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Is a LinkedIn endorsement as valuable as a recommendation?

LinkedIn has recently introduced the endorsement feature making it very easy for your connections to endorse you for the skills you have in your profile, which raises the issue of having a great profile and making sure your skills are complete and prioritised but we’ll talk about that in another post.

Now I use LinkedIn to source leads for my businesses, but it is also one of my major sources of good suppliers for me. And I use it to find out more about he businesses I work with before a project starts.  So I’m a little sceptical about the benefit of these endorsements on your profile.

I am a huge fan of good recommendations. Not the ones that say “I met Philippa at a meeting and she was lovely” – which are great for the ego, but they don’t really help me when I want to find a new service provider, or to learn about the people I work with. 

Business Head vs Human Heart

Business is all about figures and is widely acclaimed as the only language of business.  This is why Richard Branson can run an airline, a makeup company, a railway, a media company, Virgin Comics, a formula 1 racing team and the list goes on.  However there is always a human element. I’m not just talking the people involved but the heart of the business owner. If you are in business for yourself it’s because you are passionate about something.  Whether this is plastering, cabling, security, electrics or social media you started because you love it.  This is when the cold hard world of business and your heart start to do battle and sometimes in business this can be quiet often.  However, in life in general you can allow your heart to win more than not, but in business it has to be the head that triumphs more often.

Revitalise your mojo!

Reached a dead end with your business plan? Can’t concentrate? Work all a bit too much aggro? The dream of running your own company turning into a nightmare?

You’ve lost your mojo; you’re in a bit of a internal-focus slump and, you’ll be glad to know, there’s a very simple way out of it.

That demotivated, I-can’t-get-anything-right-today feeling can be quickly and effectively dispersed by changing your focus from inward to outward.

Instead of thinking about what you and your business can or can’t do, take a time out and concentrate instead on what someone else is doing or has done. In business, it’s always useful to know what your competitors are up to so spend some time finding out what’s going on in the wider world. In doing so, you turn your attention and focus outward and as a result you’ll experience a gush of positive energy.

Only you will know how much time you’ll need to do this – just be prepared to allow yourself as long as necessary to turn your attention fully to something or someone (or some business) other than you or yours. You may need to spend ten minutes, an hour, half a day…however long it takes, you’ll find this is time well spent.

How to combat the “this is not our way” mentality

How to combat the “this is not our way” mentality that can affect the success of a Six Sigma Programme designed to resolve compelling business needs.

 

This is a guest post by The Process Excellence Academy

 

Some things to think about before setting up a new business

 

Here are some of the things I tell people who come to me and say they have an idea for a new business or are just setting up in business for themselves for the first time.

 

  1. Talk to an accountant/ business advisor and get some advice about your business idea. Is it realistic? Is it viable? Don’t just ask family and friends.
  2. decide what form you want the business to take ltd/ llp/ soletrader

Pass it on economy – are you listening?

 This post is by Bernie  Mitchell

This is almost too obvious to write, “word of mouth is just the best thing you can have.” All the words that go with it like buzz, vibe, pass it on are groovy – ok maybe not viral.

I was at a networking lunch and we were saying what we did and someone jumps in with – “I am Penny and the type of referral I am looking for today is…”

Now was this a misunderstanding? Does she operate in a world where she sits down with people she has never met and something other than lunch arrives at the table?

It occurred to me that the “People to People” economy is a very technical business to be in because you have to plug something in and I don’t just mean electrical power.

I mean REALLY technical as in emotional which is even more complicated. Oscar Wilde famously said that the “only thing worse than being talked about was not being talked about.” Because in the “People to People” economy you need to get people talking about you and that does not happen overnight. Amber Naslund explains this in her blog about building your network before you need them here.

 

I know that people do business with people they know like and trust; previously this applied to B2B, these days both corporate and small companies are in the people to people business.

 

“If you get quiet for long enough, if you really listen, then and only then will they tell you the secret. Knowing the secret means you get to be here five years from now.”

 

Word of mouth is in just about everything we read, write and speak. In the super market or bar a buying decision will be triggered by people talking and an emotional connection.

That gap between stimulus and response happens when we feel something, in this way emotion is our social currency, and passion drives us to pass it on. Because people will naturally pass on passion word of mouth is the most amazing positive influence. Often sales and marketing is misunderstood as a “convincing business” no one likes to be sold or to have someone convince them to do something, whether that is buy a beer, choose a school for their child or buy a new laptop.

 

Your Personal Brand

Whether it’s a life long ambition or where the pathway of fate has led you, deciding to become self employed is extremely daunting. OK, we all know that losing a regular income is possibly the most frightening part of it, and probably what separates the risk takers from the risk adverse, but deciding to become self employed has many more implications, for example it may challenge how you perceive and present yourself.

If you have long worked in a corporate environment, you will quickly realise that the same rules no longer apply. If you market yourself and your business at a local networking group using corporate jargon such as ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ or ‘hitting the ground running’ you will immediate lack authenticity and personality, making people immediately opt out of buying from you.

