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Development

Objectively innovate empowered manufactured products whereas parallel platforms.

Marketing & Brand Development – I have no time!

Marketing & Brand Development – I have no time!

Introduction

The danger we all face when starting, or developing our businesses is that of being pulled further and further into the business, leaving us little or no time to actually work on the business, which in terms of development is vitally important to create sustainable success in your business.

The problem is you need to wear three different hats and the tasks that go with each that are not always the ones that you would naturally want to undertake! Running a business is all about balance and planning. When it comes to finding the time to develop your brand and undertake some effective marketing, we often hear the statement that there is simply not enough time.  These two vital elements are essential and you can’t truly get the job done without them. But what about the feeling that you are constantly running out of time?

The reality

Most people start their businesses with a particular skill, one they have significant expertise in. Often they start these businesses so they can continue with that skill but for their own business rather for the benefit of somebody else. There is nothing wrong with that, I have done exactly the same thing and also helped many others do the same many times. Here’s the issue we all face, being the technical expert is not going to be enough to make your business fly. You’re also going to have to get in touch with your inner manager and inner entrepreneur too. If you don’t think you have one, we can help with that also, because you do, we just need to help you tease them out from under the shadows of your technician. 

It may not always be true but often when you see people who say they do not have enough time to work on things like marketing and branding, is simply the case because they increasingly spend their time as the technician working in their business and no time working on it. This is a problem because in most cases what they really want is their own business and yet what they are building through their actions is a job for themselves nothing more and nothing less. 

The reality is they are doing a full days work and then have to try and find some additional  time to do all the other things you need to do when running a business and it gets on top of them, they run out of time, create pressure for themselves and even their families and often can even fall out of love with their own business! 

I would argue that marketing and brand development are two of the most important elements of business success and therefore you should always find time for these two activities. The good news is, it’s not as difficult as it may first appear. The key is of course to have a plan that will work for you and your business specifically. A plan that will help you break the habit, one step at a time.

The Solution

So now that you are in a position where you want to do more brand and marketing development all we need to do is show you a way to get out of your current routine and find some new habits that will work for you: 

First and foremost I would really like you to recognise that not doing these vital activities was not and is not a viable option unless of course you only want a job!  Secondly, I would put some time aside, maybe after hours or at the weekend to put together a plan. Not just any plan but a business plan, that allows you to focus on time, time that can be allocated to remaining as the technical but also finding time for management and innovation. All three of these are major functions required for longevity and success. 

By planning you can also discover at what point at what point you reach saturation and at what point you need to expand or outsource. The key to planning like this is you’re building into your plan the capability to remove yourself from the constant need to work in and spend more time working on. You should also plan what the cost of that expansion is and ensure the pricing strategy is right for that level of expansion that is needed to allow you to build a business that will work for you rather than you working for the business.

This may appear to be removed from the original question of how can I find more time to develop my marketing and brand but if you think about it this is exactly about that subject. You see by spending less time as a technician and more time as the business manager and entrepreneur you will by default find yourself with time to spend on brand development through your marketing. The key to this is to have a really smart marketing strategy and we can talk about that too in a future conversation. Initially, marketing and brand development do not have to mean great chunks of time or money and we would like to show you how.

Thoughts from our very own Business Funding Expert

Thoughts from our very own Business Funding Expert

The 15-minute catch up with Chris Batten at the 4Networking meeting this week got me thinking about business plans and how each business should really prepare one as it sets out the journey your business will travel.

The analogy is that you wouldn’t endeavour a family holiday trip by just turning up at an airport with your passport and a credit card!

Again, would you just go to a garage and say “hi, I need a car – anyone will do”!  And you end up with a Mazda MX5 for a family of 5!!

So why would you just start a business without having a plan!

There are many different business plans you can plagiarise from the internet and whilst many of them may take you on a mammoth journey, that may be fine for larger organisations but for many small businesses that’s too difficult to produce and the likelihood is that you will get bored and the plan will sit in the cupboard until someone asks for it!

As a qualified bank manager, I always ask clients for their business plans.  Not because it is an integral part of the lending, but it can help with the lending process if one is produced.

Now the tricky part – when was the last time you looked at it!

