Category Archives: Thinking

To grow, think clearly!

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Growing a business can feel like you’re in a sea of confusing information.
But only if you let it!

Some businesses seem to grow all by themselves, some seem to take a bit of a push, and some seem to take a disproportionate amount of effort to grow even a modest amount.

But, in reality, they are all doing, broadly speaking, the same things, it’s just that they need to alter the balance between the core elements of growth.

So, firstly, let’s look at what gets growth going:

  1. of all the things a business does, identifying which one gets the most attention from existing and potential customers
  2. how that product/service can be made even more appealing to even more people
  3. how the changes can be tested to check that they really work
  4. how you can let everyone (and I mean everyone) know about it

Let’s take these simple steps in order…

 

Step 1: which business activity gets the most attention?

Remember, this is not what you think gets the most attention, but what actually gets the most attention – not always the same thing!

So keep it simple – ask your customers, ask those who show an interest in your business, ask anyone that pays attention to your business.

There’s an awful lot of free ‘data’ out there that people are eager to let you have – so don’t be afraid to ask for it.

 

Step 2: how can you make it even more appealing?

Easy!

Ask everyone, “What would make this better?”.

Remember (again), that the key is to understand how your customers, and potential customers see your business’s products, and which they are most likely to buy.

So , your customers are the best ones to ask.

 

Step 3: how can you test to check the changes work?

Get back to those who gave you the valuable feedback…

“What do you think of this?”

 

Step 4: how can you let absolutely everyone know about it?

This is where you have to be a bold! Even if it does feel a touch uncomfortable.

Have a think about how many opportunities you have to let everyone know about your new/improved product/service…

Your website

Emails

Business cards

Your network and at networking events

Local/national press

Offering to do interviews with radio, TV, etc – especially effective at a local level, who are always looking for good interviewees

Among many, many other opportunities

 

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.

Are you in the coaching minefield?

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At this time of year, I meet many Directors and business owners who are actively thinking of hiring a professional business ‘coach’.

Yet, almost all of them ask me the same question:

“How do I find a good one?”.

It’s a potential minefield! It’s a very fair, and not easily answered question! But here goes anyway…

The challenges are that ‘coaching’ has become a rather trendy word, and the vast majority of people who call themselvesRising profits ‘coaches’ actually have no idea what coaching is, and, more worryingly, have no professional coaching qualifications at all.

So here is how I would go about it as a first few steps, although I would emphasise I have been involved in coaching for around 12 years, and completed my professional qualifications all the way back in 2004.

Remember, your coach will have a significant impact on you and your business, so make sure you put in the time and effort to choose the right one!

 

Understanding

Firstly, I would ask any potential coach candidate to clearly identify the differences between coaching, mentoring, training, teaching and telling – there are distinct, and important differences. Any professional coach should easily be able to do this ‘off the cuff’. If you’re unsure what their answers should include, ask me!

 

Practices

How do they work with a client? Do they want you to follow a ‘system’ they have developed or use (more common with newly qualified coaches who are building their experience portfolio, those who are unqualified or franchised ‘coaches’ (who, in my opinion, you;re best avoiding))?

Or will they give you exactly what you and your business need?

From the experience of clients who have come to me after working with the former, I would certainly recommend you avoid any coach who tries to get you to follow a prescribed ‘system’ as it essentially assumes the needs of you and your business are just the same as every other business….and, I can almost guarantee, they won’t be!

Working with a coach who gives you exactly what you want will deliver the best results, and provide the best value for you.

 

Profile

Next, I would recommend you have a detailed rummage around their LinkedIn profile:

Are they a genuinely professionally qualified, experienced coach, or are they someone who has ‘been on a course’, or left their previous employment and decided to ‘set themselves up’ as a ‘coach’?

Do they use their coaching skills with other useful skillsets (e.g.: mentoring)?

Do they have coaching experience relevant to you and your needs?

Their profile should, at the very least, help you to answer this.

 

Qualifications

Then, look at their professional coaching qualifications.

Are they genuinely qualified?

If so, which body were they obtained from?

