Saturday, March 29, 2014


Is it really bad to listen in, by mistake, of course which would really indicate overhear rather than actively eavesdrop
Is this akin to chatting over the garden wall with the neighbour or something more sinister?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Do no harm?

'primum non nocere' 
At what point should all of us embrace the ethos behind the one that medical practitioners should ideally practice by?
Since when does business community feel above the commitment that we should all make to our community. 
When faced with particular decisions we have to balance up that fork in the road choice. Do we do the balance sheet of profit against harm. Is there such a balance sheet? If not should there be one? Where do we go when the balance sheet glaringly shows imbalance? When the manipulators of Libor or sellers of desperately sub-prime packages look in the mirror what do the see in the reflection? If they apply the concept of "do no harm" how do they stack up?
I'd really like to know wouldn't you?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

When is it okay to be sick?

As a self-employed person when is it okay to take a few days off sick more importantly when is it okay to take three or four weeks off sick. With your business suffer? With your business close? Or will things just carry on as you left them?
The answers to these questions is it all depends. We should be running and businesses as if they were personal relationships with family or friends and now off and your family or friends walk out when your ill what you been injured. If your relationships are strong enough then your business will survive.  It can't be guaranteed though but I would suggest you spend more time on your relationships and this time on getting your money give more than you receive. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Business Coach in Hospital

It's happened again I have been laid low by blood clots in my left leg. Now I'm normally reasonably fit and take care in what I eat but this is "Just one of those things" .
When you run your own business, if you don't plan for stuff like this, it can destroy what you have spent years and 000,s of pounds building up.
I'm lucky I expect that my relationships with my clients are strong enough for me to keep them and help me to survive.
Round the corner for all us a really big person waiting to kick us squarely where it hurts. We just do t know who they are or exactly when they will turn up -

Have you been predicted yet?

Communication is the only way us humans can get together and share stuff.
Whether that is emotional or physical it goes without saying that is we fail at this really basic level then we may as well give up and hiss under the stairs.
We all know that certain professions have been led to think that having a strange outlook on communicating is acceptable but I would hazard a guess that this is pretty self generated. A case of the shy convincing the shy. In a business environment getting your idea across in as unambiguous manner as possible is fundamental to getting the job done.

Poor Communication

Communication is fundamental to the smooth running of any organisation or in fact with any interaction between people. Recently I have experienced or become involved with disagreements where is becomes obvious to the outsider that the problem has been very poor communications in point of fact some of these disputes cannot be unravelled as the communications have got so bad that each individual has become intransigent and slips into the I'm right your wrong argument style. 
One involves two companies who despite advice they both consistently ignore basic business rules around planning and contracts. This has resulted in a dispute which has degenerated into verbal assaults and liablous emails flying about.  
How to solve these reputation destroying and ultimately business closing situations?
It's rather like the letters that have appeared out of the Good Friday Peace Agreement. Finding out that negotiations rely upon two things, one is both sides knowing what they want and secondly how much they will give up to get what they want. If that isn't there then there are no negotiations finally without communication there is nothing. 
Be open, have a plan, have agreements in the clearest language possible. Expect things to wrong. All these equal success. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Holiday the Business Coach way

Needless to say everyone needs a break from the hussle and bussle of being a Business Advisor so I have come here to less than sunny Athens to take a few days away enjoying the hospitality of the Greeks.
Today went up to indulge in facing up to what happens to any society when you take your eye of the ball. Travelling on the metro to the Acropolis and the Parthenon was 21st century city travel, easy and swift. However confronting the history of civilisation took a bit more out of me. In 447 BC some two and a half thousand years ago the building works started. From then what have we learnt about forward planning and strategy? History tells us that when we sit back and enjoy the fruits or our labours this is when they start to disappear or are taken from us. The world is littered with Empires that have grown, flourished and died some we are more aware of like the Greek, Roman and British some we have heard about like the Aztec and Inca's and some have totally slipped out of human memory. All these had one thing in common; that is they were made up of people, to a greater or lesser extent, just like us. Scary isnt it that looking at the balance of probability everything we do here today in our lives will turn to dust. Very little will outlast us in terms of activity. One thing I have picked up here is that theories do then to last a lot longer and remain in the worlds psyche for all time. Fairness, Democracy, Healing, Philosophy all came from around these parts and some 3000 years later they are still given a shake or two. That makes me think that whatever we do has little value to the world as a whole but what we think can add serious value to those that come after.
So I'm going to have a bit less doing and a bit more thinking time this week in the hope that a new civilisation will be born from my inactivity.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Innovate or die trying

