Control the things you can

22/07/2015

The extent to which we can grow our business can largely be guided by our thoughts, actions and behaviours. However, there are external factors often at play that we can’t control, many of which could impact on us progressing to what we want. All too often we end up spending time worrying about issues that with all the will in the world you cannot have any direct impact on making them go your way. These could range from global economic factors, through to political and social issues, down as far as the behaviour and actions of other people.

Spending time worrying about the big things we can’t control can result in energy being absorbed in non value added thought. Here is a great way to think about control:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference

Reinhold Niebuhr

Success comes from managing the things we can control. Embracing this principle will get you motivated to moving forward on those pressing issues that need sorting out. Focusing on factors outside your sphere of influence could create stress and reduce the effectiveness of your actions. Your mental toughness will become eroded by the enormity of the task associated with thinking about the things you can’t change. This habit becomes emotionally draining and will impact on your efficiency and effectiveness. Accept it!

Focus on the 10 things you can control:

  1. Attitude – believe you can, growth starts with believing you can
  2. Learning and knowledge – you must learn and acquire knowledge if you want success
  3. Friends – who you spend time with and who you share ideas with
  4. Motivation – the invisible force that comes from within
  5. Time – how you spend your time – who with and on what
  6. Capabilities and offer – what you are providing to others and how effectively you deliver it
  7. Financial matters – what you spend and your means
  8. Treat and deal with people – always with respect, honesty and integrity
  9. Deal with the environment – being aware of sustainability issues and how you treat your surroundings
  10. Reputation – what you stand for and your personal effectiveness

Successful business people tend to have a strong belief in their ability to take control of the circumstances, issues and factors that will give them their desired outcome, in particular they will:

  • Actively take part in initiatives that improve their current situation
  • Have a strong internal control orientation, this is hungry for goal achievement
  • Actively pursue a policy of self development
  • Inquire and actively commit to understanding why things turned out the way they did
  • Embrace learning to ensure positive outcomes in the future
  • Ignore people who drain their energy

When we master the art of controlling the controllable, additional energy will be made available for doing, consequently you will gain a better balance between activity and thinking. Success is well within your control!


A decade of supporting high growth businesses

11/03/2015

This year marks Winning Pitch’s tenth anniversary of being in business. The very reason I founded our organisation was to provide the tools to create, build and support individuals get the most from themselves and their companies. To achieve our mission it was imperative that Winning Pitch demonstrated an authenticity that could never be challenged, in other words we practiced what we preach. Ten years on, I am very proud to announce that we have worked with some 6,000 companies. Those we have supported over the past two years have grown 4 times the rate of GDP, the average change achieved in net worth, following Winning Pitch help is 335.5%, their balance sheet value has also increased by more than £181.96m. Impact on local economies is so satisfying to observe, Winning Pitch assistance has delivered approximately 5,000 new jobs. As a business we have reached revenues in excess of £10M and over 100 full time employees across the North and rest of UK. These impacts are testament to our core beliefs of authenticity, trusted adviser and an ability to deliver.

There is no finishing line in business and complacency is a danger zone that every entrepreneur should avoid entering into. After a decade of passionately supporting the entrepreneurial business, we ourselves have moved up a gear in terms of our growth plans and ambitions. Helped by a £2.5M investment last year, I am delighted to announce a new look Winning Pitch – one that’s aims to deepen even further our profile and brand in the SME growth space. Growth SMEs are going to be even more important to local, regional and national economies over the next decade; they are the job generators, the source of innovation, graduate jobs and foreign earnings. I want Winning Pitch to be at the heart of making these businesses succeed – with clarity of vision, superior propositions, strong leadership and teams, an ability to live in the customers world as well good housekeeping and financial strategy and control, everything is possible.

I want to carry on supporting individuals to grow and helping the next generation of stars to accelerate their performance and win. More specifically, we want to give more attention to those companies that can scale their operation. These are the businesses with global potential, they become bedrocks of local economies by delivering jobs, this in turn helps communities to prosper and thrive. We will be placing increased emphasis on this unique set of companies, whose business support needs are more sophisticated and complex to deliver.

I look forward to another ten years of innovation and obsessive focus on unlocking entrepreneurial ambition. We will continue to build and expand the Winning Pitch entrepreneurial community by giving courageous individuals the trusted guidance they need to achieve both profitable growth and a business they can be proud of.


Creating space

16/09/2014

Not being able to see the wood for the trees is a common feature of life. People regularly talk about being busy and overworked – but just how much of this is self inflicted. All too often we engage in activity that brings no value to achieving our highest goals and ambitions. Without reflective time, our decision making becomes blurred and it is common to lose sight of what we want. The result is stale thought with patterns of behaviour that fail to deliver our deepest desires. Successful people have the fortunate ability to think clearly, this is helped by finding the time to take well earned breaks from being “busy”. This cleansing process provides the opportunity to de clutter the mind.

The practice of finding sanctuary helps to remove mental blockages and fosters a sense of balance between work and play. Without regular periods of reflection you will find yourself eventually in a rut – the place you don’t want to be!

You must think of Sanctuary on three levels of “time out”:

  1. Daily sanctuary to help us to prepare for the day ahead – time with family, exercise, meditation, prayer, reading. Starting each day with 10 minutes of deep reflection, provides a kick start to focused activity and just being aware
  2. Weekly sanctuary that helps divert our energies into non related activities like pursuing a hobby, sport or spending more time with family and relationships. These activities release you from the week that was – puts you in a good frame for the week ahead
  3. Sanctuary includes those activities that most people can only fit in two or three times a year. They would typically involve family holiday’s, short breaks or some form or retreat. This level gives you the opportunity to ask the big questions – what is my life all about? What needs to change? Should I go and do something else?

