Friday, 4 April 2014

Four Principles for Success in Business

I thought for this Blog posting I would share with you some of the content of my presentation at "The BIG Business Event" which we ran recently as Make A Difference.

The purpose of the event was to give participants knowledge, information and strategies to enable them to Grow their Business and be successful in whatever venture they are involved in.

We looked at Four Principles that I have personally lived by and implemented across private, charity, public and Social Enterprise sector work covering the 25 years I have been involved in Business Development and Growth. The principles revolve around the acronym GROW!

G stands for Grit & Determination. Successful people in life and Business especially, have to endure challenges, setbacks, disappointments and frustration which can easily sink the ship of venture. Those who succeed and see success are those who develop Grit and Determination. This is fuelled by a clear vision of what they want to achieve in life and Business and this is what enables them to see things through the toughest of times and circumstances.

R stands for Review & Reflect. Successful people are continually Reviewing what they do and the end results. If things worked out well with that particular venture, what made it work and how can we repeat this and also ensure we can do it bigger and better in the future? If things didn't work out as planned, then why not, what went wrong, what do we need to do differently to get this back on track and performing? Constant review is the key to increased performance, quality and success in life and Business. It is also good to Reflect on where you have come from, are you on track with where you are going and aiming for, and if not why not and what do you need to change. This is a process of Continual Improvement and is key to Success!

O stands for Observe. Successful people are aware of their situation, environment and area of Business and Life! They become experts in their field, monitor the competition, look at the horizon for the next innovation to come down the road and they get in there early because of what they observe! If you want to stay ahead of the competition, be Observant and scan the horizon for the next thing that the market will buy into and be an early adopter to get the lions share.

W stands for Want. Successful people stand out from average achievers as the Successful person Wants the success and to achieve. This is what drives them! Often they have put everything on the line because of their vision and belief in what they are doing and they Want to succeed, often at ALL costs. Do you have that desire, that drive, that WANT to succeed in what you are doing?

If you adopt the above as habits and a lifestyle, Success will find you and the journey will be easier.

Enjoy, Adopt, Practice and GROW!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

In It or On It - What Grows Your Business Most?

Anyone who has ever listened to, let alone engaged the services of a Business Coach will have heard the instruction and guidance that "we should be working ON our Business, NOT In the Business" for us to achieve great Business Growth. But is this always the case?

If you are a sole trader, micro business or lower end SME, then you will know the pressures on your time and resources only too well. You end up being the Managing Director, Finance Director, Administrator etc etc, the list goes on - basically you do the lot!

You may have the luxury of having staff in the Business, but then you've got to manage the staff, task the staff, while still doing the sales and marketing, customer meetings, the exhibitions and of course the networking events!

It is not that straight forward to adhere to the advice to "Work ON your Business NOT IN your Business", especially when you ARE the Business!

Yet, over the 25 years I have worked in Business Development and Growth, from Corporate Organisations to pre-start Businesses, I have seen the casualties of NOT adhering to the Advice. I have seen what happens to great Businesses FULL of Potential when the driving force gets caught up in the day to day working IN the Business and loses focus on Where the Business needs to GO and they don't work ON the Business.

So what can Make A Difference for busy people, being all things IN the Business and how can they work ON the Business effectively?

There are 3 keys to solving this issue:

1. DECIDE to take time OUT of your Business! YOU need to make a conscious decision in YOUR Mind that you WILL take some time OUT of the Business EACH week to look at where your Business is AT and where your Business NEEDS to GO. ONLY YOU can make this decision and stick to it, so, the buck starts AND stops with YOU!

2. INVEST in half day events that will give you access to the Knowledge, Information and Connections you require to help you to GROW your Business. Time is precious, so start by committing Half a Day OUT of the Business to give yourself the time to work ON the Business. You WILL have to invest some money in this as you DO NOT get anything credible in life TOTALLY FREE. And watch out for FREE events, usually they turn out to be gatherings where you get SOLD TO, or you get PREACHED AT, neither of which will help your Business and certainly will NOT Build you as a person.

3. DEVELOP a pattern of continuous learning in life! Always be someone who reads articles, listens to successful people and fills your heart and mind with knowledge that you can apply in life and especially in your Business. As we live our lives we leak! Our education, learning and knowledge diminish unless we constantly REFILL ourselves with new learning and fresh knowledge. Linkedin is a great place to read new information, share articles, knowledge, expertise and through the groups to discuss with peers and learn from each other's experience.

If you follow these top three tips from my life experience and 25 years in Business Growth and Development I KNOW that you have the ability and resources within these tips to GROW Yourself AND GROW your Business!

