Category : Business Growth

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION – DON’T LET SALES IGNORE MARKETING

As we come into the New Year, and the complexity of Digital Marketing and how that becomes and continues to be relevant to a Sales force is an ever-growing challenge. It’s highly important that interesting content is produced by Marketing, and Sales themselves produce interesting content as experts in their field and this content should be usable by Sales with their customers, as well as useful to the marketing process.

Since Sales are interacting with customers all day every day, they are the best people to give you feedback on ideas around Marketing that would be useful to the sales process and particularly campaigns that they see from competitors that have worked well.

The rules of the game …

1) Keep engaging your customer with interesting content
2) Produce useful content that the whole business can use
3) Focus your outbound Marketing on the right data set
4) Don’t let Sales off the hook when it comes to Marketing content

THE BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER OF CHANGE MANAGEMENT

Before

The key aspect of change management, before you implement the change is liaising with all stakeholders to ensure that they are all aware that change is necessary and that they buy-in to the type of change which is also leveraged off their opinion of what needs to be changed.

During

The concept of change is often disruptive to a business or in more entrepreneurial businesses there is almost an addiction to the necessity for change. During implementation of change the key thing is to maintain an open dialogue with key individuals and ensuring that there is a full understanding of the objectives that are being sought throughout the process. Another aspect is highlighting how difficult the change process is, as it moves from the fun concept of what everyone wants to achieve, to often, the hard work of thinking through the change process.

After

Once change is implemented there is an important policing process, to ensure that the ideas that have been implemented are being followed through as often people can revert back to their original way of doing things. Often change reviews up to 2, 4 and 6 weeks afterwards and also ensuring that the change process is reviewed with the management who have responsibility to see it happen.

Survival Tips: How To Cope With More Than One Job

With increased inflation and the cost of living also escalating, it can sometimes be necessary to have more than one job.

Or, you might be trying to start your own business while also keeping your existing employment on track to help fund your dream venture.

Working full-time and then having a part-time job too can be difficult to juggle.

Read on for our advice for managing the workload when you’re juggling multiple employers and roles.

Plan ahead

If you finish work at one job at 5.30pm but you’re due to start the second job shortly after, you’ll need to be super organised.

Take a change of clothes and some food with you so that you don’t have to rush around going home inbetween.

Cook meals in advance for your family so that you aren’t feeling guilty or spending money on expensive takeaways as you rush from one place of work to the next.

Eat healthily

You’re going to be need lots of energy and mental capacity to ask your body and brain to work lots of hours and switch between roles consistently.

Eating well will keep your body energised and your brain at its best.

Fuel yourself with lots of fruit, vegetables and slow release energy foods like porridge.

This is also a great way to ensure you avoid illness and potentially costly sick days.

Ask for help

If you’re juggling family life around several jobs, don’t be afraid to ask family or friends for help now and again.

Most people are happy to help when they can see that you’re struggling in your attempts to better yourself.

Especially if the effort you’re putting in will pay off in the long run making a better and happier life for you.

That support can be appreciated and paid back in kind when you reach your goals.

Take a break

Now and again you’ll feel under so much pressure that you need to take some time out.

You want to ideally avoid a burnout that can set you back and throw a spanner in the works of some of the progress you’re making.

Stepping back from your endeavours can also give you what might be much needed perspective or the chance to evaluate where you are currently on your journey.

It’s also an opportunity to see how far you might have come and feel proud of your achievements.

Starting Out: How To Identify A Profitable Niche For Your Business

Taking the plunge to start your own business is not without risks.

You can set yourself up for the best possible chance of success however by doing your research and identifying a profitable gap in the market.

Here are four ways to identify a niche for your new business.

1. Play to your strengths and know your potential audience

A logical place to start would be to look at your interests, hobbies or passions.

What do you have knowledge about that will give you the edge already?

Turning a hobby into a profitable venture is a great stepping stone to success as you are already invested in that area personally.

Research your potential audience and identify if there is enough demand to turn your passion project into a viable earner.

2. Check out the competition

There’s really no point in reinventing the wheel.

If the idea is already out there and being done successfully by others, you’ll need to determine if you can win some of that market share for your own new venture.

