Down on your R’s

Everyone seems to be talking about the R-word these days don’t they? You know… Recession!

Now I suppose in some ways that I’m a traditionalist; I was brought up with the old idea that good basic schooling was founded on what was then termed the three R’s (Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic) – actually that acronym always caused me a problem but I suppose it didn’t actually include spelling!

So the little challenge I set myself was to come up with the three R’s to boost your business and beat that other R-word… and here they are.

Number 1 – Reach out to your existing customers – you’d be amazed at how many businesses don’t bother to keep in touch with existing customers. They know you; they’ve already bought from you so they are the easiest ones to get to buy again. Use newsletters for example to tell them what you are doing and to announce special offers.

Number 2 – Raise your sales activity – don’t just sit there waiting for orders to come to you; go out and get some. Pick up the phone and talk to people; go out and visit existing customers; do something positive to increase your sales every day.

Number 3 – Referrals are one of the best forms of getting new business – go to networking meetings and tell people about your business; make sure that people know what sort of customers you’re looking for and ask for referrals (especially from existing customers).

There you are; my three R’s for boosting your business out of the recession.

So if you know a business that’s down on its R’s please give them these three and refer them to me

If – with apologies…

I’ve just come over a bit poetic (with humble apologies to Rudyard Kipling)!

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same

…then you probably don’t need a business coach.

However

IF you know a business that needs help and encouragement in these troubled times and;

IF the business owner really wants to change and make a success of their business…

Then please refer them to me; I’m Dave Baker and I’m a business coach.

The IBM Success Story

There is a story attributed to Thomas J Watson (snr),  the man who took a collection of debt-ridden time recording and tabulating companies and turned them into the colossus that is the modern IBM and who, when asked what made the company so successful replied:

IBM is what it is today for three special reasons. The first reason is that, at the very beginning, I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. You might say I had a model in my mind of what it would look like when the dream – my vision – was in place.

The second reason was that once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act. I then created a picture of how IBM would act when it was finally done.

The third reason IBM has been so successful was that once I had a picture of how IBM would look when the dream was in place and how such a company would have to act, I then realised that, unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there.

In other words, I realised that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one.

From the very outset, IBM was fashioned after the template of my vision. And each and every day we attempted to model the company after that template. At the end of each day we asked ourselves how well we did, discovered the disparity between where we were and where we had committed ourselves to be, and, at the start of the following day, set out to make up for that difference.

Every day at IBM was a day devoted to business development, not to doing business.

We didn’t do business at IBM, we built one.


Practical Tips for your business success

Not sure where to start with “seeing” the success of your business? Need some practical help with how to proceed? Well, here are some practical tips for you to use and if you’d like some more help or would just like to talk through your business thoughts and ideas then don’t forget to speak to me, Dave Baker, your Charting Success Business Coach on 01284 330400

1.     Start with the end in mind. Close your eyes and envision where you really want to be with your business in one, three or five years’ time. Think of it as a “Dream Destination”. Write it down so that you can come back to it again and again and remind yourself of where you ultimately want to be.

2.     Be clear about your dream. If you think about it as a Dream Destination then use the “DREAM” part as an acronym to enable you to be really clear about it. i.e.

D – Determinate – Be specific, not fuzzy. You want to achieve annual sales of £xxx by a specific date, or you want to have at least x% market share by a specific date.

R – Realistic – Don’t set impossible goals. They need to be challenging but they have to be achievable.

E – Exotic – It’s a Dream Destination remember; dreams should never be mundane. Think sun-drenched Bahamas not Bognor Regis (no offence to Bognor Regis intended).

A – Agreed – This Dream Destination is a company goal so it’s likely to involve other people. Make sure you do involve them and win their support in reaching the Dream Destination

M – Measurable – You must be able to measure your progress towards your Dream Destination so that, if nothing else, you know when you’ve actually arrived!

3.     Review your dream regularly. Just as with planning the ultimate holiday where you might take out the colourful brochures and read them again and again, imagining yourself actually on that holiday soaking up the sunshine or skiing down the piste; do the same with your commercial Dream Destination. Review your dream at least once a month, make sure that it is still something that excites you and that it is still a valid destination. After all, you wouldn’t continue with your plans of an ultimate holiday if your proposed destination was ravaged by a hurricane or involved in a war (well, at least, most people wouldn’t) so you may have to modify your commercial Dream Destination if it is affected by factors outside your control.

