Innovation Strategist Archives

In theory, a business partnership sounds like a great idea – half the workload, another pair of hands, half your risk etc. In my experience, however, a partner of any kind (and I include active investors in this category) can be a very difficult beast to manage. There are, of course many potential benefits in having a business partner. They may bring many things to the party – money, expertise, a valuable customer list, an established business framework i.e. a sales team, HR, payroll, accountability, support etc. They may also bring things that you hadn’t anticipated – stress, meddling, liabilities, management overhead, personal issues and soon.

So is agreeing to a partnership the right decision?

As with all things in life, nothing is ever black or white. If you are considering a partnership ask yourself the following questions and answer honestly:

1. What do both parties bring to the table and is it an equitable agreement? That is to say, is it a fair exchange? There is nothing more likely to bring a partnership down quickly if one party feels that they have contributed more than they have received.

2. Do you actually need a partner? Could you simply take your business idea, hire in the skills and go it alone?

3. Are you both willing to have a legally drawn-up partnership agreement that details the duties and obligations of each party? If the answer is no then ask yourself why not? It may be that you feel that you can trust this person implicitly and that may be so but there are many external factors that can change this. For example, what if your partner gets divorced and his wife claims half of his assets – where would that leave you? What if he is involved in another business enterprise that suddenly requires funding that was originally earmarked for your business – where would that leave you? I could go on but I think you get the idea.

4. If your potential Partner is a friend are you prepared to lose the friendship if the business idea doesn’t work?

5. What split of equity is appropriate and how will you decide? Would a tightly controlled profit share agreement be more appropriate enabling you to maintain 100% control of the shareholding? Whatever you decide think carefully before agreeing to a 50-50 share split – deadlock between partners is not a healthy place for any business to find itself in.

6. What happens if the proposition is not successful? What liabilities will there be and who will be responsible for them?

7. What happens if after a period of time, one party wishes to exit the partnership? Make sure that you can clearly define a solution that will enable one party to walk away or be bought out without bringing about the downfall of what is by now a successful enterprise.

There are many other questions that you could ask. What I believe that I am advocating here is that you go into a partnership with your eyes wide open. It is common for people to be seduced by all the potential benefits of a partnership without even considering any of the risks involved. Just don’t be one of them.

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Achieving that Elusive £1 million

It is unbelievable that 99% of business owners actually never set out to truly succeed.  Just 1% of us build a £1 million plus turnover business with substantial profits.  But Why?  What key factors do successful business owners have that make them so successful?  In this article I will share with you 6 Essential Elements that every successful business owner I know exploits:

1.     Create a Winning Psyche

Every successful Entrepreneur I can think of has an extraordinary mind set and psychology.  They have RESILIENCE.  It is this resilience that enables them to leap the obstacles in front of them time after time.  They set out with a big dream and have the determination, doggedness and resolve to achieve it.  So many entrepreneurs have been through a ‘bankruptcy’ and yet they get back up, learn from their mistake, and move on to become millionaires. Their failures are turned to successes.

2.     Find Success and DO THAT 

Don’t ever underestimate the power of learning from others.  Ultra successful people can be sources of unimaginable information if you just watch what they do.  Look at their behaviours, their actions and their mind set and determine what makes them successful at what they do. Model that success and harness it for your own purposes.  Don’t be tempted to follow the masses – if you model what they are doing you will simply be doing the same as the masses. 

3.     Whatever Your Business, be a Marketing  Master    

Truly successful entrepreneurs don’t dabble in Marketing.  They are Kings of Marketing, in fact, whatever their business actually is, their real business is actually Marketing.  They employ multiple marketing methods, their web strategy is to build a customer relationship for life,  they use ‘remarketing techniques’, they leverage the power of technology with the use of video and autoresponders in online marketing and have powerful referral strategies to increase leads.  Their core focus is continually doubling and tripling their customer base. 

4.     Pricing for Profit

The idea that everyone buys goods based solely on price is absolute rubbish – a myth.  If it were true, nobody would buy expensive cars, designer dresses or 4 month World cruises.  In fact, 85% of the population do not buy based on price alone.  They will look for higher priced, higher value options and between 5 and 15% will go for the most expensive option regardless of what else you sell.  Successful Entrepreneurs know this and they will not price according to the mass market but will add perceived value and charge for it! 

5.     Be Smart with Time

Successful Entrepreneurs know how valuable their time is.  They leverage their time and are ruthless about every minute of their day.  They do not answer calls that they know will add no value.  They spend as little time as possible doing anything ‘low value’ such as answering emails.  What they do needs to be high value – marketing, selling, working on long term earnings etc.  

