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

Blue Skin and Pointy Ears – The 6 Essentials to Identifying Your Avatar

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When the film ‘Avatar’ was released, the concept of a ‘representative’ quite quickly entered into popular language – and to such an extent that most of us when we think of the word would probably still immediately associate it to the film. What remains lesser known is that an ‘Avatar’ is a key concept in defining a business’s marketing strategy. One of the most important stages in any business’s marketing strategy is to identify who you are targeting – very precisely.

While most business owners usually know the answer intuitively, they are still not focusing closely on this as a component of their marketing strategy creation. I’ve found that following a step by step process to defining an ‘avatar’ for your business, invariably leads to greater clarity and a more focused marketing strategy. The most common first question I get from my business coaching clients when we start this process is, “How do I identify the target market?” or “How do I identify the target audience?”

The mistake they are making here is that they are thinking of whom they are targeting as a “target market”. As I have explained before, target markets don’t work. The first thing you need to do is think of targeting a person not a target audience. This target person is what we call your “avatar”. The next question is, “Well, how do I select this target person or avatar?” This is a valid question, and actually requires more structured thought than you might initially think. There are  6 essential qualities you should be identifying in your avatar to ensure that you are targeting the right person for your business.

1. Sees the Benefit & Relevance

On the loyalty ladder, the person that you are targeting should be your raving fan. Whatever the problem is that you are solving, you should solve it for this person and you should be the best solution that this person can think of. This is actually the most important thing. If your avatar loves you and what you do, then everything else becomes easier. They will convert more easily, they are more likely to come back again and again – every step after this becomes really easy. So focus on this one first.

2. Easy to Reach Out To

Your avatar should be someone that you could easily get in touch with. For example, if you provide cleaning contract services you could choose a target person who is the head of operations in a good-sized corporate company, or you could choose the person in charge of operations at a school. Which one do you think is easier to reach out to? It would probably actually be much easier to contact someone in the corporation – they are in a position that is designed to be contactable. You have to carefully consider how difficult it is to actually get in touch with your potential avatar, and factor that into your decision.

3. Receptive to Marketing

Your target person should also be receptive to the marketing you use. Going back to the cleaning contractor example, while it is easier to get in touch with someone at a corporation, they are less likely to be receptive to marketing. Corporate heads have marketing constantly thrown their way, while a school is less likely to get as much and will probably be more receptive. Sometimes, your avatar may not be that receptive to your marketing – that is ok. The point here is to compare between your different avatars and, ideally, choose one that is more receptive.

4. Have a Relatively Short Sales Cycle

This is another one that is more about comparison than absolute value. You want someone where the time to go from lead to purchase is minimised. You may ask, “How short is a short sales cycle?” and really, that depends on your business. What you need to focus on is choosing the target person among your choices that has the shortest sales cycles.

5. Built-In Repeatability

You want your target person to be the kind that buys from you over and over again. This may not be the case for every business – some services are one-time only. However, with most businesses, it is a waste of your marketing spend if you are incurring all costs to get a lead and they are only buying from you once. Your marketing budget should be an investment, not a “spend” – and so when you make that investment, you want it to give you as much return as possible by increasing the number of transactions that a single converted lead makes. This increases the lifetime value of your contact, which decreases the acquisition costs – and this is a critical part of creating an unlimited marketing budget.

6. Good Spend Value & Margin

Is your customer coming in and buying products or services from you that actually deliver value? Are they buying your products that actually have a high margin? Or are they only purchasing your peripheral products rather than your core ones? Do they only buy from you when you give them offers or put things on sale?

Remember, you should be segmenting your customers not just to identify their value, but also to determine how you approach them. Your target person should be a raving fan – which means they believe in what you are doing and are willing to pay for the quality products you are creating. Often, as we run through the above 6 essentials for choosing a strong avatar my business coaching clients often say, “Ok, let me create my avatar.” But here’s the key lesson: You do NOT need to create your avatar from scratch.

Your Avatar is Already a Customer

The exercise I do – both with my clients and for myself – is to take the list of customers and go through them one by one. Categorise them and assess them based on these 6 essential qualities. Make sure you choose customers you like. Would you want to have a coffee or a drink with them? You should be fond of your avatar, and they should be – I will say it again – your raving fan. I can guarantee you, if you do not skip this step and tightly identify your target person, you will be amazed at how easy it is to set your marketing strategy.

Writing your content, defining your channels, figuring out the design of your website or marketing material – all these decisions will become so much easier once you know exactly who your avatar is. Your Avatar may not necessarily have blue skin and pointy ears, but as you define your marketing plan, you should be able to clearly visualise them and understand what would and would not work for them. You should be able to place yourself in their shoes – walk around a bit – and understand what does and will drive their decisions.

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Family values: how parenting skills can help build a better business

business coaching services If you are a parent, there’s no doubt that you have developed an invaluable set of skills – most of which can be transferred to your workplace.

Good parents are decision makers, goal setters, problem solvers and personal councillors – constantly facing new challenges as their children grow up.

