Real Businesses Aren’t Clones!

Clones newsletter article pic 251114 1

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’

Leadership for Introverts, part 1

The best kept ‘secret’ in business?

I’d like to bring up the oft-ignored topic of leadership. Specifically, leadership for introverts.

There’s a well-kept ‘secret’ in the business world: introverts make really great leaders too!

Did you know that over half of the adult UK population are ‘introverts’ according to Karl Jung’s definition?

First things first: being an introvert and being shy are very different things. Introverts can often be spotted among crowds of people, at a party, and giving talks to large audiences (yes, many of the introverts I know happily do this). How can you spot them? Easy! Just look for the ones who tend to be talking to one or two people at a time, who happily sit with a cup of tea and a book, and those who seem refreshed after some ‘quiet time’.

Introverts tend to be great listeners, thoughtful, and noted for their considered and balanced decision making.

So what about taking on a leadership role if you’re an introvert? There is a perception that people with extrovert characteristics (outgoing, highly social, quick at making decisions, etc) make the best leaders. Wrong! Both introverts and extroverts make excellent leaders – it fundamentally depends on the working environment and how that leadership is facilitated in the workplace.

Think of making leadership decisions (as that is vital for successful leadership) as connecting two points – where you are now, and the destination where your decisions need to take you. How the line that connects the two looks is likely to be very different depending whether it’s an introvert or an extrovert making those decisions: both introverts and extroverts are just as likely as each other to make the same final decision in the same timescale. However, typically speaking, an extrovert is likely to make many quick decisions along the way, while an introvert is more likely to take a step back, consider all of the information collectively and make many fewer decisions.

This is just one example of how introverts can make just as good leaders as extroverts (although, in my experience, introverts often make slightly better leaders). If you’re keen to understand more about this valuable topic, I have created two social media pages specifically about it: click here for the Facebook page or the Google+ page.

Watch Out for the Holiday Blues in Your Business!

As I write this, there’s still another couple of weeks of the school holidays left, plus the following few weeks when there will still be many going on holiday.

However, despite this ‘holiday season’ coming around every year, a vast majority of businesses have their daily operations severely disrupted, and often even put at risk, simply because they haven’t thought ahead and carried out a little planning and management.

So here are a few tips:

  • Plan ahead to avoid payment delays. Remember that when staff are away, customers will be too. So managing your cashflow is critical.
  • Ensure supplier invoices are paid on time or you could damage your credit rating and limit your access to supplies on credit.
  • Make sure enough authorised signatories for BACS payments are still at work throughout the holiday period. The same applies with cheque signatories (if you still use them).
  • Make sure that staff complete a proper handover, and in good time, to cover their holiday absence. Particularly ensure those involved in raising sales invoices and chasing customers payments must properly brief the staff standing in for them; especially on any payment commitments already made by customers. They must also be aware how to follow up customer invoice queries so that disputes are resolved quickly.
  • Make sure that suppliers and customers are aware of any alternative holiday period contacts to ensure a smooth handover, and ensure those standing-in have access to a list of supplier and customer contact details.
  • Make sure recording and forecasting cash flow is maintained maintained if accunting staff are away.
  • Debrief people on their return to ensure they’re back up to speed as soon as possible.

To see all headline articles from previous editions of my b³ newlsetter, please click here.

Be ‘real’! Be emotional! Be a better leader!

Your ‘human’ side can enhance your credibility.

From b³ August 2013:

“Never apologise, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.”, so said the late John Wayne (and NCIS’ Jethro Gibbs).
Goodness me! How times have changed!

The more traditional view of ‘leaders’, particularly in the business world, is that they tend to be seen as ‘strong’, powerful, decisive, and never backing down.

Yet, the very best leaders of today are those that are almost always recognised for their human qualities – being trustworthy, genuine, honest, open, show their emotions and, yes, vulnerable at times too (among others).

Of course, the most important quality a leader still needs hasn’t changed much – the ability to make, often complex, decisions.

However, whether your leadership ‘role’ is as the owner of a single person start-up, or as the global head of a £multi-billion business conglomerate, the way you connect with the people around you is key to your success.

One of the most valuable ways to develop how ‘real’ other people perceive you is to reflect on your own experiences in meeting others. How many times do you meet someone, often who has a high ranking position in an organisation, who is intent on presenting themselves as ultimately professional, and presenting a rigid ‘mask’ to you? Being understood as a ‘professional’ is great, but have you noticed how time spent with those people leaves you feeling that the vital ‘connection’ sometimes isn’t there?

This is simply because the ‘mask’ they put in front of you is not allowing you to connect with their ‘real’, personal qualities – something which we, as humans, intuitively want to do.

So there you have it – by all means be seen as a professional, but make sure you allow others to understand you as a real human being and not some sort of robot.

The higher up the business ladder you go, the more important it is to be ‘known’ by those around you, and reassure them of your principles, reliability and consitency, all of which significantly increases how you invite others to trust you.

Click here for an article from Doug Sundheim on Harvard Business Review on ” Good Leaders Get Emotional”.