BQ Business Growth

How can I grow my business?

business growth strategy

The 11 biggest business growth strategies:

Growth is the most enduring topic of the 7 big questions of small business. There are literally thousands of business growth strategies bandied about by business experts and gurus. Every business owner that ever was has felt frustrated and stuck at some stage while wondering how they can grow their business to the next level. Which are the growth strategies that are going to work for your business?

This page lays out the 11 most important strategies to grow your business to where you want it to be. All of the 11 growth strategies are solid and proven, it’s up to you to mix and match. It’s a bit like baking a cake. Most cakes have eggs, flour and sugar in them, but you can’t make a cake just with flour or with nothing but eggs, you need a mixture of ingredients. So it is with building and growing your business. You may not need all the 11 business growth strategies, but you certainly need a mixture of them.

So … Get yourself to the kitchen and bake something beautiful.

Seth Godin

seth godin

Everybody’s favourite business guru, Seth Godin, once summed up the solution perfectly:

“To build and grow a great business, you really only have to do two things:

  1. Build a great product or deliver a great service.
  2. Make sure lots of people know about it.”

(I’ve also written about Seth Godin’s two rules here)

In other words, easier said than done. Thanks, Seth!

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Those two simple statements cover many different aspects of business growth, but I believe we can keep things much simpler than they may seem at first glance. Let’s break each one down.

Skip ahead to the following sections:

1. Grow your business with vision and purpose:

If you want to grow a beautiful business that stands the test of time, you must be able to answer the question: Why does your business exist and why would anybody care?

Most business owners can’t answer that question succinctly and powerfully. That’s bad because:

  1. If you don’t know why your business exists, your customers certainly won’t either and that makes price the only differentiator. Competing on price is a dog’s game (unless you’re Aldi, where price is your purpose).
  2. If you don’t know where to focus your energy, you will never master the greatest skill of effective business owners: the ability to say “NO”.

More about purpose here:

2. Grow your business by setting goals:

We’ve all heard that the first step towards business growth is goal setting. However, effective goal setting is more complicated than you might initially think.

Most of the goals we set for ourselves are ineffective at best, and at worst, actually hinder our progress. They’re often arbitrary, unrealistic and unrelated to what truly matters in our lives.

For instance, a goal to make $2 million revenue is meaningless. Why $2 million? Why not $1,956,384.13? And what happens when you reach that goal? Will you be better off somehow? What if you fall short by $100 or even $100,000? Does that mean you are a failure? Goal setting only makes a difference if you understand that goals are like a compass; they provide a direction on your journey, they are not the destination.

More about goal setting here:

3. Grow your business with marketing:

Marketing is about creating opportunities to sell your stuff. As such, I fervently believe that:

“Marketing is everything and everything is marketing.”

That’s why, if you want to grow your business, you must analyse every aspect of your business.

Yes, marketing is about branding, advertising campaigns, social media and your website, but it’s also about how you answer the phone, your pricing policies and ensuring your customers are happy with what you sell them. It’s about how you dress, how you present your quotes, your PR strategies and your warranty return policies.

In fact, one of the most powerful marketing strategies is maintaining a relentless focus on quality in everything the business does in order to create “raving fans”. Why? Because if your customers are all raving fans, they will do your marketing for you.

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about marketing here:

4. Grow your business with DIGITAL marketing:

business-growth-strategies I don’t mean to imply that digital marketing is something wildly different from all other forms of marketing. However, it is useful to pay special attention to the online space because it has become such a critical component of any growth-driving marketing strategy.

Whether your business serves food, builds houses, crunches numbers, imports widgets or makes whatsits, you can’t ignore digital marketing activities, like email marketing, content marketing, social media and influencer/affiliate marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and online PR. The list is almost endless and constantly changing with emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence, voice search, chatbots, virtual reality, drones, and progressive web apps.

You could easily argue that the core principles of marketing haven’t changed, we’ve simply got a bunch of new tools to use. At one level that’s true because people still want to get to know, like and trust you before they will do business with you. However, on another level, things have changed drastically.

Ten years ago, you’d give someone a business card with your web address on it and they would immediately want to know if you also had a bricks and mortar store. These days, people want to know you’ve got a high-functioning, active web presence, including a Facebook and Instagram page, a Google My Business listing and ideally, a bunch of 5-star ratings on all the major review platforms.

The reality is, often your physical presence doesn’t even matter anymore. If you want to be taken seriously today, online engagement across all mediums and channels must be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about digital marketing here:

5. Grow your business with sales:

“Nothing happens until we sell something.”

That’s a quote I once saw hanging on the wall at a big office. And it’s true. You won’t achieve any business growth (or even have a business!) without sales. No matter how great your product is, how beautiful your logo is, how smart your website is or how wonderful your employee culture is – if you’re not selling, your business will cease to exist. Simple.

Sales is often seen as a subset of marketing, but I’m giving it a solo section because I think of marketing as getting the customers to your door and sales as getting them to hand over the money. Lead generation vs lead conversion.

Sales is about skill, mindset and systems, but above all, it’s about making things easy for people. And that last word is the key to the whole shebang: it’s always about people. The old saying goes:

“People do business with people they know, like and trust.”

