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

4 Elements of a Good Team Meeting

One of my clients said to me yesterday, “I wish I could grow my business without ever hiring anyone.” Does that sound familiar? If you don’t want to be firefighting anymore, want to improve the communication in your company, or if you need your team members to just do what you ask them to do, then this video is for you.

In this video, you will learn the 4 key features of a good team meeting, and the 4 types of meeting you should be having:

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, hope you’re doing well. I had a busy day today with a lot of coaching sessions and I wanted to capture this today in my blog because I had a very interesting conversation with one of my clients. He said, ‘Shweta you know what, I sometimes wish that I could just grow my business without having to hire anyone.’

Now think about it. This is not a very uncommon pain that exists in a SME business. Hiring talent, retaining a talent, managing the talent, growing the talent. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. I understand that it’s a big subject in itself and there are lots of things we need to look at. However, I want to talk about just one very simple intervention for your team to help them get aligned with what are your focus areas. To actually leverage the collective intelligence that you have in your business and to move the whole team forward in a very cohesive manner.

Team Meetings for SMEs: More is Less

That one simple thing is the team meeting. I have seen people cringing at the very description of team meetings but look, I come from a corporate background and trust me, we never used to like team meetings either. The number of meetings that are required in any business depends on the life cycle and what stage the business is at. Now, in corporate, because they are more established and mature businesses less is more most of the time. But a far as the SME business is concerned, a business which is in a growing phase and has a lot more potential to attain, when it comes to team meetings –more is less. Mark my words: more is less.

Meet, Don’t “Catch Up”

Having a conversation in the cubical, having a quick chat, having a quick smoke together or whatever it is – that’s not your team meeting. You might say, ‘But why do I need to Shweta? I’m always there, always discussing it. It’s a small team I don’t need to do a formal sit down.’ Yes you do. Because what you’re doing is not really a proper review with a purpose and an agenda. It’s a quick catch up.

Four Elements to Having a Good Team Meeting

Now remember there are four things in having a good team meeting. One, as a business owner you need to be very clear, what is the purpose of that meeting? The second, once the purpose is clear, is that you need to be very sharp on what is the agenda of the meeting. The third is what is the time limit. It’s not about a long, nice sit down and let’s have a nice gossip and chat. And the fourth is you limit the number of attendees in that meeting. It’s again, not having the whole company sitting there with you. It’s actually about having the right people sitting in that meeting.

Four Kinds of Meetings

There are also four kinds of meetings that you need to be looking at in your business. The first being, the daily check-in meeting. It’s a quick, stand-up kind of meeting, about 5-10 minutes just to check in. You don’t need to sit down for this. The second one is a weekly meeting. This is a tactical meeting. You look at the techniques, the tactics, the operational stuff. The third one is your monthly meeting which is more strategic in nature.

Finally, the fourth is your quarterly meeting, which you ideally do off site, or you go somewhere outside to review and to strategise. It might sound like this might be too much but remember, if you are fire-fighting most of the time, if communication is the problem in the company, if people are making more or less the same mistakes every time or they’re not doing what you want them to do, basically the potential in the team is not getting utilised the way you would like to see it getting utilised, then trust me: this is the simplest, quickest and most proven intervention that you need to include in your business as the leader.

Ask Yourself a Question

So ask yourself a question every time you get into a meeting. Say, “What do I want my team members to achieve after this meeting?” and you’ll be amazed, just by asking this question, the amount of clarity it will give to you and your team, which will actually accelerate the whole process and progress in your company.

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Do the work once, get paid forever

How much time do you waste writing documents that are only used once? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do work that can be used again, and again, and again – possibly infinite times?

Getting more with less – that’s what we call, leverage.

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 discuss today is the most important concept around business and wealth creation. And that concept is leverage. What I’ve seen working with quite a few of business owners is that not very many are highly leveraged. The leverage that they have is mostly financial leverage because of the borrowing that they have from banks and other sources.

Hi, this is Shweta from London Coaching Group. What I want to discuss today is the most important concept around business and wealth creation. And that concept is leverage. What I’ve seen working with quite a few of business owners is that not very many are highly leveraged. The leverage that they have is mostly financial leverage because of the borrowing that they have from banks and other sources.