How many new ideas do have a day? 10,20,30 or 100. Funnily enough so does everyone else!
The difference between a good idea and a successful idea is what?
If you have dream (apologies to M L K) does that make you a genius or a numpty with an over active mind?
Having a dream is only half the battle making the dream come true is the really hard bit. Anyone in business knows that even the best dreams can become worn and jaded. Remember that to maintain passion (in everything) it takes hard work focused activity a decent plan and the ability to implement that plan. Dreams are cheap actions and success cost dear. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Learning Experience

Why is it that when anybody in a position of authority, whether in Government, Health Service or Leading Corporates, makes a complete balls up of something they are being really well paid for the first line of defence is not an apology or a mea culpa but a mealy mouthed statement stating that they have learned the lessons are using the destruction of other peoples lives as a "learning experience" which can be a positive outcome!
Who cares what they have learnt if they can't get it right shouldn't they be punished in some way such as losing their jobs or even a nice long stay in a holding cell?
Just a thought when the lazy spin out the same old BS that lessons have been learnt and hopefully the same problems will not return. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sex & 2014

ŁaIs there a difference between the way that men & women approach business networking?
More & more mixed business groups are sprouting up but are they putting up barriers to growing their members businesses by not recognising and dealing with the fundamental differences in the way that men & women promote themselves.?
2014 could be the year where we abandon equality and embrace relationship marketing. Entrepreneurs, by nature are resilient and confident with a naturally high business drive this can appear to be aggressive and overly forceful. Each gender has this trait so it's not the sex it's the mind!
Without this drive things would almost certainly stay as they are.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

End of recession blues

Just when you thought it was going to last forever...
Finally, and I mean by that the end is nigh.
We all have options and 2014 will deliver if you want it to. 
Make it happen as no one else will

Thursday, October 24, 2013


How does this work? Some companies last less than a year some last for over 100 years. The stats on those that start up & die are really scary. How many businesses give me a ten or fifteen year plan? I can say about none!
If you dont think intend to be around in ten years then dont plan to be and that usually works.
I have a guilty secret I am going to share with you - on Saturday I travelled up to London to attend a concert at the Albert Hall now this was not just any concert this was to see one of the best R&B bands of the 70's Earth Wind and Fire and despite the emotional memory link to the music I was enthralled at the energy and stagecraft of a group of men who had been doing this for over 40 years.
Now we all know that longevity in the popular music industry is rare they are getting more numerous and health care for the aged improves and drug use declines with age. We have The Rolling Stones and many groups who only intended to be around for a moment in time. Least said about Sir Cliff the better...
My point is that not one of these groups planned for this but certainly have more than their fare share of talent and tenacity and resistance so they are still there more important what they do is still valued regardless of fashion tastes they seem to overcome that. While sitting being thoroughly entertained by these gentlemen a thought struck me they started out not for fame or money but because they loved what they did and they found they were good at it. I couldn't envisage 60 year old One Direction managing to keep me entertained in the future - but then that seems to be beyond them now...
Life as though today is the only day in your life but plan for the next 30 years just in case your still around tomorrow when the sun comes up.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Building up a head of steam

Who or what is the blind cyclist?
Its a theory on how to help small business owner react quickly and rely on senses that they thought they never had. These senses rise above the normal Aristotle 5 senses and can number at my last count 22 senses ranging from the understandable and creditable to slightly out there senses which we take as granted but don't use to gain our own ends.
When faced with a large corporate who usually can do the job no better or worse than the smaller company how many of these corporations know what it is to "sense gravity" in a business environment - if more had then maybe the bankers wouldn't be up there looking down on the rest of us?
More to follow...

