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The Importance of Strategic Planning

Part 2: Strategic Planning

Last week in Part 1 (go to Part 1) we tried to explain what Strategic Planning is and the benefits of such planning for the business.  Today we continue talking about Strategic Planning risks and why it can fail.

Strategic Planning Risks

One of the pitfalls of doing business without a strategic plan in place is the risk of a lack of clarity around accountability across your organisation. Strategic planning should clearly establish accountability for the various tasks required to progress the company. Otherwise it is all too easy for deadlines to be missed, and catastrophic errors to occur in your financial planning, your marketing or your customer service (where only one negative post on social media is enough to undermine all your efforts to build a reputable brand).

In contrast to all of the above, there exists numerous companies who complete strategic plans, only for the documents to sit gathering digital dust on a server somewhere, never to be read. The problem? It was a document they felt they should do for the business plan, but don’t execute in actuality. Indeed more than 70% of companies with a strategic plan never execute it, research suggests. Why is this?

Forbes suggests several reasons why strategic plans fail, most notably among the causes are a reluctance to address large complex issues, and creating a document that is too confusing and while outlaying the issues, clearly leads nowhere. Indeed there are so many options when it comes to the level of depth of strategic plan, that unexperienced strategists can end up wasting a lot of valuable time compiling an unusable and unrealistic ‘plan’. That or it is a ask that gets abandoned long after it was begun; too mind boggling to justify the time requirements. The cost of that wasted time could be better spent in learning how to draw together a realistic and achievable strategic plan – a plan that provides direction to the whole organisation and a reference point for leadership in the face of industry challenges.

At London Coaching Group, you can invest in yourself and your company by learning the skill of creating and executing clear, concise and insightful strategic plans. We help businesses propel themselves forward by showing them how to craft a plan that is precise, exacting and devoid of all the unnecessary stuff. We will show you how to choose the metrics and the KPIs that bring quantifiable boundaries to the steps in the strategic plan. We will teach you how to get your strategic plan working for you. Still not convinced on the importance of a strategic plan and the ability to get it right?

Then consider this: there is demonstrable research based evidence from the Harvard Business Review that strategic planning has a positive impact on profit performance, with others citing businesses using strategic plans as being 12% more profitable.

Can you afford to be without a usable strategic plan? Talk to us today.


 

Part 1: Strategic Planning

drawing wall

 

Would you consider getting on an airplane without knowing where that airplane was going? Neither would we. Strategic planning is the equivalent of Google Maps for a company to achieve their objectives. It’s the tool that guides you on your journey to achieve those objectives, however long and complex that journey may be. In fact, most businesses don’t have a ‘final destination’ per se; once they achieve their objectives, they start the process again with a new set of objectives to achieve business growth.

Regardless of whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned managing director or the CEO of a multinational corporate, you need to be skilled at strategic planning. Let’s repeat that: you need to be skilled at strategic planning. That’s right – it is NOT an innate ability, it is not the preserve of the wealthy, highly educated or already successful individual. Money and education can only help you in so far as you can be trained in the strategic planning process – such as the training London Coaching Group provide – but in fact these things are the hoped-for outcomes of learning how to strategically plan; they are not the entry criteria.

Some businesses have a shortage of resources: capital, human and knowledge resources – particularly start ups – and their businesses struggle to survive while they spend their ever shrinking budgets on acquiring these resources, until finally they they are out of operating cash flow and cannot continue. Research shows that of 26,000 failed startup businesses, 67% did not have a strategic plan in place. Other businesses have a wealth of resources, but are unsure where to utilise those resources for the best return on investment, or perhaps  they are struggling to see new growth opportunities once their current objectives are achieved and their revenues diminish as they reach market saturation.

It is hoped that most businesses and individuals have goals. Goals are great – but the problem is they are only the destination. For quote-a-goal-without-a-planexample, putting your business goals in front of a group of investors is only showing them where you want to end up, and not how you will get there. Goals are the overarching reason why a strategic plan is needed. A strategic plan contains the step by step ‘directions’ you will follow as you conquer the territory on the way to your destination.