Quite often I am given a plan that is quite old and doesn’t reflect what the business looks like today – new products and services, figures are in old pounds, shillings & pence!

Ideally, you should be reviewing your plan on a regular basis – it will be different for everyone but none the less it should be a living document!

If you have a business plan and it works for you great!  

But if not, then may I suggest you start by giving some thoughts to the following headings!


  • Summary

A short description of what your business does and what product or services you offer.


  • Background

This part tells the reader how the business came into being; perhaps looking at the barriers to entry such as qualifications, the investment needed to start up and the experience your business has gained over time.


  • Products / Services

You should look at the key product or services that you offer; what makes them unique; who your clients are or what is your target market.  What new products are being worked on / services offered?  Where industry standards are and what does the future look like.  What does the marketing plan look like?  Are there industry-specific exhibitions/conferences that should be attended?


  • Directors / Management Structure

Identify key members of staff and what they do.  What training plans are in place for your staff.  Or if it’s only you in the business what further development do you need to keep your business current.  There isn’t a great demand for VHS film rentals!


  • Key Risks

The sole trader needs to be aware that if he falls ill or is unable to work – how are the bills to be paid.  You take out car insurance & house insurance, but you forget that your business also needs to be insured!  Do you have one customer that accounts for more than 60% of your income – the risk here is that someone may come along and offer the same service cheaper – no sentiment in business!  Do you pay well in your sector – staff don’t seem to be as loyal as they were back in the 1980’s!  IT failure – have you got a back up of all your data?


  • Competition

Could be viewed as a risk but I believe you need to know what your competitors are doing, believe in your own unique selling proposition is whether it be price, quality or ease of use!  Don’t be frightened to price your goods and services higher so long as there is a perceived benefit to the customer.  Do you think BMW care about the price of a Dacia?


  • Financials

You know what your costs are – look at your bank statement!  Some are fixed and some are not, so start a spreadsheet recording the amounts either monthly, quarterly and annually.  Do the same for the costs that are associated with your products/services that go up and down with how much you make/sell.

Once you have the costs nailed, you will then see what profit you need to make to cover the variable costs and part of the fixed costs.  If you operate in a seasonal trade, then it’s important that you make enough in the busy spell to cover overheads in the quiet period!

It is always worth looking at sales in the best possible outcome, the worst and what is likely.  That should focus your mind in that if budgets are not met then it’s a trigger for you to look at reducing costs or increasing prices.

Some may argue that the figures should feature near the top of the business plan, but I always believe that to get to the numbers you have to visit where you have been, know where you are going before you work out whether or not it’s worth doing!

Hope this helps!

Gordon Duffy FCIBS

Business Funding Expert Ltd

How to attract people to your business team

How to attract people to your business team

Introduction

There is so much more to this than you may first think. Bringing people into your business is not easy but many people in business tend to make it much more of a minefield than it needs to be. To answer the question of how to attract people to your business team there are a number of things that you need to do and they are:

  • Have a clear VMV for all to see
  • Spend time and effort creating the right reputation
  • Understand people and their traits 
  • Be selective
  • Test everything 

We have to make a few assumptions because we are not dealing with your specific needs and circumstances, probably the biggest assumption is we assume that you want to grow a good solid and loyal team and not just play the numbers game. The downside to this assumption is it will take you longer to find the right people. The upside is once to have them they will be loyal and help you to grow your business. 

The Foundation

As with many things in life and most things in business you’ll have a major advantage if you start off with a great foundation and in this case, the foundation is a tangible Vision, mission and values for all to see. Think about it this way, if you were not the sort of person that wanted to run their own business and instead you wanted to get a job, I am pretty sure you wouldn’t jump at the first offer you got if it didn’t fit your needs. 

A clear vision will show the person that you have ambitions for the future, a clear mission will show them that you have goals and that you know what you have to do and where you intend to go. Finally, your values will show them the personality of the business and the kind of person you are and the behaviours you expect. 

Next, you need to ensure that your values are not just a set of words but are actually actions that are taken, principles that you live by and boundaries in your business that you will not cross. It is the way you act and what you say and do that will determine what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It is what people say and really thinks that will determine how good your reputation becomes. Therefore it is vital that you have and communicate a clear vision and show visible direction for the future.

