Insights Blog

Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

Best Business Books to Read: The Slight Edge

It has been a while since I’ve read a book that has the potential of massively transforming both mindset and activities. I came across such a book earlier this year, and it has already resulted in a massive shift in my thinking that I’m confident is going to have a tremendous effect on my life.

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson is more than a business advice book – it’s a whole philosophy and a way of thinking that reaches into all areas of your life.

The fundamental idea is that the simple daily choices you make – small actions – create a compound effect that results in your desired future (like when we talked about having a big business mindset).

The real key takeaway here is that you do not need to be making grand gestures and dramatic changes in order to build your future. You just need to have a small, simple daily discipline that you apply consistently.

And that last word is the most important part: consistency of approach is the key to achieving this massive end result.

What makes it difficult? This principle relies on you being able to focus on the seemingly insignificant rather than the enormous breakthroughs. You need to be able to focus on the end result, not the immediate one, which is not the way most of us instinctively think.

However, when you train yourself to do this – when you apply some small effort in a consistent way – it really will get the results and you can become the master of your future.

Remember, Simple Disciplines + Consistency + Time = Massive Results!

Is consistency something you struggle with?

A large part of what a business coach does is help keep business owners accountable and on track. London can be one of the most difficult places to stay consistent with your business practices – perhaps our strategies can help with that?

Find out with a complimentary and no-obligation session with us where we review your business and let you know if and how our strategies may be able to assist the future growth of your business.

Book a Free Strategic Review

Our previous top business books recommendations:

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What Future Are You Building?

When was the last time you thought about your legacy? For a lot of business owners, their business and what happens to it when they stop being part of it is a large part of the legacy they leave behind.

At the global ActionCOACH conference in Vancouver this year, one of the speakers gave a very interesting insight – to develop your businesses in the right direction while at the same time creating a legacy.

The idea here is that you should be really clear about exactly what you are spending your time on.

Sometimes, you may need to spend time on increasing your income in order to give you the room to take the next step.

But the ultimate goal should always be to build assets rather than maximising your income.

When it comes to your business – you need to be clear about whether your actions are turning your business into an asset – by developing systems for managing a growing team or cultivating smart inbound marketing channels – or whether you are simply increasing your personal income (by creating a job for yourself).

The asset is what is actually valuable to you – whether you want to sell it on to a buyer, or whether you want build a legacy and leave something for your children. So if you are not moving towards developing your business into an asset then… well, what are you building?

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi, this is Shweta from London Coaching Group. I’ve just come back from Vancouver and we had a global conference of Action Coach there and it was absolutely brilliant.

We had some great speakers and the whole team of the conference was wealth creation. Now, yes as business women and as a business coach, I tell my clients that actually a successful business is one which is profitable. It can work without you and it can give you that profitable income in a sustainable way, right? And they are familiar with it but, you know, I’m sure you’ve had some occasions in your life when someone said something and it just makes so much sense. It made you see something in a completely different perspective altogether.

Now, one of the speakers during this conference said something very fascinating and in fact I want you to write this down, okay? What he said was that “Transition of assets is always much much easier than transition of income” and that statement of transition of asset being easier than transition of income, made sense to me as a mother. And what I thought was, when I want to leave a legacy for my son, I don’t want to leave income behind.

I want to leave assets because that’s so much easier to pass on to him versus asking him to be in my seat so he can generate the income. Similarly, if you think about it as a, you know, whether as a parent or as a businessperson, I mean 1 out of 5 from stats which are available out there, 1 out of 5 business owners are able to sell their business successfully and that’s staggering, 2 out of 10, 1 out of 5. So what happens with the remaining?

And they’re not able to sell because they’re trying to sell the income, they are trying to make that transition happen, but the buyer is not interested in that. The buyer is interested in asset which is always easier to pass on.

So my question to you really is, where is your energy being focused right now? And it’s possible that yes you need to focus on generating more profits and more income for yourself. But the question really is, who’s keeping you accountable? Who’s keeping you on track to make sure that you are building the asset value? You’re maximizing this asset because at the end of the day, whether as a parent or as a businessperson, when you decide to transition, this asset will be much easier to transition than the income.

Need More Wealth Creation Strategies?

Brad Sugars is the founder and CEO of ActionCOACH and has not only built many businesses and written many books – but has built himself a full portfolio of assets.

