Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Workplace ‘dreamers’ of today make tomorrow’s entrepreneurs

Research reveals untapped potential of today’s workforce...

"Workers caught staring into space at their desk or ‘away with the fairies’ during business meetings are a mass of untapped, entrepreneurial talent, according to research from Barclays Local Business... nearly half of today’s UK business bosses (44 per cent) admit to having plotted their entrepreneurial future whilst daydreaming in the work place of a previous employer...

"... just six per cent were prepared to think about being their own boss in between pints down the pub...

"The survey also uncovers the concerns keeping aspiring entrepreneurs awake at night; just under 40 per cent admit to feeling nervous about giving up the financial stability of a full time job, while nearly one in five (19 per cent) worry about getting into debt."
Read the full Workplace Dreamers story

I spent a very pleasurable Friday morning with John Davis, Marketing Director of Barclays Local Business being interviewed by 15 or so local radio stations on the implications of this research and how entrepreneurs can join the Let's Talk More Profit and Let's Talk Bright Marketing workshops. Drop me a line if you hear one of the interviews...

Workplace dreamers - Barclays Press Centre
A Big Swinging Success In The Business Jungle - What does an entrepreneur need to transform a smart idea into a profitable venture? Wendy Sloane (Sunday Times, 28 Jan 2007).
Let's Talk Profit Formulas - The one question that start-ups and new business-owners should be asking is ‘how do I get more profit?’. Robert Craven (Start Your Business Mag, Sept/Oct, 2006).

Our friend (and former client) Simon Topham of Millivres Publishing won the Businessperson of the Year Award at the GALA Awards at Claridges on Friday - it was a busy day!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Porsche dealer admits 'not too good at maths' after buy one get one free deal

- kindly sent to me by Debra Spurway of HR Dept

Glen Fergusson, sales and marketing manager for a new Californian Porsche dealer, has lost his job and faces possible legal proceedings as the company strives to reclaim the costs of the 18 Porsches given away free under Glen's opening day "buy one get one free promotion".

Glen said: "I have never really been too good at Math and I was sure the whole time we were making money - I was initially blown away by the amount of cars we were selling in that first hour. I had seen the "buy one get one free card" work extremely well for the new coffee shop down the road and thought what a great idea I will try it here."

Anyone who has been to one of the Let's Talk... More Profit seminars will know about the financial implications of a BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) offer - how, when and why to run such an offer!

Even More Profit - free seminars with Paul Jobin (12 venues across the UK)
Let's Talk... More Profit - free seminars with Robert Craven (venues nationwide)
HR Dept - Debra's website

Friday, 21 September 2007

Podcast on SmallBizPod

Taken from

SmallBizPod #54 - Monday 17 September 2007
"This week SmallBizPod #54, the podcast for anyone starting a business who needs inspiration and small business advice, returns to the subject of marketing with some very practical insight from serial entrepreneur and author Robert Craven."

SmallBizPod #54 - Monday 17 September 2007
Robert Craven

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Women = Men?

I attended a seminar today on selling! I am still learning...

In the wrap-up Q&A session to all the speakers, a question was posed:

"How are female salespeople different from men?" followed by "Do you sell differently when you are in front of a woman rather than a man?"

In true non-sexist, non-racist, politically correct style, all the speakers pronounced that there should be no difference in how men and women sell ("the same basics apply") and that men and women buy in the same way.

Well, "yes!" and "no!". I am not sure I agree.

Yes, the same basics appply (rapport, qualification/understanding, demonstration, close etc) but...

I believe that men and women do behave differently from each other (a sweeping generalisation!) and I believe that they do buy differently.

The situation is as follows:

  • Men and women are very different…;
  • Men are (still) in control… and are ‘totally, hopelessly, clueless about women’;
  • Women are not a niche market or a minority – they have wallets, and for many businesses, women as decision-makers and consumers hold the key to future success.


Marketing To Women: What Women Really Want! - Are women different from men? Do they behave differently when they are buying? And if they are different, should we be marketing to them in a different way? (CriticalEye, Aug 2006).
Targeting Number One - Women make the majority of buying decisions today. Why reaching this segment is possibly the number one opportunity for businesses (London Business School Business Strategy Review)

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Bjorn Lomborg says balmier weather could ward off millions of deaths.

This man gets off to a good if controversial start:
Global warming has been portrayed recently as the greatest crisis in the history of civilization... In the face of this level of unmitigated despair, it is perhaps surprising - and will by many be seen as inappropriate - to write a book that is basically optimistic about humanity's prospects.

Global warming has become one of the permanent concerns of our time

In this highly controversial book, Bjorn Lomborg claims most 'environmentalism is little more than scare mongering' - he exposes this wide range of disinformation.

He demonstrates that drastic, here-and-now measures are the worst way to spend our money. Climate change is a 100-year problem - we should not try to fix it in 10 years.
Like it or hate it, this is a companion for the controversial video The Great Global Warming Swindle.