As we have already indicated your reputation, in essence, is going to be dictated by what people are saying about and thinking about you and your business, when you’re not in the room! So take a long hard look at yourself and ask the question, how does that make me look to the outside world? Think about how you conduct yourself when things are not working as well as they could, or when someone upsets you. What are you saying and posting on the social media platforms, as a business and as an individual? What does that say about you? Beware that candour is a very rare and valuable commodity and so you may not always get the right picture from those closest to you. 

When you have your Vision, Mission and Values right, when you have your reputation and behaviours right, you will start to attract the right kind of people into your business and life. 

Another great, but more advanced aid to attracting the right people into your business and your life is to understand individual traits when selecting those to work with or bring in to your inner circle. As a member of the Rainmakers Club, we make this easy by giving you access to significantly discounted profiling tools. User these in conjunction with the interview and other testing. The more you do the better your selection will be. 

Don’t settle for second best, always be selective and choose wisely, better to have one superstar than 10 mediocre people. They may bring business but mediocre people generate mediocre results and reputations, and you want more than that!

Conclusion

The better you are, the more value you bring the more attractive you make your proposition the more you’ll attract the right people. Remember the Rainmakers Club core values and try to adopt them if your aim is to be the best you can be, we call it working CLEAN where CLEAN stands for: Create – Listen – Educate – Attract – Nurture. This is a model for success.

Keep the cash-flow coming…

Keep the cash-flow coming…

Introduction

It can be very difficult as a small business owner to maintain all the balls in the air and keep the cash coming. Many small businesses find that the cash goes in peaks and troughs and that can usually be traced back to the process of spending time marketing, selling and networking which spends money – this will generate the trough, but these actions generate sales, the peaks and so you’ll expect to see a spurt of income. However, while you are generating that income there is little marketing, selling or networking going on as you are too busy working in the business delivering the service.

How can I improve things?

One question you may need to ask yourself is would you be better off using additional human resources to create a more consistent flow of sales into the business? There is a cost to this but there are always deals to be done and performance related rewards are one option. 

The other thing you can do is to test which marketing methods work best for you and then concentrate on them. I am guessing that the best results will probably come from those you are already connected to and so social media can be a good solution. You just need to manage this to that you can schedule posts. Set some diary time aside for Socia media each week, maybe an hour or so and write your posts then schedule them to drip feed during the week. This will save you time and you can be marketing while delivering the services too. 

You also need to know what your expenses are, have an intimate knowledge of these expenses, in this way you can avoid giving too much away. Have confidence in your product or service and make sure you have confirmed that the price is right. Pricing is not always about competing it is often about quality and value. Have a clear idea of how much margin you want to make from each sale and make sure you maintain that at all times. 

To increase sales revenues you may also want to consider bundling products and services together. Think about add-ons that you can offer post the original sale that will benefit the customer and inspire them to spend a little more. 

You will also want to try to encourage repeat business. It may be worth introducing some form of loyalty program or VIP offers. At the end of the day, the key is to understand what activities work and in what numbers they work and then devise a plan based on those numbers.

It’s all about the numbers

Know your KPI, these are so important. So, for example, I know for every ten people I talk to 2 will buy. I alas know that if I sell one unit I get £x. I know that my business needs £xxx and I want to take out of the business £xx. So I need to sell £xxxxxx. On that basis, I need to be talking to at least 30 people each week. I appreciate this is simplistic but often that is the best answer. So the best way to keep the cash flow coming is to:

  • Have a good Plan
  • Know your KPI
  • Understand what works and what does not 
  • Do more of what works 
  • Schedule Marketing 
  • Outsource tasks that cost you too much in real terms

GDPR – What’s it all about?

GDPR – What’s it all about?

What’s it all about?

There has been lots of talk about the new regulations that will come into effect in May 2018. The big question has to be who does it affect? Well if you’re a business and you use email marketing or send direct mail, or make sales calls, the law is changing what you can and cannot do. Things you do today may soon not be allowed anymore!

This all happens on the 25th of May 2018, which is really just around the corner in business terms. On that date, the General Data Protection Regulations come into force. The reason you’re hearing so much about it is that it is a big deal, particularly if you get it wrong. I am guessing that one of the big temptations is to leave this until nearer the time. For what its worth I feel that is a mistake and that there are some very simple steps you can take right now!

