Business Owners, Drivers and Lovers

Monday, August 30th, 2021

Research by HBR1 shows that many managers (and by extension, business owners) are unable to judge objectively how well or poorly their business is run. In fact, the research found zero correlation between self-perceived management quality and actual performance. The same report finds that only 6% of businesses are well run, and that the difference […]

Formulating your beliefs

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

If asked what is critical to their business, most leaders and managers will include “employees” in their reply. They understand that business is about people.  With the right people, a clear and worthwhile aim and good leadership you can achieve anything. If business is about people, how can it be reduced to formulas?  More to […]

Generalising from the Specific

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

An old client contacted me recently. He was feeling stuck again and thinking about getting some more coaching. Thanks to his drive and ability his business has grown by about 500% since we last worked together three years ago. He has overcome the barrier of just expecting employees to know what to do, and has […]

Leadership Traits?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Traits as a leadership model is a bit passe but… I was talking to a business owner recently. She wants to improve her leadership skills. She asked a bit of a googly: “What inspired you about people who led you?” All the great managers I have been lucky enough to work for flashed in front […]

All That HR Stuff

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

I was talking recently to a client about delegation and helping staff take more responsibility. Like many owners, she has become something of a bottleneck in her business, with most decisions and some critical activities reliant upon her. I explained how implementing things like organisation charts, job descriptions, processes and objectives helps to empower employees, […]

A Simpler Business Growth Model

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Whilst preparing a client proposal recently I referenced an HBR paper on the stages of business growth (The Five Stages of Small Business Growth by Neil C. Churchill and Virginia L. Lewis link). It’s rather old but remains, like all good management models, relevant today. It provides a useful tool for gaining insight into an […]

The Formula for Business

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Quite a lot of my time is spent helping business owners develop their management team. In a small business, my client may have had limited management training and the potential managers even less – so they are coming from a long way back in terms of becoming capable and accountable managers. The effort is worthwhile. […]

Successful Business Owners Are Political Animals

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

I have often heard business owners decry “the politics” they see as being inherent in bigger businesses. The implication is clear: smaller businesses are free of that kind of skullduggery and self-seeking. The fact is that many business owners get stuck because they don’t understand that, past a certain size, they need to include political […]

The Productivity Goalposts Just Moved

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

I was speaking to a business owner last week. He had had 50% of his staff on furlough but has managed to run at about 90% of revenue.  He was wondering what to do now that furlough is winding down. His explanation for the higher productivity was that he “kept the A team at work”. […]

More Sales Bol**cks

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Growing a sales team is a challenge that every business must overcome if it is to progress past the level of sales that the founder can sustain. Unfortunately, this challenge proves too much for many businesses. These businesses are marked by a succession of people with the title “salesperson” who arrive full of hope and […]

Let Go Of The Tools

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

One of my clients had a revelation during our last meeting. I’m not sure if it was a welcome one or not. He has been struggling to find time to make some of the changes he needs to make. At the start of this meeting he confessed that he’d made little progress because he had […]

Gotta love numbers

Monday, June 29th, 2020

My client is planning to move workshop to accommodate his growing business. He was trying to work out what he needed to do to cover the additional rent. He has always managed profitability and cash flow pretty well using spreadsheets but he was struggling to produce something that told him what he needed to know […]

Resuscitating Your Business

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

If you are preparing to bring your business out of lockdown here are a few things you might like to think about: If your business has in effect shut down then treat it like a start-up: First thing is a budget and cash flow forecast that shows how I get through the next 12 months […]

Pandemic-resilient Business

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

There’s a lot of talk about post-lockdown just now – as if we are ever going to go back to what used to be normal. Uncontrolled population growth, encroachment on the natural habitats of different species and a global economy say that this pandemic is the first of many. Long vaccine leadtimes and partial, temporary […]

An Unexpected Benefit

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

The story is that Dougla Bader, the World War II fighter pilot, took up golf after he lost both his legs. He discovered that the stance forced on him by his handicap meant that he always hit the ball dead straight. I was reminded of this by a conversation with one of my clients. This […]

Leadership and Growth in SMEs

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

I thought I’d post an update on my (still entirely unscientific) analysis of the relationship between growth rates and leadership traits in SMEs. The silver columns are high growth businesses, the orange are medium growth businesss and the blue, low growth businesses. The three traits most correlated with high growth are entrepreneur, driven and leader. […]

