• Measure your Business: 5 Tips for Making Figures your Friends

    If you want your business to thrive and grow, it must be cared for, tracked, measured, monitored…and nurtured. (1)

    How’s your business doing?

    How do you know? Have you measured your progress? Tracked your conversions, returns and referrals? Compared all numbers to previous periods?  Made adjustments and monitored their effects?

    If you’re like most business owners, you’re canned answer is “Good.” However, you probably have little evidence to back it up, and there’s usually one reason why:

    Tracking your business’s progress is boring and tedious. Plus, it makes you nervous; it’s much easier to coast along, assuming you’re improving every month. There is a fear that measurement will reveal areas that need improvement…or worse.

    All of this is understandable and natural. It’s comfortable to ignore what could be bad news and instead choose to live in the blissfulness of ignorance. However, if you want your business to be successful, to grow…you must measure what matters and use what you find to make adjustments. This is the most direct (and speedy) path to business growth.

    More than half of UK businesses don’t survive past five years,[1] and one contributing factor is the unwillingness of business owners to track their own progress (a.k.a. step on that virtual scale). Improvement is practically impossible without knowing what areas need improvement—and in what order and to what degree.

     

    Tips for Making Figures your Friends

    Tracking the progression (or regression) of your business can be a tricky habit to form. Not only can the undertaking be fear-inducing, it takes time. Here are some pieces of advice for getting starting and staying on-track with tracking:

    • Establish a starting point. Your second measurement will only give you as much information as your first measurement allows. So get going! Launch the analytics. Open a spreadsheet. Start recording this month’s net profits, new customers, returning customers, website visitors, new social media likes/follows/shares/Retweets, referrals, customer complaints, merchandise returns, lead time for order fulfilment, employee turnover, shipping costs…and whatever else will serve as an indicator of your business’s progress.
    • Define your focal points. Determine what three areas of your business are most integral to the fulfilment of its mission, then focus most intensely on those areas. Determine what number(s) will most accurately measure the performance of those areas. Put these at the top of your tracking list.
    • Set improvement goals. After you’ve gotten into the swing of recording your metrics of business performance, set goals for improvement. A 2% net profit increase or a 5% increase in employee retention over the next two years are examples of performance goals.
    • Stay committed. As your business grows, you will try new things and explore new markets. The only sure-fire way to know if any of this is working is to measure the results. AND the only sure-fire way to assign specific results to specific actions is to measure regularly (monthly). Skip your tracking exercises for even one month, and results will be skewed.
    • Utilise a syndicated service. As your tracking becomes more sophisticated, you are likely to benefit from the use of a syndicated tracking and measurement service. Google Analytics is just one example.

    It’s so easy to make excuses—to take a guess at how your business is doing. The unfortunate truth about this behaviour is that your business is likely to join the majority of start-ups laid to rest in the business graveyard.

    If you want your business to thrive and grow, it must be cared for, tracked, measured, monitored…and nurtured. Close attention to the numbers that matter will not only tell you if you’re on track, they will highlight areas in need of improvement so that your business can be the best it can be.

    Need more information on how you can track your business’s progress and use what you learn to grow it? Then let’s schedule a 30-minute consultation, in which we’ll discuss your unique business, your goals and the best way to achieve them. Contact me here.

    [1] RSA (a British commercial insurer)

  • 7 Reasons Why Business Coaching Won’t Work For You

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    There is much evidence to prove that having a good business coach can have a significant positive impact on your business.

    An industry study in the UK found that CEOs who consent to business coaching are able to improve their working relations by 77 percent, leading to a 53 percent boost in productivity and increased profits of 22 percent. The International Coach Federation in another study note that PricewaterhouseCooper have established the average return on investment from coaching to be 787%.  Whilst the evidence is strong, business coaching is not appropriate for every business.

    If you are reading this, you might be wondering if you are right or ready to hire a business coach help you to grow and develop your business. However, before you invest in finding a good business coach check out 7 reasons below why having a business coach won’t work for you:

