Driving the 5 Business Growth Enhancers

Category: Vision (Page 1 of 5)

The Ditch List – making room to expand

Executive coaching and sales mentoring BristolHow many hours do you work a day, a week, a month? Loads is probably the answer.

So when someone suggests that you need to take on additional tasks – you groan.

But these new tasks might be the ones that will change things around for you or your business. Time to get the strategic direction right, sort out the offices, resolve that nagging IT issue, reflect on an investment plan. How about those people tasks? Done well you could change the initials HR from Human Remains to Human Resources.

“But” you cry, ” I simply don’t have the time to add to my list”.

Well, that might be true now, but what if you listed all the tasks on to a spreadsheet. Then, allocate a time per day, week, month you spend on them . Using the data sort button, sort them on the basis of time spent, with the largest at the top. Then add a new column. Use the formula to incrementally add the totals, which is the cumulative total. I hope that makes sense.

Now look down the list. And when you get to say 30 hours, stop. Anything below that line needs to be either delegated, ditched or deferred. Play around with it for a day or so, but then take control of your time. It is perishable and can only be used once. Use it wisely.

Hope this helps. Any ideas as to how to maximise time would be gratefully received

Business CoPIlot – Executive coaching and sales mentoring to help keep them on the business flight plan

Is trust in the workplace worth the effort?

According to an article in Psychology Today they ask the question “How do you provide evidence that you want your customers or staff or stakeholders to give you their trust?”.

And their answer is simple “You must first demonstrate that the relationship matters.”

Is this right? So what if the relationship doesn’t matter, does that give you an out? Are they arguing that I can be trustworthy with some because it matters, but not with others because it doent matter? Is trust therefore an elastic concept that can flex dependent on what I get out of it?

No of course not, and the article’s author is not arguing that either. Trust is not elastic. The degree of trust may vary but not the concept of trust. Trust is so embedded in our culture that we tend not to consider it, nor train our people in how to maximise the value that can be gained from enhancing trust.

If I may, here below are the suggestions from the article:

Trust grows in relationships when …

  • The relationships are mutually beneficial
  • When you bring the best of who you are into the relationship; the best includes core elements like integrity, tolerance, honesty, and trustworthiness
  • When you want the best for the other person
  • When the relationship is more important than any single outcome
  • When you invest time, communication, commitment, and authenticity
  • When you show genuine care, concern, and compassion
  • When you operate with appreciation, politeness, and inclusion
  • When you give more than you take, while still keeping your interests in view
  • When you help others achieve their aspirations, dreams, goals, or personal best
  • When you respect where others are coming from – knowledge, experience, state of mind, values, beliefs, needs

Trust is an essential component of business success and we disregard it and the consequences at our peril.

Create a compelling vision

Getting your business to fly in formation

Time can only be used once. Ensure you spend it wisely.

To build a truly successful business, you first need a vision – one that will set you alight with excitement, and give those around you something tangible that will capture their imagination.

Your vision will excite and inspire people to follow you – and will be at the core of everything in your business. Your vision will generate extra commitment and effort. It will translate directly into greater profitability and increase the capital value of the business. In addition, it will lay the foundations on which others can build.

Why is this important? Well, as the team around you take ownership of the goal, the goal takes on a life of its own, opening the way for you to focus on other business priorities, build profits and maybe even for you to have the time to have… a life!

Do you have that inspiring vision?

Do you have in mind a destination that you and your business are heading for? If not, then as that old saying goes “If you don’t know where you are going any road will do”.

What is a vision statement?

There are numerous definitions of what a vision statement should be and what it should include. At its simplest a vision statement should answer the following questions:

  1. What does our company do?
  2. Who are our ideal clients?
  3. What service or product do they want to purchase from us?
  4. How will we measure success?

If you can answer those questions then you should have a single message that you can communicate across every channel. It should be built in to your company’s operations and culture so everyone lives and works by it in every aspect of their role.

Where to start?

