And the answer is NOT Covid !!!!

Many, if not most companies work very hard to promote themselves in many ways, attending networking meetings, creating social media posts, employing a sales force even – all targeted at going out to get NEW BUSINESS.

They then ignore, or neglect their current customer base. Here are the top 5 reasons why:

  1. Er, um, I don’t know who my customers are. They come to my web-site, they buy and then they go somewhere else. There is no loyalty any more.
    Answer: I’m not surprised, if you never follow up, never say thank you why would you expect anything else.

  2. My CRM isn’t up to date?
    Answer: Well it should be!!! Your customers are one of your best assets. There are people out there that can automate this for you from your Accounts system BUT remember – the Accounts payable Clerk is most unlikely to be the BUYING person! So make sure you get the name(s) of the people that you would want to talk to again.
    Another route is to delegate it to a member of staff, or a Virtual Assistant

  3. Hasn’t GDPR put a stop to all that?
    Answer: Absolutely NOT. You can contact your customers at any time, to discuss things with them, but yes of course you have to respect and adhere to GDPR

  4. I haven’t got the time
    Answer: I’m sorry, but stop doing other things and get in touch with your customers!! It doesn’t have to be every day, or even every week.  
    If you really have problems, get a VA (Vitrual Assistant) to do it in a structured way. (Yes I know some good VA’s who I am sure would be pleased to help).

  5. Buy “why?” do it, I just don’t get it? My customers come to me.
    Answer: It’s good that customers come to you, and you should be congratulated on that, but how many of the ones that came last week (month, year) are still buying from you? Wouldn’t you just love it if you hade all of them still.

So do it – formulate a plan to
a) know who they are,
b) know how to contact them, and what a good frequency of contact is and
c) DO IT, NOW

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, please get intouch with your questions, or just comment directly. Thank you.

Whats 2020 got in store for you?

So you’ve nearly made it to Christmas and the to-do list is longer than ever and even though it’s more than a week away, everyone seems to have mentally shut-down already. They are offering you 2020 appointments for those meetings that you wanted to have this year.

So what to do while you don’t have so many appointments?

Start with

  1. Plan to take some really good quality time off.
    This is so important. You’ve been working flat-out, and you probably have family and friends  that would like to see you. So get organised with dates in the diary – who to see when, including how you will get there and any accommodation involved.
  2. Review your performance for 2019. Makes sure it’s fact based, not anecdotal
    Ok, now you know which days you are having off, you can look forward to them and days to rest and have fun. Until then go to you accounts package and pull out your costs for your raw materials now, and for the corresponding period last year (so if you deliver things, look at the cost of fuel. If you buy in wood, and make furniture, look at the costs). So supplier invoices for Nov 2018 vs 2019.
    What else are you paying for? Rent/rates/heat/light/electricity.
    How much have they gone up by?
    Your accounting system – Xero, Quickbooks, SAGE and the others should be able to generate reports for you. Ask your accountant if you can’t do it yourself.
  3. Review your plans and targets for 2020, or if you don’t have any get some in place right now!
    When you started this year, where did you want to be? What were your  targets for turnover, profits, customer numbers or anything else?
    How does the reality compare? If you “smashed it” then well done, but for everyone else out there don’t worry, there are lots of people out there that can help.

So enjoy Christmas and all the best, enjoy everything that 2020 will bring.

This might seem an odd question, especially if you have only just started it, but in my opinion, there is only one true answer: In order to sell it.

You might think a sale is a very long way off, and with no idea of when or much for, but it should be an investment that you can use to fund your retirement, or something equally useful.

Even if you are not ready for a sale yet, read to the end of the article: it will put you in the right place for simply growing your business and when the surpise buyer appears you will have done most of the groundwork way ahead of time.

Lets’ get the foundations right. Start with the end in sight, even if it’s a long way off. I have a saying: “If you Plan to succeed and follow The Plan, the results should be predictable.

The role of a business (growth) plan

A business plan, or a growth plan is a valuable asset for every business, whether you are thinking of selling soon, or have no wish to sell for the foreseeabele future.