Another benefit is that it forces business owners into considering what their mission statement should be. If you don’t have a mission statement already, you really need one. Often it gets overlooked by startups and entrepreneurs as they get bogged down in the day to day of getting their product or service out to the market. And yet your mission statement is your raison d’etre  – your absolute singular purpose – against which your core values, your business decisions and your growth trajectory should be judged.

One of the most critical things about strategic planning is that you need to be able to objectively assess where you are in your journey – now. This is a lot harder than it seems as it is hard to stay objective when looking at the culmination of your efforts so far. Learning how to create a strategic plan will give you the tools and techniques to establish your baseline objectively. You cannot move forward until you accurately locate where you are now.

Go to (Part 2) of this article….

This article was contributed by Lindsey from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

Want to plan for sustainable growth?

How to planLearn the effective strategic planning process that we use with our own clients at the Strategic Growth Intensive.

 

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How to Reduce No Shows To Your Webinar

sucessfull webinar

Do you have realistic expectations about the number of people who will attend your webinar?

After all, no matter how great your content, you will never have 100% attendance, even if people have paid to attend. That being said, there are definite attendance-boosting actions you can take to reduce the number of no shows to your webinar.

Set a challenging goal: Research shows that approximately 42% of sign ups actually show up to webinars. So it’s a numbers game; figure out how many registrants you need to get in order to convert to your 42%. Setting a goal will push you to achieve it.

Choose the optimum day and time: People’s time is a premium asset, one they have to be willing to share. Weekends are personal time for most, so are not optimal. But did you know that there are optimal days? This study suggests Wednesday and Thursday are the preferred days for most.

Create and Maximise a ‘Thank you’ page: ‘A Thank You’ page affords you a major opportunity to continue engaging with your visitor immediately after they have registered. Offer the ability to share the webinar opportunity on social media with sharing buttons. You can also use this page to link to blog content or offer newsletter sign ups. Then have that content refer back frequently to your upcoming webinar.

Use a #Hashtag: Create and display a dedicated #hashtag specifically for your event on your ‘Thank you’ page and make it highly visible. Offer your registrants the opportunity to post pre-webinar questions and comments using that hashtag. An upside to this is that it will help you bulk out your webinar content. Ensure you are also using this hashtag across your own social media.

Add to Calendar: The most basic way is to include a call to action on your ‘Thank you’ page to remind your visitor to add the webinar to their calendar. The best way is to use a plugin that will either automatically add the event to the user’s calendar or alternatively provide you with a link that you can add to your landing page beside your call to action, on your blogs and across your social media. AddEvent provides excellent capability, for example. Ensure you are including your social media sharing buttons and your link to automatically add-to-calendar.

Email reminders post sign-up: An absolute necessity obviously, are your email reminders post sign-up. While most organisers send emails immediately upon registration, there are further emails that you should send. We recommend the following email schedule:

•    One week before
•    One day before
•    At the time the webinar is about to begin

Blitz your social media: To reduce no shows at your webinar then getting the word out about your webinar is key. It’s particularly important on the day the webinar is scheduled because same day conversion rates are quite good, so you could see a slew of new registrants on the day itself if you successfully advertise your event across all your social media channels. If you use a social media scheduling tool, ensure to schedule your webinar information regularly. Pay per click advertising across social media and GoogleAd words may well be worth it but is not essential. Anyone who joins your webinar via your social media ‘event’ will be inadvertently advertising your event to all their friends.

Use a Countdown Clock: Across your website and landing pages, ensure you have a countdown clock accompanied by the register button as soon as you begin your webinar advertising. It serves as a great reminder to registrants visiting your site and is a hugely eye catching visual for new visitors.

Develop a reputation for top class webinars: If you are skilled at picking and delivering killer topics for your webinar, you will slowly build your attendance rates. The topic itself is not the only concern. Keeping your audience’s attention so that they don’t drop the webinar – or worse not sign up for your next one – is a completely separate skill than marketing the webinar or writing the content.

This article was contributed by Lindsey from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

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Why Delivering A Baby Can Help With Running A Business

I have heard some experts say that business is about making decisions. Sure, that is true in a sense, but what is more accurate is that running a business successfully is about making the right decisions.

