Do You Ask for Help?

Are you someone who finds it easy to ask others for help? Or are you part of the majority that hit barriers and just keep pushing harder and trying to figure it out on your own?

There’s a lot of truth in the jokes about men driving around lost and refusing to stop and ask for directions. Logically it makes little sense, but I know from my own experience whether driving or otherwise that there’s some sort of satisfaction in finding the solution myself. I noticed recently that as my wife and I walked into a large retail outlet, looking for a specific item as a present, my wife’s first aim was to find an assistant to ask. My reaction on the other hand was that even if it took all day, I was going to find it on my own! After ten minutes up and down the aisles my wife insisted on asking the assistant, only to be told that they don’t sell that product. I realised this is almost always what I do in shops, and it’s not very sensible!

If you hadn’t guessed yet - I’m drawing parallels with the work environment. My working days as a Business Coach are split between helping existing clients with whatever aspect of their business needs attention and the other half is talking to business owners who are “absolutely fine on my own, thanks” and busy working it out for themselves. The fact is that only a tiny minority of business owners look for help - or even accept it when it’s offered!

A very wise colleague of mine explained many years ago that we spend our formative years in an education system that discourages what is called “cheating”. In class we would have it drummed into us “better to make your own best effort than to cheat and get someone else to help you”. Copying someone else’s homework or asking a classmate what the answers became morally unacceptable and punishable offences. “It’s not about winning, it’s about taking part” - a worthy-sounding endeavour, but one which sets us up poorly for a competitive work environment. My colleague’s assertion was that we’ve all been programmed from an early age not to ask for help - that it’s better to try and try until we work out the answer ourselves.

When you look at it logically, it’s easy to believe that we’ll get much faster results by asking for help from someone who’s ‘been there and done that’ and can give us the shortcut. The very word “shortcut” can imply “cheating” and people avoid it. Seriously, I see it all the time, people in business being paid by the hour to work out answers to things that many thousands have already done before. It’s not a recipe for success.

So if you want to succeed to a greater level and much faster, how about asking for some help from those who know the answers? It could be your accountant, your bank manager, a solicitor, an HR advisor, or maybe it’s a virtual PA or bookkeeper to actually do some of the things for you that you’d take ten times as long to do yourself. Business can feel tough enough without turning every step into a personal challenge, so reach out and ask for some help - today!

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By: Rob Pickering

It's all about emotion

As we go through life and business, we tend to look at logic and operate in a transactional manner. Our paradigm - the way we view the world - is typically based upon logic. It’s how we explain things, it’s rational. For example, pay someone to do a job and they’ll do it. Offer what people want at a reasonable price and they’ll buy it. But the trouble is that actually we tend to be dealing with other human beings, and human beings are not based on logic, we’re based on emotion.

Motivation is much more about emotion than about logic. People only do things when they’re motivated. So if you want someone to work for you and do things the way you want them done, at the time you want them done, you’d better make sure they’re motivated correctly. And if you want people to buy from you and keep buying, you’d better make sure they’re motivated that way. If you want people to trust you, help you, like you… you need to make sure they’re appropriately motivated.

The key to all this involves knowing, and liking, people. By ‘knowing’ I don’t just mean you know they exist, I mean you really get to know what matters to them. When you know what matters to people, you can start to understand them. And when you understand people, you can find ways to help them. Business - when we get down to the root of it - is about helping people. In more logical terms it’s about delivering a product or service that people need or want, in a way that they like.

Businesses often fail - either completely (they cease trading) or partially (they’re less profitable than they could be) - because they lose sight of the fundamental point, ie helping people. They get too caught up in their own internal needs and wants, or they fail to understand what matters to their customers. And when this happens, customers buy less or stop buying altogether.

The key to your success in business is understanding people: Understand your employees, your suppliers and your customers and what really matters to each of them, and find a way of meeting all their needs simultaneously. It’s always a balance. Ask yourself, do you know what really matters to each of these groups and individuals? If not, find out, then act upon it. That should be at the core of all your plans and actions, but guided, of course, by what matters to you.

