So 2 weeks in to the new year and I am seeing several business owners struggling…
It seems many had the expectation of putting 2020 behind them, having a good break over the festive period and were ready to push on in 2021. Then Lockdown 3 came and we are left feeling like groundhog day and back into trying to stay in business for a further period rather than pushing forward.
Hopefully by end of Q1 things will be starting to “normalise” and we can see a way forward but SMEs have to get through this period first and still be around. Here’s a few points to consider
Reset your expectations for Q1 specifically and 2021 in general. Q1 getting through and still be in business is success. Use whatever local grants and furlough payments you can to help cover costs. And keep a close eye on the costs and reduce where you can.
Buy Tickets to events and book breaks for later in the year. The pandemic is really tough, give yourself and those you care about something to look forward to, be optimistic about the future.
It’s really ok not to be ok right now. We are in unprecedented times. It’s even better to talk about how you are feeling, share this with those you are close to, family, business friends or a coach but don’t suffer alone.
By Business Growth Coach and Extreme Sportsman, Daniel Owen-Parr
Hands up. Who has had a boss, or colleague, who turns up at the office smelling of chlorine, wrapped in Lycra, or who looks forward to running home the long way? I am sure most of you have come across someone like this. Over the last twenty years, this has become more and more prevalent. At the same time, this behaviour mirrors the explosion in endurance based sports. 10km runs are no longer a challenge and a simple marathon is more about raising money for charity than pushing your limits. Every weekend across the UK, people are either running across mountain ranges, cycling 100 miles, or swimming in a cold lake without a wetsuit on. What does this have to do with business? An excellent question and one I hopefully will explain below.
To start with, being in business is hard. Especially if you are a leader or an owner. It take a certain type of character to be driven every day to achieve their best. You have to be tough, hard working and motivated, even if people around you are not fully committed. Let’s think about what someone needs to run a marathon, other than a pair of good trainers and some ability to run. They need mental toughness, hard work and self-motivation. Characteristics that should sound familiar in the business world. Yes, running a successful company, or being a leader, takes the same skills set as being an endurance athlete. This is why you will see your boss, or a colleague, jumping on their bike to ride home in the rain – for fun! What makes them successful at work transitions across to endurance athletes fairly easily. If we now accept that there are a lot of similar characteristics that help you in both disciplines, then what would the top three attributes be and why? I have completed a number of these events and, yes, I have been that Lycra clad weirdo riding to and from work in preparation for an Ironman race, and I found the following three traits useful in both my training and career:
Organisational Skills – This goes with out saying. People training for endurance events and business owners/leaders all have one thing in common: they are very time poor. There is always more training session to be done, or another email to send. Both disciplines require you to be organised. But, this is not your general organisation: you have to be very organised to be successful. There are many things to juggle on a daily basis and you need to make time for your family and friends. It’s an art that takes time and practice to perfect. When you do, life feels a little less stressful and you feel that you can conquer anything. Whether it’s preparing for a team meeting, or packing your rucksack to run across the desert, both time, structure, an eye for detail, and (most importantly) practice and experience make you better. Only by doing and making mistakes, do you learn and make it better the next time. In both cases, success or failure can be put down to your ability to organise yourself and others.
Resilience – 13 hours into a 52 mile run across the desert, the sun was going down and it was the fourth straight day I’d been running in temperatures in excess of 42c. Four nights of sleeping in open tents and four days of self-sustainment ration packs had taken their toll. I felt a little sorry for myself. OK fine: very sorry for myself. This was an utterly normal response to a tricky and tiring situation. Let’s be honest, this can also be said about some days at work. The one factor that gets you through any hard situation is resilience or ‘mental toughness’. It’s something that wasn’t talked about much until recently. When you look at great leaders, or runners, they have buckets of the stuff. But remember, very few people are CEOs, or run 100 miles, on their very first day. It is built up after years of mistakes, knock backs and failures. All of these add to a bank of experiences that you can call upon to help you through the difficult times. There is no greater feeling than watching the sun rise over the Sahara desert with the finish line in sight, knowing fitter, faster and better prepared runners are behind you. This is the same in the office: very rarely is it the best educated, or the most experienced, that gets the promotion or makes a success of a new business. It’s the ones with the most grit and determination.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) – This is talked about a fair bit nowadays, but not so often used. It was more of an academic term in the early and mid-90s, but you will now find it in every book on leadership or management. However, when do you see endurance athletes using it? There are five key components to EI: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. If you have run a 10k or a half marathon, you must admit, the majority of people are pretty friendly. There is always someone to offer you help, advice or a spare gel pack when you look out of your feet and need a sugar boost. As an endurance athlete, you need all five of the above components to make any event a success. In most cases, you will be travelling to the event by yourself and probably end up forgetting some kit, or needing help with your bike or wetsuit. Social skills are very much needed: you will almost always receive a little empathy from your fellow competitors to help you out of your predicament. This has been my experience when I’ve taken over new team or joined new businesses – empathy opens a few doors. However, at the real core of any successful athlete, or business owner, is self-awareness, motivation and self-regulation. There are times in the office, or 18 miles into a marathon, when you can’t understand why you started this, or you suddenly get the urge to scream at someone. Deep down you know yourself, your own values, and why you put yourself through this pain. The ultimate goal of seeing your business grow, or collecting your first triathlon medal, is your motivation and so self-regulation stops you giving up or screaming at colleagues! Success doesn’t happen by accident and EI will always have a big role in your success.
