June 28th, 2012
We live in a world of perpetual upgrade, where we are constantly being asked if we want to update, renew or upgrade different aspect of our lives. Everywhere we go we are invited to sign up for added benefits, trade up from good to better, or trade in old for new.
Anyone who is running a business takes it all for granted that they need the fastest broadband, the latest phone, the newest app and products that are new and improved, faster or cleaner.
But what is an upgrade? An upgrade is an enhancement that when added to an existing product or service makes it more efficient, effective, attractive or valuable. Sometimes it costs more and sometimes its free – but it will always make life a lot easier and more fun.
If you are travelling and you are offered an upgrade you feel special. You certainly don’t want to be downgraded. An upgrade is something to aspire to.
In a world that keeps changing, it is important to keep evolving and upgrading. If you stay static, you are really going backwards because everything else keeps moving forwards.
You may eventually get left behind. Nowhere is this clearer than in the music world. What do Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga have in common? Besides being pop icons and megastars, they are constantly reinventing themselves and refreshing their image – to stay in the public eye and to keep things exciting. Sixties superstar Tom Jones is as popular today as he has ever been.
He is still essentially himself, but he has adapted to stay in line with popular music culture.
Sign Up For New Skills
now, imagine what it would be like to create an upgraded version of you. What attributes, skills or traits would enhance the essential you, to create an even better, more talented, more effective version? It would still be you – but an upgraded version of you.
The change may be subtle or dramatic, but it would be a change nonetheless – and a change for the better.
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June 21st, 2012
I often talk about the similarities between entrepreneurs and professional athletes. Both groups of people remain focused on being READY for success. They are Resilient, they create an Environment that supports success, they adopt a positive Attitude, they are Disciplined, and they know that the only person who can make things happen is You.
Do it! – Be Resilient
There is an old saying that, ‘If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always got.’ In business marketing that is no longer true. Business owners may still be doing the same things they have always done (direct mailing, cold calling, pay per click, etc), but many are finding that the old approaches are no longer be working.
We all need to become more creative about how we find and keep our customers. Don’t panic. Don’t be rash. Try something new on a small scale and test and measure it first. A business that is resilient in a recession is one that adapts and is willing to evolve in the face of change.
Do it! – Change your Environment
Are your home, work, and social environments supporting you in your plans and vision of success? Or are there habits, people and ways of living that sabotage your dreams and hold you back? Sometimes we need to ask ourselves what we would be willing to let go of in order to achieve what we want for the future.
All professional athletes know that they need to push and challenge themselves beyond comfortable limits if they are to achieve optimum fitness and gain the chance of becoming the best. What are you prepared to do or to change, to get the result you want?
Do it! – Watch your Attitude
Successful people are upbeat people. It shows in the way they speak and the way they think. When you ask a successful person how they are feeling, they will rarely say ‘fine’ or ‘ok’.
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June 8th, 2012
Whether you are a start-up entrepreneur or an established business owner, you probably wish there were more hours in the day. Success in business depends as much on how you manage your own and other people’s time, as it does on your commercial ability. Time is our most critical business business resource.
Time is money, in a very real sense. A broken promise or a late delivery is a cost not only to the reputation of the business or individual concerned but may incur additional costs all the way along the supply chain. Time management is of course self management. It is a combination of planning, realism, and self- awareness.
Ultimately, your business’ success and your reputation will depend on how smart you work and how effectively you manage your working day within the time frame you have chosen.
If you keep running out of time you need to consider the 3 Ds:
1.) Do – Take action to do, make a change and do something differently. Take back control and agree to outcomes on your terms
2.) Delegate – There are always time-consuming tasks that you can outsource to someone who will enjoy them and do them well
3.) Discipline – Be self-disciplined and introduce a system that will streamline your business process.
It may seem harmless to say time and time again (pardon the pun) “I don’t have time”, “I can’t make time”, “time just escapes me” or “time is not on my side” but these phrases betray a belief that time is in control of you, rather than the other way round. Instead they say “I can always make time”. If you think about time as if you can manufacture it at will you will always have enough.
