Business

Most of us can’t make decisions. We find it difficult for many different reasons.

We find it hard because we want to please people. We find it hard because there are lots of things we could do, that we would probably enjoy and gain value from.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that. It’s good to make other people happy. It’s good to try new things.

But we’ve only got so much time. We’ve only got so much energy. We’ve only got so much mental capacity.

We have to choose.

It is really easy to decide between something you really like doing, and something you hate doing. That’s simple. It’s a preference.

It’s far more difficult to choose what is best or more important between two things that you actually like doing, enjoy or get value from.

Deciding what’s most important is tough. How do you know what’s more important?

What makes things far easier in decision making is knowing very clearly what you want in life and business.

Clarity on your path and your vision really helps to decide what fits and what doesn’t.

There’s another factor at play, which is the fear of missing out, FOMO for short. I think this cripples most people when it comes to decision making.

In business you need to be able to say no to a lot of things, and yes to very few. You only know what to say no to when you know what you want to achieve and you have clarity on your vision. This is tough in itself.

Most people think there are two states in decision making – you can either decide yes or no. But there’s a third, and it’s the biggest waste of time, energy and focus – and that’s not making a decision at all.

All those unmade decisions build up and hang over you like a big black cloud.

Failure to decide has massive repercussions on all of us. All of these ‘things’ that haven’t been closed off begin to build up and consume our mental capacity.

So what can you do about it?

I don’t think there’s one answer here, and mostly you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to help with decision making, in case you’re interested:

  • I’m starting with no, and working up to a yes if it feels right and fits with what I want.
  • I’ve been spending a lot of time figuring out what the most important things are in my life are  and in business.
  • I discuss and involve smart people in my thought process – it’s good to have smart people in your life

Disclaimer: I haven’t figured it out, but I’m working on it. Let’s be honest, who has really figured it all out!?

My goal here isn’t to present you with an answer, but to think more consciously about the decisions you are or aren’t making.

Maybe you are like me and it’s time for a clear out?

Is it time to make some solid decisions and draw a line in the s and?

DFTBA!

Chris.

Over the past few years I’m not entirely sure how many networking events I have attended, but it’s certainly more than 100.

I’ve not been involved in many ‘speed networking’ events, but whilst attending a fairly informal business event last night (on a Friday night) there was a short speed networking section, which was a lot of fun and I got to meet a lot of new people.

However, over the course of 30 minutes or so I was asked “what do you do?” as the very first question to open our conversation 5 or 6 times.

I’m not sure what your experience is, but I think it is the worst question to start a new conversation with. There’s no doubt that it will come up in conversation eventually, but it’s a terrible first question. Here’s why:

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Not the ‘S’ word again…!

The title of this blog probably irked you. You might be thinking ”what does Chris know about success?”, “Who is he to define success?”

The good news is, I’m not going to tell you how to become successful, because I can’t, and it’s none of my business.

The problem with success

The problem with success ( and I think we have to be completely honest with ourselves here and admit it) is that we mostly define what our own success should look like by what other people think and expect of us.

This could be our parents, our spouse, our children, our friends, our enemies, and in business, our competition.

Even more so it’s defined by ridiculous inc.com and entrepreneur.com articles that manage to break down success into a ‘h andy’ list for us to follow. We read these articles and maybe we feel motivated for a short time, but they just paint a false impression of what success is all about.

We are obsessed by what other people think

I think we need to give more thought, feeling and effort into why we are doing what we do, and define success for ourselves (also, what’s our obsession with trying to define everything?!).

Or maybe find a completely different word for success.

Success for most people is determined by:

  • The house you live in
  • The car you drive
  • The clothes you wear
  • How much money you have in the bank
  • The friends you have
  • The watch you wear

This is just stuff. It means nothing in the long term if you aren’t truly happy.

I have a few friends that now realise this, and they have taught me a lot about what matters the most. Living a good life, feeling good about yourself, loving your family and friends, etc.

Some learned this the hard way, and sometimes that’s what it takes to break the mould. But they’ve come out the other end stronger and wiser, and I hope I can continue to learn from them.

The more I think about ‘success’ I realise that it’s all based around judgement, vanity and perception, and it becomes a dumb ‘willy waving’ competition.

Nothing frustrates and annoys me more than listening to people judging and comparing themselves against other people – I’m guilty of it too and I need to stop it.

It’s up to each one of us to change the way we think.

Defining success

I don’t have a definition for success, but I have a few thoughts about what success means to me:

In business: To create something from nothing – to take an idea in your head, and make it a reality. Create something that makes people feel special and makes a difference.

In life: To wake up in the morning feeling happy and grateful. The ability to support my wife, family and friends, emotionally and with empathy.

In general: A tasty cup of coffee.

Disclaimer: I’m still figuring it out, as are all of us.