Having one forces you to work on the business rather than in it. You have evidenced your ability to create a strategy, so by “just following The Plan” you are very likely to improve the business simply by following the process. With the added bonus that if a selling opportunity for your business does arise in the future, you’ll be in a far better position to get a better price.

When you create a plan, get outside eyes to take a look and give you a hand, because so many plans that I see have been cobbled together when a business is doing great, is expanding already, and everybody is so busy “doing” that there’s not a lot of time left for strategic planning. Let’s take a look at a template:

A Business growth plan template

You should already have a lot of these things, written down ideally, but if not written down, then in your head. Now is a great time to get the recorded.

Vision, mission, culture, purpose

What’s the point? Why does the business exist? What is it trying to achieve? Why does it make the word a better place? Is it to provide you or others with financial independence or early retirement, or is that simply a happy outcome of the real purpose of your Company? Are you driven by a sense of purpose or a cause?

Very often we push these questions aside as being “too deep” but their answers should become the goal, the place the business is heading for. Once published your answers will keep you motivated and guide the business (towards profitability and eventual sale).

Goals

The answer here is not “to make lots of money”. However, if you quantify that with an amount and a date, it becomes a goal. So it could become “Sell the business when I’m 55 years old and make £1m clear profit for me to invest and retire on”

Be guided by your Vision and Mission when setting your Goal. Once you have your Goal, you need to check it is SMARTER, Specific, Significant, Stretching; Measurable, Meaningful, Motivational; Agreed, Attainable, Achievable (at the right price), Action-based; Realistic; Time-bound; Ethical; Recorded (written down).

Let’s start doing some checks

Market availability

What is the size of the market? And what share of it do you currently control? Who is your ideal client? Why are they your ideal client? Do they spend more? Or is the process of doing business with them more productive/enjoyable? What are the pains, fears and desires of your ideal client?

Your SWOT analysis

Have you assessed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your business? You can use a SWOT analysis to concoct plans for tackling weaknesses and threats, for building on your strengths, and for exploiting opportunities.

Quick Wins vs Strategic ones

Quick wins are great, but they often fade away. What is going to take their place in 18 – 24 months? What will be fuelling the growth in couple of years time? New products, New markets? How will you accomplish this, and how much resource will you need?

The Org Chart

Most businesses organise their activities and job roles around personalities rather than accountabilities and responsibilities. Wrong! Start from scratch and ask “What does the business need. Then assign the roles you have just decided on to the people in the team, and hire as appropriate and necessary. Fortunately, a business growth plan is the perfect opportunity to review this. And while you are there – do you have key-man insurance?

Does you hierarchy scale to where you want to be in 5 years time: Will you be the MD at the top? Will you need expert team leaders around you? an Ops Director, Sales and Marketing Director, Finance Director?

Sales and Marketing strategy

Your marketing strategy should answer the question: “What must our business look like in the eyes of our prospects so that they to choose us over everyone else and become customers?” How does your plan maximise the conversion rate from interested prospect to valued client? How do you nurture them and keep them coming back year after year?

Systematisation

Something that is systematised “just works” and should use best practice too. It shows that you know: “Here’s how this works.” This is gold dust to you as the owner, but when shown to a potential investor is the Holy Grail. The investor will be able to continue to run the business as successfully as you have done. 

Corrective Actions

Your SWOT analysis will have thrown up areas of the business that you will want to change. What are they, when will they be implemented and by who? It takes specific actions to you reach your goal.  

Measure, monitor and compare

If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist!

A business without measurements isn’t managed; it’s guessed. That’s why great businesses understand and create milestones towards each activity, task and goal. Measure first, implement change, measure again. Was there the expected improvement? If yes, move on, of not, revert.

The really important measures are shared and referred to as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

By choosing your KPIs carefully, you will know exactly how your business is performing and, as a result, can adjust your Plan accordingly.

By starting with the end in mind you can work backward to “here” and you should find this relatively straight forwards.  So, for a 5 year Plan, have The Result (yr 5), the Yr 4 targets, the Yr 3 targets, and so on, sub-dividing the Yr 1 target into monthly ones.

