Insights Blog

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

Business Reading: You Could Be Wasting 80% of Your Time

I have read this book twice already. I have picked it up again and I am still finding new ways to help not only myself, but also my clients dramatically improve productivity using the ideas within it. It is one of those business books that you want to keep on your bookshelf.

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The 4-Hour Workweek is an absolute must-read for business owners who want to achieve as much as they possibly can. The concept is centered on the Pareto Principle – more commonly known as the 80/20 Principle. The book breaks it down into four sections:

  • Definition – what’s important to you?
  • Elimination – remove the distractions from your life and focus down on that 20%. Learn to say “no”.
  • Automation – outsource and systemise so that things can run without your constant attention.
  • Liberation – take yourself out from the expected and do things differently to suit your needs.

I cannot tell you how useful this book has been for me and my business coaching clients to truly reduce the clutter and focus on where the true value lies. It is worth buying yourself a copy – and to go back to it over and over. Other business reading I have recommended:

business strategy consulting LondonWant more recommendations to improve your productivity and business strategy?

Being the leader of a business means implementing strategies that are going to help your business grow, while also making everything more efficient.

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Why You Shouldn’t Manage Your Team

This is something I’ve seen happen to business owners in London all the time. When you try and figure out why your team isn’t getting the work done, you start to question and blame yourself – you assume that you are not effective at people management. So you seek out leadership workshops and seminars to learn how to lead and manage people more effectively.

However, the truth is, you can’t manage people. Trying to manage people is actually a flawed way of thinking.

In this video, I explain how to escape this mindset so you can learn how to actually get your team to help you build 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. What I want to talk about today is your team.

It’s “So Hard” To Manage Your Team

I come across this very often when I am working with business owners that it is so hard to manage a team. It is so hard to get the jobs done at the right level and eventually what they do is they say, “I will do it myself because I can do it faster, I can do it better and I know exactly what kind of output I am after.”

You Don’t Manage People

Now there’s a distinction that I want you to make here. Basically that you as a business owner – as a manager and a leader – you do not manage people you manage their activities. It is really an important distinction for you to make. You do not manage people, you manage their activities. For you to efficiently and effectively manage the activities there are two things that you need.

The Two Things You Need to Manage People Efficiently And Effectively

First you need clarity; what are the activities that you want your team members to work on? How will you measure that those activities are actually being done? That is the first thing for effective team management – clarity of activities and then measurements.

The second thing is you need to manage a team effectively is communication or what I call rhythm. Rhythm of communication. What kind of rhythm do you have in your business whether it is on a daily basis, weekly basis, monthly basis? Ideally it is daily or weekly as monthly is kind of quite late in the whole process.

Just to also clarify; having a quick conversation, having a quick chat is not rhythm of communication. This is a system that you need to set in your business, which will actually help you effectively manage the activities of your team and get the results that you are really after.

I’ve talked before about team productivity and about essential elements of team meetings, but what are the other main problems you have had with team management or organising your employees? Let me know by commenting below and let’s see if I can help you.

A quick reminder: the voting for the Association of Professional Coaches, Trainers and Consultants (APCTC) awards is still open and closes on 24th March. Please note, you can vote for BOTH awards that Shweta has been chosen as a finalist for (“Business Mentor of the Year” and “Outstanding achievement”). Return to the page after voting for one award in order to vote for the other one. You will need a valid email address in order to vote.

webinar-video-blogNeed more advice on managing your business?

Team management strategies are just one of the ways to improve and systemise the way you run your business. Register for our webinar to learn the tools and strategies that we, as top business coaches in London, have used to help countless businesses expand sustainably. 


Why Business Owners Are Like Icebergs

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What was it that sunk the titanic? Yes, it was an iceberg – but it wasn’t the image that you conjure in your mind of a mountain of ice bobbing above the water. That’s only 5% – what really sunk the great ship was the 95% that is not visible below the surface. How does this relate to business coaching or to you as a business owner?

Behaviour is only 5%

Let’s use the iceberg as a metaphor for you, as a business owner and as a leader of a business, and your identity. You should understand that what is visible, above the water, is just 5% of what determines your decisions as a business owner. This bit above the surface is your behaviours – how you conduct yourself in business, the parts that are visible to your team. So what is the 95% that’s under the surface of every business owner and entrepreneur?

Your Business Skills

What are the skills you excel at? Where do you need work? Do you really know what you’re looking at? The fact is, the things you are skilled at you end up doing more of. If you’re good at cooking, you will cook more. If you’re good with numbers, you’ll do more number crunching and finance work. If you’re good at interacting with people, you’ll do more client-facing work.

If you want to become a better business director, you need to understand your business in a holistic sense.

You need to consciously develop the skills that you’re NOT good at because you DO have to deal with all areas of your business. This is critical because your skill level will determine your actions and behaviour. If you don’t have the skills, you won’t do it – and your business will suffer.