It is also important to point out that this new law is very detailed and quite complex and I am only just scratching the surface in this article. Its purpose is only to get you thinking in the right way and not a comprehensive guide or how to document, it is merely a few tips to help you start the process of compliance.

The key to all this is for you to understand what data you’re collecting, for example, if you’re using Google Analytics then under the new rules you will be considered to be storing data covered by the GDPR. In essence, the law applies to any data that can be traced back to an individual and people have the right to know what personal information you’re storing about them.

You must have a Privacy Policy!

If your site lacks a Privacy Policy then this should be one of the first things you put right, because you’re going to need one to comply with the new regulations. As a member of the Rainmakers Club, you’ll be able to find a number of members who can help you with this.

Let the People have their say

If you are sending someone email marketing before you can do it you need to have obtained their explicit permission to do so. You certainly can’t assume you have their permission. They must opt-in! We would suggest this is something you should start sorting out right now and not wait for the changes to come into effect.

Check your contact and registration forms, used for your websites and make sure they have an opt-in tick box. The key is it needs to be opt-in, not preset!

Time-sensitive opt-in

So it’s very clear people need to opt-in, but there is a little more than that to consider too. You are going to need to record when they gave their permission and you need to have a record of what it is they saw when they made the decision to opt-in. One of the easiest solutions perhaps is to have an email notification sent to you for each opt-in but then to fully comply you’ll need to ensure the email clearly states what the tick box said at the time of completion; retain and store securely those emails as part of your audit trail for compliance purposes.

What about other laws?

GDPR seems to be quite explicit in this regard, saying that if there’s another law that conflicts with it, then the other law has the priority. A good example that has been used in the publicity running up to the eventual implementation is that of email and telephone marketing covered by PECR, as this allows for what is called ‘soft opt-in.’ In effect, this means that if you have sold something or negotiated with a client you can send that person. marketing about the same kind of thing they were interested in.

However, it is also worth noting that PECR looks set to be replaced by a new stricter ePrivacy law currently being debated in parliament. At this time it is not clear if ‘soft opt-in’ will remain. With that in mind, you could argue it makes sense to work on explicit opt-in as a matter of standard procedure.

People have the right to say No!

People have the right to stop you sending them marketing. More than that, you must make it easy for them to opt-out of future marketing.

The simplest solution is to ensure all emails of this nature carry with them the ability to opt-out. We would suggest a simple link that allows them to click on opt-out. If you’re using printed mailers they need to clearly tell people how they can stop receiving more of the same.

Once a person has opted out you need to maintain a ‘do not contact list’ and maintain it. If you don’t do this you could be facing some very hefty fines.

What about TPS?

If you make sales call to someone who’s on the TPS list you will be breaking the law. A word of warning times have changed and the current organisation responsible for this, the ICO are much stricter than Ofcom who used to ensure compliance with this regulation. You don’t need explicit permission to make a sales call but you do need to check the TPS list before you make the call. Don’t be fooled into thinking this only applies to individuals at home. There is also the CTPS, the corporate version! Checking numbers is simply a case of going to the website http://www.tpsonline.org.uk

Secure your site

Have you got the little padlock symbol on your browser bar when you are on your website? This icon indicates to the rest of the world that your site has an SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer). If you’re storing any personal data on your website, you need to have an SSL. This will ensure that the data is encrypted. Last October Google took this to another level by labelling sites without SSL as non-secure.

This means that even if you’re only using a basic contact form on your site and you don’t have the SSL, you will be marked as insecure! This may well impact on how people feel about visiting your site and so SSL is worth investing in. We have a few good Rainmaker members who can help you with this.

The GDPR Mission

Its all about the protection of personal data and to prosecute organisations who misuse that personal data. As with many compliance-related missions, this will make life a little more difficult for the majority of good honest and decent organisations, who are just working hard to build their contact database and attract more business.

But just a few simple steps mentioned in this short blog can help you navigate through the main points of the new regulations:

1. Have an explicit opt-in for your email marketing (you can still take advantage of soft opt-in for as long as it lasts).

