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How to Use Behavioural Styles to Unite Your Team

How to Use Personalities

Three dominant people walk into a meeting room. They all know exactly how to get the job done and are equally vocal about what should be done while struggling to find a way to actually get any work done. They leave the meeting with a decision to just get on and get the work done independently. Sound like a piece from a certain reality TV show? Or have you seen it happen in your own team?

You can avoid this situation on your team easily, by focusing on their behavioural style. Once you know what behavioural style they use, you then need to know what styles are best suited to the roles required in your business. Then you need to match people with the correct behavioural style into those roles.

Dominant behaviours have a place and purpose in your business – they just often need the treated the right way. The ideal environment for a dominant-type is probably not paired with other dominants.

So, if you want your business to be a well-oiled machine, you need to take a look under the skin. Identify what the ideal environment and working partners are for your team, and put them in a position where they have all the right ingredients to become your next superstar.

The Four Behavioural Styles in DiSC

Before we can talk about how behavioural styles are used by business coaches, business consultants and business owners alike to optimise productivity, let me first introduce you to the 4 styles of the DiSC behavioural assessment.

D is for Dominance

These are those who like to take control and dislike inactivity. They are competitive, self-motivated, independent and measured. They don’t tend to factor in “feelings” in their decisions, and often fail to accept advice from team members. They will get a lot done without direction, but usually need their relationships with team members to be managed well.

They are best suited to: administration, decision-making roles.

They’re the ones who say, “Here’s how we do it.”

I is for Influence

The influence styles are people who are spontaneous and are able to make quick decisions. They’re the social lubricant of an office – which means they prefer working with people and shouldn’t be left to work alone. They may get over-excited, generalise and may tend towards dreaming. They may get distracted easily, but they will work exceptionally well in a team and will be naturally persuasive.

They are best suited to: sales and marketing, team roles, client-facing roles.

They’re the ones who say, “Let’s have a meeting to figure out how to do it.”

S is for Steadiness

Slow and steady wins the race is the S behavioural style’s motto. They will take their time in making decisions, so be careful pairing them with an I or D! However, another good S word for these people is “supportive” – they can be an excellent right-hand and can bring a lot of cohesion to a team since they will naturally be empathetic and responsive. They are rarely ambitious or creative, however, so may need pointing in the right direction.

They are best suited to: account management, HR, non-creative roles

They’re the ones who say, “Let’s copy an example.”

C is for Compliance

The C behavioural types are careful and cautious. They will play it safe and only do things when they are sure of the result. They are generally happier to be working in isolation and if they do have to work with people, they will need to be given specifics. Telling a C to “wing it” is how you send them into a panic attack. But ask them to give a detailed analysis and you’ll get the best report you’ve ever seen. They are task-oriented and process-driven. C people are the kinds who will always insist they are correct, and they’ll provide you with a full breakdown of exactly why they’re right – maybe even a pie chart.

They are best suited to: Editing, quality control, roles that require precision and attention-to-detail

They’re the ones who say, “We should only do it according to these projections.”

How to Test for the DiSC Behavioural Types

One of the reasons that I am a fan of the DiSC Behavioural Assessments is that the testing process is extremely easy and speedy. In fact, it only takes about 10 minutes for the participant to fill out the form itself, and you could have the results within an hour.

The test is extremely simple – each question gives 4 collections of adjectives and the participant needs to choose 1 set that is most like them, and 1 set that is least like them. After answering just 24 questions, our system will deliver a full report that will give the person’s ‘natural’ style and their ‘adaptive’ style – i.e. the way they behave in personal contexts, and the way they adjust when they are in work mode.

Optimise Your Team By Blending Behavioural Styles

Now that you understand the behavioural types, it should become easy to see how so many team management issues can often be resolved simply by understanding the behavioural types of the ‘offending’ team members. And then learning how to position your various team members in such a way that they are more comfortable, more satisfied, and more productive.

Do you have a ‘high I’ complaining about someone in the office being rude and abrasive? It’s probably because you’ve put a ‘high D’ with that high I – maybe you should move them into a role where they interact more with a ‘high S’ instead?