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By: Rob Pickering

Avoid Killer Clients

Ideal Customers

Do you ever dread answering the phone and discovering it’s one of those clients that’s always getting you down? Complaining or demanding more for less with unrealistic expectations? Asking you to do work you hate doing, at times you don’t want to, for prices that are too low? Then it’s time to fire the dud clients and hire the ideal ones!

I really like all my clients. I look forward to spending time with them on the phone or in person, and I really want them to do well. And I’d like to think think the feeling is mutual. I’m careful to work only with clients who I believe I can help, and with whom I feel aligned.

Many business owners I meet tell me that some of their clients are great, but others are a complete nightmare! It’s easy to understand that in any business there’s a pressure to find more customers. This leads people to literally work with anyone that can pay.

If you operate a retail business it can be hard to choose your customers, but they don’t tend to hang around long either. The real issue is in a business where you’re dealing personally with the same client over and over. These are typically service businesses such as accountants, financial advisors, lawyers, coaches, and many others. To enjoy our work we need to like the people we’re helping. Merely tolerating them or worse, loathing them, is no good and makes for a miserable working life.

I was lucky to have a colleague recommend a book called “Book Yourself Solid” by author Michael Port (Google it and download a few chapters free). The part that really struck me was what he called his “Red Velvet Rope Policy”. It’s like when you go to an event and there’s an entrance with a red velvet rope stretched across the door - only selected people are allowed through. Michael Port says we should all have a red velvet rope policy for the clients we work with. Further, they should be people who “inspire and energise” you. It’s some of the best advice I’ve had in my business and it means I enjoy what I do, every day.

What would be your “red velvet rope policy” for your business? What would be the attributes of your ideal customers? Probably they would appreciate what you do, value the service and not quibble about price, pay on time, show up on time, make reasonable requests and refer you to lots of other great clients. You might include attributes about the size and type of their business, their location, and more. Think about this carefully and get really clear on your ideal customer - then go looking for them and target your sales and marketing efforts toward them.

Remember that there’s not necessarily anything wrong with customers that don’t fit your ideal; Chances are they’re ideal for someone else’s business, but not yours. Be gracious and helpful and rather than just turning them away, be honest that “We’re not the best choice for you to work with” and consider recommending they try someone else who they would be better suited to.

The more you work with ideal clients, the more you’ll enjoy your work and the better the business will perform. In turn it will lead to you attracting more of the right clients.

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By: Rob Pickering

Do You Have Results or Excuses?

Do you have all the results you want? Or are you substituting results with excuses?

The problem with excuses - or ‘reasons why not’ - is that they prevent us from taking exactly the action that would be needed to achieve the results.

Think about some aspect of your business that you would like to have better results with. It could be having more customers or more leads or more profit for example. First of all, what exactly is the result you want and when? Lack of specific goals is the first barrier - you have to have or invent a specific goal before you can find a solution for it. “More profit” sounds like a goal, but it isn’t, it’s just a vague wish. A goal would be a specific number by a specific date. Ideally such a goal would be one that you’d be happy with, not one you’d settle for.

Once you have the specific goal clear, think of the excuses you have for why it isn’t possible or why it isn’t happening and write them down. Write at least 10. You’ll probably find it hard to get past three or four, but keep going.

Now for each one, write down three or more reasons why it’s not actually true, and what you could do to counteract it. For example you might have as excuse that there’s an economic downturn and customers aren’t buying. So in response to that you could ask yourself why that’s not true and what you can do to counteract it? Actually are there some customers buying, but just not as many or not from you?

