Insights Blog

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

3 Plays to Improve Your Negotiation Game


Almost every successful business owner will have nurtured a particular skill to the point of it becoming a superpower: negotiation.

Negotiation happens at every level in your business and is most important when dealing with your suppliers. You may be the receiver or executor of the negotiation but either way, you need to learn how to master power negotiation. That is the art of getting what you require, while also leaving the other person with the win.

This game is all about the mindset. Perhaps you walk into a meeting with someone from a large corporation, and you feel like you aren’t going to be able to hold a candle to them. If so, you’ve already lost your power. Never forget, you are dealing with an individual, not the whole company. You and the person you are negotiating with are locked in a 1-on-1 game – you just need to be the best athlete.

Like any sport, negotiating has rules and plays. To win, you’ve got to practice the plays and watch the other player closely to choose the right one to execute at the right time. Learn how to predict the reactions of the other party, and you can steer the outcome to your favour.

Most games are all but decided in the first moments. Just think about a Formula 1 race. Everyone wants to see the first round because it is those first moments that result in accidents big and small that will shape the rest of the championship – and then you can pretty much predict who will end up on the podium with the champagne and the trophy.

Pay attention to how you begin your negotiations, and you will likely find your success rate change dramatically. (I hope you’re testing and measuring it!)

Here are 3 opening gambits of negotiation in business that I have seen make the most difference to business owners’ negotiation game:

1. Don’t start first and open with less

This is a technique called “bracketing” and is one of the most commonly used and most effective negotiation strategies. The idea is that you get the other party to establish their position first – ask them to state their price. Then you can offer less than you are willing to pay, bracketing your target price between the price they suggested and your opening offer.

With this technique, even if you are facing a master negotiator, you will still come closer to your target price than when you open with your own offer first – or start with your target price!

2. Always flinch at proposal

It doesn’t matter how good that proposal is, the first thing they say must always at least seem like it hurts you. Flinch openly and it naturally motivates the other party to compromise downwards to make you feel better.

It’s not always easy displaying emotions, especially in a culture like that of the UK where we don’t often express things openly. However, if you learn to show how that price hurts, you’ll probably start playing with someone who is much more cooperative in helping you both get over that finish line.

3. Silence is golden

This is such a simple technique, it often surprises and delights my clients at how well it works.

When the other party presents you with a proposal that doesn’t meet your requirements, you just say, “You’ll have to do better than that.” Then you stay quiet.

The silence motivates your other player to come back to you with a better offer. If you happen to be dealing with a veteran player in the game of negotiation, they might then respond with, “Exactly how much better than that do I have to do?” This is an attempt to get you to make an offer first – going back to that first technique above. The game is now afoot!

This whole thing really is a game. Sometimes it is one of chance, but often if you know the plays well and predict the movements of the other player just enough, you will ensure a win for yourself – and for them.

The best negotiators don’t just get what they want; they manage to work out a compromise that leaves both parties satisfied. Reaching that perfect equilibrium is where the skill and the fun happens.

And you don’t need to just apply this to your suppliers – it is for your potential or existing employees, your friends and your family as well. Negotiation is happening in every element of your life at varying degrees.

The final skill to keep in your bag of negotiation tricks is to remember not to take “no” so seriously – that’s just an opening negotiation position! Enjoy the game!

Think your game could use polishing?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionYou are an athlete of sorts. Power negotiation is one sport in the Olympic games that is running a business. The best players, the Olympians of the sports world, have someone watching their plays and helping sharpen their game.

Think those tools of yours could use a finer edge to help you punch above the rest? Let’s find out if our tools could be your winning tool.

Have You Checked Your Business Report Cards?

We can talk about systems and marketing and all those exciting things to achieve double-digit growth. But in this video I explain that the health of two documents in your business – your “report cards” – are the most important things.

When you really take the time to fully understand every line of your balance sheet and your profit and loss statement, that is when you start to really take control of your business.

You don’t need to become a chartered accountant, you just need to know the right questions to ask your bookkeeper and be on top of exactly who in your organisation is accountable for every pound going in and out.

Then your business can truly become an asset rather than just another job for yourself.

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

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 talk about today is your report card. Now over the last 10 years or so working with hundreds of businesses across different sectors, helping them achieve significant growth for themselves. I constantly remind my team and our clients that, yes, we can do all exciting things. We can talk about systems, we can talk about marketing, we can talk about sales. All the things you can think of in the business, but at the end of the day what really matters is the report card and how healthy the report card is looking.

What is your business report card?

Now what I mean by that is the report card that you have at the end of the month, at the end of the quarter, at the end of the year is your profit and loss statement and your balance sheet. And what really matters is that how healthy those two statements are looking because all the activities, all the strategies that is being looked at and talked about and acted on should culminate into producing the desirable healthy the report card.