Your Business Beliefs

The next level deeper is your belief system. This is an example I always give in my coaching sessions to help my clients understand what I’m getting at: When we are kids, our teachers and our parents will often tell us, “You’re good at English.” Or maybe it’s Maths, or Science, or Art. Whatever the subject, they encourage you with the best intentions.

However, what this does is set an anchor in your mind that formulates a belief and develops into an opinion, “Oh yes, I’m very good at English.” But it can also be flipped and become a negative anchor, “I’m not very good at numbers.” 

Maybe those belief systems have worked for you, or maybe they have impeded you. Either way, they’ve created core beliefs that have fundamentally affected who you are.

What you need to do, as a business owner, is create the right sort of anchors for you to develop your business in the best way possible. You cannot go into business saying, “I don’t like numbers” because numbers are a critical part of every aspect of your business. Equally, you can rarely go into business saying, “I don’t like people,” because most businesses are designed to solve people’s problems – and if you cannot interact with people well, you will find it difficult to sell your solution to them. Not only that, but you will also have difficulty understanding how to work with your team.

Your Business Value System

This isn’t the same thing as beliefs – this is taking it one step deeper. Beliefs are more to do with what you think you are and aren’t capable of. Your values are what you consider to be right and wrong, correct and incorrect.

The main issue I see during my business coaching sessions is that people often have a lot of what I call “head trash” caught up in their values system, which is stopping them from achieving what they really want to achieve.

The best example of this is how people view the idea of money and making profit.

Take a step back for a second and consider – how do you actually see money? Many people see money as “evil” – that you’re not meant to talk about money and that making money is not good. That’s fine; if that is your value system then go for it and seek out the goals that you really want to seek out.

However, almost every business owner I know DOES want to make money, but is filled with this sense that it’s not a good thing to focus on or think about.

Well here’s my view point on money: if your business is not making good money – not “enough” money, but GOOD money – what that says is that you are not adding enough value to enough people. Once you reach out to a bigger market – in a systemised and scalable way – you will automatically be bringing in more money – and that’s a really good indicator of the value you provide. I see it as that there is a core relationship between the value I provide and the money I get in return.

So ask yourself, what are the core values that you hold? How do they affect the way you run your business?

Your Business Identity

This is the final depth of the identity iceberg. Who are you at the core? What do you put after “I am…”? What are you? What defines you? Are you a mother? Are you a business owner? Are you good at numbers? A great salesperson? What is it that really makes you who you are.

Drilling down through these different levels is an important exercise for any business owner. Knowingly or unknowingly, almost every new client that I start business coaching with, especially in London, will carry around a lot of anchors with them that are affecting their judgement in business.

However, there is one final thing to consider when it comes to your identity:

Your Business Environment

An iceberg cannot survive in a tropical ocean – it must be in a very cold expanse of water. Equally, even the most entrepreneurial spirit cannot grow into a successful business owner if they are not surrounding themselves with an environment that nurtures their identity.

What books are you reading? Who do you have around you advising you on your business decisions? What webinars are you attending? Are you taking notes at workshops and reviewing those notes later?

This is the environment that you create for yourself – and you should be creating one where you are forcing yourself to become better.

 

In the end, it doesn’t matter how good you are now, or that your identity is a bit weak at the moment. Icebergs grow and so can you. So what’s really important is that you grow and become better.  

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Learning to grow your business isn’t as hard or as difficult as you might have previously thought – you just need the right business advice.

Register for our webinar to learn the tools and strategies that we, as top business coaches in London, have used to help countless businesses expand sustainably.


How to get your business in top shape to sell

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Selling your business rarely works well if it’s a hasty decision. So don’t leave things until you decide to retire or find managing the business has become too much. The market is quite dispassionate about such events, and sellers stricken by illness or feeling the burden of advancing years can easily find themselves attracting the attention of ruthless buyers. 

Some experts consider it can take the better part of a decade to get a business in good enough shape to make it a really saleable commodity. And whether or not selling is already part of your future plans, a business which is really fit to sell is not only an attractive proposition to potential buyers – making it genuinely saleable is also an excellent way of running a business too. So here is a checklist of essentials to help you develop a realistic exit strategy whereby your business becomes a sellable option. 

1. How will the business survive without you?

Having built up your business through your own efforts, it’s obvious that your creativity, enterprise, motivation, judgement, charisma and a host of other attributes are top-notch. However, if you remain the key asset of your business, it is extremely unlikely you will easily find a willing buyer. This common ‘dependency’ scenario poses too many risks for a serious investor. A company is not only much stronger if it does not crucially depend on its figurehead, it’s also more commercially viable and thus more valuable to a buyer. 

2. How secure is your revenue?

It’s quite common for the business valuation process to look at the annual revenue of your business, but the multiplier applied to that figure to arrive at a selling price will primarily depend upon an assessment of the stability of that income return. Recurring income streams in the form of annual subscriptions, contract renewals, and business agreements which link clients to company products or services form the best evidence that your business has long-term prospects. Such fiscal infrastructure is hard work to put in place but, far more than intermittent receipts of substantial cash sums, clearly demonstrates a potential buyer would secure a business in good financial health. 

