Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Entrepreneur's One-Day MBA

The Entrepreneur's One-Day MBA 

- pre-launch notification

“Everything you wanted to know about growing a business...
 but you were afraid to ask!”

Like a double-espresso of business tools, the day is practical and action-focused. Take away tools to implement in your own business. Tools that work!

The programme will help you to:
  • Understand key tools and techniques of business growth and entrepreneurship
  • Apply some of the ‘best of’ systems and processes
  • See how to make the individual pieces of the business jigsaw puzzle fit together
  • Decide how to implement and deliver your growth plans.

Entrepreneurs often ask themselves, "Do I need an MBA?"  A better question might be...
“What business tools, tips and techniques do I need
to run a more successful business?” 

What is the Entrepreneur's One-Day MBA?

  • This programme is the result of running and working with businesses for over 30 years, from both sides of the business school fence. 
  • It is a compilation of what actually works, using the best and most appropriate tools to help you grow your business.

A One-Day MBA?

A one-day programme will never be a substitute for a full-blown in-depth 12-month course. We never would pretend it does. We could not and would not claim that we  “deliver a 5 Star MBA at a fraction of the cost”. We'd get sued!  


No, it is not an MBA (a Masters in Business Administration). It is a "One-Day MBA" by which we mean a one-day crash course. 

In the same way that an MBA course is designed "to introduce students to the various areas of business such as accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, operations management, etc." so we look at the essential basics, but for entrepreneurs.

Some delegates will realise that what they actually want to do as a result of attending is to go on and study a full-blown MBA.

So, what do you get?

This day will give you the actual toolkit that you need… for your business. This is a no–nonsense programme which literally cuts to the chase and gives you a review of the key concepts and tools that entrepreneurs and ambitious owner-managers need to have at their fingertips…

The day is intense and informative, relevant and focused, short but sweet!

Who delivers it?

11 myths of business growth debunked

I love the myths that seem to manifest themselves in the small/growing business community. 

Potentially there is a whole book of myths that have been propagated, promoted and sold to a relatively innocent yet willing audience of wannabe millionaires. Dare I say, lambs to the slaughter!

"Get rich quick"
I have never come across a real 'get rich quick scheme', one that actually delivers on its promise. 
I know they exist in name but they just don't do what it says on the tin! If they were that good then why would you be privy to the special knowledge (most of which is actually freely available on the internet, if you know where to look!). I suspect they just want your paltry fee. The get rich quick scheme ironically has you as the victim. Just think what 100 people paying the so-called guru £10,000 creates (not for you but) for the guru. So, tell me, who does get rich quick?

"It's a bit like MLM or pyramid selling but I’ll be OK because I’m in early"

I am a pretty optimistic person but the number of people showing me "photos of big houses and the Ferrari that Fred who got in early now owns" who subsequently write and complain that they have "made no money quite yet" makes me wonder who is making the money. Again, like "get rich quick", Fred will have taken £100 or £1,000 from 100 people etc etc. Just do the sums. And I am sure that the product is a world-beating multi-use, environmentally friendly blah, blah, blah... They always are.
Too good to be true
See the two above. As my mother always says: "If it looks like it is too good to be true, then it probably is."

Talent = success

Look around yourself at the next meeting. Ever wonder why people who are seriously more stupid are doing so well despite you having all that education and training? Well, success does not go hand-in-hand with talent. 
Some people just understand how to make money (Jack the Lads) and some people simply put in the hard hours that eventually pay off. Intelligence is not enough. 

Success = money

As the joke goes: "If you want to know what God thinks of money then look at who he gives it to." 
Seriously, there is not a graph that equates more happiness with more money. In fact, quite the reverse. Money may be a simple metric but it does not reflect success or happiness; it simply reflects your ability to inherit or make or keep it. Not the same as happiness at all.
The secret – the Law of Attraction
Why would obsessively focusing on something make it actually happen? 

Yes, have a vision and a dream. Yes, become single-minded and focused on it. Yes, envision working towards it and seeing it happen before your eyes. However, wake up and smell the coffee: now you need to take action to make it happen. The key words are YOU and TAKE ACTION. Belief is belief but action is action!!!! And results speak for themselves. 

Create a niche, Google ads, squeeze pages, videos, testimonials and automate...

"But I joined the programme, paid my £10,000 then we created the niche, ran the Google ads, sent people to the squeeze page, showed them the videos and testimonials, sent them the long double-money-back guarantee letters, automated the heck out of it and yet... and yet we have only had 53 views..." 

Again, perfectly respectable and earnest wannabe entrepreneurs fall for the marketing pitch of people who are great at selling what they sell and show you their secret. Please, despite the weasel words and snake oil, the basics always have to be in place: great product, an appetite to buy, great, compelling marketing, right time, right place.

