Insights Blog

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

When Planning, Remember This Step

As a switched-on business owner, I am sure that near the beginning of the year, or the beginning of the quarter, you are in planning mode. You are crafting the strategies and tactics, and forming an action plan, to take your business forward in the coming months.

Most people when doing an exercise like this generally go in with a mindset of wanting a “clean start” or focus on setting resolutions. However, I think you need a slightly different way of thinking, which I explain in this video.

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 hope you’ve had a great start to 2017 and you’re absolutely looking forward to the year. Now, just last week actually, our clients and my team and I, we were in a full day workshop. And the whole idea was, actually this was the workbook, so the whole idea was to spend time thinking strategically and also then planning the execution and detail for 2017.

The Importance of the Rear View Mirror in Strategic Planning

Now, there’s a very interesting section in this book, which is called “Rear View Mirror”, which is all about actually analysing 2016. You know, what went well? What what did not go so well, and so on and so forth. Now, we had to give some very important reminders to our clients when they were doing that exercise and I wanted to share that with you because I’m hoping that you are spending time thinking about 2017 and actually making plans around your strategy and tactics.

Now when you are doing that, people are generally in a mindset where they want to have a clean start, a new start, right? So let’s focus on 2017. But then my viewpoint is that we need to take some time to reflect about 2016 and that rush should not be there, at least for that reflection time. There are two main reasons why you need to go back in your past.

The Two Reasons for Reviewing the Past During Strategic Planning

The first reason, let’s talk about that, so the first reason that you need to go back to 2016 is for the learnings. You’ve had learnings in 2016. Both from your wins and from your failures, and it’s really important for you to identify those learnings so we can actually take them forward in 2017 in a positive way. So that’s the first reason.

The second reason that you need to go back to your past or 2016, is for the self-belief. And why that is important is because… think about it: again in 2017 you will have those moments of high demands, of pressure, you know the moments where you will have to excel, and when you look at the moments in 2016, when you’ve done the same. That gives you the self-belief, that gives you the confidence that yes, you can take on things and you can come out of it stronger and better.

So two reasons, remember. Only two reasons that you look back and you go back in your past. The first, to get learnings, and the second is to get self-belief.

So I really hope you will have a really good 2017 and you will have a great plan of action and good execution and in fact, on that note, if I may say that… Look, if you are open-minded to letting someone help you with your business, becoming even better, even stronger, even more efficient, then please feel free to reach out and just have a chat to explore how we might be able to help you. To help you actually make 2017 your best ever year yet.

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Reminders to reflect on your past is one of the ways we help our business coaching clients (and other business owners who choose to join us) at the Strategic Growth Intensive.

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Are You Stretching in Your Office?

In sports, a player’s coach (or coaches) ensures that they stretch before they take to the field. This is all part of ensuring that the sportsperson gives their best performance and can play to their maximum potential without hurting themselves.

In business, we coach business owners to stretch in a slightly different way but to achieve the same result: deliver the best performance without hurting themselves.

When we talk about stretching, we are talking about stretching yourself and your business to achieve more, and move the business forward. This does not just involve working hard in your business, but ensuring you are also working on the right things so that you are achieving the greatest outcome possible.

Let me share with you a framework that may make this whole stretching in business thing a little bit clearer.

Let’s plot a graph with 4 quadrants, where the vertical axis determines your results – going from “similar” to what you are achieving now to “greater” than what you are achieving now. The horizontal axis determines your activity, going from doing “similar” activity to what you are doing now to “different” activity to what you are doing now.


Similar Results for Similar Activity – Stagnate

In the lowest quadrant, we’re talking about when you are coasting along, continuing with the same work, the same profits, and the same stuff that has been happening all along. 

While you are not moving backwards, you are also not moving forwards. You are not innovating and you are not increasing the impact of your business in any way.  

Here, you are at a stagnate stage. I would venture to say that it can be one of the most boring places to be in business. At least, it is if you have the drive to want to do more, be more, and impact more with what you are doing.

Some people may be satisfied to cruise at this point, but most of the business owners I know are not content with that. 

Greater Results with Similar Activity – Systemise

In the next quadrant up, your output has started to increase. Maybe more leads suddenly poured in and you now have lots of customers. You are probably having to work harder – maybe even work longer – in order to keep up. And your profits are growing along with this increased workload.