And that is where we can relate it to delivering a baby…

Let me explain.

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. As per hospital episode statistics 50% of UK births need intervention. What I want to share with you today is a very practical tool which not only helps deliver healthy babies but also helps you with delivering healthy business results.

Crucial Decisions

Now as you can imagine in the moments of crucial decision making when you have to decide which intervention to go for, it could be very tricky for parents when time is less, energy is less, and emotions are running high.

And keeping the business context on, when you have to make the crucial decisions for your business when the energy, time, money is not unlimited you need to be making the right decisions.

Now the model I want to talk about actually helps you place your intuition, your energy and your passion or your experience at the right time rather than clouding that decision.

The BRAIN Model for Making Decisions

So what I want you to do is actually write down this model and what is called the BRAIN model, so just write this down and we will go through it quickly, systemically but quickly.

Now let’s take a scenario in the business. Imagine you’re thinking of hiring someone for an important position, which might help you with the top-line growth, the revenue growth, now it’s an important one because there is an outlay and it will help us deliver the growth of the company.

So when you’re looking at this kind of a situation, you can make an intuitive call but it’s like flipping a coin and hoping it will be the right one or you could use this model to make sure it’s the right decision. So let’s go through this.

Decision Making Model Step 1: Benefits

The first thing that you need to look at is what are the Benefits of making this decision. And simply writing down the bullet points as to what are the benefits that you will have from hiring this person.

Decision Making Model Step 2: Risks

The second thing you need to look at in a very objective manner is saying what are the Risks of hiring this person. If this person is not successful, what will it mean in terms of the next 3 months of salary costs. And will there be any other disruption or organisation change? What are the possible risks?

Decision Making Model Step 3: Alternatives

Once you do that, this is the other question that people don’t ask very often and when I’m working with clients it’s actually having that divergent way of thinking. Looking at different possibilities and then coming up with the right solution.

So the 3rd one you actually want consider and ask yourself this question – what are the other Alternatives? What are the other options? Could you be rejigging the organisation? Could you actually outsource this? Or maybe someone else just needs to spend a little more time doing this and that will take care of the problem. So what are the alternatives that you could be looking at?

Decision Making Model Step 4: Intuition

And then once you have looked at these three elements that’s where the energy, that gut feel comes into the picture – your experience and what I call that here is intuition. What does your intuition say? What do you think?

Because now your logical mind has kicked in and now it’s all about thinking, “What do you think?” What does your gut say?

Decision Making Model Step 5: Nothing

And finally the last one, which is quite interesting, I personally find it very interesting. And I think business is not always about just moving on and doing lots of things. Sometimes not doing something, not focusing on something itself is a decision you are making in the business.

And what this stands for is Nothing. If you don’t do anything, then what would that mean? Is that the right thing to actually do? Just wait a little bit more and then a better solution will emerge.

 

So when you think about it, it’s all about going through the decisions, not in a slow manner, actually in a fast-paced manner. But doing things systematically so that you’re not missing out what you should not be missing out on. Because at the end of the day, business is about making decisions and making the right decisions for your business because that’s what reflects in its results.

Give Your Business A Check Up

Business Coaching London Business Health CheckWhen parents make decisions on what direction to take when there are complications at birth, they rely on the expertise and advice of their doctor – or doctors – to guide their decisions.

Why not take your business to the experts to give it a check-up and find out if some small changes could put it in better shape?

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How Great Leaders Embrace Their Weaknesses

Part 3: How Great Leaders Turn Their Weaknesses Into Strengths

Businessman

In Part 1 and 2 we tried to explain what exactly the weakness in business leadership is (see the Part 1 below) and how leaders can identify their weakness (go to Part 2). Today we will examine exactly how great leaders go about embracing their weaknesses with a view to strengthening them or minimising their effect.

In a perfect world, each and every business leader would be absolutely flawless.  But, regrettably, we don’t live in a perfect world and every business leader has a few flaws.  That is not to say that they can’t be effective leaders, it just means that their strong leadership qualities are countered by a few weak ones.