Know your numbers

It’s imperative to “know your numbers”: your costs, your profitability, your customers buying patterns and more. Personally, I’m a great fan of having an online recording system like Xero to put all the information into, and then use another tool like VFD-Pro to interrogate it and provide an insight for your Accountant to check and relay back to you. Of cousre we must remember that any subsequent reporting will only be as good as the data that gets put in. Once you have two years of date in the system you should be able to see trends and perform useful analysis such as client attrition (number of clients gained or lost), purchasing cycle (how many time they buy), average spend, and much more.

Once you have two years of data in the system you should be able to see trends and perform useful analysis such as client attrition (number of clients gained or lost), purchasing cycle (how many time they buy), average spend, and much more.

Motivate your staff to work better

People don’t work for money. Most humans like to over-perform if given the right appreciation, rewards and incentives. When your staff are motivated they are a joy to work with, your customers will love giving them orders, and you will love the results. Try giving some extra responsibility and remember to say “thank-you” and “Well done” sincerely and often, even if it feels strange at first!

Incentives can misfire, so beware of the law of unintended consequences, and think them through very well before you implement any, but get it right and productivity will soar and you become the “go-to” employer in your area.

So I’ve got my Plan, now what?

Stick to it, improving it where you can!

You should be constantly reviewing your growth plan, even if only for a few hours a month. It’s also important to review your KPIs each month, and to make any necessary adjustments to the Plan. Bear in mind that it’s perfectly normal to sometimes NOT hit a milestone or goal exactly on time, so don’t worry if that happens, just look into it and see if you need to allocate more resource, or give yourself a bit more time. A pigeon constantly corrects its course as required by strong winds, but it always gets home. Similarly, the process of following a Growth Plan means taking new twists and turns and adjusting it as you gather new intelligence because the new way is the right track to take to get your business where you want it to be.

Good luck

If you liked this article whey not check out my website or connect via Linked in

Giving your existing customers some recognition and “tlc” is remarkably important for any business, but more so for small businesses: these are customers that you have already spent time and effort winning, they are already engaged with your company and, if encouraged, will continue to spend more money with you because they already trust you as a known supplier. If they have a positive view of you, so much the better.

But do you even know who they are, and have you ever shown them gratitude? If you do, they will become you ambassadors, giving word of moth referrals that you can publish and further strengthen the relationship.

Know your customers:

Who are they, when did they last buy, what did they buy, did they pay full price? Do you love dealing with them, do you think they love you?
Invest in a quality CRM system. It will show all your interactions, act as a reminder for when you next need to be in touch, especially if you would like repeat business. It can also be used to automate newsletters and other marketing events.

Identify Each Customers’ Needs

Identify and address your ongoing customer needs via upselling and cross-sell offerings. You have established a relationship and built trust by getting them to make the initial purchase, so think about their business and what else they SHOULD buy from you (if only they know that you sold it). If you offer them a personalized experience, they will want to come to you as their one-stop-shop. When they do, remember to thank them for the additional business.  Be enquiring – discuss additional opportunities that they may have that you could fulfil, either with existing product, or by bringing in something new.

Reward Your VIP Customers

The 80-20 rule will always apply, so make sure that you know who your top 20% are:  who brings in the most revenue (and the most profit!) and ensure you allocate your time and resources accordingly. Create a list of your VIP customers and publish it. Make sure everyone on the company knows who they are, and always go that extra mile for them.  Keep in touch, ring them on their birthday just to say “Hello” and make them feel special. Invite them to your events (golf days, seminars etc). By doing so, they continue to be your most profitable customers, and they will remain loyal to your company, and less likely to be lost to the competition.

Focus on Customer Service

This sounds obvious – but doing things well is what is expected. It’s the way that you recover from the time when something goes wrong, or when your customer is less than 100% happy that marks you out from the crowd. The goal has to be excellent customer service:  every phone call answered, every outgoing call, every email and customer touchpoint is an opportunity to communicate with our clients – to listen as well as to talk, so have a system of asking if the customer is 100% happy with what you do.

Always Be Consistently Reliable – exceed expectations.

It’s simple: Do what you say and say what you do. People love consistency, they hate surprises. Your CRM system should guide you to be there just before they have a need that you can fulfil. Be the person that meets their need, at a good value price with an appropriate lead-time.  