Sounds like a good place to be right? It might feel like your business is moving forward. But the reality is, your business is ‘growing’ but it is not ‘stretching’. If you are still doing the same kind of work you have always done, in the processes that have always existed, but you are now having to do more of it, then you are simply working more and not stretching out your business muscles.

If you are sitting in this quadrant, then what you need to focus on to move up into stretching is how to systemise. If you are constantly now doing the same things over and over – and that’s generating profit – then create processes to streamline, automate, or delegate that work now, so you can move on to opening new channels, products, and markets.

Similar Results but doing Different Activity – Satisfy

In this quadrant, you are probably working at about the same level and your profits are remaining steady, but you are constantly pivoting, trying new ideas and releasing new products and services. 

This too can feel like a good place to be. It feels like you are innovating and doing interesting things. I call this quadrant “satisfy” because many business owners feel a sense of satisfaction or even fulfilment and excitement by the constantly changing environment. Entrepreneurs enjoy discovery, so constantly doing new things can feel like fun. 

However, while it definitely is fun and exciting, you are once again not actually stretching your business – or yourself. That should actually already be clear to you, as a shrewd business person, if you are listening to the numbers. Your profits are steady – they’re not increasing. If the output or impact of your business is not increasing, then you cannot call that stretching. You are simply experimenting and testing and measuring.

If you are in this position, then what you need to do is ensure you have a proper business plan in place and that you are consistently paying attention to this plan and reviewing it (preferably quarterly) to avoid being distracted by shiny things. Make sure that if you are moving to try something new, that you are not replacing the things that are working and bringing you profit, and you are instead building in addition to those things you have already tried and tested.

Greater Results and Different Activity – Stretch

So we come to the final quadrant. Here, you can finally feel the stretch. If you are sitting in this quadrant, then I’m sure you already know that stretch feeling we are talking about!

Here, not only are you seeing your profits and results increasing, but you are also changing or expanding the way you do your business. It is that wonderful combination of both increasing your impact, and having fun while you do it. This is what we aim for in every business coaching session.

At an SME level, this might be evident in that you are finally building a marketing funnel; or choosing your niche and marketing avatar; or creating clear inbound marketing strategies; or developing a clear sales process. These are changes where you are systemising and moving forward with your business and if combined with increasing profits, then it is a clear indication that you are stretching and progressing.

In larger businesses, the stretching might be evident in opening up more marketing activation strategies; creating entirely new teams (and better management of those teams); creating parallel marketing funnels for multiple niches and avatars; refining your referral strategies and filling up the upper tiers of your loyalty ladder; or it might even be the creation of new products or services in order to service new markets.

Can you see how when you stretch properly in your business, you need be both doing more, different, and exciting things, but also keeping an eye on your output to ensure you are also progressing in impact and profit as well?

And now can you answer – are you stretching properly in your office?

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Why Speed In Business Isn’t Enough

You may be sitting in your business thinking that there is lots of activity happening and you are getting a lot done. However, if that activity is not manifesting as cash, profits and sales at the end of the day, then there may be something wrong.

In this video, I talk about a concept I use in my business coaching sessions to explain why the speed of your business may not be the best indicator for how well your business is actually doing:

When you understand this critical difference between speed and velocity, you can get yourself in a better mindset to run your business effectively.

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 The London Coaching Group. What I want to talk about today is the difference between speed and velocity. And how understanding this difference can influence your day-to-day working in your business.

Now speed is generally defined as how fast an object is moving; 20 miles an hour, 120 miles an hour. So if the object is not moving, the speed is zero and obviously there’s a lot of movement happening, a lot of frenzy activity happening – there is a high speed.

Where in the velocity is defined as the rate at which the object changes its position. So for example, imagine you’re point A and you take one step forward, and you take one step backward and come back to the original point A. In this case, your speed could be 40 miles an hour, but your velocity will be zero because the displacement has been zero. So velocity would be defined as 40 miles an hour, in the north direction.

Now when you think about this, there could be lots of frenzy activity, lots of pace, lots of action, a lot of activities getting implemented in your business. But the question that you need to ask as a business owner, ‘Is it leading to positive displacement?’ ‘Is it moving me in the direction that I want to move?’

Because just having speed in the business is not sufficient, what you need to do is you need to choose the velocity over speed. Because that’s where movement in the right direction at the right pace happens.

Looking for more help with your team?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionOnly having speed in the business is not sufficient, you need to do find out how you can focus on the velocity over speed. An outside perspective usually helps shed light on key areas to focus on. 