Friday, October 18, 2013

I have been out of things for a while both laid up with a blood clot in my leg.
Whilst this has been happening I have been thinking about my new idea to be added to the unfair advantage programme which will be using the analogy/story of the Blind Cyclist - this is not in itself a theory but the working out where your advantage lies when you seem to be in a place where you are less than favourite is one which most small business owners are literally blind to. Every opportunity seems like a problem and only the lucky ones win profitable contracts while the rest of us sneak around the bottom of the pool eating leftovers and spillage.
Not so keep coming back to this blog to pick up more ideas on this theme...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Have you been predicted yet?

Communication is the only way us humans can get together and share stuff.
Whether that is emotional or physical it goes without saying that is we fail at this really basic level then we may as well give up and hide under the stairs.
We all know that certain professions have been led to think that having a strange outlook on communicating is acceptable but I would hazard a guess that this is pretty self generated. A case of the shy convincing the shy. In a business environment getting your idea across in as unambiguous manner as possible is fundamental to getting the job done.
Using all the available senses would be a good way to start!

Finding the unfair advantage of the blind cyclist - Stage 1 Yellow Jersey.

It has been a while I know but I've been tied up for the summer...
I made a commitment to get fit and part of that means that three times a week I drag myself out of bed at 04:50 in the morning while the rest of the world sleeps soundly, and put on the "kit". In the summer its okay as the number of items that have to be pulled on is a lot less demanding than those winter months. But I digress - I manage to leave the house at about 05:04 do the stretches as prescribed and set off towards to town, as even at this time of year the sun is not up yet, so I decide to keep to the route where the road lamps are still on. Normally my body starts to get into a rhythm at about 2 miles but sometimes it takes a bit longer, most mornings I have it in my mind to run at least 6 and half miles but I can get distracted and go on for a bit longer. The reason I say this is that jogging in the morning gives me time to think and it just so happens that this particular morning I managed to have a reasonably clear head and taking the normal route round by the railway station with the dilapidated Victorian villas, that frankly have seen better days, most of which have been adopted by the local council for all sorts of uses. I take the road past the trading estate now having completed about 3 and half miles now this morning as I get to the four mile mark just as I'm exiting the trading estate a cyclist is coming towards me, now taking into account that we are still in the half light and actually the sun isn't trying to raise itself, so it is quite a surprise to see that the lady is wearing sunglasses. That got my overactive mind thinking about the sense of that choice or perhaps there were reasons behind what would appear to be a less than sensible eye-wear choice for 05:30 in the morning? As I jogged on I thought about the various plausible explanations firstly she could be a film star on a slob day or she could be a rock star still high on last nights chemical input or alternatively she could have an eye infection, which would be silly as reducing vision more in an already limited peripheral horizon would be dangerous.
I finally decided that, even though there was a distinct lack of Golden Labrador or white stick the cyclist was indeed blind or at the very least partially sighted. Then I wondered what the advantages there could be considering that she does this journey daily and she has not been hit by a truck, car or another cyclist or maybe the devastation of running over pedestrians keeps her going. There are advantages which I will review next time...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hidden Taxes

Hidden taxes don't you just love them
We've got a staff of about 50 people, most of whom work really hard and diligently. Every now and then something crops up which questions our beliefs on why we do this business thing at all.
The government, in following its austerity plans lemming like over the cliff edge, has stated again and again that the SME companies form the backbone of the economy oh yeah!
Finding out that the their main worry net their only worry is having enough cash to hand out to their supporters has meant that sneaky little taxes have been slipping under the radar. This weeks was finding out that its employers not the Government that funds Statutory Sick Pay. For my employees it comes out of my pocket. So not only do I have to find them work but also have to fund their sick time when both us and them have been paying ever increasing National Insurance payments just to keep our leaders pensions topped up.
It's time Georgie boy was called to account. His astounding under performance is no longer just a joke for the Eton set. Lets all be in on the laugh and dump him. K

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hanging on to the ceiling by you fingernails?

