your Saturday job that day and cannot get out early enough to pick it up yourself. Therefore, you need one of your friends to do it for you, but as you are working, you cannot remind them on the actual day.

Ok – So make a list of all your friends and then put them in order of who you are going to rely on to pick up the dress for you. Remember, if it’s not done – that’s your prom night ruined!

Why are they in that order?

What makes this person at the top of the list and why is that person at the bottom?

No surprise – It turns out that she judges (as we all do every day) who is reliable by how well they keep their word on many previous occasions. Even tiny little lies, failure to keep promises and continual lateness for agreed meetings have an impact.

I then ask her:

  • Where are you on other people’s lists?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • What do you need to do to ensure you are considered trustworthy?

I would challenge you with the same exercise yourself, and you will probably come to the same conclusion. Keeping your promises count and being on time is a promise made but frequently not kept – especially socially.

People are always and continuously judging you on lots of different criteria. Is trust very high on the list of criteria they use to form an overall opinion of you?

Next time you are late for anything or in keeping a promise, consider you just lost points on the trustworthy scale that everyone keeps in their heads – even if they do not realise it.

How can you ensure you nearly always on time for meetings?

  • Ensure all meeting times (including phone meetings both personal and business) are entered into your smartphone and simply set a reminder alarm.
  • Ideally set 2 alarms within 10 minutes of each other
  • At the start of every week, look at all your appointments and ensure timely alarms are set for each appointment or phone call. (Tip  – set a weekly alarm for Monday morning to remind you to set all other alarms)

What is timely?

Just work out the journey time and add 30% to determine the time to leave.

You will normally arrive in plenty of time and better still the journey will be stress-free. Imagine letting other drivers through or strolling along enjoying the rain, rather than running. As you arrive early, you can always chat with other early birds (other stress-free and organised people) or make a quick phone call to someone.

A little side story

A very good friend invited us to a BBQ at his house, and I called him a couple of days beforehand and asked the time to arrive. He said about 2 p.m., so I said OK, see you between 2 and 2.15 pm. For various silly reasons we left a bit late and also go lost on the way and so arrived at about 2.50 instead. (Interestingly there was only one other guest there, and we considered ourselves late).

Later on in the day knowing I had raised the question of timekeeping before, my host teased me by raising the fact I was late. My point is that when you raise these things with other people, they then hold you to a higher standard which is a GOOD thing. Knowing this in the back of your mind means you are likely to put more effort into making sure you are always on time, thus building your trustworthiness.

As you start to use this system and so inevitably almost always arrive early, will notice how many people are always late or rushing around or driving like idiots. Far too much stress! – just because they did not have a personal reminder alarm system that works?

I urge you to build a reputation of trustworthiness and get the icing on the cake of significantly reduced stress in your life.

Set alarms to arrive early and build trust – it’s just a habit.

Enjoy the journey

P.S My daughter is very punctual as a habit these days.

Charles

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