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The 3 KPIs for Managing Directors

As the person who runs the business – whether the business owner, Managing Director or CEO – you are probably familiar with the idea of setting and measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your team members. However, when I have sat down to do this with many of my clients the question often comes up, “But how do I set my own KPIs?”

In this video, I explain the 3 key metrics you should be measuring to indicate your own performance. These should also help provide you with a bit of focus as to what you should be paying attention to in your business.


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 The London Coaching Group. As a business owner, I’m sure you try your best to extend clarity to your team about their roles and key performance indicators.

Working on Your  Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Now when I’m working with my clients and we’re working on the KPIs of the team members, invariably the client would turn around and say “So, what should be my KPI Shweta?” “What should be my top key performance indicators or goals?”

Now that’s a very good question to ask, and if you have ever asked yourself this question then this might be useful. There are three KPIs, which a successful MD or a growth-driven business owner needs to have.

The First Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – Common Goal

The first question you need to ask or the KPI that you need to have in place, is that does the company have a common goal? So ask yourself a question; Is there a common goal to which the whole team is aligned?

The Second Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – Right Team

The second KPI is that does your company have the right team members in place, to help you achieve those targets? So again, the question is – if I were to ask you to let go all of your team members, just a clean slate to start all over again. How many of them would you rehire?

So do you have confident people, and maybe it’s a good time for you to answer this question. Or are there some positions which are vacant? Or maybe one or two people are actually extending themselves to multiple roles, and therefore not really doing their job properly because it is just too much.

The Third Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – Right Activities

So that’s the second KPI, the third KPI is; to make sure that these right people are doing the right activities which will help the company move towards that one common goal. Which is what the management is all about. On a day-to-day basis, are you really managing the activities of people to make sure they are moving in the right direction?

How Do You Rate?

So once you have clarity on your KPIs and you are asking yourself these questions saying; “How do I rate on these three KPIs?” “Am I doing a great job?” “Or do I need to become better?” Because I’m sure that we all have our next levels, if that’s the case with you then see below because you can find out more about what we do and how we can help you become a better MD and a better business owner.

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4 Decisions Every Business Owner Needs to Make


What separates good companies from great companies, and good managers from great managers is decision-making. It’s not just about making the right decision, when it is asked of you, but it’s about your ability to consistently make the right decisions, which will help your business reach its full potential.

Here are four key decisions that as a business owner, you need to be able to nail if you want to see your business grow.

Decide… on the right people to work with..

No company, whether it be a tech startup from Silicon Valley, or a multinational blue-chip company, can work towards growth without the right people.

Your employees are the engines that drive your organisation, and to grow, you need the right fuel to power that growth. It may seem like a given: when you are hiring new employees, hire the candidate who suits the position AND the company. Even though all managers and recruiters, know this ideal scenario, there may always be variables that hamper this ideal from becoming reality.

Often when business owners hire their team members, they do it in a haphazard way without any process. That was why we developed a 4-Hour Recruitment Process that helps business owners spend only 4 hours to hire a superstar.  

With this process, you may not find the right person in the first round. But since you have a process that you can follow – you can run it again easily to get new candidates in. 

Don’t try to  fill a position in as soon as possible – wait for the right person, not the first person.

The decision that you need to make here is to not settle for “good enough”.

Decide… where to establish your presence.

Especially in today’s fragmented marketplace across all industries, you need to make the crucial decision of what channels will be your main growth channels.

In 2016, businesses can’t be as broad and vague about their channel strategy as in the past. Trying to do a broad sweep will usually see you with small results across the board. Companies like ASOS and Kogan – which each have a laser focus on the online retail experience – are examples of how the simple decision of picking the right channel for your business can lead to growth.

Any company looking to grow cannot be all things to everyone, nor can it be present everywhere without spreading itself too thin.

The decision that you need to make here is to define your niche.

Decide… to stay the course in the face of failure.

If you want to see your company grow, you will need how to fail fast and fail right.  

A famous example of staying the course is J.K. Rowling, the author of the best-selling “Harry Potter” series. Before having Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone published, she was rejected by TWELVE other publishers. She chose to not give up at the first hurdle. She learned something from each rejection, improved her pitch and manuscript until she reached a winning formula.

Failure is never a reason to give up. Failure is a powerful tool that tells you what did not work, so that you can start moving towards what will work.