The above characteristics don’t always come naturally to everyone. So there is one last thing that people can do: get a coach/mentor. This is a sure fire way to improve your chances of being successful in either a 10km open water swim, or when you are setting up a brand new business. A good coach or mentor will help you with nearly everything: investigating strengths and weaknesses; providing you with practical advice from experience; listening to your issues and ideas; and, most importantly, they will support you in helping you achieve your goals. Running a business, leading a team, or competing in your first ultra-marathon is a very lonely experience. Having a trusted coach there for you, along for the journey, is priceless. Even better, it should allow you to get to your end goal more quickly and with less heartache. Take it from someone who is both a coach/mentor and has used a coach: in business and to help me with endurance events. A coach can simply be the determining factor that allows your to succeed.
Whilst it is a difficult time for many businesses, others are looking to expand and develop their team. Here is an article from Alison Beech, business Growth Coach on how to recruit effectively.
Be clear about your vision – what is your growth journey?
You’ve started your business and you want it to grow. Not every business can or will, and you may be happy for it to stay at just being you, but for those who intend to expand it’s helpful to plan for that right from the start.
If you have a business plan then this should include any growth goals with timelines and an indication of how you will implement the plan – this will clarify what you want to do and when. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know exactly. You can always change the plan!
1. I’m not ready to recruit! How will I know when to recruit?
Timing is key, but don’t put pressure on yourself to try and time things perfectly.
Hire when the tasks you need doing will make money for the business and /or when the tasks you need doing will save money for the business (for early stage businesses, making money is usually more important than saving it).
Hire if it frees up other people who will make money for the business.
Hire if you need people to:
Create (designers, developers etc.)
Market (getting your product or service to market)
Support (customers, help desk, after sales etc.)
2. Hiring your first employee(s) – Exciting or terrifying, or both?
It’s ok and natural to be scared but it’s also an exciting time. Spend some time thinking about the coming months. It’s hard to find the right moment – hire too early and you might cause cash flow problems, but hire too late and you might not be able to cope with orders /work.
Don’t make rash hiring decisions – desperation is never a good look.
Define what it is you need another person to do – if you can’t define their role, wait until you can as this could be a sign that your timing is off.
Don’t take the first person who comes along.
Think carefully before hiring friends and family…..
3. Creative hiring
One of the issues some founders experience is that they are not currently in a strong enough financial position to recruit a full time employee. Be creative – it doesn’t have to be a full time employee on day 1. Other options which might suit you better:
Contractor – these can be on a fixed term or for a flexible period.
Part time – not limited to junior positions. You can hire part time senior people for (amongst other things); Finance, Marketing, Sales, HR. The advice and guidance you can benefit from with, say, a strategic Finance Director in just one or two days a month could be invaluable.
Temporary staff could be useful if you have a sudden spike in demand or tasks that won’t be ongoing.
Partner or co-founder – perhaps you’ve identified someone who has complementary skills to you, with a similar vision and passion, and integrity. You might consider hiring them initially as an employee with a view to migrating them to an equity partner in the business over time.
Investor – some angel investors will want to be very hands on and can fulfil roles within your business which will serve their own interests, as well as the interests of the business.
Sweat Equity – if you can’t afford to pay a senior person, you may be able to attract individuals who have suitable experience and other financial means. Perhaps they can work in the business in return for “sweat equity”. If and when the business floats or exits via a sale, they will get a financial return at that point. A sweat equity investor carries risk obviously, so it’s only an option for an experienced investor.