It’s especially important to remember this in small business because people do business with people. Your entire approach to sales must be built on a people-to-people philosophy.

More about sales here:

6. Grow your business with planning:

“A business without a plan achieves everything in it.”

Nothing in other words.

Your business growth depends on planning. No human endeavour ever amounted to anything without a plan. Yet planning is guessing. It can never be anything more than guessing, because we can not know the future. So if planning is guessing, why does it matter so much and how can we do it so it works?  There are two important answers to those questions:

  1. You must understand that there are two entirely different types of business plans: internal plans and external plans.External plans are designed to impress others about your business. They form part of the documentation to obtain a loan (or other type of funding) or make a proposal to a third party. Internal Plans are designed to help the business focus. They are drawn up using meaningful goals (see above), and they help people with their day-to-day decision-making processes.
  2. Planning is a verb. It’s not static, it’s an activity that never stops. As soon as one plan is created, we start again.John Lennon once said, “Life’s what happens when we’re making other plans,”. Planning is like that. We make a bunch of assumptions and map our actions accordingly. Next, we check reality as it unfolds and make changes to suit those new realities – every day, every week, every month and every year.

The bottom line? Business plans that truly work and make a difference are living documents.

More about planning here:

7. Grow your business with customer service:

Customer service is also a subset of marketing, and if done well, it leads to more business from those customers (plus, as I said above, everything is marketing and marketing is everything). However, it’s worth mentioning separately because of the concept of “raving fans”.

Ken Blanchard wrote a little book called “Ravings Fans” that talks about how your business should always be working to do one better for your customers than they expect. If you do so successfully, your customers will become advocates that go out of their way to help your business grow. They will talk to their friends about you, drag their colleagues to your door, defend your business against the competition and best of all, they won’t quibble about the price. If you focus on turning your customers into raving fans, you will ultimately be able to slash your marketing budget in half and achieve a long-lasting competitive edge.

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about customer service here:

8. Grow your business with systems and quality improvement:

making monye from death and hamburgers business-growth-strategies My clients often ask me to help grow their business and I often tell them to stop worrying about that. Getting more customers is the easy part. The hard bit about business is delivering what you say you will by the time you say you will for the price you say you will at the quality you say you will… with a smile!

If you can do that all the time, even as your business grows, then customers will come flocking to your door and you won’t need to spend much money on marketing (largely because you’ll be creating raving fans !).

I can’t tell you how many businesses I have seen struggle and fail because they couldn’t maintain their product/service quality, dependability and price once they scaled.

When your business starts to grow and you are no longer in charge of every step in the process, things often start going wrong. Quality becomes inconsistent, delivery times become unreliable, prices go up or profitability suffers – and your smile disappears. Once the rot sets in like that, your reputation nosedives and customers begin to look elsewhere.

There are only two answers to this dilemma:

  1. Stay small: Don’t grow and learn to say “NO” often.
  2. Systematise: Develop systems for all aspects of your operation, including estimating, quality checking, calendar management, inventory management, callbacks, warranty repair, marketing, hiring, firing and even how the phone is answered. Systems allow you to create continuous improvement loops in your organisation (and that’s the Holy Grail of business. It’s what made companies like Toyota great).

More about systems and quality here:

9. Grow your business with inventory management:

Inventory management is a big, specialised topic. It’s really a subset of the systems section above. There are whole management libraries written about the various philosophical approaches to managing stock when building and growing a beautiful business that stands the test of time.

My earliest inventory management lessons came from Colin, the owner of a large hardware store who I dealt with a lot during my days as a builder. One of the reasons I bought so much of my material from Colin was that he always had everything in stock. Colin clearly knew what it took to create business growth because his business was booming.

I once asked Colin if keeping such high stock levels of everything that a builder might need from time to time was economical for him. I imagined that it was a very expensive way to run a business, having all that money tied up in timber, hardware and bits and bobs. His answer was:

“If I don’t stock it, I can’t sell it.”

I have often thought about that statement, particularly now that most operations run on the principle of “just in time”. Supermarkets have made an art form of stocking just enough and not a jar more than required in order to minimise shelf space and inventory cost.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that Colin got all my business for 20 years and most Sydney builders had an account with him because everything we needed was always ready to collect.

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about inventory management here:

10. Grow your business with hiring, firing and engaging people:

staff engagement business-growth-strategies In his famous book “The E-Myth”, Michael Gerber wrote that it is impossible to manage people, so great businesses focus on systems and manage those instead. That’s certainly what grew McDonald’s into the enormous business it is today. And as I’ve written elsewhere before, if you set out to make as much money as possible from selling restaurant food, it is undeniably the case that the McDonald’s model is the one to emulate (that doesn’t mean I like it!). This philosophy can be applied to any industry.