What are they buying and from whom? What could you do to get more of them buying and from you? The whole point is to challenge the excuses. There is always something you can do - usually lots of things - but you only really start to see them when you challenge the limiting beliefs and ask instead “what could we do?”. If you still find you’re stuck, or if you’re so fixed in believing your own excuses, you need to enlist the help of an unreasonable person who won’t accept your excuses. We all know someone like that, any kind of Coach makes it their focus to ask challenging and unreasonable things of people.

As you go through the process it’s OK to identify further excuses why something won’t work or isn’t possible - but then you have to work on those new ones too - “What could we do to counteract it?”. Once you’ve made some progress and have some ideas of what you could do, write them down as a series of potential actions. You’ve then got the beginnings of a plan. Then go through each action and ask “if we do this, is it likely to achieve the result we want?”. You then either change it so that the answer becomes yes, or dump it and move on to the next. The aim is to have enough actions that you can step back and honestly say that taking all those actions is likely to achieve the specific goal.

Keep challenging the barriers until you have that. When you create this attitude as your normal way of being, and create it as a culture in your business, you’ll find that you can overcome any hurdle. Don’t accept excuses. 

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By: Rob Pickering

Reinvent Your Business

No business is immune to change. It’s often said that the only constant is change. For long-term survival it’s absolutely vital to take a step back and re-evaluate the products or services that you offer and the way they’re provided, which are separate aspects.

At the heart of every successful business is the product or service. You’ll be solving a commonly perceived ‘need’ or ‘desire’. Whichever it is, needs and desires change and you’ll be out of business if you don’t keep up with the changes or, better still, anticipate and be just ahead of the change. History is filled with lessons from the companies that manufactured mechanical calculating machines, typewriters, and more recent examples like photographic film, let alone examples from the world of fashion where today’s biggest hit is next year’s recycling.

Alternatively it could be the way that a product or service is delivered that changes dramatically. Electronic mail and cloud-based document storage has decimated letter writing and will undoubtedly remove the need for physical document mailing in time. e-commerce has adversely changed our high streets and the need for bricks and mortar shops (or perhaps not the need, but the commercial viability!).

Businesses that traditionally change most slowly are probably the ones most at risk because they’re not used to rapid change and probably don’t review their services and methods of provision until too late. Accountancy changed relatively little until the introduction of computer technology, and now it’s likely to all change again as we adopt cloud-based finance systems. Embrace change or die is the underlying lesson.

Planning for change

The first step is to recognise the need, ideally before you feel the pain. Every year set aside at least a few hours to analyse your business and the potential and likelihood for change. One of the oldest and most established tools for doing this is a SWOT analysis. For those who aren’t familiar, you basically write down a list of your business Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Ideally involve a range of people across your business and not just senior managers. Look at what your customers are probably thinking, saying and doing.

Look at what your competitors are doing - even if you think they’re crazy. Ask your suppliers for input, because often they’re aware of changes sooner than you will be because they probably supply your competitors. These days you can search the internet and find what people are saying about the products and services in the categories in which you specialise. Consider technological advances and implications on costs, margins, and workforce. If your staff need to have different knowledge it can take a long time to recruit or train so it’s vital to identify needs and start early. Look at international trends too.

All of this information and opinion, once collected, presents the challenge of what to do in response. You might decide to take action in response to threats, or you might be eagerly anticipating opportunities to get ahead of your competitors or to add new products and services. Either way, a good approach is to sift through all the findings and identify the 5-10 points that are worthy of further investigation, then appoint small teams and team leaders to pursue them with a clear brief and deadline.

Once you have a few specific ideas, involve the appropriate people - often those closer to the day to day business rather than senior managers - and create a next level plan with financial values and resource implications. Once you know exactly what each point is likely to add or threaten to lose, the cost to address it and the resource implications (including people), you can create a plan of action.

Remember that people rarely like the the idea of change, so there will be a lot of pressure to keep things as they are and hope for the best! However, while change might appear a little scary, staying the same and not changing is likely to have much worse consequences. Your business is either growing or dying - choose wisely and proactively. 