2. Check the telephone preference service list before you make that unsolicited sales call.

3. You don’t need explicit consent for traditional mailers in the form of letters, brochures or catalogues. This is providing that you make it clear how they can stop getting future mailings from you and that the content is relevant. Sending direct mail is ok as it is still seen as a legitimate action in the interests of your business development.

A bit more on direct mail

Direct mail seems to be experiencing a bit of a revival. Direct mail is less common and perhaps that’s why it tends to indicate better results than it has historically? The fact is that most of us are getting less traditional post than we used to and a knock-on effect is that we take a little more time with our traditional mail as a result. So at the very least, this may be worth revisiting, maybe!

If you would like a referral to one of the Rainmakers Club Partner Members who can help you with all things GDPR, marketing and web, you need only ask, use our contact form and ask for help, or use the mobile app, we are here to help you and your business!

The Business Alchemist Series

The Business Alchemist Series

I have worked hard all my life chasing greater success, like all rainmakers do, and there have been times where it felt like I was completely on my own, but there have also been times where I have felt the significant influence and support of those who have mattered the most to me in business and my personal life.

Some, closest to me, might venture to say that it is difficult to see the difference between my personal and business life! I guess that comes from my endless passion for business, and the people with the courage to go into business for themselves, not forgetting my true passion for the development of those brave souls working in and on the various businesses and projects.

Life, or at least mine, seems to be peppered with events and unforeseen circumstances that interfere with the perfectly formed plans that we all make. Those who are truly successful are often those who show the greatest flexibility. They also show the greatest emotional intelligence, and the greatest willingness to learn and share their knowledge, this, in turn, gives them all they need to be able to roll with the punches, change course and continue with the ultimate mission. Sharing knowledge also results in them developing themselves while helping others to develop too.

These are the general principles behind the Rainmakers Club. If you’re reading this you are either a member or thinking about joining us, either way, I hope you enjoy the new series of books we are about to launch, called Business Alchemist. This series of books come in ten parts and each one is also supported by workshops that will be released during 2018. The hope is you’ll learn something new, or remind yourself of lessons already learnt and perhaps forgotten. In the series of books we will educate and remind you and in so doing equip you to refine your skills and pursue the aim we all share, the production of exceptional and sustainable results while building businesses of true worth.

The Business Alchemist Series is dedicated to you my fellow Rainmakers. The first volume is dedicated to my brightest stars past and present, the people that have never doubted me and always been there to offer support when I needed it most, those who did not judge me. Its dedicated to you because you’re the people that have and do matter to me the most. So thank you Don, George, Lucy, Julie, Emma, Steve, Mike, Scott.

It is also paradoxically dedicated to all those who have been my naysayers and doubters, for it was you that inspired this book on how to behave in business, it was your actions and attitude that motivated me to design on paper the perfect way to act when working in or on a business!

My hope is many people get to read this, think about it deeply and then act. I wish you good  fortune on your own journey, and above all else, keep believing in you and never stop learning.

Chris Batten

Director Rainmakers Club

Why Stella won’t shut-up

Why Stella won’t shut-up

Stella is one of our early Partner Members and the first to write a guest blog  for The Rainmakers Club about her first public speaking steps. We welcome her input titled – 4-Sights & Zones…

Throughout our lives, opportunities present themselves to us every day. Good or bad, welcome or not, they are opportunities all the same. For many, an example of an unwelcome opportunity comes in the form of any kind of public speaking. This was very much the case for me as far back as my school days where I was bullied. This led to me becoming reserved and something of a wallflower and meant that I never looked to be the centre of attention at all. Naturally, as I grew up it affected my general confidence and I liked to stay in my comfort zone as much as possible.

During the course of my adult years, I found my confidence levels came and went. In August 2016 my confidence was at an all-time low for a variety of reasons. I had lost a sense of who I was and life seemed not worth living. I joined the business networking organisation, 4N. I embraced it fully and committed to being part of a team early on, networking two and three times a week. I heard about “4sighting” and learned this meant giving a talk in front of the members who attended the meeting. The topic could be about a personal experience, sharing a skill, life lessons… pretty much anything as long as it was not direct selling. I decided that if I was going to change my life and make things happen, then I needed to try new things and get out of my comfort zone. I just knew that this was going to help me to change my life for the better if I could somehow manage to do it.