Your turn

  1. Do you feel successful?
  2. How do you define or determine success?
  3. Why do you do what you do?

Let me know what’s on your mind and join the conversation in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to be awesome!

Chris.

Be less busy

At this very moment I can hear my own very ridiculous words echoing in my head as I reflect on many conversations I’ve had with other business owners.

It goes something like this:

Me: “Hey Derek, how are you?”

Derek: “Really busy…mental”

Me: “Great, that’s the whole though point isn’t it?!”

Derek: “…how are you?”

Me: “Crazy busy”

Derek: “Good problem to have mate…could be worse…could be the opposite!”

…ugh!!

How many times have you had this conversation? I hear the same thing almost every single day.

Here’s the catch; no one cares if you’re busy…it means nothing, and it’s just noise taking up space in everyone’s life.

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I have worked with a few clients now who have decided, for a number of reasons, to have their blog hosted on a different site as opposed to having their blog directly on their company website.

It is possible that there were good reasons for doing this in the first place, however I just want to quickly highlight the positive impact your blog will have upon your website if you integrate it, instead of having it hosted separately.

3 Reasons Why You Need To Have Your Blog On Your Website: –

Drive Traffic to Your Website
Your blog can be used to drive traffic directly to your website. Normal practice would be to send out a link to your blog posts via social media platforms, email and RSS. The link will then direct your readers to your blog, and if this is hosted on your website you can then encourage them to stay and browse other sections of your website including your services and products.
Keep Visitors on Your Website
Once your visitor has reached your blog, you can keep them there by having something else close by. This could either be a call to action (CTA), where your visitor might want to click through to buy your products/services, or more links to other interesting articles which will encourage visitors to read more and stay on your site for longer. You could also display an area for visitors to subscribe to your mailing list. Your visitors can also quickly navigate to other pages on your website – if the location of your navigation bar is clear and easy to get to.
Increase Search Engine Ranking
Search engines, such as Google, put weight upon changing content and the amount of traffic that visit your website. If your blog is generating traffic and you are putting out consistently good and new content, then having that on your website is much better than having it hosted with a different service provider. Your website can take full advantage of the traffic and changing content instead of your blogging service, increasing your overall website search ranking. Google loves unique and fresh content!

My recommendations

  • Get a WordPress site – it’s VERY easy to manage your blog content. – WordPress.org
  • Make sure your content is fresh, unique and helpful. Spend time thinking about what your audience would like to read and then get it out there. The more interesting and helpful the better!
  • Relevant and accurate content will add credibility to you and your business. It will also act as a marketing and PR tool and increase the likelihood of visitors doing business with you.
  • Blog consistently – decide how often and when you will publish blogs and then stick to the plan. Consistency is really important, not just for search engine ranking, but for your audience too!
  • Get an editor – get someone to proof read your blogs to make sure they make sense, read well and do not contain spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Make good use of Google Analytics to analyse what your visitors do when they are on your site. This will help you underst and what areas of your site are popular, how your visitors are entering and exiting your site and what they are doing while they are visiting. Important metrics are Page Views per Visit, Visit Duration, Traffic Sources, Entrance Key Words, Time on Page and Bounce Rate.
I hope this has been helpful for those deciding what to do about their blog.

 

As always, comments and feedback are welcomed.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Chris.

My Mum kindly purchased this book for me as a gift, and she thought it would inspire me knowing that I am self employed… and she was right!!

James Caan is the Author of Start Your Business in 7 Days, which is a great book for prompting all the fundamental questions for making your business idea a reality. The concept of the book is based around a 7 day cycle, and throughout these 7 days James takes you through all the essentials, including:

  • underst anding if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur;
  • underst anding if your idea is really a viable business model;
  • underst anding how important it is to find out if there is a dem and for your product/service;
  • underst anding how important your costing’s are;
  • underst anding the importance of research and knowledge.

He structures this around his time as a ‘dragon’, his experience as a business investor and his success as an entrepreneur.

The book is pitched form the idea of minimising the risk in a business start up. James encourages the asking of questions and the full proof testing of your business idea. He strives to find reasons as to why your idea will fail, and by doing this your idea receives a good thorough workout. This helps you to underst and if your idea can really be a business, and if not, at least you find out early enough, prior to invest any money and a significant amount of your time.

A client recently asked me if I could help him with a business idea and I used this book as a resource and as part of our analysis. Therefore, I have put together a list of questions and pointers that are directly from or have been inspired by reading the book. This summary will hopefully help and encourage others who either run their own business or are thinking about starting a business to get a grasp of the fundamentals.