HoweverJennifer Sabatini Fraone, Assistant Director of marketing for the Boston College Centre for Work and Family believes that there is still an ‘unconscious bias’ against family values in the business world. She claims that dedicated parents are often seen as ‘less committed … less competent and [less] promotable’ – unable to juggle the commitments of home and work.

Fraone insists that we need to stop seeing the role of the ‘committed parent as a negative’, as many of the valuable skills learnt in your home life actually ‘translate to and enrich’ your work life. And it’s proven to be true: many of the skills gained in parenthood are transferable.

A 2012 report by the Korn/Ferry institute revealed that. 95 percent of female professionals think raising children has provided them with unique skills portable to the workplace’

Kathy Woods, Senior Partner at Korn/Ferry states, “The findings show that parenthood offers a world of training in psychology, time management and diplomacy that can easily be applied to business”.

Many businesses like to see themselves as a family, and in many ways, a good boss often bears a distinct resemblance to a good parent. We’re not saying you should literally treat your employees or colleagues like your children, but rather make the most of your skill set and apply them to your workplace management techniques.

Here are a few parenting skills (that you may already possess) that can seriously improve staff loyalty, morale and, ultimately, your profit margins:

Maintaining a positive working environment

A positive environment is key, not only at home but also in the workplace. Let your employees know your expectations. Think about their needs and ask yourself if they have been met. Make sure you check in regularly, not only as a group, but also on a more personal level. As an employer, you have a similar duty of care to that of a parent – let them know that your door is always open, and you are always willing you help in times of need.

Instilling good values

Any parent wants their child to grow up with good morals, values and a positive work ethic. The same applies to the employer/ employee relationship. A busy office can sometimes be compared to the school playground and, sadly, workplace bullying is still an issue for many companies. Make sure you discourage damaging behaviour such as gossiping and scapegoating – and if you see this happening, don’t let it go unnoticed.

Enforcing rules

As a role-model you have to know where to draw the line between being your child’s best friend and being a good parent.  Rules are essential to the smooth running of the family home, as well as any business. Set and outline boundaries and make sure your employees know them. Create an environment of mutual respect, where it’s not awkward or uncomfortable to remind each other of the rules. However, make sure that you don’t become a remote disciplinary figure – always try to maintain that delicate balance of constructive criticism and praise.

Involvement & ownership

It can be particularly damaging if a child is left out of the conversation, or discouraged from having an opinion. A child’s contribution is an important and crucial part of developing self-confidence and learning how to express themselves in later life. In the business world, an employees’ say is just as important. Through encouraging contributions, suggestions and ideas, you will increase motivation and productivity levels. Fostering a sense of ownership breeds pride and will give your staff a heightened sense of responsibility. If staff are left out of decision making, or their suggestions brushed under the carpet and not considered, resentment will start to grow. It’s at this stage that you are most likely to lose valued employees to another company.

Encouraging & enabling

Modern parenting – in some extreme cases – has become an all-consuming and obsessive role. Focused on achievement and performance, doting parents enrol their child in every possible activity, in the fear that they won’t discover their child’s true potential or calling in life. The ‘tiger’ or ‘soccer’ mom is a relatively new phenomenon. However, although it can be taken too far, encouraging potential is no bad thing. Driving ambition and giving a child the ability to take on challenges provides them with a higher chance of success in later life. If an employee is given no chance to progress in their role and to develop their skills further, chances are they’ll get bored and start looking to apply themselves elsewhere. Make sure you provide feedback, and opportunities for growth within your business. Offer training courses where appropriate and provide promotion opportunities. And get to know your staff on a personal level – you may find out they have talents and skills you were unaware of that could be channelled positively into your business.

Recognising & rewarding

Now, we’re not saying you should use operant conditioning techniques…but the gist is the same. Humans are pretty simple creatures, and positive reinforcement – using a reward to praise good behaviour – works wonders for productivity. Praise and positive feedback are hugely important and incredibly underrated: they cost nothing, yet have immense benefits. Employees are far more likely to continue their good work if they get acknowledgement for it, fuelling commitment, loyalty and productivity. Another way to make your employees feel valued and appreciated is by organising incentives – for example staff trips, Christmas parties, and birthday celebrations – be inventive!

Paying attention

Bringing up children is a whirlwind, and seems to pass in the blink of an eye.  Sometimes parents get so caught up in it that they miss some important developments and details. The same applies in business: every so often it is important to stop and take a moment to look closely at what is going on, assess what is working and what isn’t. Measure morale, efficiency and staff engagement, all the while ensuring you treat each employee like an individual and take the time to find out how they are doing. Assess where your attention is needed most, make sure you’re there when they need you, and keep an eye out for any warning signs so you can get to the source of any problems sooner rather than later. 

Granted, children require a lot more supervision, discipline and attention than adults (in most cases) but they also benefit from good guidance, encouragement and teaching too. Whether you are a seasoned parent or not, paying heed to some basic family values and child-rearing techniques could work wonders in your workplace!  

This article was contributed by Melanie Luff, staff writer for, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from Dynamis. Melanie writes for all titles in the Dynamis Stable as well as other industry publications.

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:

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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.

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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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