Insights Blog

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

Three Flawed Ideas About Business Plans

london-coaching-group-flawed-business-plan-ideas

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.


Choosing the Right Office For Your Business

If you’re buying or renting a new house, the phrase “make a house a home” can sometimes feel a bit redundant: you need somewhere to live and although you’d like it to be nice, cost and location generally come first. It’s much the same with an office for a business. That said, there are many types of space available and some will be more suitable than others. Lilli Hender from OfficeGenie.co.uk is here to tell you what you need to know to make the best decision.

Size matters

One of the first major considerations should be the size of the space you’re after. This will involve weighing up plans for expansion, reduction, and retention of the number of employees in the business.

If you’re in your very early days with few employees and no expansion plans yet in the pipeline, finding a shared office can be a great place to start. This involves a company renting out spare desks available in their office, acting as a host to your business.

For smaller teams set to grow, coworking hubs can be the office-space solution: desks come on a per-person basis and, if the property is big enough, will allow for expansion. If there is a large number of staff members to cater for, a serviced or traditional lease will usually be the best option. These are generally bigger offices and the space is rented out solely to one company to occupy.

Company culture considerations

Many startups want their office to reflect the innovation that has gone into setting up the business. This will more often than not involve envisioning slides, ping pong tables, bean bags and the like. A few coworking hubs will offer this sort of office-based fun (WeWork have beer on tap, for example) but generally this can only come with private offices and a lot of cash!

If you want to be able to customise to suit your brand and culture, you’re in need of a traditional-lease office. Renting this type of space involves outfitting the property yourself: desks, chairs, computers, (slides) and all. You can make it exactly how you want it but it requires time, effort and money.

Serviced offices are the opposite: everything is set up and ready to go. They generally look nice and function well, and coworking hubs and shared offices are thankfully much the same – even if you do lose a bit of artistic license.

If the price is right…

When it comes to the cost of office space, it is both dependent on the type and the whereabouts of the property. I’ll start by saying if you want an office in London, it’s going to cost a small fortune regardless of what kind of space it is.

Serviced offices are generally the most expensive option: they come fully equipped with everything a business could need and often include added extras such as a reception and security personnel. Coworking hubs and shared offices can include similar services but needless to say, the more basic the offering, the cheaper it will be. Desks in London can be anything from £200 per desk per month to in excess of £1,000.

Traditional spaces are usually the most cost-effective option but due to the fact the occupying business is responsible for the initial outfitting, you can feel the pinch when first taking on the property. You will also be responsible for the maintenance of the space which means preparing to fork out cash when faced with unfortunate and unexpected events like leaks or broken windows.

Last but not lease

If you’re after flexibility or a short-term let, coworking will provide you with what you need. Contracts are generally on a rolling, monthly basis. Serviced offices are starting to become more flexible too, with contracts appearing on a one-to-three-month basis.

For longer-term lets, a traditional space is what you’ll want: contracts tend to be anything between three-to-ten years. This marks quite a significant commitment however and you need to be confident in the longevity of your business.

It’s worth adding as a final point that there are plenty of alternative spaces if you’re just starting out or need a quick fix: libraries and cafes will happily host small teams, freelancers, and budding businessmen and businesswomen! One will provide peace and quiet and the other one lots of coffee – it’s really up to you!

When you’re unsure of what the future holds for your business, choosing an office to suit your needs can feel like a difficult task. Rest assured you’ll make the right decision – just take enough time out to consider the various options and what it is want from the space.

Author bio
Lilli Hender writes for OfficeGenie.co.uk: a desk and office space marketplace for every kind of business. She primarily writes about workplace wellbeing, productivity, and making the most of your workspace.

Trying to Expand Your Business?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionIf your business is taking off and you think it’s time to start expanding to bigger offices – or maybe open a whole new one – you might want to make sure you have the right systems and processes in place.

Otherwise, you could end up with more complexity than you bargained for, and that growth can quickly take a downturn.

Book a complimentary strategy session with us to find out if our strategies may be helpful to you…


Best Business Quotes From Shweta Jhajharia

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.


How To Get Your To-Do List Done

Almost anyone who has run a business will agree that one of the most difficult hurdles is managing the overwhelming quantity of work to be done. And with only 4% of businesses ever achieving more than £1 million turnover, and 0.4% achieving £10 million, it’s worth scrutinising how this and other factors are holding business owners back from running an even bigger business than they already do.

In my experience, having engaged with some of the brightest minds and most motivated business owners in the UK, I have some confidence is noting that one of the primary reasons for stunted business growth is a lack of time management, which generally has been the result of an inefficient delegation processes.

This, in turn, has usually arisen from business leaders not identifying more carefully exactly which tasks should be assigned out to their team, and which they should be doing themselves.

I’ve discussed the 4D framework for productivity before, but I want to share a slightly simpler version – one which lets you swap out your “to-do” list for something more successful.

Purpose and Priority

Let’s take a little look at this diagram:

What this little triangle is telling us is that you need to start with purpose. (Remember Start With Why? Similar concept.) Why are you actually trying to do these tasks? What is the reason you want these things done, and what is the ultimate driving force behind you spending time on any task at all?

Once you have purpose, you can move on to considering what your priorities are. Which things are most important to you and which things aren’t as critical? What order should you do them in?

With purpose and priority, you automatically start achieving productivity, and in business, that automatically results in profitability.

So the key is to tweak that to-do list to highlight the tasks with priority and purpose so you aren’t just blindly pouring out your effort into a massive to-do list and not getting an adequate return on that investment of effort.