Develop this as a habit and lifestyle and the combination of these three tips in an acronym will tell of your success because they make up DID - a statement of faith perhaps NOW but with application will become a lifestyle of SUCCESS and ACHIEVEMENT!

If we can help you to MAKE A DIFFERENCE, have a look at our website, and see some of the resources we have on offer that will Help You to Build in Life and Business.

Till then, DECIDE, INVEST and DEVELOP and see you soon amongst The BIG Businesses in life who DID!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sprats and Prats!

I thought in this Blog posting I would share some of the frustrations that we all must feel when running and Building a Business, the problem of the Sprats and Prats!

What do I mean by Sprats and Prats? Well, especially if you are growing a new business, or a new area of your business, often at the beginning and the early stages you get lots of people who ...well waste your time.

Either they are looking for something for nothing, or if you can get any money out of them, its like catching sprats when fishing, small, minuscule and below your true value leading you to think was it really worth it?

As you move around the Networking circuits you especially come across the Sprats and Prats. There are many people in business who are not really running a business let alone growing it, but boy do they love to take up your time, attention and energy!

At first they seem a likely prospect usually commending you on your elevator pitch and asking some probing questions. You think you have a catch and then they start to tell you about their business woes and needs. Very quickly you realise there is little to no sale achievable with these people, Sprats, and then you quickly realise they have taken up your time and energy which could have been directed at a better prospect in the room, and then the Prat syndrome kicks in. Hopefully you don't verbalise your inner thoughts - a bit of self control is in order in this situation!

So how can you deal with fishing in a lake and only catching Sprats, and how can you avoid the Prats that come through this process?

Here are three things which I have implemented recently and found new and better quality prospects as a result:

1) Go fish somewhere else! Seems too easy but very necessary. If you find the networks you go to are breeding sprats and prats for your business, then find new networking events, they are springing up weekly. If you find your mailing list is not producing a response even though you have worked on your message, your call to action and still no response, then get a new mailing list. Plenty of fresh business contacts available through data houses so long as you are clear on what your target markets are.

2) Make it clear in your pitch, your materials, your correspondence what your price is for your goods, products or services. That way, those not wanting to invest in their business will not approach you, and therefore will not waste your time, which now you have free to pursue those who really want to buy what you have to sell. Alongside this, review your pricing strategy, raise your prices - and those who want quality, substance and results will invest, those who don't can go bother someone else!

3) Pick up the old dog and bone rather than relying solely on e-mail and social media. People don't have time now to always engage fully with social media when you need them to, and e-mails fill up your inbox to the extent that people often become immune to the best subject line ever and still wont open that email. If you want to know if someone is really interested in what you have to sell, then cut to the chase, pick up the phone and make that call. If its a No, then on to the next as you will get that Yes! In the meantime your productivity will increase and your sprats and prats will decrease!

I hope this has been of value to you, and enables you to take control of your time, manage your resources better and continue to Build Your Business!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

