The trouble with having your whole house renovated and redecorated all at the same time is that a decade or so later, everything starts to require attention at the same time. I’m not asking for sympathy, just stating an incontrovertible fact.As a result, I have lately been in search of a variety of local and national trades people to help with a growing list of repairs, … [Read more...] about Importance of After Sales Service
EU REFERENDUM As those of you who regularly read this blog know, I have forthright opinions on most things and am not shy about sharing them. Because of the importance of this month’s subject though, I apologise in advance for it being much longer than I usually deliver. There is much to say and rant about.The upcoming vote to leave the EU is purely a political tool to try to … [Read more...] about The Madness of the EU Referendum
CONNECTIONS I agreed to an extension of my BT Broadband contract only because the potential new supplier of super-fast fibre-optic broadband, who was going to install cable to every door in the village, suddenly decided it couldn’t compete with the arrival of BT Infinity. I was offered the new Infinity at a price that was less than I had been paying for the old Broadband … [Read more...] about The Uselessness of BT
BOOM OR BUST? I was at the excellent Shirlaws business conference this week, full of business owners taking time out to work on their business rather than in it. The last session of the day was a talk from founder, Darren Shirlaw, on the prevailing economic conditions and his predictions for the future. Normally I'm a bit (alright a lot) cynical about economic … [Read more...] about The Cycles of Boom to Bust
SCOTLAND Since it's the silly season for the nation's newspapers - politicians on their holliers, so a dearth of the usual Westminster page fillers - I thought I'd take a break from business issues, in favour of an English perspective on the Scottish independence vote.This month's issue has two key ingredients: 1. To give you my take on the pros and cons and 2. Find out what … [Read more...] about Scottish Independence
PURPOSE I was reading an article about rock musician, Jack White, in last weekend's newspaper, and a few comments he made resonated. The article was puffing his new solo album, so I usually take this sort of stuff with a giant dollop of salt, but he was talking largely about the record label he's been running for the last five years. Here are a few comments which might … [Read more...] about What Is Your Purpose?
WHAT'S APP? App-arently, it's got 450 million users, paying a dollar a year each (max: since first year's free, a fair proportion won't be paying anything, but let that pass.) And it takes no advertising, so as of now this is its only method of income generation. In good old Yorkshire parlance, it's the "Many a mickle makes a muckle" business model. Fair play: for a … [Read more...] about Sale of Whats App
EXIT STRATEGY As we enter the festive season (ugh - I'm coming over all 'bah humbug' just writing the phrase), many people take the increasingly long enforced break at the end of the year as an opportunity to take stock of their lives, their achievements - and to start making mental plans for their future. When I had the marketing services business in Oxford, I often … [Read more...] about Exit Strategies
BANKS (AND THE MILKMAN) I recently decided to cash in a long-held investment, and at first I thought I was going to be pleasantly surprised by the ease with which it might be achieved. Almost as easy as when they take the money off you in the first place. But then the true nature of the financial services industry kicked in. Going online to sell the shares took only a few … [Read more...] about The Cost of Poor Service
PUBLIC SPEAKING There's a strong message doing the rounds that if you stand at the front of a room in front of an audience - however they've been persuaded to turn up - and shout the odds about something, you'll be seen as an expert in your field, and some of those people will beat a path to your door in search of your particular brand of excellence. So much so that in … [Read more...] about Public Speaking
HELP NEEDED Somehow I can't get back into my normal rant mode. This month I'm begging a favour. Nothing that will cost you. Far from it. Indeed for the right referral, I'm giving away £5,000 of my (or one of my partner's) time. I know what you're thinking: either is he mad, or here we go, another sales come-on. Well I hope you know me well enough to realise that, while … [Read more...] about Free Offer
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS I learned to my horror a few months back that up to three-quarters of all business acquisitions fail to pay back. In other words, the money that is paid for the business is never recouped out of future profits. Can this be true, I thought? And then I thought about my own experience: when we sold Marketing Principles to Interpublic in 1999, the UK … [Read more...] about Mergers and Acquisitions
CLOUD COMPUTING When I first heard this term, I was as cynical as you'ld expect me to be. As my own web-master put it, a couple of years back, They couldn't sell back-up services, so they're calling it something else. But as the months have passed, it's become apparent that (driven by the growth in mobile IT usage) cloud computing has some very big implications for businesses … [Read more...] about Cloud Computing
NO PROBLEM A friend of mine (no, not me, really) was hosting a black tie event for a couple of hundred luminaries of his industry (house building since you ask) and turned up at his several-star city centre hotel in need of an iron to take the creases out of his dress-shirt. Two hours before the event started, so no particular rush, but when nothing appeared in the first … [Read more...] about The “No Problem” Irritant
THE OLYMPICS I've been to London twice in the last few days, once by car and once by train, and it's prompted me to speculate what the real legacy of the awfully imminent Games might be. Even on Sunday, when I was driving, it was pretty obvious from the ubiquitous Olympic (aka Zyl) lanes that traffic chaos in most of the capital is inevitable unless the majority of … [Read more...] about The Olympic Effect
TAX AND EMPLOYMENT Boy the business press must love this government. Hardly a day goes by without another fatuous pronouncement by some Minister or other, if not the top man himself. In the last fortnight, we've had to particularly egregious pronouncements (I use the word deliberately, since Cameron inserted it into one of his responses, no doubt thinking it would endear … [Read more...] about Government Ignorance of SMEs
ILLNESS OR INJURY I write this as a direct result of a call I received recently from one of my clients. It was a tale of woe involving a broken limb, as a result of a domestic accident that could happen to any of us: a simple trip, resulting in a lot of pain (obviously), but more to the point, incapacity for several weeks, while said limb mends. As usual with these things, … [Read more...] about Illness/Injury: Threat or Opportunity?