Management Teams and Evil Plots

Friday, January 10th, 2020

Why Should Business Owners Develop an Effective Management Team? As an SME grows it becomes more difficult for the owner to control and decide everything in the way they used to.  They start to become the main constraint on further growth. Sensible business owners address this issue by delegating more.  They introduce a more formal […]

Why Business Growth Stalls

Friday, December 6th, 2019

Labour is promising investment in leadership and management training for business owners if elected. They are responding perhaps to calls from business associations to help the accidental manager and eradicate the long tail of low-productivity small businesses. They will be following a long tradition of government investment in management training; presumably they will follow the […]


Friday, November 1st, 2019

The individual wealth of business owners, and the overall wealth of the country, is being damaged to the tune of billions of pounds each year because many small businesses suffer from low productivity. This article makes the case that the main reason for this low productivity is poor leadership.  The owners of small businesses do […]

Goering was right

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Goering once said “When I hear the word culture I reach for my revolver”. I’m a bit like that.  When business owners talk about culture, I know that I’m in for a platitude-strewn conversation.  I’d put a small bet on the words “customer-focused” appearing within the next few sentences. Too many business owners seem to […]

Eleven barriers to delegation

Monday, September 16th, 2019

Delegation is the single most important skill for a business owner to master (discuss). That makes it depressing that so many business owners are pants at it.  Here are some excuses and reasons I’ve been given with my responses – feel free to add your own: My employees will make mistakes.  Of course they will.  […]


Friday, August 9th, 2019

My client has worked hard to put systemisation in place. His managers now have clear targets.  He runs a monthly management meeting with all of them where performance is reviewed.  He is spending his time in these meetings questioning, listening and coaching, not talking and telling. And yet…at our last meeting he told me that […]

Growing without hiring

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Background – the Employment Challenge For most SMEs, getting and keeping the right people is the biggest constraint on growth. This problem rears its head particularly at the systemisation stage; that transition between total control by the founder and the emergence of a self-sustaining and scalable organisation run by a management team. Unemployment levels at […]

Avoiding leadership

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Some of my business owner clients look shifty when leadership comes up in the conversation.  They don’t see themselves as leaders – even though they are. I explain that leadership doesn’t mean they have to suddenly become Napoleon or Gandhi, but it might help them to understand what leadership looks like and do the things […]

Don’t waste time on appraisals

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

I was talking to my client in his new office on the second floor of his new factory and HQ. His business is growing fast. He explained that he was concerned that he hadn’t had time to “do all the HR things I should do” for the past couple of years. Two years ago, business […]

With a single bound…

Monday, February 11th, 2019

My client, the new Managing Director of a specialist PR firm, had sent me some documentation in advance of a strategy workshop I was running for them.  Unfortunately, it seemed as if one of the files was corrupted; when I printed off the organisation chart the boxes with job titles were there, but the connecting […]

What plan?

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Do you have capable project managers in your business? I don’t necessarily mean people with the title “Project Manager” but people who know how to run a project. Project Management is one of those things like marketing, or skiing, or hanging wallpaper, that look pretty simple to people who have never tried to do it. […]

Fill your pipe

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

I was helping my client use their computer systems to provide useful management information. We were talking about project tracking and how, by recording the status of each project and the date that it changed they could create a simple traffic-light system that would show at a glance where things were going awry. We went […]


Thursday, November 8th, 2018

My client had hired, at significant expense, a new Operations Director. After a month he was already unhappy with his new hire’s performance.  I asked him how he was assessing this and the answer was, in essence, based on what he saw and heard; how he felt about what she was spending her time on.  […]

I don’t trust my employees

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Often when talking to clients about delegation they work around to telling me that one barrier is “I don’t trust my employees”.  My normal response is to ask “Do you think they trust you?”  We generally then get to the point that my client isn’t accusing his staff of stealing each others’ sandwiches from the […]

Hired a lot of clowns?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

When I first started working with this client he was sceptical about the quality of his managers. Like many business owners who have become the bottleneck in their business he was desperate to get out from under all the things that, apparently, only he could do and the decisions that, apparently, only he could make.  […]

Business intelligence – crap data for the masses

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

One of my clients has been approached by an old colleague who now sells software. Specifically, BI or business intelligence software. It seems to be one of a raft of products aimed at SMEs and purported to help managers make sense of data. The salespeople (or avatars) usually refer to this as “big data”, whether […]

You are reading a Top Ten Business Blog

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

I’m pleased to announce that this blog has been recognised as one of the top ten business blogs by feedspot.com More details here

What is the point of job descriptions?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

What is the point of job descriptions? That is a question I am sometimes asked by business owners. Another is “Are these job descriptions ok?” which, if you think about it, can only be answered after answering the first question. The point of job descriptions is the same as the point of a vision statement, […]

Did anyone see that coming?