Engage with Customers Regularly

This is a bit like number 2 above, but for those outside the top 20%. You still need to nurture them and engage with them on a regular basis in an interesting and relevant way.  If they see other clients purchasing from you, they will be more inclined to do so. If they see your best clients giving testimonials about you those genuine testimonials are worth their weight in gold and will sway more clients to buy from you.

Build a win-win Experience

It’s difficult to stand out in today’s world. To keep your customers engaged with you, multiple things need to happen. They need to feel appreciated, which is pretty unique these days and therefore is memorable, especially if that appreciation from you to them is published for all to see. This is where accepting testimonials, thanking your client for them and publishing them on your web-site creates that win-win experience.

If you’d like more detail on any of these aspects, please get in touch.

Charles McClelland

or:

If you want to change your results, change your mindset.

Sometimes it’s called your “subconscious“, sometimes it’s called your “mindset” – but what ever it’s called, it’s what controls who you are, how you behave, and yes – how successful you are. It’s the thoughts that run around inside your head when you “aren’t thinking” but they are all-controlling.

Most business owners start their own business with little more than their passion for what it is they do. Little or no capital, but bags of enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, it takes much more than passion to build a successful business. You must have the specific vision to see want your business to accomplish (big picture) and the timescale that you want to achieve it in. That’s your goal, so if you know the direction to take to produce the results you want you are well on the way to having a plan.

But you need more. Your subconscious, your mindset, is the most powerful force in the universe.

Our thoughts are the controlling factor in what we are as people and what we create in our lives for ourselves and those around us. By constantly directing your thoughts positively to imagine and then create the specific vision for you will start doing it “automatically” In your business you will start applying the right strategies and tactics to grow and develop the business. You are planning for success, and following The Plan.

How to implement success…

Think about it. Literally. Creating a positive, wealthy mindset requires action from you. You must create a mindset that’s focused on performing your highest impact and highest income-producing activities every single day. Some Positive Mindset practitioners even suggest devoting 10 minutes per day to just “thinking wealthy” if that’s what you want to achieve.

If you’re not happy with your business’ current results, then ask yourself why in a number of different ways and be brutally honest as you answer it. And don’t take “I’ll do it later” as an answer!

The ultimate question is: WHY are you failing to generate the revenue and profits you expect from your business? Let’s break it down a little:

  • WHY are you getting such poor results?
  • WHY are you failing to attract wonderful clients?
  • WHY are you attracting the wrong clients?

One of the things that I’ve seen over the years is that people who are broke, struggling or just getting by – don’t think the same way as people who are financially well-off. The people with the money simply don’t have the same mindset as financially challenged people do, and therefore they behave very differently. They expect to have money, they expect to be wealthy, they believe it to be true.

In short, they take different actions.

“So what has this got to do with me”

Most small business owners have been mentally conditioning themselves along certain lines: “I can’t afford that, it’ll have to wait”, “If I don’t do it myself, it won’t be done properly.”, “To make more money, I have to work harder”, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” And the really damaging part is that the longer they think, the truer it becomes because they believe it.

These beliefs lead to specific actions such as working more hours and working harder in a hopeless attempt to increase revenue and profits. That leads to predictably poor results such as feelings of being overwhelmed, anger, anxiety and frustration… and a deep-seated belief that even more effort is required, even though the results point elsewhere.

What are your current beliefs? What effect are they having on you and your business today and every day?

For example:

Do you procrastinate or succumb to other mental activities that may be sabotaging your success?

Are you aware of, and focused on, your highest profit-producing activities?

Are you ensuring that  all of your non-profit generating, less productive tasks are delegated out to others (employees or contract help).

Do you know the specific steps you can take every day to immediately create a positive, wealth creating mindset?”

Would you like to know how you can learn to develop these critical skills?

If you want to see how you as a business owner can change the way you think about everything, then book an initial call with me.

Procrastination is the opposite of good time managment!

Beware of to do lists! Unless they are small and only cover “incidentals” they are likely to get in the way.

It’s so easy for a to-do lists to sub-divide and you end up with mutiple to do lists that snowball out of control, and you spend more time re-writing them than getting anythging done.

