Why a successful business needs more than just a great idea

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...
Business thinking – is yours all wrong?

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...
Are you lonely at the top in your business?

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...
What I learnt from a successful serial entrepreneur

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...
Is International Women’s Day still needed?

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...
When business growth stalls and what to do about it

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...
Shall I change my career?

Shall I change my career?

  February is my busiest month in this business. My clients have typically spent January thinking about getting a new job or starting a business, and (thankfully!) they decide to get some assistance to  work through their options. If you are sitting at your work desk, staring out the window, wondering if you should stay or go, then try this effective exercise to help clarify your thinking. This exercise is taken from my best selling book “Corporate Crossovers – when it’s time to leave the office and start your own business”. A letter to myself – Sliding Doors This exercise allows you to imagine what life could be like in five years’ time, depending on what decision you make. By thinking five years’ into the future, you loosen your grip on the current reality and your perspective shifts. This will help you make a cleaner decision away from the frenzy of the moment. Write yourself a letter entitled ‘Sliding Doors – Path A Versus Path B’. You will create two stories of your life, each one dependent on the decision you could take now. Path A: Write a story of what your life will be like in five years if you stay in your job, remaining in corporate life. Path B: The write another story of what your life will be like in five years if you leave your job now and start your own business or change your job. In both stories, be as detailed as possible. Describe clearly what your typical day and week would be like for each option five years into the future. Imagine the...
An easy way to get focus

An easy way to get focus

As all my clients will attest, I do love business plans! Yet, even with the most rigorous plan in place to grow your business, sometimes our motivation can falter. When you start a business, your verve can be diminished by any number of factors; feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks to complete, sales seeming a long way away, isolation of starting up. And if you are growing an existing business, your motivation can falter by feeling stale, tired of doing the same old thing with seemingly limited results. After more than a decade of running my own business, I have found the most effective way to keep my zest and verve in my business is to be crystal clear on what I want to achieve – beyond the numbers. As I sit down to create my business plans, before I reach for a calendar or calculator, I take a moment to pause, and ponder. I then ask myself “what three words describe what I want this year?”. Writing what ever words come into my mind, I imagine what it would be like to achieve them. Some words work, some don’t and some need a tweak or two. With more pause for thought, then, volia! I have them, the three words that represent the outcome of the next 12 months. My three words this tear are; Joy – this relates to loving what I do, being happy doing it, and working with fab people Prosperity – achieving my business plan targets, prosperous and giving in relationships, and sharing the prosperity with my clients and all I connect with Go To...
Has your year ended how you wanted?

Has your year ended how you wanted?

Among my friends New Year’s Eve is always polarizing. They fall into two camps: 1. Some love it, the idea of celebrating the year with a bang, and eagerly anticipating the new year 2. The others are rushing for the year to be over, as they didn’t enjoy it, and they are not that enthused about the coming 12 months either. Where are you? And given I love to help businesses grow – into which group do you fall when you consider your business? Especially at this time of year, we can feel busier than normal. We often miss the perfect time to take stock and reflect on what has passed. Click To Tweet We then miss out on the learnings, and therefore, risk making the same mistakes as we enter the new year. I would love you to avoid this cycle! I have made a simple reflection chart for you to complete. Below is a photo for you to copy…told you it was simple. 😉 Simply answer the questions… 1. What did you love about this year? 2. What could have been better? 3. What did you learn? Then compare your actual income for the year against your goals. How did you fare?   And from what you wrote above, what insights does that give you about your business and how you run it? Doing this work will give you a great foundation to start the planning process for the next year. And hopefully, it will give you reason to be in the first group when you celebrate on December 31st! Please set aside the time, consider it...
How giving helps you grow your business

How giving helps you grow your business

“Tis better to give than receive.” How often have we heard that, especially at this time of year. I remember the first time I heard it. When I was six years old, it was almost Christmas when I was helping my mum in the laundry folding clothes. We had the discussion about being grateful for any present I received, whether I liked it or not, then the old chestnut came up; “and of course, Wendy, this time of year isn’t about getting, it’s about giving.” Being a typical, self-centered six year old, I didn’t quite understand what she meant, but I knew how she wanted me to behave on Christmas morning! Roll forward many years, and I have a very similar discussion with my clients about ‘Business Karma”. When I interviewed 50 Corporate Crossovers for my book, I discovered that they all practiced and had received a lot from this. Whether you are starting your own business or have been in business a while, Business Karma is key. Click To Tweet Business Karma is simply delighting people. To be more specific here are some examples: making the time to have a coffee with that woman who is new in business, even if you are really busy checking in with clients randomly, asking if they need any support, and having no strings attached being generous with trial offers, samples for people to try offering to lead or be on the committee for your local networking group volunteering your time as a mentor The key with this is to give with the spirit of generosity. Stepping forth with this mindset gives...
How small things make the biggest difference to your own business

How small things make the biggest difference to your own business

I’ve already started thinking about my new year’s resolution. I know, we haven’t even got into the final two weeks of the year, and I am jettisoning myself into 2015. Here is what has led me to my resolutions – a sense of too much change, too many bright shiny things, and frankly, not sticking at one thing long enough to see the difference. For some reason, 2014, has been a very magpie-like year for me. If you have known my journey for the last 18 months you could probably understand why. However, 2015 promises to be a year of relative stability! So ….drumroll please- – my 2015 resolution is to do small things every day to achieve big change. When I have focused in such a simple way in the past, it has worked. Worked for me in that I have gained: More clarity More confidence Calm Increased traction in my business Better financial results When I dart from here to there, then my results reflect that. I feel constantly on the treadmill, always looking over my shoulder for the next big thing, and seeking more external validation than ever before. These are not supportive habits to grow a business. Clarity, confidence and commitment will help you start and expand your business. Click To Tweet The three small things I will do everyday are: –       Meditate – to give me calm, clarity and congruence in my thinking –       Imagine – reflect on my goals (personal and business) and rehearse them coming to fruition –       Thrive – do something I love! This could be coffee with a friend, a beautiful...
Does being thankful help your business?

Does being thankful help your business?

The familiar sounds of the Skype chime rang, and I answered the call to Sophie, a newish coaching client. She had recently left her job to start up her one business, and we were working together to make her business fly! In talking with Sophie, she outlined all that she had achieved since our last call together. She had done a lot, briefed a website designer, set up her tax status, hired a Book-keeper and started testing her value proposition. All of these task individually are big undertakings, and she had done all of them and some more in our hiatus. I acknowledged her in what a great job she had done, completing so much in a short space of time. But all she could focus on was on what she hadn’t done. She was more consumed with what was remaining on her to-do list than what had been ticked off. Thus she felt dissatisfied with her progress, and wondered when she would ever get on top of her new business. Sadly, Sophie’s response is typical. Most of us focus on what we haven’t achieved rather than what we have. This leaves us feeling lacking, less than able or completely overwhelmed as we know we are working really hard but not moving forward. Our brains are wired to make us more aware of problems and limitation than solution and opportunity. This is because, as early man …yes, probably lurking in the caves, when we saw problems or limitations, we sensed danger, and then we took action to stop us from being eaten or killed. To protect us from harm,...
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