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Working with growing SMEs makes one keenly aware of how fragile some businesses are – of small business risk.  Of course, businesses of any size can be caught out by unpredictable events but small businesses are often hit by things that were entirely predictable. In the corporate world they have formal risk management processes and […]

Why employees leave

Friday, April 27th, 2018

I have had a number of conversations lately about why employees leave. Recently a client told me he was holding focus groups with his employees to establish what they looked for in an employer.  In common with most businesses he is in a tough market for finding and retaining staff.  I congratulated him on engaging […]

SME growth and leadership

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

First the health warning:  Just because there is a graph in this post about SME growth and leadership doesn’t mean it’s science. I have been developing a new self-assessment tool for business owners who work with me.  It seemed sensible to look back at previous clients and derive a range of factors from that experience.  […]

Unexpected consequences

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Recently I replaced my car. The salesman did a good job.  I loved the car, he just kept quiet during the test drive, he was quick and unfussy producing the price and the price was attractive.  He made it easy to say yes. The showroom had the usual faux-luxury trappings:  Fancy chairs, espresso machine, glossy […]

Do I make myself clear?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Recently I attended a client’s management meeting.  His business is growing and he has promoted someone to run the field engineering team, a job he previously did himself. Before the meeting my client had expressed two concerns:  Firstly, that the new manager was not spending enough time on the engineering part of the role (the […]

The Marketing Layer Cake

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

A client was discussing his marketing function recently.  It was outsourced and he was considering hiring a marketing manager and bringing it in-house.  This prompted a discussion about what he meant by “marketing” and what the new role would have to include. The word “marketing” is universally used to describe a whole bundle of activities […]

Developing Managers

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

As your business grows you become more and more of a bottleneck.  No matter how many hours you work, and how many staff you hire, the things that only you know how to do, and the decisions that only you know how to make, become the things that slow everything else down and your business […]

Why New Hires Fail

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

When small businesses hire people who have worked in larger businesses to come in at a senior level there are often mis-matched expectations that can result in an expensive failure. As the business owner you will be expecting that the new person will “show us how it should be done” and “make us more productive”. […]

How to motivate millenials

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

How to motivate millenials seems to be a hot topic.  I have a view on this but here is a thoughtful perspective from Jimmy Rodela: Millennial workers having been getting a bad rap. For the past several years, members of the Generation Y have been regarded as spoiled brats with a bloated sense of self-entitlement. […]

All That Sales Bollocks

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

I was asked by Jimmy Rodela to contribute a tip to his sales blog recently.  All the contributions were thoughtful and thought-provoking but all took a different perspective on the topic of sales.  It is hard to imagine any other facet of business sustaining such a wide range of opinion, apparently indefinitely. What other business […]

Change by stealth

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

It is inevitable that when you start to introduce a business change such as systemisation into a business you will meet with resistance from your employees. In some cases these will be people who before now have been compliant or even well-motivated employees.  Sometimes the change process exacerbates a problem that already existed. Your employees […]

Distilled business coaching

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

One of the things that makes business coaching so interesting and rewarding is the sheer range of problems the coach is faced with. Each coaching meeting is approached with a sense of anticipation and each coaching conversation is unique and challenging. Systemisation coaching is at the consultancy end of the spectrum and is largely pattern-recognition […]

What if my business grows and I don’t?

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

What if my business grows and I don’t? This week a long-standing client, entrepreneurial to his fingertips, who has tripled turnover in the time I have known him, said: “I have decided the sweetspot for employing people is between £18k and £30k”. We were talking about shifting invoicing responsibility into Finance at the time and […]

Why employees don’t listen

Friday, August 18th, 2017

A client is making great strides with his systemisation – but he was a little disappointed with the results of a recent planning meeting with his managers – he thinks his employees don’t listen. They went through the business plan and discussed every manager’s one number. Sales have one number to hit.  Design have one […]

Running aground with every tide

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Three recent events prompt me to return to the topic of cash flow forecasting. Firstly, a client who is perpetually short of cash in his business. He has had some bad payers and a couple of bad debts but we have sorted his credit control processes out now. Last time we met he was still […]

Time, he flexes like a..what was it again?

