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Hi, this blog features a variety of articles on Business.

 

There are business tips and advice and news information from a range of sources.

 

Its informative and designed to help you think about how an what you can do to grow your company.

 

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By T Horsley, Nov 10 2017 05:20PM

Having spent 3 weeks on a beach in Italy this year (One of my goals) I noticed a man everyday walking up and down selling kites, nothing odd about that you might say, as on many foreign beaches people often wander up and down selling their wares.


I watched with interest though. Each morning he would start with some 15 kites floating in the breeze to catch people's attention and then he would slowly make his way up the beach selling a couple here and there. At the end of the day as he came past there was maybe 1 or 2 left, along with a few he was carrying in his bag.


Very enterprising and obviously worth his while. I left the beach mid afternoon most days and what struck me was that no one was actually flying any kites. So the following week I took a bit more interest and watched him. He would sell a kite, show them how to use it and move on.


What was interesting was the person who bought the kite, either mum or dad with a child in tow got the kite up in the air for a few moments, handed it to the child and in turn after few moments watched the kite crash to the ground. OK, so a bit of a learning curve needed, but after several attempts either mum or dad would give up and/or the child would lose interest relegating the kite to sun bathe on the sandy beach, abandonded and never again used. You may have experienced something very similar yourselves.


This is in essence the same as in business, as a business owner whether on your own or with staff you see something, bright, new, looks easy enough, doesn't sound too expensive and you jump straight in, such as magazine advertising, exhibitions, or social media.


After a while nothing seems to be being achieved, you lose patience, money of course and then you drop it and move on. The amount of businesses I see jumping into areas in which they have little or no understanding continues at a remarkable rate. Ideal for those who are selling the service of course but less appeaing to those having tried it and saw little or no results.


I have long advocated that a business owner should seek advice before engaging in what seems like a cystal oppotunity or keeping up with the Jones's (to coin an old saying)


Getting help may well cost money but and there is always a but, in my experience it is money well spent because having objective, unbiased advice is paramount to the sucess of your business.


Having an initial chat costs nothing, need to bounce an ideal, give me a ring, or drop me an email trevor.horsley@businessfrontiers.co.uk before you, crash the kite.

By T Horsley, Jun 22 2016 09:41AM

Given that we have only one day left before the referendum I thought I'd weigh in with my thoughts on whether it is a good idea to leave or stay.


One thing I have noticed is that everyone is quite happy for you to have an opinion, as long as it matches theirs, if it doesn't, then you are wrong, misguided and dimissed as an idiot. Mostly though I have noticed this is from the out supporters.


Both sides are appealing to their base support which is quite natural, both agree that Europe needs to change the question is do you want to try and change it from the outside or the inside. Many argue that we don't need to be inside for change to occur but then they can't seem to say why would we want to change it if were we out.


Duncan Smith argues that Italy has been stagnent for the last 10 years, Greece is taking money and is virtually bankrupt. That may well be the case but the UK has thrived during this time along with Germany because of our strength in the financial, technology and manufacturing markets, added to that leadership and entreprenurialship.


Mr Dyson has come out and said we need to leave, I'm sorry I forgot that he was such a patriot, have we forgotton he ditched the manufacturing in this country to take his factory overseas and made hundreds here redundant.


I could go on and on but I've expect you've seen and heard the rhetoric from both sides.


The two things I have looked at is from a personal point of view and business, what impact will it have on me in both of these situations.


From a personal point of view on a day to day basis in the short term not much apart from when I travel abroad, the currency rate will change and it will go down. Why? In the short term the pound will weaken because of short term profit taking in the market and then as the months go by the uncertainty of what place London will play in the world financial market.


In the longer term ie 6 months onwards the cost of products will go up, now I hear many of you cry you are scare mongering and the trade deals are still in place so there is no need, however you are missing the point. Most major companys will use the exit as a way to make more money and shift the blame to Europe.


As for immigration which seems to be at the forefront of the exit supporters how will this make any difference to me on a daily basis, none in my opnion. There has been a minumum of 1.5m people unemployed in this country every year for the last 30 years, I have watched Benefits Britain on the TV and seen the reports in the tabloids of people getting thousands of pounds in benefits and these are Engish people not immigrants. I think we need to change this first.