Warning! There are many, many ‘coaching courses’ out there that provide coaching skills training of a, being as diplomatic as I can, highly variable quality!

Certainly, many of these are not of the standard you should reasonably expect in a professional coach.

I would firmly recommend that you ascertain their coaching skills qualifications are from a UK university or a recognised, professional UK institute (e.g.: the CIPD or similar). These qualifications usually take 1 to 2 years to complete, let alone the professional development that follows.

It is simply not possible to become a professionally competent coach after attending a weekend course!

Probably only 10%-20% of ‘coaches’ are genuinely qualified, around 80% of which are women.

 

So, you have checked out a bit about their understanding of coaching, their willingness to ‘publish’ their coaching experience and expertise, and that they are properly qualified. What next?

 

Reputation

What about their reputation?

Ask your network as it probably has far greater reach than you realise.

How well known is your prospective candidate among your peers?

What is their track record, and who can you find who would recommend them?

Who has actually worked with them and what were the outcomes?

 

Relationship

Can you work with them openly and productively?

Spend some time with them to find out. Ask any questions you have and consider their answers carefully.

Remember that a coach may well be helping you to explore areas that are challenging to say the least, so trust is essential.

 

Cost

What you pay for genuine professionals is built on the same principle the world over: you get what you pay for!

If you come across a ‘coach’ whose charges seem surprisingly low, beware!

Typically, a professionally qualified, experienced business coach will charge about the same as an accountant.

 

So there you are. Just a few thoughts from me which will hopefully help you avoid some of the pitfalls and risks from choosing the wrong coach.

 

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.

2014 – another year of client successes!

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Make your business boom in 2015!

Here’s a round-up of my client’s successes in 2014.

Growing a successful business is a minefield, especially as businesses are usually created by people who have a great idea, or who are really good at something in particular. You hardly ever come across people who start a business because they’re good at running a business. So here’s a ‘picture’ of how working with a specialist at growing and running businesses can take your business to new heights.

A Cheltenham-based client said to me in December,
“By working with Adrian throughout 2014, every aspect of our business has grown beyond all expectations.”

So, are you ready to give your make your business boom in 2015?

Needless to say, I’m often asked, “How can you help my business?”.

I could waffle on, probably endlessly, about the importance and benefits of achieving excellence in your leadership, business management and how you manage your growth, and by bringing greater focus and direction to your business. After all, it is what I’ve been doing for over 27 years (and I learn something new every day).
But, instead, I thought I’d let my client’s successes speak for themselves.

Here’s a selection of what my clients and I have achieved in working together in 2014:

  • over 30 new jobs created, plus another 19 already planned for 2015
  • year-on-year sales up +22% on average, and forecast to grow by another +18% next year
  • annual pre-tax profits up by +£0.95million collectively in 2014, and predicted to increase by an additional +£1.25million in 2015
  • average customer satisfaction up +27%
  • one third of clients are actively looking for larger premises
  • plus each and every one now benefits from a clearer strategy, improved planning, greater focus and direction, clearly identified and sustainable growth, and improved communication

So, how could your business benefit?

 

Make your business boom in 2015!

Call me on 01242-672440. 


Real Businesses Aren’t Clones!

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In my line of work, I come across many young businesses with great potential who find themselves in need of some good, solid business advice, often as a result of having tried to follow a ’business programme’ of one description or other.

In my experience, and having advised well over 200 businesses to date, every business is as unique as the people within it. They’re individual, different, with distinctly differing needs and requirements.

So what makes so many great, especially young businesses get tempted to follow these mass-market ‘growth programmes’, or ‘business builders’? The businesses are not ‘clones’ after all, yet they often sign-up to a ‘system’ that is only designed to create clones.

Therein lies the paradox – a system approach, especially for those who don’t have the knowledge, skills and experience to run a business, especially a growing business, feels like a ‘safe’, comfortable place to be where so much is done for you and all you have to do is ‘follow’. It’s just easier, and usually sounds like a ‘good deal’. But they also know they need to deliver the unique requirements of their business. These two things, in simple terms, just don’t go together.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some basic processes that are more or less the same in every business, accounting records for example, but these are just a tiny part of the full business activity.