I agonised over the subject and ultimately changed my mind on topic after a few months. The positive impact that 4N was having on my life soon saw me settling on a title: “Networking Through a Black Hole and Out the Other Side”. The subject was my personal journey through life’s ups and downs and how 4N had helped me to change my life for the better and find myself.

After a few failed attempts, I booked myself in to speak on 26 January 2017 at the Kings Lynn 4N meeting. I also set myself a personal goal of completing at least seven 4sights before the end of 2017. Then the agony began.

I wrote several pages of A4, practiced in front of a friend, cut it down to four cue cards and then practiced again in front of another friend before deciding it was ok to try out for real. I introduced a prop into my talk – a picture from a key part of my life. This gave me something to focus on and broke up a potential monologue (at least in my head that is how it sounded).

In the two weeks before my 4sight slot came round, I was quaking and panic attacks were not far from the surface. It was around then that I met Lusana Charles, The Brain Detox Specialist. I had several sessions with Lusana and focused my brain on how great I was going to be and how I was going to do a good talk.

Before I knew it, the day had arrived. I had a very tame audience of nine, I knew every single person there and they were all rooting for me. I could not have had it easier. Lusana even personally came along to the meeting, encouraging me all the while. Despite this I was still quaking. I remember a few visits to the loo and focussing on my breathing a lot (thanks Lusana!) The meeting progressed through the usual breakfast and 40 seconds round and finally it was my moment.

I vividly remember standing there with an encouraging audience and feeling very awkward and uncomfortable but somehow I began my story. Initially it was stilted and I was focused on my cue cards but suddenly I felt myself “click in” to my story, my memories and experiences were being shared with my audience. There was silence, then laughs, smiles, applause and I felt a big sense of relief when it was over.

I was then booked in to speak on 7 February 2017 at the brand new 4N Fakenham group and that day came round all too quickly. Again there were lots of nerves and feelings of panic. I was shaking, drawing breath and back and forth to the loo but this time, it was somehow easier than the first. I recall the audience was around 24 this time. Some I knew but there were many I had not seen before among them. Our Regional Leader, Craig Davies was there so it was daunting.

When I finished my talk, I truly felt a sense of achievement when Maureen Prior (who had been at the Kings Lynn 4sight) announced to the room that I had come a long way from when she had first met me in August 2016. Only those who had been there at Kings Lynn could appreciate what she meant. I was embarrassed but pleased all at the same time. In less than two weeks I had done two talks and the second was much better. My confidence was rising and I began committing to more 4sight dates and by April I had booked a 4sight tour of the Midlands for October.

On 18 May 2017, I was speaking at Wymondham – the very week it became the biggest 4N breakfast meeting in the UK. Then came Dereham and I breezed it. Hot on Dereham’s heels was Ely – a short-notice slot appeared and I had never been there before. Again, I breezed it in front of a large audience.

I was on a roll and by September I was 4sighting at Great Yarmouth. For the previous few 4sight slots, I had been contemplating losing my cue cards but had not been brave enough to actually leave them at home. On the morning in question, I left the meeting room at one point, leaving my cards out on the table and, Group Leader, Chris Batten decided to play a prank on me and quietly hid the cards. Strangely enough, I had a sixth sense he would do this for some uncanny reason and thought to myself “What would I do if he did take my cards?” The answer was: “No problem – you can do it.”

I returned to the room, awaited my introduction and ignored the fact that my cards were missing. I confidently took the floor at which point Chris offered my cards to me. But I declined them and carried on regardless to the bitter end. I was on a high. I had cracked this public speaking lark!

Then in early October I set off to the Midlands for my first ever speaking tour. All was great UNTIL I came to speak at Cannock Evening, my first date of a 3-date tour. It should have been a doddle – Great Yarmouth was great and NO cue cards only two weeks previously. My audience was not as large as Wymondham or Ely.

However, for some reason I felt like I was right back there at Kings Lynn on day one. I was jittery, ill at ease and it felt like an ordeal and I certainly was not letting go of my cue cards. No Sir! I badly needed my crutch! Somehow I got through it and I arrived at Solihull the next morning ready for my second speaking slot of the tour. Once more I felt ill at ease but it felt better than Cannock had done. I puzzled over these two experiences and reflected on the glories of Wymondham and Ely and my journey to date but came to no conclusions.