You may not be actually doing this but sure as hell it feels like you are!


Just thought I would share an irritation
Will the person who invented hazard warning lights for cars and other vehicles please stand up so I can kick them squarely where it hurts.
So far as I can see hazard warning lights should be on and flashing all the time with some drivers as the hazard they have identified clearly sits behind the steering wheel...
These lights are put on a vehicle for use in extreme conditions such as breaking down on a dark and unlit country road or a seized engine on the M4 motorway when coming to a sudden and jolting halt.
Not for mums who ignore all traffic signs and road markings to pick up the fruit of their loins from Nursery School or if it suddenly starts to rain and  the car in front has suddenly slowed down - this is supposed to be expected and sure enough if it is raining on your car then it really is a given that it is likely to be raining on the car behind you.
Hazard warning lights are not to be used to let your other half out at the crossing so she or he can stumble a little closer to the shops. Funnily enough on a clear day I can bloody well see you doing stupid things one of which is drawing attention to your stupidity by putting on flashing lights.
Stop it for gods sake...
I may just decide to drive into you just because of them. on that subject of purposeful accidents don't those little signs in the back windows of cars stating the fact that a little person is on board just make you want to speed up and drive like a maniac?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Whoops where did they go?
What have Clintons Cards, Comet, Jessups, HMV and Blockbuster all got in common? These were shops with their plans firmly fixed in 1983 not 2013!
Some commentators have said that they didn’t embrace the internet and failed to gauge shopping trends correctly now that there is an increase in on-line spending on a range of goods from big ticket electrical items through to the usual stuffed through the post clothes, books, cds and dvds and more specialist delivery items such a food and certain white goods. Once upon a time the only home delivery item was flowers from the interflora florist who came round in a little van on special occasions. Unfortunately that is not the whole picture. Even when companies have a substantial web presence they can still disappear only it can take a while for anyone to notice. Losing a big high street store can be a bit like losing a front tooth – it really notices!
I see the real problem as more of management one most of those who go out of business do so because the planning is either nonexistent or painfully short term. A good business plan is a flexible and living document that adapts to the changing times but always has an eye on the future is should support and advise the decision making process and be there on those cold dark nights when things are going so badly wrong that all you want to do is get a proper job.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Away from home again

I am relaxing here in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the seething masses of Marrakech. It's quite cool, the weather l mean not me sat here with my feet up, in fact it's almost like an English summers day. Yesterday I wandered out with my wife into the world famous Marrakech Medina souk where even the lowliest berber put our top class closing salesmen to shame. The welcome, plus the my house is your house routine, is set to engender warmth and cosiness and its not until you are in that comfy mindset do you suddenly realise the danger you are in. You came wanting nothing but suddenly you can't leave without the presenter offering to put his eldest born to the sword if you would only dare to not to consider the quality and workmanship of the naturally dyed, hand stitched by virgins, made from the highest living, thus softest and rarest, goat hair in the Atlas Mountains Kilim. It would take a seriously hard hearted person just to turn and walk away having ascertained that for, what is to us westerners, a paltry sum we could be the owners of a material strong enough to pass on to the fruit of our loins for generations to come - or the congealing blood of his first born on our hands. You choose.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


What Happens to a business when it becomes successful?
Yeah sure you make a bit more money and you may have a bigger car or larger office but will you get more sleep?
Do the problems go away?
We would like to think so wouldn't we but actually no they just change and in most cases become bigger. So where do go from here some business owners I have met have decided to not be as successful as they could be or in rare cases be purposefully unsuccessful. It might be that we need to be clear on how we measure success at the outset. Maybe unsuccessful businesses are unsuccessful because that's what the owners want them to be. Just a thought!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dont hide the truth from me!

