Tag: Business Growth Specialists (page 1 of 2)

Team of two – making it work

Team of Two  

This is one way to improve job satisfaction and organisational effectiveness.


The idea

Much of the business of an organisation takes place between pairs of people. These interactions can be positive and developing or frustrating and destructive. You can improve them using simple methods, providing people are willing to listen to each other.

“Team of two” will work between secretaries and managers, managers and directors, consultants and clients or engineers working on a job together. It will even work between life partners.

It does not work when the relationship is so broken down that either party would rather have a battle than do anything to make it better.

The method

Each person writes down 1) How they think they could help the other person and 2) How they think the other person could help them.

The hypothetical example of a manager and secretary will make this clearer.

Manager’s list

Things I, manager, could do to help you Things you, secretary, could do to help me
Let you know where I am going when I leave the office. Tell me what you need from me so you can give me the best help.
Stop giving long urgent tasks after 4pm Organise my office and filing

Secretaries’ list

Things I, secretary, could do to help you Things you, manager, could do to help me
Talk to other secretaries on site to see if they have good admin. ideas we could use Listen to me when I am overloaded
Learn to use the spell checker! Say “Hello” to me when I come in

The parties then share their lists and create a joint list as below.

Combined list

Things I, manager, could do to help you Things you, secretary, could do to help me
Let you know where I am going when I leave the office. Tell me what you need from me so you can give me the best help.
Listen to you when you are overloaded Talk to other secretaries on site to see if they have good admin. ideas we could use
Stop giving long urgent tasks after 4pm Organise my office and filing
Say “Hello” when you come in Learn to use the spell checker

The two people now discuss the information and decide what they will do.

A person may say:

  •  “I can’t do that because……” . The request might violate your values, by being (say) unethical, or it might be politically unacceptable, or take too much time.
  • “I would be prepared to meet your request if you would help me with this one of mine”. The request might demand work or a change of attitude. You would both win eventually.
  • “I would be prepared to meet your request if you would help me with this one of mine”. The request might demand work or a change of attitude. You would both win eventually.

It helps people to follow through with their decisions if they record and preferably display their agreements.

Play the negotiation straight. If you use tactics or manipulation, then people will not use the technique again. They will also become suspicious of all the management techniques you use.

Make your requests small, clear and doable. It is more useful to ask someone to say “Hello” in the morning than to “Be more considerate”.

Aim for equity in the negotiations. If people “give in” to every demand they will feel exploited later. People who want something for themselves for everything they give will lose co-operation. People will think they are mean.

Give the process enough time. The expectations take time to clarify. This is often the first time people have talked directly about how they work together.

I have used these ideas and found that the exercise easily led to free, open and positive discussions and decisions about all aspects of the work together, from the day to day, filing etc to the strategic, about priorities. One common decision was for the two individuals involved to attend some meetings together so she or he would understand more about each other’s work and thus be able to make better decisions about what was important. This tool will not work if the relationship has so broken down that the parties do not want to make improvements.


Please play with these ideas and use them in any way that makes sense to you. If you stick to giving and receiving practical help and treating both parties fairly it will work well, if the people want to make their relationship work.

I am indebted to Nick Heap for his creation and development of the content above.

Writing a plan – what is the point?

Writing a plan – what is the point?

By the time you have written the plan everything has probably moved on and it is already out of date. Or the process of writing the plan has left you in no fit state to carry on the day job.

Executive coaching BristolOK, a plan will give you something to focus on, if you find yourself with time on your hands. It will also help you to work towards an objective or goal. But with so many areas to consider, so many scenarios to incorporate into the plan to make it worthwhile, one has to ask the question – is it all worth it?

My suggestion. Why not write down a completed actions list?

That is one way I have found of capturing activity to reflect if it is going in the right direction. I know in my own mind what i am heading towards, i did that heavy lifting months ago. All I want to see is how I am progressing towards that goal, not how much still lies ahead.

By writing down the work done and the time, I can then look back with a sense of pride about what has been achieved. I can also change direction much quicker if my goals have changed.

So what do you do – do you take the adage that failing to plan is planning to fail? Or do you record activity and let the future take care of itself?

Let me know.

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.

Social media in a B2B setting doesn’t work

Social media - is there any point?Let me clarify. B2B is business to business where one firm is looking to sell to another firm. B2C is business to consumer where the firm is seeking to engage with a consumer directly.

Social media is any on line promotional platform whereby firms seek to engage with other firms via platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn etc.

The goal in social media is to engage more with the personality than with products or services. It’s all about personal branding, ego and demonstrating who you are and not what you do or the benefit that you offer.