Get professional advice, whichever route your take. Mistakes are costly, in both time and money.
4. Preparing for the recruitment process
Don’t just hire someone like you. It’s tempting to recruit a person with similar traits and who you get on with. Whilst it’s important that you can work well with another person it is essential that you analyse the balance of skills, attitudes, and temperaments that you need in the business.
A balanced team is an effective team. Several of the BGCN coaches are CLARITY4D LIMITED accredited. A personality profile offers you an insight into your preferences around your personal and professional relationships and can highlight what you need to make your team balanced and effective.
It’s essential to put in place employment contracts and T&C’s, to create appropriate policies and procedures, and to get basic employment law advice. Getting it right at the outset can help prevent expensive mistakes. There are cost effective ways to source help in this area, which your mentor will be able to signpost.
Take your time, get advice, but don’t be paralysed.
5. Get hiring!
It’s right that you should take your time before committing to recruitment but once you’ve done the preparatory work, taking the next step should be straightforward.
Use your business plan to draft out the tasks you need accomplished. (See 1. above)
Map out role profiles for the person or people needed to complete those tasks.
Get recommendations from your network about who and how to recruit these people.
Where do the people you’re looking for do their networking? Those places might be different to the networks that you have – so, again, ask around and find out how to make a connection.
Get some advice about using job boards. Make sure your ad is carefully worded so that it attracts the right people. You can waste a lot of your time, and the candidates, if you don’t do this effectively.
Recruiters – like everything else in business, there are good ones, and ones that won’t be right for you. Get recommendations from your network. Don’t sign up with a recruiter before understanding what they can do for you and, crucially, what it will cost.
6. Investing for the future – growth and exit
It might seem a long way ahead but do you want to grow and maybe exit at some point, either by floating, or selling the company? Do you have an articulated exit strategy? If you do then, as the saying goes, start with the end in mind. Make sure that your recruitment strategy is aligned to that objective.
If you plan to stay in the business for the long term then make sure this is sustainable and also that you have a contingency plan.
Investors will look for a considered and realistic growth plan that highlights who and when you will recruit and how it will impact the business.
What might be viewed less positively by investors is an over-reliance on the founder and / or a lack of balance in the senior team.
Making yourself indispensable may not be a good thing – it’s your baby, that’s understood. But you can’t do everything yourself forever……
A final thought; a common theme running through each of the stages is that getting good advice is valuable and will almost certainly save you time and money in the long term. Engage with a quality mentor, coach, or advisor who can help you build your business and achieve your goals.
I’m sure all of us who are sports fans are desperate for a live game. Our need is so severe that even football supporters will – in all likelihood – be watching the return of Super Rugby Aotearoa in New Zealand as it becomes the first major sports league in the world to return from the Covid-19 shutdown without crowd restrictions. We might however feel a pang of jealousy watching something that looks like it is out of our reach.
Often Executive Coaching is viewed in the same way – but it shouldn’t be.
Around 3 years ago Forbes Magazine highlighted the fact that executive coaching had “gone from rare to common” and that most people in corporate life view the work of executive coaches as positive.
Despite the fact that working with a coach is fairly mainstream, assumptions around the role of executive coaching still exist. There may be a lingering sense that this type of engagement only exists in the rarified atmosphere of boardrooms or at C-suit level.
The name itself has not always helped, with the suggestion that it is only those at the very top of large blue-chip companies who would benefit – while the reality could not be further from the truth especially for clients and SMEs who engage with us at BGCN.
We know that over 99% of businesses are Small or Medium Sized businesses – employing 0-249 people (House of Commons Briefing Paper)
Executive Coaching has been offered as part of a wider, systemic approach to business growth for over thirty years. At BGCN we want to highlight the who, how and the why of this targeted service.
The International Coach Federation defines Coaching as – partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential. Executive Coaching is a professional relationship between a credentialed coach and a client concentrating on the client’s leadership or management performance and development. This is suited to established or new-to-role clients who have managerial authority and responsibility within their own company or within an organisation.
The Executive Coach’s goal is to :
help clients see themselves more clearly
collaborate as a thought partner, an accountability measure and a vision builder
support clients as they leverage their known strengths in unpredictable times
help executives increase their leadership identity and influence
examine how to build and sustain productive workplace relationships
challenge their clients to experiment with new ways of thinking and being
use proven coaching models to examine success criteria, work-place dilemmas and executive decision-making
support senior leaders maintain a genuinely healthy and generative life outside of the office
help clients leave a legacy both within and outside of their workplace
We know that Executive Coaching is not some kind of elite sport, rather it is a vital commitment to yourself and your whole team.