If you’d like to build and grow a unique business, a business with an individual character, you’re going to have to manage people. You’re going to have to get good at putting the right people on the bus, sitting in the right seats, facing the right direction while also knowing which others should get off. If you don’t learn how to find (and keep!) the right people and get them to do great work, your business will always struggle. That means:

  • Developing strategic hiring policies
  • Being prepared to employ people who might be better than you at certain things
  • Learning how to conduct great interviews
  • Implementing meaningful induction and development training programs
  • Learning how to coach, encourage and hold your people accountable
  • Getting better at delegating
  • Doing HR admin and compliance effectively
  • Writing job descriptions
  • Scheduling performance reviews
  • Learning what it takes to be a leader
  • Making tough decisions when required (quickly and respectfully)

More about hiring, firing and engaging people here:

11. Grow your business with innovation:

If you want to build and grow a beautiful business that stands the test of time, you can’t afford to get left behind. The pace of change and innovation is relentless. What was acceptable even a few years ago is no longer acceptable now.

Not long ago, it was still okay for a cafe to have a sign that said, “cash only”. Today, you’ll lose a lot of business if you don’t accept card payments. Even with a business as simple as mine, people still expect the option to make online bookings. Cloud computing combined with smartphone technology and advanced GPS systems mean that customers now even expect to be informed that their plumber is on the way and will pull up in front of their house in 13 minutes.

You don’t need to be Uber or Airbnb to implement new technology or come up with new ways of doing business. A few years ago, I bought a house in a different state of Australia. The real estate agent gave me a private showing of the house via Skype. I engaged the conveyancer, the building inspector and a surveyor all without setting foot in the house or even the state.

A client of mine with a creative marketing agency has a team of designers, copywriters and marketing assistants all over the world and she rarely even meets her clients face to face. Another client with a small supermarket chain has technology in his stores that allows him to see what’s going on in every area as well as getting live access to each of the store’s point-of-sale (POS) systems. He’s also put a bunch of tablet screens in his stores that allow people to find dinner recipes incorporating the fresh vegetables he has on special.

And all this stuff is only the beginning. It won’t be long before artificial intelligence is integrated into doctor’s surgeries, lawyer’s offices and copywriting agencies. If you think that technology and innovation won’t have a massive impact on the way you do business and how you create business growth, you are kidding yourself.

More about innovation here:

Your next step:

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Growing your business is the easy part

small business growth

make your business grow

Worry less about growth and more about how you keep your customers happy all the time

I have a client who owns a car mechanics business in Sydney, let’s call him Garry the Grease Monkey (not his real name, in case you were wondering). Gary is around 30, and he took over the garage from his mum and dad some years ago. For the past few years, it’s been him and his dad doing the work and mum doing the books. Gary and his dad make ends meet, just, but dad is ready to retire, and Gary wants to build a business that gives him the opportunity to work a bit less than 60 hrs per week and afford him the income to start a family and more of that good stuff.

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

So Gary found me and asked me to help him grow the business. (Read more about growing your business here) You need to know, that Gary is a great mechanic and that Gary and his dad do great work, significantly cheaper than the major mechanic’s workshops and dealerships, and that they do everything in their power to make your life as easy as possible. Gary and his mum and dad are nice people, they’re the kind of people you’d love to give your precious car to for a service or repair, because you know they’ll look after it as if it was their own.

Keeping the clients happy

So the first thing I did was that I told Gary to stop worrying about where the extra clients were going to come from. Getting new clients was going to be the easy part. The hard part is ensuring that when he doubled and tripled the turnover of the workshop, his clients would continue to be as happy as they are now while maintaining and improving his profit margin on jobs.

How do you keep delivering consistent quality and reliability, day in day out when your business doubles and triples?

A year later, that’s exactly how it played out: the easy part was getting the clients. Gary joined a local business referral group, launched a new website, improved his local SEO, developed strong referral relationships with a few chosen businesses in the local area and the phone has started to run hot with new clients, the kind of clients who ring up to book in their car without even asking about price.

What’s been much more complicated for Gary is managing the extra work. There have been three big challenges for Gary in the past year, and these are the three things that challenge all Small Business owners in Gary’s position:

  1. Finding, hiring, training, motivating and keeping the right staff.
  2. Developing and implementing systems and processes that create regularity and predictability in the business.
  3. Finding and implementing business management software and applications.

Bad experiences with small business

In a city such as Sydney, most people have had bad experiences with Small Business of all kinds. Tradesmen turn up late or not at all, work is shoddy, they leave a mess when they leave and charge unexpected fees for all kinds of spurious reasons. If you do what you say you’re going to do, for the price you say you’ll charge at the time you say you’ll do it, consistently and with a smile, the customers will break down your door. We as consumers are desperate for people who offer such simple dependability and trustworthiness, and when we find someone like that, word travels fast.

But that’s exactly where the problem lies. Most Small Business owners start their business with great intentions and when they do most of the work themselves they offer exactly that kind of dependability, but when the business starts flooding in they lose the ability to manage the extra workload, they have to rely on employees that they haven’t trained and mentored properly, they have little or no established systems in place, and they don’t know what goes on between their employees end their customers.

Keeping your fingers crossed

I call it management by keeping your fingers crossed… It doesn’t work and it leads to unhappy customers and customers that go off looking for the next small business to put their faith into.

Gary and I spent most of our year together on the three challenges above. It’s what I call the work of the business owner, as opposed to the work of the business. Gary has made major strides, and he’s found a couple of great employees already and is giving them every opportunity to stay great; he’s started writing down a lot of the systems in the business, and he’s found and started implementing a big piece of software that is designed specifically for the management of mechanic’s workshops.

