Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Opportunity in Regulation

If there is one thing any British entrepreneur will tell you, it’s how much the government likes to have a ‘hand’ in how they run their businesses. As a non-Brit born entrepreneur operating in England, I do sometimes despair at how much regulation there is and how very little faith the powers that be have in our ability to be adults and run our businesses responsibly. I reckon it’s all about the old adage of “punish the group, instead of just the naughty.”

Unfortunately, until we can all put ourselves forward to be MP’s (and who really wants to?) – we have to grin and bear it. After a lot of thought on the subject and being quite bored from fighting it, I have to say that along with regulation… comes an element of opportunity as well. If you, in your industry or specialism, can find a way to work with the regulation and even find a window of advantageous possibility – you may well surprise yourself with what you find.

What do I mean by this? The one defining thing about regulation is…you have to do it. By businesses having to comply to some form of rule or regulation in order to operate, there may be an opportunity to provide a service or product that helps the business owner do this in a cost effective and painless manner. Most business owners are happy to pay for someone to ‘just sort it’.

Tips on How to Make The Opportunity Yours

1. Ask yourself: What regulations do you know of, that have recently come in (or are about to) and what do businesses have to do or change within their operation to comply? Also – when does the regulation come in (if it hasn’t already) and how much time do business owners have to get themselves sorted.

2. Map out what your strengths are and where can you help? Draft a service package or product outline of what you can do and/or provide and get some feedback from a few business owners to see if it’s something that they would find useful.

3. Research the size of the market and the potential for profit. Do some serious market research to ensure that should you embark on providing this product/service, there is definitely a good reason to do so!

4. Carefully choose the right partners and routes to market that will suit your service/product and maximise the opportunity for your business.

5. Be smart: Automate and outsource how you can provide this product or service! This will help create a ”bolt-on” revenue source that will add value and not drain your current business.

Always remember to apply the smart principles of franchising behind every new element you want to add to your business. Why? Because the basis of franchising is that it doesn’t need you in the model – it runs itself or is easy to teach someone else to do.

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Develop a Standalone Business Model

With my background in franchising, it’s quite natural for me to look at just about every business and wonder what the ‘model’ is behind it. What I mean by this is – what do the cogs look like; what do they do and what results do they generate. I have to look at businesses in a structural way, because that is why franchising is a successful growth or exit model: it’s about finding a winning formula, sticking to it and repeating it over and over.

A trap that most business owners fall into very early on is in trying to do everything themselves for one of two reasons: 1. fear of losing control or 2. not trusting that anyone else can do the job properly. The biggest learning for a business owner to latch on to is to build a business that does not depend on him/her.

Even if you have not franchised your business, you should be following the principles – starting with removing yourself from your business. This is your first step to creating a Standalone Business Model.

Do you want to be frazzled for most of your business life because you can’t walk away for a few weeks? No? Then ask yourself some of these questions which will help you to make a good start to identifying what you can automate in your business:

What are you doing right now that can be delegated?

Make a list of what you do today – everything, down to filing, reading emails, opening post, stamping something etc. Bear in mind processing of enquiries, sales meetings, staff management etc. This will lead you on to the next question…

How much of your business is outsourced right now?

You may already have done an exercise this year to see what you could streamline and where you could save on overheads and staff time. If you have – make a list of what these things were and also look at what you have experienced since actually outsourcing those things (benefits/payoffs). What else are you doing that could be outsourced?

What do you do every day that is repetitive behaviour?

The way to find out what works and what doesn’t is to look at which actions or activities bear which fruits. So, what are you doing that actually doesn’t contribute anything directly to your bottom line? How can you change this and create an action or activity that turns it around and does add to your bottom line?

You may also have certain activities that you HAVE to do, which DO bring in direct business and/or sales – and these need to be repeated and actioned more! This will form a part of working out what your winning formula is.

What are you doing in one area of your business that you can easily replicate elsewhere?

You have some areas in your business that are running really well and very smoothly. Ask yourself what you are doing right in those areas and find a way to replicate the process or structure that you are using there on another area.

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If you can answer these questions in your business, you will be ahead of the game in formulating what business model you are working with and be in a better position to establish how to develop it to be less dependent on you…even if you have to put some things in place that will only create a Standalone Model in a year’s time.

Be smart. Review your model frequently to ensure business longevity and more importantly…your sanity.