You start by simply daydreaming. It may be hazy and nebulous at first, but work at it – wafting away the mist to reach the core idea, the spirit of your vision. It may take days, even weeks. The nice thing about this constructive daydreaming is that it doesn’t stop you working while you are doing it. However, beware of thinking, as you dream your dream: ‘Oh we couldn’t do that! It’s just wishful thinking.’ It’s even easier to get lost in the how-to of it all. Don’t be held back by what you think is possible, or you will end up limiting your vision. The moment you catch yourself starting to think of how you will achieve your dream, stop, and go back to the what – the big picture. Right now, you do not need to burden yourself with reality.

 What does a vision do?

There are many advantages of having a clear view of what the business is designed to realise. A good one does several things.

Your vision will ensure that everybody in the company knows what the business is striving to achieve. As a result it allows them to focus their efforts on the things that make a difference and in so doing it motivates them to deliver the results over the long term.

If you define a clear vision you will have included in it some aspect that will differentiate you from your competitors. As you grow you will need to demonstrate that you are offering something that is different and better, and so ensure potential clients select you in preference to your competitors.

Finally it is also a unifying factor in holding an organisation together. The best example we have come across is a company called Spencer du Bois. Their vision is to work with clients whose ambitions go beyond the bottom line, to make a real difference. So they primarily work with charities, educational and cultural institutions and ‘ethically enlightened’ companies. That means that their employees know that they will work on projects that mean something to them, the clients know that they will work with people that share the same values. It all adds up to building an excellent reputation that will attract the right sort of work and will enable them to repel the sort of work that they don’t want to get involved with.

In short, your vision will excite and inspire people to follow you – and it will be at the core of everything in your business. More importantly, it will lay the foundations on which others can build, and so allow you to escape from your business. After all, Kennedy acted like any good business leader – he didn’t build the rocket or choose the astronauts: he just set out the vision and persuaded people that it was one worth pursuing.

We can summarise the benefits of you having a vision statement as follows.

It will:

  • Paint a picture of an aspirational, desired but realistic future;
  • Be distinctive, credible, memorable, and command attention;
  • Inspire and liberate;
  • Be succinct and context free;
  • Be ambitious but achievable;
  • Create ‘clear blue water’ differentiation.
  • Attract the sort of business you want to be involved in
  • Repel the sort of business you do not want to be involved in

It works for Richard Branson

How does it work in practice? Richard Branson has a clear vision of the kinds of people who will work for him. As far as he’s concerned, Virgin people are easy to spot. ‘They act in unusual ways, as it’s the only way they know how. But it’s not forced – it’s natural. They are honest, cheeky, questioning, amusing, disruptive, intelligent and restless… Virgin people are smart.

‘There are certain attributes that we look for future employees to possess. A Virgin person would typically:

  • Have a passion for new ideas;
  • Think “differently”;
  • Have signs of creativity;
  • Smell new business opportunities;
  • Always listen to customers.’

‘I joined Virgin because I wanted rock ‘n’ roll. I wanted the big challenge, the big job, the big car, but I wanted rock ‘n’ roll as well’ – and that came from a stuffy old Finance Director!

How to create your vision

Coming up with a vision begins with thinking about what it is that you are trying to build. Start by writing down what your business will look like at some point in the future.

Imagine yourself arriving at your office in five years’ time and describe what you see.

What sort of business is it? What will you deliver to your prospective clients? How big? What kinds of people do you have working for you… and what about the customers? How would you describe the ideal client? Are they corporates, global players or local shopkeepers? There is no right answer at this stage, only an image of what you want them to look like. After all it is this group of people that holds the key to your long-term future. What do they want from you? More importantly how will they derive value from using you? How do people behave towards you, each other, your suppliers… your clients? What is the culture or set of values that binds you all together?

Keep imagining what it will look like. Add anything in that you feel will shape the company’s identity. Brainstorm with other people; get loads of feedback from past and current clients, colleagues, acquaintances, friends and family about how they would describe you.

If you prefer pictures to words, we suggest that you use a mood board. Get a decent size piece of card and stick images on it that reflect what it is that you want it to be. Take off the “horizon limiter” during these sessions. Think about what it could look like. If it helps, have a drop of wine or similar to get the creative juices flowing.