Now to understand this process we will take multiple angles. The first type that I want you to take is a mathematical angle. Now leverage in very simple terms is divide to multiply. So, for example, Henry Ford – when he approached his production line, he approached the concept of leverage. He divided the tasks on his production line to actually multiply the output. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s? He actually took that really good concept in actually dividing it into multiply locations through a franchise model to multiply the value of the overall business. Even as human beings we grow through the division of the cells into 2, 4, 8, 16. So that’s the concept of leverage – divide to multiply.

But the challenge is, when I discuss this concept with business owners, they get it, but they don’t know how to implement it. They understand the fact that we need to approach business with the lens of how do we get more with less, which is leverage. But then how do you practically implement it in your business? We will look at it from the different definition. The definition I want you to remember, and we will take a mental note or a proper note here, is that you do the job once and you get paid forever. If not paid forever maybe get paid long term. If you keep this principal at the back of your mind when you walk into your business every morning, trust me it will pay you an amazing amount.

Now let’s take a few examples. What I’m doing today – I’m just recording this video, right? So you’re listening to this video, thousands of other people are listening to this video. This video is going to stay forever: this is leverage. Writing a book and getting royalty forever, not just from one person but also generations of readers is another concept of leverage. So the question you need to ask yourself is – Am I really doing the job once and getting paid forever? Or is that you’re walking into your business and there is always the fire fight happening or there are mistakes happening of the same nature, again and again, so you actually have to closely supervise your team members. If that’s happening, you’re not actually getting leveraged.

So as a business owner, what are the best ways to get leveraged? Let’s have a look at a few examples: Getting the right team members on board is a big way of getting leveraged and when you have a recruitment system and you have an induction system for your new team members – think about it, how many times will you be using that recruiting system to get the right superstars on board and actually inducting them in the right way? Forever, while you are still in business you’ll be using it on and on and on. The second example is – I’ve seen so many business owners approaching their marketing with a kind of blindfold. “Let’s try lots of things and hopefully something will work.”

But actually, if you approach marketing campaigns in a systematic way and figure out the campaigns that actually work for the business – for how long do you think you’ll be leveraging such campaigns? Forever. You do the job once but you’ll get returns for the long term. Forever. Literally, that’s the concept. You could also write a system module for your operations or for your production line depending on what business you’re in. Writing a system manual is a big way to get leverage. What I’ve seen is that lots of business owners have stuff in their head. It’s just there and they go back to their business every time and they end up doing the same stuff again and again because it’s all sitting up here in their head. Can we actually manage that knowledge, can we actually make a manual out of it, the video out of it, so that we can leverage that?

So there are various ways that you can approach this concept. Not just at a concept level but actually at a practical level. So the question that you need to ask yourself, looking at what’s happening in your business on a day-to-day basis is: Am I properly leveraged in my business? Where can I get better leverage? Start asking these questions, start asking how you can get more with less, how can you get more returns, more sales, more profits with lesser efforts, lesser time, lesser money and trust me – you will get different answers.

 

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Customers are not interested in the lowest price

Are you constantly worried about your competitors undercutting you in price? Are you unsure of your pricing? If you are frequently adjusting your price to attract your customers, then you’re focused on the wrong thing. In this video you will discover the difference between price and value.

Once you master this value formula, you can finally charge the right price for the value you’re extending – and be confident in that price. Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text: Hi, this is Shweta and what I want to cover with you today is the difference between price and value. Now let me share a very quick story with you which happened over the weekend.

I went to a toyshop with my son and we wanted to do a little bit of splurging and indulging. He was looking at a couple of toys and he came up to me and said: “Mama, I want to buy this toy,” which was around £5, and to which I said: ”No, I’m not so sure I want to buy that one for you.” So he moved on and he picked up another toy, this time for £15. After studying the toy a little bit I said: “Let’s go for it. This looks interesting.

By the time we finished our shopping and we came out of the shop, my son looked confused. He looked at me and he said: “You said no for a toy which was £5 and you actually ended up spending 3 times more. Why’s that? I thought you’d agree for that £5 toy.” A very valid point from an 8-year old. What he was comparing was actually the price of 2 toys. What I was comparing, as a buyer, is actually the value of those 2 toys.

Now this is where I want you to think it through: what is the actual difference between value and price, because there are so many concepts floating about. People talk about “value for money” and they talk about “extended value to the customers”. I’m sure you are always thinking about these things. So actually what is this value, how would you define this concept?