Dyson – A Study in Successful Innovation

(Dyson history excerpted from Dyson website – http://www.dyson.co.uk)

You know the feeling when some everyday product lets you down. ‘I could have designed this better myself’, you think. But how many of us turn our thoughts into actions? James Dyson does. He is a man who likes to make things work better. With his research team he has developed products that have achieved sales of over £3 billion worldwide.

James Dyson’s first product, the Sea Truck, was launched in 1970 while he was studying at the Royal College of Art. A few years later came the award-winning Ballbarrow that can go where no wheelbarrow has ever been before. Then there was the Wheelboat and the Trolleyball. Even the integral hose, seen on most upright vacuum cleaners, is a Dyson invention.

In 1978, James Dyson noticed how the air filter in the Ballbarrow spray-finishing room was constantly clogging with powder particles (just like a vacuum cleaner bag clogs with dust). So he designed and built an industrial cyclone tower, which removed the powder particles by exerting centrifugal forces greater than 100,000 times those of gravity. Could the same principle work in a vacuum cleaner? James Dyson set to work. 5 years and 5,127 prototypes later, the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner from Dyson arrived.

Considering it took James Dyson over 14 years to get his first product into a shop, it’s heartening to know that you can now buy Dyson products in 22 countries worldwide. You can also see them in many other places: Science Museums, Victoria & Albert Museum in London; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Cologne; Zurich Design Museum; Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris; Design Museum in Lisbon and Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, to name a few.

Practical Innovation Tips for Your Business

Here are seven tips as to how to foster that innovation.

•       Be receptive to all ideas and suggestions. Listen to and encourage everyone in the organisation to make suggestions and describe their ideas. Don’t be negative or dismiss any ideas offhand even if they are ‘off the wall’.

•       Reward the best ideas and suggestions especially if the company benefits from them. Ensure that the rewards given are commensurate with the value of the idea or suggestion. If one of your employees comes up with an idea that earns the company many thousands of pounds then reward them with a small share of the extra profit – if you don’t, then their next good idea may end up being used by your competitor!

•       Look for ideas in other areas. Be aware of what’s going on in other market areas because you may be able to adapt a new idea from a completely different business or industry to your advantage. Go to different places; read different newspapers and magazines; meet different people (and listen to what they have to say). Encourage adventure in yourself and others around you.

•       Look for innovative ways to combine existing ideas or products into something new. Some classic product examples of the success of this approach are: the mobile phone/camera, the clock/radio, the snowboard and the Swiss army knife.

•       Don’t always go with the first idea. Talk it over with others in your organisation or friends and relatives because someone may be able to think of ways to improve or perfect it (with the obvious caveat that you don’t want anyone else to steal your idea!).

•       Take calculated risks. Research and discussion is all very fine but sometimes you just have to ‘do’ something to see if it works or is better. Sometimes you will get it wrong as well but as some anonymous person once said “In order for you to profit from your mistakes, you actually have to go out and make some”.

•       Visualise the success of the idea. Close your eyes; think how the idea or suggestion will affect the company (and you). Try to imagine what the future will be like because of that idea or suggestion – and whilst you’re about it try to think of any “If only I’d…” situations (as in “If only I’d done this or not done that then the idea or suggestion would have been even more successful”) and do them.

Innovation is, in reality, a little like gardening; with the right conditions (fertile soil, good weather, careful husbandry and judicious application of fertiliser (careful how you visualise this analogy!)) you can grow the most wonderful things – and continue to do so year after year.

Who Are the Real Salespeople in a Business?

The obvious ones are the people whose title is something like Sales Executive. But what about the people who always answer the phone – their cheery welcome or frosty greeting will immediately affect a caller and may well influence their decision as to whether to buy or not.

What about the dull and dreary box advert for the company in Yellow Pages; won’t that cause some prospective customers to re-think their decision as to where to place their business?

And what about the business cards that the employees hand out; do they adequately express the nature of the business? Do they make it easy for the prospective customer to find out about the business?

