Accessing Your Creative Mindset


Connecting more regularly and effectively with your Creative Mindset will increase your chances of driving innovation into your organisation. By accessing this zone, you solve problems more effectively, difficult situations in business are approached objectively and options on how to progress a new project become considered and well thought through. Admission to this heightened state of awareness is only possible when we do away with pride, black and white thinking, and dominant beliefs that distort a forward thinking mindset. Such interference results from deep-rooted prejudices, however, when we quieten the mind we tune into our inner voice, this produces clarity of thinking that delivers inspired focus and guidance. We enter the Creative Mindset through absolute silence and stillness – creating a successful business means working ‘on it’ and not ‘in it’, this means time is needed to escape the noise that comes with the day-to-day grind.

Successful business people in my experience allocate a significant proportion of their time to uninterrupted thought. Whilst hustle and bustle is familiar territory for ambitious people, so is solitude. It helps to work out solutions to the challenges and opportunities growth presents. By making time for silent reflection we hear much louder our inner voice. You will be surprised how effective it is in navigating your actions in the right direction.

The flashes of inspiration and fantastic ideas that we enjoy from time to time come from a completely relaxed state of mind, they don’t present themselves when we are anxious or stressed. Often the harder we try the further what we want to achieve moves away. This noise resulting from unhealthy states of mind totally dampen the voice of reason that lies deep within us.

Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have time for silent contemplation, let go of being too busy and allow your Creative Mindset to speak. Here are some simple steps:

  • Write down the challenge, opportunity or issue you need to resolve – be precise and specific
  • Repeat three times what you need answers to
  • Find your place of sanctuary – no telephone, radio or noise of any kind
  • Use the slow breathing to meditate on the challenge
  • Do this for 15 minutes and at the end of the session – write down any ideas

The answer will come to you at the right moment. Practice is vital, you must be consistent and you must commit to this activity. No one is too busy to find 10-15 minutes a day. It is these moments of planning that will deliver a lifetime of freedom.


For more advice around success mindset for business growth, visit Winning Pitch, Business Challenges page


Disciplined entrepreneurship


High growth companies are disproportionately innovative to those that are not, and whilst I believe creativity is the ultimate source of competitive advantage, I must caveat my views. The importance of embedding a culture to allow free thinking that stimulates new ideas is well documented. However, without control you end up with pet projects, loads of possibilities and hundreds of potential initiatives that absorb time, energy and resource. Large companies have processes to deal with their ideas pipeline, but in smaller high growth businesses the danger is that there is too much innovation and entrepreneurship and not enough control and discipline.

Commercial problems potentially loom when there is too much lateral thinking and lack of order. Jim Collins in Good to Great uses a very powerful phrase – “Disciplined Entrepreneurship”. This embraces the notion of balance – innovative thinking and behaviours being guided within a framework of performance measures and KPI’s.

Too much Discipline – then a disconnection with customers, markets and new possibilities takes place

Too much Entrepreneurial Flair – nothing gets done because everyone is bouncing off the walls with great ideas

Successful high growth companies tend to have a disciplined approach to new idea generation and implementation – a form of commercial filter. I often wonder how much smaller high growth companies can teach large corporates about innovative thinking and entrepreneurship. The reverse is also important – how can big companies help ambitious founders gain a better handle on their organisation? Feels like a powerful learning forum!

Brave and Bold Awards – a great do !


It was a privilege to have been invited to say a few words to close Thursday night’s GrowthAccelerator’s Brave and Bold awards. The session provided a visible platform to celebrate the successes of individuals who have done something pretty amazing for their organisation, staff, shareholders, local economy and indeed UK PLC.

Without events like “The Brave and The Bold” those enterprising individuals would have remained the unsung hero’s of society – it’s only right to acknowledge their achievements raising their profile and say thank you for what they have done and are doing for the economy.

We should not forget what a lonely journey growing a business can be. It takes mental toughness, commercial acumen and a big dose of emotional intelligence to translate ideas into a sustainable high growth business. The end product of job creation, exports and economic wealth is an achievement that must be applauded.

The quality of entrants to the GrowthAccelerator Brave and Bold awards was truly outstanding – they are living proof of how high growth businesses behave; a philosophy of disciplined entrepreneurship was clearly evident. More specifically I observed all the ingredients of getting growth right – a DNA comprising:

1. Clarity of vision and strategy – executed with effective leadership and ruthless financial/operational focus

2. A positive mindset – invisible forces powered by passion, energy, mental toughness and big ambition. An ability to overcome the roadblocks growth inevitably brings is crucial.