If you want to create what I call a ‘plastic box’ business (where every business is churned out exactly the same) then, by all means, surround yourself with clones and ‘plastic boxes’ where you will all be treated exactly the same as all the others there, given exactly the same ‘tools’ and all the same processes. But I have only ever met one business owner who does – who actually owned a business that made plastic boxes!

You and your business are not clones, so don’t risk being treated like one!

I readily understand that leading and running a business is difficult. I’ve been doing it for over 27 years and I am still constantly learning. But around 80% of UK business closures are fundamentally caused by poor leadership and business management (source: ONS).

If you think about it, most people create a business either because they have had a great idea, or they are really good at something. Not because they are good at running a business.

Developing the knowledge, skills and experience to build and run a successful, growing business can, and frequently does seem daunting to say the least. These ‘programmes’ do not, and cannot suddenly create the ability and understanding to meet the unique requirements of the business when they are repetitively dishing out the same thing to everyone ‘parrot-fashion’.

The solution?

Firstly, do some research as to what type of help you need – coaching or mentoring (yes, there is a big difference), training, consulting, and so on. These are all different and meet different needs. Set aside a proper budget too!

Secondly, clearly establish the proven credibility of any adviser you consider – ask for recommendations, checkout their LinkedIn profile, especially look at their experience and its relevance to what you need, double-check their qualifications and credentials (I cannot emphasise how important it is for any bona fide coach to be properly qualified – ideally they are qualified through a UK university or one of the more respected UK professional institutes). Remember, lots of experience does not mean they make a good mentor!

Thirdly, get to know them. Any business adviser worth their ‘salt’ will happily put in the effort to clearly establish whether and how you can work together. It’s as important for them as it is for you. After all, you may well be working together for some time so it’s vital you have that strong relationship.

Finally, remember that the very best business advisers, no matter what ‘badge’ they are wearing, will provide you with exactly and exclusively what you need for your business – including the things you may not want to hear! But, trust me, this dedicated approach is the only genuine way to move your business forward successfully and enduringly.

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2014-2017. All rights reserved.

Recruiting a leader? Look at their emotional intelligence!

What goes through your mind when you hear the term ’emotional intelligence’?

Unfortunately, it has become a rather ‘trendy’ term, and there is a vast amount of poor quality information about it.

In a previous article in this newsletter, I explained what Ei is and some of its benefits.

The good news is it can also be used constructively in the recruitment process, especially for roles where there is leadership responsibility..

Importantly, in tests those with lower Ei but good IQ and experience ‘failed’ to succeed in the leadership roles they had been selected for as much as 25% of the time. However, those with higher Ei and high IQ or very relevant experience only ‘failed’ 3% to 4% of the time – some 80%+ less than without Ei assessment. Interestingly, this data has been repeated in many countries almost identically.

That’s quite a difference isn’t it?

Yet, Ei is something we all have and something that we can all develop almost endlessly.

But what makes Ei such differentiator in this scenario?

Well, the key is quite simple – experience and IQ give an indication of how an applicant can apply themselves in certain situations, but neither give a detailed, measurable assessment of their ‘human’ side.

Of all of the great leaders you have met, what was the main quality that made them memorable? Was it what they were doing, or was it more about them as another member of the human species?

Chances are, it was mostly about the latter, and this is where Ei measurements can helptoidentify how they will be as leaders. – by assessing balance between how they think, what they feel, and how they influence their behaviour.

Obviously, Ei is not a ‘cure all’, but as the data above shows, it can make a significant difference to the success of your recruitment.

(Source: Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, author of ‘Great People Decisions’ (publ: Wiley, 2007))

(based on the Ei Model developed by JCA Global Limited, and the book “Emotional Intelligence @Work” by Jolyon Maddocks)

To find out more about Ei, Ei profiling, or developing any aspect of Ei and its uses in executive coaching and mentoring, please get in touch – I’m here to help.

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2013-17. All rights reserved.