Then I moved on to attend Leamington Bloody Spa (yes that is what they call it in 4N) as a passporting member only at the stunningly beautiful Binswood Hall. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I met a number of 4N friends and other familiar faces at the meeting including Craig Petty, the Group Leader at Cannock Evening and asked him for his observations about my presentation. His comments were encouraging, constructive and insightful – “… tremendous… you had them… make it more of a rollercoaster.”  I filed these words away alongside the closing words of the LBS 4sighter that evening, Paula Cohen: “…GET IN THE ZONE…” That was the important lesson! I was out of my natural habitat, my usual comfort zone on this tour and I had omitted to remind myself of the techniques I learned from Lusana to “get in the zone”. From these two encounters I realised why my Cannock Evening 4sight felt uncomfortable – because of nerves I was rushing and perhaps reading off the cue card list too much. Thus the rollercoaster aspect was more of a flatline of disaster or doom and gloom. More importantly, I also realised that I should prepare myself by:

  1. not taking my new found confidence for granted.
  2. getting in the zone and focussing on my message ahead of speaking.

I returned to my home territory following my Midlands tour and my tenth 4sight was already on the horizon at Newmarket. My 4sight tour nerves had rattled me somewhat and I found Newmarket a little scary to say the least (not helped by being very tired at the early start) but I am glad I did it fairly soon after my tour as it kept the momentum going.

Having said all that, am I glad I came out of my comfort zone to tell my truth? Oh boy am I! My confidence is far higher than it has been for years and I intend to keep building on this. In fact I have three 4sights booked already for 2018 and a fourth date in the offing. There will be no shutting me up now!

 

Stella Gooch 

SMG Virtual PA
Email: stella@smgvirtualpa.co.uk   Tel: 07788 645157

Emotional Intelligence & Business

Emotional Intelligence & Business

Introduction

Everyone in business is looking for that edge! Many in business, rightly look to mentors and advisers to help them develop their version of the edge, with varying degrees of success. If we assume that all advice is taken the right way, all advice is good, then why will two people in business given the same advice have the potential to produce significantly different results? Why if you put two different people in the same situation will one fold and the other excel?

EQ makes a difference

In many cases, the difference is emotional intelligence. That being the case this is really great news. Why? Simply because unlike IQ, Emotional Intelligence, or EQ as it is also known, can be developed, can be improved and what is more, as it improves, so too does the performance of the business you’re working in or on. Wow, armed with that knowledge what would you do next?

When I think about this, I find it exciting and motivating. Back in the day, I made some real howlers in my businesses, some I got away with, others were catastrophic. Then, I was introduced to EQ, first I was tested and then the weaknesses were developed and so inspired was I that I set about working with EQ testing and development. It was a short step to then developing the relationship between EQ and business development, helping other businesses to achieve truly exceptional results using this combination. Today we just call it the Rainmakers Club, a place where EQ and business development walk hand in hand.

Open up your business to EQ

When you understand this and can apply it to your business it’s as if someone turned the light on and then turbo-charged your personality. Well, that’s how it worked for me at least. I did turn a little geeky about it and so for those fellow geeks, here’s a little more.

The components of EQ are widely recognised as including, self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skill. When it comes to business the higher up the chain you go, the more established your business, the more EQ matters, particularly when it comes to distinguishing the most effective leaders. If you look at most large companies these days they use a system of competency models in order to help them identify the haves and have nots, as well as to identify training opportunities. We have a similar model for our Rainmaker Club members to use on request.

A key fact is that the ratio of technical skills and IQ to EQ as ingredients of exceptional performance, EQ has been proved in numerous studies to be twice as important than the others in a business leadership environment.

If I was a Warlock

So if I was a friendly forces warlock I would be waving my wand at you in the hope you’d join those in the know and start to develop EQ throughout your business.

If this has left you wanting more then simply ask. If you’re already a Rainmakers Club member and would like to get into more detail or perhaps be tested then lets talk soon. Exceptional results are just around the corner…

 

Conflict Resolution, needs a soft touch…

Conflict Resolution, needs a soft touch…

We have all been in situations of conflict in our businesses and I can think of many examples of disagreements and misunderstandings that have escalated far beyond where tey should. Often this is because we tend to employ too much emotion. Here are just 10 simple tips you could employ next time you find yourself in a situation of conflict and you want to resolve it amicably.