    • You are happy with where your business is today. If you satisfied with your current level of organisation growth and performance, there is no need to look at ways to grow the business further or faster.
    • You are reluctant to change. Whilst you may want to grow your business or feel frustrated at certain areas within your business, if you are not willing to accept that changes are required, and that most importantly you may have to change your thinking and behaviours, then there is no point engaging a coach in your business.
    • You would prefer to stay in your comfort zone. It is quite natural to feel uncertainty and doubts at times, however these fears can keep us stuck doing the same things. To get different results it is necessary to do different things and this can sometimes feel challenging and stretch us out of our comfort zone.
    • You don’t feel the desire to learn new things. If you run your own company, you may feel that the last thing you have right now is the capacity for learning new ideas and ways of doing things.
    • You are not particularly interested in feedback on your performance. If you are confident that you are doing a reasonable job, then you may not feel the need or desire to get feedback on how you are doing from either a coach or your employees.
    • You don’t feel you can afford to make the investment. As you are running your business and you will have many demands on your money and time. Hiring a coach will cost money and require you to make the time for meetings. Maybe you don’t feel that you can commit the time or money required to make a lasting difference to your business.
    • You aren’t committed to taking the actions required to move forward. There is a world of difference between knowing that you need to do verses actually applying this in real life. Implementation is the key and without the commitment to take the right actions on a regular basis nothing will change.

    So whilst you may want to improve and grow your business if you can recognise or identify with one of the reasons in the list above then this is a pretty good indicator that business coaching won’t work for you right now.  There may be other approaches that will work better for you to achieve your aims but it would be better not to waste your time or money investing on business coaching.

    For business coaching to work well the desire for change in your current business must be strong enough, or the frustrations you are facing intolerable enough.

    Business coaching is based on the principle that what got you here is unlikely to get you where you want to get to.  A good business coach will challenge your thinking, encourage you step out of your comfort zone and create a tracking structure that to hold you accountable for your actions.

    To have a successful coaching relationship you will need to be open, willing to listen to and learn new ideas, concepts and principles and be able to hear feedback on your performance – the good, the bad and the ugly.  It is facing this honest truth that you will help you to grow in self-awareness, develop your leadership skills and give you the confidence to lead your company to its full potential.

    “I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their full potential.”  Bob Nardelli, CEO Home Depot

    If you think that your company is right and ready for business coaching, then please contact me to find out more about how business coaching could help your company to reach new levels of growth and success.

     

     

  • Mind-Set Change: for Business Growth

    Change mindsetThere are many different reasons why business growth strategies fail. A common one is having an organisational or team mind-set that doesn’t match the strategy you wish to pursue.

    An organisational mind-set or paradigm is made up of the collective conscious and unconscious thinking and beliefs of the people who work there: about themselves, their colleagues and the company itself.

    If business growth slows or stalls, it’s often an indicator that the current mind-set is not aligned with of the organisation vision and goals. This can pose quite a challenge, since our mind-set is often buried in the subconscious, and like a computer operating system with a virus, if there is a poor mind-set this can sabotage your efforts.

    When this happens, it’s time to face the reality:

    What got you here isn’t going to get you there.

    When you first established your business you had certain beliefs, thoughts and a mind-set that enabled you to grow your business to where it is today. The thing is this: to get to the next level of business growth, your thinking and beliefs need to evolve and change because your current mind-set is not going to help you reach the next level of success.

    Two things must happen in order for business growth to continue:
    1. The thinking/mindset of all involved must shift. Old beliefs in the organisation need to be uncovered and replaced with a new empowering mind-set that matches the business vision and goals of the company. Creating a new mind-set requires that everyone involved changes their way of thinking—and this must start with changing the thinking of the senior management team. When thinking changes at the top, change and growth can occur throughout the organisation.

    2. Everyone involved needs to believe that those shifts will cause positive changes. Many times, when a vision is big, people first adopt the belief that they can do it…but then very quickly they start doubting themselves and others, fearing failure and entertaining uncertainty at every turn. These limiting beliefs lead to a focus on negative outcomes and turn into realities. To get positive results, those limiting beliefs need to be identified and then changed.

    In life and in business, when we aren’t getting desired results, we try to do something different. Often, that “something different” doesn’t work either. Then what? If new actions aren’t delivering the results you want, you must dig deeper to uncover what you and your team really think about the situation. Are fears, doubts and uncertainties holding you back or delivering the negative scenarios you are focussing on?

    In order to create new results, you need to start by thinking differently. When you change your thinking, you behave differently and take different actions. We all know this because we have experienced it at some point in our lives.

    The same is true in a company. To deliver your business growth strategy, you need to think differently, as a collective unit. Every successful business has undergone changes as it grew—it altered from what it once had been. And of all the people involved in growing the business had to think in new ways because…

    Changes in Beliefs  =  New Actions  =  New Results

    Before you decide to take any different action, look into the following:
    1. your mindset (your beliefs)
    2. the team mindset (collective set of beliefs)

    Do those beliefs support your business vision and strategy? Will they lead to success for your current-day business goals…or were they only effective for the goals your business once had?