The clients are starting to flood in and they tell their friends about the cleanliness and efficiency of the workshop and at how easy Gary makes it for them to have their car serviced at their convenience, and those friends can’t wait to have their car serviced by Gary’s business, and they tell their friends, and so on.

Getting clients is easy, how you deal with what comes after is what differentiates the business owners from the hobbyists… Just ask Gary the Grease Monkey.

Small People Are Breathing Life Into Influence Marketing

This is a guest post about micro influence marketing by Philip Piletic, more about Phillip at the end of this article

micro influencers marketing

Why you (and I) may be more influential than the Kardashians

Hiring actors and actresses, singers and dancers, and everyone in-between is nothing new to the world of marketing. Since the advent of modern day marketing, advertisers have long seen the potential in using human billboards as a way to peddle their merchandise. Though times and technology have changed, using influencers as a method for pushing brands has not.

In an article published by Forbes, Tim Ward, a successful entrepreneur, and author, wrote that the influence trend is not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon – we are just getting started, as a matter of fact. So what has changed since the good old days when cigarette brand Kodas began introducing baseball cards of famous players with their pack of smokes.

Generally, consumers are becoming far savvier than they used to be. Most people of adult age (and most likely a few teenagers) are beginning to understand how they are being influenced by ad placements in cinema and other entertainment venues. Similar holds true with Instagram and other social media spaces – people can tell when someone is being paid to promote a product.Thus, they are becoming more skeptical of these ploys to buy into brands. This has given birth to the increased use of micro-influencers.

What is a micro-influencer?

There seems to be a general set of specifications that win someone the title of “micro-influencer.” Turns out that the number of followers an influencer has seriously affected their power of influence over the masses writes Yuyu Chen of DIGIDAY. Those with 1,000 followers or less seem to have the highest rate of likes at eight percent. At the top of the scale, those who boast 1 million to 10 million followers only receive 1.7 percent likes. Nevertheless, that is a huge number: 17,000 people influenced.

The article goes on to explain that when Sarah Ware, co-founder, and CEO of Markerly, joined with Jenner and Kardashian sisters on Instagram in order to market a weight loss tea brand, they were able to win hundreds of conversions. Yet, when she analyzed and compared what Jenner and Kardashian were able to do versus about 40 micro-influencers, the dietary tea brand was able to convert a far larger number.

Note: For those who want to read the negative press the Kardashians and other stars received over this “detox-tea” sponsorship, read this article. It’s kind of funny.

If you read the article in the link you will find that using famous people to “influence” your brand can have dangerous consequences (and this can be true for both sides). Though the Kardashians have a huge social media following, that following doesn’t mean anything. The Kardashians have been known throughout their history to be controversial at the very least. Therefore, using such high-profile and sometimes risque endorsements for a brand could be a bad strategy.

Micro-influencer or celebrity influencer?

Social media ad platform Gnack has strictly defined micro-influencers as those people who have 10,000 followers or less. Anything more than that is pointless. They love to use people whose following is primarily made up of friends and family and a small group of fans. These influencers are usually more down to earth and genuine when they present a product that they endorse.

In an interview with DIGIDAY, Chico Tirado stated, “More than 55 percent of our agency partners have incorporated ‘micro-influencers’ as a part of their [current] strategy,”

“We’ve seen some ‘micro-influencers’ on certain campaigns get up to 25 percent engagement,” Tirado continues.

In March of 2016, following the Google and other search engine models, Instagram has moved to using an algorithm to control content quality. This means what used to work by some influencers won’t work so well now. Social media and search engines make their money from people using their services. These companies know that if their venues become playgrounds for spam and nonsense marketing strategies, they will soon find themselves in hot water. This has made it more important than ever for companies to show integrity when choosing a marketing strategy and who they choose to market them. But I guess that’s the purpose, isn’t it?

So what is the verdict?

The statistics are plain as day: if you want people to respect your brand, it is better, in the long run, to build up a network of micro-influencers that have a following of fewer than 10,000 people. The more grassroots these followers are the better.

philip piletic Guest article by Philip Piletic: Philip’s primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business and marketing. Freelancer and writer, in love with startups, traveling and helping others get their ideas off the ground. Unwinds with a glass of scotch and some indie rock on vinyl. You can read more of Phllip’s work on his Linkedin profile here: https://au.linkedin.com/in/philippiletic

Effective Promotional Products and Why You Should Consider Them

lego man marketing promotional products

This is a guest post by Philip Piletic, more about Phillip at the end of this article

lego promotional products marketing

Successful promotional campaigns might seem random, but here’s 6 key factors that you should consider

Here’s one: Have pens made up with your company logo and information on them, and hand them out everywhere!

“Wait – what’s creative about that?”

Nothing! But pens are effective largely because they are useful. That is a huge asset to any promotional product. Nearly one hundred percent of Fortune 500 companies and the fastest-growing startups give away promotional pens. So, before we start getting creative, we are reminded that “effective” is the goal.