The Value Formula: Value = Benefits – Cost

What I want you to do is jot this down so that it’s always handy for you to look at. The way I see value is value is equal to benefits minus cost. Right? Now, you, as a business owner, want to increase the value for your customers. There could be 2 ways or a combination of ways. But let’s keep it simple – 1 way is to actually reduce the cost and the other one is to actually increase the benefits. As soon as you do that, the value for the customer goes up. Now let’s also understand this: this cost, which your customer is incurring, is actually the price that they are paying for your product or service. That’s the cost for them. The benefit is the problem that’s getting solved by using your product or service, or how it actually helps them improve their current situation. That’s the benefit.

Now, what I’ve noticed is that most business owners are generally very keen on increasing the value for their customers, but they generally think about discounting the prices, reducing the prices or making offers, which actually brings the price down. Now that’s not the only way. In fact it’s a very expensive strategy – a very, very expensive strategy – for the business, which I’ll cover in a different block session other time. What you need to think, as a business owner, is, “How do I increase the benefits for my customers and communicate it loud and clear so that they know that these are the benefits that they’re getting.” In fact you should be charging the right price for the value that you’re extending. Never ever discount your services or products. That’s not the way you grow your business or increase the value for your customer. They are not interested in the cheapest price.

What they’re interested in is in maximizing value for themselves. That’s the key point that I want you to remember. And one more thing – the price that you charge has some relevance to the material cost, the time and effort that goes into extending that service and product, but that’s not the only thing. What you need to keep in mind is the extent of benefit that you’re providing to your customer. What it means in terms of emotional value, in terms of material value that they are getting out of your services and products. And then you need to set your price. Again pricing strategy and different concepts altogether but keep these bits in mind. They’re very useful when you’re determining your price or how you’re increasing your benefits to communicate value.

So I hope you got some value and some thought for your business to implement. And once again, make sure you look at this value formula very carefully, go back and see how you can increase the value for your customer. And make sure you undertake massive actions for massive results and on that note, I will see you again very soon, take care and have a great business.

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Get the money you already have

How much time are you spending (or more, wasting) on chasing up customers who owe you money? If you feel like you are working too hard to get them to pay up, then this video will help you refresh your technique for following up with aged debtors. Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text: Hi, this is Shweta and today I’m sharing with you a very simple, but very powerful technique of effectively chasing up aged debtors. I know it is not a very interesting topic but it is a very critical topic because it impacts 2 important things in your business:

  1. Profitability
  2. Cash Flow

What I’ve seen in most businesses is that the whole approach of chasing aged debtors is not very structured, it is very ad hoc, it’s not something that is measured or targeted and, therefore, it is an activity that simply happens and it is not very proactive. Generally speaking it is a very reactive thing to do.

There is a cash flow pressure so the business owner sits down with the team member in the accounts team and asks, “What’s going on? Show me what’s pending.” And boom boom boom, there is fire happening and some reactive actions get undertaken. That is not what I am after because being in the business should not give you that stress and should not result that reactive action.

It should be more proactive. Now chasing aged debtors or controlling your outstanding is a whole subject itself. There are things involved and I am not going to be covering all of that. But I want to cover with you 1 technique that I know is really powerful and will bring you a lot more in control of the situation.

Your Terms of Trade – don’t be someone else’s bank!

Now one quick distinction before I tell you that 1 technique is Terms of Trade – please be very clear as to what are your terms of trade. If you tell me, “Shweta 30 days is the credit time I give to my customers,” at least ask yourself a question – why not 21 days? If it is 21 days, ask yourself a question – why not 14 days? You don’t know what you don’t know and you need to at least ask the questions to see what answers come from there. I know that with most of our clients, we do try to push those credit terms.

I do not want you to be the bank for some other business.

I would much rather that that cash flow sits with you in your business so that you can deploy it in the right direction, rather than having those heart burns. So that is the first thing: please ask yourself this question and determine what is not negotiable beyond this point, where you cannot accept the credit terms to extend any further.

Build Your Outstanding Table

Now this should be very familiar to you because this is what I know you look at on weekly or monthly basis. First you have total outstanding, then you have a few brackets for days that the money has been outstanding: 0-30, 31-60, 61-90, >90 days. Now let’s take an example – £100,000 is outstanding in the business: 0-30: 40k     31-60: 30k     61-90: 20k     >90: 10k So this is the split within these 4 brackets. The first thing that you need to start doing is start measuring what is the current percentage split that you are seeing as far as this outstanding is concerned. So as in this example in the [0-30] bracket, the percentage split is 40%, and the other brackets are: [31-60] 30%, [61-90] 20% and [>90] 10%.

