Archives for September 2010

Business Boost

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Cooking The Books?

Why ‘cooking the books’ really is the right approach for your business!

Okay, so now I have your attention, read on for a recipe for ‘cooking the books’ that I guarantee will make your business more successful!

You can read as many books, listen to as many audio tracks and watch as much multi-media as you like, but unless you act on the information you digest, nothing much will happen.

Now this sounds obvious but given that the ‘How-To, Self-Help, Make-Your-Fortune etc’ industry is worth multiple billions world-wide, why is it that so few people make the progress they expect?  Is the industry producing low quality material, or is it because many people like the initial motivation they get from a book but then carry on as before? Maybe they are looking for that magic pill.

Cast your mind back to those illustrious school years and think how much information you absorbed – now think how much you remember today. Hmmm… get the idea?

So what’s this got to do with cooking the books?

All this information you are consuming… well think of it like the ingredients in a recipe. Mix it all together in the right amounts; cook-it at the right temperature for the correct amount of time; dress it, serve it… now you have the makings of a great result.

The information that you read in books needs to be mixed, cooked and served in the optimum way for you to get the result you’re looking for. Get any aspect wrong and you could end up with a disaster.

So here is my recipe for taking the huge amounts of information available and producing a great result!

q  If you see a particular point of interest when reading, dwell on it and consider the implications for you or your business, before moving on.

q  Keep a notebook to hand and write down this consideration in a way that means something to you.

q  Put aside an hour of your time and take all your considerations and ideas and turn them into an action plan. A real action plan with objectives, dates and expected outcomes.

q  Find a way to hold yourself accountable. Maybe you can do this quite easily yourself; if not, find a friend, spouse, colleague, mentor, business coach etc to help you. If you want to achieve something with this information, you need to know that you will actually do what you say you are going to do.

q  Practice with your new found skill, knowledge or approach. Don’t be surprised if, when you try something new, that your old way seemed better. It’s really quite common, when you are developing a new skill or technique, for your performance to drop off before it gets better. Persist!

q  Revisit the book after a reasonable time and measure the results. See which aspects worked for you and which didn’t.

q  Write a review of the book – not about the book, but which aspects of the content made a difference to you when you applied them. Send it to the author; they will nearly always welcome the feedback (even if it isn’t good)

q  Sit back and enjoy the fact that you invested a modest amount of money and really did benefit from it.

q  Recognise that 90% of the above requires you to take action with the information available as opposed to just reading the book!

For more business help, practical advice and business coaching book your first FREE coaching session from Charting Success by calling 01284 330 400 or e-mail dbaker@chartingsuccess.co.uk

Walt Disney – A success Story

The film maker and theme park creator Walt Disney once stated:

“The story-man must see clearly in his own mind how every piece of business in a story will be put. He should feel every expression, every reaction. He should get far enough away from his story to take a second look at it…to see whether there is any dead phase…to see whether the personalities are going to be interesting and appealing to the audience. He should also try to see that the things that his characters are doing are of an interesting nature.”

Walt Disney’s ability to connect his innovative creativity with successful business strategy and popular appeal certainly qualifies him as a genius in the field of entertainment. In a way, Disney’s chosen medium of expression, the animated film, characterises the fundamental process of all genius: the ability to take something that exists in the imagination only and forge it into a physical existence that directly influences the experience of others in a positive way.

The simple yet worldwide appeal of Disney’s characters, animated films, live action features and amusement parks demonstrate a unique ability to grasp, synthesise and simplify very basic yet quite sophisticated principles. Disney was also responsible for a number of important technical and organisational innovations in the fields of animation and film-making in general.

It is clear that one of the major elements of Disney’s unique genius was his ability to explore something from a number of different perceptual positions. As one of his close associates pointed out:

“…there were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming into your meeting.”

Robert Dilts of the NLP University in California, worked with Disney, and converted this strategy into something useful and powerful, which we can all use to realise our dreams.

Below is an abbreviated form of the strategy that you can use which involves the three different points of view of Dreamer, Realist and Critic (Spoiler).

Select the problem you are going to deal with – it can be as difficult as you like. Do not think about it yet. Choose three places in front of you that you can physically step into. One for your Dreamer, one for your Realist and one for your Critic


The Dreamer

Everything you see around you is the result of somebody’s dream. Once there were no chairs, no windows, no glass, no buildings – until somebody dreamed up the idea, and carried it through. People dream supposedly impossible things (for example, Leonardo da Vinci dreamed about helicopters in the 15th century) and other people may take it upon themselves to ridicule these dreams – but that is their problem!