Creativity is often a dynamic component of a successful promotional product or campaign; it can also make it quirky in a bad way, forced or disjointed and ultimately unsuccessful. Watch some of the lowest-rated commercials for visual proof of this concept. By the way, going for the “so bad it’s great” angle is risky.

Studying these success stories will get your creativity flowing.

Useful & Effective

  1. Logo Cups that Change Colors

Add something cold to these cups, and they change colors. Made in about a dozen warm/cold color combinations, the cups can be printed with the logo, message and information you want to share. These cups work best at outdoor events like festivals, concerts and fairs when there’s enough light to see them change.

Reason it works: It’s a novelty. The recipient will find it interesting and then play “show and tell” with it, “Hey, Jason, look at this…Serena, watch what this cup does.” You’ve produced enthusiasts who will demo the cup, holding up your branding information for others to see. The novelty is key. People don’t go round saying, “Will, see this ordinary pen I just got!” We’ve made the case for pens, but if the item can be exceptional, it will get a wider audience.

Interesting

  1. Silly Bobblehead Pens

OK, then, here’s an extraordinary pen – the pen with a suction cup cap at one end and a ridiculous bobblehead at the other. Highlighters with the same scheme are produced too. You can take this idea to the next level of fun (and expense) with the bobblehead pen that talks! The one we came across says, “Hey, don’t forget to smile, laugh and have a great day” when its button is pushed.

Reason it works: The items are useful, puts a smile on peoples’ faces and makes them want to show them off, right along with your company information.

Fun

  1. Erasers that Save Memories

Erasers get rid of stuff…like Alzheimer’s Disease erases memories. Alzheimer’s New Zealand enjoyed a successful campaign by fitting real erasers around USB drives, and printed, “Alzheimer’s Erases Your Memories. Save Them.” On one side of the eraser. The other side featured the organisation’s logo and contact info.

Reason it works: It’s useful, so will be kept, but it has become a widely used example because there is an immediately grasped connection between the effects of the disease and an eraser.

Awareness

  1. Bendable Yoga Straws

The Y+ Yoga Center in Shanghai, China had straws printed with a woman in yoga gear positioned right on the straw’s bendable region. You get the picture. Every time the straw bends, the yogoist shows off her flexibility in a new position.

Reason it works: Like the Alzheimer’s campaign, the “get it” factor is immediate. Take time to think about, and brainstorm with your team, commonly used items that could be used to produce an immediate connection with your products or services. Thinking is hard work, but it is free and can yield amazingly creative, fun and successful promotional product and campaign ideas.

Connection

  1. Ketchup Splatter Detergent Packs

Vantage Detergent, a brand produced in Brazil, was marketed using small packs of detergent in the color and stylized shape of a ketchup spill. The packs, about 100,000 of them, were divided among restaurants in São Paulo, and were snatched up by customers in three days.

Reason it works: The colorful packets encapsulated a standard marketing strategy – identify a problem, and provide the solution.

Solution

Putting it All Together

Let’s compile our list of keywords, principles really, that give tremendous guidance for choosing or designing promotional products and using them successfully as part of your marketing mix:

  • Effective
  • Useful
  • Interesting
  • Fun
  • [Producing] Awareness
  • Connection [between the item and your product or service]
  • Solution

Build as many of these into your marketing efforts, including the use of promotional products, and you will enjoy far more hits than misses. This is especially true when you tailor your product, product design and campaign strategy to your target demographics. Take an hour today by yourself or with your team, and think, think, think your way to creative promotional products and campaigns that will be effective. That’s the first principle and the one that will most affect your bottom line.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

philip piletic Guest article by Philip Piletic: Philip’s primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business and marketing. Freelancer and writer, in love with startups, traveling and helping others get their ideas off the ground. Unwinds with a glass of scotch and some indie rock on vinyl. You can read more of Phllip’s work on his Linkedin profile here: https://au.linkedin.com/in/philippiletic

A small business mentor will change your world

business mentoring

small business mentoring

Secrets of a great mentoring relationship

Many moons ago I started my working life as a cadet journalist. One of the senior editors on the newspaper became my mentor for the next 3 years. It was one of the most important relationships of my life.  Under his wings, I became a good young journalist and a (more or less) well-adjusted human being.

I have mentored many people in various forms myself since those days and I’m convinced that most entrepreneurs who’ve built great small businesses have done with the support of one or more mentors.

Being in a mentoring relationship with someone whether as mentor or mentee (strange word, I know) can be incredibly rewarding for both parties. It certainly has been that for me as much as for the people I’ve mentored.

Keeping it in the family

I have for example mentored my daughter-in-law for the past two years through the start of her landscaping and design business (Excelsa Landscapes). I know she has gained a lot in the process, but I have as well. I feel engaged, valued and acknowledged when working with her. I’m really proud to see how she and her business have developed over the past two years. Being in some small way part of her journey these past two years gives me as much enjoyment as anything else I do in my business.

I know my daughter-in-law has grown immeasurably as a business owner in those two years. Partly as a result of our mentoring relationship, she has become a true business owner, a person who takes control of her life and accepts responsibility for delivering on her client’s needs as well as the wellbeing of her employees and contractors. She stands in the centre of her world and doesn’t hide behind others. We’ve both grown and in the process we’ve also gotten to know and appreciate each other.