    The beliefs that are holding back your business strategy and its growth are made up of a number of things, including thoughts that have gone unspoken, paradigms that are considered unchangeable and subconscious philosophies that have been long-held. Excuses are symptoms of these limiting beliefs, so where an excuse exists, a belief needs to be changed.

    Awareness brings its own rewards. If you start to recognise your own and your organisation’s limiting beliefs, this means they can be changed. You’ll find that when you shift your mindset to support your business goals, you’ll have an easier time thinking positive thoughts and believing in yourself and your team’s potential.

    Of course it can be difficult to see the ways in which you’re holding yourself back from the inside. If you would like to find out how you can shift your limiting beliefs to deliver your business growth strategy, contact me via email or phone to have a free 30-minute consultation that will impact your results.

  • Every Business Growth Strategy needs a Why

    What is your why?

    Does your organisation have a business growth strategy? Is it the guide for all your business activities and supported by clear intentions and purpose? Or is it the product of obligation?

    There are two types of business growth plans. Allow me to explain:

    1. The business growth strategy that is drafted to answer questions asked by lenders and investors and to tick the box “Yes we have a business plan”: This strategy is created solely for the purpose of satisfying the demands of people outside your organisation. It is usually very detailed, pages long and extremely dull. Once created, your 25-50 page business growth plan then languishes on a bookshelf forgotten and gathering dust.

    2. The alternative business growth strategy is one created for and by those within the organisation, to focus them on fulfilling strategic aims, as well as the purpose of the organisation: This business strategy is usually short (1-5 pages), and often visually centred and definitively designed to inspire. This business strategy is not sat lost on shelves or hard drives, but is ever-present, referred to regularly and used to guide and motivate staff to implement and deliver the strategic goals of the business.

    Is your Business Growth Strategy Destined for Failure?
    Sadly, most business strategies fall under category #1 – the business plan drafted simply to satisfy an obligation. This type of growth plan is generally a list of what you are going to do and how you plan to achieve certain targets. More often than not this type of business plan is lacking a clear purpose or a clear reason why your company is doing what it’s doing. Without a clear why this type of business growth strategy is likely to fail.

    Your why is the passion in your business. For a business to grow it not only needs structure (e.g. a typical business plan), it also needs passion to motivate staff to want to accomplish that growth.

    Your business growth strategy must be derived from your why. Without a clear purpose for coming to work, people are just turning up. With a strong sense of why, your staff members have a clear reason or purpose for coming to work and evidence proves that people who enjoy coming to work are more productive and creative.

    Once you have a clear why, your business growth strategy is then simply a description of the route (the how and what) your company intends to follow in order to create that future.

    Your Business Why:

    Why are you in business? Why do you believe what you’re doing is important? Why do you believe you are changing people’s lives?

    Why are you investing a large portion of your life in this business? And why is the thing you believe in driving it?

    The answers to these questions will help to form your why. Your why is shaped by the thing you love to do (your passion) and the thing that you wish to change. Making money is never a viable why. Search deeper for what having the money means to you.

    The why does not come from looking ahead at what you want to achieve and figuring out an appropriate strategy to get there. It is not born out of any market research and it does not come from extensive customer interviews. Your why comes from deep within yourself.

    “Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand
    they must win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.”
    Simon Sinek

    Why is the starting point for creating your business growth strategy. Once you are clear on your why, you will be able to identify what you will do to realise it and how you will do it.

    The outcomes (or what you will do) can be mapped out easily because when you know why you’re doing it, you’ll be clearer on how to achieve your vision and on how to differentiate your business from the competition. Your how will be based on your mission, your company values and the people in your organisation.

    It is crucial that you do some business soul-searching to identify your why before creating your business growth strategy. However, once you have done this, you may be surprised at how simple it is to draft that strategy (and to carry it out), because you have a clear path of intention.

    Do you have a business growth strategy? Are you concerned that it isn’t fit for purpose? There are steps you can take to inject the right elements into your existing business strategy, or you can rewrite it so that it better supports what you really want to achieve in your business.

    If you would like help with your business growth strategy or business plan, you can contact me by email or through our Contact Us page. I would be happy to spend 45 minutes with you on the phone discussing your business growth strategy—to see how it can be improved to help you grow your business to the next level.

    Failing to plan is planning to fail.

     

  • How Do You Measure Up?

    How Do You Measure Up?