 

Business Alphabet: D is for…Delivery!

(from my b³ newsletter September 2013)

Particularly, in our service dominated economy, how you deliver your service is a major contributor to your success, your reputation, and levels of trust that your clients will place in you.

Much of successful delivery is a reflection of your relationship with your client: be clear about what you will deliver, when you will deliver it, how much it will cost, and when you expect to be paid.

Also, be clear about what they need to do for you to facilitate you doing ‘your bit’, and when they need to do it.

Remember, delivery is always a partnership of all parties working successfully together, and (please excuse the old adage) it really is only as difficult as you choose to make it!

So, how many of these things are you doing?

Business Alphabet: C is for…Cashflow

(from my b³ newsletter August 2013)

Understanding and managing your cashflow well are likely to be some of the most valuable, yet simplest business management activities you undertake.

Cashflow, contrary to popular belief, is easy to understand: it’s simply the change to the business’s cash in the bank, up or down, after your customers have paid you and you have paid your suppliers.

Obviously, the best position is that it goes up every month.

However, this is not always the case, and so forecasting your cashflow, by keeping a close eye on when your customers are going to pay you and when you will be paying your suppliers, will help you to identify when there will be more cash is available to the business and when there may be less.

You can simply adjust your business spending accordingly.

Needless to say, understanding such simple things, and managing it carefully, can have a hugely positive impact on the chances of business survival and success.

So give it a go (if you’re not doing it already) – you may well be surprised what it tells you about your business!

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2013-2017. All rights reserved.

Business Alphabet: B is for…Business Skills – the 80% ‘Rule’

(from my b³ newsletter July 2013)

What do you think is the main cause of business closures in the UK?

Available data (ONS etc) shows that there are two main consistent causes for the vast majority of business closures: poor leadership and business management!

That’s right, around 80% of business closures year in, year out have poor leadership and business management at their root. Also, around 80% of business owners say they can run a business, and approximately 80% of business owners never develop their business skills.

What is even more interesting is that 4 out of 5 new businesses who regularly use a professional business coach or mentor will successfully reach their fifth birthday, yet 4 out of 5 of those that don’t, won’t.

(Here’s a great #BizTip too: please make sure your business coach is properly qualified as over 80% of ‘coaches’ are not).

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2014-2017. All rights reserved.

Business Alphabet: A is for…(Core) Attitude

(from my b³ newsletter June 2013)

Our success at building relationships is closely related to our attitude towards ourselves and towards others. These need to be in balance: accepting and valuing yourself (‘warts and all’) equally with how much you accept and value others in the key.

This doesn’t mean you have to like or agree with what others do or say, but when you can accept them ‘as they are’ and engage with them on an ‘equal’ basis your chance of building an effective, productive relationship is much, much higher.

So watch out for what that inner voice might be saying (in Coaching terms, we call it a ‘Gremlin’) and learn to turn it off if you need to!

Leadership: Better Today, Even Better Tomorrow

Every leader typically will have a number of tips that are similar to others, and many more that are very different.

No wonder excellence in leadership is such a challenging target.

As you might expect, there are many articles written, podcasts made, and websites built that are full of these hints and tips. But with leadership being such a vital skill for success, whether you run a brand new single-person start-up, or are head of a FTSE100 multi-national, sorting the proverbial ‘wheat’ from the ‘chaff’ can create more confusion that it’s worth.

So here are a few simple tips that I have found very useful, and links to a couple of easy-reading online articles that might be of interest:

  • practice your leadership skills – both of yourself and others – every day. Remember to reflect on your successes and difficulties, learn from them and try again
  • communicate, communicate, communicate. Your communication can always get better, and it’s a vital skill
  • clearly understand your ‘big picture’ and communicate it to all. Review and update it regularly
  • make decisions. Decisions that don’t work out can be corrected. Dithering, and delaying decisions helps no-one
  • ensure every decision achieves commitment from those it effects
  • clearly establish the actions associated with every decision – who has committed to doing what, and when
  • set out to achieve excellence in everything you do – it’s another of those things that has ‘no finish line’