Dedication to the 3 Levels will open your mind to new possibilities and opportunities. Chasing success can be as destructive as it is constructive – practicing the art of Finding Sanctuary will build perspective into your life and help to differentiate between what is and what is not important, what brings fulfilment and what does not – embed these disciplines into your routine and you will experience a profound improvement in clarity of thought – you will see things more clearly, you will make better decisions and life will feel less hectic.


Businesses often start with a personal calling

19/08/2014

It never ceases to amaze me how passionate and animated entrepreneurs become when they talk about their business and what they do. To those listening it can come across as “in your face”, however, the reality is, most founders are just so proud of what they have achieved. Business and personal time are inextricably linked, feeding each off every minute of the day.

The successful high growth entrepreneurs I have worked with often started their business because of a “calling” – this means putting something right, fixing a problem, chasing a dream of freedom, pursue a passion, wanting to make a difference or proving to others they can achieve something quite amazing.

So many entrepreneurs often forget that their business is also an asset with value. The danger is when the founders view their company solely as an asset. This creates inward focused strategies, lack of customer focus, greed, ultimately this will lead to only one place  – a disconnection with the real world and decline. My advice is when the voice of the “calling” gets overshadowed by the asset, its time for a rethink. A danger zone is just around the corner. Its about balance, of course a business must generate wealth, however it works far better and in my view becomes more profitable when its game plan is linked to a purpose.

The feeling of doing what you do because it makes a difference to others is probably one of the best you can have in your career, long may it last!


Disciplined entrepreneurship

12/08/2014

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!


Mental toughness and resilience are essential to growth

26/03/2014

Running a business, particularly a high growth one is full of ups and downs. The highs are fantastic and the feeling of jubilation when we move closer to our goals provides us with a clear sense of accomplishment. For our mind it’s a great place to be as we are motivated and energised by this sense of achievement, this creates the impetus and motivation to keep pushing forward. However the journey towards our vision very rarely proceeds along a smooth path. Invariably, obstacles will be thrown in our way, these force us to create diversions and look for alternative ways of getting to our destination.

Constantly being forced to deal with the need to explore alternative roads to our desired end point can have a wearing effect on our mindset, it can bring us to all time lows in motivation – many individuals will ask themselves what’s the point in doing this? Is it really worth it? Most of us at some point in our lives have internally deliberated these issues.

Only you can answer these questions, only you can decide whether to keep going or not. At these critical points, it can be easier to give up than to carry on – from my research into success, winners in all walks of life dig deep, maintain focus and continue with their mission, they accept that setbacks are just part of the game plan.The old adage when the going gets tough the tough get going is one you should reflect on when you experience these feelings (Billy Ocean said this in his famous song). Two vital questions you need to ask yourself if you reach this stage:

  • How much do I want it?
  • Can I cope with more setbacks?

Having mental toughness differentiates winners from losers, your sense of purpose ebbs away when you listen to negative self talk, phrases such as why am I doing this? are symptomatic of the condition, in turn it weakens the endurance of the mind  and sprit thereby resulting in I give up. Successful people I have researched have an insatiable desire and internalised motivation to succeed – you have really got to want it!


A personal vision is vital – your business vision will follow

03/02/2014

Your vision provides the blue print for a successful future. Without a clear vision of what you want to achieve don’t be surprised if you are left with a feeling of, what is my life all about? This applies to relationships, career or business. Distilling what you want helps to focus your energies and actions in the right direction, it’s the starting point of a journey towards personal and professional fulfilment – knowing your destination is half the journey. In creating a vision it is vital that you are precise about what success looks and feels like at some given point in the future. A clear vision can take time to crystallise, it involves allowing time for self exploration and discovery, consider:

  • What things are important to me?
  • Why are they important?
  • How will I feel if I don’t achieve my vision?

The reality is that many people spend their life discontent with their achievements and accomplishments, some talk about wanting more – but what does more mean? The feeling of having no direction is a common dilemma we experience in our careers and life. Not allowing time to answer deep searching questions around what is important will result in the sensations of lethargy, anxiety and inertia, a sense of wandering in the wilderness is a common feeling. As popular scripture states – “Where the is no vision the people perish”

Once we become spiritually connected to our vision and we commit to achieving what we consider important, life has an amazing way of giving you what you want. A vision can also be viewed as a strategic personal intention – everything you want to achieve flows from this intention. When we embed this intention into our subconscious mind synchronicity kicks in – circumstances, situations and events magically appear out of nowhere to assist in moving us closer to what we set out to achieve.

Your vision will become a source of inspiration, another way of looking at it is that it is your personal intention, and as with most things everything flows for this. Your vision also:

  • Creates a sense of direction and meaning
  • Helps you understand with clarity the relationships important for success
  • Provides momentum for change when we feel we deserve more
  • Creates a sense of what is important to your life
  • Provides a foundation for focused activity

The visioning process will help you start with the end game – what does success look like in 3 years time – a new job, new career or a growing business. Developing a clear vision requires clarity of thought – in developing your future aspirations you must be free from the fog that diverts our mind from seeing clearly what we truly desire – so take time out to think it through. When you have clarity of the outcome, reflect on where you are now – the way forward should become clearer!