Now please make this distinction for yourself, it is a very important distinction. The 2 buckets towards the end – the 61-90 and the >90 day brackets – they impact the profitability in your business, because these are the clients who have not paid you even after 60 days. The chances of them paying is getting slimmer and slimmer. Let’s face it. That’s the problem. As far as the first 2 buckets are concerned – your 0-30 and 31-60 brackets – they are your cash flow buckets. In shifting a client, or a set of clients, from 15 days outstanding to 30 days or 40 days makes a huge impact on your cash flow. So these two is your cash flow, while the 61-90 and >90 day brackets are your profitability – both are very, very critical.

Set Your Targets

Now here is your one simple technique: you need to set your targets. I am not interested in reducing your overall outstanding figure (the £100,000 in our example). That is because having more outstanding is a sign of growth of your business; as you will grow, you will invoice more, your customers will be more and this amount will go up. I do not want you to set targets in terms of absolute amount; the target that you need to set is in terms of percentage. So what you need to do, you need to say, for example, my targets for the different brackets will change to:

  • 0-30 will go from 40% to 60%.
  • 31-60 will go from 30% to 33%
  • 61-90 will go from 20% to 5%
  • >90 will go from 10% to 2%

So this will be your ideal scenario, irrespective of the absolute amount because things will shift.

Decide Who To Chase

Now when you see that things are in line – perfect, brilliant, love that situation. However, if things are out of line – instead of 5% for 61-90, you have 20% for example – then you straight away have to take a look at your list of clients. Please, you are not looking the clients that owe you small amounts like £10, £100 or £500, because you want a quick impact in the given time and you want to look at the customers who are big in amount. Sometimes our team members – and even ourselves – we want to put ticks in the box and say, “Hey we have done/we have chased all of these customers!” No. What you want to do is eat the frog – actually chase customers who are holding onto the bigger money for your business.

So that is what you do, you start analysing, going after the big outstanding amounts. Similarly you start analysing the 31-60 as well. If it is out of the line, you start analysing and find out which clients have biggest amounts sitting in this bracket and for how long now they have been outstanding. If they are in a range of 35 days or something, that is OK, but if the are close to 60 days, your alarm bells should be ringing. You should be acting on it a lot faster, because hopefully you will be reviewing this whole figure set every week and not every once a month, or once every quarter.

Your Action Point

So your action point from today’s discussion is basically you need to see what is the percentage split that you have in your business right now, as far as your aged debtors are concerned, what is the ideal split that you would like to have, and set that target for your accounts team member or whoever is actually responsible for aged debtors. Make sure you are reviewing those figures every week. If the figures are out of line, what you do is analyse and focus on the big amounts, which are giving you that skew and let’s make sure that you and your team eat the frogs straight away without any further delay. So on that note make sure you will take massive actions for massive results and I will be in touch with you soon. Till then – let the action happen in your business.  

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Are your customers just a bit… different?

How often do you assume that what works for one customer will work for all your customers too? Unfortunately, a blanket approach for improving customer spending and loyalty simply does not work. Here’s an easy and smart way to segment your customer base so that you can undertake specific, results-orientated actions!

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi! This is Shweta and today, I’m sharing with you the importance of customer segmentation, and how this segmentation can actually help you take very targeted actions and get maximum impact from each one of your customers in a positive way. Now, I’m sure you will agree with me in that most businesses are built not just by acquiring new customers but also by retaining and nurturing existing customers. Otherwise, it’s a continuous treadmill exercise and very tiring.

Trust me: quite a few of the businesses end up doing that. Now, in my working with clients, what I’ve realized is that not very many businesses actually look at their customers’ spend analysis frequently enough or in the right way. And therefore they miss out the trick, and generally, if there’s a stress, they will talk about one blanket strategy for all the customers. Now, what I’ll share with you is an exercise that I did very recently with one of my clients because that’s what we do on a quarterly basis. We actually look at the customer base and we analyse the spending and see what strategies are required for each segment.

