Monday, 31 March 2008

What’s the hidden danger of being the brightest person in the room?

James Watson claimed that he and Crick discovered the secret of DNA because they were not the most intelligent scientists pursuing the problem...!

In ‘
YES – 50 secrets from the science of persuasion’, Goldstein, Martin and the great Cialdini tell us why the best leader operating individually will be beaten to the solution by the less expert but cooperating unit…

1) Lone decision-makers can’t match the diversity of knowledge/perspectives of the 'team' approach… input from others can stimulate your thinking…

2) The solution-seeker who goes it alone can’t do parallel processing
The good news - you should remain in control and take the lead... but use other people to stimulate and speed up the process and break the problem down into manageable parts.
Do you get the team involved enough or do you endlessly try to do it alone ‘cos you think you are the brightest bunny?

RELEVANT LINKSView a book extract, download business podcasts and take the interactive quiz
Read The Times review of Yes
Yes! blog
Influence – The Psychology of Influence by Cialdini

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Small businesses are paying out millions of pounds for advice on employing people

The HR Consultants will love this. According to eGOV monitor:

"Small businesses are paying out millions of pounds for advice on employing people which they could be getting for free, according to a new Government study." [I haven't found the survey yet on the BERR website! RC]

"Four in ten small businesses admit turning to external advisers for guidance on employment related issues including legislation, training, recruitment and retention, according to research from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

"BERR has launched a campaign to help businesses cut the time and cost involved in employing people.

"Small businesses can visit for simple, practical advice and guidance on the full range of employment issues, from taking on staff through to dismissals and redundancies."

"The site includes calculators and interactive guides to help businesses understand their legal obligations and save themselves time and money.

"Interactive features of the site include:
o An employing people checklist
o Downloadable written statements of employment
o A new redundancy tool, which enables employers to produce redundancy statements.
o An interactive tool to calculate how much holiday staff are entitled to
o An interactive tool to help with managing new and expectant mothers in the workplace
o The facility to sign up for email alerts about new and changing regulations."

A few minor points:

As a business owner, if only it were that simple.

I do not have the time to wade through employment legislation - that's why I employ an expert to do this, someone at the top of their game who knows what they are doing.

PS I also employ an IT specialist (Matt), accountant (Rob), publicist (Sue), web designer (Tim), graphics artist (Patrick) solicitor, and many other 'consultant/experts' even though I know that much of what they do/offer may be in the public domain. And this is because I am relatively cash-rich but time-poor.

They call it delegation.

Or shall I work another weekend?

Maybe BERR should try attending an Employment Tribunal sometime... How many new employment laws in the last 10 years?


Monday, 24 March 2008

Be Different... Be Remarkable #1

You must set yourself apart; be seen as different (in the client’s eyes).

Trading on the old tag lines no longer works. If all your competitors are competing on the strength of the usual banners (faster, smarter, better value) then why should people bother to buy from you if you are all just the same?

Now is the time to look at your business and try to make yourself look different on at least one significant criterion. If there is a choice between being different and being better, then I’d rather be different. Ideally, I’d rather be different and the best!

Old world/big business marketing tried to give different personalities to what were essentially similar products. Think of the weak wet stuff known as lager in the Eighties. Nowadays, clients are inclined to think that if a product looks, sounds, smells, feels and performs in roughly the same manner, then it probably is roughly the same.

So, somehow you must create that difference that separates you from all the other similar products, otherwise why should people bother to buy from you?

Today's challenge: define what makes your business remarkable... and describe your business in eight words or less.

What Would You Say To Sir Alan? - A full-length article on the 30-second pitch. Robert Craven (Better Business Magazine).

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Robert Craven hits Turkey

Look what I've been sent - book covers from the Turkish equivalent of Amazon.
These are clearly translations of 'Kick-Start Your Business - a 100 days to a leaner, fitter organisation' and 'Bright Marketing - how to exceed their expectations'.
Interestingly enough, I have no knowledge of these books and I am getting no royalties!
So someone out there has been wonderfully entrepreneurial.

Kick-Start Your Business - the book
Customer Is King - the book

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Entrepreneurial Qualities

I have just been asked to write an article on what makes successful entrepreneurs.

I had to refer them to Geoffrey A Timmons’ excellent study of nine key entrepreneurial qualities that apply to successful business people:
1. A high level of drive and energy.

