The Blog

Do you have a ‘spare heir’ for your business?

Much has been celebrated about the new arrival. Any birth always brings happiness and hope for the future as we feel secure (at some level) our genes have been passed down the line. There is also a lot touted in the press about Kate having produced ‘the spare’. Now Prince Harry has a replacement should something untoward happen to him. Reporting of ‘the heir and a spare’ started me thinking about owner operated businesses, and where is the ‘spare’ ? Whether you are thinking of starting your business or been operating for a while, you must consider creating systems and processes that allow you to have the business run without you at the helm, all the time. Effective systems and processes will allow you to outsource repeatable low value tasks, scale the business more easily as you can outsource discreet parcels of work. You will gain a freedom mindset, knowing that the business will not collapse without you. What would happen to your business now, if you were taken ill, get consumed by a personal situation or become engulfed in a business issue that overtakes your time? Will your business grind to a halt, as you are no longer at the helm directing and executing, or will it continue on, with effective systems and processes in place, giving you the freedom to divert your precious energy and attention? It’s often not until we are faced with an impossible pull on our time that we discover how vulnerable our business is. We have no ‘spare’. Our business is at risk of stalling. Here we some ways to get started to... read more

Why a successful business needs more than just a great idea

What makes a business successful? The answers to this question are infinite, ranging from market conditions, competition, the product, the marketing mix, price, and the owner and their staff. There are thousands of books written on all of these elements, but at the heart of it, you need to look in the mirror. And ask yourself, ‘do I have what it takes to make my business successful?” As founder, you become intimately entwined with the performance of your business. Click To Tweet Your confidence, doubts, natural preferences and biases become magnified through the business as you begin to work on it. In my mentoring and coaching work, I work with many clients whose growth is stalled or accelerated by how they are. Do they think naturally of success and strong growth, or naturally of failure and minor incremental growth? I have worked with business owners on each side of this spectrum, and the results of their business indicate clearly where they sit. In my first book Corporate Crossovers – when it’s time to leave the office and start your own business’, I conducted a large piece of quantitative research of 300 Corporate Crossovers in the UK and US. I also held in depth interviews with 50.  From these pieces of research and my work with over 1,500 women business owners, I have discovered the seven essential personal qualities of a successful businesswoman. Top of the list is Passion. You need to have total and utter belief that what you are doing is worth it. A feeling of being so in love with your idea and the value it will... read more

Business thinking – is yours all wrong?

Leslie was looking exasperated. “I don’t know where my time goes, I know I’m really busy every day but the business doesn’t move forward. I seem to spend so much time in the business, I’m not sure I like it any more.”   Ouch! Leslie’s outpouring was typical of many business owners, and even some senior executives I have been coaching recently.   “Where do you spend your thinking?” I asked in her coaching session. “What areas do you spend most of your time dwelling on, the problem, detail, the vision or planning?”   “Oh it’s worse than that, I get caught up in the emotional drama of it all.” Leslie replied.   We can control our thinking and how we spend our precious thinking time. Yet so many of us forget this.   It wasn’t until I trained as a coach over a decade ago that I understood this, and experienced the difference it makes. And then as I coached more business owners and senior executives, I saw how this played out.   A key model my coaching school taught about thinking was ‘the five levels of focus.’   It’s all about where you choose to focus your thinking when you are faced with an issue.   There are five levels: 1. Vision 2. Planning 3. Detail 4. Problem 5. Drama   By getting so involved in the issues, and the emotion surrounding them, Leslie was getting caught up in the drama of her situation.   As you can imagine this is not the best place to find solutions that move you or your business forward. Instead the drama keeps... read more

Are you lonely at the top in your business?

Recently I facilitated a seminar for women business owners with turnovers in excess of $1 million. They had all started their businesses as sole traders, and grown them into the larger operations they had today.   I love being part of a gathering of like minded women, whether their businesses are big, small or just a sparkle in their eye. The excitement, and commitment to creating something out of nothing is energising and inspiring!   At the seminar, as their plans for scale, global expansion and eventual exits were discussed, it became clear that they still shared a common concern with buisness owners of any size. Even though they had crossed significant thresholds in their businesses, they still felt lonely at the top.   Who could they talk to about cash flow, staffing issues, deal negotiations, finding new sources  of funding etc etc? Some of the issues were too delicate to discuss with staff, they no longer wanted to bother family and friends, and sometimes they needed space to throw ideas around to bring them to life.   Being ‘lonely at the top’ is a common phenomena whether you are just starting your business and have no staff or you have been leading one for 15 years with 125 staff. Wherever you are in your business growth, you need support.   Without support, you may feel isolated, as you feel no one really understands you or your business.   Or maybe you will procrastinate over an important decision because you haven’t had the opportunity to talk about it thoroughly and review all the options. So you and your business stay... read more