Executive coaching is highly valued by employees when they see the commitment of their executives to personal development in a manner that is both visible and accountable. ( ICF Global Study )
In particular, seeing increased “soft skills” – such as integrity, honesty, authenticity, emotional intelligence – is what employees mention as having the greatest influence on their own motivation. “Companies with engaged employees outperform those with disengaged employees by 202%.”(gallup.com)
If you are currently in or about to step up to a position of management please get in touch.
Another four Business Growth Coaches have become accredited to offer Clarity4D service to their clients and contacts following completion of their training programmes.
Peter Basford said ” We now have 15 qualified Clarity4D coaches who offer expertise and insight in to personality profiling. They can coach how to use your own style and energy to ensure you get the best from all your relationships.”
“This can help with family, colleagues and in business to gain the most from every meeting and discussion.”
“Congratulations to Dawn Kelly, Daniel Owen-Parr, Kathryn Eade and Robin Hayhurst for passing their accredition training”
Anyone wanting to explore how this may help them can contact a coach via their profile.
Does your sales team work to the same set of core principles or do you let them ‘free-style’? If you had the choice of them working to a set of ‘Sales Laws’, let’s call it the ‘Sales Team Standard Operating Procedure’, would you and what would be in it? If you took the fundamentals from your SSOP and put them on the wall in your business, do you think it would make a positive difference to how you served your clients and customers?
Here’s some to think about…
A mindset based on help not sell – the days of thinking you can outsmart a buyer with sophisticated sales techniques are over. If your product or service doesn’t help your prospect in some way shape or form, chances are you can’t sell it to them.
Get passionate about your product – if you’re not convinced, you cannot convince. Would you buy what you sell? If not, what makes you so confident that anyone else will? If you’re not excited about it, find something that does excite you.
Act like you’re in business – that means having the knowledge and experience to instil confidence and belief in your prospect, so that they are certain that hanging around with you is unbelievably good for their future success.
Focus on “No’s” – most people aren’t waiting around for your call, so prepare in advance for a ‘No’. Learn how to disqualify early; moving along the tire-kickers and time-wasters is where the money’s earned. Be genuinely interested in people – you don’t have to accept their opinion, but you’re screwed if you don’t accept that they have one and it must be understood. Knowing that people buy for their reasons, not yours, is the key that unlocks the route to sales.
Become respectfully expectant – it starts with earning the right to be treated as an equal and it’s the prerequisite to a collaborative relationship. Create mutual benefit, assign individual accountability and operate in an environment that seeks to progress.
Ask movement questions – the ones that shift the conversation forward; the ones that progress a sale; the ones that positively challenge so that their very purpose is to create a desire to commit to both parties taking action. Sales conversations that don’t move the deal forward aren’t usually sales conversations at all.
Use the C Word – from start to finish, your whole sales approach must be predicated on getting Commitment. Do they Want to buy? Are they Organised to take action? Will they Realign their business around your product? Have the Decided now is the time to buy?
Avoid Risk – not yours, theirs. Reassure them that it’s in their best interests to do business with you and that investing their hard-earned cash not only makes sound business sense, it guarantees them a return. Evidence beats expectation every time.
Always ask… – because usually, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. On a personal level, you have to keep learning; better to ask and feel a fool for a minute, then don’t ask and be a fool for a lifetime. On a business level, provided you’ve done things above, there’s every chance your prospect is waiting for you to do just that – so ask for the sale.
BGCNMastermind is a brand-new group initiative, bringing property developers from all over the United Kingdom together to share ideas, challenges and solutions faced when running a property development business.
Mastermind will help you speed up both the growth of your business and your personal growth.
The feedback you get will be the difference between success and failure.
Get back in control and dramatically reduce your worry and anxiety that can come with running your own company.
Why join the Mastermind group?
In these challenging times, a sense of community is needed more than ever. Putting several minds together to discuss challenges often results in many more solutions than if you remained thinking alone. That is one of the main reasons why professionals like you join Mastermind groups.
Mastermind attendees are carefully picked based on common interests and goals, to ensure the group can be run with maximum productivity and the highest quality in mind.