During my work I hear lots of excuses from owners on why their businesses have got into their parlous state before they decided to give me a call.
Did you know only 6% of Small Businesses call on professional help and advice?
I will ignore the excuses because all they do is mask the problems and give me false information – if I ask a company why anyone should buy your products or services from you and more importantly why does anybody buy your products or services? You would be amazed at the answers! in short most business just don’t know. When I ask the question “are you any good at what you do?” they are really sure on that one but just don’t feel confident enough to tell anyone about it. So to sum up companies are really good at what they do but they have no real idea of why anyone should or actually does deal with them. To be successful it’s important to know why.
My theory on the difference between women business owners and men business owners (it's fair to state that 90% of my clients are women) is explained as follows. Men will look at a problem and say what has gone wrong?– women on the other hand will look at the problem and say what did I do wrong to make that happen? The answer never easy but questioning your performance is a good way to get a grip on what is going wrong in your company.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Astonishing Idiocy

I have say not often am I lost for words.
Recently my aged parents needed to renew their "blue badge" disabled parking permit. These days this no longer just requires a doctors note because the coalition government no longer trusts doctors to determine whether or not we are disabled - this has become the province of an unqualified bureaucratic nightmare known as the local authority. Disabled drivers now have turn up in person to see if they are still eligible (maybe they got all better) and they could be parking in bays they are not entitled to. This of course should carry a mandatory 6 years incarceration. So they pack up the necessary travel accoutrement, which can only be required by new born infants and the elderly, and off to Saffron Walden they went. They sat waiting their turn only to be "interviewed" by a council ingrate who then filled in an identical form that had been sent by post. This was the total extent of the "assessment" and the beloved parents were then shown the door. The final comment was that "it would take two weeks for a decision to be made on their case but I the meantime would they like some help getting the wheelchair back into the car"!!!!!!!
It makes you wonder when the monkeys took over the running of the zoo,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Keeping too many secrets

How much do we want anybody else to know about our businesses?

Probably more than we do!

When you are in business asking for help can be a daunting task and I should know as I am being asked for help all the time – well I would be as it's my job – but how much I need to know about the business is debateable as some businesses are very specialised and others more general so how much can I really know?

I look at it like this anyone who has set up a business should be or should aspire to be the experts in that core business and there is little I can or should add to this. I may well ask advice from that business owner or know of other clients who could use their expertise. But just because the business is good at what it does why should it be also good at running a business? Very few are. Most business owners are keen to focus on what makes them contented and feel comfortable. Examples of the business creator being ousted by their board are numerous and smaller business owners selling out when they didn’t expect “all those problems with the business stuff”. I have to tell you that the business stuff is my specialisation so when you are losing sleep or not sure what to do next call in an expert – it's what you would recommend to your clients.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Success is in the numbers!

Success is in the numbers!

We should all know that a substantial part of this country’s business backbone is the small business section. There are over 4.7 million small businesses in the UK and businesses with less than 250 employees account for 99.9% of all enterprises.

Small firms employ more than 58% of the private sector workforce and 13.5 million people work in small firms. These firms contribute more than 50% of the UK turnover, which would explain why 500,000 people start up their own business every year and that figure is growing!

So there we go, those are the facts and starting a business is incredibly easy. You can even register a limited company for about £29, but that doesn’t mean it's going to be easy to be a success, however; there is no mention of failures in this list as we don’t dwell on negative thoughts.

Talking of Success and Numbers, the difference between success and failure can be measured in very simple terms;

It’s the number of times you can get up after being kicked to the floor - but remember if you are not going to always get up then stay down, especially the first time it happens, it's so much easier. Running a business is a bit like that, if you don’t get up again and again - don’t bother to start.

Perhaps the real secret is not falling down in the first place or at least trying to learn the skills that will help you get up quicker!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Im pleased to announce that I have advised and coached my first start up to a turnover of over £1million in 7 years now that is something that can happen for any business so contact me if you want to know how.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The top 10 thing that can and will kill your business stone dead 

 I normally hate bullet pointed lists but going through the basics sometimes needs a bit of structure so here you are.

