Having an ability to put in a long shift


This was the answer the Yorkshire Post Sports editor gave to the BBC journalists question, why have such a large proportion of Team GB medals been won by Yorkshire athletes? This viewpoint seemed to be backed up by many medalists interviewed on TV over the past few weeks. There are no short cuts to success emerged as a strong and reoccurring theme. Natural talent obviously plays an important role in winning; however, it can also dangerously lead to complacency. Putting in the hours and making sacrifices to get what you want out of life seems to be a sound piece of advice. My experience is that ambitious individuals, who chase big goals, make choices not sacrifices, this may seem like a play on words but the former is a more positive way of viewing the world. Thinking that you are giving something up can lead to negative consequences. However, delaying gratification for a bigger purpose can be extremely motivating. This fusion of graft, mindset and talent wrapped up in personal discipline all contribute to the Success Factor.

A great piece over the weekend by BBC presenter Matthew Syed (sportsman and author of a great book, Bounce) explored how the way you think is just as important as training. The short programme looked at the mindset of success and interviewed a number of iconic Olympians. They told their story of how they developed a ruthless fitness routine in parallel with a programme of getting themselves in the right mental state when it came to competition. The difference between winning and losing often lies in the mind, this was a really powerful statement made by one of the contributors. What sat at the heart of this short documentary was the power of self belief – if you don’t believe you can, then your probably right.

Words of wisdom were provided by Sir Steve Redgrave – don’t try and control the things you have no power to control, focus on what you can control. In other words the ability to control your own performance is all that matters – that means fitness, training programme, health and diet and the way you think. Yourself is the only thing you can truly control. Once you have mastery over yourself, then the winning can begin. We can apply this thinking in enterprise – the biggest difference in the world of business is, there are no medals for coming second. You either win or lose an order.

As we say in our office BYC  – Believe you Can. Not a bad way of starting any competition, whether that be sporting or business, pretty much the same.


You get what you focus on…


The importance of having a plan sounds like such a statement of the obvious, but how many of us in our business or personal life have one? At this time of year New Years resolutions are made – in my view nothing more than a wish list. By February most will have given up on them with an estimated 80% not even remembering what their goals were in the first place.

Whilst it is hard to move away from the term goal, I am trying my best to do so. People think they have goals but they don’t – why? – because are not hard wired into daily actions, this is why I prefer to use the term personal intention. This defines more precisely what you WANT!

Personal intentions have momentum and are limited to a vital few, rather than a trivial many. It’s impossible to focus on many things, so my advice is work out what 2 or 3 things you want to achieve and really focus on them. For 2012 I will be focused on 2 measurable intentions and the action plan to achieve them will benefit from a laser beam approach.

So my advice is, define your vital few intentions, write them down, create a plan, set KPI’s and review them daily and weekly. Get them hard wired into your system and focus – its amazing what happens.

Organisational effectiveness dictates the rate of growth


It’s really sad to see how many businesses fail to realise their full potential. Is it down to poorly defined value propositions, bad design, poor sales and marketing or financial control…sometimes it is. My view is that a company’s growth prospects are inextricably linked to the rate at which the founder, team and leaders can develop themselves. Businesses make transitions at key points of their journey and if the management fail to personally address these changes and the extra demands placed on them then the “growth ceiling” very quickly presents itself.

It starts with the leader’s ability to undergo personal change and continuously adapt their style and approach to overcome the challenges faced along the journey – self awareness is a must have for all entrepreneurs. In a high growth business the founder has to be clear on what they are good and bad at and build a team around them that compensates for their own personal shortcomings. The inability to delegate is the classic dilemma faced by so many individuals running their own business. This is the very reason why so few companies go on to employ more than 25 employees.  Organisational development is a pivotal part of achieving growth, and what do the VCs keep telling us – it’s all about the team.

My advice to any high growth business/entrepreneur is get the right people in the right seats doing the right things. Having the wrong people doing the right job is so common, and if we are honest with ourselves virtually all of us have been there and got it wrong, big time! A company without an effective team delivers sluggish performance at best – gazelle performance? Not a chance.

Embracing a learning culture and environment where personal improvement is encouraged and supported is non negotiable, but of course this takes time. Staff and the team are the most important component of any business. When we get the right team in place almost anything is possible. Without it growth is stunted and blockages appear – these blockages manifest in long working hours, customers being let down, poorly managed contracts, finances going off the rails, quality dipping, disgruntled staff, poor communications – a feeling of rabbit in the headlights, can’t see the wood for the tress, all familiar clichés entrepreneurs have come to live with. The antidote is investing in people and staff.

Getting the organisational structure and team right is a difficult job and perfection is challenging to say the least. Your organisation is only as good as the people who are part of it and remember the organisational and team effectiveness will dictate your rate of growth.

Livercool Business Awards


I experienced another great celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit that lives in Liverpool at last nights Downtown’s Livercool Business Awards. It was a packed house, great laugh, met many old mates as well as new contacts.

If the other major cities in the UK could replicate this energy…..then growth would most certainly follow. Celebrate success, acknowledge the winners, give recognition to those who are making a difference – turn off the news and lets stop conditioning our minds to doom and gloom. From what I saw last night there are some fantastic things going on in Liverpool and the North.

A great example of public and private sector working together for the benefit of the City and its people and employers – top stuff.

Well done Frank!