Social media in a B2B setting does not work

Why? Because businesses buy products or services. They are not interested in personality, personal branding or ego. They just want to buy a solution to a problem, to scratch their itch. They seek solutions by looking for the closest thing they can to a solution and then fine tune it when they have a few options. But they certainly wont be buying based on an on line personality.

Only the very smallest firms might buy through social media connections, and one could argue that is more a B2C transaction as they are in essence buying for themselves and not as an officer of the company.

4psSo my view is that if you want to sell to established businesses, focus more promoting what you do in terms that your audience understands. Make it clear what you are selling, the benefit the users get from using you and the process that you will use to make it happen.

Any thoughts?


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.

View from the Cockpit: Search Star

Dan Fallon is MD at Search Star, a Bath-based Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising company. They employ the largest team of qualified Google Advertising Professionals in the South West and work with clients across the UK. They work with clients of all sizes, from multinational brands to niche start-ups. If you’d like to learn more about how PPC could contribute to your advertising, visit their website.

Search StarSearch Star have recently started sponsoring the Bath & Bristol Marketing Network Group, a local group where marketers have the opportunity to meet and stay up to date with news and advances in marketing, through networking and talks.

We asked Dan some questions about his plans for the future of Search Star:

What is the vision for Search Star?

To keep making our clients happy by delivering great results from online advertising.

MD of Search Star, Dan FallonWhere would you love to see your business go? 

We’ve been going 7.5 years and are starting to gain confidence in our abilities. We’ve nearly doubled in size in the last 12 months and will probably do similarly well over the next 12 months. Our market is incredibly exciting with our plans for 2013 having us expanding from our Search PPC heartland into other forms of online advertising.

We are in the fortunate position that at present 100% of our business comes in by referral. We don’t have a sales team. We get our work by delivering great results to happy clients and long may this continue.

Our challenge is to manage this growth whilst retaining the customer “love” that drove it. We work in a market where customer demand is huge but customer scepticism is also high. Our clients are typically ‘telesaled’ every day by hit-and-run “we’ll get you to #1 on Google” sharks and we need to keep differentiating ourselves.

 What might prevent you from achieving this?

We could grow too quickly, recruit sloppily and fail to build solid teams to manage client business. Good PPC is labour intensive and needs numerate, literate and articulate account managers. The current team we have is our best ever. We need to keep them, grow them and build around them.

Additionally, like many businesses in Bath, we are on the hunt for quality city centre premises. We are a team of 11 at present and will need to move this year. The team are young and need to stay in the centre and there doesn’t seem to be enough quality space for c. 20 person firms.

How do you plan to resolve these issues? 

We’ll keep our focus on client service, quality recruitment and staff training and put some time aside to go house hunting!

What is a Business CoPilot? An agonastinatrix!

Describing what a business coach is and what we do can be challenging at times. We find this image useful for making it clearer:

A Business CoPilot provides the sound advice of a consultant, the support of a coach and the relationship and experience of a mentor.

We are big Seth Godin fans here at Business CoPilot, and he recently posted about the two roles which are essential to every successful business. The two ‘people’ he describes provide an uncanny description of what a Business CoPilot does.

The first role is an agonist. Not to be confused with an antagonist (who blocks action), an agonist causes action to happen. It is somebody who makes you work at your best, and gives you the tools you need to do great things. We do this by working with you to create a plan for the future of the business, and identifying any possible obstacles which need to be removed.

Number two is a procrastinatrix. This somewhat terrifying sounding role is someone who makes sure you get things done. We do this by checking in with you regularly to monitor and advise on the progress of your plan, and make sure you’re on track.

As Business CoPilots, we help you plan what action needs to be taken and advise you on the best way to get it done. Then, through regular coaching meetings, we make sure the plan is being completed in a timely manner. A Business CoPilot is, in short, the two people Seth describes, rolled into one.

As a business owner, sometimes you will recognise that you aren’t holding yourself as accountable as a third-party observer might. We provide that valuable impartiality, as someone who knows you and your business, but is independent and experienced enough to advise you on what’s best.

We are an agonist and procrastinatrix in one: an agonastinatrix. Or a procragonist… Whichever way you want to say it, that is what we do!

The answer is 200, not 1 million.

So often we are told to think big, to go out and achieve our goals, make our dreams come true. In business we are told to set BHAG’s! Scary.

I’m not arguing with that advice per se, but perhaps in real life might there be a flaw. Think about your own business for a moment. Have you ever set out your biggest goals and dreams and then been stumped for where to start? You have been overawed by the sheer scale of it.

Dov Gordon at The Alchemist Entrepreneur recently blogged about how setting smaller, more achievable goals can propel growth faster than setting your sights on the big reward at the end.

