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Cheerful thoughts for a Wet and Windly Week

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#1 RichardMcCann


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Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:42 AM

Ten Top Tips for a Successful 2012

Feeling glum about 2012? Small wonder with all this gloom around.

I’m certainly no business guru, that’s for certain. But I have steered a few businesses through a few recessions and consistently made a profit. 2011 was a great year for us, in fact. So perhaps knowing that even a numpty like me can do it will give you a crumb of hope?

I almost certainly didn’t do anything spectacular, but again that’s good news. Because if success doesn’t require spectacular ability that’s reassuring isn’t it?

So what did I do?

1. Stay up to date
Keeping ahead of trends is tricky. It can produce riches but if your capital is small you will need rapid results, and hanging around for a year or two until the rest of the world catches up is expensive. So try to keep right on the edge of what people are talking about and design or refine your products to match the trends.

2. Let people know
Being at the cutting edge is all very well but keeping it a secret is a fast track to making yourself that bitter old git in the corner of a bar telling anyone who comes near ‘That was MY idea..’

Adwords, SEO, blogging, seeded articles, thought leadership comment, linkedin groups… clever PR is inexpensive but needs work and thought. Ads are quick, easy and expensive. If you can afford both then great. If not then it’s your call…

3. Make decisions
When I was on plc boards back ‘in the day’ it was educational to see divisional directors prevaricating for months. Most challenges do not offer obvious solutions. That’s why they’re challenges! So in many cases the only way to see if your proposed solution will work is to try it. My mantra was, and still is, JUST DO SOMETHING! Ok, it may not work, in which case you will find out sooner, instigate 'Plan B' faster, and probably solve the problem before the cash runs out.

4. Cash
Cash burn kills more businesses than any other problem. You always need a float twice as big as expected. People always pay slower than expected. And having a cash float distances you from stress, makes you present better, think clearer, act more creatively and generally be nicer to know and nicer to work with. And hence nicer to do business with. So it’s a spiral. Make that spiral UP.

Some people won’t pay what they owe you. Accept that this is how they run their lives and their businesses. Don’t take it personally and don’t get drawn in; that will be VERY COSTLY since while your blood pressure is peaking and your stress levels hit the ‘fight’ part of the ‘fight or flight’ response to an enemy you will stop delighting your other customers, you will stop being creative and you will stop prospecting for new business effectively. You will become side-tracked, boring, and a total pain in the arse to know.

So appoint a freelance invoice chaser or credit control firm. Even a factor if you are on the ragged edge of your cashflow. And then simply STEP AWAY and get on with moving on!

5. Be logical
When you are ‘wronged’, particularly about cash owed, compartmentalise or, even better, delegate.

In my early days, for example, I was owed £15,000 and I obviously needed that cash. It was a lot of dough way back when. A friend advised me against the planned 12 month legal battle for recovery. I was reluctant. I felt the loss personally and I wanted justice.

‘It’s not the money it’s the principle’ is the world’s most expensive phrase. It’s what will pay for your lawyer’s new Bentley.

Instead I was persuaded to be logical. I accepted that my time had a value greater than £15,000 so I invested that time in growing the business.

We brought in 20 times that loss in the time I’d have wasted fighting. Meanwhile, the pillock who owed me that cash went bust.

Where cash is involved, Learn to Love Logic.

6. Hear that clock ticking
The sound of the clock. The running out of the sands of time. However you do it, visualize the sense of urgency that works for you and get it in your mind. It should be constantly running in your head like Blackpool runs through rock. That’s the sticky stuff not the noisy kind, of course! :crazy:

See time for the valuable commodity it is. Don’t waste it.

If you have an idea, don’t be so arrogant as to assume you’re the only one. If you’re the world’s greatest innovator then you’ll be OK. If you’re not then you need to jump about a bit. So getting it out there first is as good as being the only one!

A job done today is more valuable than that job done tomorrow. There’s always time for one more job before you finish for the day.