1. Failing to sell stuff - It's kind of important that someone other than you wants your stuff and is willing to part with the hard earned to get it.

2. Not keeping your eye on the cash - You must have heard that cash is king and unfortunately it's true without cash you lose your home, your kids don’t wear the best clobber and you all eventually starve. It's no fun living eating cardboard and beans.

3. Not chasing for payment - They owe you so go out and get it.

4. Under-pricing - Most small businesses and larger ones too don’t value what it is they do high enough. Remember it's not what you do it's what happens when you’ve done it that matters.

5. Failure to do a reality check on your basic business idea - Mad ideas are usually just that Mad.

6. Forgetting about the competition - Tricksy they are indeed - selling similar stuff to you and to your clients right under your nose keep an eye on them or maybe both eyes

7. Not getting the right advice when you need it - That’s where I come in call me and find out to keep going

8. Ignoring legalities Only take risks in the area you are most confident in – which for most people isn’t the law. The devil is in the detail check small print in contracts before you sign. Don’t commit to anything that you don’t think you can deliver on. Find a good lawyer and build a relationship with them legal wrangles can waste a lot of your time or even close you down if you get it wrong.

9. Taking too much money out too soon It's tempting, I know, but just because you put money in quickly - doesn’t mean you can take money out quickly. Whatever you think it costs add ten percent for contingency then another ten percent for SNAFU.

10. Getting trapped in long-term arrangements Flexibility is key and you need that flexibility at the start. Keep things as simple as possible and think about what you can do if things don’t go your way. The biggest strength of small businesses is that they can quickly change to take advantage of the opportunities they discover. Don’t throw this advantage away.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Passive income?

I've been reading a lot about so called "passive income" recently how everyone needs to earn while they sleep or they are done for.
The internet never sleeps retort is very accurate but I've found most of cyberspace is a wasteland. The wind whistles through it like a Californian Gold Rush Ghost Town. Trying to find the nuggets is getting harder and harder. There are many websites, blogs and network groups that are screaming that they have the rights to the next great "passive income claim" so if I don't act now I'll lose my chance. My twitter feed grows daily because I may have shown a vague interest in someones witty or pithy aside and now I am bombarded with gormless idiotic chatter.
What is the correct etiquette here? If I "unlove" someone do they appear at my bedside at night brandishing venom and hate or "troll" me out of my mind. In the old days it was a simple case of checking under the duvet and having a strategy for disposing of a horses head before jumping in for a decent nights rest.
How does the cyber world, not known for its mature and stable relationship building skills, deal with faceless rejection?
Now back to passive income I hate to mention it but there is no such thing if, like me you believe that every one buys from someone they like, know or trust, which would indicate that there is an emotional aspect to this, then where does the word "passive" fit in?
To create this passive income you need to create a stable of constantly evolving products or services which continue to add value to an ever changing and increasingly demanding marketplace. Doesn't sound very passive to me. I think what they mean is an income which requires no input from me on building a relationship between buyer and seller above a daily email that says "you bought X from us six months ago so we thought you might like to purchase Z" now that's handy as I didn't know that Z actually existed now I know I need to have one. Phew what a service - now I'm off to check if I've been invaded by trolls under the bridge.

Growing Pains

When you are seeking to grow your business asking for help can be a daunting task, but how much anyone needs to know about the business in order to accelerate growth is debateable. Some businesses are very specialised and others more general, so how much can somebody from outside the business really know?
Anyone who has set up a business should be, or should aspire to be, the expert in that core business and there is little anybody can or should add to this. Specialists in this field may well ask advice from that business owner or know of other clients who could use their expertise. But just because the business owner is good at what they do why should they also be good at running a business? Very few are and most business owners are keen to focus on what makes them contented and feel comfortable.
Examples of the business creator being ousted by their board are numerous as are smaller business owners selling out when they didn’t expect “all those problems with the business stuff”. I have to tell you that the business stuff is my specialisation so when you are losing sleep or not sure what to do next then call in an expert – it’s what you would recommend to your clients!