3 Steps to Creating Your Success List

Step 1: Create Your To-Do List

The classic to-do list is an important starting point in this process. Do a total mind-dump of all the things you need to do.

What I usually advise to clients is to open a simple spreadsheet at the end of each day, and at the beginning of every week, and note down everything that needs to be done. This is your “to achieve” list.

The next two steps are what converts this “to achieve” list into a “success list” instead.

Step 2: The Priority Question

Ask yourself, “If I were only allowed to do three things today/this week, what would those be?”

With this question you begin to prioritise and start to separate out the “should do” and “have to do” tasks from the “could do” or “would like to do” tasks.

Step 3: The Leverage Question

This is the important step that gets true leverage from your list and transforms it fully into a success list. Ask yourself the question, “Are these the things that make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

While it is likely that sometimes your day will consist of fire-fighting and taking care of the ‘urgent’ tasks, if you have a success list built off this question, then you will automatically ensure your most important tasks – the ones that are giving you the greatest return – are front of mind.

A lot of people stop at step 1. The good workers stop at step 2. But the most successful people are constantly doing step 3.

Most people create a long and overwhelming laundry list of things to do, and then wonder why they feel so unproductive. Developing this success list will guide you away from the procrastination that comes from doing little, insignificant tasks and steers you into achieving the big tasks that take your business forward.

Need more productivity tools like this?

Providing the world’s leading business coaching services, we help business owners boost the productivity of their business through simple changes in the way they think – such as swapping a to-do list for a success list!

Book a place on our web event and find out the framework we’ve used over the past decade to help businesses achieve real double-digit growth.


I Prefer Small Fish

london-business-coaching-small-fish-big-business-mindset

Someone at an event I was at the other day said to me, “Yeah I have a very small business but we’re in a specific niche. We’re a big fish in our circles,” he stated quite proudly.

And this was the clue that told me why he wasn’t experiencing the kind of growth that I achieve (and guarantee!) for my clients.

You see, to me saying he was a big fish told me, yes, he had a business that was doing well, but he also said he had a small business – and was claiming to be a big fish “in his circles”.

The implication was he was a big fish in a small pond. But a big fish in a small pond is no big fish at all – it’s just a small fish that is keeping its sights small.

What would have been more inspiring to me was if he said, “We’re a growing business. We’re doing well, but there’s a big ocean out there and we’re still small fish.”

What this would have immediately indicated to me is that while they are humbly realistic about their current size (or their perception of thier current size), they are clearly successful, and have direction, ambition, and the desire to grow. That is what is called having a ‘big business’ mindset – and business owners with that mindset are the ones that get the most out the business coaching strategies I use.

The interesting thing is, as a business coach in London over the last 9 years, I have heard business owners label themselves as “small” many times. Often, these “small businesses” actually have the potential to be (or, in fact, already are) very successful and could achieve impressive growth if they implement the right kinds of tools and growth strategies.

Mindset can be a significant and difficult barrier in business. If you think of yourself as a “just a small business” – or even as a “big fish in our pond” – then you are always going to remain that way. To start achieving the growth that you might consider impossible at the moment, you have to take up Adidas’s slogan and start believing that really, impossible is nothing!

Escape the Small Business Mindset

While it has since been disproved that a fish somehow grows to the size of their tank, what we do know is that a fish has the ability to continuing growing throughout their entire lives or be stunted under certain conditions.

Basically, it is the way you care for your fish that affects how large it grows. Your company is very much like a fish in this regard.

If you keep a fish in a small pond, you’re going to provide it with the kind of conditions that end up keeping it to that size of the pond. So if you constantly think of your company as a small company, or that it only can only remain in the small pond it is currently in, you are keeping it in conditions that are stunting its growth.

A reasonably subtle tweak in your mindset – and you could say, the business’s mindset – can change all that. Instead of saying that you are a small business, think of yourself as a growing company that is always learning, adapting and evolving in order to become a bigger business.

Put yourself in the whole ocean, not just a pond, and give yourself the room to be even larger than you already are.

Become the Big Business in Training

Instead of calling yourself ‘just a small business’, think along the lines of a ‘big business in training’. By doing so, you will start to see your planning sessions and business decisions in a new light. As you set yourself targets and decide what needs to be done with the mindset of aiming to become a big business, you will likely find that a light now shines on the opportunities to take you there.

And you will attract the kind of training and business mentors that will be looking to help you as you leave the comfort of the anemone and teach you how to take on the big ocean currents.

The fact is, the simple act of preparing for growth can actually cause this expansion to happen. Not only are you then ready to become that larger fish, but you are also the direct cause of your own growth! It’s like the anti-thesis of a vicious cycle.

Achieving growth in London, or any city in this world for that matter, is no mean feat, but you are the person who can make it happen. Your drive took your business to where it is – now it’s time to change up the conditions and drive your business out into the open sea to grow even bigger and stronger!

So, let me give you something to achieve at your next networking event. When someone asks you to tell them about your company, say something along the lines of, “I’m running a big business in training.”

Ghandi told us that thoughts become words and words become actions. Start thinking of yourself as a big business, and start talking about yourself as a big business, and then watch as you start taking the actions to become a fish that rivals even the blue whales of the world!

Ready to swim the ocean?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionWhen you realise that you’re actually a big business in training – a small fish that has such potential to grow – then it can be useful to have someone help you find the right currents to ride. Book a no-obligation strategic review of your business and we’ll help you point out the ways you could be growing bigger than you already are.    

Book a Free Strategic Review

Call Us