Insights Blog

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

Are You Stretching in Your Office?

In sports, a player’s coach (or coaches) ensures that they stretch before they take to the field. This is all part of ensuring that the sportsperson gives their best performance and can play to their maximum potential without hurting themselves.

In business, we coach business owners to stretch in a slightly different way but to achieve the same result: deliver the best performance without hurting themselves.

When we talk about stretching, we are talking about stretching yourself and your business to achieve more, and move the business forward. This does not just involve working hard in your business, but ensuring you are also working on the right things so that you are achieving the greatest outcome possible.

Let me share with you a framework that may make this whole stretching in business thing a little bit clearer.

Let’s plot a graph with 4 quadrants, where the vertical axis determines your results – going from “similar” to what you are achieving now to “greater” than what you are achieving now. The horizontal axis determines your activity, going from doing “similar” activity to what you are doing now to “different” activity to what you are doing now.

london-business-coaching-stretching-fulldiagram

Similar Results for Similar Activity – Stagnate

In the lowest quadrant, we’re talking about when you are coasting along, continuing with the same work, the same profits, and the same stuff that has been happening all along. 

While you are not moving backwards, you are also not moving forwards. You are not innovating and you are not increasing the impact of your business in any way.  

Here, you are at a stagnate stage. I would venture to say that it can be one of the most boring places to be in business. At least, it is if you have the drive to want to do more, be more, and impact more with what you are doing.

Some people may be satisfied to cruise at this point, but most of the business owners I know are not content with that. 

Greater Results with Similar Activity – Systemise

In the next quadrant up, your output has started to increase. Maybe more leads suddenly poured in and you now have lots of customers. You are probably having to work harder – maybe even work longer – in order to keep up. And your profits are growing along with this increased workload.

Sounds like a good place to be right? It might feel like your business is moving forward. But the reality is, your business is ‘growing’ but it is not ‘stretching’. If you are still doing the same kind of work you have always done, in the processes that have always existed, but you are now having to do more of it, then you are simply working more and not stretching out your business muscles.

If you are sitting in this quadrant, then what you need to focus on to move up into stretching is how to systemise. If you are constantly now doing the same things over and over – and that’s generating profit – then create processes to streamline, automate, or delegate that work now, so you can move on to opening new channels, products, and markets.

Similar Results but doing Different Activity – Satisfy

In this quadrant, you are probably working at about the same level and your profits are remaining steady, but you are constantly pivoting, trying new ideas and releasing new products and services. 

This too can feel like a good place to be. It feels like you are innovating and doing interesting things. I call this quadrant “satisfy” because many business owners feel a sense of satisfaction or even fulfilment and excitement by the constantly changing environment. Entrepreneurs enjoy discovery, so constantly doing new things can feel like fun. 

However, while it definitely is fun and exciting, you are once again not actually stretching your business – or yourself. That should actually already be clear to you, as a shrewd business person, if you are listening to the numbers. Your profits are steady – they’re not increasing. If the output or impact of your business is not increasing, then you cannot call that stretching. You are simply experimenting and testing and measuring.

If you are in this position, then what you need to do is ensure you have a proper business plan in place and that you are consistently paying attention to this plan and reviewing it (preferably quarterly) to avoid being distracted by shiny things. Make sure that if you are moving to try something new, that you are not replacing the things that are working and bringing you profit, and you are instead building in addition to those things you have already tried and tested.

Greater Results and Different Activity – Stretch

So we come to the final quadrant. Here, you can finally feel the stretch. If you are sitting in this quadrant, then I’m sure you already know that stretch feeling we are talking about!

Here, not only are you seeing your profits and results increasing, but you are also changing or expanding the way you do your business. It is that wonderful combination of both increasing your impact, and having fun while you do it. This is what we aim for in every business coaching session.

At an SME level, this might be evident in that you are finally building a marketing funnel; or choosing your niche and marketing avatar; or creating clear inbound marketing strategies; or developing a clear sales process. These are changes where you are systemising and moving forward with your business and if combined with increasing profits, then it is a clear indication that you are stretching and progressing.

In larger businesses, the stretching might be evident in opening up more marketing activation strategies; creating entirely new teams (and better management of those teams); creating parallel marketing funnels for multiple niches and avatars; refining your referral strategies and filling up the upper tiers of your loyalty ladder; or it might even be the creation of new products or services in order to service new markets.

Can you see how when you stretch properly in your business, you need be both doing more, different, and exciting things, but also keeping an eye on your output to ensure you are also progressing in impact and profit as well?

And now can you answer – are you stretching properly in your office?

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Our Top 10 Articles in 2016

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2016 is nearly done, and we hope that 2017 will prove to be a year of change, growth, and abundance for everyone.

As we come to the end of the year, this is a natural time for most business owners to pause, reflect on the year that has gone by, and prepare for making 2017 the best year yet. Remember to reflect on what has gone well, as well as what could have been done better. And remember to celebrate with your team (we like to do champagne!).