What I learnt from a successful serial entrepreneur

I really do love meeting people and discovering their stories. Last week I had coffee with a woman I’d worked with on a judging panel for a prestigious women entrepreneur event. So, not enough time for a long talk, but enough time for me to be intrigued and wonder “how did she do it?” Meeting her at a funky cafe a few days later, I was ever so slightly intimidated. This woman had sold two businesses for several million each, and on her way to growing two more. And she had a very challenging start to her entrepreneurial journey as she started and financed a large business that scaled very quickly. Along the way, she remortgaged her house, not just once but three times. Gulp. When I asked her, how could she do it, take on that level of risk, she said she was very risk adverse. All her decisions were planned, thought out and scenarios assessed. And here’s the kicker, she didn’t see it as a risk because she knew it would work. She started that business, and her subsequent enterprises knowing they would be successful. Knowing that she would do whatever it took to make it work. Failure and fear didn’t enter her mind. Everytime a new project was undertaken, or new financing required, she entered into it with intentions of a successful outcome. Thus for her, investing in the business, taking what others may see as a leap of faith, was the obvious thing for her to do. Her mindset set her up for success. What difference would it make if we had the confidence that... read more

Is International Women’s Day still needed?

March 8 rolled around again. Another International Women’s Day. I wondered to myself as I was listening to the youngest ever MP, (a women whop entered parliament in the 1970’s), on the radio,  ‘why do we still need it?’. Then I quickly cast my mind back to when I created my manifesto for Corporate Crossovers. I wanted to bring forth amazing role models of successful women entrepreneurs in the UK, and globally to inspire my thinking. So, I sat down at my keyboard, and nothing happened. My mind was blank. It was easy for me to tap off Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Donald Trump, but where were the women in the top of my consciousness? I realised that I too, thought first of men as entrepreneurs and captains of industry, not women. Ugh! Had I been brainwashed? Why did I think first of them, when my passion is to enable women to work in a way that is right for them – whether that be starting their own business, or re-engineering their corporate life.  I want women to be inspired and to feel that they can create and lead a significant enterprise on their terms. No longer do we need to be constrained by traditional work cultures. I wanted to change the way work works! Growing up in New Zealand, I had significant role models to lift my thinking – we were the first country in the world to give women the vote, we had not just one, but two women Prime Ministers, and a women Governor General. Incredible role models for gender equality. Yet, my paradigm for entrepreneurial... read more

How much money do you need to start a business?

You are ready to start, you know the business structure, the resources you need to begin and how to maintain a vibrant flow of new customers. One last thing to check – how will you pay for it all?     When considering how much funding you need to start your business you need to consider: How long until your first sale from now When will you make a profit How much money you need to fund the business until profit These three elements will give you key information in determining how much money you need to start up. They will give you the foundations of your cash flow in the business. A healthy cash flow is essential for any business, big or small. If the business runs out of money, it will be impossible to pay suppliers. You may have to get other short term finance which may be expensive and it could become a very difficult time for you to trade out of. To avoid this happening, you need to estimate your future cash flow. This way, you can be sure that your business has enough cash to pay its way, and you can keep growing. This is set out like a profit and loss forecast but instead of showing when a sale is made; you put in the amounts when the bill is paid. Like a Profit & Loss statement, there are two parts – cash in and cash out!   Cash IN This is the moment your business receives cash in from a customer. If you get paid in cash at the moment you make... read more

When business growth stalls and what to do about it

There is nothing so dispiriting after setting up your own business to find that growth stops. Even though you have put your heart and soul into it, new customers seem elusive and your revenue and confidence start to flag.   I have been faced with this scenario, and over the course of 12 years, it has happened a few times!   The easy thing to do is to work harder, try harder, work longer and worry more. But that doesn’t assist you in regaining your momentum, all it does is tire you out and reinforce the thought that even though you try your hardest, it’s not enough.   What a thoroughly demoralising place to be.   If you find yourself here, then stop.   Stop doing what you’ve always done, and stop trying harder.   It’s time to reboot your approach to business.   Doing what you have always done will get you what you have always got.   If you are unsatisified with the current state of play, then stop, and change what you are doing.   This isn’t about throwing the baby out with the bath water but taking some time out to create new avenues of growth and opportunity. It’s time to stop flogging a dead horse and start to put your time and effort into a fresh approach.   Though when we are feeling demoralised by our business, it can be hard to think of new ways and approaches for growth.   Here are some effective ways to get your growth mindset happening…   1. Blank sheet of paper Imagine that you are starting your business... read more

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