But there is so much more than just balancing out the behavioural tendencies in your team that can be gained from understanding the DiSC behavioural styles…

How We Make Use of DiSC Behavioural Styles to Improve Productivity

In coaching businesses over the last few years – and in running our own businesses – I have found there are a number of ways in which DiSC behavioural tests can be used to truly optimise for growth and overall satisfaction.

Here are a few ways that we use the DiSC assessments:

  • Our own team: The most obvious way we use it is to assess our actual team members. Every team member, new and old, has taken a DiSC assessment and that assessment has been shared with everyone else on the team. This ensures that we are all aware of each other’s style and can be understanding of one another’s way of doing things.
  • Our clients: Whenever a new client comes on board, we have all the decision-makers in the business take a DiSC behavioural assessment. This helps dramatically with coaching them to be the best they can be.
  • Clients’ recruitment: When our clients are looking to hire a new team member, we almost always go through the 4-hour recruitment process. A part of that process is getting the recruits to fill out the DiSC assessment to ensure their behavioural type is suited to the role. While we have all of them fill out the assessment, it is the ones who stand out from the other criteria that are processed, so that we can use it as an additional factor (not the determining factor) in the final decision.
  • Non-Clients Independent Assessments: Occasionally, we also have people who are not (yet) clients who request DiSC assessments – along with other core assessments – conducted for themselves or their teams. These can be incredibly helpful as a first step towards galvanising teams that have ground to a halt from unmanaged friction.

The DiSC Platinum Rule

There is an over-arching learning to be gained from DiSC that you may have clued into as you see how we use these assessments.

When you were growing up, your parents (or guardians) may have advised you to follow ‘The Golden Rule’. That is, treat others as we would wish to be treated. And while this sounds like a reasonable sentiment, it is surprisingly ineffective in forming good relationships with the people around you.

The DiSC behavioural assessments give us a way to upgrade this rule to the Platinum Rule – treat others as they wish to be treated.

If you look back at the way we use DiSC assessments with this platinum rule in mind, you can see the paradigm shift that DiSC can give you when it comes to team management. Instead of “finding a way for your team to work together effectively”, you need to shift your thinking to “finding a way to understand how your team will be able to work together effectively.”

Once you understand this subtle, but critical, mind shift, you will most likely find opportunities to build a team that is happier and more productive than ever before.

Is team cohesion a problem for you?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionThere is a certain finesse to managing a team – a skill that can always be honed.

Do you think there is a possibility that your team could be even more productive than they are right now?


Should You Promote Your Best Employees?

We were recently doing a deep dive analysis of the specific reasons that had driven our client to their best year ever in 2017. One of the key reasons was that their top performing sales superstar had been bringing in a consistent flow of new business. As further growth was part of their 2018 plans, they were considering hiring more salespeople. 

More critically, to keep their star salesperson motivated, they thought it makes perfect sense to reward her with more responsibility by promoting her to sales manager to manage the incoming employees.

Here’s why that may be a really bad idea and could actually be doing their superstar a disservice.

Before you consider promoting someone to a new position in your business, be very clear that the person you’re promoting actually has the know-how, the understanding, the skill set, and the desire to actually do the job you are now setting them to do.

Remember, you don’t manage people, you manage the activities of your people. And if you are unclear about what activities they can and cannot do, you could be cutting off your own legs.

There are important decisions you need to make as the leader of your business – and filling the roles in your business are the pivotal ones that can make or break your business. Take your time with it, and be careful with it. It will be more than worth the effort.

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 this whole ‘promoting-within’ culture.

Now I totally understand that for our people to be excited, they should know that they have chances of progressing within the company. And as the owner of the business, yes, that’s the first place where you should look at when there are promotions or vacancies within the business. But at the same time what I’m seeing very often is that many business owners think that that’s the only option.

In fact it’s a lazy option. And many of the business owners take that route, where a person is doing well, business is growing and now they want to actually have someone to supervise, say, multiple sites or multiple team members. They will look at that superstar or they look at their most loyal person and actually promote them.