We, too, have been doing our own reflection (and drinking of champagne!), as we prepare our clients for the Strategic Growth Intensive in a few weeks.

We thought we would share the 10 articles that we discovered were the most enjoyed on our blog this year.

It may be worth reading at least 1 of these articles before the year comes to a close. Take at least one small step towards making 2017 your best year yet.

Our Top 10 Articles of 2016

  1. The 3 KPIs for Managing Directors
  2. 3 Ways to Recruit Staff that Fit Like a Glove
  3. 4 Decisions Every Business Owner Needs to Make
  4. How to Upgrade Underperforming Team Members
  5. I Am The Greatest – Confidence Lessons From Muhammad Ali
  6. 3 Rules for Hiring Your Business Number 2
  7. The Best Day to Start a New Hire
  8. How to Encourage Integrity in Your Team
  9. 6 Skills the Most Effective Business Leaders Learn
  10. Why Delivering a Baby Can Help With Running a Business

Have a fantastic holiday season and we look forward to helping you in whatever capacity we can to make 2017 a year worth looking forward to.


3 Key Attributes of Questions Good Leaders Ask

In the last video blog post, I talked about what kind of questions generally results in excuses from your team members.

Today, I am going over how to make the questions that you ask even more effective. If you want your team to progress and get things done, then keep these 3 key attributes in mind…

This is an example of the tweaks to thinking and actions that I advise my clients on regularly. The result? An even better team and an even greater performing business.

If you keep these three features in mind whenever you sit down to talk to or question your team members about something, I can assure you that you will not only find your team performing to an even greater level than they have before, but you will also maintain a closer and more honest working relationship with them.

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.  

In the last blog, I talked about what is that one type of question that you should never be asking as a business owner. That is, the questions starting with “Why”. This is because, as we discussed, as soon as you ask someone, “Why didn’t you do this?” or “Why didn’t you finish your homework?” generally speaking, people come back with excuses.

Today, what I wanted to share with you is, what are the 3 key attributes to keep in mind when you are asking questions, and when you are actually trying to help your team to make that progress.

In fact, I want you to write them down because they are quite fundamental, and they are very powerful. I want you to become very aware of these 3 attributes. Whenever you are in a situation where you want a team member to do something, make sure that your questioning has got these 3 fundamental attributes.

How to Ask Your Team Questions: Forward Moving

Ok, so the first one is, your question should be forward moving. That’s really important.

Whatever you ask should help the team member to think of the present and think of the future, rather than anchoring that question in the past and kind of doing a post-mortem. It doesn’t really help anyone.

So these are questions like, “What do we need to do now so we can finish this in the right time frame?” or “How would you go about completing this task now?”

These are all the questions that are forward moving.

How to Ask Your Team Questions: Enough Detail

The second thing is that as you’re building on this questioning, make sure there’s enough detail.

When people start sharing those details with you, they are clarifying their own thoughts, and you also come on the same page as theirs, making sure they are capable and very clear of doing that task.

How to Ask Your Team Questions: Timeline It 

The final attribute is that for every task that you set or you want your team member to do, there should be a timeline. Because remember one thing, if there is no timeline, then there is no clear accountability.

It becomes difficult for you to go back and do your follow up. Or for the team to know what you are expecting. Because as a good business owner, as a good manager, your main task is to make sure that the team is clear, and they are super clear and they are being held accountable as to what needs to be done. Because that’s absolutely essential for a top performing team and a top performing business.

Want more shifts for greater growth?

The kinds of shifts we help advise business owners to make are designed to help them accelerate their already excellent work to even greater heights.

Why not find out if business coaching in London could give your business that edge?

 

Book a Free Strategic Review


Stop Being an Elf

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Everyone knows that Santa gets his job done with a bit of help. It has become common for many businesses to don a little elf hat and help old Saint Nick deliver some gifts to their customers – especially those who are on the “nice” list!

Even if you are not doing it to help the man in the big red suit, it is still a great time of year to celebrate positive relationships – and that includes your business ones.

However, there is a really big opportunity being missed when businesses send out gifts at Christmas time…

While the end of the year is a great time to express your gratitude to clients, why are you only doing this once a year?

We already know that your sales process benefits from having a certain number of step. Equally, when you make the right number of touch points throughout the year with your clients, you can create even closer relationships with them and maintain an even stronger raving-fan community around your business.

In this article, we will look at why you should be more than just an elf. That is, why it is a good idea to reach out more frequently during the year and how best to go about doing this.

The Double Benefit of Regular Client Appreciation

Reminding your customers that you care about them is a fuzzy and heart-warming tradition to uphold in your business. It makes you and your team feel good and it makes your clients feel good.

But what makes it an extra special and beneficial practice is that it also helps with your client retention. Happy clients are more likely to stick with you, buy from you, and refer new clients to you – so keeping them happy is also a great way to maintain a strong bottom line.