3. High performing teams – balanced with thinkers, doers, controllers and sellers all working to a clear road map and common sense of purpose

4. Customer focused culture – one that delivers a remarkable experience and ultimately “go to brands”

5. The innovative edge – making them stand out from the crowd. They use their IP and knowledge assets to engage all stakeholders with impact. They are memorable

The exemplar companies I witnessed on the evening are a source of inspiration to the entrepreneurial community. Both winners and nominees play a pivotal role in promoting growth and encouraging others to go for it – their stories of success should be a powerful motivator to others seeking business wisdom.

I certainly hope everyone who attended will keep flying the flag for GrowthAccelerator. The economic impact of this service is just amazing – its living proof that high quality external coaching from “been there, done it individuals” deliver breakthroughs in business performance, period.

Launch of the Winning Sales Academy


Friday saw the launch of our Winning Sales Academy – Courtesy of Insider News here is the press release covering details of the event

More than 115 people attended the event, which was held to coincide with the launch of the Winning Sales Academy by Winning Pitch with support from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

John Leach, chairman of Winning Pitch, said: “Sales is the heart and soul of any business. It’s the engine. I see loads of companies with great products but they fail to recognise the importance of sales. There’s almost a fear of selling. Selling is not a dirty word. It’s a profession. Any entrepreneur knows that selling is the centre of their business.

“The idea for the sales academy has been in the background for the last five or six years but it only started to crystallise now into a business proposition.

“I’ve spent the last ten years researching what great businesses do in terms of sales and growth. The Winning Sales Academy is the way of coaching and passing on those skills. It’s the companies themselves who have been asking for these academies because they recognise the importance of sales.”

Scott Fletcher is the chairman and founder of Manchester-based cloud computing provider ANS Group, which has just reported a ninth consecutive year of profit growth and is one of a number of companies to sign up to the academy.

He said: “Nothing happens without a sale. You can have the best technology in the world but without a sales strategy it counts for nothing. There is a graveyard of companies with great products that didn’t get out there and sell it.

“Fundamentally there are not enough people with these skills out there,” he said. “I have been banging on for years about the need for a sales academy. That’s why we’re behind it.”

John Smyth is a director of the family-run Swansway Garage, which has a turnover of £350m and employs 625 staff. “We have learnt to recruit for attitude not experience,” he said. “It takes time, money and effort to develop and train a good person but it creates loyalty to the business and is worth the investment.”

Richard Millman was brought in as the chief executive of Total Fitness Health Clubs as part of a turnaround plan and has transformed the company’s sales strategy and seen membership rise.

Millman added: “One of the first things we saw was that sales needed to change, the challenge was to understand how sales needed to change. We recognised the value of existing customers just as much as recruiting new customers and we’ve put more sales/commercial focus onto our existing members. Our processes have changed to embrace technology.”

The other speakers were Paul Bailey, who owns Optimum Coatings in Morecambe, and Clive Memmott, chief executive of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

The Winning Sales Academy – Why?


We are in an era where growth seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Business owners are referring to a better economic climate and gearing up to take advantage of the up turn. In parallel, public sector policy makers remain focused on funding projects that will create new jobs. Whist it seems like a statement of the obvious but a company’s ability to grow is highly dependent on the quality of the entrepreneurial sales capability of individuals and teams. If an entrepreneur can’t sell then a business will not succeed, period. Business people regularly refer to the challenges they face when trying to recruit and retain high quality sales staff, they are difficult to find and when they emerge almost anything is done to keep them. In order for businesses to grow we must find a way for providing a strong pipeline of motivated, well-turned out ethical sales professionals who have passion and appetite to make a difference within the organisations that employ them.

One of the biggest problems with selling is, not many people like to do it and as a consequence they become a rare commodity. In the US sales staff are placed on a platform with other professionals such as accountants, lawyers, dentists and doctors in the UK a sort of stigma goes with the sales territory and consequently the new labels of business development manager and customer account executive feature in jobs advertisements. It will come as no surprise that having been in the job for 6 months the business development manager has not brought in one order, loads of relationships but no money. This is a wide spread problem is one that growth specialists Winning Pitch, in partnership with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce are keen to address.

The Winning Sales Academy has been introduced to both professionalize selling and provide practical resources to create high performing sales individuals and teams. The Academy is built on the principles of my books Pitch Perfect and Success Factor. As a result of over 15 years of observational research on how the most talented sales individuals and entrepreneurs perform, these strategies, tactics and behaviours have been translated into a practical set of training courses, workshops, masterclasses and accredited courses. The sales principles that underpin the Academy have been embraced by thousands of individuals and businesses over the years – the resultant effect being growth in revenue, personal performance and confidence.

The Winning Sales Academy’s aims to create the sales stars of tomorrow as well as tuning up the performance of those operating today. Embedding entrepreneurial and innovative mindsets, which are key to high performance selling, will underpin the growth of new and existing businesses. In turn this will allow businesses to reach their full potential and create the much-needed jobs over the coming years.