6.     Strategy Innovation – Wipe Out Your Competition

Being able to leverage a perceived value in around a product or service that enables them to create their own market and make any competition irrelevant is an amazing talent.  Successful Entrepreneurs have usually found an ‘edge’ that has enabled them to grow their business in a ‘uncontested’ market.  Some business owners are lucky enough to have a team in-house that are able to build a strategy to enable this kind of market placement and growth.   Some will turn to experts Innovation Strategists to help them to create and control their market.  None-the-less it is a key factor in million pound successful businesses.

How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
With One Simple Step

So you are a successful entrepreneur now – fabulous.You have a business, staff, customers, decisions to make, bills to pay, outstanding creditors to chase and you are working a sixty hour week.You are selling your product well but you need to spend some time on the marketing plan, the finances, the next product launch and you are already working a sixty five hour week.

It can be really lonely at the top.I know – I have been there.When you start up a small business enterprise you expect it to be hard work because everyone tells you that it is.What you don’t expect is that you will feel so distant from everything you once knew – your family, your friends, your employees, your social life.Everyone you know is very supportive but somehow you just don’t want to take your work home with you so you don’t pursue those conversations. It would be nice to be able to talk through your business issues though.

There is nothing like having a confidante who truly understands your situation, the decisions that you have to make and the pressure that you are under. Some business owners have a business partner, some decide that to inject new ideas they need to have one or more Non-Executive Directors.

Seeking Positive Change and Substantial Growth

For me though it has to Mastermind Groups and Mastermind Coaching.When I discovered my Mastermind Group, I was looking for positive change and substantial growth in my businesses. I was running the show pretty much on my own at that time and I needed external input.What I found was a group of ten very positive, focused, committed, like-minded business men and women whose sole purpose in meeting monthly was to ensure their success in business.And boy did it open my eyes!

Harness The Mind-Blowing Power of 10 – Priceless

I found that being with a group of success-minded people motivated me even more to achieve my goals.I am already a very focused person but being a member of such a group made me feel accountable in a way that I had never done before – there is absolutely no excuse good enough for letting anything slide even by a day!The combined thinking-power of this group is immense and the innovative ideas that I was able to use and build on were mind-blowing. I was able to learn from the successes and mistakes of others by listening carefully and following well-seasoned advice.Equally, I felt that I was able to contribute significantly to the group with my own experiences and that was a huge confidence boost.For me, membership of such a group has been absolutely priceless, both in the subsequent growth and success of my business enterprises but also my own personal development.

Working Smarter Not Harder to Make your Business Grow Successfully

I have been asked so many times by business owners ‘what is that I need to do to make my business a success?’  My advice is always tailored to the needs of that particular business at the time as each business will be in a different stage of its growth and each will have its own challenges. However, in my experience the following three concepts are essential components leading any business to grow successfully:


Business Growth By Testing

Sell Sell Sell – So many business owners that I have come across believe that if they have a good product and simply open their doors, a flood of customers will come rushing in to buy.  Wrong.  As a wannabe entrepreneur the one single most important thing you will ever do is make your first sale.  Without sales you will not have a viable business.  So forget picking out furniture for your new office, or titivating the new website – they will not in themselves create sales. Instead concentrate on testing out your intended marketplace(s).  Find out if you have actually got a product that will sell whether it is cupcakes, jewellery, insurance, newspapers or anything else, before you commit substantial time and money.  Ask friends, neighbours, colleagues.  Sell at flea markets or ask existing retailers to sell for you on a ‘sale or return basis’.  Only once you have done this will you be sure that there is a market and that you have workable business proposition for a business and business growth.

Business Growth By Value Pricing 

Value Pricing –  It is all too easy to fall into the trap of pricing the product or service that you offer based on cost of time and materials.  After all it is a very old and well-used technique utilised by lawyers, accountants, architects, consultants etc etc.  What this does however is put a ‘glass ceiling’ on what you are able to earn as there are only a limited number of hours that you can work.  You can also be confident that when Apple (by way of example) launched the iPod and iPad they didn’t simply multiply the cost of manufacture by 2.2 to come up with a selling price! Instead, begin to think of the value that the work that you will do or the product that you are selling will add to the customer.  If you are being asked to consult it is because you have knowledge and expertise that the customer does not.  If the result of your consultation is an increase in profit of £1million what should your expertise be worth? It is exactly the same with a product – what is the perceived value to the customer and how much is that worth will help you business to grow? 