It’s a win-win: you get to feel good by expressing gratitude with actions that ultimately also help your business.

What Kind of Gifts Should I Send to Clients?

There are many ways to appreciate your clients. If you have a lot of clients, or limited resources to commit to gift giving, then you can give digital gifts such as gift vouchers for online stores or even something as simple as an email could do for limited budgets.

However, you will find that the impact of the gesture is larger and more recognised when you give something physical. I would therefore highly recommend figuring out a small, physical gift you can deliver to your clients.

This could be things such as elegant stationery, themed food like cakes or cookies, posters or paintings that can be put up, or other regular gift items.

If you can weave in a message or branding in an unobtrusive manner, then by all means do so. However, remember that your purpose here is not your brand marketing. The purpose is to make your clients feel appreciated. So give them something good first and foremost.

If a physical gift is too complicated or difficult, you can also consider organising events that you give your clients exclusive access to. This can do as much if not more to foster a sense of community and can have the added benefit of encouraging referrals if you allow them to invite friends.

How Often Should I Send Gifts to Clients?

When you only send your gifts to clients at Christmas you are Santa’s elf and, while that’s great, elves lose their impact come February. However, if you send gifts out all the time, they start to lose their impact and they start to feel less special.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend having some sort of appreciation touch point once a quarter in order to maximise the effect.

You can switch things up and have different sorts of gifts and/or events each quarter. The variance not only keeps it interesting and engaging, but also ensures that the gifts remain special, and unexpected. You want to avoid becoming predictable so that whenever you do produce a present, it comes as a small and pleasant surprise.

A good idea is to draw up a calendar and look at the holidays, events and other important dates to do with your business or which are important to your prospects. These can help structure the timing of your gifts and help with the selection (or theme) of what to offer.

Genuine Gifts Only

Some people may feel that creating a strategy around gift-giving takes away from the positivity of the gift, as it starts to have “motive”. Let me clarify something: you should not be giving gifts simply because I told you so or because you want to “get more” from your clients. You should be choosing carefully, and giving genuinely.

You should not just be choosing what you give, but also who you give gifts to. This works best if you are honestly giving gifts to people you truly believe deserve them – so don’t just give to everyone. Make sure the gift is really good, and your primary motivation is to appreciate that person, not improve your bottom line.

When do you that, you continue to feel good, they continue to feel good, and you do still get all the extra benefits of improving your business relationship on top of that. It’s a win all around – and you get to be more than an elf: you get to play Santa all year round!

Want even more growth in 2017?

Through business coaching in London with hundreds of businesses, our scope is broad enough to help you pinpoint which strategies to focus on to see the biggest results for your business.

Request a free consultation with us and find out if we could work together to take you to even greater levels of success.

Book a Free Strategic Review


How To Stop Getting Excuses From Your Team

At the latest Strategic Growth Intensive one of my clients asked me a question about managing the activities of his team members. He said, “Whenever I ask my underperforming team members a question, they come back with excuses or ‘reasons’. What do I do?”

I asked him, “What do you ask them when they come up with these excuses?”

In answering my question, he learned why he was getting excuses from his team…

When you ask “why”, generally you are asking for your team members to give you an excuse or reason.

When you ask the right sort of questions, ones that are set in the future or the present, you push your team members to think in the future or present rather than get stuck in explaining the past.

That way you can encourage your team to keep progressing and get results rather than keeping your business back by constantly going over reasons.

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

Show Transcript »

Hi this is Shweta from London Coaching Group. What I want to talk about today is one question that you should not be asking if you’re the business owner and the manager of your team.

In my full day event, which is called the Business Growth Intensive, one of my clients, Julian, asked me a question. He said, “Shweta whenever I ask my team a question, they generally come back with excuses or reasons. What do I do?”

So I said, “Julian, what do you generally ask them, to which they respond with excuses?”

“Shweta I ask, why have you not done this? Or why have you not submitted this in time?”

“Julian stop.” Literally, that’s what I said. “Julian stop.” The question that Julian was asking was wrong. He was asking a question starting with ‘why’.

Now I want you to think about it – when you ask a child, “Why have you not done your homework?” or even you ask your team, “Why have you not done what I asked you to do?” generally speaking the response will be full of excuses or reasons.

Now you want to anchor your questions more in the future or present rather than past. This is a very important distinction that I want you to make. Because as the owner, as the manager of the team, it is important that you get your team moving forward.

And therefore the questions like,

“So what needs to happen for us to get this job done?”

“How would you go about completing this task now?”

These are all forward moving rather than doing a post mortem and asking why didn’t you do this?

So knowing what questions to ask can make a huge difference with yourself, with your team, and obviously in your business.

I hope that helps because just increasing awareness is a starting point.

Looking for more help with your team?

When you lead a winning team, it can sometimes help to have an outside perspective on how to ensure you are guiding them to even greater heights than they already climbing with you.

Book a free strategic review of your business and see if our strategies could help you achieve double digit growth.

Book a Free Strategic Review