planning

Outsourcing, a good idea?

Outsourcing can be a great way to grow your business or it could be a way to destroy your business.  Selecting the right people or company to outsource is important. You can take more work on by using contractors or temp staff, or offer more services by working with other companies. This can increase your business and is good for the people or businesses that you outsource to.

Sprats and Prats!

I thought this Blog posting I would share some of the frustrations that we all must feel when running and Building a Business, the problem of the Sprats and Prats!

What do I mean by Sprats and Prats? Well, especially if you are growing a new business, or a new area of your business, often at the beginning and the early stages you get lots of people who …well waste your time.

Either they are looking for something for nothing, or if you can get any money out of them, its like catching sprats when fishing, small, minuscule and below your true value leading you to think was it really worth it?

Do You Want to Build Your Business?

This may seem a strange question to pose on this site, especially when most of the blogs posted are on topics which will help you to Build your Business.

However, I have come across hundreds of business in the past 12 months and I have to say that I question around 75% of them in relation to this question, because I see little evidence that they want to grow and build their Business!

It may seem a strange statement to make, but honestly, I have come across more “social” businesses in the last twelve months than I have actual trading functioning businesses, especially in the networking circuit.

What I mean by a “social” business, is one where the owner is aspiring to run a business, but not needing to make it pay as their partner is out working and paying all the bills. 

Therefore they are using the “business’ as a social gathering tool and going round networking meetings making contacts. or rather harvesting business cards to populate their e-mail lists, but really NOT running a business.

In these circumstances I question if they want to grow their business at all – and I am not alone in this view, just ask the networking event organisers!

But then the other businesses which I have to question their intention and will to grow, are usually established businesses.

Most are in the service sectors and have been around for years.

They have enjoyed the monopoly of their service, and seen many come and go in terms of competition, but they tick over, they don’t really grow.

Is that because they don’t have the ingredients to grow? Probably not and let me give you an example:

I had to take my car to the garage to get the back brakes replaced. I rang up the garage and the first piece of information they asked me for was my vehicle registration. This allowed them to bring up all my details and history on their database.

I took my car in at the booked in time and left them to run up a bill for me! When I came to collect the car and pay the bill I asked when my MOT was due as I was sure it was around this time.

The man tapped into the database and informed me it was due in two weeks according to their records. I said to him, if I had known that sooner I could have got the MOT done at the same time as the work on my brakes.

Now this doesn’t seem like a big deal and it was only £45 for the MOT, but the principle here is that this garage lost out on £45 of business where it could and should have cross sold me the MOT as well as the brakes!

What should have happened was that the garage should have an adopted mailing policy where they inform customers, via the information on the database, at least 6 weeks before an MOT is due to remind them and to get the booking / business.

If they didnt do that the least they should have done was have the MOT flagged on the system that when they accessed the database to book me in for the brakes, they should have said at the time on the phone, “would you like us to do the MOT at the same time” and they would have had an additional £45!

the reason they did not cross sell or up-sell to me was NOT because they didn’t have the tools – all the information was on the database. it was because they had no systems or processes in place to utilise the information to look for additional work / sales and therefore they didnt get the additional business.

But more of a worry is the fact that the owner of the business has not made the time, or had the inclination to put these things in place, and I question how much he wants to grow and Build his Business. Perhaps he doesn’t want to, or he’s too busy to look at this.

It is probably the classic business mistake of working too much IN the business rather than ON the business development at play here. The owner is in overalls with the other mechanics fixing the cars at this garage! So who’s driving his business forward???

Not every Business wants to Grow! Every Business has the potential to grow and be built, but lack of knowledge, understanding and most of all vision and desire to grow is what stops most businesses achieving their potential.

Perhaps these ramblings will help you to look at where you are with your business, do you actually WANT to Build your Business? Are you making the TIME to Build your Business and get in place the systems and processes to allow you to grow?

Are you really ready and willing?

Today I want to share a few thoughts with you that are to do with business although not necessarily the normal networking tips that I share.