Things you might consider

What goes into your vision is entirely down to you, the type of business you are in and where you are on the growth curve. The only check that can be applied to see if it works is – “Are we still heading towards it?” The basic elements of your vision might include:

  • The purpose of your business (which isn’t to make money – that’s just a by-product).

For example, ours is: ‘To help ambitious business leaders achieve profitable and sustainable business growth.’ This clear purpose underpins everything we do.

  • What products and services you offer in their totality or described in terms of the value they create. Be creative; expand on the value the clients get, rather than what it is that you do. For instance we could argue that all lawyers offer legal services, all of them are competent, all of them are qualified, and all of them say that they are personable. If you look at their vision statements it will probably contain one or more of these. If you were a lawyer, your vision statement might want to capture some other aspect of the benefit of using you. You might want to include something that you do really well such as speedier, on line, 24-hour access and so on. Each of these describes ways of achieving a difference.
  •  Who will buy from you? It is unlikely that everyone or anyone will be your target market. You will need to cut it up into smaller pieces and select one to focus on. How will you cut up or segment the market? What are the similarities between them and is the segment big enough for you in the future. You might look at the way your customers feel about the business.
  • What you compete on and what makes people seek you out above all your competitors
  • The feel of the business – what it looks like physically, how it acts, what kind of equipment you use, how your employees feel towards each other, their customers and yourself
  • Your geographic scope – where you are located, where your markets are
  • Finally, you should include some financial metrics to ensure that you keep the business side of things in focus. No business will succeed in the long term if it does not make a profit. What should that profit be? It depends on a whole raft of things. Ultimately it is down to you to decide. You might want to include some or all of the following: the size of your business in terms of turnover, profit level, and annual growth. Insert them at the end of the vision, as you might not want your suppliers to see these!

Remember, vision, differentiation and communication can move mountains! They certainly got a man to the moon.

Turning it into reality

Having gone to the trouble of drafting the vision statement, you then need to ensure that it is used as the basis for everything that you do. Turning it into reality means:

  • Allocating roles and responsibilities. Spell out to everyone what they are expected to do towards delivering to the vision statement. If we return to Kennedy for a moment, there is a famous anecdote to demonstrate the extent to which the vision captured the imaginations of everyone. On arriving at the space centre a visiting congressman asked the car park attendant what he did. “I’m putting a man on the moon, sir” was the reply.
  • Keeping it alive in hearts and minds of employees. Be creative here too. Before every meeting, place a copy of it and read through it. Ask everyone to yell out if the conversation is moving away from the agreed vision.
  • Connecting it to strategy and action programmes. Keep asking yourself – is what we are doing or planning to do going to get us closer to where we said we wanted to go?
  • Identifying critical success factors. Set out a few milestones along the way and most importantly celebrate when they are met. A sincere well done is a huge motivator.

However, your vision will die a slow, lingering death if:

  • Employees are rewarded and remunerated to do something else.
  • Employees are not empowered or equipped with skills to do what is necessary.
  • It isn’t constantly communicated and reinforced.
  • It isn’t based in reality (as well as being achievable and flexible).

Having developed the vision, you then need to communicate it. It is at this stage that things usually start to go wrong. Our experience is that it will only work if it remains visible and out of the business plan/lone sock drawer. Have it drawn up and framed to hang at the most visible part of the building. Have lots of them; support them all with examples of success.

Summary

You need a vision statement to ensure that you focus all your resources on things that matter and make a difference. Long-term sustainable growth, which is the hallmark of a successful business, comes about through leadership, careful planning and the allocation of skills, talents and knowledge to deliver benefits to clients that generates long-term profits.

The final thought on having a vision goes to Peter Drucker, a wise old bird who has given so much to business over the years:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Wishing you every success in accelerating business growth.

Robert M. Hook

The Business CoPilot

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Yes, I know it is a bit clichéd. But we have sound evidence that most small firms do not plan well enough to ensure that they grow in a way that is sustainable and profitable.

Personally I have no problem with a one page business plan that resembles an action list rather than the deep, structured formal plan. It reflects where they are and  most probably the variability in the environment in which they are seeking to operate.