1. Mutual respect –  When we respect ourselves, we naturally want to solve any problems or difficulties we run into and we make sure the solution meets our own requirements. By respecting the other person you will encourage an environment that leads to consideration for both parties needs, leading to a win-win solution.

2. Look for common ground – Rarely do two people have entirely opposing views with absolutely nothing in common. If you look hard enough, you’re bound to find points of agreement or shared goals on which to build. This subtly shifts us from being ‘opponents’ to being on the ‘same side.’

3. Redefine the problem or point of disagreement if necessary  – If you can’t find anything to agree on, try a fresh approach. Step back and see the dispute from the bigger picture, step in closer and see the details or ‘step to one side’ to view the predicament from a different angle. The more we keep ‘moving around the problem’ to explore it, and view it from all angles and perspectives, the more likely we are to increase our understanding of it and find an answer.

4. Start with a goal acceptable to all parties – What is the end result both parties want? Forget win-lose. That’s for sports. Conflict is not a sport.

5. Focus on your goals – Staying focused on your points of disagreement will only keep you there.You need to focus on how to attain the goals you both share to find paths around the problem.

6. Create options – Are you searching for  the ‘one best answer?’ The reality is, there are probably several workable options. The only decision is ‘which will work best for you?’ When you agree on crystal clear goals and crystal clear expectations, this gives you something to assess our options against.

7. Keep an open mind – Rigid thinking,’wearing blinkers’ and holding onto preconceived ideas all destroy attempts at conflict resolution. They lead to treating a problem in terms of competing solutions, or in terms of ‘only one possible solution – mine.’ The more open-mindedly you explore a problem and search for alternative solutions, the more you increase your chances of finding a way out of conflict. A flexible approach allows you to hear views, other than your own, and to explore a variety of options.

8. Be positive, not negative –  Behaviour breeds behaviour. Negativity is catching and a negative approach is depressing and destructive. A positive approach is catching, too. It’s uplifting and encouraging. Shifting our thinking and our words from negative to positive might require some thought, but the results are well worth the effort. Before you disagree, outline your reasoning and finish up with something like: ‘And that’s why I look at it differently,’ or summarise your understanding of the other person’s views, then say ‘And here’s how I see it…’

9. Get’on the same side – It’s easy to argue with someone sitting opposite us and difficult to argue with someone sitting next to us, which encourages an attitude of cooperation and allows a collaborative mindset to surface – ‘You and I are working together on a shared problem.’ It might be subtle, but it’s effective. Problems are usually best discussed sitting down, since body language can more easily become aggressive and intimidating, or be interpreted that way, when we’re standing.

10.Work together to solve the problem   – We’re more committed to the success of a path that we’ve had a part in planning and that meets at least some of our needs. If we share information, pool ideas, discuss our needs, wants and worries, and search for a solution that meets as many of them as possible, we’ll increase our commitment to a solution and our understanding of each other at the same time.

We don’t need Vision, Mission & Values. That’a just ‘boring old school!’

We don’t need Vision, Mission & Values. That’a just ‘boring old school!’

Talking about Vision, Mission, and Values, may well be a bit old school but nonetheless, it is an essential part of the building blocks of your business, well any business, at any stage of development. It would be easy for me to use bland and inaccurate statements, such as it’s never too late to start. Trouble is the longer you leave it the harder it becomes to take full advantage of what is an essential tool for business development.

Yes, that’s right I said essential tool. Contrary to the many businesses that use these elements as a bunch of slogans for screensavers or posters on the wall. Ther is a much bigger and essential purpose for these cornerstones of your business. I would say, the sooner you have carefully designed and thought through Vision, Mission and Values published and acted upon the better you’ll be going forward.

Of course, if you can’t keep to them the perhaps its best not to bother, but for those of us serious about the business we know what a difference they can make to development, retention, attraction, reputation, brand values, lead generation, sales, and exit.

I have found over the years, very few businesses understand the full importance of this element in the development of, in particular, their reputation and brand, which invariably touches all other parts of their business.