7. Important not urgent?
Make a list. That host of mostly trivial yet somehow ‘urgent’ jobs will soon fill your day. And the few ‘important’ tasks that will make a significant impact on growing your business will get carried over as you ‘simply run out of time…’ WELL DON’T!

The world will not stop turning if you leave some of the trivial jobs until tomorrow. But putting off those important tasks will soon give you more free time that you need since you will be standing in the ‘dole queue’. Does that make you feel angry? It should! Why should those stupid little jobs ruin your business? Set aside some time to tackle the big stuff too, and make it happen.

And whenever you feel ‘too busy’ and are about to put them off…think about that JobCentre and all the free time that represents.

8. Don’t be a perfectionist
People claim to be perfectionists with such pride. See their chests puff up. That scares me. I’ve yet to meet a rapid perfectionist.

And while I really really want the person mending my car’s brakes or servicing the aeroplane I’m about to board to be a perfectionist – please – I’m less interested in that when it comes to getting a proposal or a product out there.

This is not an excuse to be slap-dash and I’ll always invest time getting something to 90/95 per cent or better. But that final few per cent can take nearly as long as the initial ‘investment’ of time. Is that a good deal? I’ve won plenty of pitches where my less-than-absolute-perfection Proposal has been accepted because my competitor’s Proposal still ‘isn’t quite ready’!

Writing this stuff, for example. Given time I’d do it differently, and better. But by then I’ll have moved on. So I have the choice of either doing it perfectly (and we all know that actually means not doing it at all…ever) or getting it done in a few minutes and then progressing. And so long as this is not so awful as to actually make you angry, gentle reader, then that’s how I’ll do it. :lol:

9. Be realistic
Both emotionally and financially, you will get knocked back. So don’t supply the rocks to throw at yourself. Make sure your plans and your targets are realistic. That’s not ‘If all goes well’ realistic it’s ‘If some of it goes badly or takes twice as long to come good as I hope’ realistic.

Growing a business is tough enough on your enthusiasm levels without unrealistic targets and cashflow dramas that you should have foreseen.

Oh yes… since cashflow will inevitably cause panics, try to have those panics AT YOUR LEISURE. What do I mean by that?

Well, discovering that you can’t pay the rent on the 28th of the month is a bad panic that takes your attention away from growing the business. A simple BUT UP-TO-DATE cashflow might have predicted that problem three months earlier; long enough to develop a plan. That’s what a call a leisurely panic that doesn’t divert you from growing the business. It works, try it.

10. Stay fun
Take breaks. Take lunch. Go to the gym. Play sport. Have a beer with mates. Sleep. This is not lost time. It took me years to understand that ‘fun time’ goes in the ‘investment’ column not the ‘expenditure’ column of business development.

It will also make you a nicer person. And people prefer to do business with people they like…

And one more thing… Good luck! :thumbup:
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#2 Matt Gubba

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:34 PM

An excellent post Richard,

Really enjoyed reading this, so I've bumped it up to a "sticky" topic :)

Some great points here that I'm sure lots of people can learn from.

#3 AdvertBike



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Posted 08 January 2012 - 04:39 PM


Spot on post :thumbup:

I particually like this :D

10. Stay fun
Take breaks. Take lunch. Go to the gym. Play sport. Have a beer with mates. Sleep. This is not lost time. It took me years to understand that ‘fun time’ goes in the ‘investment’ column not the ‘expenditure’ column of business development.

It will also make you a nicer person. And people prefer to do business with people they like…

And one more thing… Good luck! :thumbup:

I am sure we all spend to much time at work and this plus spending very important time with the family, mates and getting some fresh air makes it all worthwhile :D

#4 RichardMcCann


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Posted 08 January 2012 - 10:18 PM

Much appreciated Paul. I just have to practice what I preach now!
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#5 LocateUK



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Posted 12 January 2012 - 03:03 PM

great post :)
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#6 RichardMcCann


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Posted 12 January 2012 - 03:12 PM

Thanks so much! I appreciate you taking the time to comment! Richard

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