He’s now sharing the strategies he uses to build businesses into assets, and how business owners can build their wealth to enjoy their own legacies.


Stop Answering Your Team’s Questions

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Why do you build a team in your business?

To increase the impact the business can make together? To focus into the work that you should be doing? To move closer towards the vision you’ve set? To have more time to spend on other things you love without worrying that the business would fall apart?

If these reasons resonate with you, and you’re still working 70-80 hours a week, you need to ask yourself – is your team working the way you want it to?

Often, as a business mentor in London, I come across leaders who have this exact predicament, and it is usually one of the main things we work on together. Often the biggest constraint I find is that the business owner is the ‘Superman/ Superwoman’ in the business. They are ready to fly in to solve every problem!

The key giveaway is often: you are answering too many of your team’s questions.

How to get your team to think for themselves

Before you rush to close your office door and refuse to speak to anyone in your team, let me be clear. There are definitely questions that your team should be asking you. However, there are also questions they are asking you because they are trying to absolve themselves of responsibility from making a decision (or do not realise they are allowed to make that decision).

And that’s where the fix needs to happen.

Team management is one of the biggest areas business coaches and business consultants in London work on as this is one of the trickiest areas for business leaders to get right.

There are simple 3 actions that I advise my business coaching clients to do in order to move their team towards independence:

1. Get the team used to coming up with their own answers

Sometimes, employees can get used to having answers handed to them on a plate. It is not that they do not know the answer, but rather that they do not realise they should be coming up with it themselves. At the first moment of uncertainty, their instinct is to ask you for the answer.

Every time someone on your team asks you a question, you need to be able to identify whether it is an actual request for information that you have and they do not have, or whether they simply do not want to be (or do not know they can be) responsible for the outcome.

If you think that it is the latter, then you shouldn’t be giving them the answer. Instead, bat the question back to them – ask them something like, “What do you think you should do?” This gently forces them to make the decision for themselves in front of you.

By taking this approach (and sticking to it), your team will soon understand the areas where they should be taking their own initiative, and where they should be coming to you for help. Eventually, they will rule out the option of coming to you when they don’t need to because they already know they are going to be asked to make the decision themselves anyway.

Without creating this habit, you may find yourself constantly fielding questions instead of actually getting work done. Rather than saving you time, your team would then be causing you more work and stress than if you just handled the work yourself. So what would be the point in having the team, right?

2. Instil a culture of ‘advice’ rather than ‘permission’

Of course, your employees might only come to you for decision-making purposes because they think they have to get permission. This is an extremely common situation, especially with new business leaders.

How to overcome this is to make it clear to your team that they are allowed to make decisions without asking you, if they feel they have adequate information available to do so, or if it is not in an area that you have explicitly told them they need to obtain permission for (something like spending the budget, for example).

You could suggest that, if they do need advice, they first turn to their colleagues, as they might be able to provide all the guidance and information needed to make a decision.

While it is important that your employees feel they can come to you for your input on big decisions, they should feel confident making smaller, less critical decisions. That means that when there are critical decisions to be made, you can make those decisively without it being lost in a flood of other decisions that you didn’t really have to make.

3. Make yourself unavailable from time to time

You might be viewed by your team as a sort of safety net that is there to answer their questions or to reaffirm the answer they already know is the right one. If you take this safety net away, they will have no choice but to think for themselves, and take actions without consulting you every time.

As such, it may be beneficial to make it so that your team is unable to contact you every so often so that your employees get used to keeping the business running without you there.

I have mentioned before how being a ‘got a minute’ boss could be massively impacting your productivity. So although you might think it as friendly and encouraging to say ‘my door is always open’, it can actually be more beneficial for both you and your team to keep it closed occasionally.

Once you master these three ways of getting your team to stand on their own feet, there will be a number of benefits. Besides the obvious freeing of your time and reduction of your stress levels, you will also find that you have more headspace to spend on strategising and future planning – meaning you can take your business further and grow it to the next level that you desire.

When you have a business that remains a profitable enterprise without your constant intervention, then you have built a business that is an asset and not just a long and tiring job you’ve created for yourself.

Is Your Business An Asset?

Once a year, Brad Sugars – founder of ActionCOACH and one of the most successful business owners in the world – does a tour of the UK to share his strategies for building businesses that run as assets.

In 2017 he’ll be coming in October and we highly recommend taking the opportunity to immerse yourself in that educational environment.


