Insights Blog

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

Best Business Books to Read: American Icon

This is a book that the New York Times has called a “compelling narrative that reads more like a thriller than a business book.”

It describes how one of America’s most established companies turned around from its death throes in the mid-2000s and restored itself into a modern, sustainable and profitable business in the modern world.

This is not your standard management book where they take you through step-by- step a structure that you can apply as well. Instead it is an engaging tale of how maintaining and growing profitability has to come alongside the development of company culture and closely managing how the teams within your business work.

If you are looking for a read that will inspire you on bringing a new level of leadership to your business then American Icon by Bryce G. Hoffman is a book to read.

Alan Mulally’s struggle to restore the seminal automaker, Ford Motor Company, to growth and profitability is a real page turner and absolutely stuffed with learnings for business leaders of every sort.

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Our previous top business books recommendations:

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The Silent Complexity of Your Growing Team

You are running a successful business, you have been working long hours, and now it is time to expand your team to manage the extra work.

This is a familiar scenario to most of my clients. Unfortunately, what often transpires is that when the team expands to meet the demand, the complexity issues that arise seem disproportionately extensive.

This can lead to you questioning your skills as a manager, a breakdown of company culture, and sometimes even less productivity than when your team was smaller.

In this video, I explain a formula that I share with my clients to help them get to grips with where this background complexity comes from. Once they understand it, they are far more in control and are better equipped to keep the team, the work, and the culture of the business intact.

When you view each new team addition as a set of relationships with your existing team members, rather than just an individual, you can prepare for that level of management.

Once you understand this formula, you can then employ the strategies that we teach to manage complexity that comes with growth.

That means looking at induction strategies (like knowing the best day to start a new hire) and maintaining team management systems (such as not being a “got a minute boss” and setting up a strong company culture), which ensure that your new team hires can slide into place with minimum fuss and maximum satisfaction and productivity.

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

What I want to talk about today is the silent complexity that exists in your business. Now, when I’m working with my business clients and their business is doing well, it’s growing invariably, and they end up extending their team size because they need more capacity. Now at that point, of course they are focusing on the size of the team, whether it’s gone one and a half, two times, three times, but what really reminds them most of the time is that it’s not just that number of team members. It’s that there is another factor which is silent, which is there in background, but very critical one. And that straight away gives sense of complexity to our clients and therefore how could they best preempt those issues in the future and how to deal with those issues to make sure that the culture is right and the team stays absolutely productive at its best level so that they can move forward.

Business Formula

What I wanted to do was to share with you a simple formula and it might be interesting for you to calculate and to use that formula in your business. Now this formula is N squared minus N by 2. The N here will be the number of team members that you have in your business including yourself, and the output of this formula gives you the number of relationships that exist in your business.

For example, if it’s you and just another team member, so N is equal to 2 here. Now let’s put this formula and there is one relationship in the business, make sense right? Now imagine there is this new team member who comes on board because the business is growing and you have not two but three relationships here. Now let’s look at another level. Imagine the team is growing so they’re looking at 25 minus 5 divided by 2 which is 10 relationships in this business and the business is growing even more, in this case it goes to say 19 members so you’re looking at 81 minus 9 divided by 2 and it’s 36 relationships. The point that you need to understand and really focus on is that though from this stage to this stage it feels that the team has gone 3 times, of course it is right? From 3 to 9, but then if you look at the numbers of the relationships they have jump from 3 to 36 which is 12 times. Can you imagine the level of the complexity? Can you imagine the issue that can occur in this business if one is not aware of that?

And that’s what I wanted to convey that if you are facing this level of complexity because of the way your business is performing or something that you want even to get better. Then please feel free to reach out because if you don’t deal with this it has a potential to sabotaging your business growth and its potential.

Need a Team Alignment or Induction Process?

Business coaching is about so much more than working with the business owner. A large part is aligning the team and ensuring that the whole organisation is clicking together like perfectly shaped puzzle pieces.

If you want to know more about how we could help you with your team, book a strategic session with us and ask us about our Engage and Grow program.

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Stop Adding Value

One of my coaching clients was visibly upset at our coaching session recently. He was having an issue with how his team didn’t seem to be responding well to his feedback. They didn’t seem invested in what they were doing and were not giving 100% to their job.

We did some quick roleplays to find out how he was delivering feedback to his team members. In one scenario the team member’s work wasn’t very good, in another it was ok, and in the final one it was very good.

What these roleplays revealed was a big learning for this client and I thought I would share it with you…

In the end it is important to remember that people do not work hard because of you or your leadership. They work hard because they strive for what success means to them – and that often involves ownership over their work, and pride in their achievements.

So let them shine, and give them value by not adding value to their tasks.

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

I’ve just come out of my coaching session by the client and a very interesting one, so I thought I’ll straightaway share some learnings from that.