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By: Rob Pickering

Create a Leveraged Business Model

Create a Leveraged Business Model

Some businesses have a fundamental model that means they end up working hard all the time, often for relatively little money. This typically involves getting paid by the hour: No matter how hard they work, they can’t earn any more because they don’t have any more hours in the day.

The concept of leverage is about multiplying the effort you put in, to get a greater amount out. For example, if you spent a hundred hours writing an e-book and publishing it, the number of times you get paid for those hours could be many thousand. If you invent something and then keep selling it, again you get paid many times over for the original time and effort. But businesses can’t see how to leverage in that way, so the alternative is to create leverage through a team.

Many self-employed businesses grow by taking on more clients then increase their prices. They start out charging £20 per hour for their service and eventually they’re booked solid every month. So they put up their prices and lose some of the customers that aren’t prepared to pay the higher price, but quickly replace them with some who want the quality and reliability. So they increase their prices again and that cycle can continue successfully until the price is at a level where others offer the same quality for less, and growth stagnates.

Once a business owner is charging as much as they can for their own time, leverage starts by employing people. Often they employ someone to handle admin and free up more of their own hours to sell. (A Virtual Assistant is usually a better solution, but that’s another story!). There’s less profit because the employee is now an added overhead. Eventually they employ someone to do what they’re doing, but pay them less than clients are charged for the service - that’s the gross profit. If this stage is left too long, the business owner is already so busy servicing clients that they don’t have time to train and manage the employee(s) and the business performance is poor. Or more often they just haven’t developed the knowledge and practiced the skills of leading and managing staff, so much of their time and the employee’s time is wasted.

In a business where the leverage is about people, the profitability depends upon good leadership and management. Suddenly the self-employed person doing the work has taken on the role of leader and manager, but often fail to realise how different their role should now be. They feel frustrated with their staff and with the business they created. They need to get some training and support, in planning, leadership, delegation and general management.

The purpose is all about leveraging their own time through their employees: Training a team and then getting paid over and over again for the work that the team does. The successful business owner recognises that the way to grow is through their team. It’s about recruiting the right people, training them (and continuing to train them regularly), and putting in place the systems and structures.

They understand that if they have an hour to spare, it’s better to use that hour to motivate and manage an employee and send them off to generate ten hours of valuable work - not to do an hour’s work themselves. Leverage through a team means making that team better and better so that they continue to multiply the business owner’s input. As a business owner, the job should increasingly be about setting the direction, setting clear goals, hiring and training good people, and motivating them to achieve the goals. The more effectively this is done, the more successful and profitable the business.

In fact once this is working well enough it can actually work without the business owner having to be there. That’s when they’ve successfully created a leveraged business through a team. And that’s what a Business Coach guides a business owner to do.  

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By: Rob Pickering

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

After hearing this from a client last week I’ve found myself repeating it to people all week. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”. There are a lot of people and a lot of organisations that make the same mistakes over and over again. In fact many of the mistakes are repeated because no one that could change anything is even aware. And when they are aware, it’s put down to “just the way it is”. A great organisation embeds learning and continuous improvement at the heart of its business and its culture. But how would you do that? 

It starts with setting goals and creating a culture that expects continuous improvement. I have a conversations with staff that go something like this: “Whatever you are earning today, how much would you expect or want to be earning in one year’s time?”. Invariably they stare back blankly. Some might say “a bit more” and the pushy guy would say “double!”. I would then suggest that maybe they’d like to be earning 10% more next year? So then I ask “What do you think you would need to over the next year so that I would be saying “I want to give you a 10% pay rise because you’re worth at least that much more!”?

If your team know what they need to do to be genuinely worth more - they might try and do it. But if they don’t know, and if you don’t ask them, they probably won’t even be trying.

The key is to help them understand that we can all do our jobs better, and that in turn creates greater job satisfaction, and higher profitability. Applied well it can also create better products and services, and happier, loyal, customers.