2. Enough self-confidence to take carefully calculated, moderate risks.

3. A clear idea of money as a way of keeping score and as a means of generating more money.

4. The ability to get other people to work with you and for you productively.

5. High but realistic, achievable goals.

6. Belief that you can control your own destiny.

7. Readiness to learn from your own mistakes and failures.

8. A long-term vision of the future of your business.

9. Intense competitive urge, with self-imposed standards.

And, of course, TAKE MASSIVE ACTION!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

"And the winner is..."

And the winner is…

Sunday morning I had breakfast with a gentleman who has just sold his business – when visiting his offices I was always hit by the sheer volume of ‘gongs on the wall’ – they had won everything and his DJ must have been worn out…

Tuesday night we ran a special private dinner for a selection of past/present/future clients and some ‘movers and shakers’ – a lovely, lively meal. Several of our guests had walls full of gongs to celebrate them as Best Company to Work For, Best Privately-Owned Company, Fastest Growing… Most Exciting... etc..

An entire industry seems to be set up to sponsor and run these events… so are they worth it for the entrants? Do great companies win the awards OR does winning an award make you a great company? The old ‘cause and effect’ routine!

Well, I spent last night in my DJ at the Fast Growth Business Awards along with other distinguished people including Peter Jones from Dragons' Den. As part of the judging panel, I was privileged to give the prize for the FD of the Year.

Last year’s winner, Maxi-Muscle, gave away an earlier prize and gave an impromptu thanks – he was absolutely clear that winning last year’s prize had been a huge morale boost for everyone involved with the business PLUS recognition PLUS tons of PR PLUS lots of people wanting to talk to them and work for them and buy more from them. So, yes, it must work… a wonderful ‘benevolent cycle’.

PS See the video of the
Fast Growth Business Awards - see me in my tux - but why didn't anyone tell me about the bow tie being crooked...?!

Fast Growth Business Awards - you can see the 90 second video here
Winner Interviews here
1. T-Mobile Company of the Year
Insure and Go >
2. International Business of the Year
Picsel Technologies Ltd >
3. PLUS New Business of the Year
AH Medical Properties plc >
4. Innovative Business of the Year
The Best Of >
5. Best Use of Technology
Interactive Prospect Targeting Ltd >
6. Service Business of the Year
Ten Lifestyle Management >
7. Product Business of the Year
Kell Systems Ltd >
8. Retail/Leisure Business of the Year Lovefilm International >
9. Online Business of the Year
Insure and Go >
10. Angel or VC-backed Business of the Year
Lowell Group >
11. AIM New Business of the Year
Monitise plc >
12. Female Entrepreneur of the Year
Reading Room >
13. Financial Director of the Year
Jennifer Raines, Global Personals (trading as >
14. Green Business of the Year
Alara Wholefoods >
15. One to Watch >

Thursday, 6 March 2008

How to exploit search engines

These links were tagged on to the end of a great article by Dave Chaffey "How to exploit search engines"... in December/January's The Marketer from CIM - I also recommend the magazine.

Understand customer search behaviour using tools... see the popularity of phrases related to your site at - he wrote the article...

Insider info on the latest changes at Google from Google employee Matt Cutts' blog

Use Yahoo Site Explorer to find which backlinks you or competitors have

Link-building approaches from LinkMoses' Eric Ward

Understand the SEO top ranking factors using the experts' compilation

Read e-consultancy's Search Engine Optimisation Best Practice Guide

- Track the latest developments at Search Engine Watch
- Gain insights from industry guru Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Colour Of Money - Fake Green - version 2

APOLOGIES - earlier versions of this blog entry had a 'bad' link - all sorted - thanks to Debbie for telling me about this...

This month I will play the devil’s advocate (so please, no hate mail!). It’s time to spill the beans about what many MDs of growing businesses really think about the whole green thing.
So, hands up those of you who care about global warming!
Read More of the Growing Business article The Colour Of Money - Fake Green

Let's Talk... Green/Profit/Marketing/Exit events with Barclays and The Directors' Centre
Is Green The New Black? - (Start Your Business, November 2007)
Whitewash - Greenwash: who cares if your business is green? - It is easy to say you are green, but consumers are sceptical.