    I was with a client yesterday talking about how to grow their business. Everything was going well until I asked for some more details about the sales figures and profit margins. I got a slightly sheepish look from the MD and a comment that whilst they could give me monthly and even daily overall sales figs for the business, they couldn’t break that figure down in any more detail.

    Now whilst this may seem surprising, many companies are guilty of having similar number blindness and don’t have a clear idea of the reality of what is going on in their company.  Do you for instance, have a clear idea of how your sales figures are made up? Do you have an idea of what your profit margin is on each of your products or services? Do you know which of your clients are the most profitable?

    Numbers are your friend!
    There are all kinds of reasons for not tracking and measuring these types of numbers: not knowing what data to measure, not knowing how to track the data, not knowing what to do with the data once received etc.

    However whatever the reasons, it is important to realise that the only way to effectively grow your business is to embrace numbers and treat them as your friend. Numbers tell you exactly the way that it is, they can help show what has happened and they can inform you of how things will be in the future. Some people avoid looking too closely at the numbers in their business for fear of what the numbers may reveal. However it is good to remember that although that you cannot change the past, you can use information today to change what you do to improve your performance tomorrow.

    You cannot improve what you do not measure.
    If you want to get better at something you need to know what level you are starting from. If you want to sustainably grow your business you need to know where your business is operating today.

    Tracking the right numbers can help you to keep focused on delivering your strategy for growth and allows you to stay neutral by seeing clearly what is going on without the emotion. Reviewing the numbers regularly and watching how they change provides an opportunity to learn from the actions that you are taking. What are you doing right that you can do more of? What do you need to do less of or stop doing? How can you apply what you have learnt going forward?

    So if you want to track numbers which ones should you monitor to help you to grow your business? There are so many different numbers you could look at there is a danger of being overwhelmed and not tracking any, or tracking too many numbers that aren’t giving you the information that you need.

    What numbers to track?
    There are two different types of numbers that you can track and measure:

    1) Lagging indicators – these are usually output based and tell you how things were in the past e.g. revenue, sales figures, number of customers, etc. They are usually easy to measure but hard to improve or influence.

    2) Leading indicators – these are usually input oriented and help to determine how things will be in the future. They can be harder to measure but much easier to influence and improve. e.g. number of client visits you make, telephone calls you make, emails queries answered in under 2 hours, no cases closed in 48 hours etc.

    To change the lagging indicators (the results) that you are getting in your business, you need to focus on determining and measuring your leading indicators. To determine your business leading indicators you need to identify what are the activities that you must undertake to achieve the desired outcome?
    E.g. in your business you want to grow on line sales.
    Your lagging indicator will be measuring your % of turnover or profits derived from on line sales.
    Your leading indicators could be:
    1) Number of people visiting your web site
    2) Visitor time spent on your web site
    3) Number of email addresses captured
    4) Number of emails sent to a potential customer before buying etc.

    All these leading indicators can be influenced and improved upon once they are being measured.

    Identify your Critical Drivers to improve performance
    Determining and monitoring critical drivers in a business is key to improving performance. Identifying key performance indicators (leading indicators) and measuring them will ALWAYS move you forward as it raises your awareness of where you are and what you need to focus on .

    Another way to look at KPIs is to use the analogy of flying a plane. Pilots watch dials very carefully to guarantee the success of a flight. They are always monitoring their dials, checking to see what is happening so that they can take corrective action to stay on the current course.

    What are the characteristics of KPIs or business dials?
    1) They are carefully selected measures that guarantee success
    2) They give information on what is happening now or what will happen
    3) They have pre-determined levels below which corrective action must be taken to guarantee success

    An example is a vehicle fuel gauge, which is designed to show you when to take corrective action if the level of fuel fall below a certain point.

    Identify your own KPIs or business dials
    Using and measuring KPIs or dials helps to determine if you are going to achieve your business goals, however they take patience to set up and start using. To determine the right numbers that you need to track in your business you need to do the following:

    1) Determine which KPIs/dials need to be created
    2) Determine the level each KPI/dial must reach to achieve success
    3) Create a system to monitor and measure KPIs/dials
    4) Employ the qualities of playing a game
    5) Focus on actions needed to take to get/keep dials at their levels of pre-determined success

    If you do take the time to identify the key performance indicators in your company and regularly monitor and measure them you are GUARANTEED SUCCESS!

    Dare to check how you are doing – as often as possible!

    For more information on how to create aligned, high performance teams click here to get your free e-book:

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