Thursday, 21 February 2013

Personal development - an investment or cost?

This is always a good question for any training and development and I guess my response would be then it depends on what it is!

But some development will simply be seen as a cost because you have to do it and may not even see it as personal development. So for example, if you are responsible for health and safety, you may feel a course is not developing you but is more for ticking a box. But if we remain open minded, then I do not believe there is even training like this that we do not learn something from.

There are other areas that are very much a longer term investment. So for example, attending a regular meeting that gives you the skills and tools to develop your business may be seen either way, but I would suggest is more of an investment in a more successful future than a cost to bear.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Why a business start up DVD?

Many people have asked the question, why publish your advice by DVD rather than a book?

Well firstly when I researched the resources available, there were so many books and good books at that, but I found it near impossible to choose the best one for me.

We then completed some market research and discovered that many people are enjoying the medium of video to gather information rather than reading a book. When we then shared a taster sample of the content, the feedback was so positive that a DVD it had to be.

The feedback so far has been that new entrepreneurs enjoy the fresh approach, but most of all the mix of text (used on the screens) and presentation / images to reinforce the messages.

I am passionate about business start ups and felt that a DVD was the ideal way to share this compared to pages of black text on white pages.

Why not take a look at our reasonably priced DVD at where you can see some samples of the content we have created to help you make those initial considerations and importantly create the right foundation for your future success.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Choosing a trusted adviser

This is always a good question and frequently asked by our clients.

Of course, check the person has the experience or qualifications (if needed) to support you in the role you desire. For example, an accountant will need a level of qualification to submit your accounts and calculate your tax, but what are their skills and experience in providing business advice in general (if that is what you want)?

The main consideration is whether you feel you can work with the person. so go and meet with them, get to know them and take the opportunity to explore their experience and see if what they say is what you like the sound of. Have a couple of meetings with different people and have a basis of choice.

In the end of the day, people buy people and you have to be comfortable with the person you are working with and the advice they are providing. The content can be checked in many ways with the internet, other advisers or professional bodies.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Profit and Cashflow forecasting

You cannot undervalue the process of completing a profit and cashflow forecast.
We recommend that this is a ‘live’ document in your business and not something completed when the bank manager requests.
This planning will help any business owner truly understand the numbers in their business such as which areas are profitable or not and which areas are generating cash rather than demanding.
As cash is king in business, then it is very useful to know how your trading will convert to cash utilising credit terms etc and knowing early if external financial support is required.
We recommend that you utilise the skills of your accountant to complete a full forecast of your business that is built with your goals and objectives in mind.
Then in preparation of the big picture we recommend that you really drill down on key areas such as staff productivity and return, cost of sales, fixed and variable costs, the bottom line!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Contacting those elusive prospects

So you want to speak to that senior decision maker responsible for buying your product or service?
 This has never been an easy task with gate keepers aware of techniques such as being friendly, commanding or contacting outside hours.
 Some will say, well let’s go for another, but we can’t do that every time unless we have a vast pool of target prospects.
 So how do we find the contact details of those prospects that we just can’t crack by telephone?
 Have you used technology to establish the availability of such information?
 Try a Google search and see what you find! With social networking and sites like LinkedIn on the increase, the prospects contact information may simply appear? Perhaps they have been a speaker or acted as part of a committee where they have provided their contact details as they are then only too willing to receive contact? or perhaps the marketing team have put out a PR story providing the information you desire?
Search the web site of the prospect business. Do they offer the details in the ‘about us’ section or ‘contact us’ areas? Is there a directory set up in the site map of the web site? Who do they link with that you may know, who could introduce you?
 How about a search utilising information recorded at companies house? Maybe not just to find out who is the right prospect but who do they have a relationship with such as the bank or accountants who you may also know.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Test and Measure your marketing activities

In our experience, anything that you measure usually improves. Therefore we recommend that you test and measure your marketing activities to better understand what works, what needs a tweak and what does not work, so should not be repeated.
Many of our prospect meetings for A1 Marketing identifies that many business owners simply do not know which part of their marketing is working and what is not. It is common for all marketing activities to be viewed as one and no measure of how a new customer specifically finds you.
We recommend to measure your marketing activity to the level that you can tell for each new customer or sale, which part of your marketing worked.
Once you know this, you can then start to test different variations of that activity and then gradually improve this even further until your marketing becomes even more powerful and profitable. So for example, your last batch of new customers came from your Google Adword campaign, but by testing different alternative messages do you gain even more enquiries?
We suggest that you try and use codes or references, utilise online analytics and try specific landing pages for any online activity to get much closer to measuring your activity.
As a must, you need to ask each new customer how they found you and why they brought from you, but please ensure your questions drill down to find the true reason which may be the first reason they were interested in you and not the 5th time they saw your last marketing message or what actually made them make the contact to purchase?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A true key business influencer

If referrals are a key part of our clients marketing strategy, then we ask them to focus on their key business influencers. These are not contacts in their network that are 'nice to know', but people who are 'advocates' of their business and are willing to influence the success of the business with referrals or recommendations.
Many clients have a long list of contacts in their network, usually with the hope of obtaining a referral, so one activity we recommend is to rate your contacts from 1 to 5, with the following scale:
1 - Nice to know and have in my network, but unlikely to refer
in next 12 months
2 - Nice to know and possibly could refer in the next 12 months
3 - Good to know and may refer
4 - Great to know and is likely to refer with personal attention
5 - A 'KBI' who currently refers business.

If you can't score them, as not even nice to know, then remove them from you network! This simple exercise gives you focus for your limited resources. Diarise time to speak to and meet with your contacts rated 4 and 5.
It should also be your objective to move your contacts up the scale from 'nice to know' to 'referrer'. How you do this will be different for each individual, but a personal touch, knowing what is important to them and the application of focus will move your contacts closer to the desired 'KBI' status.