Archive - September 2015

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Mentors and Values
Teamwork needs Agreement!
Do you use LACE when you communicate?
How to Plan for Your Business
What does “working on your business” actually mean?

Mentors and Values

The small business entrepreneur is a special creature. Not only must he or she learn about strategy, sales, and numbers, they must also have a great deal of self-belief, energy, and be a source of inspiration and leadership. A lot to ask for!

That is why when people ask me what they should know about being in business, I say that first, they need to know themselves, then they need to know how not to be themselves!

Let me explain.

It takes a special psychology to be an entrepreneur. It takes a psychology that contains determination and self-belief within a shell of self-awareness. You need to know what you want to do; you need to believe you can do it; and at the same time you need to see your faults and weaknesses without believing in your self-hype. In this way, knowing yourself, you can identify the traits that are not “helpful” and work on them to become something you are not without being a hypocrite. In my journey, I found the works of people like Stephen Covey, Jack Canfield and Anthony Robbins immensely helpful. Read More

Teamwork needs Agreement!

The more I help clients grow their businesses, the more I see how “teamwork” is not a natural thang!

Sure people like to belong, and people like to help in a common endeavour, but people are different and they have different values, habits and personalities. Ask your team to define “a job well done” and you will get a variety of different answers.

This may not sound like a significant problem, but what if their different definitions of a job well done mean that they approach the joint task differently? To you, it might be okay to call out at team meetings discussing how to do something, and voice your ideas. To someone else, they might want to think through the problem and think that your calling out is just self-aggrandisement, and just plain rude. There may be a raft of other differences that can cause team members to be frustrated at each other and the way the team works.

In a more formal structure, I have helped clients create team “charters” which outline what the team was formed to do, its objectives and scope, and its authority in doing the task. Read More

Do you use LACE when you communicate?

Like anything else in life, communication is the key in business.

Whatever your business is, whatever you sell, you will need to communicate clearly so that your team understands what your business stands for and what their instructions are, you will need to communicate effectively with customers so that they understand exactly what it is you are selling and telling them, and you need to communicate with suppliers to ensure you are both on the same page.

Whether you are staring a change management initiative or trying to provide better customer service, good, clear, effective and efficient communication is vital.

How many times have you told someone what to do, and when it is done, comes out different from what you expected? Is it their fault that they did not listen to you, or is it yours for not being clear?

How many times have you listened to a customer ask for something, and when you gave them what they asked for they tell you that wasn’t what they were after? Was it their fault for not explaining clearly what they wanted, or was it yours for not listening closely enough?

More often or not it is both parties’ fault, but “fault” is probably a bad word to use. It’s more like it’s both parties’ nature to misunderstand!

What do I mean by that?

Read More

How to Plan for Your Business

There are three types of plans that you can develop in your business.

But before I go through them, let me ask if you do any planning in your business?

Many people in small business ask why they need to do any planning at all, other than the most basic – they plan what they want to sell, they plan where they open their shop, and they plan to open! They say “I just do it!” Well, just doing it is like saying “Fire, ready, aim!”

In other words if you don’t put one foot ahead of the other, in the right sequence, you are going to fall flat on your face. How can you “just do it” if you don’t know what “it” is, whether you are equipped to “do” it, and at the end of the day have you moved from where “just” is? How can you grow your business if you don’t know where it is you want to get to in order to be successful?

So, let’s get back to the different types of plans and how to plan. Read More

What does “working on your business” actually mean?

I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “don’t work in your business, work on your business.”

But what does that actually mean? For most of us it probably conjures up the difference between working hard at making or selling your product, or keeping the books, or labouring over the store – physical or online, versus a picture of being a relaxed leader working out “strategies” and “innovation” to grow your business.

For those of us who have tried to apply it practically, that picture simply doesn’t work! While you try to take time out to work out strategies or develop new techniques in your business, things just don’t happen in it. While we try to work on our business by developing better marketing plans or improving customer service, all it means is that later we have to catch up on working in the business. Am I right? Running a small business is a busy task!

When I started my first business I was busier than busy. I left my big international financial services firm to start a medium sized consulting practice with a couple of partners. True, while I spent a lot of my working hours (or let’s be honest, most of my waking hours) working in the business by dealing with client affairs and consulting directly with clients, I was able to work “on my business” during Partner-meetings where we discussed marketing, new products and hires and fires. To me then, that was working on the business and it wasn’t too difficult because we had borrowed and used the excellent internal administration systems from our previous firm.

But that was it wasn’t it – I wasn’t really working on my business, I was working in the administration of my business.

I found the real truth of working on the business when I left that partnership to start my own boutique consultancy where I hired from scratch and had to set up from scratch. There was no way I could have continued to work in the client advisory side of the new business as well as in the administration of the business – I would have killed myself.

So what did I do? Read More

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