What more could any of us want in life?

Different forms of mentoring

There are many different forms of mentoring:

It can take whatever form suits you and your mentor.

A client of mine has four mentors. I am one of those four, he has another person such as me in New Zealand, his accountant is one of his mentors and finally there is a retired millionaire (billionaire even) who made his fortune in a similar industry to himself. They meet for lunch once or twice a year.

Some mentoring relationships are paid, some are voluntary and some have a payment in kind arrangement.

In other words, you can fashion the relationship to suit yourself and that brings me to the final point.

Taking control

You, the mentee, have to take control of the relationship. You have to decide what it is you want to get from working with your mentor and you have to ensure you get it. Do not make the mistake of instigating the relationship and then sitting back with folded arms wondering what happens next. Always enter every conversation with your mentor, able to clearly articulate what you want to walk away with from the session and what input you want from your mentor.

If you don’t yet have a mentor, as a small business owner or you’re not getting what you need out of a current mentoring relationship, it’s time to go looking for a new mentor.

Your world will change.

I promise you…

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Starting Your Own Small Business

Starting your own small business

Being an entrepreneur is a buzz and a challenge all in one

Starting your own small business
The reality of being Cinderella and prince Charming

The reality of starting your own small business

You’re about to start your own small business. No more working for the man. The corporate world has bled you dry. Idiot bosses and insane co-workers will no longer bother you; Time to take control of your own life and become a corporate refugee.

After all, you’re great at your profession. As a matter of fact, there’s probably no-one quite as efficient at it as you are. At the very least, you’re too good to be doing to for someone else any longer.

So when they handed out the voluntary redundancies, you jumped and now you’ll have close to a year before you have to be able to pay the bills and feed the family from income you’ve generated with your own small business.

It’s a very exciting time.

The future’s so bright you gotto wear shades.

I’m cheering for you

And as a business coach who works with small business owners like you a lot, I want you to know I am cheering for you. I love that you are taking this step and I wish more people would. I think, that when all is said and done, a lot of the world’s depression epidemic is caused by people feeling they are not in control of their lives. Starting your own business is a sure fire way to take that control back again.

More power to your right arm.

But before you jump in the deep end… let me give you a heads up on what you can likely expect.

Because live of a small business owner may not be quite what you expect, and it’s better to be prepared.

It’s all down to me

The biggest complaints I hear from people who have left the employed world and become the owner of their own businesses are these two:

  • First: It’s all down to me; From the toilet paper in the office, to getting the ink cartridges for the printer, to doing the social media posting, to deciding which laptop to buy and how to connect the router to the laptop and have it talk to the printer as well, to drawing up the job description for my assistant, to making sure the bookkeeping system is set up correctly, to going to the networking events, to negotiating the lease with the landlord, to renewing the insurances and registrations and licenses, to writing the business plan and writing the telephone answering script for the receptionist, to organizing the cleaners and answering the after hours inquiries and removing the virus from the infected laptop.

And all of that is what goes on before you’ve even done any of the actual work of the business. The architecture or the design work, or the plumbing or the consulting that your business is all about. Everything is down to you.

  • And second: It’s lonely. I have no one I can actually talk to in my business, certainly not my staff, and at home, my spouse doesn’t really understand what’s going on for me either, and my friends think I’m just whingeing.

Running a small business is entirely different than being an employee in an organization. There is no one employed to ensure there is coffee in the machine or that the toilet paper is replenished. When you’ve just started you simply do not have the budget to employ someone to do all that stuff. You’re it. And If you don’t know a thing about how and where to host your website, you’ll have to find out about it, won’t you!

It’s a total buzz

The cool thing is that when you do get the website up and you do have a client come to your office and comment what a nice space you’ve created or you do shakst hands with the new assistant you wrote the job description for, it’s really satisfying, probably more satisfying than anything you’ve ever experienced in your former life as a wage slave. It’s a total buzz.

But it ain’t easy.

Starting your own small business and raising it into a Healthy Bouncy Business is possibly the second most creative and resourceful thing you’ll ever do after raising your kids, but it’s an adventure with all kinds of traps and hurdles and roadblocks along the way. And every time you think you’re all over it, something will hit you from left field that will throw you for six for a while.

It’s worth it though… I promise you.

Further Reading

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

Download The 10 Truths to Starting a Healthy Bouncy Business, it’s FREE!

How to Raise a Healthy Bouncy Business

There is no shortage of amazing small business ideas

Amazing small business ideas

The world needs more business do-ers than business dreamers

Amazing small business ideas If I had a dollar for everyone who tells me they have an amazing small business idea…

I’m a small business fanatic. I love small business. Its small business first for me. I love hanging out with small business people and nearly all of my closest friends are small business owners. The myth is that small business owners are dreamers with amazing small business ideas. But I don’t agree. The reason I love small business owners is that they’re do-ers. Small business owners don’t dream (besides the normal dreams we all have), they don’t have amazing small business ideas, they roll up their sleeves, they take control of life, and they deal with whatever comes their way, and those are the kind of people I like hanging out with.