Given that we live in an imperfect world, this is the case with every business leader.  And yet the world is full of brilliant leaders that are nothing if not successful.  So, if weakness is a part of every business leader, how do some still achieve this level of success?  The answer can be given in one word: acceptance.

The best leaders recognise and accept that they are not perfect and indeed have a few weaknesses, and they embrace these weaknesses and try to turn them into strengths.

This doesn’t mean that they try to eliminate them from their personalities.  Instead, great leaders function with their weaknesses, and still manage to be effective and inspirational.

But, how do leaders do this?  How do they manage their weaknesses in such a way that they are never inhibitive?  The following are some of the ways in which they accomplish the feat.

 
How to Turn Weaknesses Into Strengths

1. Preparation
Business leaders that know of and accept their weaknesses are in a good position to eliminate their effect through preparation.  If, for strength vs weeknessexample, someone has a problem keeping track of time, it might help them to set reminders on their phone, notifying them of important meetings, etc.  This same approach can be applied to business leadership.  It simply involves making the necessary plans to counter the effect of any possible weaknesses.

2. Consultation
Some leaders feel that, as the decision-makers of their companies, they have to know everything.  This perception is absolutely ridiculous.  Leaders don’t have to have all of the answers.  Any great leader will tell you that there is no shame in consulting the opinions of others.  This promotes synergy, generates ideas and, importantly, limits the capabilities of leadership weaknesses.   

3. Replacing the Weakness through Human Resources
Where business leaders are aware of a particular weakness negatively affecting their companies, the hiring of someone to curb that negative effect is often advantageous.  By bringing in an employee to control the task, or tasks, being affected by management weakness, a leader can simply cut the effects of that weakness out of the company.

4. Seeking External Support
Modern executive coaching is not aimed at targeting weaknesses as much as it is aimed at growing leadership abilities.  However, if some skills need to be strengthened in the pursuit of the creation of a better-rounded leader, this is a measure that will be taken.  Hiring external support can thus work well in helping leaders embrace their weaknesses and work around them.

strong arms

 
Accepting Weakness is a Strength

Some people might say that finding the good in the bad is the best way to turn a weakness into a strength.  By this logic, a pedantic leader should embrace his or her finicky nature and call it passion.

While accepting that small parts of some weaknesses can be turned into strengths, simply renaming the weakness is perpetuating that weakness in the form of avoidance.  

The best business leaders don’t avoid their weaknesses.  They accept that they have various weaknesses, they attempt to honestly identify them, and then they find ways to lead effectively without being affected by their weaknesses.

 


 

Part 2: How Great Leaders Identify Weaknesses Within Themselves

(16 August, 2016 by Russell Peach)

Smiling business woman

In Part 1 we tried to explain what the weakness in business leadership is (see the Part 1 below). Here we continue by talking about how leaders can identify their weakness.

John Kotter, Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School, said that ‘Great leadership doesn’t mean running away from reality.’

Good leaders know to play to their strengths, and can be more than competent in doing so.  But great leaders recognise their own weaknesses, and focus on improving the areas in which they may be lacking, whether through executive coaching or otherwise.

Admitting weakness may sound to some like the hallmark of an unconfident, anxious leader.  But, in actual fact, it is the leader that refuses to accept that he or she has any flaws that stands to be victimised by confidence.  Leaders who recognise various weaknesses within themselves, yet refuse to be characterised by those weaknesses, are the leaders who relentlessly pursue and most often achieve success.

But, how do these business leaders go about identifying various weaknesses within themselves?

broken chain

Ways in Which Great Leaders Identify Their Own Leadership Weaknesses

1. Introspection
One of the first methods of identifying weakness in oneself is through deep and honest self-examination.  Honesty is the key factor here.  Leaders who attempt to justify the weaknesses in themselves, or perhaps try to pass some weaknesses off as strengths, won’t get a clear picture of their leadership shortcomings, and thus won’t be able to truly tackle them.