I am undergoing a lot of strategic planning around my own business identity and direction and you will see a lot of the results of this over the coming months. As part of this I have decided to undertake the Economic Gardening Programme and it has started this week. Economic Gardening is a local council run business coaching and training programme – and it is going to give me an excellent space and support to look at my own business when I spend so much time looking at other people’s businesses.

As we started the programme, one of the lead trainers let us know that the people who get the best results are those people that are both Hungry and Humble enough to learn and then to implement.

Time for Business Development?

A freind of mine was telling me recently that she had a business meeting where she ws told that the only reason she had time for Social Media was that she didn’t have children.

I was told recently that someone was surprised that I got any work done as I spent so much time networking.

I was thinking about how interesting it is the judgments that people make around how other people run their lives…

Networking is one of the main ways I get more leads, more clients and more referrals – so I choose to do a lot of it.

For other people, their business is built on social media so they choose to spend time there.

Other people choose to spend time with family or friends.

Others choose to spend 80 hours a week working in their business.

There is no judgment here, that is just how it is. And each of us has a choice as to where we spend the 24 hours in our day.

Time Management And Goal Setting

Time Management And Goal Setting From the beginning mankind has endeavoured to make better use of time as evidenced by the recording and tracking of time.

Beginning with the sundial to the modern calendar, the need to manage time has been a matter of great concern, in the personal as well as the professional arenas of life, for thousands of years.

Time management today integrates diverse methods of recording time, helping to identify obstacles to the efficient use of time.

Constructive use in making long and short term goals is the best and easiest way to manage time.

There are numerous methods that can be used to help organise and prioritise the goals to be achieved. The major element in the overall effective use of time is incorporating essentials of the goal setting process.

By setting goals and implementing them, in your professional and personal life, you can effectively manage your time and, as a result, become more productive.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen!

One of the 4Networking Directors, Tim Johnson, caused a little bit of an outcry not that long ago when he announced to members that one man bands do not work. Now I can understand why his members were initially upset, after all most networking groups are built upon one man bands. Yet what Tim actually meant was that most one man bands will always, at best, struggle. However, if business owners are open minded and look at collaborating, then their potential for success and longevity massively increases.

With Banks not lending what alternative sources of funding are there?

This is the question that many SME’s are asking in ever increasing numbers. If the Banks will not lend to them who will? The answer is that there are many alternative sources of funding that many people are totally unaware of. There are even some products from main stream lenders that seem to be forgotten. Here are just a few examples, but remember these are ‘alternative’ sources and as such are more expensive than High Street lenders.

Launching a second business: Lessons from the first

I’m about to launch a new business, my second one. Thinking back to when I started my first business, there are definitely some things I’ll do differently. With the benefit of some experience behind me – yes sometimes it was painful to learn – I’ll be able to use it to my advantage.

Don’t be afraid to ask

A while ago I was in Malta and it happened to be the weekend of the Malta Powerboat Grand Prix.

All very loud and exciting.

My husband is a brilliant photographer and is always keen to take pics of anything and everything. It was certainly a wonderful opportunity for some incredible images, especially if he could get a Press Pass to get in the pits.

That got me thinking – how could I get him in there? Who might be able to get him a Pass? Boat Magazines! They could potentially get coverage and images that they wouldn’t have been able to get and for free! I had a plan.

Why do so many British Companies ignore R & D Tax Credits?

The Government wants to give money back to British Companies that undertake research and development. Unfortunately many Managing Directors and Finance Directors and even their Accountants concentrate on the word ‘research’ and not on the word ‘development’ and so believe that this means that they will not qualify. In many cases this will not be true and so they are missing out on this very useful source of funding. If you are developing a new product or service, or making improvements to existing products and services you may very likely be eligible. Even software companies have been successful.

The scheme is designed to encourage and reward innovation. It allows innovative companies to either recover Corporation Tax paid and or receive a rebate of the NIC/PAYE generated by the business. Most first time claimants are able to also submit a claim for the last two completed year ends.
The average claim in the first year is £40k

Are you a busy fool?