3. Have you developed home-grown talent?

Talented insiders who have risen through the ranks, and original in-house products which build and reflect a company’s image and reputation, are both indicators of a genuinely sustainable business concern. Each make powerful statements about a company’s ethos and dominant business culture. Regarding employees, the regular hiring of industry outsiders in key positions, instead of internal promotions, carries somewhat negative connotations for a neutral assessor and is bound to prompt searching questions about career prospects and staff retention. At the very least it suggests staffing, which should be a prime asset, is actually expensive and unpredictable. 

4. What are your real assets?

A business is purchased for its revenue stream, diverse client base, technologies, or staff expertise, and though a handful of exceptional companies may have acquired all of these, any valuable enterprise must be able to offer at least one. Buyers will be looking for growth and potential, so only a successful business in good order with one or more ‘bankable’ assets will have serious appeal. 

5. Does your business already have a future?

If you can’t see a future for your business, neither will any serious buyer. So if, in your opinion, your business does have viable prospects, what are your plans? Even if you are not yet thinking of selling, you will need to assess where your company might be in one, two, five, and maybe even ten years’ time. Charting your future progress is not only a good commercial discipline, it’s a tool which shows a would-be purchaser that you see real potential down the line, and helps them to see possibilities too.

In addition, it also represents positive proof that you really are selling a ‘going concern’, and not just trying to offload a ‘lame-duck’.  And finally, when you make the decision to sell, find a professional business broker to manage the process. This will ensure your business is successfully marketed to the right buyers in a manner which properly reflects those major assets you have worked so hard to develop.   

This article was contributed by BusinessesForSale.com, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from online media group Dynamis.


Why UK SMEs Struggle to Get a Bank Loan

business strategy consulting London In 2014, the bba has noted that every quarter saw at least a 10% increase in SME borrowing from banks. It’s the go-to source of finance for most businesses and the competition for acquiring a loan is getting tougher. As business coaches in London, we can corroborate this with our own experience. Banks want to help. They want to see businesses grow and flourish. But they have a responsibility to make sure that the money they lend out doesn’t disappear – so there is usually a thorough approval process that you must go through. UK small business owners, however, are failing to present themselves in the right way – and according to the Bank of England Trends in Lending report, lending is expected to increase for all but small businesses in 2015. Typically, business consultancy services and business mentors in London do assist with this process – but not every business in London has a business mentor or business coach. So what’s wrong with the way many UK small businesses are applying for loans?

The Key Factors in Getting a Business Loan

The main problem that SMEs in the UK seem to have is a lack of understanding of what the most important factors are in getting a loan approved. These include:

  • Proving your business has Interest Coverage.
  • Showing your Borrowing Capacity.
  • Clearly displaying the Cash Flow in your business.
  • Having a robust Business Plan.

As mentioned above, the banks want to support the local business community, but when they are presented with poor or missing historical financial information and unclear base assumptions toward future projections, it becomes impossible for them to approve loans. The truth is, the banks want to expand their loan portfolio in the SME sector. So if you can give them a stellar application, you’re more than likely to have your loan approved. At the Strategic Planning Session, we act as business strategy consultants in helping actually build a business plan which will help with this application tremendously.

UK SMEs Need to Focus On Robust Business Planning

Far and away the most crucial factor in your loan application is having a business plan that proves the business is viable and easy for the bank to say ‘yes’ to. In many of the specialised planning workshops that the London Coaching Group runs with banks, we have helped business owners to create a plan that puts their company in a really favourable light but also helped them to build a more financially stable business in the process. By doing this financial planning and organising you prove – both to yourself and the bank – that the business has the ability to cover interest payment and has an ever-improving borrowing capacity while growing cash flow and profitability. It’s all about checking your financial assumptions and making sure that they make sense to the bank.

What Needs to be Included In Your Business Plan for a Bank Loan

When you’re creating your robust business plan for the purpose of getting a bank loan, there are a few key elements that absolutely any business should have defined explicitly:

  • An understanding of the financial drivers for your particular business.
  • Projected Profit & Loss.
  • Projected Balance Sheet.
  • Projected Annual Cash Flow.
  • Marginal Cash Flow Projections for a 5-year period

All of these should, of course, be supported with detailed explanations on how you are going to achieve these projections. It is beneficial for you to have a business mentor or business coach to review this sort of information to make sure that there are no loopholes or blind spots that you’ve missed out. Essentially, banks want to know your finances are in order and that your business has real viability. So if you are looking for a loan, look upon it as an opportunity to create a professional and sophisticated business plan and get a re-education about what makes a business more financially viable so that you can grow your business with intelligence and profitability.

business strategy consulting LondonWant to know more on how to build a better business? Implementing strategies for growth not only helps with getting your bank loan, but is critical if you want a business that is truly profitable. Register for our webinar to learn the tools and strategies that we, as top business coaches in London, have used to help countless businesses expand sustainably.

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