Now a couple of things could happen. You could actually have the superstar become a super-superstar and actually release time and room within the business for yourself. But generally what happens is that when it’s done in a lazy way, and I’m being very upfront about it, when it’s done in a lazy way and not enough thought has been put into it, then you simply end up promoting your superstar to his or her level of incompetence. Now that’s a very key point that I’m just mentioning here – that you end up holding people to their level of incompetence.

Think about it like this. If there’s a sales superstar and the person is doing well and now they want to grow in the organization. The temptation is to promote them to sales manager, who can manage a set of other salespeople. But then it could be that that’s not the right profile that the sales superstar has. It could be that they’re actually not good at managing activities of people.

So what I’m really trying to explain here is that when you are promoting people within, be very clear that the personalities fit the requirements of that position, and that the person will actually do well. Make sure you’re not converting your feelings towards a member into an overhead for the business just because you think that’s the option you should be going for.

I have had many such instances where the costs have shot up and the performance has gone down with such simple decisions. At the same time I’ve had situations with clients where this was the best decision. So please be very mindful when you promote within because it has to be a strategic decision and not a lazy decision.

Want a superstar employee in 4 hours?

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And it only takes 4 of your working hours to get through (and we give you a voucher so your job advertising is free!)


Best Business Quotes From Shweta Jhajharia

A client recently asked me about what they should do when their team members are consistently not meeting deadlines.

My answer probably wasn’t quite what they were expecting.

“Communication is the response that you get.”

You can focus on what your team members are not doing, and what they should be doing. You can try to think about ‘motivation’ strategies and improving productivity, to get them to see the value in their work, to help them understand what their contribution means to the business.

However, everything has to start from you – as the leader, business owner or key team member.

If you are getting a certain response from your team, such as them not meeting deadlines, then the first thing I would like you to do is reflect on your communication.

This may sound harsh to some leaders, but this is where taking ownership and accountability comes in. How effectively are you communicating what you would like your team members to do?

When you start with your ‘being’ – assessing your own behaviour, actions and understanding first – you will have done 80% of the work in ‘motivating’ your team members to do what they are supposed to do. 

Want to be the best leader you can be?

Take a look at what a complimentary business strategy session could offer you. The idea is to find out which growth strategies could work best in your business.

We review your business and highlight any areas where we could help you do even better. You choose to either take the information that and improve your business yourself, or commit to ongoing coaching. Your choice: no obligation, no pressure. 

Most business owners I speak to want to see themselves as winners.

But is winning your only option or is it a ‘nice to have’?.

“Everyone wants to win. Some people refuse to lose.”

This is something I’ve often reminded clients of in my business coaching sessions. Wanting to win is often a great way to move forward in business. However, time and again, the game changes to one of persistence and resilience and this subtle shift of thinking becomes crucial to continue to move forward.

Remember that 50% of businesses cease to exist after just five years. And only one third ever make it to ten.

What makes the difference between those who continue to succeed and those who burn out is a focus on getting the next result, taking the next step on the ladder, reaching the next milestone!

When failure is not acceptable, you set yourself milestones which are stretched but achievable and do ‘whatever it takes’ to build a winning streak.

Just as when we say focus on purpose first, or how Simon Sinek says to Start With Why – when your only option is to win, your own mind and then the universe comes together to focus on getting there.

In keeping space in your mind for losing and for failure, you often allow it in – and ‘by refusing to lose’ – you shift completely away from all the reasons of poor results.

And in the end, you build yourself and your business as a consistent winner.

Want More Business Anecdotes?

I put together some of the best stories, advice, and frameworks that I use in my business coaching sessions into a book called SPARKS: Ideas to Ignite Business Growth.

Using the button below you can grab your copy for free (you just pay for the shipping costs!) [While stock continues to last.]

During a coaching session the other week, one of my clients was happily telling me about all the marketing activities they had executed recently. As they rattled off a whole list of things they were doing, I stopped them for a second and asked, “But do you know which of these activities are working?” “Hmm. I guess I’m not sure,” was their answer.

And they knew immediately that they were making a big mistake…

This is what I said to them, “Whatever you can measure, you can manage and improve.”