Social media works

Sometimes! Show me the money!

Networking really works

Sometimes! Show me the money!

Create a money-machine – enjoy a four-hour work week

Yes, you can automate and monetise every process but the idea of a four-hour-workweek is a marketing creation – it doesn't mean one actually lives it! It is simply something to aspire to or work towards...

A world without myths?

I am afraid that for 99.9% of the population the normal laws of money and physics apply: you know, inputs/outputs, cause/effect, supply/demand. 

There are:
  • no magic bullets, 
  • no short-cuts, 
  • no universal solutions, 
  • no real secrets. 
There's just a lot of common sense and tried and tested methods and approaches that will work over time. The trick is to weed out the woo-woo mumbo-jumbo from what actually works. And what will work for you.
Create a product or service that people want or need, that solves a problem, hurt, itch or complaint, that has a defined and accessible customer base. 
You need to demonstrate your overt benefit, the real reason to believe that you will deliver and why you are different. 
You also need to deliver remarkable legendary service,  be prepared to pivot if things aren't working, be bold, move fast, be decisive, be prepared to fail (a bit) and enjoy the journey!
Of course, there are some short cuts and cunning ways to speed up and fast-track the process. Of course, some been-there-done-it people can help you achieve more and faster and avoid the pitfalls and classic early/first-time errors. Just be realistic.
Maybe I should hire a Ferrari and have my photo taken driving it before being videoed in front of an LA swimming pool. Then would you believe me? 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

How Google Will Destroy Facebook And LinkedIn

How Google Will Destroy Facebook And LinkedIn

Google seem to be really going for it on the internet but I am not sure if they are too late or not.

While they have the number one spot for search engines, some of their other offerings, at first glance, appear to be me-too products. But I am not sure if that is really the case.

LinkedIn and FaceBook seem to dominate the social media world with LinkedIn being a little more business-focused. Despite their faults, (spam, clunkiness, world domination), you cannot deny that most people are already signed up. So why would you switch to yet another platform?

Google Plus, Google’s social media platform, offers a great alternative BUT not enough people have signed up. Not enough have migrated across and (like fax machines and email before) no-one wants to be on their own on a network. ‘Catch 22’-style, everyone joins a network where everyone is, and not before.

The Google Plus experience is totally compelling, apart from the fact that everyone has their social media experience strewn across the internet.

Running Mastermind Groups and consultancy assignments my application footprint is pretty typical of someone who is active on social media:
  • Firefox (or Internet Explorer) as your browser
  • Hotmail (or Yahoo) for emails
  • Google for searching (owned by Google)
  • Google Images for pictures
  • LinkedIn for my own private discussion groups
  • FaceBook for general networking and a couple of groups I belong to
  • Twitter for short messages and networking
  • TweetDeck (could have been HootSuite) for posting and scheduling FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Skype for internet and conference calls
  • Blogger (owned by Google) (could have been WordPress) for my blog
  • and for my curated magazine
  • YouTube for video (owned by Google)
  • DropBox for sharing files

With all the various offers and their ability to talk to each other (or not), we have a real muddle. Of course, the big but is that the sheer laziness and inertia of users means that the last most want to do is add yet another layer.

Of course the reality is that Google can replace all the above apps in one go. With Google Chrome as your browser, the rest can follow suit (or rather link from the same suite of products):
  • Google Chrome as your browser
  • Google Gmail for emails
  • Google for searching
  • Google Images for pictures
  • Google Plus Communities for my own private discussion groups
  • Google Plus Circles for general networking and a couple of groups I belong to
  • Any number of Google Chrome Apps for posting and scheduling to FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Google Hangouts for internet and conference calls
  • Blogger (owned by Google) for my blog
  • Google Plus Community for my curated magazine
  • YouTube (owned by Google) for video
  • Google Documents for sharing files
  • Google Reader for tracking key phrases

More importantly, all these Google apps now talk to each other.  My blogger account talks seamlessly to Google Plus and YouTube. The use of each one enhances your standing on the world’s key search engine, Google. Google likes Google users so it makes sense to be ‘on the programme’.

If you couple these individual apps with a few additionals like Google authorship then you start to see what the Google suite can do. If nothing else it will be incredibly SEO (search engine optimisation)-friendly. However the joy of being in one suite, one programme, one set of controls, one language, one style and all this is fully interchangeable and user-friendly.

So how could I use Google...
To run a webinar-type conference call I invite people on Google Plus in my Circles to use Google Hangouts. We talk and share files (from the Google Documents) and video content (from YouTube). The whole video conference can get saved to YouTube where I can then publish and distribute it via the Google community. Not bad, eh!