I know several people who were were born in the UK who only do 16 hours a week because anymore and they lose their benefits, that's wrong, not some man or woman coming from wherever and picking fruit (not just fruit but you get the jist) and paying tax. In fact Mr Corbyn stated that people from abroad pay more in tax than they take in benefits.


How many of you will vote Brexit and then sack the cleaner, the gardener, clean your own car, go and pick your own fruit. That will be a none of you then!


There are over 52,000 foreign workers in the NHS, why is that, because our unemployed make more on benefits than actually working.


From a business point of view will it make a difference, look at your business and your client base and the products/services you offer.


Some famers are convinced that the UK government will still give them the £4.2billion pounds in subsidies they currently get from the European Union, you can make your own mind up about that one.


Business is run on money, yes you need to offer a good service, after care support, professional products and services etc but your business has to make money or you will fail. 90% of SME's do not trade with the European Union so the arguement for you could be that it won't make any difference whether we are in or out, however, maybe it is worth considering both your products and your clients.


Where do you buy you products from and do they manufacture them or buy/import them from someone else. If it is a service you offer then what impact will that have on you being able to deliver without any external pressure, regulation changes, financial constraints. Do your clients futures depend on what you are offering, will that change if we are in or out? Look at the bigger picture and with a business perspective not from a personal view point.


Many on the exit side are saying we will be able to have more flexible trade agreements with both Europe and the rest of the world. Not sure if anyone has noticed but the UK Trade and Industry and many Chamber of Commerces have been promoting this for some years, most companys who see expansion are either in talks or already have been able to get exporting. This has nothing to do with being in the European Union. Yes of course there are some that have not but this arguement by Mr Johnson and many others really doesn't stand up to scrutiny.


Now having read some of this you have more than likely come to the conclusion that I am an advocate of staying in. I think Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne have done themselves no favours by the ridiculous statements they have made, there won't be a war, there won't be a meltdown of our economy (we are too strong for that).


We still export 40%+ to Europe and 12% etc to the USA. Why? because they want our products.


I'm no expert and neither is the SUN newspaper, nor the Times (in the interest of balance) but there are many out there that are, most economist say we should stay in and I'm going with them. It is as I said earlier, about money.


On a personal level I will still go to the pub, have a meal in a resturant, buy my weekly groceries, go on holiday, travel in my car etc. Will this cost me more, in the long run, I think it will.


From a business point of view will it have an impact on my business, yes it will, if we go out, my clients will cut back on their spending because their clients or their lives will be affected either by uncertainty, rules changes, shifting customer base.


If we stay in, will my business be affected, yes it will, my competitors will have greater access to my clients, pricing and margins will come under pressure and there will be more rules and regulations to deal with.


Whatever your thoughts on in or out the best thing you can do is vote, then you can voice an opion, it may not get listened to but you have the right to have a say. If you don't vote then shut up. The other thing you should do is listen to the younger generation because its more of their future than yours. (Listen to someone younger than you, blimey that's radical)


Either way, whether we stay in or out, over the next few years you will hear the cry above the crowd shouting "I told you so"


One thing is for certain though, all the politicans will still have their jobs.










By T Horsley, Jan 9 2015 11:05AM

'if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got'


It's a classic saying and one I have used time and time again when I run seminars and across a lot of my literature. It might be quite a hard challenge but it is most certainly worth doing because as a business person you cannot continue as you are.


A bold statement you may say, "what do you mean I can't continue on as I am, I'm doing OK am I not"?


Are you really? Is it what you want, was it what you set out to achieve, are you on the right track to meet your goals and expectations? Are the people around delivering what you wanted, are they performing as you need them too, is your business really as successful as you thought it would be?


One of the most difficult things to admit is that you have not been able to get exactly what you wanted, when you wanted it and it is unlikely to change, unless of course you take a step back and look closely at what you are doing and make an honest assessment of the current situation.


People do not like change though and herein lies the problem, most people stick their head in the sand and continue doing what they always do, eat the same food, shop in the same shop, buy the same clothes, drive the same car etc. How do I know this? well it is not only me, Tesco's, Sainsburys, Mercedes, BMW etc all follow closely peoples buying habits, look at yourself, what are your eating and where from, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, all the same as last year and more than likely the year before and as this is a business blog, your attitude to your customers rarely change either.