Get honest feedback and advice about your goals. The nature of Mastermind is to share challenges and goals with their peers in a no-holds barred environment, where honesty is encouraged and welcomed, meaning that you can leave with a variety of fresh perspectives and feeling more inspired than ever before. By actively engaging and facing your own challenges with your peers, the chance of fulfilling your goals is significantly increased.
Sharpen your business and personal skills and establish new habits. Broaden your knowledge and skills by learning from the diverse group of peers, all of which come with their own set of experiences, strength and weaknesses.
Be part of a community, collaborate with like-mind individuals and get on the right path to achieving your business goals.
Groups will be held online every other week, with sessions during the weekday evening and weekend, outside office hours.
Guest speakers will be on hand to chair all of the vital business areas of property development, such as:
Here is a guide to some basic things that can quickly help you to use LinkedIn to build your personal and business brand and do more business. As easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Get your Profile right.
Have an up to date professional profile picture (not in a pub or club)
Make your profile reflect what you are trying to do – are you using Linkedin to let the world know you are looking for a new job or are you using it to build your business. Make sure your profile doesn’t confuse those viewing it
Get and give testimonials – that’s one of the key things people look at before engaging with you
2. Get Connections.
Think of Linkedin as your own marketing database – you connect with who you want – you are in control – But once you have your profile sorted gaining connections is key – so dust off that pile of old business cards and send invitations, Look down the list that Linkedin gives you and connect to people you know. When you meet with new people, follow up by sending them an invitation ( if you haven’t already done it before the meeting to find out more about them) If you are looking at a particular sector – look for people in that area and link with them.
Whenever possible send a personal message with a request – you will get better take up if you do.
3. Post and Comment
Ok, you have a profile and connections now post. You might start by sharing others posts, commenting or liking first then write your own posts.
Post content that is interesting to others – use pictures not just words to get more likes – so snap away at networking events and tell me people where you are. If you see something funny in your day take a picture and post it ( but keep it professional)
If you are looking for a certain sort of business or contact – ask your connections to help you, the chances are they will, especially if you have tried to help them and commented on their posts too.
Aim to go on Linkedin at least twice a day and take some action, posting, liking, sharing to build your presence.
There we go as easy as 1,2,3, of course there is much more Linkedin can do to help, Linkedin Premium can really step things up at a price and we haven’t even mentioned the algorithms that Linkedin uses to help get you the best feed from your connections and how you can work with this, or the use of messaging or notifications but hopefully you will have found this a good starter
For further information and to book a personal review of your LinkedIn profile and how you are using it please get in touch via LinkedIn
Whilst you can’t work you can still train, so I’m going to post a themed ABC of things you could do to learn before you return to work.
Day 1 “Expand your thinking”
A Podcast – Dear Lovejoy, Tim challenges our thinking with a wide variety of interviews on many different subjects because modern life is difficult
Book – How to have a Great Life – by Paul McGee – The Sumo Guy with simple steps to success in easy to read format ideal to read in small chunks and use in your day to day life.
Course – a very personal one for me, Clive Gott, is sadly no longer with us and was a mentor and friend but his programmes “Believe and Achieve”, “How to Live Life on purpose” and “How to take Life by the Throat and say I’m not done yet” are all still available online and YouTube has some great clips of him in action.
Hope you find these useful and please feel free to share with anyone furloughed.
With most face to face networking postponed for the time being, the need for staying in touch with your business contacts via social media has never been greater. And with so many working from home, now is a great time to use Linkedin to help others so here is a list of seven things you can do to help others.
Connect or Follow others to help them build their contacts
Like or Love their content – show them that it is of interest to you – in turn this will help your newsfeed improve so that you get content that is of most interest to you, from the people you are most interested in
Leave a Comment – it will help promote their content further for them and hopefully, in turn, they will start commenting on your posts in return helping your reach too
Endorse their skills – it takes seconds but helps build them to be seen as a subject matter expert with the relevant skills and knowledge when others are looking at what they do
Recommend them – even better than endorsing them – unsolicited write a recommendation for someone, do one per week, you will be amazed how many then do the same for you.
Message them to develop your network further. Linkedin can see who you are engaging with and will then promote your posts to those that you are interacting with. Again helping both of your feeds to be as relevant to each other as possible
Connect them with someone from your network – pass on a connection as you would if you were at a networking event to help them grow their contacts and hopefully their business
In these unprecedented times being there for each other and helping each other is key for businesses and using Linkedin can be a great way of doing this.
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