The 4S Framework for Focus

“I know what I should be doing. I’m just not doing it!”

Sound familiar?  

What if I were to reword the above to “I know what I should not be doing, I just keep doing it!”?

There’s a powerful framework I use to help clients (and myself) clarify focus. You will find that this framework often helps clarify where you are actually spending most of your time, and where you SHOULD be spending your time in order to achieve more without putting in additional unnecessary hours of work in…

When you segment your tasks into these quadrants, you may just find a bit of clarity about which tasks you should and shouldn’t be doing.

And I hope you can then draw on that power of the made-up mind!

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi! This is Shweta from London Coaching Group. What I want to talk about today is focus.

What is Focus?

When one hears the word focus, one generally thinks it’s about having the clarity as to what needs to be done. But I have a different version to focus. Focus is also about knowing what not to do. In fact recently in one of the coaching sessions a client said “You know I know I should be doing this detailed side of my business, but I’m not doing it.” And I looked at him and I was like the problem is not that you’re not doing what you should be doing. The problem is you’re doing what you shouldn’t be doing. A little of word play here.

But let’s have a look at the framework which is exactly what I shared with him which gave him an understanding as to where he was spending most of this time versus where he should be spending most of his time. So let’s have a look and I’m sure it will give you a very clear picture as to what kind of transition you need to make in your business space so you can actually achieve more with the right focus on the right things.

The Framework for Focus – The Quadrants

So if you look at this – just maybe you should actually draw it on a piece of paper. So you are looking at a vertical axis which says what’s the purpose or meaning. The activities which are actually meaningful which will help you achieve more in your business in terms of profitability or the asset value or release more time for yourself. Meaning in your own ways. And then the horizontal axis is where you actually have fun doing those things. It’s joyful, it gives you happiness, it’s gratification. You enjoy. Basically, that’s what we’re looking at. Now, each axis goes from low to high. And so we’re looking at four quadrants.

My clients know I love quadrants because they just make life easy, doing decisions, to think it through. It’s just a form of simplification.

This is the model which I took from Marshall Goldsmith who’s one of the leading executive coaches in the world. And I found this very useful when he shared it with us because it just makes sense. So have a look ok?

Low-Fun Low-Meaning Tasks = Surviving

Now if I look at the bottom left quadrant. This is low-fun and low-meaning, right? Lots of trivial, lots of noise in day-to-day business life and what I call this is “surviving”.

When you see this try to identify what percentage of your time, your business time, you actually spent in this quadrant, which is surviving. Somehow just getting through the task getting through the day all the time.

High-Fun Low-Meaning Tasks = Stimulating

Now if we look at the bottom right quadrant, you can think of many activities which sit there which are fun to do, exciting. But you know what? They’re not really taking you to your goals. They’re not really meaningful activities and it’s called “stimulating”.

So what percentage of your time are you actually spending on activities which are stimulating but not really meaningful? Now, when I’m working with clients as their coach my objective is, and that I get permission from them to do, is to actually move them from these bottom quadrants to the top quadrants. Generally speaking, to start off with, they move in this quadrant and

Generally speaking, to start off with, they move in to the top left quadrant and eventually, the transition happens to the top right.

Low-Fun High-Meaning Tasks = Sacrificing

Let’s have a look at the top left quadrant first which is – yes you’re not really having fun. It’s like you know when you start going to the gym your muscles hurt the first few days or first few weeks. It’s painful but you still do it because there is a very clear meaning a very clear purpose as to why you’re doing it and when you’re in this quadrant, you’re looking at this.

It’s “sacrificing”. It’s painful. You’re not enjoying it. But you know what. You know you should be doing it.

Then as you build that habit, you build that muscle you build that practice you do that day in and day out without questioning it because you’re very clear, you’re very focused that’s why that needs to be done, you eventually move into the top left quadrant.

High-Fun High-Meaning Tasks = Succeeding

This final quadrant is where you’re ‘succeeding’. And I totally understand as a businesswoman myself, that a hundred percent of the time can not be spent here.

But I’m very clear about one thing, that majority of the time needs to be spent in these top 2 quadrants. Even with sacrificing, I will be there with absolute clarity as to why I’m in that quadrant and how it will eventually move me to the succeeding quadrant.