The Problem With His Team Members

Now I’m sitting down with the director of the company and he clearly looks upset. And he’s like, Shweta, I’m so tired of, you know, giving feedback to my team members and it seems that there is no attention to detail, and you know they’re not really passionate about the work that they’re doing. In fact, it feels that they don’t have the sense of ownership of what they’re doing. And what do I do, I just don’t understand. I’m trying to help them, but it’s just not making sense. So I was like, OK that’s interesting and yes I do come across those situations sometimes in my coaching meetings, so tell me a little bit more about this.

So I was like, OK that’s interesting and yes I do come across those situations sometimes in my coaching meetings, so tell me a little bit more about this. Let’s, in fact have a roleplay, or some roleplays, and tell me how you go about those meetings.

Team Management Roleplays Revealed The Answer

So we did some quick roleplays. Okay. In which maybe my work was not that good in one roleplay it was okay. And the other roleplay was pretty good. And I saw and experienced how my client was going about that discussion. And on reflection, I said there is one thing you need to become better at. Which is stop adding value.

You can imagine to that comment he was like “What do you mean? I’m the director of the business. You know I’m the line manager they expect me to add value, what do you mean don’t add value?”

What Do You Mean Don’t Add Value?

And I was like, yeah, no actually it makes sense for you to not always add value. Because think about it like this. Once it becomes a habit that whatever the level of work is, if you are feeling the pressure of adding value just because you are the managing director or the line manager. It’s like the habit formation for the team, that I can never please this person, every time I’ll go to that person will actually add value or make changes or make additions.

And by the time they leave the room it’s no more their work. It’s your version of the work. Think about the ownership. What happens to that level of ownership? It just goes down with every point that you make. Every new suggestion that you’re adding in that document.

The Highest Compliment You Can Give to a Team Member

So the question that I really want you to reflect on is, say you say, do I really need to add value in all the scenarios? When is it best to add value which will give you that incremental upside? And when is it really good to say, “Well done. I can’t think of anything else. This looks good, go back and focus on implementation and obviously keep me updated.”

Now that is the highest form of complement a team member can get from you when you say “No, I don’t want to add any value. It just looks really good. You’ve done a good job there.”

Think about the sense of ownership. Think about what they would want to do next time. They want to have another scenario next time, similar scenario where you’re not able to add any value or you don’t feel the need to add any value.

But the main point is just because you’re the business owner doesn’t mean that you have to keep on adding value. Sometimes, you know, the best way to add value is not to add any value.

Need more team management strategies?

Managing your team is one of the typical things that our business coaching clients have issues with – so we have become very skilled at helping resolve.

If you’d like to find out if we could add some value to your business, then request an obligation-free review with us:

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5 Growth Strategies The Most Successful London Businesses Use

Of the 4.8 million private sector businesses in England, 1 million of them have their head offices located in London. (Department of National Statistics 2016) Since 2010, the number of businesses in London has increased by 41% and it has the highest number of businesses per adult (1,464 per 10,000 adults). There can be no doubt that London is the UK’s most vibrant business hub, with new products, services and markets emerging on a daily basis. It is also home to a pool of bright young professionals, which businesses can tap into to create diverse, talented workforces.

However, what that also means is that competition is rife in London – and so achieving growth here is no walk in the park. While London’s huge population spells opportunity, there is also greater necessity to cut through the noise in order to be heard.

Coaching businesses in London for the last 9 years, specifically with the purpose of growing and expanding those businesses, means we have a bit of insight into this. Here are five strategies that we have found to work most successfully for businesses in London who have their eyes on greater gains.

1. Increase profit margins

Conducting a price review is often one of the simplest ways for businesses to improve their profits, and one of the first things we consider with new clients.

In London, services and products are instantly more valuable than they would be elsewhere in the UK because the demand for them is so high. This city automatically lends prestige to your work simply by virtue of continuing to practice here.

You would be amazed at how many businesses in London could easily increase their margins, without having a negative impact on their number of customers or clients. It enables the growth of profits while also demanding that the business continues to provide exceptional value to their customers.

2. Implement a recruitment strategy

Businesses in London have the luxury of being picky when it comes to hiring new staff, and this is something you should take advantage of – especially if you are hiring your number 2, but even if you are just hiring your next executive.

There are professionals in London (and beyond) that have the exact skills your company needs to achieve growth, and you can find them without pulling your hair out as long as you use a recruitment strategy suited to this city.

We put together the 4-hour recruitment process for our clients because it works so well in this city. It shows you how to scoop wide first, and then sift out for that perfect candidate. It has worked time and again and placed some really fantastic people into ideal jobs both in The London Coaching Group and with our clients.

3. Focus on conversion rate

When operating in a city like London, with such a massive population of potential consumers, it can be tempting to invest majority of efforts into lead generation.

However, what you should more understand is that with a city that has a large population, lead generation is the easy part. Focusing on improving it will give you only marginal overall growth.