See here for further information -

What makes high growth entrepreneurs tick?


The past 18 months has provided some amazing insight into how the high growth entrepreneurial mind ticks. As a leader of a high growth company and coach to a number of ambitious individuals, the secrets of what they do are becoming clearer and clearer. There is no one killer action or strategy! Their internal machine is similar to a Rolls Royce jet engine – there are many parts, which contribute to the thrust and power of keeping a plane airborne. However, my own observational research is unearthing a number of common ingredients that help them achieve profitable growth. Here are some of my recent observations of how these ambitious wealth creators go about their work:

They have obsessive ambition to reach their goals. Very often these are anchored by an inner desire to achieve a burning personal intention, this may include supporting family needs, creating financial freedom or wanting to be recognized for what they set out to do. These hard-wired drivers become an inner force for making things happen. A vision becomes real when an entrepreneur knows very clearly what they want from life and what they need to do to support their loved ones. (Unfortunately many entrepreneurs are unable to find clarity – the consequence is more pedestrian growth)

High growth entrepreneurs have a deep belief that they can achieve what they set out to deliver. Whilst they have faith in their capability, very often paranoia surrounding failing becomes a turbo charger for making the right decisions and getting it right. This drives a make it happen mindset.

Entrepreneurial leaders rely on an effective support network. They devote time effort and energy listening to the wisdom of professional advice – this could be informal mentors, professional advisers, business coach, non-executive directors (NEDS). My experience is that business people who commit to self/business improvement perform better than those who don’t. Support around organizational development and structure, strategy, sales and marketing, performance management along with finance is highly sought after. Those who implement great advice benefit enormously!

Building a strong top team is crucial. Whist this may seem like a bit of a cliché, it’s very true but very difficult to put in place. Those leaders who balance managing and winning business with developing top team talent do go on to achieve great things. My research shows that many founding entrepreneurs agonize about finding, retaining and rewarding the right people to run their business. They fall in and out of love with the individuals they work with. Having the right seats filled around the boardroom table is probably the hardest thing for an entrepreneur to achieve. When they get it right there is no stopping them…

Stay close to what you do best but collaborate where necessary. Those entrepreneurs who build great companies focus on their core skills and competencies. Straying too far from the knitting can cause disruption and lack off management skills and expertise can place strain on a growing organisation. Those entrepreneurs who move into new space will outsource tasks that are not core business – these may include R & D, marketing, technology, IT and product development. An ability to collaborate and manage strategic partnerships is becoming an increasingly important competence of a high growth business and entrepreneurial leader. Win – win is the key to any alliance

This represents the first 5 of the new 10 critical success factors to building a high growth company. The next couple of blogs will focus on other emerging themes.


Be careful who you go into business with


Setting up a new business venture can be one of the most exciting things anyone can do. Very often two or three individuals with an idea will pool their financial and mental resources to get an enterprise off the ground. At that point, everyone is in it together and the energy created is extremely motivating for all concerned. These strong personal alliances geared to getting started in the early days can appear trouble free – discussions with solicitors and other professional advisers are viewed as an unnecessary bureaucracy. My advice is, be clear from the outset what happens if the wheels start to come off the wagon and disagreement ensues.

For as many partnerships I have seen work wonderfully, I have seen an equal amount go sour several years down the line. People live their lives in chapters and all too often individuals who started their company together with a common aim very often end up with opposing views on direction of travel. The attitude towards risk, differing views on markets and products, misaligned values and ambitions along with conflicting approaches to putting in a long shift can very quickly destabilise a business, one that often has massive potential. I have seen this all too many times, the only winners are the legal and financial profession – the ones who should have been consulted at the start not when things are going wrong.

50:50 shareholdings can be a particular recipe for disaster, so my advice to anyone setting up as equal partners is, set clear ground rules from the outset, this means:

  • Have clear shareholder agreements in place
  • Set a clear and common vision for the business
  • Define precisely who is going to do what
  • Be clear on what is important personally, financially, emotionally and commercially
  • Have grown up conversations when one or the other is particularly unhappy about an issue
  • Have an open relationship that means no dancing around handbags when something starts to get on your nerves (e.g. “I am doing all the work and my partner is sitting back and taking as much as me out of the business” – a classic!!)
  • Have regular out of office discussions about how each other feel
  • Don’t let bad feelings fester, get them into the open fast

Partnerships set up the right way can be a massive positive for growth when approached maturely, they can spread the load when things are not going to plan, two minds are better than one and the lonely feeling is not quite as bad. However, very often things change, so prepare and look over the horizon. These challenges can be even more profound if you are going into business with a friend. Get it right from day one and listen to your gut feel about whom you are going into business with.