This is a critical part of ensuring that your business continues to grow rather than stagnating at a plateau. You should be building some sort of dashboard in your business, where you can carefully measure the most important metrics.

This is not just in your sales and marketing, but you should also be ensuring you have at least a mid-year review of your financials (here’s three key metrics you should look at) and, well, almost every part of your business, really.

In fact, even areas where you cannot have a specific number should still be measured using some form of Key Performance Indicators – such as the 3 KPIs for Managing Directors that I have talked about before.

If you are simply doing things without any kind of measurement, not only will you be uncertain about whether you are growing or not, you will also find it difficult to motivate yourself and your team to stay excited about what you are doing. In the end, the small wins and everyday progress are what motivates people – so there is a double benefit of stimulating growth and encouraging your team to perform better and better.

What are you measuring? And what have you not started measuring that you will start measuring now?

What Are You Measuring?

When you gain a business coach or business mentor, you acquire not only an outside perspective on your business, but also someone who keeps you accountable and helps you identify what you need to focus on in order to grow your business. 

When you book a complimentary strategic review of your business, we’ll help you see just how valuable this can be.

Book a Free Strategic Review

Not too long ago, during a coaching session with Paul Hastings, one of the business owners I work with, we discussed team management. He articulated a learning he had gained from that session about managing the progression of team members that was so compelling, I thought it was worth sharing here:

“Management is not a status, it is an activity. A lot of team members aspire to the status but not the activities of management. During recruitment and promotion exercises, this needs to be explicit.” – Paul Hastings, Director, Reflections.

This is an important reminder for all business owners – when you move your team members up into the higher echelons of your business, what kind of guidance and training are you giving them?

We often talk about when to make new hires, and how to onboard new recruits effectively. However, it’s important that when you are managing your team, and you are upgrading your team, that you are ensuring they are aware of their new responsibilities.

The job description is one of the critical parts of your recruitment process, and if you are hiring for a management position, ensure you make it really clear that this is a job that requires serious work and may be difficult, especially if you were a superstar as an individual performer.

Need help with recruitment?

business consulting servicesRecruitment of good managers, and even executives, can be a nightmarish process that wastes loads of time – and results in hiring someone not right for the job. We, therefore, developed a process that helps to find the best candidates, and only uses 4 hours of your time…

On a coaching call recently, one of my clients seemed a bit puzzled about how to move forward with analysing the numbers in her business.

The source of her confusion was not that she was looking at the wrong figures or had a confusing dashboard or anything like that. It wasn’t even that she was looking at dwindling numbers and wondering how to boost her team’s performance.

In fact, it was that she had started some marketing activities, and all the numbers were in the green. “Everything is going fine, what do I do now?”

It’s a pretty good problem to have isn’t it? The following was something I said to her, which I think is a great reminder for all the business owners who are running successful businesses:

shweta-jhajharia-quotes-overanalyse-failure

“We overanalyse failure, but often forget to analyse our success – the things we want more of.” – Shweta Jhajharia

Many leaders are exceptionally hard on themselves as a way of driving themselves forward. Through the analysis of what went wrong, they seek to ensure past failures do not happen again.

While that is very valid, the best leaders know how to not just assess what went wrong, but also review what went right, and how to replicate their successes over and over again.

It is important to remember this. Give importance to, celebrate, and learn from your successes as much as your failures.

Want to boost your own successes?

Even leaders sometimes need to be reminded to celebrate their wins. Business coaches and business mentors are there to do that and to help analyse those wins in the most useful way.

With a free strategic review, you can find out if your business is one that we can work with to push the boundaries of success.

Book a Free Strategic Session

At the Strategic Growth Intensive in October, one of the areas we discussed in a little more depth was marketing.

And just recently, at one of our complimentary sessions we had to remind a new prospect about one of those really fundamental mindset principles around marketing that helps keep you focused on the right things…

London Coaching Group Best Business Quotes Marketing Is Not About Being Prolific, It's About Being Precise

“Marketing is not about being prolific. It’s about being precise.”

In today’s world of advanced technology and the long, rich history that marketing now has, it gets confusing. You’re assaulted with marketing advice. This technique, that strategy, this system.

It’s tempting to try it all. Everything is important. Anything might get you results.