When you have dreamed your ultimate dream, step out of that space, and choose another space.

The Realist

In the realist’s space, you are going to become the logistics expert. What needs to be done in order to achieve this dream? What resources will you need to provide? What modifications need to be made to the dream, in order to make it achievable?

In this space, you will be detached from the dream and have your feet firmly on the ground. You are dealing with the practical questions here.

When you have worked out the plan of how to achieve each step and made all the necessary modifications to the dream, step out of the realist’s space and move to the critic’s space (an equal distance from the dreamer and the realist – in other words, the critic’s space forms the third angle of an equilateral triangle)

The Critic

The critic has a very important job. In this space you are there to make sure you don’t make a complete fool of yourself; lose all your money; get sent to prison, and so on. The critic’s advice is vital; the critic’s job is to keep you safe.

Most of us try to ignore our critic, thinking of him/her as a nit-picking misery-guts – which he or she may well become if ignored. Whatever you say or do, your critic will persist in trying to keep you safe, so it would seem sensible to pay attention in the first place!

The critic’s job is to think up everything that can possibly go wrong with your master plan (and every possible bad side effect) so that you can be prepared for anything.

In critic mode you are detached from the dream but, most importantly, it is the dream you are criticising, not the dreamer.

Listen carefully to everything that comes up, and be prepared to modify the dream still further.

Now continue to step through each of the three spaces until your final plan fits each one.

There’s No Such Thing as Failure

I’ve just been reading the biography of Steve Jobs, the guy who founded Apple Computers.

What an amazing guy! He founded Apple; was booted out after making hundreds of millions of dollars; started NeXT Computers; went from boom to bust; bought into Pixar studios; succeeded hugely in a joint venture with Disney and made more millions; was brought back into Apple when the company bought NeXT; masterminded the iPod, the iPhone and, most recently the iPad; survived major heart surgery and continues to run the company.

What any small business owner can learn from this is that there is no such thing as failure provided you can pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and move on – and that’s where a good business coach can be invaluable; providing an unbiased ear, a supportive attitude and a sounding board for new ideas.

Certain death for your business?

Certain death for your business? It’s all in the execution!

Despite all the help, support, experience and market opportunities that are available, far too many new businesses still die a slow and painful or quick, yet just as fatal, death.

So why is it, with so many great ideas and opportunities, that we still can’t get it quite right?

Whether you have just started your business, or you have been developing it steadily for a while, here’s the golden nugget – it’s all in the execution!

Having a great idea, a well thought through strategy, a fantastic plan or knowing what to do just isn’t enough; you have to take effective action. Here are a few tips to help you execute well and achieve more:-

  1. Start every day with a ‘to-do’ list and end every day with a ‘have-done’ list.
  2. Make sure your ‘have-done’ list reflects those core aspects of your business that make it successful. Tidying the office and buying a new hole-punch don’t count!
  3. Take decisions with the best information you have available. If you can’t make an immediate decision, at least establish a firm date/time when you will make a decision. You can wait forever for just one more piece of information, but by then the opportunity may well have passed you by.
  4. Get yourself an external ‘conscience’ like a coach or mentor. It’s all too easy to tell yourself “I’ll get around to that” and then not do it. With an external ‘conscience’ or ‘sounding board’ you will have that nagging voice who will hold you accountable for the things you have said you will do.
  5. Listen to your colleagues and partners. It’s your business, and your decision, but always invite other peoples’ advice and ideas. It quite often means the difference between a poor execution and a very successful one.
  6. Always meet your deadlines; don’t allow things to slip.
  7. Expect the un-expected. Whatever plans you set-out you can assume that something will hit you that wasn’t expected. Focus on the execution and deal decisively with any challenges thrown your way.
  8. Focus your efforts. Use laser precision with all your effort, resources, people and funds. Well focused effort produces more definitive results and higher levels of efficiency. Time is one thing you cannot afford to waste.
  9. Overcome resistance to change. Whether it is yours or others’, resistance to change is one of the biggest hurdles to effective execution. You may hold the majority of shares or own the business outright, but you will always need the support of others – make sure you bring people willingly along with you.

10.  Do what you do best and find others to do the rest

11.  Make sure everyone knows who is doing what, what is expected and when it is expected, without exception.

12.  Pay attention to the details.

For more business help, practical advice and business coaching book your first FREE coaching session from Charting Success by calling 01284 330 400 or e-mail dbaker@chartingsuccess.co.uk