Anyhow, back to the evidence. We asked 35 people to complete a Gap Analysis of what they need to strengthen the most. The response was a need to have a plan and have goals and objectives to make the plan happen.

If you want to add your insights to the research, do feel free. Business strategy assessment.

Jettison the ballast and soar!

“I haven’t got the time, Rob!”.

“In your dreams, Rob”.

“When am I supposed to do this? I am working 10 hour days”

What would your response be if you had to increase your workload by 20%. Would you tut and go back to the day job? Would you reflect longingly at what life would look like if you could increase the time at work? Or would you do the following?

The Ditch List – jettison the ballast

Business coaching Bristol Bath and South WestWrite down on a set of Post It notes everything you spend your time on. Get it all down first, we will work on it later. Then add in the non-work commitments.

Once you have emptied your brain, take a break and enjoy a hot beverage or glass of wine because now comes the hard bit. Put all the notes in a long vertical line, the most important things you spend your time on at the top and the lesser items at the bottom. You can do the next bit weekly or monthly, it is up to you. But what you need to do is to calculate how much time you spend on each activity.

Add up the time per task as you go down the list until you reach 80% of the time you want to work. Anything below that should be outsourced, discontinued or delegated. Be ruthless!.

Why do this exercise?

Because you need a minimum of 20% of your working time to run the business. That’s right at least 20% or one day per week of quality time to ensure the business vision, goals and objectives are being met. All too frequently we find as business coaches that senior business leaders spend too long on non essential tasks to the detriment of their business.

So what would you jettison if you had the time?

Go deep – find your intrinsic motivators

What you’re really meant to do

Strategic Sales Management Training CourseMotivation is a huge topic right now. In a business setting getting it right can pay huge dividends, getting it wrong can play havoc with the bottom line. A motivated team will go that extra mile, think bigger and more creatively, seek to make a difference. An unmotivated team will sap morale, watch the clock and save their best for elsewhere.

Something has to be done you say. And you are right. Most businesses focus on tackling the extrinsic aspects of motivation – those that can be manifested visibly. An obvious one is money. The more money you can get access to the higher the motivation and the greater the benefit. Status is another. Hitch up the job title another notch, the bigger desk, the cooler office location. The list goes on. Power, authority, bonuses. If we can tackle the tangible then the intangible will occur. Right?

Well maybe. But another way of looking at the issue is to seek to enhance engagement through the intrinsic motivators. These are the things that motivate us internally. For instance you may be passionate about your business’ culture , the unique way things get done. Or you might seek to engage and relate with work on an intellectual stimulation basis. You love the challenge of a difficult problem to grapple with and receive thanks for the efforts. Some might seek to forge strong bonds with others and create a team spirit that delivers.

The problem as you can see immediately is that extrinsic is easy to see and manage and can be effected corporately, whilst intrinsic focuses on what cannot be seen and is centred on the individual.

But it’s worth the effort. Break the mould of stereotypical views of success by measuring it through benchmarking, goals, objectives, all forms of visible milestones. Seek instead to motivate by digging deep and uncovering what really motivates us – our values. By doing so you release untapped potential.

How? Take the time to ask the team members what it is that they value and how they can make that happen at the workplace. I met a business owner who values where he works. He is hard working, diligent, creative and resourceful. But he likes to work in a variety of settings. Placing him in an office would stifle his energy and eventually lead to him either leaving or working sub-optimally. Another loved to walk and talk. The place and the pace were the key to him achieving his inner or intrinsic motivational platform.

Insanely simple and yet difficult to make happen. Which is why most organisations prefer extrinsic measures. Why not break through the outer hard shell and engage with the living person beneath. It might surprise you.

Let me know how you get on.

What youre really meant to doPS – the inspiration for this blog came from reading this book – “What you’re really meant to do.” by Robert S. Kaplan

 

The ONE Thing book review

I cannot recall how many times I have started my blog posts with something along the lines of “Being in business is hard” or “Being successful in business demands intense focus”. So I was intrigued when I come across a book that promises to help.