It is an ancient Jewish proverb that is the thinking behind the Dov’s blog. “He who has 100, wants 200”. What Dov is saying is that doubling your size to 200 is more manageable than aiming to hit the million. It is also stretching enough. Setting the bar low at say 110 would not be enough reward to warrant the effort to achieve it.

By taking each right-sized step as a new goal, you not only accelerate the growth process by making it more manageable and achievable, but you also create a template for continued growth. When you reach that initial goal, setting the next one will be relatively simple. The next step after that will come just as easily because it is based on success. The growth process will have unstoppable momentum.

What’s your next step towards that BHAG? Imagine that big, bright vision, or BHAG that you’re working towards. Then, stop and put it away. What you need to do is to set a smaller more achievable goal to get off the ground that in turn sets the template for further growth.

And then? Just do it.

If you are struggling to figure out the next step to grow your business, we offer a free 1-2-1 to talk through your business and how to help it grow. Get in touch using the form below to book a meeting, or give us a call on 0117 230 3166.

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Have You Found Wally Yet?

Have you found Wally? If you don’t know who Wally is, he’s a character in a series of children’s books created by British illustrator Martin Handford. The books consist of pages of detailed illustrations depicting massed ranks of people, and the reader is challenged to find Wally hidden in the group. Fortunately, Handford makes it easier by dressing Wally in a distinctive red-and-white striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses.

And that’s the clue for today’s blog.

How do you find your ideal client or clients? If you deliver a service to consumers, then there are something like 60 million of them in the UK alone to aim your marketing bucks at. If you deliver your service or product to businesses, the number is smaller yet still in the hundreds of thousands. With the advent of social media, some gurus advocate that all you need to do is write a few well-chosen words, pop them into a blog, and customers will be beating down your door to do business with you.

Our advice is: don’t bother. Broadcasting to the masses just doesn’t work. The key is to identify some distinguishing feature that your ideal clients all possess so you can scan a crowd and easily make out your target. Having done that, you can then aim your marketing message at them, knowing it will be of real interest to them.

Like finding Wally, this isn’t always easy, especially if you currently work with a small number of existing clients—it can be difficult to extrapolate from such a small segment the unifying traits for your larger target audience. But you need to persevere, because spending time and energy generating the wrong sort of clients can cost you dearly. Everyone has experienced the woes of dealing with that one mare of a client who uses up 90% of your emotional energy whilst generating 1% of your margin.

Here’s how to start the process: take a long, hard look at who you are, your vision for the business, and your existing clients, and begin to pick out those distinctive characteristics that make them stand out from the crowd. It could be the size of their turnover or staff, geographical location, the legal status of the business, whether they’re private or public sector, and so forth. Keep going until you have a list of traits that are unique to the people you want to work with.

As business coaches in Bristol and Bath, we, for example, seek to work with entrepreneurs in helping them create a business model; we also work with established businesses that need to get past a blockage or otherwise overcome a hurdle to business growth.

Don’t yet know what your ideal client looks like? Have a look through your past successes and just keep whittling them down until you can pick your target out in a crowd as easily as you can pick out Wally.

Business Coaching in Bath and Bristol

Sharing the Vision

Business is about relationships; that much we know. Yes, systems, strategy, and resources are also very important, but when you strip all that away and look behind the curtain, what you end up with is a human relationship. How successful we are in business is, in our opinion, directly related to our ability to manage and enhance the quality and depth of that relationship. Logic therefore dictates that those tasked with running an organisation should allocate a large percentage of their time working on relationships and trying to engineer those elusive ‘win/win’ scenarios that underpin any quality relationship we have, whether in business or in our personal lives.

As we all know, relationships can be both complex and multidimensional, but those of quality seem to have three key components present. Firstly, there is a shared vision: both parties have to see the world in a similar way and broadly agree on the outcome they want to achieve from the relationship. Secondly, there has to be a symbiotic element: both parties must not only benefit but must also acknowledge the other party’s importance in the relationship. Finally, time is allocated to regular and open dialogue: relationships by nature will change over time as circumstances do, and these changes are best aired and discussed as and when they occur to maintain the trust within the relationship.

So that’s the theory, but how do we apply this in a business setting? Simple: write a business plan or a vision statement, communicate it to those directly involved (customers, staff, and stakeholders), and then create channels and opportunities for those groups to have constructive conversations with you about your plan and vision.

In reality, the most successful business owners are those with the ability and talent to enhance and align these three key relationships so that everyone involved shares the same vision despite different perspectives and agendas. Easier said than done, I appreciate, but—in our experience—an essential task for those looking to grow a successful and profitable business.

Business Coaching in Bristol and Bath

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