But when you stretch yourself too thin and attempt to be everywhere at once, the likely result is that you will end up reaching a lot of people, not the right people, and you’ll reach them with a muddled message.

Most likely, you will also end up being unable to measure what you are doing, and then how will you know which technique is actually working?

You should choose a highly targeted niche, focus on finding out everything about your Avatar, and then craft the perfect lead magnets to really speak to the people who are actually going to buy from you.

And then with careful testing and measuring in place, you can refine your marketing approach and choose the channels that actually bring you sales, and not just visitors.

When you focus like this, you can create a marketing strategy that brings you a true flow of inbound leads, which will massively boost your growth without increasing your working hours.

How precise do you get with your marketing? Let us know your own insights in the comments below.

Want to talk to us about marketing?

going-global-live-social-media-masterclassShweta will be giving keynote speeches at the Going Global business show, and we will additionally be hosting a Social Media Masterclass at various times on both days.

Tickets are free, so join us to hear more strategies and talk to us directly.

One of my clients at his first business coaching session was resisting when I tried to convince him that he needed a weekly dashboard.

“It’s such a hassle to try and make sure I do that every week – it seems like a waste of my time.”

This was the answer that I gave him:

Shweta Business Quotes - Choose the pain of discipline over the pain of non-performance

“Choose the pain of discipline over the pain of non-performance.”

Sometimes it can seem like a real struggle to wade through the numbers of your business, or do some of those tasks that you know you should do but you don’t really want to do.

It is at those moments that you should remind yourself that these are the tasks that will take your business to that next level. They may not be the most exciting parts of running your business, but they are essential for systemised growth.

Just like training for a sport, it usually requires discipline to truly perform in the big leagues. So get ‘in the zone’ and get disciplined about your business so you can take it to the next grade.

What practices are you disciplined with in your business? Let us know in the comments below.

Every Sportsperson Has A Coach…

Business owners are like athletes: they need strength, practice and discipline! Athletes achieve that with the help of their coach. Would your business benefit from the same with a business coach?

Book a Free Session

Business owners often get very excited when the prospect of growth is within reach. That grasp at growth before they have the right systems and team in place, however, can often result in more problems than they were expecting.

It’s important to consider your processes, and today instead of sharing a long article, I want to share with you a thought that we shared on our Instagram account recently:

business-coaching-london-recruitment

Managing a superstar team starts from the very first job ad that you put out. Make sure you have an effective recruitment process in place so that when you do hire someone, they’re the right someone. Because your business is only as good as your team.

And your team is only as good as your leadership skills.

Want To Become A Better Team Leader?

Recruitment of the right person for the job is really only the first stage. Motivating and managing a team of fantastic employees requires another set of skills.

Join the webinar and find out if you could be helping your team work better, faster and smarter.


And How About You?

Here is an exercise I have done with clients who have children. You don’t need to have children to do this exercise – you just need to have an idea of what is involved.

I’ve found that comparing two simple numbers can often lead to the significant mind-shift you need to accelerate your progress as a business owner.

The cost of raising a child in the UK has been rising steadily for years. And education is almost always the biggest expense.

But what happens when you leave the schooling and university system? Do both education and the investment in education stop there? If you find that you aren’t spending any time or money on your education as a business owner, then you are doing a disservice to yourself.

It’s easy to see how education is an investment when you put in the context of children. It is critical to have that same mindset about your education as a business owner – investment in yourself is the best investment you can make.

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. I want to give you a very simple task today.

I want you to jot down the amount that you intend to spend on your kid’s education or that you are already spending on your kid’s education. Plus also the amount that you intend to spend or are already spending on their extracurricular activities and clubs and all that stuff, right. Just give me a guess estimate for the year. And obviously, it’s relevant if you have kids or you plan to have kids.

So just think of the total. Now, I’ll give you five seconds.

After that I want you to jot down the amount that you are actually spending in a very active form of learning for yourself, okay. I want you to jot that down, saying “this is the amount that I am spending on coaching, on learning, on books, on going to some activities conferences”, jot that down. On an annual basis, what is the amount that you’re spending.

