Tag Archives: business growth

Will the Banks Step Up Now?

One of the crucial keys to keeping businesses moving and healthy is a trustworthy source of ‘Parent Finance’.

What do I mean by Parent Finance? Well – that’s what I call the ‘back-up-plan-for-when-the-fat-hits-the-fan’ option. Nowadays its hard enough growing up, but trying to afford to buy a house, start a business, grow a family….these things are becoming more and more difficult for each new generation.

Now you could argue that older generations were less materialistic and more realistic about what they could afford and well…credit cards hadn’t been invented. I would definitely agree in part with this – however there is a huge chunk of reality that slaps new generations in the face:

(a) out-of -reach mortgages (home loans),

(b) property prices and

(c) the cost of living being at an all time high.

My worry is that this will adversely affect the sprouting of new businesses and the future entrepreneurs out there. Heck I have a daughter that is 4 months old and my biggest wish is for her to be able to do absolutely anything her heart desires and florish at what she is (will be) good at – what I don’t want is money to stop her being all that she can be.

I have never been one to lend money – but you can see why you need to…when it comes to trying to start and/or grow a business. For franchises – financing is pretty crucial especially for a start-up franchisor. He/she has a lot of work to put in, in order to get his/her model into a healthy franchisable position and be able to support a new growing network of franchisees. What I don’t understand is banks that have dealt with some business owners for years (even in a personal capacity) are not willing to sit down, have a chat mano-e-mano (or womano) and see what is POSSIBLE…as opposed to immediately jumping on to the fence of ‘NO WAY…not possible’.

I dare any bank to revert back to the good old of days of healthy client relationships based on give and take…and most importantly trust. As with disciplining children….parents oddly end up punishing the good kids…because one bad kid messed up. I feel that the ‘loan requirements’ nowadays are a result of years of bureaucracy and once off fraud cases….and have become as stifling as a mole that can’t find away back up to the light.

What are your experiences or thoughts on the subject?

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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.

A Business LifeBoat…Key to Breaking Career Ceilings

This is Me!

This is Me!

I  have found myself carefully cherry picking my way through my professional contact list and really being honest with myself in asking these three questions:

–  Is this someone I will know in 10 years time?

–  Is this a person who will push me by inspiration and challenge to be where I want to be?

–   Can this person add the kind of value I need to get to where I want to be?

Now, instantly you may look at those questions and think – wow, thats cold. But hang on a bit…hear me out. How many times do we read professional business books that keep telling us to value our time more, and quite clearly say in order to progress…you need to think progressively and consistently challenge your comfort zones? I constantly receive great feedback from people about how I add value to them and open their eyes to a view that they hadn’t considered. Thats super for them – because they have identified that they would like me in their Business Lifeboat. That doesn’t automatically mean they will be in mine though – unless of course they have the knowledge and skills in areas that I don’t have and their business persona intrigues me. There’s nothing wrong with that – its just making sure you remember where you are in the order of things.

Many a small business owner makes the mistake of spraying a whole lot of time at everyone and everything that they come into contact – hoping for something to stick. That works for about 5 minutes and you are exhausted and without any recognisable return.

My message is be “brutally” professional – annihilate the time wasters and hangers-on and carefuly cultivate the real professional relationships and contacts that you know will support you and to whom you can also offer value to in return.

With franchisor clients I really bring this home to them in that they have a fantastic vantage point to be looking out for the future of their network of franchisees. They are in a position to recognise valuable branding joint initiatives and professional alliances that the franchisee wouldn’t have dreamed possible as a stand alone Joe Soap. Zone in on this power of professional alliance and heighten your franchise offering overtime – by doing this you not only create emotional loyalty from your franchsiees – but, hell, you are also creating a fantastic case for economic loyalty too.

Follow me on Twitter if you want to see who is in my Business Lifeboat, or find me on Linkedin.

Social Media – the Way Business is Going

I subscribe to some key chaps that I get inspiration from. Today I got this post from Guy Kawasaki’s blog where he alerted his readers to an article written about how Barack Obama strategised his presidential campaign making use of social media. Click here to read it.

I was blown away by the stats in this article written by Edelman. I would say to you just pay attention to what went on and what was made possible in the space of time it was done.

I know that I am working myself towards engineering my own business to work the way business will be working in 10 years time. Its frustrating in that you always need to think ahead in terms of the way businesses are going – but I do think that there are a lot of business owners (including franchisors) who really have to pull their finger out and get on top of business models of the future. And that, my friends, includes mastering Social Media and Networking.

Long gone are the days of it needing to take thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours to get recognition and target a specific market. Competition is rife now especially for the uneucated and uninformed business owner out there.

Make sure you find out today if there is something you are missing out on. We will be left behind if we don’t! I have been fighting the onslaught of the Blackberry…but since Barack has one and plainly uses one….hell….maybe I should!

Negativity for the Franchise Model

Today I came across a site that really just raised the level of negativity towards Franchising. I find it quite interesting when individuals have a whole lot to say, but not much to say – if that makes sense.

The UK market is not regulated. Full stop. That unfortunately creates the space for nonsense – much like children who have never learnt the word  ‘No’. I agree that there is a lot that needs to be done in order to secure the market place – especially for the uninformed prospective franchisee, and to be honest the premise behind most of my work is that I set about trying to educate the man on the street about the model.

I’m not an advocate for franchising, however I am an advocate of GOOD franchising. Ethical business practice is one of the sole defining factors of a successful franchise model – and I mean this from both the franchisor and franchisee sides to the coin. I have been privy to more than one unethical franchisee in my time, its not just franchisors!

I’m tired of the ‘moanie minnies’….if they are going to throw more negativity into the pot – how is the industry ever going to come straight? My suggestion is: Buck up, muck in and help where you can to bring the children in line…i.e. start changing things from the inside…don’t stand outside the fishbowl and giggle and laugh while the fish keep swimming in circles.