How could you achieve all that? By continuously testing and measuring, recognising potential for improvement, creatively implementing better ways of working - innovating continuously. It’s all about learning and applying the learning to be better.

Anyone in the organisation that is perfectly happy with the status quo is at best going to keep the business steady, and at worst hold it back. If you recruit people like that, you won’t have a great business. And if you tolerate people like that - including yourself - you won’t have a great business. In case I gave the wrong message above mentioning 10% pay increases, it’s not about money, it’s about taking pride in doing and being better.

Steve Jobs was a great example, never settling for just emulating the competition. And then when he had a great product, he and his team would assume they could do better, and look for innovative ways to improve - even when no one was asking for improvement.

Along the way you don’t always win every time. The harder you try, the more you can expect to make some mistakes. But a winning team will pick themselves up, dust themselves down, look at what can be learnt, apply the lessons and give it another go with enthusiasm. Be that leader to your team. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and either way, you learn.  

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By: Rob Pickering

The 90-Day Planning cycle

Planning a full year ahead can be tortuous if you get too detailed. I remember when I worked in a large company in the 90’s and held responsibility for a lot of the planning. I dreaded the end of the financial year when it had to be done. It was so detailed that by the time everyone had their say, it was usually 6 weeks into the year that the plan covered! You’d think that after all that time and effort it would be a great plan. And generally it was... but about 4-6 months into the year we might, for example, have gained a couple of key customers, lost a major supplier, the market had changed in some way, and we knew the plan needed rewriting. 

As I started working across a number of different companies it was easier to spot patterns and see the bigger picture. I was fortunate to meet Verne Harnish when he presented at our annual conference and I read his book “The Rockefeller Habits”. This now forms the basis of how we work with all our clients in a cycle of 90-day plans, and it works!

So here’s the secret:
You need to know what you want to achieve in the longer term (3-5 years ideally, but 1 year will do), but planning a whole year in detail is a waste of time. Too much changes during a year, and it takes too long to plan a whole year in detail anyway. So armed with long-term goals, take one day each quarter to work on a plan for the next quarter.

In your planning day, remind yourself of the 12 month goals and think which parts you could work on in the coming quarter. Shortlist about ten possible goals, then narrow it down to five. When choosing five goals, ensure that at least half of the goals focus on making money. The goals like staff training or developing systems are necessary, but make sure every quarter you keep some focus on increasing profit! Once you have the five goals, make sure each one of them is SMART (basically - specific and measurable with definite time scales). Then break down each goal into a series of the steps that will be needed to implement them.

For each step assign one person who will be responsible and a completion date. The goals should be for the whole organisation to work on during the coming quarter, not just what the senior team focus on. So you’ll need to roll them out to all levels of management/staff. Cascade the goals and their achievement down the organisation. And if that organisation is one person... this process still works, but the cascading process is pretty simple! Be sure that the whole company is focused on the 90 day goals.

Repeat this process - setting aside a day to plan prior to the start of a quarter - and by the end of one year doing that you’ll see that your business has gone further and faster than ever before! Failing to set aside a full day is where most businesses go wrong before they even start. If they plan at all, they cram it into a couple of hours or avoid involving everyone that needs to be there. This is why every 90 days we run a workshop.

We get about 50+ business owners and senior staff in a room then lock the door and don’t let them out until they have a 90-day plan! (I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea). Put YOUR full day of planning in your calendar now and get into the quarterly habit. To book your place at our next 90 day GrowthCLUB session - click here!  

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By: Rob Pickering

 

Time to Play Big

If you run a small business with just one or two staff you might be wondering how to get to the next level of growth? The vast majority never make it to another level and get caught in the trap of owning a job instead of owning a business. It’s a trap because you’re probably already so busy that you don’t feel you have time to grow the business and can’t handle more than you already do. Your job as a business owner is not to grow a successful business. If you try to do that you’ll end up feeling burnt out. Actually your job is to recruit the people that will grow your business. Then you need to provide leadership, set goals, train and motivate. 