One of the simple things that I want to talk about today is actually what is it that you can do and leverage your other team players to make sure that we all are moving in the same direction to achieve that end result. Now, most of the business owners they focus on the sales, they focus on maybe the GM net profit and yes the cash in the bank, as far as the balance sheet is concerned, though there is so much more detail that needs to be looked at. But just keeping things at a very very basic level and these are the key things which people look at. But the point is that there’s so many variables that come into the picture to determine that there is the right level of net profit, there is the right level of the cash in the bank and of course the overall value of the business.

Who is responsible for each line?

Now what you need to do is that if you look at your profit loss statement and balance sheet you will see different items sitting there. And the question that you’ve to ask is “Who is accountable for this line item in my profit and loss statement?” What I mean by that is, for example, who’s accountable to make sure that your cost of goods or services is in control? Who’s the person who should be accountable for making sure we’re not spending too much on stationery or on vehicles or on parking costs. 

There are so many line items and you need to have clear accountability for each line item because what I have seen many times is that by the time that your line finishes, there are leaks happening at different levels which look so small but when they come together it can have a significant impact on the hard work and on the report card.

Do it – draw out your business report card!

I would really like you to draw out your report cards, have a look at each line that’s sitting there, and ask yourself a question. Do I need to make someone accountable? Or the person who’s accountable, is he or she doing the right job that you are happy with, which will ensure that, yes, we are making the most of the things that we’re doing in our business, the efforts they’ve been putting in to have a successful business.

And look, one more thing, if you want someone from outside to look at things in a very objective way then maybe you should think about coaching. If you want someone to give you the strategies to actually make sure there are no leaks, strong consistent growth, with good profits and good cash flow, and so you can do the things that you absolutely love to do in your personal life, then please feel free to reach out. We will be very happy and privileged to serve you.

Want to start scoring A*s?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionIt can be overwhelming at first, realising all the facets of your business you need to become aware of as growth starts happening.

If you book a complimentary initial strategic review of your business, we can explore whether our business coaching strategies would actually be useful for your business.

Your Website Has More Traffic This Week


As the leader of your business, what is your awareness of the actual operations of your business? Do you have a bird’s-eye view with an understanding of the overall picture but not the specifics, or are you down on the ground, plugging away at individual parts with an intimate understanding of each turn of the cog?

Business owners who successfully maintain growth have the former rather than the latter.

Do you know the answer to whether your site had more traffic this week as compared to last week? Or this same week last year?

Do you know if the marketing campaign that you started last month has directly led to the leads you’ve received this month, or did they come from somewhere else? Do you know which link on the email you sent out last week was most clicked on?

There is a range of tools and processes that you are likely already using in your business to keep it ticking. When you were in start-up stage, you most likely will have been that engineer that is running around, knowing exactly which lever to pull and exactly when. As you grow, and you start recruiting, you must start to step away from the levers, start focusing on the dials instead, and architect the overall machine.

You should focus on the dashboards and the overall results of the business, not the processes.

There is a tool out there that you can access on your website right now, which will put the numbers right in front of you, so you can start seeing exactly how many people are visiting your website during whatever time frame you choose…

What I’m talking about is Google Analytics, and it is not so much a lever, but more like a set of instruments of measurement. Google Analytics is the set of wings that will let you soar above your digital marketing and give you that bird’s-eye view on all of your digital efforts.

Let me give you four reasons why Google Analytics is a tool that every business owner should be using and understanding:

1. It’s Free!

I am not going to lie – there are better web analytics tools than Google Analytics out there. But Google Analytics is free. It lets you gain in-depth insight about your company’s online activities at no cost.

It would make sense to get more advanced analytics software if that kind of information is going to give you a return that pays off. Otherwise, why would you waste the budget when Google Analytics comes at no cost?

Business coaching often comes down to helping business owners weigh up the balance – marketing is investment, not a cost, but knowing what is a good investment means understanding the return on that investment.

If your business isn’t performing complex analysis on your data to eke out specific returns on your business, then Google Analytics will serve your needs.

2. You’re Getting Information From Google

Anyone who has any sort of digital activity should know about the term “Search Engine Optimisation” or SEO. Sometimes it’s known as SEM – search engine marketing. This is essentially a marketing channel whereby you are trying to show up in in the search results on search engines organically (i.e. you aren’t paying to be there).

This has the obvious benefits of that if someone is specifically looking for what you do, and you appear on the search results, they’re likely to be a good lead.

And since Google has a market share of 85.74% as of April 2017 (according to Statista), the only engine you really want to focus on is Google.

And if you are trying to boost your SEO for Google, doesn’t it make sense to find out how Google itself is looking at your website?