If you were going on holiday tomorrow and knew you had no option but to get the essentials done today – what would your top priority be? Now do it! The chances are that you already know what you need to do to use your time more effectively. You just need to commit to making the change.
The 5 Ps for the perfect time management are:
1.) Planning – Plan the big picture. Know where you want to be not only today or this week but in five years time. Every decision you make should take you closer to, not further away from your goal.
2.) Prioritising – Be clear about which daily decisions are commercial necessities and which are “nice to have”. Being a business owner is not about taking the easy option, it is about making decisions that will make you a profit.
3.) Passing On – Don’t be an island. Build a team of associates, freelancers, or employees with complementary skills and brief them so well that you can rely on them to think like you and support you when necessary.
4.) Persistence – Be self-disciplined with yourself and persist in getting the answers you need from others who you are relying upon to deliver the end result.
5.) Project Management – Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure there is a carefully managed progress schedule in place. If you are not a detail person, delegate the task to someone who will enjoy getting everything shipshape and arrange for them to keep you updated.
James Caan has been approached by Lord Young, advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron on Enterprise, to help the Government drive an initiative to provide start up loans to young people across the country.
On appointing James as Chairman of the Board for StartUp Loans, Lord Young says:
“James Caan understands enterprise in this country and is passionate about helping young people to have the tools they need to start their own business. He’s also someone who gets things done, and with him as Chairman of StartUp Loans, I am confident that we will be able to kick-start the businesses of many young entrepreneurs contributing to a new generation of successful and growing UK small firms. ”
Also hugely passionate about helping young entrepreneurs, Bev James, CEO of The Academy Group, including The EBA, has also been selected as a Board Director on this initiative. Honoured to recieve the role of Director of Mentoring, Bev will be heavily involved in ensuring quality and impact on all mentors allocated to those who do secure a StartUp Loan.
“The mentors are a critical part of the programme. We aren’t just providing cash, but intelligent capital – a combination of money and expertise, essential to ensuring a greater chance of success in your business.”
Also assisting James Caan as Board Members of StartUp loans, are a ‘dream team’ of professionals including John Spence OBL DL, chair of the Spicehaart Group; David Hutchison, CEO of Social Finance; Julie Meyer, CEO of Adriane Capital; Roland Rudd, founder of Finsbury Communications; Duncan Cheatle, founder of The Prelude Group and co-founder of StartUp Britain; Jonathan Jenkins, CEO of The Social Investment Business and Philip King FICM, CEO of The Institute of Credit Management.
As Lord Young publishes his latest report on Small Firms in the UK, the first since 1979, the country finds itself in a position of 1 million unemployed young people.
Drawing on his expertise in running businesses, Lord Young’s initiative of providing small loans to young people to start their own business, aims to put the responsibility of creating jobs for the young, in the hands of the young people.
Young people across the country, from 18 – 24 years old will have the opportunity to access on average £2,500 to start their own business. Every recipient of the loan will be provided with an expert mentor who will be able to provide much needed guidance, a sounding board and networks to help the young entrepreneur along the way.
James Caan is committed to ensuring that the allocation of funds is treated in the same way as an investment. He says:
“Those who we have selected on the board are all experts in delivering results. Every individual has their own area of responsibility and therefore I’m confident that we will be able to reach the thousands of young people who are desperate to start their own business.”
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June 8th, 2012
Is it possible to make money and be charitable at the same time? Can we make giving good for business? It is a philosophy that is close to my heart and that I have been thinking about a lot lately, because there is a new and exciting wave of philanthropy sweeping the business world.
During my early business years Anita Roddick was the only one who stood out from the crowd, with her passionate idealism and radical approach to the beauty industry. These days, every millionaire worth their salt has a charitable foundation.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett lead the way via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and are encouraging fellow billionaires to pledge at least 50% of their fortunes as a legacy to philanthropic causes.