What is usually more difficult in this city, full of sceptics that have plenty of choice, is conversion. How are you communicating with new leads and building trust? How are you showing them that your solution is the solution they should buy?

When you compare the effort required against the ultimate gain, you’ll find that for most London businesses, conversion strategy improvement outstrips lead generation.

4. Get creative with your referral process

We all know that word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to build loyalty among consumers – we trust recommendations our friends make and value the opinions of online influencers.

While word of mouth is typically not very easy to control, there are strategies that you can employ to encourage referrals. London is an incredibly social city, and businesses should make the most of that.

Simple promotions like ‘recommend us to a friend and you will both receive a free item’ or ‘bring your friend along for free’ are great ways to tell your consumers that you value their loyalty and that you want to uphold a two-way relationship with them. These examples are especially valuable in a city like London where people are eager to socialise through offering friends new opportunities and offers that they have discovered.

5. Bring in an outside perspective

There is so much going on in London that it is easy to get caught up in the excitement, forgetting to step back and look at the bigger picture. You might miss an opportunity simply because you have been focusing so intently on what is directly around you.

Hiring a business coach in London (or a mentor or business management consultant – whatever arrangement works for you) is becoming more and more valuable for not only getting a fresh perspective but also a trained and expert eye on your company. This enables you to combine your intricate knowledge of the business with an expert’s wider view of the market and the kinds of systems that can be leveraged on for greater growth.

In the end, London is currently the top city of opportunity. There is enough abundance here to go around. These are just 5 of the strategies that London-based businesses can use to leverage the ample opportunities available and achieve significant growth in this sprawling metropolis.

Considering a business coach in London?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionGrowth in London can be difficult, for sure. And just like playing football can be tough, the best players succeed by having a coach watch their plays.

If you think your business could be achieving more, book a free review of your business and find out for yourself if business coaching could benefit your business.

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The Powerful Opening Gambit in Power Negotiation

During the first quarter of the year especially, as a business owner you may find yourself positioning and negotiating prices with suppliers and clients.

The ones who are going to be most successful are those who have learned the gambits of power negotiation. Not just negotiation, but power negotiation.

Let me explain what power negotiation means, and share with you the powerful opening gambit that savvy business owners are using on the negotiating table…

This strategy is just one of the many power negotiation techniques that I have been teaching to my clients. These strategies are usually extremely simple, but many business owners just haven’t been told yet that they exist.

A few simple changes and you could be picking up money that’s being left on the negotiating table.

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’m going to talk about today is Power Negotiation. In fact, just this week, I had a very interesting workshop with my clients where we discussed how to go about negotiating with suppliers with clients, because as you can imagine being the start of the year, there are suppliers who are positioning price increases to clients or vice versa. So one needs to be comfortable with the whole negotiation, understand the strategies, the gambits, the moves.

Difference between Negotiation and Power Negotiation

So the workshop was pretty cool, I wish I could cover all the strategies that we talked about, but I do want to talk about one core, fundamental, in fact opening gambit that you need to be aware of. And again, it’s very simple, very common sense scope, but many people miss out on this. So first things first, the difference between negotiation and power negotiation is, basically, in both you have to win at the negotiating table, that is the objective. But in power negotiation, you make the other person feel that they have actually won. So it’s the feeling that you leave the other person with, right? So they should want to actually come back and negotiate more with you, though you’re the one who has actually met his or her objectives. So that’s the first thing.

Now in power negotiation, the first bidders that always ask for more than expected, that’s the first thing. That’s the first thing, and I’m sure you’ll be like “Yeah, that’s how it should be.” Now, the question really is, how much more? Right? Now for that to happen, you need to understand something called “Bracketing”.

What is Bracketing?

Now for Bracketing to come into function, again, another rule in power negotiation is that you have to ensure that it’s the other person who is stating his or her position to you first. That’s really important, because if that’s not happening, then pretty much you will lose out in the negotiation process. So for example, there is a buyer who is willing to pay, say, twenty thousand for your service. Ok? Just as an example. Wherein in your mind you knew that you should be looking at around twenty four thousand and now you have made the buyer state his or her position, and the person has told you that he or she is willing to pay twenty thousand pounds for your services, but you want to be at twenty four thousand. So that’s the first step.

Then you need to bracket your position. What that means is, that now what you state, your opening position should be equally distant, in the direction where you want to be, right? So in this case the difference between where you want to be and the price that’s been offered by the buyer is four thousand, so you go in the other direction, four more thousand, which is twenty eight thousand, right? So your opening position becomes twenty eight thousand and now the negotiation range is from twenty thousand to twenty eight thousand. If you are following the gambits, and the right moves, and the right strategies, then most probably you’ll land somewhere very close to twenty four thousand, hopefully on a higher side.

So I hope that makes sense. That why it’s important to make the other person state his or her position first, because if that doesn’t happen you cannot bracket. And how you need to bracket your own objective, and then let the game begin.

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