But having the focus and knowing what not to do is very powerful. And as one of my mentors told me, that a made up mind, a very clear mind, is the most powerful thing in the business and in life. So I really hope you can see for yourself as to where you are and where you need to be.

Remember, a made up mind is a very very powerful tool to have.

See the ActionCOACH founder LIVE in the UK

Brad Sugars is visiting the UK once again – this is your opportunity to get coached by one of the world’s leading business men.

He’ll be covering how to “Finish It!” – how to turn your business into a real asset by making it a profitable enterprise that works without you.


Three Flawed Ideas About Business Plans

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Business plans are generally useless.

When I tell my clients this, I am usually met with bewilderment and confusion (though sometimes with vocal agreement too). I mean – aren’t plans what are at the core of business coaching? Isn’t that what we do at the strategic planning day?

You see coaching businesses in London over the last nine years has really brought home to me the truth of business planning. It is the process of creating the plan – not the plan itself – that is of real importance for business owners trying to achieve growth.

That is just one of the subtle shifts of thinking that business owners need to continually work on to take their businesses to the next level.

Coaching business owners across a range of sectors, I found three flawed ideas about business plans that come up time and again, which, when corrected, can improve a business owner’s effectiveness dramatically.

Flawed Idea 1: A business plan is just for Christmas

One of the biggest misconceptions organisations have about their business plan is that it is there just to tell shareholders, investors and lenders that the company is headed in a good direction and that business owners have everything under control.

People think a plan can be written at the start of the year and, once it has been seen by everyone who needs to see it, it can be filed away, where it will gather dust until the next stakeholder asks for an update.

This is not actually where the power of the business plan lies. Sure, it is part of their remit, but, as the name suggests, business plans are there to help you plan your future. They offer a key opportunity to explore your business’s objectives, strategies and forecasts in detail, so that you can achieve and stoke growth.

A business plan is not about the finished product – it is about the process of creating it, as this is what enables you to measure and assess your business. In fact, a business plan is never really finished: it should be constantly updated in line with changes in the market, industry or business landscape.

Flawed Idea 2: Keeping it in your head

While it may feel that way on those late nights you’re working at the moment, no successful business owner is an island. Keeping your business plan in your head and not seeing the need to write it down is typical of the kind of business owner who has no stakeholders (or up until recently hasn’t had stakeholders).

However, even if you don’t have stakeholders, most businesses eventually get to a point where they need to have a team. Without a written business plan, your team members cannot have any kind of input on the plan. While it might seem to save yourself time and boost your own efficiency, keeping a business plan in your head can be detrimental to the growth and revenue of the overall business.

According to a survey by the Kauffman Centre of Entrepreneurial Leadership, companies with written business plans achieve 50 per cent more sales growth and 12 per cent higher gross profit margins than companies without them. The reason? Because the written plan gives you, and your team, clarity on where you are headed – which automatically aligns everyone in that direction.

Flawed Idea 3: The blame is all on you

When business owners realise that they have not achieved their growth goals, they often blame themselves. They think that the reason growth has slowed is that their approach is wrong, or that they haven’t been putting in the hours and rolling back the sleeves. They aren’t doing the hard work required to keep the growth up.

The answer then seems to be, to push themselves harder and run faster on that treadmill. They put in more hours than they promised their family they would and they start researching mindset principles.

In the vast majority of cases, though, the reality is that business owners of businesses that have reached a successful level of stagnation have done so through blood, sweat and tears. There isn’t more to put into it. What has actually happened is that they have not created an efficient business plan, or the business plan does not involve the implementation of new systems and techniques to facilitate growth.

Instead of thinking you are the cause of the business’s stagnation, you need to return to your business plan (or write one!) and ensure that you have a focus on creating the systems that will not only keep your business running, but will also facilitate growth.

Of course, there is a lot more “head-trash” around business plans than the three I’ve mentioned. That’s where getting the guidance of a business coach can be really helpful – we’ve seen time and again what kind of business plans help take businesses to consistent and sustainable double-digit growth, and which ones just end up sitting on the shelf all year. And I think you’d prefer the former!

Do You Need a Better Quarterly Plan?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionOur business coaching in London involves quarterly intensives where we roll up our sleeves and work with businesses to develop a clear plan for the next quarter.

You can attend alongside our clients and see how we help them grow and win award after award for their exceptional growth – and learn how to achieve that growth for yourself.

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