This is a guest blog post by my friend and Self Care Coach, Mel Noakes, who specialises in helping women to balance professional success with their personal health and happiness. After leaving her corporate career, Mel decided to help people whose lives look great on paper but which in reality feel like “crap” having been there herself. Having now passed the date when most people have apparently given up on their New Year’s Resolutions, I thought she’d be the ideal person to help you keep going with yours – whether you’re a woman or a man. You can find out more about Mel’s work on her website HERE
and also connect with her on Twitter
There’s something almost cathartic about a fresh start isn’t there? A clear inbox. A new home. A new job. Even new shoes. It feels something special to start something.
And nothing says fresh start quite in the same way that a new year does.
And with new year comes new year’s resolutions – according to a You Gov poll 63% of Brits and over 100 million Americans set new year’s resolutions. That’s a lot of intention being sent out into the universe.
The practice isn’t new, according to the history books the Romans began each year making promises to the god Janus, how January got its name. The Babylonians made promises to their gods each year that they’d pay their debts and return items that they had borrowed. In many religions, a new year is significant for casting off the old and seeking forgiveness to move forward with the new.
So, with such fervour around new year’s resolutions, it seems odd that a new year’s resolution will be a distant memory before the month is out. A 2015 by Bupa showed that 63 per cent of people who set new year’s resolutions in 2015 failed and of those polled by Bupa, nearly half of Brits (43%), lasted less than a month.
So, what happens to that shiny new feeling and why do so many people go so wrong?
On 17 January, the UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, delivered a major speech on her plans for leaving the E.U. For the first time, she has confirmed clearly and unequivocally that she will not to try to preserve membership of the European single market. Instead she hopes to conclude a deal with the rest of the E.U. that will still give business the access it needs to trade with the rest of the continent without barriers, tariffs or any new obstacles.
Given the uncertain world businesses are operating in, I thought it was the right time to look at how scenario planning will help you navigate this uncharted territory. But before we get into scenario planning, let’s spend a minute reflecting on what we do and don’t know about what’s going on in the external environment.
This is the second in a series of guest articles by my friend and communications expert, Hilary Robinson. Hilary has spent the past 20+ years running corporate events in a variety of industries across the world, including in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, India and Canada. Experience has taught her that manners and courtesy are hugely powerful communication tools, and when put into use, the foundations for success. Find out more about how Hilary helps businesses here
. You can follow Hilary on Facebook
In my first article, Networking: How To Stop Dreading It, and Start Enjoying It (Really!) I explored the main problem most of us have with networking, and that is our attitude toward it. Most of us only do it when we have to, and even then, we do it grudgingly. In this article, I share my top 12 tips for improving your networking experience.
This is the first in a series of guest articles by my friend and communications expert, Hilary Robinson. Hilary has spent the past 20+ years running corporate events in a variety of industries across the world, including in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, India and Canada. Experience has taught her that manners and courtesy are hugely powerful communication tools, and when put into use, the foundations for success. Find out more about how Hilary helps businesses here
. You can follow Hilary on Facebook
I know you dread networking. You only do it when you have to, and even then, you do it grudgingly. I know that, for you, networking is just a long four-letter word.
I know this for two reasons. First, I don’t know many people who actually enjoy networking. Second, until I realised my mistake, this is exactly how I felt too. I viewed networking as a necessary evil – I would show up but not really participate.
So, what was my mistake? I had been seeing networking as a chore, rather than treating it as an opportunity.
There are endless articles and cheat sheets that cover networking, but where most of them fail is that they rarely cover the main problem most of us have with networking, and that is our attitude toward it.
Over the past few months, I must have heard 20 stories of small business owners who at best have been disappointed with the performance of one or more of their suppliers. And at worst did not receive the service they paid for and were ripped-off.
I often get asked the question: how do you choose the right supplier for your business?
As small business owners, operating under tough financial constraints, we’re often not in a position to recruit an in-house team(s) to deliver services for us or it just wouldn’t be sensible to do so. If our bookkeeping takes just a few hours a week, it makes far more sense to get a professional bookkeeper to keep our financial records up to date. Until our turnover exceeds £1,000,000, we probably don’t need a Finance Director. For specialist marketing activities like PR, paid advertising and SEO, it makes far more sense to bring in a professional to deliver the service.