Often when I ask a business owner what their goal is for five years or even one year they don’t have a clear answer. Do you know the answer? Can you articulate it clearly to an employee or someone that could help you achieve it? Do you have it written down? Few small businesses have a business plan or even a marketing plan. The reason I’m often told is that it’s not necessary, especially when there are no staff, “why would I write a plan just to read myself, I already know it”. I don’t mean to be unkind but that’s just an excuse and one that will definitely hold back the business! So here’s my advice that, if you follow it, will set you free on the path to growth:

  • Set yourself a big goal for 3-5 years that scares you and at the same time excites you!

Don’t play small. Don’t forecast where you think you’ll be in 3-5 years if you keep doing what you’re doing and everything continues as it as. That’s not a plan, it’s a forecast and frankly it’s boring. Did you take a risk and start your own business just to be bored and to get by? Probably not, otherwise you’d have stuck with the safe route of being an employee, letting the business owner take all the risks... and all the rewards! What goal for your business, if you achieved it in 3-5 years, would make you smile and feel really proud? £1 Million turnover? £10 Million? 25 good employees? A thousand delighted customers? Four long holidays per year (and the business still there when you got back!)? Contributing significantly to a charity that matters to you? Winning a prestigious industry award? An award given in your name? What life do you want to lead, what legacy will you leave? These might seem like very lofty goals, but those are the ones that are inspiring and make running a business feel worthwhile - why would you aim lower? One more thing to consider when it comes to employing great people - Why would a really great employee work for you? Assuming they can take their pick of companies to work for, is your goal inspiring enough that they want to help achieve it? Great employees don’t work for companies that forecast based on ‘all things being even’, they choose companies and leaders that inspire them. That’s who you need to be. If this all sounds interesting but you can’t get started - give me a call and we’ll get you moving and achieving the goal too!

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By: Rob Pickering

Are you a Business owner or just Self-Employed?

Many people who believe they own a business are in reality self-employed. Now, if you’re self-employed by choice it’s fine by me. However, make sure you fully realise the risks and negatives:

  • It’s hard to take holidays and days off
  • Your business has no value - no one will buy your ‘job’
  • You need to make sure you’re fully insured against being too ill to work
  • Be sure you have an exit strategy and strong pension/investments
  • Keep cash in reserve - you need to be able to weather a storm
  • Beware - if you aren’t working, you aren’t getting paid!

If you have all the above covered and choose to stay self-employed that’s great! It’s good to be doing exactly what you want to with a secure future.

But if you’re working alone and don’t have all the above covered, you might want to build a business. Our definition of a Business is a profitable commercial enterprise that can work without you.

If you’ve set up a limited company and call yourself a Business Owner, just consider whether you really own a business or you’re actually self-employed with a business name. The vast majority of ‘businesses’ consist of one person and don’t meet our definition, don’t have all the above points covered, and the owner runs in circles trying to do everything. Many tell me confidently that they don’t ever want employees. The reason they don’t want employees is because either they can’t afford them yet, or they don’t want the responsibility. Isn’t that interesting? If you employed someone and, as a result, the business made less additional profit than was being spent on the employee... it would be a bad choice of employee! Let me be clear - the reason you employ staff is so that the business makes more money.

Say you spend £25,000 per year on a new employee, you’re going to want to see the business generating £50,000 or more additional profit per year as a result. This might seem obvious, but I continually speak to people who haven’t got their head around this and think that an employee is a cost they can’t afford. In terms of employees being an extra responsibility or hassle, I understand, but it’s often a feeling or a fear that comes out of a bad experience or misunderstanding. Someone recently commented “I’m not sure I could generate enough extra business to cover the cost of one employee, let alone a team!”. My question in response was “would they be working for you, or would you be working for them?”. I admit there are plenty of bad employees around who will sit and do nothing unless you’re hassling them. But if that describes someone who works for you - why did you employ them and why do you continue to? Deal with it, you get what you tolerate. When you think of employing someone, consider whether there is potentially enough business out there that your company can gain to more than cover their cost?