For some of you would be like “What? Really? No, I’m not spending anything, I’ve done all that schooling”. Remember that learning is a constant process. Now when you look at these two figures and by the way, I do that sometimes with my clients, especially when I look at their goals for their kids and for their loved ones, my question is, “And how about you?”

So the point is, your learning cannot stop. If you are not investing in yourself, if you’re not spending on resources which can help you make better then your earning is pretty much a reflection of your learning. And if you want to do more, if you want to become more, if you want to achieve more, then you have to learn more. As simple as that.

So I really hope that gives you some food for thought and this is something that you will consciously push you going forward because it’s an investment in yourself and you’re the best person to be invested in.

Asking the Hard Questions

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionIt is the job of a business coach to sometimes ask business owners the harder questions – about their business, and about their behaviours and attitudes when it comes to their business practice.

Book a complimentary session with us and find out whether having someone ask you the right questions could lead to even greater business success for your business.


A Simple Business Toolbox Part 2: Team, Time & Money

Last week we covered the marketing productivity tools that can fit into your most basic business toolbox – and I was really pleased to receive such positive feedback. It is always great to find out how business owners are gaining tangible benefit from these blogs.

In this part, we will help to demystify some further tools in a few other critical areas of business, which may help you lighten the load, or increase the result from the effort put in.

Let’s jump in with the area where almost every business owner of larger, successful businesses want to improve…

Team Management (or more, Leadership) Tools

If your business is growing to a size where systemisation and leverage are becoming important, you should ensure that your team have clear direction in where they should be headed, and what they are aiming for.

And there are two main areas of leadership where systems and tools can help. The first is task management.

As I’ve said before, you shouldn’t manage your team, you should manage their activities.

A system we use for task management is Asana. This is a reasonably ‘safe bet’ tool, coming from the minds of tech maestros who co-founded Facebook and were integral to the development of essential features of both Facebook and Google. It’s also free for what most businesses need (you would only need to start paying for it if you are an enterprise with significantly large teams of 15 or more).

The platform lets you create tasks for yourself or delegate tasks to one of your team members. You can create a full range of ‘tasks’ from simple reminders, to very detailed plans in complex ‘projects’. You will be notified when a task is complete or when a task is due. You can also comment on tasks – keeping communication all in one place for a project or campaign – and you can even give little heart ‘likes’ to tasks and comments to give small bursts of positive feedback. It has a very friendly interface and does not require spending lengthy amounts of time to get used to it, though as with any tool does require some getting used to at first. There is also a mobile app, allowing you to plan and respond to tasks on the go.

Another productivity app to consider is Trello. This one is more ‘board’ focused (although Asana does have a ‘boards’ feature as well) and is typically more useful to businesses that have a clearly delineated workflow – especially, we’ve noticed, IT services. If your project moves from stage to stage in your business really definitively, you may find Trello perfect for your needs.

The world of task management systems is a pretty extensive one. You could quite literally spend weeks trying out different platforms – and I do not recommend doing that to any business owner. These are two that are tried and tested to work well for many businesses. Of course, do your due diligence before diving in, but remember to keep yourself in check as it’s easy to get caught up in chasing ‘shiny things’.

Before we move on from task management, I should also mention that sometimes you don’t need one of these more complex dedicated task management tools. Sometimes, and this is true in my own team as well as many of our clients’ teams, quarterly planning on a simple Excel Spreadsheet is sufficient – and often preferable for its simplicity – to track weekly activities and get a quick, simple and clear communication of the plans for the quarter. Task management systems can be great for day-to-day task lists, but strategic planning can often be much simpler.

The second area where you can get leverage in leading and managing your team is in communication. And while this isn’t a software solution, I think it’s an important productivity tool, so I’ve included it in this list.

What I’m talking about is the Monday Morning Meeting. Every Monday our team has a meeting with all team members where we cover our business goals and personal goals and a learning from the previous week. The team fills out the goals sheet every morning (you can get the word and PDF versions emailed to you by clicking here) and then we go through each person one and a time. We start by reviewing goals from the previous week and then talking about the goals for this week.