In fact, it can become so overwhelming that it makes you freeze in your tracks — preventing you from getting anything done. “How can it get this bad?” you ask. One word … procrastination. People procrastinate by putting things off rather than working on them. This causes things to build up to the point where they’re no longer manageable. “Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” See if you recognise these 14 most common reasons why people procrastinate:

I’m very busy, so it’ll have to wait. Too busy procrastinating!

Lack of discipline. I’ll do this some other time.

Too much to do – where to start. So you don’t start anything

Fear of failure. I’m not sure I can do this. So I won’t even try.

Ignore it. If I don’t think about it, maybe it’ll go away.

Unreasonable doubt If I can’t guarantee success, I won’t even attempt it, in case I fail.

Feeling overwhelmed. This project seems daunting. I’ll think about how/when to start . . . later on.

Fear of complexity. “I’m not sure where to begin, so I won’t.”

Lack of motivation. I’m not in the mood.

Fear of accountability. I’m afraid to fail incase it upsets my boss.

Feeling bored. This is so dull. I’d rather be doing something else.

Lack of urgency. It doesn’t need to be done yet, it’s not due for several days.

Fear of making a decision. I’m not sure – I need more information before I can start.

Wait till the last minute. Deadlines are good – I respond well to a tight deadline.

Do any of these explanations sound familiar? If so, do something about it:

  • Start by using a diary, and put things in it. If it’s worth doing, set aside the time to do it (if it’s a big task, then set aside an hour each day to do it until it’s finished). Only fill 6 hours of every day – there will be other “urgent things that can be squeezed in as required.
  • If you get through a day and you have fished everything 2 hours early – you have a choice – finsh up early, or pull some things forward from tomorrow (and get them completed ahead of time too).
  • So now your To-Do list is in your diary. When the next task comes, put it in the next empty spot. The urgent into today, the others later.
  • Only do what is in your diary
  • IF IT’S IN YOUR DIARY – DO IT, NOW
  • Use the “Eat that frog” principle – do the things that look horrid first thing in the day. Often you will be surorised how quickly and easily they get done.

So now you can feel smug becuase of all the things that you have achieved.

Teamwork – there’s a hint in the name: teams work.

The sum is always greater than the parts: Teams outperform individuals hands-down. When you make teams from individuals they go from invisible to unstoppable.

Think about it: if you want something difficult done: do you walk into a random room and ask for help? No – of course not. You create a team, and if that team is truly motivated, they will be unstoppable.

So, what makes a great team?

No-one works alone: never leave anyone out.

  1. Pair an inexperienced person with an experienced member – the inexperienced once should question the ways of the “old-hand” and the experienced person gives away his experience and knowledge. This is the fastest way to get innovation based on sound principles.
  2. Team people up so that no-one is left alone in a silo of one – a pair of three is fine!
  3. Have as many pairs as you need in the team to get the job done, especially if different skill-sets will contribute to a better solution.

When the job is done mix and match the pairs so that they learn from each other as above but getting new skills from new people. This will also add cohesion to the entire team.

Vision mission and culture

This is your company DNA. Understanding and articulating your company’s “why” is fundamentally important, but the “how” behind how you and your team behave to each other and your clients becomes your organization’s culture this is what you will become known for – it becomes your brand.

Or, put another way, your company’s brand is nothing more than a reflection of your company’s culture, and that culture is a reflection of your team’s actions (In and out of work!!!) and guess where your teams’ actions come from? They come right from the top: from you. And it’s what you do, not what you say, that they will copy.

So this is under your control, so be sure to turn up early and leave a few minutes late if you are looking to embody that behaviour in in your staff. Do you talk to them at the coffee station? No – well don’t expect them to talk to you!

Caring leads to daring

If you care more about your employees than you do about the profits you make, you will see a huge change, your profits will go up! By not being selfish yourself, your employees will not be selfish either because there is no point – selfishness is only needed in a back-stabbing dog-eat-dog culture.  If instead they can focus on driving forwards, and not “covering their back” productivity will soar, by 40%, 50% sometimes more.