Of course, Google doesn’t replace Twitter. It doesn’t make LinkedIn or FaceBook redundant. However, it (the very complementary Google suite that we are already 50% engaged in) makes it all feel very clunky as we bounce from competing platform to competing platform.

So, is it just a question of time?

Saturday, 16 February 2013

10 Things To Do In The Next 10 Days

Here are a couple of versions of the 10 Things 'ology'. You'll get the general drift...

10 Things To Do In The Next 10 Days - Birmingham, 2012, including video of the first five minutes

Here's the first three video format:

At the Business Club we also have these two (you should be able to see these):

(also available here on Robert Craven's blog: 10 Things...)

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

30-Something-Year-Old Entrepreneurs

There seems to be a new trend becoming more obvious to me.

I have been acting as adviser and consultant to fast-growing independent businesses since the mid 1980s. To date, the age of the entrepreneurs running the businesses have been pretty evenly distributed with the youngest being around 25 and the oldest at around 75.  The average age is usually around 40/50. But now there is a new trend emerging.

Looking at the last ten or so clients, I can see that their average age is fractionally under 30. So, what’s going on?

1.      It would appear that there are a growing number of start-ups and owner-managed businesses run by younger businesses. Running a business is more popular as a career choice.

2.      The young entrepreneur is keener than their older counterparts to find ‘the answers’ and they recognise the value of learning from experts. They have looked for help and the get-rich-quick/quick-fix offerings only go some way to satisfy that need.

3.      Many appear to be looking to work with advisers who have:
a)    Been-there-and-done it
b)    Have some grey hair – have seen a few recessions in their time
c)    Have experience of rolling their sleeves up and actually growing and running sustainable/respectable businesses
d)    Have a squeaky-clean reputation.

This is not some kind of a MLC (mid-life crisis) observation but a statement of fact. Younger businesses are working with us. More than ever before.

So, is it really about the age of the entrepreneur? What I am witnessing is all the Es!!! Energy, enthusiasm, excitement, entertainment, effervescence. Yet these characteristics can come with any “young-minded” age group. Specifically, the people I am talking about are young in years. They have the wonderful combination of energy plus enthusiasm plus the ‘arrogance of youth’ and yet they have little to lose. A startling combination that takes the business places that the more conservative would fear to tread. Great stuff!

This movement, I would argue, has not been wooed by the nonsense that is The Apprentice or Dragon’s Den where making good (= entertaining) TV is more important than creating good businesses. Where it is fun to have a laugh at the expense of a na├»ve or gullible wannabe. The new generation of entrepreneurs are far more canny than that. The irony is that the younger generation are playing a game far cuter than the one being played the TV execs. The TV execs just don’t realise it!

We seem to be witnessing an entire generation of entrepreneurs who have been lucky enough to have been trading in a constantly growing economic environment. Game over, my friends. I do not think we’ll see time like the Noughties again. Well not exactly like those boom times.

Or maybe the adviser/consultant role is just a shiny toy for the younger and more naive businesses, whereas their more mature counterparts have seen it all before and so don’t bother... However, working with the younger businesses creates terrific results. The businesses are already in growth mode so an injection of insightful critical thinking added to their innate enthusiasm, excitement and passion for their ideas can literally turbo-charge their growth in sales and profits.

Maybe I am taking a bunch of random events and trying to see a pattern where, actually, there is none. What I do know is that I am having more conversations with these younger businesses than ever before.  

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The business benefits of a weekly sort-out

Weekly Sort-Out

Part of the job of running your own business is figuring out how you can get ahead of the game. 

You need to have processes or systems that can focus on you finding cuter/smarter/cleverer ways of doing things. You must find ways that are cuter/smarter/cleverer than the way your competitors do things.

I will suggest two options:

1 The ‘Think On’ Hour

Most business owners arrive at work before the rest of the team. The place is quiet and there are far fewer interruptions. I know of some business people who take this time every day and spend up to one hour simply sitting and thinking about how to improve things. After all, if we agree that we need to spend more time working on the business and less time working in the business, this is a blindingly obvious thing to do – even if you only do it once a week!

2 The ‘KPI Focus’ Hour

A more focused and less freeform approach may produce even better dividends. We all have basic key metrics we use to measure and evaluate business performance – key performance indicators. If you don’t know what I am talking about you can stop reading now and just go for the ‘Think On’ Hour option.

Use your KPIs (or metrics or whatever you wish to call them) to evaluate performance. Once a week spend an hour (alone or with the team, whatever works best for your business) and focus on the one key issue you need to improve in your business. This can be called your single, most-important, over-arching goal for the coming month.

Decide what the over-arching goal is going to be then brainstorm, Google, steal, talk and debate about how you are going to improve your performance. Decide what you are going to do. Make it a high priority. Commit to it. Communicate it. And do it.