This is not only a great way to ensure that everyone on the team is aligned with each other’s work, but it is also a great way to get your team to focus on themselves. Meaning you aren’t the heavy hand taking control of them nor being a helicopter “got-a-minute” boss, but instead your team are periodically reminding themselves of what they need to do and what they have forgotten to do.

Adding personal goals has also proven to be a great way to ensure that your team understand each other on a personal level – creating a more pleasant and actually more efficient work environment. It also helps you know when to be sensitive with your team when you know what is happening in their personal lives – and allows you to support them in every way, which will encourage your superstars to stay with you.

Time Management

Another key area where I have noticed most business owners typically struggle is managing their time. Of course, this often comes hand-in-hand with team management – when you better structure the way you communicate with your team, the more time you leverage for yourself.

However, if you run a business where you need to book appointments (that could be anything from providing services in time slots to booking in client meetings, training sessions or complimentary ‘taste testers’) then there is some technology that could help.

The first appointment-booking app I want to mention, TimeTrade, I have actually talked about before – in some detail – although that article is perhaps a bit dated now. TimeTrade has since refreshed its brand and its technology. It has a pretty wide breadth of features and customisation – but that also comes with a bit a learning curve for you and your team. If you need a robust system with more advanced functions like queue management and more intensive analytics, then you should consider TimeTrade.

However, a simpler solution for automating your calendar, which we have used recently is Calendly.

Calendly integrates with most calendar platforms – including Google, Outlook, Office 365 and iCal. It is a great way to ensure you’re never double booked, and so that you don’t have to keep aligning calendars – it can be used both internally and externally.

A really great use for this is in sales – instead of having to constantly hand your off-site telesales teams time slots that they can book appointments in for your salespeople, they can all book directly through Calendly, which is synched up to the salesperson’s calendar. That way you can also have all your telesales people working with the same time slots, as it will be updated in real time.

A major flaw our team has noticed, however, is that there’s no calendar view for Calendly. You cannot have a weekly or monthly view of your appointments or appointment slots. You can only see your events in a list. This can be a bit frustrating and difficult to make it clear what’s going on. A workaround is to use it alongside your calendar so you can view the appointments as they’re booked in – not the most convenient thing, but it works.

Calendly is free for the basic plan – so you can test whether it’s a match for you before paying.

TimeTrade has a 30-day free trial and then you can choose one of their custom plans. It is usually my recommendation that if you do need appointment booking software, that you start with Calendly – it’s easy to set up and get started. If you then feel like your needs are more complex than Calendly can handle, then you can look to switch to Time Trade.

Money Management

Finally, one of the most important areas that must be working totally correctly but would benefit from getting leverage is finances.

Invoicing can be such a headache, but we use Xero and it’s made the whole process a lot less painful. Xero can help you keep track of your inventory, payroll and invoicing in a visual way. You can also perform bank reconciliations – so you can connect to your bank for automatic updates and simple bank reconciliation.

The site has an intuitive dashboard where your cash flow is displayed using analytics-style visual aids. You can also use Xero to pay your bills and record, manage, and claim your expenses.

Xero is also available on your mobile if you’re the kind of tech-savvy business owner who likes manage things on-the-go!

It has a 30-day trial to see if it works for you, and then membership plans start from £10/month. It should be noted there are additional costs for things like extra employees on the payroll.

Another accounting software of note for your bookkeeping needs is FreeAgent. In most respects, FreeAgent and Xero are equally matched in facility and function. However, where FreeAgent falls down is in detailed reporting and more advanced functionality. Where it excels, however, is simplicity and essential functions for freelancers/contractors. If you are a growing or bigger business, Xero is probably a better option, but if you require something that’s simple and easier to use FreeAgent is probably a better choice – especially at the generally lower price point.  QuickBooks is another option to consider as well which has different tiers of complexity according to your needs.

As with the marketing tools from the first article, these software options don’t cover everything you need for every area of your business. They also may not be the perfect solution for your individual niche needs. However, these are almost certainly the best place to start and will hopefully help lead you to the tools that will streamline your activities and get you the double-digit growth that you may be leaving on the table.

Want to learn more tools and frameworks?

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