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Welcome to my blog

 

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.

 

Feel free to share or copy the information.

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, Jan 22 2015 11:42AM

The curve by the way never ends but what does it really mean? Depending on what your objectives, lifestyle and expectations are, will really determine the answer to this question but I do have a few.


Lets just take business, for many, the day to day running of the business throws up many challenges. Whether its delivery, orders, maintenance, finance, staff, operations, marketing, there is always something which needs your attention and its never ending.


Being ahead of the curve therefore can be applied singularly or grouped. The overall answer though is a sense of well-being.


Being well ahead of the curve means that you have plenty of breathing space and can channel your efforts into maximising the parts of the business that although doing well could be more effective.


Being a head of the curve means that you have a decent order intake, a good pipeline, delivery mechanism which is optimised, no real cash flow or staff issues and you can take an impromptu break whenever you feel like it and the business will not suffer for it.


Oh, not you then, maybe sometimes and bits of it but not all at the same time. I know what mean, you seem to excel in one area and another is biting you, you solve that then its something else, constant and whilst for many not insurmountable you do wonder if it will ever come good all at the same time.


For many and I expect you may have been here yourself, the inevitable is snapping at your heels.


I have no magic potion for you by the way;just some words which you may wish to reflect on and better still, if in your own way act upon them.


Each business is different, of course it is but most operate in a similar manner. You may have seen my series on How to, which covers various tasks within your business all of which you may need to address at some point.


Prioritise is the way forwad but look at it from a different ppoint of view, of all the things on your list, in your head or daily activities whatever they are, look at them from 'What happens if I don't do this by then?" This will give you your priority list, it will also focus your mind and get things into perspective.


Once you have prioritised, then allocate both time and people to do them. Being ahead of the curve is not about being lucky it is about being structured and focussed. Your business can get ahead if you take the time, you are very good at what you do but you could stretch and you never know, it might just take you ahead of, the curve.


Sam Horsley

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, Feb 7 2014 04:42PM

So you have asked the questions of yourself and one hopes that you have been able to answer them all honestly. Why honestly, well if you fudge or lie all you are doing is pushing the way you can build your business bigger and better further away. In Part 2 we asked the questions, here we explore the answers.


Question 1


What exactly do you do? This is the starting point.


May seem a bit odd, given say for an example, you are a plumber or an accountant. Seems obvious but is it. What is your core skill, almost every business has sub levels of expertise. Understanding these will position you better in your chosen market.


It’s very important to understand exactly what it is you do, not what you think you do but in real life exactly what it is. One of the many ways to answer this question is ask 4 or 5 other people what they think your business is all about.


The answers may surprise but are a very good insight into how others perceive the business you are in. None of the answers you get are wrong so don’t judge, take on board and then return to where you started and then write down a clear description of what you do. From this you can then start to build a marketing plan etc.


Question 2


Who or what is your target market?


Fundamental to the success of the company is, knowing who they are actually going to market/sell their product or service too.


The purpose here is to make you focus, there is no point doing the shot gun approach, everyone everywhere, that never works, its time consuming and can be very expensive. Look back on the last year and the type of sales you made or customers who used you.


Look at their age, their market, where they live, what you sold/installed etc. In addition to this look at what you wanted to deliver and see if this actually matches up with any of your customers.


If you had a green widget that was brilliant but only 2 clients took them on board yet you sold 50 yellow buttons then its time to re-evaluate what it is. Hence question No 1. Once you have this information then you are better able to target your potential customers more clearly.


Question 3


Who delivers the service you offer?


Can you control how and when your product or service is delivered to your clients and does your current system work. It may well be you, so you need a good delivery mechanism in place.


Taking an order is one thing, getting it to the customer in a satisfactory, on time, on budget, correct way is another. Damage can be dome to your company if you fail any of the above. This is where you need to set the expectation level of the customer correctly.


Explore your supply chain, whatever it is and then add some time to it. The time you add to it will be dependant on your experience, on your work load etc but its important here to always add a bit just dealing with the ‘in case’ factor. A clear delivery mechanism and expectation level will make things far easier for you to retain that customer.


Question 4

Is your pricing structure correct?


In other words are you going to make money out of this venture, I’m not talking about making millions, for most of us its more about making a good living with perks.


Almost everyone I see has the wrong pricing structure, now before you go off on one and say I’m commission only, I’m told what I can sell it for, I’m restricted by contract, take a breath. The pricing structure includes many different elements it is not just the price of the product. If you are on commission only is it the best rate, is there room for negotiation, can you up sell while you are there, are there other people who offer a better rate.


If it’s a fixed price, what about volume, other suppliers etc. Can you add for delivery, training, maintenance, upgrades, review visits, telephone support, additional contracts, other products. Whatever it is you have options, if of course you are not making any money at it and you can’t add more then you have to question why are you doing this in the first place. The reasoning here, is this is your business, its not a job, its your future you are working towards so you need to get it right.


Question 5


Do you need more clients?


Is your existing client base sufficient enough for you grow your business or do you think you may need to add some new clients along the way?


Might seem like a stupid question, almost everyone again I speak to when asked say I need more customers. However, look carefully at your current client base, the age, demographic, wealth, expansion and products they have purchased from you.


What is the lifetime value of that client. Work it out. What happens if you lose one or two, what’s the value to the business, how much in other words will you lose, then look at this and decide how many you would need to replace the ones you have lost. It is a relatively simple exercise and every business needs to look at this every quarter. If you are not doing or don’t know how too, ask for some advice.


Question 6


What do you expect to end up with in the end?


Retirement may seem a long way off, you may of course decide that you don’t want to retire just keep working, or of course you may have the view that you could pass the business onto an heir or even sell it one day. If not and I suspect like many it will still be yours at the end, what exactly do you want it to look like?


It may seem a long way off but unless you have some milestones, then you may still be operating in 5 or 10 years time the same as you are now. Setting an objective or several then monitoring the progress, adapting and adjusting as you go will always ensure that whatever it is you want at the end, you should be able to get a fair proportion of it if not all.


As with any business it needs to flow, it needs to embrace the current market and it needs to be able to respond to changes and prepare for the future. If you don’t pay attention to it then your the business will just drift.


It’s not hard, nor that expensive to get advice, the hardest part for most businesses is actually deciding they want more. I read an article recently about half a dozen of the top business people, how they succeeded and what they suggested SME’s or Sole Traders etc should do.


One of the main points that they made was that they all sought advice, Richard Branson stated that even today he has a mentor. I’m not suggesting you get a mentor but I do strongly suggest that if you have any questions if want more out of your business then get some practical sound business advice..


Give me call, an informal chat doesn’t cost anything.


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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