Moving forward

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Today I am a guest speaker at Tameside Enterprise Club.

This is a new thing for me, I have spoken to groups before but in an employed capacity.  It feels totally different preparing this time, mainly because I am putting myself forward (selling myself) rather than representing a company I work for.

But you know what, I am also really excited. If I can help a person or a company move forward to achieve their desired outcome, it is worth it.  The sense of achievement outweighs any nerves I have and I would encourage anyone who is starting up or putting themselves forward to be confident in themselves.  If you are not passionate about what you do, then maybe you are not doing what you should be doing.  Passion for a business is really important, especially when you are starting up – if you don’t feel passionate, why would anyone else.

A current client comes to mind when I think ‘am I really offering something worth while?’ – which I am sure so many people do!  Gail is the proud owner of a Beauty Salon in Chadderton and is concerned that they are only really busy on a Saturday and wanted to get people in during the week.  Gail and her staff are really lovely people and when you go into the salon you are greeted with a big smile and such warmth.  She asked me if I could help her with her quest for more clients.  I had a look around the salon, discussed her end objectives, what she is happy with etc.  I then made some suggestions regarding the salon itself (which is freshly painted and looks amazing).  From there we are now working on her ’email marketing campaign’ which will generate a target audience to entice into the salon.  I gave Gail a list of things to do and she has been working incredibily hard to get everything completed.  Here is what she put at the bottom of her last email.

‘Other than all this I just wanted to show I value your input and hope you are pleased with my achievements… I will continue with more and will post asap… come soon xxx I feel I can hand all this over and you can fix it xxx much regards gail xx

Ps obviously this is all a work in progress and I will continue to work on stuff, updating you as i go…’
This is what motivates me to keep working for myself so that I can help businesses when they need it without breaking the bank!
Before I decided to make the move, my perception of a ‘Consultant’ was they come into your business, have a wonder round, chat to some staff and ask question that sometimes seem irrelevant!  They then go away and produce a report telling you what you are doing wrong and not really giving you a way to change it, or giving generic responses such as ‘change the method of finance you use’. I also found that their understanding of ‘what is wrong’ may not be factual as each business is unique.  And to add insult to injury they charge thousands of pounds.
I wanted to be very different from this style of Consultant.  I pride myself in taking the time to understand what the business is about, what the aspirations of individuals and the company are, what their needs are (not what I want them to be).  This is where the ‘7 Step Program’ was inspired and created from.  I wanted to get clients to know what they wanted, make sure it fit with who they are and work towards meeting these expectations in a structured way that is not all consuming.  ‘Recognising Your Unique Business Genius’ helps clients on their way to understanding where they are on the journey. To get a copy of this please email me and I will send you a copy.
So I am ready to go, got all my sales stuff together and an general idea of what I want to say – don’t really like to prepare a speech, I know what I do and am confident in expressing this.  Will let you know how it goes.
If you need help with your business, please get in touch and I will work with you.

 

Innovation is Really important.

What do you do to encourage and implement innovation?

 

Do you have a team of Managers brainstorm in a meeting 

Do you rely on your Directors or MD to come up with something? 

Or your marketing team?

Innovation for just about every business is important.  Without innovation you just stand still and in the current market place this is not advisable. But a lot of companies struggle with finding new innovation ideas and/or implementing these ideas.

A big contribution to this is the mind set of your staff.  No one likes to be ‘told’ what to do, even children react better to being persuaded rather than told.  So why do so many companies ignore the great resources they are already paying for? The staff!

If your company does not encourage and nurture a culture of inclusion, making changes of any kind is difficult. If you involve the people who are effected by these changes and encourage their input, the change is much more organic. Staff feel valued and you will be surprised at how many things they will come up with that Managers may not have thought of.

So start right away!  Start with your team leaders, if you have them, or the most outspoken members of staff.  Explain what your aims and outcomes are and why you need their input.  Human nature is to be needed, included, valued – so make sure your staff know they have these things from you.  Get them to go back to their teams and have a chat during break times (or extend a break time by 10 minutes) so they can discuss what you need and have them report back with ideas.  They will feel they have a purpose and you will have some great ideas.   When I first started this process my first objective was to improve our Social Media postings (not my strongest skill!), my staff were a little resistant so I made it a bit of a competition – the member of staff who came up with the best post each month got a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine.  The response I got was great, it was worth the £10 I spent on the prizes!  Now it is just second nature to them, I walk through the factory and staff are throwing ideas at me, things they have seen on their way to work, ideas that came to them when they were out and about.  It is great having such open creative thinking and the staff feel much more included in the progress of our company.

Some will be a but ‘raw’ but you maybe able to use the ideas and expand on them to make a real change.

Remember as a Manager how good it feels when something you have done makes an impact on your company, get your staff to experience this same feeling, they will be more receptive to change in the future and more likely to offer positive suggestions for improvement without being prompted.

Staff are an asset you are already paying for, so utilise your assets to make positive change and improvements.

 

I would appreciate your feedback on this topic, please let any comments below. Many thanks

Mentoring – Good or Bad?

Mentoring – is it a good thing or not?  I came across this article by James Caan and thought it was worth sharing.  Please let me know your views.  

Find a mentor who can give your business a helping hand

How important is it to have a mentor? Columnist James Caan explains what a mentor could do for your business.

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James Caan: My father was my mentor – without him, I’m not sure I’d have made it. Photograph: Alamy

Is it essential to have a mentor? If so, how can I find one and what help should I expect?