Friday, July 28th, 2017

One of my clients raised a key challenge in his business this week; making time to manage people. “I’m really happy with the new management hires but I’m worried that we are so busy I don’t have the time to look after them properly and they are becoming a bit rudderless.” My client is systemising his […]

Simple stuff that works

Friday, June 30th, 2017

I have been helping clients with a couple of systemisation issues lately. The first, a manufacturer and installer, said that he wanted to introduce a culture of caring for the customer into his business.  In pursuit of this he has introduced some KPIs around delivery times and defects and held meetings with his employees to […]

I’ve done the Vision

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

I spent some time yesterday talking to a client who has big plans for his business. He recognises that he must change the way he manages and find a way to get things done through other people.  That’s why he has started to systemise his business. We spent time talking about the performance of his […]

The marketing beachhead

Monday, May 15th, 2017

I spent some time discussing marketing with a client recently.  He runs an IT support business and is facing the challenge of breaking out of the referral beachhead.  All growing businesses need to do this to grow beyond the few customers that know and trust them.  They need to develop their marketing story and the […]

My business is different – no really it is

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

I’ve yet to come across a client who doesn’t think their business is uniquely complicated. “Ah yes but my business is different…” they will say when we start to discuss systemisation. Of course, each business differs in detail. Each will have its own special problem employees and its own baroque approach to stock or invoicing […]

Lead validation and misleading metrics

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

No doubt the person responsible for marketing within your systemised business has website session and conversion targets – but can these be misleading metrics?  Here is some interesting research from Straight North that shows just how many conversions may not be true conversions at all…. The Critical Importance Of Lead Validation In Internet Marketing Your […]

We are all bricklayers now

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

One of my clients has been unhappy over a couple of recent hires, an architect and a quantity surveyor.  He runs a growing building firm. Neither of them performed the way he expected or wanted them to.  Technically they seemed to know their stuff but they didn’t step up to the plate in terms of […]

Why salespeople hate CRMs

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Contrast these two lists of desires – both relating to people involved in sales: List A Control Visibility Keep all Contact information mine Accurate data More sales now Build future sales List B Freedom Invisibility Keep all Contact information mine No time on admin More sales now More sales now No prizes for guessing that […]

Brexit means …err..

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

At a recent networking event I attended the speaker, a business representative to the EU, asked the business owners present what they wanted from Brexit.  She was confronted by a sea of blank faces.  This was hardly surprising as we’d just listened to her explain for fifteen minutes that no-one involved in Brexit at Westminster […]

Success and Succession

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Close Brothers’ research shows that 4 of the top 10 worries for owner-managed businesses relate to developing the people to take over your business. The good news is that most businesses already have the right people to hand. The bad news is that most business owners don’t know how to develop a high-performance management team […]

Systemisation – what’s in it for me?

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Recently, a client engaged in systemising their business asked me to give a brief presentation to their staff on the changes they were making.  As with any change programme, the engagement of staff in the change is critical to its success. This is what I told them: Why change: Companies need to grow.  Growth develops […]

Our brave boys

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

So – after the pain and frustration (but – admit it – not  that much surprise) the inquest has already started. The usual suspects: Effort Our players are tired because they play too many games Everyone else’s players have a better attitude – ours are all pampered millionaires who don’t care enough Ability Everyone else’s […]

Systemising your business

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Want to read two excellent books about contrasting approaches to systemising your business? “Traction”, by Gino Wickman, describes this approach: Vision – make sure all your employees understand and share your vision for the business People – make sure you have the right people in the right seats Data – make sure your business is […]

Management – a dirty word?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Comparing and contrasting usually offers insights. Comparing the progress my clients make on systemising their business has led me to try to identify the common factors that help or hinder this process – business systemisation factors. The things that the quicker systemisors have in common? They are good communicators, good with staff They prioritise and […]

Procurement – the Devil’s work?

