Posts tagged ‘Business Owner’

Steve Jobs and Bill GatesOn Thursday we heard the news that Steve Jobs died.

He was an incredible businessman, building not just Apple into a huge success, but also Pixar Studios, the creators of Toy Story.

Jobs said that his “goal was to put a dent in the universe, to make a mark in history”

He’s achieved that.  But how he achieved it is worth studying.

 

Apple don’t invent products…

…they figure out how to make products that people will love.

iApple PlanetPod was not the first mp3.  Sony, Creative and a few others created the market before Apple dominated.

iPhone was not the first smart phone.  Yet Palm, Blackberry and Nokia have all suffered through Apple’s innovation.

iPad was not the first tablet computer – Microsoft announced one around 2002, yet it took Apple to make it brilliant.

Apple create a fabulous user experience.  They do this so successfully that they have created a cult following for their products.  People even left flowers at Apple stores worldwide in memory of Jobs – that’s real customer loyalty.

Building Customer Loyalty

Practically every business owner I speak to tells me that their service is what makes them special.  But when asked what in their service that makes them special, they don’t know.

Domino’s let you track the progress of your pizza order online, with each step in the cooking of your dinner indicated by blocks that change colour on screen. It looks very cool and my 10yr old daughter loves it.  This will help them to keep their number 1 in the pizza takeaway business. It is also one of several deliberate innovations that make ordering pizza online from Domino’s a great customer experience. It is so easy to order exactly what you want that we choose Domino’s over other takeaway foods more often.  Like Apple’s products, it’s a joy to use.

Little innovations like this help your customers to be delighted with your service.  It keeps them loyal and your business profitable.

Look for ways to put your business to the front of the queue.  Make little improvements that mark you out from your competition.  Steal ideas from other industries.  But above all, do things that make your customers love you.

Make a dent in the universe.

Warm regards,

Lee Duncan
Tel: 0800 206 2216
Email: lee@leeduncan.com
http://www.leeduncan.com

 

Relevant reading:  Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple & Pixar June 2005 “You’ve got to find what you love

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

 

Everyone in business has heard the term “Cash is King” and understands the importance of cash flow, but when in the day to day ‘busy-ness’ of business it is easy to take your ‘eye off the ball’.

So in these difficult times, if you find yourself in a position where cash flow becomes a matter of urgency rather than a procedural chore, what can you do to turn things around?

Here are my top five quick fixes, each one worthy of a post of its own.

1. Debt Collection

Focusing on getting paid for what you have provided is an obvious place to start. 

Don’t allow customers to improve their cash flow at your cost and don’t get lazy when it comes to implementing rigid credit control procedures. Many ledger clerks are instructed by their managers not to issue payment until a debt has been chased both in writing and verbally, so don’t cut corners or get caught off guard. 

If you are uncomfortable with this discipline or you have accepted that this is not your skill set, outsource it.  I recommend Ken Brown from Direct Route for everything from collecting a single difficult debt to completely managing your sales ledger. 

Also, be sure to focus on servicing customers that do stick to your payment terms.  Don’t forget my previous advice about allowing “he who shouts loudest…” to distract you from those that are key to your success.

2. Improve terms and conditions of sale

Meet with each of your valued customers without delay and renegotiate terms.  By prioritising their needs and building confidence in your business relationship, agreements regarding quick payment, or even payment on delivery can be made. 

If need be, offer an early payment discount to encourage quick settlement.  Often the reduction in margin, is substantailly less than the cost of finance such as overdrafts or the deminished goodwill from not meeting debts as they fall due.

Don’t forget that it costs a lot more to attract and service new business than it does to obtain more business from your current clients.


3.  Get your bank manager onside

Having up to date management accounts, a clearly defined business plan that demonstrates that the current difficulties are short term and building an open, honest business relationship with your bank manager will no doubt create flexibility. 

Once they have built confidence in you as a business owner, they will at short notice be able to offer solutions and support.  Involve your accountant in this process.

4.  Manage suppliers

This aspect is often not given enough attention.  In the same way that you manage customers, prioritise, negotiate and treat your suppliers with respect. 

Being honest with them and honouring any payment arrangements you have agreed with them will keep your integrity and prevent suppliers from ‘digging their heels in’.