How to create SUSTAINABLE CHANGE in your future (Part 2 of 2)

“How can you say that the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon?”

 

  This post is by Brian Light                                                            

Your KNOW HOW “know how to get to where you want to go”
Getting this step right means making ‘real decisions’ and deciding what it is you’re going to achieve and then, and only then, close off all other possibilities. 

 

How much do you really want to get there?

  • It doesn’t matter what your goals, dreams or outcomes are . . . if you do nothing about them
  • It doesn’t matter how much you talk about changing you company . . . if all you do is talk
  • It doesn’t matter what changes you want in your life . . . if all you do is delay and delay

 

So it’s time for you to ask yourself, privately and honestly and with absolute certainty:

  • What dreams, what hopes or what ambitions
  • What team openness, what project success or what professional fulfilment
  • What new confidence, what relationships or what decisions

 

How much do you really want it will decide whether you do anything about it or not, and when?  If you don’t want it then do nothing about it, that’s fine, because it’s your decision.

 

Your KNOW HOW “your skills gap”
There are two areas that your professional COACH will help and support you: 

  • Your Skills Gap
  • Your Company’s Skills Gap

 

Your Skills Gap
One-to-One Management Coaching has, over the years and using coaching techniques, helped and supported numerous Business Owners, Directors and Managers who:

  • have challenges with getting the best from their people
  • recognise the need to improve business performance
  • have a problem with getting steady and consistent growth from their company
  • feel that they could be making a more leadership contribution

 

Each coaching session lasts three hours and whilst there is a clearly defined outcome(s) for the programme each session will take into account the clients specific requirements or difficulties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your DO IT “just do it”
The final step in the formula is the simplest piece of common sense.

 

  • Implementing your dreams is the most difficult thing to complete successfully and requires many important values.
  • The one value that is amongst the most important is persistence’

 

Thought:  “individuals who succeed at anything, be it business or relationships always show persistence that wipes failure off their radar.”

 

Therefore, whenever you do anything ask yourself: “does it help me, my team, my company?”

If it helps, do more of the same; if it doesn’t, do something else.

 

10 top tips to make life easier when you’re setting up a new business

Running a small business, especially in the early days can be a very lonely place to be so here’s ten top tips to make life easier-

1) Join a networking organisation in your area. Develop a core group of other people you can trust and use each other as mentors – it works.

2) Invest in Customer Information Management software – it will save you weeks of time and make your operation run smoothly.

3) Take nothing for granted with your IT. Check your spam and junk files regularly – I know of at least one company that lost potential orders by not doing so.

4) PR is better than advertising. Develop links with one or two key journalists in your field and talk to them about what’s happening at your business – too many people hide their successes.

5) Organic growth is good, but proactive prospecting is better. Don’t rely on people coming to you. Decide who you want as customers and make contact with them.

6) Be persistent. 80% of people stop making new customer calls after the fourth/fifth attempt. 80% of successful new sales calls are made at the sixth/seventh attempt; do the maths!

7) Value your staff as much as your customers. Without either you will not be in business for long

Want to write better proposals? Read more newspapers!

Making it easier for proposal evaluators to say yes to yours means making yours easy to read and easy to follow.

It means grabbing their attention and keeping it.  It means understanding how people like to read and take in information.  And it means writing in a way that engages and holds your reader’s interest.  With proposals, just as with newspapers or magazines, your readers are just like you – and the more you read of publications that are designed specifically to sell themselves to you, the more you can improve your own proposal writing by recognising and adopting similar attraction and retention techniques.

So to see expert examples of this on a daily basis, just read more newspapers!  No matter if it’s a broadsheet or a tabloid, read, learn and admire how editors and compositors present information to hook you in and keep you engaged.  And never underestimate reader (customer) loyalty: any newsagent will tell you how rarely people change their choice of daily paper……..

So – let’s examine how those papers do it.  Look at the front page.  Nothing is left to chance.  All aspects of positioning and layout are designed with you, the reader, in mind.  What catches your eye?  Headlines!  Sub-headings!  A photo here!  A quote over there!  An attractive page, strong headlines to draw you in and now you want to know more.  Now check your proposal cover – how does it compare?

Back to the newspaper….Knowing what their readers want, every article should give you the who/what/where/when/why in those first essential paragraphs, so that if those first parts are all you have the time OR INCLINATION to read (you are the decision-maker here), you’ve got the drift (it’s called the Management Summary!).  Then you might read on for more detail – or not.  If you do, look at how the detail expands towards the end.  Their sub-editors cut from the bottom up so all good journalists learn to put the key facts and revelations near the top, but give enough background detail that can fill a page if needed.

Knowing how well you as a reader respond to the key summary info being near the top, giving you the gist of the story, do you provide that courtesy to your proposal evaluators and put summary paragraphs at the top of other sections such as the Solution Overview, capturing the key elements?  If not, why not?

Back to the newspaper…. Open the paper out.  Instinctively we look at the right-hand page first.  It’s why journalists want their stories there and why columnists want their columns there.  It’s why advertising costs more there!  Stories on the left-hand page need to work harder to stand out.  Do your proposals maximise the “right-hand page” focus?