What are your competitors doing right?

And equally, what are they doing wrong?

These are important factors to consider and could help you identify your own unique value proposition that sets your similar product or service apart.

3. Look at trends and keywords

If your chosen sector is one with a lot of competition then you need to be ahead of the game.

Ranking highly on search engines is crucial so you’ll need to brush up on your SEO and marketing knowledge.

Do some research – use Google Trends to tap into search data.

This will tell you what people are typing into Google to find related products and services.

It will also show you emerging trends – those search phrases that are just starting to become more popular.

Do these relate to your idea?

Or give you any inspiration?

Set up Google Alerts for your particular niche so you can keep tabs on the market and track social media trending topics to see what your potential customers are talking about and what matters to them.

You can also contact organisations like the Office of National Statistics to conduct your own research without having to spend a lot of money.

4. Test your idea

Fail to plan and you’ll likely plan to fail.

Up to half of UK start-ups fold within the first five years despite all the effort, hard work and money that has been invested.

Testing your idea on a smaller scale will give you an insight as to whether you are on the right path with your aspirations.

Family and friends are the ideal guinea pigs as long as they’re willing to be honest with you.

Starting A Business With No Funding

So, you’ve got an incredible business idea but no funding to get it off the ground.

Don’t despair, there are still options open to you to help you pave the way to creating a successful business.

There’s a variety of reasons why you could be starting a business with no money at all, whether it’s through choice or circumstance.

There are 10 steps and options that can help you move your concept forward and start drawing in revenue.

1. Focus on the skills you have

If you’re starting a business with no funding, you’re the biggest resource you have.

Assess the skills that you already have and build your plan around these.

2. Look at the free resources you have

Running a business from home can be a challenge but there are resources around the corner that you can use.

Coffee shops are the perfect place for meetings, while the library can support your research efforts.

3. Access the advice on offer

Did you know that the British Chamber of Commerce runs a calendar of free events aimed at startups?

The advice and insights you could gain could prove invaluable to building up your business.

4. Solve a problem

One of the easiest ways to build an audience is to solve an existing problem, positioning your product or service as a necessity rather than a luxury.

5. Network

Don’t underestimate the potential that networking could offer your business – it’s worth investing time into.

It could help you identify market gaps, find funding, or secure a mentor with experience.

6. Listen to feedback

If you want to build your business fast, listening to feedback and responding is essential.

Test and monitor your idea to minimise the risk of missing the mark before you launch.

7. Invest in building your skills over outsourcing

It might be tempting to outsource some of the tasks but where possible investing in building your own skills is advisable.

It’ll cut cost in the long run and put you in a better position going forward.

8. Consider crowdfunding

If you need capital to get started but don’t want to go down traditional routes, crowdfunding is an alternative.

It can get your business idea moving with backers receiving perks that you set.

9. Keep your existing job

If you’re currently employed, keep your job until your business reaches a profitable, stable level.

It might seem like a challenge to juggle the two but it gives your business a greater chance to mature.

10. Use technology for free marketing

Marketing is critical for businesses and the good news is you don’t need huge budgets to have an impact.

Technology means you can reach thousands of potential customers without spending a penny, for example creating a social media following.

Brexit: It’s Impact On Startups & Young Entrepreneurs

There’s no doubt that the UK population’s vote to leave the EU caused seismic shock amid the business community.

But now that talks have started to thrash out the Brexit divorce bill and the dust has settled, it’s clear to see that the nation’s start-ups and entrepreneurs have been hard at work digesting the many implications.

Read on to find out what the impact of Brexit really means if you’re trying to grow a business or thinking of launching a new enterprise as the withdrawal commences.

Impact 1: Higher cost of doing business

Brexit has led to massive fluctuations in exchange rates.

Immediately after the vote, the pound fell to a record low and it’s struggled to recover fully in the months since.

Even long established businesses have struggled but what of start-ups and entrepreneurs?

Those who import goods have faced rising costs and for new businesses already operating on a tight budget, conditions have been tough.

Likewise for entrepreneurs who travel overseas, the weaker pound has made life much more expensive.

Impact 2: Conditions have been tougher in some industries

Entrepreneurs in certain industries will have found that Brexit has derailed some deals.