60 Seconds to make an impression!

Yes, we all do it, some dread it, others relish it, but its a necessary part of promoting our business, the 60 second “Elevator” pitch!
This is probably a topic that there have been millions of articles written about, so you may have heard some of this before, but in terms of communication if something is worth sharing, its certainly worth repeating.
When was the last time that you reviewed your Elevator pitch? For me, I review it EVERY time I know I am going to use it. Seems a bit of overkill? Well there is a method to the madness, honestly!
The 60 second Elevator pitch is not, in my view, designed to be  set in stone. It is not something that I would print on my business card and be giving out to everyone.
Let me explain why. ALL businesses need to be adaptable to the ever changing markets that they operate within. They need to be able to adapt their pitch to catch the fish.
If I was to have a standard Elevator pitch, then my business is not adaptable to the markets around me, and I will end up losing opportunities rather than gaining new business.
Therefore, I have a few basic rules / components to my Elevator pitch, but around this I build my pitch for the audience that I am in front of, whether thats an individual or a group.
The core components of my Pitch are:
  1. Who I am
  2. What my Business name is
  3. A call to Action
Just three core points of my Pitch are always the same, the rest is developed according to my audience.
So how do I gauge what I am going to say in the rest of my 55 remaining seconds?
Well, if I am going to a network meeting, where most of these Elevator pitches are utilised, I always try to find out beforehand from the organiser Three main pieces of information:
  1. What the format of the Networking event is
  2. What sort of Businesses attend
  3. If there are any potential competitors anticipated to be there
This information gives me the scope to then decide what I Pitch. It lets me know the type of business in the room and what from my list of services are most likely to be of appeal to those businesses so that I make a connection.
It also aids me to design my pitch with a call to action that is relevant to the event format. So for example if the network event had the 60 seconds round near the beginning of the event with opportunities to have 121 appointments during the rest of the event, I would have a call to action to be one of those appointments with people in the room.
However, if the pitch was at the end of the event, with people potentially rushing off, then I would make sure I placed my business cards on the tables when I arrived at the event, refer to these as how to connect with me in my call to action, and ensure that people had the means to contact me if we were unable to do so in the meeting.
If there are other businesses in the room doing similar to myself, I always have a few items up my sleeve to pull out and pitch according to what my competitors have already said. So if a competitor pitches something I was going to say, thats fine as I will have a couple of other services I can promote to be different to my competitor and give people a choice in connecting with me.
Another tool that I employ in deciding what I pitch, is to listen to the other Pitches. I look to see the reaction of the people in the room, what they engage with, what they dont. This can be reading body language, do people write things down about what is being said, do people use jokes to break the ice and they get a reaction? 
These things all feed into how I pitch and what I pitch.
I have found that the following help with the successful delivery of the message and therefore influence the content of my Pitch:
  • People like to hear facts about the topic
  • People warm to statistics to back up your point
  • Asking a question to gauge where people are at helps your pitch
  • Relating what you have been doing for other businesses to illustrate your service / product benefit, helps people understand and connect
It is important however, that I know my services / products / goods and know which ones I want to promote and which ones are right for that audience. This is a skill that develops over time and with practice. 
If I know my business target markets, if I know what I have in my portfolio relevant to each target market, then all I need to do is identify who in the room falls into which target markets and pitch accordingly.
The main skill in this is blending the markets, if more than one, into the pitch so there is something for everyone to potentially make that connection with.
For those who know me, then this will come as no surprise that the main feeder for the Pitch for me is my gut instinct! There is nothing like being in a room, gauging the atmosphere, looking at the businesses present and deciding last minute what to say in my Pitch – it keeps me sharp!
You are you, and I am me, so like my journey, yours will be full of try it outs, see what works, what you need to change and feel your way in your circumstances and situation.
Hopefully some of the pointers I have shared will give you more focus on your Pitch, on how to gauge your audience, and how to ensure you know your services / goods that you want to promote, and just stand up, SMILE and GO FOR IT!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Networking as a Marketing Tool

So often we are asked in Business to attend a Networking Event. A new one seems to spring up every week. Often we could fill every moment of our working day Networking, but will that benefit our Business? Will we get a Return On Investment of money and time?

Having been around most of the Networking formats over the past 9 months, and viewing the emerging new events, I thought I would share some thoughts with you on Networking and where I believe it will be in 3 years time.

Prediction Number One:

We will see an increase in Networking activities by Businesses not currently engaged in the process. I would say that participation within Networking activities could grow by as much as 300% over the next Three years. Why is this?

Tradional forms of community are diminishing in this post modern era in which we live. The sense of community, family, social structures is rapidly changing and we are finding ourselves often isolated, lacking human and social contact and finding new social networks in this changing environment.

One of the main losses in this change is the ability to connect with people through those social structures. Therefore, in the future, people, especially those in Business will be seeking new ways to connect with other Businesses and potential clients, so one of the more visible formats will be the Networking events to participate in.

Prediction Number Two:

There will be a shift from memebrship paid models of Networking to pay as you go models. Current Networking formats which command a membership fee of around £600 per annum plus an event cost, such as a breakfast of £12 per week, are in danger of diminishing in the next Three Years.

This is because more and more new models of Networking charge a higher or equal weekly / per event fee, but no membership fee. Often these Networking events incorporate the costs for each event into the pricing and do not have a management / regional structure to pay for, thus rendering them more cost effective in terms of pricing to the Business community.

Additionally, many people have been looking at their ROI with Networking. When you take into the calculation a membership fee, training event feees, meeting event fees plus your time, then the per hour figure of your investment in that Network is substantially high. When measured against the referral gained through that Network model, often people find that the return on their investment is very poor. The ROI for pay as you go events is often significantly higher and more justifiable, especially in this current economic climate.

Prediction Number Three:

Social Media and Digital Technology will enable Businesses to add virtual networking to the face to face networking experience, with tremendous profit results for  business.

Time is also of the essence in securing a ROI for your Networking. Social Media and Digital Technology offer you the opportunity to Network without leaving your desk, without travelling time included and often you can find directly and quickly who you need to speak to without having to work the room and speak to people without anything in common with them.

In a packed market there needs to be a USP to your Networking offer and I believe Social Media gives Business an "Edge" in terms of Networking.

At Make A Difference, we blend together face to face Networking with SocialMedia and Digital Networking producing a New Business Edge Networking Event called #140net.