2. Feedback from Colleagues
Some leaders turn to their colleagues for appraisals of their leadership, and the identification of weak areas.  This means urging those colleagues to be absolutely honest however, and not arguing with their thoughts.  Leaders who get defensive when receiving feedback won’t garner honest opinions, and thus won’t end up with a clear picture as to their weaknesses, ironic as that may be.

3. Evaluation of Data
When it comes to weaknesses, the numbers don’t lie.  Areas in which a leader is weak will suffer as a result, which will reflect in company data.  A good leader can use this data to identify these weak points and use them as a basis for future growth and development.

4. The Assistance of Advisors
Some leaders who are looking for weaknesses in their approaches turn to advisors for help.  By bringing advisors into business decisions, leadership weaknesses may be exposed through conflicting suggestions.  If a team of advisors is unanimous on a particular point, and that point happens to be in contrast with the business leader’s position, that may be a key indicator of weakness in that area.

5. External Assessments
Business leaders don’t always have to look inwards in order to discover weakness – be it within the company or within themselves.  It is quite possible for experts from the outside to provide clear suggestions as to any weaknesses in leadership style.  These could come as the result of personality tests or leadership assessments.

Strengths and Weaknesses balance sheet

Identification Is the First Step Towards Resolution

As we mentioned earlier, leaders who possess distrust in the opinions of others or have difficulty accepting criticism may have a hard time of identifying their own weakness as a direct result of that weakness.

However, the leaders who can freely accept that they have various weaknesses are the ones that are most likely to conquer those weaknesses and become much more effective leaders in the future.

In Part 3 next week we will examine exactly how great leaders go about embracing their weaknesses with a view to strengthening them or minimising their effect.


 

Part 1: What Is Weakness in Business Leadership?

(2 August, 2016 by Russell Peach)

Leader standing

CEOs and executives aren’t just plucked off the street and asked to lead businesses. Whether they helm small enterprises or major corporations, leaders find themselves in their positions because of their ability to make decisions and inspire others.

So, when we talk about leadership weakness, we aren’t referring to a given leader’s inability to lead effectively. As mentioned, that leader wouldn’t have ever been placed in a leadership position should there be an inherent problem with his or her overall ability to lead a team (and, as executive coaching specialists, we know this more than anyone). Instead, when we talk about leadership weaknesses, we refer to small factors of a leader’s overall ability.

Over the three parts of this look into leadership weakness we intend to explore how great leaders identify and embrace the various weaknesses in their leadership abilities. But, before we can do that, we will first take a brief look at some of the common weaknesses amongst leaders.

group of figures with ties

 

Common Business Leadership Weaknesses

1. Distrust
This is one of the biggest weaknesses amongst leaders. It manifests itself in many forms (autocracy, arrogance, pessimism, etc.) but basically boils down to a lack of faith in colleagues. Part of good leadership involves delegation – placing trust in others and relinquishing total control over each aspect of every project. Failure to embrace this results in a fundamental leadership weakness.

2. Needing to be Liked
Leaders are humans first and business tools second. It thus stands to reason that many leaders possess that innate human trait of wanting to be liked and accepted. However, the business leaders that let this influence their business decisions are the victims of another common leadership weakness.

3. Neglecting Emotional Impact
In contrast to the leaders who make decisions based on how popular they will be with their employees, some leaders pay no attention to the emotional impact of their decisions. These leaders either disregard or fail to notice the emotional effect of their decisions, possibly due to a lack of emotional attunement or empathy.

4. Complacency
Leaders brought into companies to meet specific goals are always at risk of becoming complacent when reaching those goals. It is very tempting for a leader to see everything snap into place and then take his or her foot off the accelerator and coast. These types of leaders then wait until they receive a new set of objectives before creating new ideas, which defeats the purpose of leadership.

back fingers crossing

 

Failing to Notice Weakness Is a Weakness in Itself

It is easy for us to identify business leadership weaknesses from an objective viewpoint. However, it is much harder for some leaders to adopt an introspective viewpoint and truthfully identify their own weaknesses. This is perhaps the first form of weakness that needs to be dealt with.