Caring leads to daring. Seek ways to connect with your staff, take time to understand their challenges and pressures not only during the work day but also in their personal lives. People are not robots, they notice if you genuinely care for them, and they believe it, they will care for your customers and your business. (This a variation of one of Richard Branson’s favourite sayings.)

Hire for culture first

Your vision mission and culture should be the top half of every job spec you send out. When it is read by a potential applicant they will see that you know what you want to do to make the world a better place, you show credibility that you do it (with good people), and you have a culture that is published and important.

You will get one of two reactions:

  1. “wow, that look’s tough, I don’t like the sound of that” or
  2. “wow, that just the sort of place I want to work. Now what’s the job all about?!

and that’s great because you don’t want the 1st group to even darken your door for an interview – they would fail because they don’t fit and worse than that, if they are a really bad fit, they will cause mayhem and unhappiness because a bad attitude will destroy the great culture that you have.

 The 2nd group on the other hand already want to come and work for your company even before they know the details of the job role, and the chances are, if they have some of what you need you can teach the rest. Many people have said “you can teach new skills, but you can’t change attitude”

Encourage them to try new things (and make mistakes)

Encourage them out of their comfort zone. A great team that wants to forge ahead (unstoppable) will invariably make some mistakes along the way, so remember your culture: forgive them. Then have a blame-free review so that they learn from those valuable mistakes, (knowing what went wrong, what led up to it and why it will be avoided in the future) This will lead to great teams peforming massively well.

In any team everyone needs and wants everyone else, and how you encourage those bonds to form directly impacts how well your team will succeed together.

At the top of the article I started with The sum is always greater than the parts: Teams outperform individuals hands-down: Don’t do it all yourself, have your teams want to do it, have them want to succeed because they will if you let them.

So go do it! but remember, it’s an imperfect science because it involves us, people, and so it can be tricky and at times frustrating but so incredibly worth it when you make it work. Try it – Go from invisible to unstoppable.

Take 5 minutes out to read and action this blog!

1. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR EMAIL

Hands up if you get distracted every time an email comes in. You have the little alert set don’t you!

Dare to turn it off!

So this first one should be obvious:
Set aside specific times to read emails rather than responding to each and every notification, allowing it to interrupt concentrated spells of work .

Create VIP notifications for those people whose emails you attend to more quickly

Keep your email messages short and you will see that others are relived as they can copy your conciseness

Don’t have dozens of email folders – keep your subjects broad. Most email system have excellent search facilities to find exactly what you are looking for.

Don’t reply – Pick up the phone – it’s more personal and will often solve the problem more quickly and definitively. By all means send a short confirmation of the call afterwards to help keep things on track.

2. DON’T BE A BUSY FOOL

It’s great to be busy – as long as the activity is focused and valid.
Don’t let “little things distract you. It’s usually a sign that business is going well – but no one wants to be a busy fool! It’s impossible to address every task and idea as and when they pop into your head, which is something we tend to learn only through experience. Organisation, clarity of thought, focus and self-discipline are essential if you want to achieve your goals while remaining sane.

Plan, write things down, prioritise, delegate and don’t make time for the tedious jobs you tend to put off. The better you are at organising yourself and your commitments, the more you’ll achieve. And the less likely you are to become overwhelmed.

Put everything in your diary, and only do what is in your diary.
This sounds much tougher than it is. Don’t fill every minute of every day in advance – leave at least an hour “free” to allow for phone calls and the like.
Consider setting aside some time in the early mornings to plan the day ahead and review what’s in the dairy. If you are a morning person, put your toughest task in then, so you can eat that frog and get on with having a productive day after.
If something comes up – choose to “bump” something less important to another day, or better still, put the new item into your next empty slot.

I keep Friday afternoons empty for two reasons – it is the buffer for tasks that get bumped, so I know they will get done and the bonus is that if I have a good week – I can finish early on a Friday and bring the weekedn forward.

I prefer early starts as the interruptions are always few and far between, so I get so much more done. This allows me to work in peace without and even get ahead of schedule so that I get to enjoy family time without worrying about what hasn’t been done.