Business Growth From Competition 

Make Competition Irrelevant – Build an innovative strategy for your business that places your business proposition in a marketplace all of its own – no competition! To do this you have to stop focusing on beating the competition in your current marketplace and create a leap in the perceived value of your product or service that renders the competition irrelevant.  A great example of this is would be cinemas.  There are a number of high brand well know cinemas complex companies out there who compete for the same customers.  What if one of them thought differently though and decided to attract new customers, customers who don’t usually frequent the cinema.  Asking why people don’t go to the cinema is possibly a more pertinent question than ‘how do I attract more of the customers who already frequent the cinema?’  For example, there are many parents with small children who do not frequent the cinema because of childcare problems. By providing a crèche facility at the cinema where children can play and will be fed a healthy meal whilst Mum and Dad go and watch a movie a whole new opportunity opens up. By building an innovative strategy around attracting customers that do not already frequent the cinema they open up an entirely new market – one that the competition is not in on. So by being innovative and creating an innovation strategy that eliminates your competitors which in turn will allow your business to grow successfully. 

 

 

Louise Woods: Innovation Strategist & Mastermind Coach

Mastermind Coach & Accountability

As a mastermind coach I regularly and avidly read articles, self-improvement literature and blogs simply because I find them irresistible.  I frequently find nuggets of information that provoke thought and force me to question my own beliefs and knowledge.  Just a few months ago I was following a thread on Linkedin which I have been ‘mulling over’ ever since and has now compelled me to put pen to paper.

 The question being posed was nothing out of the ordinary and yet the responses were quite enlightening.  “Why is it that we will attend a workshop, read a book or article, listen to the audio tapes, watch the video, get inspired to change…and yet STILL not act?”

 Did you know that of all the many thousands of small businesses owners out there trading today, only a tiny 1% will truly have a desire to succeed and act on it?  There are, as we are all painfully aware, a very large proportion who will fail and the remainder are happy to merely survive.  So why is it that those who have obviously sought help by way of a workshop, book article or other such media choose not to action it?

 The responses given to the question posed on Linkedin centred on whether ‘Accountability’ is the best way to ensure that people act on their ‘best intentions’ and implement what they have learned.  One side argued that unless we have someone holding us accountable, change very rarely happens.  That was countered by saying that the ‘carrot and stick’ approach of accountability relies on having someone to be accountable to (which of course isn’t always the case when running your own business) and that generating  the correct attitude in a person to ensure that they are self-starting and self-sustaining is the ‘Champions Approach’.

 To me both arguments seemed logical and both rang true in my experience of human beings.  The crunch came however by way of an example given about recent rugby games.  The ‘Correct Attitude’ protagonist stated that ‘…..no-one there needed an accountability partner.  Not one player would have sat back and thought “I’m a bit tired, I’ll hang at the back and let the other do the work today”.  It just doesn’t happen because they have a winner’s attitude…….’

 I cannot think of people who have more accountability than world class rugby players!  They may very well be highly motivated, hugely self-sustaining, self-starting people and have the mind-set of champions but it does not change the facts.  They are accountable to their teammates, the team coach, the team manager, the fans, the nation, themselves, their family to name just a few.  That is quite a list!

 So who is right?  Is Accountability to another person enough to make a person act or do they also have to have  Correct Attitude?

 In my experience both ‘Accountability’ and ‘Correct Attitude’ are both essential  elements in achieving success.  Being a business owner can be a very lonely experience and it is all too easy to lose focus and get caught up in the nitty-gritty of daily business life, fail to set goals and lose sight of the aim of the business – to thrive and prosper!  For me, being part of a Mastermind Group gives me the Accountability that I need to ensure that I set goals and targets and focus on achieving them.  I constantly work on self-improvement so that I build the ‘Correct Attitude’.  Having a great attitude is what makes me get up in the morning when it is cold outside, ensures that I don’t give up at the first hurdle, do all the things that I know I need to do to achieve my goals, targets and tasks whether I ‘feel’ like it or not.  I will attend a workshop, read a book, article, only if it will help me achieve my goals, and act upon it if I believe that it will. After all, I have chosen to be accountable for my results and my great attitude means that I will go all out to achieve them!

 At the end of the day, the week, the month or the year I can honestly say that I succeeded in everything I set out to do!

 

 

 

By Louise Woods – Innovation Strategist & Mastermind Coach