7 things you shouldn’t do with a business card and 3 you should…… in my opinion!

 

Don’t

  1. Use it as an invitation to send hundreds of sales emails, or even worse (and my personal cardinal sin) add someone to a newsletter email list. Treat people’s details with respect. If you hate receiving spam, don’t become a spammer yourself!
  2. Keep them in bundles, wrapped in elastic bands, waiting for work to come to you. There is a wealth of information in those bundles and you’re missing out by just leaving them languishing in the corner
  3. Collect as many as you can at a networking event. In this case it really is quality over quantity. I’d rather collect one card from someone I want to talk to again then collect 20 from people I didn’t get to know. And of course don’t be the person that rushes round the room throwing your card at everyone in the room, whether you’ve spoken to them or not
  4. Leave them in a library book when you return it. This is someone’s personal data you have taken. They didn’t have to give it to you. You need to respect it and not use it as a bookmark. If you want to do that; use your own! So maybe that s an extreme case , but it’s a serious issue. People don’t have to give you their card; so look after it and use the information wisely.
  5. Make it such an odd shape or size that it doesn’t fit in a card holder. While I love cards that are unique, or different,if you want me to be able to access your details, or more importantly be able to pass your details on to others, then make it easy for me.

Fancy a Holiday?

 

Don’t we all! As soon as someone starts talking about holidays it is hard not to think about the last time we had chance to relax and unwind. As the memory floods our brain we go a bit gooey eyed and smile.

 

Now that I have planted that seed in your head there is no way I am going to get you to read on any further until you have had a chance to relive that last holiday but that is OK, I can wait………

 

You back? OK then, I have a question for you. Can you remember the last day of work before you went on that holiday? You may not remember the details but I bet you can remember cramming all the ‘must do’s’ on your todo list into those last few hours before you switched over into ‘Holiday Mode.’

 

That is the bit that I want you to think about. You had a deadline and no way of moving it so you were forced to pick out the most important jobs on your list and make sure that they were done whilst all the things that could wait until you got home were left. 

 

I bet you hardly even thought about it. I bet you didn’t spend ages pondering whether something should go on the ‘this can’t wait 2 week’s’ list or the ‘I can do that when I get home’ list. You knew instinctively where everything should go.

 

You tricked yourself into managing your time in the most effective way possible and IT WORKED! You got everything done didn’t you. You may even have had time to spare. 

10 top tips for new blog ideas…

 

 

As its Easter and a Bank Holiday we’re not posting a blog from one of our regular contributors but thought we’d post one from us instead.

The most frequent question we get asked as the admin of this site is “what would you like me to write about?” so we’ve written this post about where we get the inspiration for our posts from, or which topics make us read a blog post.

Who is your ideal client?

 this post is by Ruth Thirtle

Often when networking, I ask people to tell me who their ideal client is. I am amazed by how many people have no idea or really don’t know how to answer the question. So for this week’s blog I have included a subject I talk about in one of my Business Booster videos. To gain access to the entire FREE video series, go to www.business-booster.co and fill in the form.

Knowing who your ideal customer is will save you time, money and effort as you will be able to focus your efforts to attracting them. When you try to be all things to all people, you will end up being nothing to anyone. On the other hand, when you know your ideal customer you will be able to get totally focussed on your sales and marketing efforts – and you will therefore get better results. Knowing your ideal customer and being specific in talking about what you do will make you more memorable, which in turn makes it easier for people to refer business to you as they know exactly what you are looking for.

When you know who your ideal customers are you will be able to:

  • Understand their problems and challenges and therefore more clearly define how you can help them
  • More easily undertake market research as to what your customers are looking for
  • Build trust and rapport as you truly understand their wants and needs
  • Take a more targeted approach with your marketing and produce more exact results
  • Develop a memorable and engaging business introduction that will have people talking about you
  • Build word of mouth within your target market as they will tend to associate with one another
  • Be more comfortable and confident talking about what you do

 

The 10 Questions to Help Reveal Your Ideal Client

How good is your sales forecast?

How good is your sales forecast; that is the question?

In fact, do you even have one!

 

The sales forecast is one of the most crucial elements of your business plan. Without an accurate forecast of your businesses potential income, you will be unable to set targets or have knowledge of your profit potential.

That is what we are in business for, to make a profit.

 

For many years whilst working in industry, the quarterly or annual sales forecast period was dreaded – ‘stop your sales activities and submit your sales forecast’ edict, was sent out.

At that time it was a ‘had to do’ activity and numbers were duly entered on the appropriate forms and submitted.

As I ascended the sales ladder to product & then sales manager I came to appreciate the purpose of this exercise.

Today running my own small business, I appreciate how vital it can be.

 

I hear some people saying: Well what use is it? : It’s just to keep the bank manager happy!

 

A well thought out and constructed sales forecast will reap benefits throughout the year. Without it your business plan will be no more than a collection of financial tables.