Do you run around here there and everywhere, mobile phone in one hand, documents in the other? Do you hear yourself telling everyone you are ‘too busy’ to do something or that you ‘haven’t got enough hours in the day’? Are you working from morning til night, and even on weekends?

If this all sounds like you, I don’t think you are alone. I’m not sure if its down to the economy and people being desperate to survive, or if it is a competitive thing that has got out of control, but more and more I see people just like this, people who leave you feeling exhausted after just a few minutes in conversation with them.

If this is you, do you really feel, at the end of your 16 hour day, that you are achieving? My view is that people like this are busy fools, people who convince themselves they are really busy but in actual fact are just avoiding making time for the things they really should be doing.

I have known people who spend the week plodding along in the office, making regular cuppa’s, going for a stroll and then they moan that they have to work all weekend. It’s like a form of self flagellation. Instead of knuckling down and methodically working through their ‘to do’ list, they prefer to work all hours so that they can tell people how busy they are.

But surely it has the opposite effect? People wont think ‘wow you’re busy’ but are far more likely to think, ‘you haven’t got time for me’. In a business sense this can be very damaging as potential clients may perceive you are at capacity and then decide to go elsewhere.

At times we can all be busy fools, I know I have run around like a headless chicken convincing myself that I didn’t have time to stop and think about what I really needed to do next, it becomes a hamster wheel that is very difficult to get off. The most important thing is recognising this and addressing it before it damages your business and maybe even your personal life.

So how can you stop being a busy fool and become more productive? Here are a few ideas:

Automating Twitter: Beware of the Dangers

Being a bit of a geek, I thought it would be great to use technology to help generate tweets to my followers. So, having checked out the likes of SocialOomph and Futuretweets – I thought great, this is right up my street to manage a 3 month campaign to automate various tweets on articles, case studies, newsletters, blogs and various other business related links. (Hmm – note to self, it’s sounding ‘spammy’ as I’m writing this).

10 things I have learned about Twitter

It’s been an interesting journey over the past year for me in respect of Twitter so I thought I would share with you 10 things I have learned about Twitter.

It would be great to hear what you have learned.

One

You can make friends on Twitter with people from all over the world, and when you actually meet them it often feels like you have known them for years.  Because people share the personal insights as well as the business you can really paint a picture of them in your head.  It’s not all about business, that’s why they call it social media!

Two

You no longer need to worry about watching the reality TV shows as there is such an excellent source of information on Twitter each evening you can be sure you will never miss out on the what is happening.

Three

You should be wary of tweeting when under the influence as others on Twitter will be stone cold sober. (Please note this is not from personal inebriated experience but from being on the other side of the fence) and your followers will see a side of you they didn’t know existed.

Four

Twitter is an excellent alternative to locating suppliers or services via Google.  It’s all well and good using an internet directory but how good are the results without a personal recommendation.  One Tweet asking for recommendations and you will have saved yourself hours of work and have built up a shortlist.

Five

You can win stuff on Twitter, quite often all that is required is a simple re-tweet of a tweet and you can win some pretty cool prizes such as tickets to events, chocolate, hampers and much much more, although I have yet to win that coveted iPad.

Six

Twitter is not the place to air your personal grievances, that is still best done in private, however, a carefully worded tweet can encourage a supplier or retailer to respond to a concern that you have, and by carefully worded I do not mean offensive.  I have heard of some really positive responses to tweeted concerns, but then again I have also heard that the same tweets can fall on deaf ears with some companies.

Seven

Twitter is an educational resource! Who would have thought I could have learned so much from 140 characters.  Sometimes you can learn purely from those 140 characters but more often you learn from the blog or article that is linked to from the tweet.  There are some fantastic minds on Twitter, not just business minds, who truly embrace what Twitter is about, and are sharing knowledge and experience on a regular basis.

LinkedIn : Connections – who should I connect to?

This post is by Philippa Bowen

 

 

As I work with clients on their social media strategies I often get asked about how to grow their connections on LinkedIn. And who should they connect o? Accept invitations from?

 

Well LinkedIn is very specific in its terms and conditions about why it exists and who you should connect to:

A. Purpose.