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
  • Are you prepared to work 7 days a week?
  • Are you prepared to make tough decisions?
  • Are you ready to learn?
  • Are you prepared to o whatever it takes and take on the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur?
What is the business idea?
  • “Is your idea really a business? Check that the idea you have generated is one you can feel passionate about and committed to, but don’t fall so in love with it that you are blinded to any weakness.
  • Analyse it and define what the compelling selling point of it is. Determine whether it is a hobby, a commercial hobby, a lifestyle or a scalable business idea, and decide whether that is what you want. Share your idea to get feedback and improve it.” (p45, Day 1)
What are you going to sell?
  • Describe your products and services.
  • What is it that your business is going to be doing?
What are the core benefits and value of your product/service for your customers?
  • James mentions that “The concept of starting a business is that it should be customer-led, and shaped by customer response. It should never be the business pre-empting everything and then having to undo it all.” (p52-3, Day 2)
  • This comes down to underst anding what you are offering and that you underst and your market and your customers needs. Research is discussed next.
What research do you need to do in order to become knowledgeable?
  • “To analyse your idea you have got to do your research. It’s fundamental.” (p55, Day 2)
  • “The principle of research is not that it’s useful to know. It is critical to know.” (p56, Day 2)
  • Think about your customers and the market – how much do you know about them?
  • What about your competitors? do you know who they are? How much of the market do they have ownership of? How do they compete?
  • Do you really underst and the numbers? Do you know the costing’s, gross profit and net profit? Do your research to find out how much is will cost to operate.
  • How much does it cost you to generate one customer?
  • Make use of Google for this. You don’t have to leave your house to do most of this research!
What will you name your company?
  • “Having a name brings your company to life”
Have you made sure that there is actual dem and for your product/service?
  • James Caan makes his opinion very clear in his book. He encourages you to go out and talk to a potential customer and attempt to sell your product/service very early on.
  • Try and get an order based on a concept – “People buy people first, before they buy the product – [based upon your] passion and focus”. You will then start to underst and more about what your customers want, and if there truly is a dem and for your product/service.
  • Can you get an order? Is there a market out there? Will somebody buy your product/service? Will they buy it again and again? Are your customers prepared to pay you for what you are selling?
Do you fully underst and your costing’s?
  • James Caan makes this seem simple – calculate the money coming in as revenue and the money going out as costs.
  • It is vital that you add in your own time; treat yourself as you would any other employee. Not including your own time will distort the selling price and is a false equation.
  • Think about what margin you are looking for.
  • Remember that if there is no profit, then there is no business.
  • “Double check the costing’s. Then double-check them again. And then get someone else to check the,.” (p111, Day 4).
  • “Does your costing’s work? Go though all the income assumptions, all the costing’s. Is there profit in there? Have you added in the cost of your own time?” (p111, Day 4)
How will you market you idea?

The purpose of this summary is to give you a flavour of the main parts of the book, and the sections that I think really matter. James Caan brings forward and highlights the likely risks and how to make sure your business idea is viable before you put your life savings into it!

If you want to find out more, please buy the book!

Please feel free to leave comments or points for discussion below.

Thanks for reading!

Chris.

Buy The Book

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An Introduction

Analysing the market your business operates in is crucial to ensure survival, competitive advantage and differentiation.
It is important to be able to recognise the soft signals in the environment through comprehensive and continuous analysis.

Effective organisational analysis will allow you to: –

  • Scan and monitor the business environment;
  • Keep the business flexible and adapt business to meet market needs and requirements;
  • Make better strategic decisions;
  • Underst and the environment your business operates in.

The business environment can be broken into three levels: –

  1. The Macro environment can be thought of as ‘big picture’ analysis considering factors out with direct control of the business.
  2. The Micro environment will consider what influences the business directly; buyers, suppliers, competition and stakeholders.
  3. The organisation or ‘internal environment’ includes analysis of internal decision making and change, mostly at the control of the organisation.

The Business Environment

The Macro Environment

By underst anding the potential conditions in the extended market you can make better strategic decisions.
The model that can be used to analyse the macro environment is PESTLE.

Pestle

The Micro Environment

Michael Porter’s five forces model can be used to better underst and your position of power and strength of your competitive position within your industry and market. With a better underst anding of your position you will be able to make better decisions to avoid taking wrongs steps and to ensure your organisation remains competitive and relevant.
This tool will also allow you to assess the competition, prepare you for entering new markets and the risks or opportunities that may face you.

5-Forces

The Internal Environment

SWOT analysis is a basic tool that can be used for making business decisions and change within the internal environment.
It can be combined with the PESTLE tool to create an advanced analysis of the macro environment.

SWOT

Although these tools are simple it must be understood that most types of analysis are static whilst the business environment remains dynamic; analysis must be a continuous process. These models are subjective and it is therefore a good idea to get a few people working on analysis independently. Due to the simplicity of these tools over analysis is a risk and must be managed by keeping analysis short, quick and simple. Also, it is important to realise that these tools will not provide an answer for you although the results will provide a platform to start from.

Please add anything you think is relevant by posting a comment.

Thanks for reading