3. SET SOME TIME ASIDE

We all need time to think.
Apparently Henry Ford once said: “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” In the days of Leather-bound filofaxes the wisdom was to have meetings with yourself.
At least once a week, devote some time in your diary to “thinking”. Allow your brain’s hidden to-do lists to emerge and you will see the wood from the trees. Doing this for a concentrated couple of hours is a great investment – it will save you time, help you form strategies which reduces your stress and generally make the rest of your week much easier.
And remember to put it in your diary.

4. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

We know this is true. How often have you heard: “If you eat rubbish, you’ll feel it” or the opposite: “If you eat well you feel good”. Always give yourself a few minutes to have a healthy breakfast – ideally at home, or if that really won’t work, prepare a healthy breakfast the night before. to take to work, such as a low-fat yoghurt with some fresh fruit, and put it in the fridge – not your drawer – when you arrive. Avoid snatching some highly processed snack on the way in. If you work through lunch, make sure to have a supply of high-energy foods, such as almonds and apples or bananas and cheese chunks, handy. Again avoid highly processed snack bars unless you really know what is in them.

5. GET MORE SLEEP

Ok, let’s be blunt here if you are out on the town, and get to bed at 3am, and get up at 7, you know how you will feel the next day: CRAP. If you do it more gradually, the net effect will be the same. You can claim “that you get used to it” but really? Think how much better you feel on a good holiday.

“It’s estimated sleep deprivation costs the UK over £40bn with more than 200,000 lost working days each year, with the number going up. The biggest improvements can be made by those who are sleeping less than six hours a night changing to at least 7, preferably 8. Tired workers are less productive, more accident-prone, (which can be mental as well as physical – a bad decision can have many outcomes), they take more time off through stress and are less healthy.
See if your employer has an employee health or well-being programme, or if you are the boss, create one. The payback will be enormous.

6. DELEGATE SUCCESSFULLY

Only do, what only you can do
Often, we do too much. Yes, we all say “no-one can do it as well/quickly as I can” and yes, there things that you should do and I’m not suggesting that you delegate everything, but you can delegate a lot of things in a way that ensures they get done, and done to a high standard, even though you do not do it yourself.

Good delegation involves asking and “showing how” the other person can take on the task and be successful. That way they feel appreciated and will do a good job, and will keep on doing the “new” task if given a little thanks and genuine praise. By clearly defining roles and responsibilities in your business it becomes obvious who should be doing what it becomes an easier conversation once people understand what’s really on their plate, thus avoiding you having to “clear-up after people”

This is the second in a series of two posts about a friend of mine who came into our local hostelry, positivly glowing, pruning themselves like the proverbial Peacock. When I asked what has brought this new sheen on they told me “I’ve just been made a Director” I didn’t have the heart to ask if they knew what it actually meant – but I’ll share it with you:

We know that being a Director is something that very easy to do in these days of “instant” Company formation.

For a surprising number of first-time directors, they have no idea what it is that they have signed up to, and their accountant didn’t make it clear when they set up the NewCompany Ltd.

For those new Directors that have been promoted from within a Company, the obligations were never explained during the promotion process, so again it comes as a real surprise.

Here are the 2nd four in a series of eight of the most common things that aren’t talked about:

5: Managers may follow, but directors must have their own opinions.

Making the step up from manager or sole trader to director can be an odd one. For those that meet in a boardroom with fellow Directors it can be an daunting experience, given that you are now working alongside the people that you used to report to. As a sole Director, you might feel strange having meetings with yourself, so as new directors you may, at first, feel inclined to take the easy route and fall in line, without thinking things through properly. But in the long run simply being a ‘yes man’, even to yourself can be counter-productive and could ultimately cause the business to stagnate and fail.

6: The implications of wrongful trading

You know what wrongful trading is, right?
It doesn’t matter if you sit on the board of a small business or a large organisation; exactly the same rules apply when that business fails to conduct its affairs in the proper manner.  As a Directors you are personally liable if you allow a company to continue to trade when, to their knowledge, there is no reasonable prospect of debts being paid, either when they are due or shortly after.