This week I met with six clients to plan out the next steps in their business. Three businesses are in turnaround. Three have been trading for between 2-5 years and want to take their business to the next level. Two clients are looking to franchise their business, two are introducing an ‘exclusive member club.’ One is making major cuts to prevent her business running out of cash. One is looking to re-brand. Another is planning a major PR promotion in January. Every business is different, and has its own set of strengths and challenges. Finding good employees has been a major challenge for most. Likewise finding reliable, competent contractors.
Despite the differences in these businesses, one of my goals when I’m working with my clients is creating resilience. The principles for creating resilience in a business are the same, whatever the industry. So how do you create resilience?
There’s been a lot of talk during recent days, in the press and on social media, about how awful 2016 was. On a political level, there were seismic changes that brought us Brexit, Trump and an emboldened Putin. Much loved musicians and actors – from David Bowie to Leonard Cohen and George Michael, to Alan Rickman to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds passed away. There were terrorist attacks in Paris, Nice, Berlin and now Istanbul. And the situation in Syria remains bleak. One newspaper called it ‘the curse of 2016.’
But this is by no means the whole story. We also witnessed extraordinary feats and accomplishments at the Rio Olympics. Team GB exceeded their previous success at London 2012, and did the UK proud. The Orlando Invictus Games, created by Prince Harry, inspired us with the determined example set by wounded, injured or sick armed forces personnel. The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday, whilst Prince Philip turned 95. The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme celebrated its 60th year of giving 14 to 24 year olds the opportunity to ‘be the best they can be.’ Andy Murray came of age with his win at Wimbledon, the Rio Olympics and achieving the world number 1 tennis ranking. Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London. The charitable response to Trump’s election was unprecedented in its generosity. Comedy brought us Joe Biden memes, Saturday Night Live and the unexpected treat of Ed Balls’ on Strictly Come Dancing.
When it comes to how we look at 2016, we can choose to view the world from a ‘glass half full’ or a ‘glass half empty’ perspective.
This is the last in this series of articles about how to prepare your business budget for 2017 that began with Understanding Business Growth Strategy. Your business budget is one of your most important financial statements, and should be prepared with care. If planned well, it will enable you to both forecast and monitor the financial impact of your business decisions and operational plans.
I remember the first time I sat down to prepare a business budget as a new CEO. The quality of the financial information I inherited was poor, and didn’t contain the level of detail I needed to understand the true costs of running our services. I crossed my fingers and hoped what I’d put together was good enough. It wasn’t brilliant, but my first business budget provided me with a good enough roadmap. The next year when I came to put together my second business budget, the task was made much easier because I had 12 month’s of accurate historical data to work with.
In this fifth in a series of articles about how to put together your business plan for 2017, we’re going to pause and focus on 5 strategies that will help you to get to your breakeven point quicker. As I explained in my last article, Why Hitting Breakeven Point Is Critical To Business Success, businesses are in a race against time. If we don’t hit breakeven point as quickly as possible, our expenses will sink our business before we’ve made enough net revenue to catch up.
I’m currently working with three businesses in turnaround, one of which came to me recently on life support. Every month expenses far exceed net revenue to the point that the owner hit a cash flow crunch. The only way this business will survive is if it keeps expenses as low as possible, for as long as possible, whilst dramatically making itself more profitable. Fast. In this instance, we’ve been able to reduce the losses by 50% by taking immediate, targeted action. And as sales are picking up, this trend will continue. This business is in no way out of the woods. But we’ve started to stem the tide.
This is the fourth in a series of articles about how to put together your business and financial plan for 2017 which started with Understanding Business Growth Strategy. In this article, I’m going to focus on a key point in the life of a small business that most entrepreneurs neglect. The breakeven or ‘sleep easy at night’ point.
Breakeven point is your first key marker on the road to profitability and financial success. Achieving this means that your business is self-sufficient, a major feat for most small businesses. But too many businesses fail to reach breakeven point, and then have to shut up shop.