Also, if you hold stock, review your processes and speak to your suppliers about delivery times etcetera, they may be able to help you to manage a ‘just in time’ system by offering you a priority service. 

5.  Increase profitability

Certainly not the easiest or quickest approach and one where you might want to seek support from your accountant or a business coach.

Looking at overheads is an obvious point, but how about reviewing historic data to identify which products/services in your sales mix generate the biggest contribution and assign time and effort in pushing these.  Perhaps redirect your marketing budget and reward your team for selling these items or finding innovative ways to deliver these at lower costs.

As well as focusing on your most profitable products/services, take time to identify your most profitable clients

Budgeting can take time, but often some ‘quick wins’ can be discovered by carrying out these accounting exercises.  They can also drive long term process and cash flow improvements. 


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

For more advice on subjects such as this, please ‘join my lists’ for a monthly business support newsletter.

It is a discussion I have had with many of my clients when appraising their progress and looking at how the business is going to grow in the upcoming months.

Once outsourcing has been considered, utilised or perhaps discounted, finding someone to support you and help develop growth has to be the next step, but it is a daunting one. 

 So I have commissioned this post from my good friend, and professional contact Katherine Connolly  of Keeping HR Simple  to help alleviate concerns.


You know you’re too busy….

You know you have a great sales pipeline and you also know that another pair of hands would free up your time.  You want to work on your business as well as in it.  So what’s stopping you from making the leap from business owner to employer?

It doesn’t have to be complicated

Taking on your first employee doesn’t have to be complicated, especially if you prepare for it in advance.  Regardless of the fact that you have a small business, as soon as someone agrees to work for you and you agree to pay them for the work they do, you take on certain responsibilities for them.  That may sound a bit scary but it doesn’t have to be. 

Your obligations

You need to be aware of your obligations, most of which are common sense, and have a plan to meet them. 

 They are as follows:

(i) To pay wages

Sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it, but what would happen if you had a particularly tough month or if a couple of customers don’t pay their bills on time?  You need to have a contingency plan and informing your employee that you can’t pay their wages that month is not enough!  Do you have enough money in the bank to cover at least 3 months salary for them?  It’s really important to communicate with your employee at all times, especially since they will be relying on their salary to make ends meet.

(ii) Not to make unauthorised deductions

You can’t deduct money from an employee’s wages unfairly or without getting their approval in advance (another reason why it’s essential to have an employment contract!)

You can only make deductions from wages in certain circumstances:

  • if there is legal authority to do so, e.g. by Act of Parliament – income tax, National Insurance Contributions etc;
  • by contract of employment which might provide for deductions to be made in certain specific circumstances, e.g. fines for disciplinary offences;
  • or by individual agreement where an employee might agree for the deduction for union subscriptions or to reimburse their employer for overpayment of wages. 

Remember that you will be paying employer’s national insurance on top of the employee’s salary so you will have to include it in your calculations. 

(iv) To take reasonable care of your employee

This is a wide-ranging duty and covers both physical care and psychiatric care (i.e. not to expose employees to psychiatric harm).  As your business grows, this will encompass policies like a zero tolerance approach to discrimination and bullying but that doesn’t mean you should ignore such things until you reach a certain threshold.  The same goes for health and safety – just because you need 5 employees before the law says you need a written health and safety policy doesn’t mean you should ignore your obligations to provide a safe working environment. 

As an example, have you considered where your new employee will work? You may be quite happy working in your spare room or in a garage conversion on the side of your house but you need to put yourself in their position.  If there isn’t room for them to work comfortably and safely, you need to consider other options.

(v) Not to breach mutual trust and confidence

This obligation refers to your working relationship with your employee.  There are three fundamentals that should govern your behaviour as an employer:

  1. Be fair
  2. Be consistent
  3. Be nice


If you practice these without fail, you will find that you’re in the best position to preempt difficult situations and deal with the majority of problems that may arise. 

Don’t be scared to take on your first employee.  Just be prepared! 


Guest author:   Katherine and her partner Jason are successful growing their professional HR consultancy business, by sticking to their core values and Keeping HR Simple

If you have any questions regarding this post, please leave a comment below or contact Katherine and Jason on 0800 458 6582.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

To build successful businesses there are Three Elements all entrepreneurs eventually learn that are essential for increasing revenues and profits.  