Richard Branson focuses on environmental philanthropy: his overall message is that we need to find sustainable ways to do business better – in ways that give back while making a profit.
James Caan has used his Foundation to partner with aid agencies to rebuild two whole villages, and a school, following the floods in Pakistan. Media stars such as Bono, JK Rowling, Oprah, Sting and Trudi Styler regularly give generous donations and speak up for their favourite causes.
Dame Stephanie Shirley was a child refugee during the war. She went on to become a successful entrepreneur and is now a committed philanthropist. She doesn’t just write a cheque; she gets involved – because she believes that if a leader starts the ball rolling, others will follow their example.
But what about the rest of us mere mortals? Is giving good for our businesses too? Read the rest of this entry »
June 8th, 2012
Family businesses are common in the UK, according to the Institute for Family Business (IFB) the UK has over three million family firms accounting for 40% of private sector employment and generating £73bn per annum.
Frequently, these are businesses that have been built from ground up, with little borrowing. Some 70% have fewer than 9 employees; 17% have been in business for three or more generations. they play a huge role in supporting the economy – in every country.
Top Tips For Safeguarding The Family Business:
Selecting and preparing successors
In family business it is often taken for granted that there will always be a family member at the helm of the company. However, this may not be good for the business nor actually what the heir apparent truly wants.
There is a difference between a family-owned business and a family-led business. Company survival depends upon having the best person for the job running the business. That may well mean bringing in a CEO with experience from outside.
Who will run your business if it is to be passed on to a family member?
Does this family member want it?
Have they the right experience or skills?
Creating productive roles for family members
When jobs elsewhere are hard to find, families tend to protect and look after their own; which is why family business often absorb family members as employees during an economic downturn.
If jobs are created for family members without interview or the necessary skills and experience, it can cause conflict with colleagues – especially if they are put into management positions.
Beware the perception that the business is ‘carrying’ family members who are not necessarily up to the job.
Defining roles and responsibilities
Management in a family business can sometimes resemble an episode of Fawlty Towers where everyone does everything and a fire-fighting approach becomes the norm. Job descriptions are a valuable way to establish boundaries and ensure a distinction is drawn between work and the home environment.
Clearly define the positions and decision-making powers of family members and make sure that they are as accountable as any other member of staff.
Family members are often expected to work for the business above and beyond the call of duty, with little compensation or recognition. Pay may be low, with no annual review. Typically, there is also greater willingness to take a pay cut when times are hard; but harsh judgement if an individual wants to leave.
Make sure that employment contracts, pay scales and responsibilities are in line with those of non-family employees working at the same level.
Develop a shared vision for the business
In my experience, many family businesses lack a clear vision. All too often, time spent developing a strategy is seen as unnecessary. A professional coach or facilitator can be invaluable to help the family focus constructively not only on what the vision is, but also how to take it forward in three, five or 10 years. However, a shared vision is only worthwhile if it becomes a plan for action that is used and reviewed regularly by all concerned.
A clear vision and an agreed business plan are better for the business – and for the family as well.
The guiding ethos in a family business if often ‘do whatever it takes’, and family members will often do just that – because they care about each other as well as the business. The high level of loyalty means that mountains can be moved when necessary.
Communication can be almost telepathic when people know each other well, and share values and understanding. A family business that encourages mutual respect, clear goals and respectful communication is uniquely placed for long-term success and survival.
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June 8th, 2012
Both groups strive for excellence and are action-orientated. They know what it takes to get into the “zone”, where concentration is total and the results start to “flow”.
When I am mentoring athletes who are looking to setup in business, I find they are so used to being motivated by results, that if we agree a set of actions within a session I am very likely to have received the outcomes by email by the time I return to my office!
But how can the rest of us achieve this state of flow? What does it mean and how does it benefit performance?
June 8th, 2012
“The customer is always right” is a well-known mantra, because without customers you have no business, it is their needs that feed a business’s sales.
Getting business from your existing customers is less costly and unpredictable than attracting new ones, so retaining customers is vital for survival.