The decision you need to make here is to learn from every failure.

Decide… what your goals are.

All great business owners and managers are goal-driven people. However, it’s not just about simply making goals – it’s about setting the right goals, and creating a plan to achieve those goals. And sticking to it!

This may not be as straightforward as you may initially think. The best goals need to be realistic but ambitious, specific but flexible.

When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook over a decade ago, he set it out to be a simple directory for university students to be able to network. Today Facebook is a social networking giant which boasts capabilities from gaming to e-commerce. From early on, Zuckerberg knew that Facebook could be something great, but needed to grow step-by-step.

Creating a step-by-step plan, setting milestones, and creating a structured growth strategy is what we do every quarter with our clients and special guests. Click here if you would like to learn more about the next Strategic Growth Intensives.

The decision you need to make here is to create tangible business goals and a definitive plan to take you from where you are now, to where you want to be.

These 4 decisions are not only key to creating a business that grows, but also key to helping you run a business with less stress and less time-wasting. Nail these 4 decisions and you will already be halfway towards achieving that next level of growth for your business.

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How Executive Coaching Can Help Your Business Grow


Why is it that the best athletes always seek out the best sports coaches?  Isn’t their natural ability enough to take them to the top?  The short answer is no, it isn’t.  That is not to say that natural ability isn’t extremely important in sports, but that ability has to be refined, nurtured, and properly channelled for the athlete to reach his or her maximum potential.  After all, a flawless diamond pulled out of the ground still needs to be cut and polished before it is considered perfect.

The same concept applies to the mastery of business leadership.  Executives may have all the necessary leadership qualities, and constantly produce outstanding results, but it takes refinement from outside professionals to help those executives realise their full potential.  Fortunately, this is a fact with which executives are becoming increasingly at ease.

A decade ago, executive coaching had somewhat of a bad reputation amongst executives.  This is because they perceived the suggestion of outside assistance to be indicative of the fact that they were somehow ineffective in their leadership positions.  This, of course, was never the case.  Executive coaching has always been about taking individuals who show extraordinary leadership qualities and boosting their strengths with a view to helping them reach their maximum efficiency.  Fortunately, this understanding of executive coaching is becoming widespread, and executives are now far more open to self-betterment than they perhaps were in the past.

Indeed, executives and leaders from small, family-owned businesses to major corporations are actively seeking out executive coaching because of its potential to increase business growth.  But, before we explore how executive coaching can help your business grow, let us first look at the specifics of this external guidance that is quickly becoming integral to business achievement.

What, Exactly, is Executive Coaching?


Executive coaching refers to the process undergone by company executives and business coaches.  It is important to note that the process is undergone by both, as executive coaching is a very interactive procedure, and far from the dictatorship that some executive still imagine it to be.  Together, the executive and the coach work through a process designed to maximise the strengths of the executive and boost his or her weaknesses.  This process is created through the dialogue shared between the executive and the coach, ensuring that the executive receives a personalised strategy based on the areas which require focus.

How Can Executive Coaching Help Businesses Grow?

Executive coaching is not necessarily aimed at the business itself, so its goals won’t be aimed at business growth outright.  That being said, an improved leader will have an unavoidable growth effect on the business.  If the great leaders of history have taught us only one, valuable lesson, it is that strong leadership can accomplish anything.  Thus, an executive undergoing coaching will achieve business growth through the following factors:

  1. Diagnosis of Success

The great Michelangelo famously said, “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”  This is true for certain business leaders, who feel that their businesses are doing well while, in reality, they are performing at less than their full potential. 

Success in business is not merely about money and power.  Executive coaching allows for the metrics of a particular executive’s definition of success to be diagnosed and, if necessary, recalibrated.  Through setting goals for success ever higher, executives will learn a great deal about their own potential for success, and, through this, take the business to greater heights. 

  1. Affirmation of Priorities

Different personalities have different leadership styles.  And, while tenacity is often a beneficial trait in leaders, if overly developed it can border on stubbornness, which can be detrimental to a leader and a business.  Tenacity in chasing priorities is certainly commendable.  However, an unwillingness to relent on chasing those priorities when they are clearly not benefitting the business might be the precise culprit of a stagnant growth period. 

Executive coaching helps executives revisit their priorities, and provides fresh insight onto how to realise them.  A shift in priorities might be the necessary factor for further business growth, which the executive will have the tools to helm.

