Insights Blog

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

Climbing Everest

“Because it’s there!” – George Mallory in response to the question “Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?”

Assume for a moment that you decide to climb Mount Everest. The first thing you would need to know is how high it is – 8,848 meters. This is usually where most people would give up the idea and get on with their daily lives. What if you knew the secret recipe to climb 8,848 meters. Would that help? Would it make the trip less difficult?

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Now think about a ladder exactly 12.12 meters high. Do you think you could climb this? Could you climb this again tomorrow? How about everyday next week? next month? next year? With perhaps a bit of help from a friend or a coach, most people could do this.

Now consider this – If you climb this ladder every day for two years, at the end of the 2 years, you would have climbed exactly 8,848 metres, the height of the tallest mountain in the world. So what happened here? Did the height decrease? Did the secret recipe help? By breaking it into bit sized pieces, the unachievable even absurd target all of a sudden became quite achievable.

The only trick really then, is to set the goal and start putting a foot on the next leg of the ladder, consistently over two years. Knowing this neat little trick, however is only about 10% of the battle. There are scores of people who decide to stop at different levels of the mountain, either satisfied with the ‘progress’ they have made or giving up the battle all together. As a business coach, one of my primary responsibilities is to define alongside my clients their Mount Everest, break it down to 5 year, 3 year, 1 year and 90 day plans, and then work with them weekly to make sure we keep putting one step in front of the other.

Sometimes, when I sit down with a business owner, and help them define their BHAG, they think I’m being naive in my understanding of their industry, their competition, their products and services, their environment etc. etc. They are convinced that the audacious goal we are defining together is not possible. And often, they have 20+ years of industry experience to prove exactly that. I may not be an expert in every industry, but I most certainly know how to set aggressive goals and help business owners achieve them.

Of course, now you know the secret too. Usually, when broken down into bit sized goals, it is surprising what business owners can really achieve in their business if they are fully committed to their goal. If you are ready to sit down with me for a couple of hours to go over what is really possible in your business, from an informed outsider’s perspective, give me a call. It may be the best investment you ever made for your business. Massive success in your business is ‘there’. You just need to make a decision to go ‘there’.

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The 1% Goal

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” – Albert Einstein

One of the key responsibilities of any business owner is to set goals, for themselves, for their business and for their team members. While most people recognise this responsibility, what they do not recognise is their responsibility to break down the goal into achievable chunks for their team members. This is critical to ensure that targets set are not perceived as unrealistic and even distressing to employees. Remember, that your team needs to be aligned 100% with what has to be achieved because eventually, they need to deliver and then manage the targets. Often, a target is perceived as unachievable simply because it is in aggregate.

The moment you break down the goal into bit sized pieces, all of a sudden everyone starts to believe in the smaller targets being achieved. Your responsibility then remains only to make sure that the small pieces come together to meet or even exceed your target. The 1% goal is a handy technique to break down large goals. Imagine a situation where you have set a goal for your business turnover (sales) to increase by £500,000 over the next year. This could come across as a mammoth task to everyone, especially, if you are currently a small business or have never seen annual growth as high as this.

Instead of inspiring the team, you will potentially have scared them. They will be already calculating the extra hours they will have to put in every week and the extra business they will have to bring on board. Within this environment where each team member is convinced that the target cannot be achieved, you will start by fighting against the tide of negative energy, till, most likely, your team convinces you that the target itself was unrealistic.

Instead if you were to divide this goal as follows: • Break the £500,000 goal into 1% goals of £5,000 each • Break the 250 working days (approximately) in a year into 1%, that is 2.5 days

Now, to achieve your target, you need to make £5,000 of additional sales every 2.5 days. If the £ value of your average sale is £500, you simply need to make 4 new sales every day (£5,000/ 2.5) to achieve your annual target. What you have done in the above 1% calculation is to turn the debate away from whether £500,000 additional sales can be achieved to whether your sales team and you can together sell an additional 4 items a day. A number that will often seem a lot more palatable. This will not only put less pressure on your team but also yourself.

When the leap from the ‘now’ to the ‘then’ is small then not only do things look more positive and achievable, the number of celebrations per goal achieved also increase manifold. And it is a known fact that the more you celebrate success, the more it expands. If your business target is an elephant, there is only one way to eat this elephant – One bite at a time!

Managing Cash In Your Business

“You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” – Warren Buffett

With the double dip recession confirmed in the UK, a lot of businesses are finding that the need to work harder and smarter in their businesses is critical to survive and prosper. It is important therefore to remember that the biggest reason businesses fail is because they run out of cash.

The ‘Cash Gap’ is a useful measure to understand why your business may be struggling with cash. Simply put, the ‘Cash Gap; refers to the time in days from when you put in money into your business (through purchase of stock, salary payments etc.) and when you get paid by your customers. The larger your ‘Cash Gap’, the more your bank balance is likely to be under pressure.

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Benefit Selling

Most small and medium sized businesses have a common thread running through their advertising and marketing material – their product or service descriptions are features-laden. What this ignores is that most clients and customers base buying decisions on the benefits they perceive the product or service to provide, not its features.

Most of us continue to focus on telling people what they’ll get when they buy a product/service…how ‘it’ works…not what it means to them to buy it…what ‘it’ will give them if they own ‘it.’ Think of the feature as the description and the benefit as the result. Then re-write your feature statements into benefit statements. You’ll save prospective buyers the trouble of trying to do it themselves…which they generally won’t.

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Consider the following example pairings of feature and benefit statements:

Feature: We’re open until 10 every night.
Benefit: Because we’re open late every night, you can shop at your convenience and don’t have to take time off work

Feature: Our day care center provides age-appropriate stimulation. 
Benefit: Because your child will be stimulated using age-rated activities and certified day care workers, their mental development will be accelerated. We care about your child’s progress.

Feature: We use only high quality woods and adhesives in building our furniture.
Benefit: Because we use only the best in making our custom furniture…your purchase will be a one-time, long-term investment that’ll outlast you.

Feature: Our bookstore features comfortable chairs throughout the store. 
Benefit: Because we provide comfortable chairs throughout our bookstore, you can relax and read snippets before you buy the book. Know what you’re buying and you’ll enjoy your investment that much more.

Feature: I have over 20 years experience selling houses in the neighbourhood. 
Benefit: Because I have over 20 years experience selling homes in your neighbourhood, your house will be sold quickly, for the highest amount possible, letting you focus on other important things. Let me take the stress out of selling your home.

As you read the feature and benefit statements above, which speaks directly to you? Remember, ‘Benefit-Selling’ is primarily about keeping the interest of your customer paramount in your communication with them.

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