The One ThingIt is the One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan that has the expansive text on the front cover “The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results”.

In essence I liked the book, it is easy to read and has some nuggets to take away. It uses a formula based on what they call the Focusing Question. Using solid theory such as the Pareto Principle or 80/20 Rule, they expound how to make the most of your time. Good stuff.

But I was left feeling a little underwhelmed. I reflected and concluded that it ultimately doesn’t work, not because there is anything wrong with the initial premise, the logical thought processes etc, but it doesn’t  work as it starts with an incorrect assumption. The assumption they make is that by knowing what I need to focus on as single mindedly as they make out, I can then JDI – just do it. If I was an automaton, then fine, but I am not. I am a fallible, inconsistent, unpredictable human being and this kind of artificially induced rigour doesn’t work as a game changing model of behaviour.

I did pick up some useful titbits and a few insights but to boil all the complexity of being a human in the complex environment we call business into ONE Thing just leaves me cold.

What do you think?

Start with Why

In Start With Why, Simon Sinek say that good business leaders start with ‘why’.

Start with Why

Most of us start with what we do. The service we offer, the products we promote.We spend time polishing it to make it shine brighter in the hope that in doing so it will attract more attention.  We seek external validation via testimonials, likes and so on.

We have to do that. Enhancing the offering is essential. But only after the question why has been answered.

Why why?

Because until we can find why, we are at risk of missing the point. For instance, if train companies understood why people travelled on their trains, they would have understood that there were rivals in the wings. Literally. Planes and cars would change the travel industry for ever. But the train companies saw their mission as selling seats on trains. Most people wanted to get to the their destination quickly.

Top tips

Here are a few questions to get you thinking:

  1. Why do people buy from me
  2. Why do people buy from my competitors
  3. Why don’t people buy more from me
  4. Why are they not willing to pay more for what we do

Have a go.

Ask yourself why do you do what you do and why do they do what they do. It might show a rich stream of innovative thought and release the creative pressure to inspire others.

Vision must be embedded in the day to day of doing business

“Here is our vision”. I looked at it and was impressed. Partly because they had gone to the trouble of actually thinking about it and then writing it down and because it was very strong. It had many of the components that a vision should have. It had direction, values, core competency, target audience and a clear definition of the services offered. it was aspirational and practical. Great stuff.

flightplan

But what I noticed when I talked to them was that the vision was not actually the guiding light it was intended to be. Whilst looking at new avenues for growth or to assess performance, they didn’t go back to the flight plan or the vision.

It seemed to me that they did the vision statement but then left it. Job done move on.

I am now working with companies to make sure they embed the vision in the business. To somehow insert the vision statement into the business metrics or the performance stats. Even when they do strategic interventions or look at new ideas I am looking at ways to ensure they consistently revisit the vision statement.

My one way is to make sure that the sales stats reflect the target audience in the vision statement. That way they have to go back and check to see if they are within the plan or to assess if the vision needs updating.

Where would you ensure that the vision was embedded in the day-to-day running of the business?

Let the Chimp out

How often do you find yourself in a situation where the other person in the conversation seems to be ranting, or on an emotional tsunami? Or have you been in a meeting where one or more of the delegates seem to be off message but still transmitting?

Well, there is an explanation and if you know what it is then you can deal with it

Chimp Paradox

It’s called the Chimp and is described in the book the Chimp Paradox by Dr. Steve Peters. He helped guide the British Cycling team to glory at the London Olympics.

In the book he describes the human brain as having 2 key parts. One is you, the real you. Logical, rational. The other is the emotional you. The one that feels rather than thinks, that sees in black and white and has catastrophic thoughts.

Does that sound familiar? If not for you it might explain the behaviour of some of the people you interact with. It is their Chimp that is transmitting, not the real them.

The secret is to let the Chimp have their say no matter how irrational, emotional or off message. Once the rant is over, it calms down and goes to sleep allowing the real person to appear. Sound too simplistic. Maybe, but it works.

Try it next time. Just let them get it off their chest. No interruptions, not engagement, don’t take it personally and remember that it is not the real person talking. Then when they have calmed down, then do the talking. It really works

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