Bright Marketing: Whitewash - Greenwash: who cares if your business is green? - blog entry
Washington Post Writers Group - a review of the book
Bjorn Lomborg - his website

Monday, 10 September 2007

Small Giants - Companies that choose to be great rather than big….

Small Giants by Bo Burlingham poses big challenges to those who assume that by definition growth is a good thing.

Consultants, accountants, bankers and business schools all tell us that thriving companies grow their profits and revenues year-on-year (and if you aren’t doing it then you feel like you must be failing!).

But bigger is not necessarily better!

Burlingham looks at businesses that choose ‘the road less travelled’… they reject the pressures of endless growth and instead they focus on being the best at what they do, creating a great workplace, legendary customer service, and a sense of community (both locally in the workplace).

Six attributes of these ‘businesses with mojo’ are:

  1. The founders/leaders recognised the full range of choices they had about the type of company they could create. They hadn’t accepted the standard menu of options as a given.

  2. They had allowed themselves to question the usual definitions of success in business and to imagine possibilities other than the ones all of us are familiar with.

  3. The leaders had overcome the enormous pressures on successful companies to take the paths they had not chosen and did not necessarily want to follow. They remained in control rather than accommodating themselves to a business shaped by outside forces.

  4. Each company had an extraordinarily intimate relationship with the local community, with customers and suppliers, and in the workplace.

  5. Because they were privately owned, they had the freedom to develop their own management systems and practices

  6. The leaders had unbridled, limitless passion for their business and about their service/product.

So What?

We currently have a number of clients who endlessly beat themselves up because they are not achieving year-on-year exponential growth…
- Maybe the growth lifestyle doesn’t suit them?
- Maybe their business hadn’t been designed to grow?
- Maybe you don’t want to sacrifice all you have created to create a Frankenstein’s monster?
- Maybe there’s more to life than selling the business for a huge profit?

Small Giants
Success At What Cost
Let's Talk... More Profit - free seminars with Robert Craven (venues nationwide).

Friday, 7 September 2007

Sacking Customers

Here are the words of two attendees from recent Let's Talk seminars where we often bang on about why we should sack difficult customers!

And I quote from an article in the Mail On Sunday by Helen Beckett:

Last year Matt Somers, owner of Peak, a Sunderland-based company offering bespoke training in management skills began sacking customers who behaved badly. And the results have been impressive.

'In the last year turnover has risen by 25 per cent and profits have been boosted by up to 10 per cent,' he says. 'They quibble about price and constantly squeeze you for more...I realised that many businesses shared the problem and it was OK to do something about it'

Laura Brown, director of Leeds-based event management company Circle Events, also sees advantages in turning away bad business.
'I very politely told a customer that he could call back when he knew what his budget was for an event,' she says. Brown believes the business has benefited from saving time on nurturing flaky customers. 'We've gained more credibility as a result,' she says.

I reckon that "Pond Life" generally accounts for 20 per cent of a business's customer base, but they can soak up 80 per cent of its time and resources. That's time that can be more profitably spent winning business from good customers. It seems like a no-brainer to me!

Write a list of your worst customers... Which ones would you like to sack?
What are you going to do?

Circle Events
Let's Talk seminars
Mail On Sunday article - "Awkward Customers? Well Sack Them"
Get Rid of The Scum - entry on this blog

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The Long Tail

Part of heated discussions at The Directors' Centre have been around the relevance of Chris Anderson's book The Long Tail for our clients.

The theory of the Long Tail can be boiled down to: "Our culture and economy are increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of hits (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve, and moving towards a huge number of niches in the tail.
In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks, narrowly targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare."

The book challenges (and also supports!) our current thinking about the good old 80:20 Rule... There emerge six key themes as described in the book:

  1. In most markets there are more 'niche' products than 'hits'
  2. The cost of reaching those niches is falling dramatically - so you can now offer a massively expanded variety of products
  3. 'Filters' (recommendations or rankings, google etc) can drive demand towards the niches/the tail
  4. A consequence is that the 'hits' become less popular and the niches become more popular - the demand curve flattens
  5. There are so many niches that they can compete (collectively) and exist as a market rivalling the 'hits'
  6. The natural shape of the demand curve (without the physical constraints of shelf space) are less hit-driven than we believe.

So What?
The message is a straightforward one for smaller players. What you need to do is:

  1. Make it!
  2. Get it out there!
  3. Help people find it

And now it is cheaper and easier to do these things than ever before!

The Long Tail is a thought-provoking read - anyone growing a business should reflect on how they can scale up their existing offerings... In most markets the future does not lie in the 'hits' (the high-volume end of the traditional demand curve), but in what used to be regarded as the 'misses' (the curve's endlessly long tail)!

The Long Tail
What's The Problem? What's The Hurt? - a brief article


Even More Profit - free seminars with Paul Jobin (12 venues across the UK)
Let's Talk... More Profit - free seminars with Robert Craven (venues nationwide).