I often go to networking events and seminars and conferences and I sometimes get cornered by people who want to tell me about their amazing business idea. Obviously, as a business coach, I’m in the perfect position to give them some kind of off-the-cuff wisdom which is going to turn their amazing idea into a multibillion dollar startup.

2 billion pet owners

Amazing small business ideas“Oh wonderful… You’re a business coach, that must be so exciting … You know, I’ve got this great idea for a start-up. I want to develop this app. It’s going to keep pets that are left alone at home during the day company so they don’t start scratching the furniture or annoy the neighbours with their yelping all day long.”  They breath excitedly. “I know there is an incredible market for it, believe me, and we can build it in the cloud and we’ll create a kind of social media app with it that lets everyone keep track of their dogs and cats at home and it’s going to be so cool” (It’s always going to be ‘So Cool’ you know.) “All I need is some Angel funding for a marketing campaign and to get the app built in India, and the website and that kind of stuff… Did you know there are 2 billion pet owners around the world and if even 0.1% of those people subscribed to the app for $25 per month… I’m really good at developing these amazingly creative ideas, but the implementation side of things is not my strength area, know what I mean?… Can you help me?”

Uhhhhhh… No… Please go away

Whenever I get cornered by someone like that I feel tempted to tell them that my most successful client, The guy that inspires me more than anyone in business I’ve ever met, is my client who has taken his business from half a million dollars turnover in 2007 to $27 million today… and he sells milk.

We need more implementers

The world really does not need more amazing small business ideas. What the world needs more of are disciplined, focused implementers.

Of course, we’ve all read about Elon Musk and Jeff Bazos and Mark Zuckerberg and they did have a new idea and now they’re worth uncountable billions. But Mark Zuckerber didn’t just have an idea and get others to build it and deliver it and implement it. Zuckerberg spent years grinding away doing his own coding… From what I know a lot of the base coding in Facebook was written by Zuckerberg himself and even now I believe he still gets under the hood of Facebook regularly. The same goes for most super entrepreneurs. For many years after Microsoft had already become an institution in the PC world, Bill Gates had his fingers in all of the most important code that Microsoft created, and he got involved in the delivery and the management and all the other key areas of his company.

The secret to building a great business is in actually building it. Ideas are cheap… what are you going to build today?

Turn your small business ideas to big results. Download The 10 Truths for Making Your Business Grow, it’s FREE

Small Business

Overwhelmed in Your Business? Maybe you’re not Kind enough

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.

Kindness makes the world go round

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.

Reflections on being kind by an “older person”

I’ve been thinking about kindness a lot in the past year. Kindness to myself and kindness to others. Here is an article I wrote after a presentation I did on the topic of self compassion in June this year.

I’ve got some further thoughts on it that I’d like to share with you.

I think our society is not geared for kindness. We are urged to soldier on, to get stuck into things and to “Get Shit Done”. That attitude doesn’t encourage being kind to ourselves or to each other. That attitude makes us overwhelmed. Social media is rampant with people being unkind (in spite of the inspirational quotes all over Facebook). Road rage is prevalent and anyone we don’t agree with or is different is cut down by screaming headlines in newspapers and other media.

I’m 57, and maybe it’s time for me to realise that I have become a typical older person who believes we are all going to hell in a handbasket, the way the older persons did when I was 16. Maybe so, or maybe the older persons of my youth also had a point worth listening to.

Bull in a china shop

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.The thing is, I haven’t practised kindness very much myself in the past 57 years. I’m known as a bit of a ‘bull in a china shop’, I can be loud and obnoxious, quick to judge and I can be cutting and dismissive at times. But I think it’s time for me to change. The challenge came home to me again, today at lunch. I was talking with a very nice person about various people we both know. Some of those are competitors of mine, and I noticed how difficult I found it not to say unkind things about those competitors. I even found it hard to be nothing but kind about people we spoke about who are no competitors of mine. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t really bagging anyone, more like gossiping really, but it was definitely not kind. I noticed myself doing it, but found it really challenging to avoid. It’s so easy to gossip, it’s so easy to make fun of others, it’s so easy to belittle others. It makes for easy conversation.

And it’s unkind.

I had another insight in relation to kindness in the past few months. I spent a lot of time with my mother in her last weeks on earth during July of this year. At some stage she was getting impatient and frustrated. She was ready to go, had been ready for a while and she couldn’t understand why she was still here. It was quite upsetting, because her last days and weeks in this life were at risk of being spoilt by her increasing frustration with not dying yet. I had several conversations with her at the time and at some stage I said to her: “Your death is going to happen when it happens, there is nothing you can do to speed it up, and being angry is certainly not going to make the process go faster, it’s just a waste of your last days” and I said: “How might you get to enjoy what there is, instead of getting frustrated and angry over what there isn’t?”

I impress myself

The question had a positive impact on my mother. She started enjoying her last weeks and she died content. But the question had a really important impact on myself as well (I do impress myself sometimes!). I suddenly thought: What a great question to ask myself in many situations in my life, the circumstances, the business, the people and the relationships… “How can I get to love person X for who he is rather than get irritated for who he isn’t?”

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot in the past weeks and I can feel that I am learning to become a little kinder. I think I only noticed my unkindness over lunch with my friend as a result of having been focusing on this question in the past weeks.