 

This article was contributed by Russell Peach from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

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The 4Ds of Productivity

business coaching london productivity tool

When was the last time you made a significant improvement to your time management habits? If your task list is extremely long and interspersed with items that have never really been important to you, you may be able to dramatically improve your personal productivity with a few changes.

I want to share with you today a simple framework / productivity tool that I shared in one of my business coaching training webinars with my clients recently, which may help you when it comes to organising and managing your task list.

The first thing you do is make a list of all the things that you need to do. This is a moving list, because there may be a few things that you didn’t achieve so you move them to the next day or the next week because that is how life works. But the first step is to have a list of everything that needs doing.

The Default Diary Tasks

Before you go further in prioritising that list though, you must first identify the core, non-negotiable items. What is it on your list that absolutely must be done, otherwise the consequences will be truly dire?

These items you need to add to what we call your “default diary”. That means simply going into your calendar and putting in a recurring item that happens every week for those items to happen. This is something I do personally and it works. If you do not put that time into your calendar, and you just leave it on your list, the chances are much more likely that it will slip.

And I would then hope that you are being held accountable through either calendar reminders or through your team reminding you.

The 4Ds Framework

Once you remove the non-negotiable activities, you are left with the tasks that you choose to do. And that is an important decision you make, because when you choose to do something, you are also choosing not to do something else.

There is a school of thought where people think it is best to create a list and then just crack on with that list item by item until the whole list is done.

However, I believe that after you make a list you need to be extremely selective in what you do from that list. It is not about hard work and doing everything. It is about knowing where to strike and what to focus on.

But the question is, how do you choose what to do and what not to do? That is where the 4Ds framework comes in, and which I have brought up in many business coaching training sessions before.

This framework is based around 4 ways that you can categorise any task you do:

  • You can Do the task yourself.
  • You can Delegate the task to someone else.
  • You can Defer the task to another time
  • You can Dump the task altogether.

The way you should work through this framework – and the 3 questions you should ask yourself of any task on your list – should be from the bottom up.

Question 1: Can I Dump This?

This is the first thing you should ask yourself of any item because it is too easy to fill your list with unimportant and irrelevant items that make it very difficult to see your other tasks.

Can you strike this task off your list? Is it there just because you like making long laundry lists? You might realise that this task is not actually adding value to your business and not helping you move forwards towards the goals in your business plan, so it should be removed from your headspace.

Question 2: Can I Defer This?

If you really cannot strike the task off your list, then you need to ask yourself if this task needs to be done right away or not.

Is this something that can wait until next week, next month, or next quarter? Will it actually help move company run better or move faster if it was done now?

If this is just a nice thing to have that will not make a significant difference whether you do it sooner rather than later, then you can and should defer it.

Question 3: Can I Delegate This?

Ok, so you really need to do this task today or this week, then you need to move up to the next step and ask yourself can somebody else do this?

Can you delegate this to a business partner or to a team member? Will someone else do this better than you, or will it empower someone else in your team to take on a role of greater responsibility in the business?

Learning how to delegate effectively is a really important part of team management. If you are constantly thinking that it is better for you to do things yourself because it will be faster, then that is another problem altogether which may involve a broken team model. It is nearly impossible to achieve sustainable growth without a capable team supporting you.

You may then need to consider a better recruitment process and team management / leadership strategies.

Alright, Just Do It

If you have moved through these three questions, then you have arrived at the work that must be done now and must be done by you.

You then need to put aside the time in your diary for it, let it live and breathe and just get on with it.

But if you ask yourself those three questions first, you will find that your “Just Do It” list is not only a whole lot shorter, but is filled with things that are actually moving your business forward.

This is a system that I personally use myself before I add anything to my to-do list. I know the value of my time and it is important that I make sure I spend that time on activities that are moving my business forward. Simultaneously, I am constantly raising my team members up with greater responsibilities and our businesses are in a state of constant growth.

Have you started using this system in your business? What is the best productivity / time management approach you have used successfully? Know of any other great ways to gain control of your task list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Want to get more time mastery?

At the Multi Million Maker webinar, Shweta presents some of her best strategies for generating the kind of growth that is manageable and sustainable.

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