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

So your biggest client has a new Procurement Director – and your business is looking like part of the collateral damage. The new PD’s first step is to reduce the size of the approved supplier list (removing you) and to make your best end-user contacts jump through lots more hoops before they can buy your […]

Quantum management

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Physicists (at least some of them) tell us that the multiverse is deterministic and that randomness (or uncertainty) is simply our subjective experience of our own particular quantum outcomes in an infinity of outcomes. Scientifically correct (probably) but not a fat lot of use when businesses are faced with …well…uncertainty. Recently, a typically insightful and […]

Agile sales

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Agile is an approach to software development that has been evolved to avoid huge IT projects that don’t deliver what is needed. The idea is that working, useful pieces of functionality are delivered in small stages typically lasting 3-4 weeks. The teams are small and self managing within each stage (someone with suitable experience is […]

Systemisation – practical or conceptual?

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Over time, as I have worked with business owners and entrepreneurs to systemise their businesses, my understanding of this process has changed. Originally I thought that what I was doing was helping my clients to make some changes in the way they think and behave. Whilst these might range from helping them to understand how […]

Sales generosity

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

I was struck recently by the contrasting sales fortunes of two of my clients. They both started in the same place – a familiar place for many business owners – they were the only people in the business who could successfully sell. Both businesses had had a succession of salespeople who had failed so the […]

How well does your Board function?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

How well does your Board function? If your answer is “Not very” or “I’m sorry how would I know?” then you are not alone. Plenty of SMEs have strategic functions that work haltingly if at all. Here are some red flags to look for… Members of the Board were selected just because they report to […]

Does your business need a strategy?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Does your business need a strategy? Yes, if you are trying to grow your business beyond sales to a few referral customers. Yes, if you want to move business growth beyond your personal relationships with clients. Yes, if you want to capture and exploit what is different and better about what you do and how […]

Do young employees have differently-wired brains?

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Do your young employees have differently-wired brains? Do your young employees want different things from work and life when compared to your more mature employees? Is the frustration over the attitude of younger staff felt by many of my business owners clients something new?  Or were our bosses in the 70s/80s/90s bitching about “schools not […]

Why your Marketing Manager is Failing

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

The word “marketing” is universally used to describe a whole bundle of activities designed to generate business enquiries or leads. This generalisation is not useful when it comes to recruiting marketing staff or outsourcing marketing activities. Traditional breakdowns of marketing focus on stages (awareness/interest/commitment) or the mix (price/position/promotion) or the proposition (niche/pain/proposition). These are all […]

Developing your management team

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

One of the many differences between a small business and one that is growing into a medium-sized one is the collective nature of responsibility at the top level. In a small business the owner takes all the major decisions.  Employees with the title of “manager” or even “director” do not see it as their role […]

Immigration and business growth

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I heard two contrasting stories last week. The first was from a business owner.  Not just any business – a manufacturing business.  Not just any manufacturing business but one that exports 90% of what it makes.  The kind of business growth that the UK needs. He and his fellow-directors want to retire in a few […]

Trapped by success? Try business systemisation.

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

My clients are successful business owners and entrepreneurs.  They’ve all grown their business through hard work and natural talent….but They’ve reached a point where suddenly they are the bottleneck.  They struggle to grow the business beyond their own efforts and beyond their own control. Staff may be willing but it’s difficult to get them to […]

What is your excuse for not systemising your business?

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

One of my clients was struggling to systemise her business. We’d worked through how to set a simple 12-month budget and how to develop her pricing model. Despite promises she hadn’t made any progress on these between meetings. When we discussed this her initial response was that she had been too busy. Further probing got […]

Why Business Plans are a Waste of Time

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Most business plans are a waste of time. They are irrelevant to the way the leaders of SMEs run their businesses. They are linear texts that don’t match the picture of their business that business leaders carry in their heads. They are sets of purely financial numbers that are frozen in time and don’t explain […]

How effective is your Management Team?