Some property entrepreneurs report tough conditions with a lack of investment but one cosmetics firm said it had sold £300,000 of face cream to French customers in one day when the pound fell because it made the product so much cheaper for overseas buyers.

Impact 3: Workforce flux

There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding EU workers currently employed in the UK.

For firms who rely on top talent from overseas, there’s been lots of sleepless nights.

The challenging Brexit landscape and pervading uncertainty means that some firms – such as tech companies – have struggled to recruit and retain the foreign workers they need to keep their organisations at the cutting edge.

It may be even harder in the future to recruit needed skills from Europe.

On the flip side, some entrepreneurs and start-ups could capitalise, especially if it means easier access to leading minds from non-EU countries such as America and Australia.

This is good news for those working in sectors such as technology, IT and marketing.

Impact 4: There’s greater caution from investors

While the realities of Brexit are still very much an unknown, startups seeking funding are finding it a bit harder to pin down investors.

There is a mood of caution, with figures showing investors are more likely to now hedge their bets and invest multiple smaller amounts across a number of operations, rather than consolidate a single big investment.

That means entrepreneurs might find it harder if they are truly pushing the envelope and searching for investors for a ‘riskier’ proposition but, smaller firms should still find that opportunity does exist.

How To Identify Sales-Ready Leads

The buyer’s journey is one of the most important aspects of any sales process, but how do you know when a lead is ready to close?

Let’s take a closer look at some of the tell-tale signs for identifying when the time is right…

What is a sales-ready lead?

One of the key aspects of demand generation is understanding what a sales-ready lead is and nurturing these leads to make that crucial next step.

It is after this point is reached that you can begin to use even greater sales tactics to encourage that crucial final sale.

A sales-ready lead is generally defined as anyone who is ready to engage in meaningful dialogue which will likely lead to making a purchase.

This is distinct from casual enquiries born out of curiosity with little intent to purchase.

How do we identify the sales-ready leads already on your database?

Use appropriate calls to action

This tactic allows your leads to ask crucial questions which encourage meaningful activity which could lead to significant sales activity.

Instead of simply using one call-to-action on a particular page, consider adding more, directing to different areas which are specific to the kind of engagement activity you seek.

This could include linking to information on pricing, resources or product information, allowing you to identify where they are in the sales process.

Remember your lead scoring

The methods used and what constitutes a sales-ready lead will vary from company to company and industry to industry, but an essential component of all sales-ready identification is clever lead scoring.

This requires the establishment of key criteria which takes account of the nuances of your own marketing system to establish where you place the most value when identifying who among your leads is inching closer towards making a purchase.

Is it pageviews?

Site visits?

Email clicks?

Determine these criteria for scoring which leads have the most sales-ready value as a means of keeping track of your data.

Consider the right content

You need to inspire action from your leads in order to assess their position in the sales funnel and how this can best be pushed forward.

It is only through the clever assessment of your content that you can begin to qualify what constitutes a sales-ready lead for your company, so providing lots of sales-related-content is a great idea for your business.

Trevor McClintock Blog

What Your Business Is Really About

With the pace of life speeding up and most of us having less and less time it can be difficult to stand still and reflect on simple questions.

When leading a business, you answer hundreds of questions a day – but do you ever stop to ask the simplest – what is your business really about?

By taking the time to understand what your business is really about can lead to increased profitability, staff retention and a happy more focused work place.

So, what is your business really about?

Look Back

When answering this it’s helpful to look back, back to when you first started your business.

What was it that made you want to get out of bed in the morning?

What inspired you to get your business up and running and not quit, even during the tough times.

Reminiscing about the reasons you went into business can help you understand what your business is really about.

At the start what were the core values?

What did you want to achieve?

Looking back can help you appreciate this.

Rediscovering the passion, you had at the start and drawing on this can revitalise your outlook.

The here and now

Review existing objects.

Set new goals.

Edit your mission statement.

However, you do it drill down into the core of your business.

Evaluating where you are can lift the lid on what your business is about.

Honestly review where you are right now.

If you can’t get a handle on the present you won’t be able to face the future.