The practical advice and guidance a mentor can offer is priceless. Not only can they help you avoid business hiccups, they can share words of wisdom that are invaluable, be your stirrup during struggles and share your happiness and excitement during good times. They’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt and have a wealth of knowledge for you to tap into. All in all, a mentor could be your saviour.

Mentorship is becoming more and more accessible and recognised within entrepreneurial circles these days. This is because we finally understand the importance and impact a mentor can have on aspiring business owners.

Starting up is a long process, full of highs and lows. I’ve failed many times in business – and each failure taught me a valuable lesson and enabled me to hone my knowledge and learn from my mistakes. This set me on the right path and gave me the grounding I needed to succeed. Collectively it is important to share these lessons of failure to try and steer entrepreneurs and small business owners away from the same pitfalls. This is exactly what a mentor can offer.

If you’re looking for a mentor, try to find somebody who can really understand what you’re going through. There’s no point starting off by speaking to someone twice your age with 20 years of corporate experience, because they won’t be able to immediately recognise your struggles.

Instead, look for someone of a similar age who has taken a similar path and can help you avoid the mistakes they made. Remember, finding someone you actually relate to and who shares your passions is essential – without these similarities you’re just wasting each other’s time.

Secondly, look for someone who knows your sector inside out. You want to get as much as you can out of your mentor and the best way to do this is by ensuring they have the right knowledge and can point you in the right direction.

Find somebody who can potentially open some doors for you, somebody with contacts that could help you progress – take advantage of everything your mentor has to offer. Take a good look around you – your mentor could be a parent, cousin, uncle, brother, friend, colleague, competitor – the list goes on. Don’t underestimate your options.

It is important to remember that a mentor won’t necessarily remove all the obstacles your business faces, but they can certainly show you a better route to get to where you need to go.

Typically, entrepreneurs are hesitant to ask for help because they feel like they want to do everything themselves but remember that everyone needs a helping hand, no matter who they are.

My father was my mentor. He helped sculpt my future success and, without him, I’m not sure I’d have made it.

If you find a good one, a mentor can help guide and nurture you, sharing wisdom you’ll never forget. For me, this was my father’s one-liner: “Observe the masses and do the opposite” – advice which still resonates with me today.

 

 

Team Building

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I was asked to look at possible team building activities and locations for a client who was looking to do some thing that all his staff could be involved in.  Sounds easy right – wrong!

He has a 15 staff that have an age range of 20 to 58 years old and different backgrounds. Oh and a limited budget of course.

I spent some time talking to his staff, finding out what they liked to do and making suggestions to possible places and gauging their reactions.  This proved informative but the staff had such different ideas it was going to be hard finding something for everyone.  Added to this, my client was making it a compulsory event, always a hard sell with some staff.  There are so many beautiful places in the UK the choices are endless.  My recent visit to Betsy Coed is just one perfect example.

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Sports activities were out, travelling any distance was not received well

Sports activities were out (go carting, paintballing, white water rafting, rock climbing), not many were keen on traveling, others didn’t like the idea of being with other groups.  The negative list just went on and on.  Not a lot of positive responses were coming forward.

I then went back to my client and asked ‘What exactly do you want to achieve from this event?’  It is easy to get carried away with these team building events and not achieve what your client wanted.

My client explained that the moral within the company had been low, partly due to a down turn in business and partly due to him being stressed, leading to being less cheerful with his staff.  Basically it was something to cheer his staff up, remind them that they were a team and that they are very much valued.  I felt given the downturn in business meant that throwing a lot of money at an event would be inappropriate and give the wrong message to staff.  So I asked if my client would consider a structured event outdoors, followed by a simple finger buffet at a local pub.  This meant keeping costs to a minimum, local so hardly any travel involved and a simple buffet that I could put together myself (experience from Managing the Broadoak Hotel!).  My client really liked the idea and was happy for me to put together a proposal.

A lot of research later, I had an event planned, costed – just needed approval from my client. I put my proposal together and dropped it off for him to look through and get back to me with any changes.  I was really surprised to get a call later the same day from my client giving me the go ahead.   I had a further meeting with my client to finalise the date, time, exact number of people etc and he was happy to leave me to get on with planning the event. I only had 3 weeks to get everything in place and ready – no time to waste.

I planned several games (a couple as back-ups), booked a free function room where I could provide my own food, went shopping for catering/buffet and one event ready to go.

The day was a great success.  Staff were a little apprehensive to start with, which I expected but with some light persuasion and a lot of laughing at each other, everyone joined in the games.  Back at the function room, the staff were ready to eat and carried on laughing and joking with each other about the games and how badly their boss had done (not sure if he lost on purpose!).  It was very rewarding seeing a company come together during hard times and to remember that they are valued and worth the constant stress for the owner.

I checked back with my client a month later and he said everyone had really enjoyed the day and were asking to maybe do another similar event in the future.  He put the photos up on the notice board as a reminder and staff had been more understanding of his position, being more supportive in general.  He asked if I would be prepared to hold some innovation meetings with staff to get them more involved in the company, I was happy to help and see this small company grow a little at a time, but certainly more positively.

There are so many ways to bring staff together and it does not have to cost a fortune to get the results needed.  I believe that it is not how much you spend on these events but the quality of the event that matters.

If you feel I could help you or your company arrange an event, please let me know and I will be happy to talk through some ideas.  07478 946454 or email.