Controlled lunacy – a recipe for growth

24/02/2012

Are you MAD? This is often the reaction friends and family give when someone says they are off to set up their own business. Giving up the security of a well paid job and entering the unknown is often seen as a bonkers thing to do. Well if this is madness we need more lunatics. Very often seeing things that others cant is the first sign of going off the rails, however it’s also a trait of entrepreneurs who have a vision or calling to go it alone. A burning idea, new product or a solution they have found to a commercial problem. So often entrepreneurs see things that others cant!

One word of caution, this lunacy must be controlled and a safety net provided with solid advice, sound coaching to ensure all the cogs of finance, compliance, systems and processes are in place. So important, otherwise the wheels come off. Control that madness.


Smart Operator – High Growth Individuals

19/07/2011

Recent economic challenges have placed serious pressure on people to think very differently. Business as usual is not an option, its time for something completely different. Cuts in public and private sector budgets have taken their toll – redundancies, lost revenue, projects going on hold…the story goes on. So what’s the answer? Manage decline and depression or look for the opportunities. As one delegate at an event I spoke at the other week put it….”recession, I have decided not to participate”. A very refreshing approach and outlook, the very opposite to the doom and gloom the media encourages us to embrace.

The answer is to practice and develop the Smart Operator Mindset – this ultimately leads to the creation of the high growth individual. We should draw parallels from the world of enterprise and create our own personal business plan, one that maps out a destination with the prioritized tasks to get us there. Here are some pointers for the Smart Operator Mindset:

1. Smart Proposition – define your unique talents, what you love doing, what you want, what gets out of bed. Aligning a future to a basic purpose really does help to accelerate the way forward.

2. Smart Vision – write down your personal intentions for 6 months, 1 year, and 2-years. Base this on your Smart Proposition. Include earnings and other components that make up the life you want

3. Smart Plan – remember a vision without tactics is hallucination. List the things you need to do and get on with it. The right path will emerge when activity is initiated.  Avoid procrastination. Set yourself KPI’s to check whether you are on track.

4. Smart Brand – you are selling yourself, so work out what mental imprints you want to leave on those you meet. Be memorable, deliver on your promises and become the master of your trade. This is what you will become known for.

5. Smart Collaborator – work out who you need to engage and team up with. Alliances and partnerships are a critical part of the Smart Operators DNA.

6. Smart Communicator – master the art of getting messages across, think win-win and live in the world of your audience. Clarity and concise messages that considers both your needs and those of others lead to positive relationships that go somewhere.

7. Smart Connector – work out a plan for finding, reaching and locking into to those individuals and organisations that are important to your personal progression. The connectors and influencers could include suppliers, banks, associates, partners, customers, other departments.

Practice makes perfect, another cliché that I hate, but its true. As Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours to become successful, so that means blood, sweat and tears, I still don’t think there are any short cuts to getting want you want. A combination of being really good at what you love doing, combined with taking ownership of your life fused with determination and persistence help pave the way forward. The Smart Operator Mindset is a framework for you to hang your thinking on.

 


Fear

11/07/2011

Fear is a major barrier faced by individuals thinking about setting up their own business, unless it can be overcome, progressing an entrepreneurial dream will be difficult.  Dipping into savings, re mortgaging the family home, personal guarantees, going without holidays or giving up a social life is a step too far for many. A foray into the unknown can be a very daunting experience, this means anyone taking the plunge should think very carefully about what the journey of self employment holds. Expect the unexpected is a phrase that so many business owners will relate to. Growing a company inevitably becomes a rollercoaster ride with no stop off point, you are swept along with the momentum that builds when, staff, customers, suppliers and the day-to-day running all demand your attention. Be prepared and aim to minimize all the risks associated with going it alone.

Given the current economic challenges faced throughout the world, entrepreneurship has now become a hot topic for debate. My advice to anyone going down this path is prepare yourself emotionally, mentally and commercially. Head, heart and wallet must be aligned. Once you get this, the rewards can be massive both in financial terms and from a sense of personal fulfillment.