Ta da – Google Analytics gives you exactly that. So if you are doing any sort of SEO activity, then Google Analytics is only going to improve that.

3. There Is An Abundance of Support

The great thing about Google Analytics is that it is really popular, and Google is massive. This means that there are plenty of online resources available to ensure you can get as much nuanced education in it as you want.

There’s no need to pay someone for training. There’s no need to order a special manual. There is plenty of support for using and understand Google Analytics to the nth degree.

Whether you just want to know what it is capable of, or you want to delve deeper and use it for complex data analyses, you will easily be able to find the tools and resources you need online.

Just a thought: your competitors are probably learning about Google Analytics, so this may well be one of the things that will determine whether you are falling behind or staying ahead of them.

4. You Can Test and Measure EVERYTHING

If you are doing marketing without being able to test and measure the results of that marketing, then you are essentially stabbing in the dark and hoping you hit something.

Google Analytics shines a light on your digital activity – IF you know how to read it.

You can track where people are coming from as they land on your website, what they do when they are on it and on what page they leave it (amongst many other things).

You can use the data to test and measure the effectiveness of almost any kind of online marketing, and pick out when something has suddenly worked well, and when something has completely tanked.

This gives you extreme power to hone that marketing investment and ensure you are putting your money into the channels and strategies that are giving you actual return (and not perceived return).

Want to Know Your Website’s Visitor Numbers?

If you haven’t yet got Google Analytics running on your website (or, worse, don’t even know whether you have it or not!) then now is the time to get it sorted.

Even if you do not plan to use it or look at these numbers until later, you have to set it up now.

The reason being that Google Analytics cannot start tracking any information until after the code has been installed. It cannot look at historical information – so prioritise just getting the code onto your site.

Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to do so – like I said before, there is plenty of help. If you have a web developer, they should know how to do this really easily. If you are on a WordPress site, you can do this easily with a plugin. And most other websites will have some sort of function that makes it as easy as copying and pasting the code from Google Analytics into a box on your website that puts the code onto every page on your website (inside what is known as a <head> tag).

Once you strap on these Google Analytics wings, I hope you can learn to take to the skies above your business, and start seeing where you can target and hone your digital marketing and become a true business leader.

Not convinced Google Analytics is for you?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionThere are a number of tools and strategies that we put forward for business owners to use in their businesses when we are coaching them.

These are specifically chosen for where their business is and what their goals are.

The best way to discover whether Google Analytics or any other tool is what you need right now, is to book a complimentary session with us and let us take a look at what kind of tools could be helping your business see double-digit growth in the next 6 months.

Book a Free Strategic Review

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 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.

3 Key Figures For Your Mid-Year Review

If there’s three things you should be doing in the middle of the year, it’s reflecting, reviewing and remapping your next steps.

In this video, I give you pointers on key numbers in your business that you should know and track closely. In fact these numbers, are always included in the dashboard that I review regularly with my business coaching clients.

These are not only important for measuring your level of success, but they are also critical for helping you align your compass to point towards even greater growth for the rest of the year.

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, this is that time of the year when doing this one thing can help you actually have the corrective measure in your business or build on the momentum that you already have.

And that one thing that I am talking about is reflection, reflecting on your business performance through the number lengths.

Now three simple things – three simple things that you can do to analyse your numbers and to see what needs to be done. And I would specifically focus on income statement, also called P and L – Profit of Loss.

So the first thing you need to look at is look at the actuals of the first six months compared to your budget. And the first thing to focus on is the overheads – see what is the deviation, because that’s easy to correct or easy to identify the areas of focus.

The second thing that you need to straight away look at is your GM – Gross Margin. How are your margins looking? They should be looking better, compared to your budgets or pretty much on track.

And the final thing that you’d want to look at is the sales. You understand, and you obviously want the upside on sales to make sure you are doing well. Let me just peel another layer of sales – when you’re analysing your sales, look at two other things. Break it down into your existing customers, or clients/sales. Because you want to make sure there is good amount of retention, and ideally more build-up on that that they are doing more business with you as far as your existing clients are concerned.

So that’s an important distinction to make, rather than lumping the whole sales in one thing. And the second level of analysis you need to do is new business sales. How many new clients did you acquire? What has been the average pound value? It should be healthy. And once you look at these three fundamentals to start off and then peeling the layers of sales further, to make sure you have some very clear input for moving forward – it will help you have more confidence, that your first half of the year has gone well and you’re in control of the next half of the year.

But make sure you do something about it before another year just passes by and you’re left wondering saying, “Where did those twelve months just go?” Because I’m sure you would want to end this year with a high note, and with a good feeling.

Need guidance for an effective business review?

It can be difficult sitting down with a blank paper to plan for the next quarter for your business, let alone the year.