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Why is it critical for an SME to develop an effective management team? As SMEs grow it becomes more difficult for the founder(s) to run the business on their own – they need to find ways to involve other people in defining business vision and strategy Delegation means managing through objectives and key performance indicators […]

Business planning is not optional

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

I was talking to a business owner yesterday about his business. Just about everything that could go wrong was going wrong. Sales were below breakeven and he has had to get rid of his under-performing telesales team. A contract for a big customer was leaking profit and damaging the business’ reputation. They had no finance […]

Marketing is crap, selling is all you need.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

I advertised an event via email recently – a workshop on marketing planning. As usual I got a fair number of direct replies as well as some bookings.  Some of the replies were the usual sort of rudeness about spam and what I had to say – these people seem to have several minutes to […]

Account planning – a systemised approach

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Why do you need Account Planning? – Account planning (or account management) provides a structured way for you to manage the development of an existing or target customer relationship – The aim is to increase or protect the sales from that account – It ensures that you capture the information essential to developing the relationship […]

Innovation is not optional

Friday, October 10th, 2014

August ONS figures show a continued fall in unemployment across the UK and in our region. Each new job is great news for the person who gets it and for their family and overall we must be pleased that the recovery continues. There is a downside, however. Recently I attended a business briefing with a […]

A tool for competitor analysis

Monday, September 29th, 2014

A business coaching client of mine has been doing some competitor analysis.  He is planning to launch a new product so he had his marketing person look at the competition. The results were useful but unstructured – along the lines of “..well we think our function x is a bit better than competitor A’s function […]

Is more information better?

Friday, August 1st, 2014

I met with one of my business coaching clients recently – they were concerned that they didn’t have as much cash in the business as they expected. I asked them to prepare some information for the meeting: Last 12 months turnover, gross profit, net profit by month Last 12 months working capital showing WIP, debtors, […]

Given up on your USP?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

At my seminar today we talked (amongst other things) about understanding your unique selling proposition, or USP. My contention is that all successful businesses understand their niche and have a sales proposition that is uniquely attuned to that niche. The challenge back from some attendees (owners of growing businesses) was that it was impossible to […]

Great strategy – why don’t your staff buy into it?

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

A client of mine hired me because his staff weren’t performing up to his expectations. He’s a smart cookie and has been running a modestly successful business for many years. He’d read The E-Myth and implemented strong processes. His strategy was well thought-out and he’d taken all his staff out of the office for a […]

Getting great employees for your SME

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

The limiting factor in the growth and success of any small business is its staff.  The right staff can take on responsibility, innovate, sell, keep customers happy and make your life as the business owner much easier.  The wrong staff can drain you and the rest of your employees of energy and time. SMEs often […]

Is your business innovative?

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Innovation becomes more difficult as organisations get bigger. Resistance to change can come from vested interests, ingrained management habits, investment controls, risk aversion and the short-termism of shareholders. Many smaller businesses by definition have risk-takers like you at the helm and so should be more innovative – but often lack the resources or skills to […]

Systemisation: Raise your employees’ horizons

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Wrapping up a meeting with one of my business coaching clients today provided one of those moments of insight.  We had spent an hour working on employee performance management and delegation and were chatting about things outside work.  My client was describing the problems he was having with some modifications to his house.  He was […]

Employee Engagement

Monday, March 10th, 2014

What is employee engagement? An engaged employee is one who is committed to the aims of the organisation, who believes in its values, feels part of a team and so wants to give more than the bare bones of the employment contract or the task in hand calls for. These are the employees who make […]

Real USPs mean real sales

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

I was working with a client recently and he was telling me that he was unhappy with the performance of a new salesperson.  She was new to sales and he was coaching her as she moved from inside selling to accompanied appointments. I asked him about his sales technique – what was he actually teaching […]

Leadership and Systemisation

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

I spend my time helping business owners systemise their businesses.  Systemising a business has leadership at its heart.  Here are some thoughts based on that experience and a recent IoD event on leadership: Leadership requires vision – but you do not need to be a visionary.  For leadership to work across an organisation, other leaders […]

The sales trap and how to get out of it

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

This month’s story is about how to get out of the sales trap. It has no single customer as hero but is a composite of many customers, who were all trapped by being unable to grow sales and have found a way out of it. It’s a common problem. The business has grown because the […]

Systemisation – Why you need an Operations Manual

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Efficient operations, great customer service and profitable growth require a consistent and proven process which delivers the same result with the same quality time after time.  This has to be maintained no matter how busy you are and no matter how fast the company grows. You cannot rely solely upon individual knowledge and motivation to […]

Use a business advisor who can help you get benefits from IT

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

It is now possible for even the smallest business to deploy sophisticated business computer systems that only a few years ago would have been completely beyond their reach both technically and financially. A few pounds each month gives access to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and even full Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) systems. The potential benefits […]