As a business coach I advise small businesses how to ensure that all their potential salespeople (real or virtual) are working to the best possible effect. So if you know a business whose sales force could do with a little improvement then please, refer them to me.

Five Essential Tips For Any Small Business Owner

Five essential tips for any small business owner on how to maximize their long-term success, stand out from the crowd and minimise potential financial risks

1. Focus on what you do best and outsource the rest

Administrative and support services are necessary for any business, but the costs and time expended managing these services may not be worth the investment for a small organisation. Focus your attention on what your business is really about and get some reliable ‘virtual staff’ to handle the rest.

2. Project a professional image

A professional image is crucial to any businesses success. Ensure that everyone and everything that represents your business is projecting that image – that means everything; from your business cards to your offices and how your telephone is answered.

3. Spend wisely

Your company’s long-term success is dependent on making more money than you spend. Spending wisely doesn’t mean cutting corners; paying your employees well and your bills on time is important, but spend only on essentials: good employees, essential technology, marketing; not on that really great, but expensive, gadget!

4. Save Yourself Time Energy and Money (that’s SYSTEMs to you and me)

Develop your systems early; perfect them and adhere to them. That way, as the company grows, you will have already established the way you want everything to work – and if you do it right, it will work; without you!

5. Network, Network, Network

Meeting other entrepreneurs and business owners is critical to creating lasting business relationships and expanding your business. Whether it’s joining groups of other business owners or using social networks, networking is a great way to expand your professional contacts, gather advice, information, and raise your professional profile.

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

Differentiate Between Sales and Marketing

To many people, sales and marketing amount to the same thing but there are considerable differences. Understanding these differences will allow you to invest in the appropriate area to produce both immediate impact and long term results.

  1. Sales is the process of getting business. Sales is the fuel for the corporate machine and the immediate gratification for corporate hunger. Your company cannot survive without sales. In fishing terms, sales is about going out and catching fish.
  2. Marketing is the process for attracting sales. It is easily overlooked because it provides no immediate gratification and yet it is vital for the future prosperity (or even survival) of the company. In fishing terms again; marketing is the irresistible bait that brings large shoals of fish within the reach of your rod or net.
  3. Marketing establishes your brand. Your brand is what distinguishes you from the rest of your corporate competitors and whilst it is propagated by your sales people it is initially established by your marketing.
  4. Marketing requires investment. This doesn’t necessarily mean that marketing requires financial investment as there are numerous methods of marketing for free but it does mean that it requires investment in time, planning and careful implementation – and it sometimes can be more effective if you are prepared to spend some money on it as well.
  5. Effective marketing materials can act as salesmen. This means that an effective, direct response sales letter to 2,000 properly targeted prospects can be the equivalent of sending out 2,000 salesmen to visit those prospects. Difficult to believe, but true – and with the added benefit that even the most effective marketing material doesn’t require a company car, commission and an expense account!
  6. Increased sales is the climax of a good marketing campaign. As I said in 2. above, marketing is the irresistible bait that brings in the large shoals of fish. At that point, even the poorest fisherman can catch a few but the best fishermen will catch many. A good sales force will similarly maximise the results of an effective marketing campaign.
  7. Sales without marketing is like a car without an engine. It will go forwards and backwards, left and right but it constantly needs pushing and is downright hard work!

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

Two Priests

I once heard a story (which I have slightly adjusted) about two priests who wished to know whether they were allowed to eat and pray at the same time. They both wrote to the Pope for guidance.

One wrote “Is it permissible to eat whilst praying?” and received the answer that it most definitely is not, since prayer should always be the focus of one’s whole attention.

The other wrote “Is it permissible to pray whilst eating?” and received the answer that it certainly is, since it’s always permissible to pray at any time.

Sometimes, to get the answer that you need, you have to ask the question in the right way.

Business coaching is all about helping people to succeed in business by asking questions in such a way that the answers given actually define the route to success.

If you know any business owners who would like to be more successful then please refer them to me – I’m not qualified to comment on the power of prayer but I do know how to ask the right questions to help them to succeed in business.

Business Boost

The latest newsDoes your business need a little refreshment?

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside

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