At our Strategic Growth Intensive, we roll up the sleeves and get in there with you to help you build a plan and work out how to execute it.

7 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Business

how-to-increase-value-of-business-jeweller Countless entrepreneurs and business owners’ dreams are to create a successful venture, sell it, and retire. However, selling a successful business is not something you should jump into when the first offer comes through. Just like any sale, selling your business is all about getting as much out of the sale as possible. During this process, your business will be scrutinised in every way possible by a number of valuers, banks, and lending institutions. Ensuring that you get the highest return from the sale is about making sure your business is worth as much as possible. So how do you increase the value of a business? Here we give you some tips that may help.

1) Reduce Customer Concentration

Business coaches will always tell you that in order to increase the value of a business, you need to ensure that no single customer exceeds 15 percent of your cashflow. When you rely on a low number of customers, the risks associated with your business increase. Therefore, constantly strive to spread your cashflow concentration thinner, and hedge your bets on more than just one or two main clients. If you are really unable to do so, at least make sure you protect your revenue by creating layers through signing contracts and officialising agreements you have in place with your customers.

2) SKU Rationalisation

Having an uncontrollable and unprofitable range of SKUs (Stock-Keeping Units) is a sure way to lowering your business’ overall profit margins. I f you want to increase the value of your business, you need to lower you SKU count. You should reduce your high volume, low margin stock and consolidate your most profitable products. By concentrating your efforts on a controllable number of goods, you will make your business more in-demand with potential buyers.

3) Review Marketing Activities

Before selling your business, review all of your marketing and advertising activities to ensure that you are getting the highest ROI on these investments and you are not making any glaring mistakes. If you do not have the processes in place to measure such activities, this is the best time to develop them. When you have a clear picture of how your marketing is performing, consolidate your marketing investments, review, and optimise. By ensuring that you get the best bang for your buck – with a clearly identified niche, target person, and social media strategy – you will be easing the uncertainty of potential buyers as your message and targeting will be honed to the right people. If aligning your marketing is your major problem at the moment, you may want to join the MarketingCLUB to get some direct advice on improving your strategies.

4) Reduce Your Costs

We live in a world post-financial crisis, which means investors are generally wary of where they spend their money. One of the first things they will look at when valuing a business, is its cost structure. You need review all of your fixed and variable costs to ensure that your margins are as healthy as they can be. You should empower your managers and employees to explore and highlight where the company might be over-spending. After conducting your reviews, enforce discipline in expenditure by outlining how much and on what each department should be spending moving forward. Create accountability within your workforce to ensure that no one loses sight of this critical aspect of your business’ profitability.

5) Efficiency Through Processes

As the business owner, buyers often see that the company’s most prized asset is you. Without you at the helm of the organisation, uncertainty could potentially spread through the business. However, we have always said that a truly successful business is a profitable one that can run without you. If you want someone to feel safe in buying your business from you, you must ensure that your business has seamless and efficient processes in place so that you team can operate the business without your constant presence. Take the time to review and develop your current processes, create new ones, and most importantly, document them. Leverage is a critical concept we teach in business coaching to successfully run a business. By ingraining these systems into your business structure, you give potential buyers no reason to doubt the company’s capabilities without you.

6) Employees Can Make Or Break Any Company

High employee turnover is one of the biggest worries that new owners have when buying a business. Without experienced employees, the stability of the company will be called into question, as years of know-how and specific skillsets will have just walked out the door. To build your company’s value, you should have a high quality workforce that is loyal not just to you but to the company as well. Besides ensuring that you hire the right type of people in the first place (you can download our very effective recruitment process here), you need to give them a reason to stay. Incentivise your employees with long-term rewards attached to the company’s success, such as equity ownership, or bonus plans tied to profits. Always know who your key employees are, and if you are looking to sell, ensure that you have clear transition foundations laid out so they will not blindly leave with you.

7) Tidy Up The Business

First impressions, even when buying a business, truly do matter. The first thing which potential buyers will notice will not be your business model or your processes, but your business’ physical structure. Prior to any sale, make sure that your office, factory, warehouse, machinery, etc. are looking their very best. Just like any open house, make your business look spotless, and you will be starting off on the right foot. This may seem like simple and superficial element. However, we are fully aware of how people make decisions based on emotion, not logic, and similarly, a buyer’s decision is heavily affected by impression, no matter how impressive the systems. These are just a handful of tips for increasing the value of a business, especially if you intend to sell. Remember, as an entrepreneur, you have given a large chunk of your life to developing something great, make sure that when you let someone else take the wheel, you give your creation every chance it has to remain great. That is what buyers are looking for. 

Find out the value of your business

If you are planning on selling your business, it is a good idea to get an independent assessment of the valuation of your business. As business coaches in London, we offer highly accurate 23-page report on the value of your business.  
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