We look to blend face to face networking with workshops, presentations, use of technology and extended business reach potential, you  bring a new type of networking experience to local businesses.

You can find out more about this on our website:

Do you have a view on the above predictions? Are they accurate or totally off the wall?

Why not get in touch and let me know. My e-mail is

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Can you see and embrace potential?

Its interesting when in Business you launch something newish, and watching people trying to connect or not with your latest incarnation!

There are those who hear your heart and catch the vision, they see the potential and are the early adopters. Mostly these are people who are not ones getting bogged down in detail, but rather are the blue sky thinkers, the risk takers and they do not want to miss an opportunity, especially something new and different.

Then when you put out your marketing materials, you find people grasping with words and struggling to see beyond definitions and concepts. Assumptions are made, key words which mean one thing to you mean 33 different things to 33 different people! You can feel like you are treading treacle and its one step forward two steps back syndrome! The worst thing is when you engage with this people group, put a lot of time and effort into qualifying their suspicions and doubts and looking to turn them round and see the potential when then, (deep sigh), they disengage from you and go their own way.

You can often be left deflated and wonder why you bother, but.... then..... out of the desperation
come a glimmer of light, a ray of hope that yes, there is still someone somewhere able to see the potential that you see!

Soon the one becomes two, becomes five, becomes ten and your confidence is now soaring. No longer is it about numbers and quantity, now its about quality! Quality of people with vision, who can see potential; quality of people who want to know more, start a journey and willing to take a risk as to where that journey takes them! Now you not only have some quantity but you have priceless quality of people!

The potential you saw in your new product or service, is now living in others too. You have transferred that vision, that enthusiasm into others and they see the potential. This releases not just a sense of achievement in yourself, but also a freedom to enjoy exploring that potential with a group of quality people who embrace potential, change, innovation and risk, all for the want of realising that potential that they recognise.

At these times you value people, you see that people contribute to your business in ways that go beyond a mere Business transaction. Its at these times you are thankful that you can see potential, and that you are not alone.

If you are in a situation today with your Business, where it seems like you are beating your head against a brick wall, then I would encourage you to look around you, look at your clients, colleagues, networkers, friends. Why? because it is there that you will find that glimmer of light and hope: it is there that you will find those who can see the same potential that you see and want to embrace it as much as you do. By sharing your vision, you have infected people around you who now want to start a journey of potential with you.

Today, see the potential, embrace the potential, and with those who share this vision with you, together realise your FULL Business potential!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

What Comes First - the Chicken or the Egg?

What comes first – the Chicken or the Egg?

I thought I would start my first blog on this site, with a familiar age old question: What comes first – the Chicken or the Egg?
What a bizarre thing to write I hear you say, and what does this have to do with Business?
Well, recently I have been delivering some talks around Effective Marketing and why people don’t always see the results that they should from their Marketing efforts.
What has come from the feedback of participants is a lack of clarity as to what Marketing is and in particular its role alongside the sales function of a Business.
Does Sales come first and then Marketing, or is it Marketing first and then Sales follow up?
Someone in the States undertook some research with the top 75 Business Leaders, asking them for their take or definition of Marketing. Guess what? All 75 answers were different and personal to each persons Business.
My definition of Marketing is this: “Marketing is communicating with people, to make a connection, that leads to a relationship!” For most people in Business this relationship is a sale or new client.
When I started to then look at the role of Marketing alongside Sales, it soon emerged that most people in the workshops I was presenting at were seeing Sales as the goal of the Business and coming before Marketing.
Indeed if we look at most organisational charts, job descriptions and Business Cards presented to us in Business, the majority of them refer to a Sales and Marketing Manager, Department etc. Our terminology in Business often puts Sales before Marketing.
However, going back to my definition of the role of Marketing, if Marketing is designed to communicate and make a connection then surely the outcome of successful Marketing is a pipeline of leads and referrals which can then be passed to the Sales team to develop a relationship with, which then leads to a sale / client?
If most Businesses are reversing that process and trying to sell to people, without establishing a connection that leads to a relationship, could that be a cause of poor sales and conversion rates within Businesses?
People buy from people, and unless you connect with people, get a response that allows you to form a relationship, then your Sales efforts will continue to be construed as being “Hard Sell – Aggressive and Un-welcomed”, and you are in danger of causing great long term harm to your Business.
However, if you allow your Marketing to do its job, communicate, connect and harvest a response, then your sales team will have warm leads, good relationships and natural conversions to sales / clients and your Business will grow.
I hope these thoughts have helped you in looking at growing your Business, and who knows, one day we might be able to develop an answer to ” What comes first – the Chicken or the Egg!”

This was first posted on 14 February 2013 on:

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