This is considered to be fraudulent trading because it amounts to an intention to defraud creditors. Anyone who is knowingly a party to the fraud is liable for the debts of the company without any limit. It is also a criminal offence punishable by up to seven years in prison. And as a Director you would could not expect to get away with “I didn’t realise things were that bad”. As they say ignorance is no excuse

7: Recording your Board meetings

If anything ever goes wrong, you need to show that you are aware of, and have “adequately discharged,” your Directors’ responsibilities. As mentioned above, this is often routine in larger Companies where you are the newbie Director – you just need to show your worth, contribute to the meetings and someone else takes the notes.

Where you have just formed your own Company, you will need to know what your Articles of Association say, and what your objectives are as a Company. You will also need to show that you have a handle on all the “Management Stuff” like profitability, costs, cash-flow, stock-turns, HR and HMRC Compliance. good luck with all of that!

8: The role never stops evolving

Sitting on your laurels, enjoying the view is not an option! As a successful Director you will be continually looking to improve yourself, and your company performance, while keeping abreast of legislative changes.

Having said that, it should be a hugely enjoyable experience , where you can embark on new qualifications, or you can seek the input of external experts that can fill you expertise gaps.

(looking for the 1st four? they are here)

I hope you have found this useful, and are looking forward to being a better director.

Charlie McClelland

A friend of mine came into our local hostelry, positive glowing, pruning themselves like the proverbial Peacock. When I asked what has brought on this new “sheen” they told me “I’ve just been made a Director” I didn’t have the heart to ask if they knew what it actually meant – but I’ll share it with you:

Being a Director is something that very easy to do in these days of “instant” Company formation.

For a surprising number of first-time directors, they have no idea what it is that they have signed up to, and their accountant didn’t make it clear when they set up the NewCompany Ltd.

For those new Directors that have been promoted from within a Company, the obligations were never explained during the promotion process, so again it comes as a real surprise.

Here are the 1st four in a series of eight of the most common things that aren’t talked about:

1: Your liabilities

As a Director, you have a number of legally binding duties, and if you are just starting up in your own brand-new company, you need to know what they are, as set out in the Companies Act:

There are seven key duties, which are as follows…

  • To act within powers granted in accordance with the company’s constitution and to use those powers only for the purposes for which they were conferred
  • To promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members
  • To exercise independent judgement
  • To exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence
  • To avoid conflicts of interest
  • Not to accept benefits from third parties
  • To declare an interest in a proposed transaction or arrangement

2: It’s your job to ensure the Company has long term goals.

New Directors that have either come from the sole trader route, or are promoted from within and fail to realise that they should leave the task-planning that achieves short-term objectives to others.

In their former life, as managers, people are usually incentivised to focus on implementing a process and measuring its efficiency; they were most concerned with the profitability of their day-to-day actions.

Their new role is far more important. Directors, on the other hand, focus on creating value for organisations, customers and stakeholders in the longer term.

Creating that long-term value requires an in depth understanding of value chains, of changing customer behaviours and the changing competitive landscape that goes well beyond the current service level or product performance of today. Think “Amazon”. How might that affect your business in the years to come?

3: Understanding what makes (you) a good director

Directors need to lead, and that means having the workforce look up to you in a way that makes them want to follow you.

For some directors the biggest thing in their life was having the word ‘director’ on their name badge and it turned them into arrogant playground bullies. They don’t tell to last very long.

You can oversee an order book the size of the national debt, but, unless you have a genuine understanding of a broad range of skills that that a modern director needs (such as: strategic planning, risk management, financial understanding to knowing how to exercise good corporate governance), it will be tough for you to fully comply with your duties.

As a leader, you need the gravitas to inspire confidence in people who are looking to you for that leadership, and you need to display and demonstrate high morals, values and ethics because that will earn respect and trust from your staff. If you can take it to the next level and publish them as part of your Company Culture you staff will adopt them too.

4: Are you able to ‘do the numbers’?

If you don’t measure it, you can’t track it’s performace.

The numbers are a vital measure of Company performance, and when understood, they are a clear early warning pointer to what is going well, and more importantly to where problems are brewing. You need to understand how to use finance to make better decisions and ask the right questions of your Managers for the business going forward.

Remember: as a director, you have a responsibility for the finances of the business even if your are not the Financial Director.

Keep an eye out for the second 4 things that you weren’t told – they’ll be here soon.