You go for the ones you know, the area you are most comfortable with, the price you don't want to offend anyone with , plod plod plod. You might be thinking, harsh. Well you are right I am being harsh but if you wish to achieve , grow and conquer in your business you must change something every year.


A combination of not just your target market, but your products, price, marketing strategy. You may have noticed that I not saying change you, your ethics, your integrity, the very style of what you are and the person you have become. People buy from you so therefore you must be doing something right, people like you so all I am suggesting is that you change what is within your business.


Your competitiors are, look around and see what's happening in the market place, it is changing, yes it is, take another look, its changing, your customer needs, the way they buy, what they want, it changes with every single day.


This philosophy affects everyone, an example is Tesco's, they have announced their like for like sales comparing 2013 - 2014 and they are down significanty. Why? Because they are banging out the same stuff they have been for years and also operating in markets that they don't understand, what they should do is to cut down on store development, pull out of some of the markets and change the product lines. (by the way Mr Tesco if you need any help www.businessfrontiers.co.uk )


So how do you change? Take a long hard look at all the areas of your business, your clients and your objectives for the coming year.


Now pick on say, pricing, what are your compeitiors offering, is it the same, dearer, cheaper. What are they providing compared to you, is it the same? Probably not, you may think it is but that is very doubtful can you enhance yours a little bit, do you need to change the price, the delivery mechanism. Any of which you need to shout out to your target market.


Look at your target market, is it where you want to be currently, buy a new database or engage someone to create a new one for you, is your literature or the way you engage with potential and existing customers appropriate. Set youself a target of new clients for the year.


If you want 12 new clients, that is only one a month, every market is differnt I know but to get 1 new client a month means you will more than likely need 500 new contacts, 10% of these may be interested and then 1 in 4 will become a new client.


Is your logo, company colours, clothes, van, literature reflecting your image of 2015, get some advice, create a small survey to send to your existing clients and ask them what they think, go out into the streets and survey people you don't know, if you need any ideas on how to build on this then email me trevor.horsley@businessfrontiers.co.uk


It shows you review your business on a regular basis and are prepared to make changes. It is all part of developing your business and making sure as a business person, you are working ON your business as well as working IN your business.


Have fun



By T Horsley, Nov 26 2014 12:21PM

When was the last time you went to a networking event? I attend quite a few and maybe like you wonder on occasions what most people are talking about.


Then on closer inspection you hear; it's themselves. You can tell of course, typically by the glazed look in the other persons eyes, waiting desperatly to jump in and talk about them. The big give away is the lack of interaction between two people. If it is a genuine conversation then the chatter goes back and forth, if not then its one sided, next time you are in a gathering, sidle up-to one of these and spend a minute listening, you will hear what I mean.


Try this; next time someone comes up to you and asks 'How you doing?' tell them you are having a hard time , then ask them 'How about you?' My guess is that after a perfunctory pat on the head you will be beguiled by how well their business is going and you will be forgotton.


Most people love to talk about themselves, how good they are or how superb their product line is etc. There of course some and I've come across a few, who are also able to outdo any of your exploits.


They will have done it better, bigger, more often, cheaper or faster. The amount of extracurricular activity these people have had in lives is astonishing, where they have ever found time to do any work one wonders.


Being the centre of attention is of paramount importance to them, they like to hold sway over the conversation, however, once their 'pitch' is over they are bored, they look away, fiddle with their drink, smile benignly and move on as quick as they can to the next unsuspecting individual.


If you attend a networking meeting make sure you know why you are there. Is it to catch up with old friends, gather a few names, hear about the lastest industry news or are you there to pitch your services. Catching up with old friends is fine but a networking meeting should be used as an opportunity for you to meet new people and treated like a business meeting.


There is a fine line between saying hello, asking them what they do, telling them about yourself and then falling over the line and becoming the centre of attention.


Have a clear strategy, work out your opening line, spend a few minutes listening and then steer the conversation to what you want to say for a minute or two then have an exit stratgey. If you don't, then your time will be wasted. A network meeting is just that, networking and not being drowned by one person.

By T Horsley, Jul 7 2014 03:49PM

Custoner Experience.