  1. Adaptation of Leadership Approaches

One of the keys to successful leadership is effective delegation, but many executives can misunderstand this factor.  Some leaders feel that it is their job to spearhead each and every idea, and always be the most knowledgeable person in the meeting.  This can work for some situations, but it is often unnecessary.  Moreover, this approach can appear condescending and succeed only in dividing what should be a unified team.

Executive coaching can help a leader delegate through questioning.  By asking the team about the current issues the company is facing, as well as their thoughts on the best ways to approach those issues, a leader can successfully motivate the team and create an alliance, which will certainly help company growth.

  1. Prediction of Change, both short and long term

In business, nothing is certain except change.  You don’t have to look too far to see how the business landspace is ever-changing whether that is the print industry shrinking due to the shift in digital media or law or just about anything else. However, some business leaders seem to be able to predict future shifts and manage to steer their companies around these hurdles as if by magic.  However, as we all know, magic isn’t real – it’s just an illusion.  The business leaders who appear to be able to predict the future actually possess a sense of foresight based on experience and know-how. 

Executive coaching can teach executives to develop this sense of foresight. For example, take businesses which are affected by seasonable demand for their products or services much more than others, such as toys during Christmas.  After all, it is completely possible to predict the trajectory of a moving object from inside it – a few freak speed-bumps aside.  Through coaching, executives will develop the ability to predict possible future change based on the factors visible from within the company, such as poor planning, product issues, or staff insufficiencies.

  1. Simplification

Leadership in its simplest form entails pointing a crowd in the right direction and walking ahead.  While business leadership can be more complicated than this, it’s never good to over-complicate procedures as this practice can obscure the business’s main goals.

Executive coaching can help with simplification, which places more emphasis on leadership itself and less on the duties required to fill this position.  By improving his or her leadership ability, an executive can complete tasks without being overcome by them, and a leader valuing simplicity will thus have a streamlining effect on the company he or she is leading. 


The Link between Executive Growth and Business Growth

As mentioned, the above factors are aimed at executive growth, but have a knock-on effect.  One of the fundamental principles behind executive coaching regards the idea that growth in a leader translates into business growth.  This is not just a theory, it has been proved.

A 2011 survey set out to discover if there was indeed a link between excellent leadership and business growth.  The study compared a database detailing company growth with one detailing executive performance, and the findings were conclusive.  It was revealed that only one percent of the executives studied scored highly on the study’s scoring metrics, and that all of those executives were at the helm of companies which were experiencing major growth.

The important conclusion to be drawn from this study is that a single executive can have a significant impact on the growth of a company.  With the right skill-set, an executive can actively move a business forward, inspiring motivation through the ranks of employees.  Another important factor here is that the skill-set of influential executives is not necessarily a natural endowment.

To return to the sports reference made earlier, no athletes reach the pinnacle of their sports without excellent coaching.  Talent is often a requisite, but it is never absolutely sufficient.  Similarly, it is possible for every executive to be as influential as the one percent identified in the study.  With the right coaching, executives can refine their most valuable qualities and strengthen the qualities which are perhaps underdeveloped.  This executive growth can then be directly responsible for company growth.  

Choose_Executive_ Coach

How to Choose an Executive Coach

Executives are not interchangeable pieces of equipment, so there is no single manual for coaching one.  The style of coaching suited to each executive depends on factors like personality and strengths, and should be approached differently each time.  This is why it is important to decide on an executive coach that suits the candidate well.

However, there are certain additions to a coach’s CV that should always feature.  These are:

  • Qualifications:  Executive coaches need to have a thorough understanding of modern business practices in order to properly guide and develop executives.  In addition to this, a solid grounding in behavioural sciences is certainly beneficial.  A degree in business science is important, and training in behavioural science is certainly complimentary.
  • Experience:  As executives will know from building a solid staff of employees, experience counts.  Theoretical knowledge of business practices is definitely important, but the ability to apply them to practical situations based on past experience is the difference between a good coach and a great one.

Planting the Seeds for Growth

Sustained growth should be one of the fundamental objectives of any business.  But, instead of bringing in outside assistance to promote growth directly, it is far more beneficial to equip executives with the skills necessary to stimulate long-term growth.  Executive coaching can do this, and is thus the best way to ensure that a business not only grows in the short-term, but continues to grow.


This article was contributed by Shirish Agarwal from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

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