Next, consider who’s going to get that extra business. Do you need to prioritise employing a salesperson or marketing person to get more business before or at the same time as an employee that will generate more work or handle more admin? Then, when you’re interviewing and certainly when you recruit someone, make certain that among other goals they know exactly what they need to be generating to keep their job and maybe to achieve a pay rise or promotion. If you have work that isn't yet or never will require a full-time employee, consider the alternatives.

You could employ someone part-time, or you could use a Virtual Assistant (VA). Using a good VA can be an excellent solution because you can contract as little as an hour at a time as needed, and get the specific skills you need at the time. What takes you three hours might take a good VA only an hour, so the saving potential is excellent. The necessary skills to manage employees are relatively easily learnt - there are hundreds or probably thousands of books on the subject and endless training courses. But first you need to start with a clear understanding and belief that you employ people to generate more profit for the company and that you don’t do the work for them. If someone has to work late... it’s the staff. If someone needs to get more money in to pay the bills... the staff need to do it. Your job is to set the direction, employ the team, make sure they know what they have to achieve, then make sure they’re constantly motivated and achieving the goals.  

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By: Rob Pickering

Where will you be in 5 years?

Do you have a 5-year business plan? I know from experience of asking that question that only a tiny proportion of small businesses (under 25 staff) have anything resembling a one year plan, let alone a 5-year plan. Or even a clear goal such as the size of the business, number of employees, types of product or service, or anything else. 

Without clear goals and a written plan, it’s really difficult for you, your staff, your suppliers and other stakeholders to understand what needs doing and to help you progress in the right way. Part of it is about vision and leadership; it’s human nature that we follow natural leaders - when we see someone being inspiring, we get behind them and push them further ahead. But try inspiring people with vague goals - or no goals at all - and you’ll find it difficult. Your company vision is also part of the ‘identity’ - how people understand and perceive the company - your brand. It’s hard for staff and customers to get excited about a business that has no clear identity. Think about any successful business and I bet you can describe what they do and what they’re all about. And if it’s something you believe in, you’ll probably recommend them to other people.

Think about your own business and consider how clear you goals are and what the company stands for. If I randomly picked on any of your staff, would they be able to tell me clearly the top 5 company goals? If I randomly picked some of your customers and asked them what your company stands for - would they be able to describe it the way you want to be described? Would they sound interested, satisfied, impressed, even excited about it? Think also about your ‘extended team’ - you know, all those people that you’re paying but are not actually employees - your accountant, bank manager, web designer... How would they describe your company, but also do they know what your goals are? If they do, are they involved in helping you get to where you want to? When you get your extended team to understand your goals and fully behind you to get there, you’ll get there a lot faster.

Here are a few suggestions for Action to take:

  • Write a description of where your company will be in 5 years, eg revenue, profit, number of staff, number of offices, services you provide...
  • Write a description of WHY your company exists, its purpose, in a way that’s inspiring to others
  • Write 5 clear goals for where your company will be in 5 years, expressed in ways that are absolutely measurable. Then state what each of those same goals will be in 4, 3, 2 and 1 year’s time
  • Write your company values. 5-10 is typically good. Only include things you truly believe and are prepared to stand by
  • Communicate an appropriate version of the above to all stakeholders; this can be different for internal and external as long as they don’t actually conflict!

Having a clear vision for the company becomes a blueprint against which key decisions can be made. For each decision you should ask yourself “does this take me toward the goals, away from the goals, or make no difference?”. It’s surprising how many companies have no clear vision and struggle to make decisions. Getting the vision clear and communicated creates clarity and promotes fast growth.

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