'New customers', is typically the response I get when I ask businss people what they want more of..(time, money; two other great contenders), yes they love the ones they have but new ones would be good but there is a dilemmma, 'if i stop working on what I have, I might not get finished the contracts I've got at the moment, which is generating me income and if I do stop, then where, when, what, how do I go about getting new ones.


It can be time consuming and costly.


There are some that say 'I don't need any new ones, I've got a full order book for the next few months and I get recommended so I don't need to market myself' etc etc, you may know a few of these, I do and for all of you out there that believe that then it's a very naive position to take.


I don't care how good you think you are or how confident you are that you will secure more business from recommendations or how full your order book is. It can go spectacularly wrong in a heartbeat.


How do I know? Becasue I have seen it and will continue to see it, you may have already experienced it yourself. A small example of this, walk down any high street and see what shops are there, go back 9 months later, how many are empty? Now you may say 'oh they went bust because everyone buys their product off the internet, or the business rates were too high or the owner of the shop put the rent up.' The moment after you have had that thought you know for a fact that it is wrong. Why do people go out of business? Almost always, customer experience.


I can use any example in any industry to prove my point.


A good example though of customer experience lies with a coffee shop in Cheltenham. Cheltenham like many towns has a lot of places to eat and drink. The shop in question, is not in a prime location, the pavement outside is big enough for a pushchair and on a very busy road, no parking and not near any other major barnded shops which would attract passing customers. He opened up 3 years ago, no catering or retail experience, coffee, cake, soup, sandwiches, strange music and not the most comfortable chairs to sit on. Caters for about 20 if all the tables are full. Opens at 8:30 shuts at 6.


Quality home made food, very friendly service, attention to detail, clean and they remember you. Busy all day, 6 days a week. The overall experience you get using this coffee shop demonstrates why he is still in business.


It doesn't matter what you think of your products, service and history, it's what the customer thinks and their experience in dealing with you. If you have an enquiry how do you follow it up, very recently I had two very different requirements and put out enquiries and requests for information. Of the 8 local companies I contacted only 2 responded and only 1 of them followed it up properly.


A lead is like gold dust. Some of you make it very difficult to buy from you. So the customer experience is incredibly poor before you have even started.


I read a short while ago that if you got a lead you should only chase them 3 times then essentially forget them. What crap, just because you can't get hold of them when it is convenient to you, how about trying to contact them when it's covenient to them. In other words keep going until you actually do get hold of them.


What was their experience when they tried to contact you, are you easily found, is it easy for them to contact you. If you are on Facebook, put your phone number, email in a prominent place. Many don't. have a look at some of your 'friends' business pages and see how many of them have any contact details at all.


When you do get an enquiry, what does the customer receive, how would you like to get what you send them or how would you feel about the message you leave. When you deliver something, what is their experience in receiving it, was it late, the right colour, style, did you communicate with them enough times to keep them updated on the progress.


This is just the start of a massive subject, the customer pays your wages and they will come back to you time and time again if you give them a good experience, we are all in very competitive markets and whilst you may have a full order book now or rely on recommendations it only takes one customer whose experience of any part of your business is not satisfactory and they tell everyone they meet how bad you are and as you know, bad news travels fast.


Very few people I know actually know what their customers think of them, too afraid to ask or in most cases sheer arrogance in the thought that the product or service they provide is brilliant and they have no need to find out. Sadly though, this is where you lose business. Also it takes money to find out, oh dear that dreaded thing money; you mean you actually have to spend money to find out what people think of you?


If you want an objective point of view and new clients and keep the ones you have, its your choice.


I provide a 20 page Customer Experience report on your company. Best 150 quid you will ever spend. Call me 07774 938 836 - (don't forget to leave a message) or email me. trevor.horsley@businessfrontiers.co.uk to find out more.

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Most of the articles are written by myself or I have extracted parts from published information from people who I feel have something to offer.

 

Other articles are a straight copy of what someone else has written and I have shared this with you as I believe it adds value to your business experience.

 

So the authors are and will be referenced under:

 

T Horsley

C Shaw

Kim Garst

David Zaleski

James Caan

Chris Green

Ian Stanley

Emile Darwin

Samantha Horsley