My research shows that successful businesses don’t happen over night, they are the exception rather than the norm. The reality is there is no fast track to success, normally it takes over 10 years to create a properly functioning company. The journey involves navigating the forks in the road, where taking the wrong turning could have potentially disastrous consequences. Building a successful company is a bit like trying to get to heaven, you have to go through purgatory before you get there! It almost seems mandatory to have experienced two major setbacks before you get to the desired destination.

Whilst fear is a very sound reason for not moving forward with an idea, the reality is that focusing too much on this negative emotion and its associated outputs will hinder the ability to progress. Having said that a bit of fear can be also a powerful antidote to complacency. It’s all about getting the balance right.


Goldman Sachs Growth Event – 10,000

06/07/2011

I spoke at the MMU/Goldman Sachs event last night and covered what I believe to be the 10 Rules for Growth, here they are:

1.Future Focused – know what you want, business and personally

2.Leadership – continuously learn or the business will leave you behind

3.Build a Great Team – you need thinkers, doers, controllers and sellers

4.A Differentiated Proposition – be clear on what makes you stand out from the crowd

5.Innovation & Creativity – curiosity for exploring new ways of doing things

6.Live in the Customers World – know what they need before they do 

7.Disciplined Systems & Processes – don’t let the wheels come off stay close to KPI’S

8.Life is a Pitch – focus on selling, the lifeblood of entrepreneurship 

9.Having the Right Mindset – its down to you BYC (Believe You Can)

10.Find a Mentor – we all need help, find a companion to support through challenging times

A brilliant initiative, I hope our High Growth Foundation clients take advantage of it.


A word of caution for sales trainers

07/05/2011

I have referred to this point in some of my recent blogs but I really do want to stress how important I believe the issue to be – I keep coming across the problem time and time again, both with SMEs and larger companies. The big assumption many sales trainers make is – “The business model, propositions, products and services offered by those being trained do actually capture the voice of the customer and align to needs”.  This can be a dangerous assumption to make.

This very point came to light only this week when one individual I was talking to after an event said – “I just do not believe in the product and what it delivers” – a training course will not improve performance if this is the case. In my experience is that many large corporates fail to see this and when under performance kicks in managers go straight to HR to request a relevant sales course. How much money has been wasted on such occasions?

The very fact that someone does not believe in a product could be two-fold, firstly the because market does not want it, this results in constant customer knock backs or secondly the individual has a personal hang up with what is being sold. If it’s the former – a rethink of strategy, innovation is necessary so speak to the customers. If the latter then that could be one of many reasons ranging from lack of product knowledge through to personal motivation. Coaching from a respected colleague or manager can be a highly effective way of getting to the heart of the matter.


Be prepared – Sometimes it can be crap

27/03/2011

I am really encouraged by the new Coalition Governments attitude and approach to enterprise and entrepreneurship. Start up’s are the future, they will create the jobs. But one word of advice is that being your own boss can be demanding and at times take its toll on you personally and potentially your family and dependants – it’s stressful. Most people who know me will appreciate that I am a passionate and proactive ambassador for entrepreneurs who go out there and take a risk. So much of our recovery as an economy depends on individuals with an idea who can take it forward with gusto – generate revenue, profit and create not only a wage for themselves but also for others. It really is not easy.

My advice to anyone who is thinking about, going it alone, is get your HEAD IN GEAR. As long as you are prepared then you will be OK. Being your own boss is great when you are riding the wave of success but the lows can be at best crap – it’s a bit like a rollercoaster. As long as you know this you can be mentally prepared for the journey. The high’s include:

– The feeling of euphoria when you win the new contract

– The pride in creating new jobs and seeing individuals develop

– Recognition from your peers about the difference your business is making

The lows often involve a sense of just wanting to escape to somewhere well out-of-the-way, particularly when you are:

– Worrying about whether you have the cash to pay the wages

– Waiting to hear about a new contract that has cost you a fortune to bid for

– Dealing with people who are making your life really difficult, sometimes people look to you for the    answers but you really don’t have them.

So my advice is get your head sorted, expect the unexpected, accept its going to be full of surprises, ups and downs. When you realise this it’s a great journey. Always maintain the faith in what you set out to do, accept the brutal facts and just keep pushing and pushing till you get to the destination.  Its going to be crap at time but that’s just temporary the highs massively shadow the lows!