CHARISMA AND LEADERSHIP There is much talk at the moment about the qualities of leadership required to run a business. Barely a day goes by without another feature article or seminar extolling the virtues of knowing how to inspire people. Here is an excerpt from a recent Sunday Times article: "Most communication is rationally formulated and then rational messages are … [Read more...] about Can You Teach Leadership?
WHAT DO YOU DO? The dreaded question. There was a time when only the Queen or some visiting dignitary would ask such a question, and it was advisable to have a short, pithy answer before boredom set in. Nowadays, with business networking proliferating (a new group seems to spring up weekly), it's a question you have to answer on a regular basis. And I'm sure you've all … [Read more...] about The Benefits of a Non Exec Director
SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES Sitting in a local hospital Outpatients earlier this week (don't ask: the hernia 'repair' I had done in the Spring is recurring and will result in another month of what the medics laughably call 'discomfort' shortly), I was struck by how their systems and processes have changed over the last few years - and generally for the better. My 2.45 … [Read more...] about Systems/Processes Define Your Business
PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING You may well ask. The phrase came up recently on a TV programme about the delights of Scarborough - where else? What happens is that after all of the fixed costs of running the borough - the stuff you have to do, come hell or high water - the council opens up what's left over to bids by interested parties. Candidates might be as diverse as … [Read more...] about “Participatory” Budgeting
GOING GREEN I do have to confess a personal interest here. I'm working with a green energy business (www.greenlivingenergy.co.uk); I've had solar panels on my roof for over a decade; and I believe that the future lies in local micro-generation of power, with the big centralised generators acting as a back-up and filler-in of gaps in the system. If you go to any of the … [Read more...] about Going Green?
COMPLAINTS I see that the latest batch of politicians who know what's best for us (aka The Coalition) have the same touching faith in empty rhetoric as all their predecessors. Sure, we all know what balancing the books means: in small businesses, if you run a deficit for more than twenty minutes, you generally cease to exist - simples. At a national political level, however, … [Read more...] about Complaints as Opportunity
NEW JOBS I see that the latest batch of politicians who know what's best for us (aka The Coalition) have the same touching faith in empty rhetoric as all their predecessors. Sure, we all know what balancing the books means: in small businesses, if you run a deficit for more than twenty minutes, you generally cease to exist - simples. At a national political level, however, … [Read more...] about New Job Politics
TIME I talk to dozens of business owner/managers every month, and when I ask them what are their greatest challenges, the same three themes consistently emerge. Time. Team. Money. There aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things that need doing. They can't seem to find (and keep) the right people. and cash-flow is nearly always tight. But while team-building … [Read more...] about Time Management
YOUR BUSINESS... I popped in to see a prospective client the other day, and after a suitably proprietorial stroll round the premises, he sat me down in his office and asked me what I thought he should be doing to grow the business. Well, I'm all for directness, as anyone who knows me will attest, but even I was a bit taken aback: it was like going to a stockbroker with a … [Read more...] about What Is Your Business Purpose?
HOW AMBITIOUS ARE YOU? I ask because the way that many businesses are behaving in this recession (as in previous ones) you'd have to draw the conclusion that many â€“ if not most - lack all but the most basic of ambitious tendencies: let's try to stay alive. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not denying the severity of the downturn in many sectors or its potential threat to … [Read more...] about The Mindset of Ambition
I ask because most business owners, at some point, envisage someone somewhere paying a fat sum to take off their hands the fruits of their labours. They're probably not putting enough away in a regular pension scheme, so the business itself is effectively their main pension plan (I know mine was). For most people in this position, they only get one chance to maximise the … [Read more...] about What Is Your Business Worth?
We assist business owners who are preparing to sell their businesses, particularly for retirement. There are a significant and atypically large number of business owners born between 1945 and 1955, who are in the process of preparing to sell their businesses in the next few years. Business Analysts report that the largest transfer of business wealth and assets in history is in … [Read more...] about Planning Your Exit