Many business owners learn by a ‘trial and error’ approach over a number of years, however the game of business has been very well researched over the years through feedback and study of entrepreneurs who are the best in their field.  Without focus on each of these three areas any business success will require far more effort over a longer period of time.  If you’d like to fast track your own success then read on…

  • 1) The First Element:

The Psychological Approach. Or, more precisely, how your current psychological approach may be holding you back.

You may already have heard of the saying that “your business is a complete reflection of you!”.  If that’s the case then what is showing up for you within your business at the moment?  Do you need more sales?  Do you never have enough time?  Do you have communication issues with your team members?  Do you need to recruit your first team members?  Whatever is ‘showing up’ for you within your business, the most important thing is how you are reacting to ‘what’s showing up’.  Do you tend to blame others or deny there’s a problem?  Or make excuses to justify the lack of performance?

This is sometimes one of the hardest things for a business owner to accept i.e. all of the problems that you are experiencing within your business are as a direct result of you ‘not’ addressing something within that business!  To illustrate this point I have been working with a particular client for a number of years now, and as the business has grown there have been a number of recurring problems that have always been down to  a couple of team members not being quite up for the job. This reflected in the business owner being unable to delegate effectively – and ‘what showed up’ was ‘running round like a headless chicken syndrome’ all of the time.  The business owner didn’t confront the issue (for various personal reasons that we worked through together) and so the problems just wouldn’t go away.  Eventually, however (when the business owner felt ready to make that decision and we’d implemented a couple of new systems within the business) the two team members were replaced and there has been a radical shift in the business performance.  This has also helped the confidence of the owner in two ways: they realised that their that fear (of the unknown) was actually stopping the business from moving forward (plus keeping the owner very busy!) and by addressing this fear they also learned a number of things about themselves that massively increased their own business confidence and productivity.  So this element involves you, your beliefs and you creating strategies and tactics to break through the hidden (yet very real) mental barriers that may be holding you back from achieving further success. 

  • 2) The Second Element:

Your business structure. How your current business structure may be holding you back. There are many areas of your business where you will need watertight systems and methods. This element is more focused on uncovering the current strengths and weaknesses of the strategic side of your business. It will ensure that you have the right strategies and tactics to help you break through the business-related barriers that may be preventing your success. Within the second element there are three focus areas when business growth is your goal. The first of these is:

Sales:

 The key in any business is to make sure that you take the time to understand exactly who your clients are and how they decide to buy.  Everybody has a certain way they love to “buy” from others, so finding out the various personality types and their tendencies will go a long way in making it easier for people to buy from you.  Create a set of systems within your business for sales success.

Marketing: 

Customers won’t buy from you unless they know who you are and why they need you.  It has always amazed me when I go into a business and the business owner is desperate to increase sales and therefore cash flow into the business – and yet they are doing very little effective marketing of their business – because they don’t really understand what ‘marketing’ is or they’re doing the day to day ‘stuff’ that’s not connected with driving the business forward whatsoever!   However we define marketing, in it’s simplest terms it is: The generation of quality leads for the business and the further development of your brand.  Your focus is to choose multiple marketing tactics and develop a marketing system that consistently markets your product or service to your clients.

Management:

 As a business owner you should be looking to spend 80% of your time working strategically ‘on’ your business in the areas of Sales and Marketing.  Any Knowledge, talent and beliefs that you have learnt will be wasted if you are not applying these strategically and tactically to your business.  If you want to grow and sustain that growth, then it’s essential to manage that growth. It’s essential to put in place systems to manage growth, cash, people and working relationships.  How do we know if don’t have this in place?  Because we will forever be reacting to our business and any daily problems that arise.

  • 3) The Third Element:

Although the shortest it’s without doubt the most important: it addresses our need for consistent action. Once you have the right resources and information in place then it’s essential to take action. If you asked me if there was one thing that would separate the masses from successful serial entrepreneursthen it would be this: Fast implementation of ideas. Having an understanding of the first two elements (what may be holding you back psychologically and structurally within your business) is an essential step to achieve change, but without implementing what’s been learnt will inhibit change. This is where so many businesses fall short. Through the lack of implementation of those ideas.

Guest author:  Mike Yates is a local, well respected and proven Business Growth Specialist, International Speaker, Author and Business Coach who I have known personally for many years.  For more valuable information like this please visit 121 Business

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.