Here’s another way to use the question that might lead to greater kindness: “How can I enjoy my life for what there is instead of be frustrated with what there isn’t?”

Try and ponder that question every now and then for yourself and see what difference it might make for you.

There is a wonderful organisation called: Random Acts of Kindness in Australia. They have a website and a whole bunch of great resources including a one-page sheet with the facts about Kindness, download it here

Kindness is important, it makes the world we live in more liveable, and I absolutely believe we should learn to be kinder to each other and to ourselves.

Further reading:

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

Take the FREE
Overwhelm in Business Survey!

If these words about kindness got you thinking, then you should go on and complete this survey. Overwhelm is often an indicator that people are not practising kindness, to themselves or others.

Take the Free Quiz


What Richard Branson Can Teach Us About Being Happier Human Beings & Business Owners

What Richard Branson Can Teach Us About Being Happier Humans & Business Owners

Let’s face it: You’re not Richard Branson

What Richard Branson Can Teach Us About Being Happier Humans & Business Owners

And that’s a good thing

Most small business owners I know, dream of being Richard Branson. I know, I’ve had those dreams, but I don’t anymore and I think you should start changing your dreams as well.

Let’s be clear, by any measure you’d like to put up, Sir Richard has done pretty well for himself. I saw a photo of him in an ambulance the other day with scrapes and blood all over his face, because he just hurtled himself down a massive hill on a mountain bike… I’m Dutch, I grew up on a bike, but I can assure you I never did stuff like that on my bikes, and he’s recently turned 66… Next week he’ll probably make another billion dollars on some new internet venture or donate some insane amount of money to a worthy cause or do a solo kayak trip to the South Pole and back. And to make matters worse it seems by all accounts, that he’s a truly nice guy as well.

As role models go, he makes me sick.

Really.

How are we ever meant to feel good about ourselves when we are forced to look up to people like that every day.

No matter what we do, we’ll never get that island in the Bahamas, nor look as good in a wet suit when in our late sixties. It’s just not going to happen.

Getting depressed

Pretty fair grounds to get depressed don’t you think?

Well no, actually. It turns out that feeling good about ourselves, about our lives and about our business has nothing to do with our achievements. Feeling good about our lives, feeling good about ourselves is about two things:

  • Relationships, because we are herd animals
  • The journey, because we are human beings

If Sir Richard Branson feels good about himself, about his life and his (many) businesses, it will be because of those two things only.

Firstly, as herd animals we actually are, we only get to feel really good about ourselves as a consequence of the relationships we develop with loved ones and family, with friends and with our community. The quality, intimacy and intensity of our interaction with the people around us leads us through life and allows us to feel happy.

Going on journeys that never end

And as the special animals called human beings we need to go on journeys. Journeys are about challenge and adventure and scary stuff; stepping out of your comfort zone and staying there. Journeys are never actually about getting there, sure you may need a rest every now and then and charge up the batteries from time to time, but the never ending adventure is where it’s at.

But the biggest journeys are not taken in a Kayak or on a mountain bike or in a hot air balloon.

The biggest journeys any of us can ever take, are in our own heads. There can be no greater journey for some people than overcoming the fear of public speaking, or for you as a small business owner, it may that learning to understand your Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss reports, are an ongoing struggle and source of discomfort.

For some of us the greatest journey we can ever undertake is to become a great employer of 1 or two people.

People and journey’s, your own personal journeys… Focus on those and you’ll feel just as good about yourself as Richard Branson does when he continues on his next crazy adventure… I promise you.

And if you ever need a self-assessment to give you some food for thought on whether you’re a small business owner who can juggle between the demands of life and business, here’s my treat for you:

Take the FREE Richard Branson Quiz!

You will get a score on my “Richard Branson” scale and I will send you back a short commentary on your score… I hope it will throw up some useful thoughts for you.

Richard Branson Quiz


Why It’s OK Being Small in the Business World

There is such a thing as ‘big enough’

sonic sight enough growth I read a great article today on the Leaders in heels blog by Geoff anderson from Sonic Sight, this is the link to the full article: http://leadersinheels.com/business/advice-small-business-owner-okay-small

Geoff explains how he’s come to the conclusion that it’s right for him to keep the business small. not to grow any further.

And Geoff’s business is exactly right for him, it allows him to spend enough time with his family and to engage with the other things in his life that mater to him and hence his business sustains him (and all of those he cares about) for years to come.

I love Geoff’s insight and I believe more business owners need to have this insight. I’ve written about it in The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun as well, because I think we have been doing ourselves a big dis-service to follow the mantra: “Business must grow or else it dies”. t’s simply not true.

I’m not qualified to make judgements about the world of large business, although I do believe that our worldwide focus on growth at all cost must come to an end really soon or there won’t be a planet left, but I do know about small business and in small business there is simply no rationale to keep growing and growing… just because.

We need to grow exactly to the point that serves us and sustains us and makes Business Fun… but no further. And where that point is, will be different for everyone, and that’s how it’s supposed to be in small business.

So ask yourself… what’s “Enough” for you?

Answer that question for yourself and for your business and your life will never be the same again… I promise you.

And thanks Geoff Anderson for those great insights