The future

The key to success is always looking forward, anticipating challenges and how to overcome them.

To understand what your business is about you need to look at where you want to be.

In the next five – ten years what do you hope to achieve?

What will your business look like?

By realistically appraising what you want out of the future and how you plan to get there will bring clarity to what your business is about.

People

When asked what your business is really about, most would say it’s about the people.

If you agree with this, then take the time to look at how well your treating the people within your organisation.

By putting staff well-being first employers can increase productivity and staff retention.

Offering flexible working, ensuring employees maintain a healthy work life and creating an attractive workplace can all make people feel happier at work.

Service

Initially you went into business to offer a service.

To understand what your business is really about go back to basics and review how well you’re offering the service, how happy your customers are, what you could be doing better.

Focusing on the service you provide and evaluating your efforts will give you a real insight into what your business is about.

Why?

The level of service is not always about what you offer but why you’re offering it.

After all, customers do not buy what you do – they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk illustrates this notion with his ‘Gold Circle’ rule.

While some companies know what they do, very few know why they do it.

Simon explains that the ‘why’ is not just to make money.

Instead, you should question why your organisation exists.

What is your purpose, or core belief and why should anyone care about what you do?

Once you figure this out you can truly understand what your business is really about.

I hope this has given you an insight into the ways you can better understanding of what your business is really about.

If you have any further questions or want to share your thoughts, then get in touch, tweet me, or leave a comment below.

Trevor McClintock - Growing a company

Growing Your Company From Start-Up To Scale-Up

Imagine your business in 2018, now take the lid off it and look inside.

What does it look like?

Knowing where you want to be and in within what timescale is the key to understanding how you’re going to get there.

But taking that picture from your imagination and making it a reality is a long and winding road – and you can definitely expect a few bumps along the way.

End goals

Not everyone wants to be the next Richard Branson or Alan Sugar and that’s OK.

When it comes to choosing your path to growth, it’s crucial to find a solution that’s in-line with your ambitions.

Now’s the time you want to ask yourself whether you’re looking to create an attractive company that you can sell on, through merger or acquisition, relatively quickly to create a comfortable pot for your retirement income, or if you’re in it for the long-haul.

Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, however, and it’s entirely possible for your company to remain relatively small and agile, while turning a decent profit over the long-term.

In fact, my advice would always be to make all your business decisions like a small business would – no matter how large you grow.

Similarly, it’s never too early to put solid systems into place.

Many businesses fail because they run before they can walk meaning processes haven’t yet been cemented.

As the operation scales up the cracks in the foundations become extremely obvious.

Expertise

When it comes to companies at the smaller end of the scale, founders tend to be highly enthusiastic about the product or service they’re looking to provide, but may not have much in the way of business acumen.

No man (or woman) is an island and it’s vital to know your strengths and weaknesses from the outset.

And if you’re an expert in your field, rather than that of business development, acknowledge this and look to bring in, or outsource, the necessary expertise.

As a business owner you must become an expert talent spotter.

Investing in the right people is vital in securing the future growth of any organisation and make sure you act early to secure a solid team of talented individuals who each bring something different to the business.

Similarly, in my experience it is far better to build the team you need around key job roles, rather than trying to shoehorn existing staff into positions they’re unsuited for.

Two key areas to consider in this regard are sales and marketing.

While your current team may be passionate and invested in your products and services, that doesn’t necessarily translate to knowing how to best articulate the benefits and demonstrate their value to potential customers.

Work on the business, not in it

 A small company can afford unparalleled control to its owners, but you’ll have to abandon micro-management and much of your involvement in day-to-day affairs as things progress.

The keys to unlocking your businesses potential lie in finding the right people to spur on your growth and having the faith in them to delegate.

Hire slowly and fire fast.

While you might struggle to cope with the burgeoning workload – putting the wrong person in place is akin to sticking a plaster over a gaping wound.

Having the right people in place frees up your time to focus on broader concerns and keep working on evolving the company into the state you want it to be in.

This definitely doesn’t mean you’ll be living a life of leisure, however, and you should be prepared to put in a lot of legwork – particularly in the earliest stages and then not be afraid of letting go of the reigns when the right people have been appointed.