The 80-20 Technique

Now, just one quick pointer here, which will really help you. When you are looking at your customers, depending on the number of customers that you have, you might not be able to segment all of them. We’re looking to get quick results in a short time – that’s the whole idea of leverage. You might want to apply this technique of “80-20”. This is Pareto’s technique and what it really means is that you take look at the customers who are contributing 80% to your turnover. Generally, roughly 20% of your customers will be contributing 80% to your turnover. So what you really need to analyse is that 20% of customer base. That’s what you need to focus on because that’s what is giving you the biggest impact.

The Segmentation Matrix

Now, what we did together, this client and myself, was that we put this 20% into a very simple matrix. And on the X side, which is the horizontal axis, we wrote “Customer Spending” – the money that the customer is spending with you. So it’s the pounds. We set the left side as (Low) and the right side as (High). On the vertical axis we put “Margin”: the percentage that you are making with that client, the profitability of that particular client or customer. So this is the percentage and so the top was (High) and the bottom was (Low). So the first thing was: we looked at our 20% of customers which impact, more or less, 80% of the turnover.

So our top kind of set of customers and we plotted those customers here. So if a customer has spent high value with the business and that business has good margin, obviously that customer sits in the top right quadrant. So you write the name of the customer there, let’s call them (A). Now, there would be another customer who has actually spent less and actually also given very low margin. So that could be your (T) customer in the bottom left quadrant. There could be another customer who has actually spent less but the money that they have spent with you and your business would actually be giving you a good margin. So let’s say that is (B) in the top left quadrant. And then there’s the customer who has actually spent a lot with you and your business but every transaction that they make with you actually doesn’t give you much margin. So let’s call it (C), and put them in the bottom right quadrant.

business coaching servicesThe Star Customers

Now the customers who are sitting in the (A) section, and you will hopefully have multiple customers sitting here, are your STAR customers. They are the customers that you want to have more and more of. You want your (B)s, and (C)s and (T)s to all move towards this star class. They are giving you a good spend and they are giving you high margin as well. Now, once you’ve got them here, think about it practically. Do they need deals? Do they need some kind of loyalty strategies? Yeah, maybe… maybe not. They surely need some solid relationship management strategies here because they are your top-notch clients. They give you good spend and good margin.

The Increase Margin Customers

Now think about (C) category clients, which are actually spending high with you but the margin that you are making with them is low. Now, they are already doing good business with you but we are not making high margin from them. We decided, me and my client, that here we need to have more Operational Efficiency Strategies. And the idea of Operational Efficiency Strategies is to basically increase the margin on the business that we were already getting. So this is the idea to increase the margin so eventually these (C) clients move into (A) clients.

The Increase Spend Customers

When you’re looking at the (B) segment, which is my low spend and high margin, you want to get more business from them because anytime they give you business, your business or makes good money. So when you are looking at this category, you want to try to keep it simple, so the main thing you’re trying to do is increase the spend of people. There’s one main concept here you need to remember – attrition is not just when your customers stop spending money all together. There are 3 kinds of attrition.

  1. When they stop altogether.
  2. When they are actually spending less frequently with you. So they are spending money but they it’s just the number of times you do business with them is less.
  3. They are spending frequently with you but every time they spend, they are actually spending a lesser sum. So the average pound value is going down.

So once you have your customers sitting in this (B) bucket, you need to analyse further. People are spending less with you because they are not giving us business more frequently? Or is it because they are kind of giving us business, but they are not giving us the right value? What’s happening here? Once you split this further, you will say: “Okay, to increase the frequency, you will have more loyalty strategies kicking in, communication strategies kicking in.” If the issue is that they are coming to you very frequently but they are not spending enough. Then you need to be focusing on average pound spend strategies which could be cross selling, upselling and designing your strategies around that theme. So the whole idea is not to have one blanket strategy if you feel that your customers are not spending enough with you, or if there’s a little bit of inefficiency in your business. You have to think smart and act smart.

Split it! Segment it! Know which customers need what activation from you, what activation strategy is required, and what action is required. Because at the end of the day if you can measure in a very concrete manner, you can manage better and you can improve. And that’s the whole idea.

Your Action Point

So, here’s an action point that I would like you to implement from this discussion today. You need to have this matrix in your business and I want you to get your top customers who are contributing to around 80% of your business. Have a list of all those customers and put your customers in this matrix, once you know the margin that that customer is giving you. Plot those customers in this matrix and that should give you the answers. The same strategy is required for each segment. Once you do that you will see better actions happening in the business and more targeted results. Take massive actions for massive results.  

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