Sea change, see change

Businesses that aren’t prepared to change should be prepared to stagnate and those looking to grow need to come to terms with the fact that they can’t keep doing things the same way they’ve always done.

Branching out in to new and untested areas can be risky and the majority of smaller businesses can typically make the best gains by focusing on selling more to their existing customers, as well as targeting others like them.

Growth is an uphill battle, so be prepared to try and be prepared to fail.

Don’t hold on to offerings, strategies, processes or even staff that haven’t worked out due to sentiment or comfort and steel yourself for some tough choices along the way.

Some industries better lend themselves towards growth than others, so also be sure to factor in market trends and historic precedents when planning for the future.

Even flow

Growth demands resources, the biggest of which is cash.

As such, it’s of paramount importance to ensure a robust cash flow, as well as a surplus for the inevitable set-backs.

Put in place a rigorous forecast for your finances and monitor it consistently.

Building your business will necessitate a strain on funds, so it’s crucial to pay constant and close attention to the fiscal health of your company.

Be cautious, but don’t be entirely risk averse.

One major danger when trying to kick start your company’s growth is not being able to cope with the increasing demand.

There’s no such thing as a silver bullet when it comes to dealing with these growing pains, but by referring to your plan, keeping your eye on the big picture and doing your due diligence, you can minimise the potential for problems and have solutions in place to deal with them when they inevitably crop up.

 

 

Trevor McClintock - Business Development Blog

How To Develop A Winning Culture Within A Business

Change agent and entrepreneur Trevor McClintock shares his secrets for creating a winning company culture.

When a business has a winning culture, people want to work there.

It’s how great companies attract the best and the brightest – but what makes a winning culture?

Companies that are open-minded, inclusive and have strong values and clear objectives with staff that are happy, committed and productive and will regularly spread positive messages about the business.

It is important to remember that a company, whatever the size, is made up of the people who work for it and as such it is important to get the right people whose personal values are aligned with the values of the business.

Your employees need to be on board with your business objectives.

Step one: hire the right people

Build your winning team based on your culture and vision for the business.

When everyone is on board with the business aspirations, the company as a whole is more productive and has a collective sense of purpose.

As leader it is important to clearly define the objectives of the business so that everyone understands expectations and targets.

Step two: listen to staff

Enable everyone of all levels to have a voice within the company.

Happy and productive employees feel valued by management.

They understand fully the role they play within the company and how they fit in to the team.

Inspire your team and make their personal growth a priority in order to reap benefits for the team.

Incentivise staff and provide rewards for high performers whilst making sure others get the coaching they need to reach their potential within the business.

Step three: team work

Ensure the team work well together.

Team building exercises should be encouraged and a regular part of company life.

When the team is a strong unit working together for common goals the company will be more productive.

If staff do not get along they will find it difficult to collaborate and cracks will begin to show.

Strengthen the team by grouping people together who work well together.

Step four: work-life balance

Get the work-life balance right.

Hard work should be rewarded with perks.

Let your staff leave early on a Friday, take your team out for dinner and drinks and provide free gym memberships for permanent staff.

Flexi hours and the option to work from home should be granted to long term employees to accommodate their family life.

Employee well-being is rising higher and higher up the agenda as working habits are changing constantly in line with technological developments.

Sitting at a desk all day is now considered as unhealthy as a ten a day smoking habit.

A healthy workforce is a happy workforce so make sure a healthy lifestyle is enabled and encouraged by your working habits.

Step five: mission statement

Have a consistent brand story on how you treat your people and a clear ethical message which is visible to everyone and communicated effectively throughout the ranks.

Your employees represent your brand and are an excellent vehicle to convey your brand messages far and wide.

Are your staff aware of your company’s priorities?

If asked to deliver an ‘elevator pitch’ would they do your brand justice?

If the answer is no, then you need to improve your internal communications, increase awareness of company messaging and work on employee satisfaction.

The bottom line is that visionary leadership is required to make the changes that will shape your company’s future and an ability to anticipate the changes that a winning company culture can bring.

Make these changes and you will be on your way to creating a highly desirable working culture which will differentiate your business from your competitors, accelerate growth and attract the highest calibre of people.

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