Monday, 29 August 2016

Thinking about more than just money.

Cost – Value – Worth – Investment may not be seen by most as the four horsemen of the apocalypse, however I would submit that they are four words whose wider use is becoming lost in our modern world and whose predominate use today could help bring about a more cynical and negative world, one that is focussed on financial gain.

All four of these words have a range of different meanings and yet today these definitions for each form within our society a virtual, if not actual, hierarchy where, their association with money is what springs, first and foremost, into people’s minds.

However they all have other meanings that are, in my view, far more positive and can bring far more into our lives, if you like a much deeper use than this monetary one and here I would like to challenge you to start to change the current thinking on the use and positioning of these four words – Cost – Value – Worth - Investment

The usually used definitions of this word is brings on negative feelings, these are; to require a payment – to cause a loss, a suffering or a sacrifice, to calculate the ‘price’ of something.

It is my belief that of the four, Cost – Value – Worth – Investment - we should regard Cost as a highly negative word and thus as one to be avoided in our writing and our thought.

This can be the quantification of something as a way of measuring it against a specific unit, often monetary and equally as a way of more subjective observation of what does a certain element add to a work of art, a performance, a speech and so forth.

If we choose to use the latter interpretation of Value we can move away form a monetary dominated developed world and towards a more appreciative and rewarding society.

This word is often linked to the previous one, value. It is often defined as being the value of something, especially in terms of currency. Another definition is that of the sum that something can be bought for – again usually in monetary terms.

The two, far more positive, uses of the word and the ones that I like are;
  • The goodness, usefulness or importance of someone or something, irrespective of financial value or wealth
  • The wealth of a person, group, or organisation or other entity

Both definitions meaning; that extra, or special, something that is brought to by a person, project or organisation to the world and which goes beyond monetary measurement – and quite close to that alternative use of the previous word, Value. Imagine what a powerful tool the two together could be!

Usually today seen as the setting aside of money in some way that it in the future it will produce a greater amount of money. Personally I prefer another definition – that of a contribution of something such as time, energy, effort, skills, knowledge to take forward a project or to develop a person.

Of the four words – Cost -Value – Worth – Investment, I like Investment the most as it is perhaps the easiest to deploy in a non-monetary manner.

Let us make better use of our language, better use of ourselves and as a result avoid thinking and talking about cost, cast this matter aside and believe in other things.

Let us bring Value, Worth and Investment all together and ask where can we add Value and increase our Worth to others by investing something, other than money, in one or more of the following people, charitable endeavours and/or community work?

Thank you for reading and if I have given you cause to think please leave a comment.

Monday, 22 August 2016

We all Know Better

... or do we?

This week I would like to challenge us all to think about our own egos, emotional intelligence and beliefs around following a process others have successfully previously adopted.

Here in the UK nationally we always seem to ‘need’ to find our ‘own way’ of doing things, we don’t seem to like to accept that others are as good, or perhaps even better, then us – yes we will have a look at what others do, but then, regardless of how successful that model has been for them, we immediately want to change it rather than test it ‘as is’ and then evolve it.

I have witnessed this replicated in many business situations, rather than first the original methodology as a trial and later adapting and deploying it as we find appropriate and based upon feedback received, many business owners and managers will initially adjust it first, then run it and find it works less well then anticipated and then chuck out the whole idea – wasting their resources and also a previously proven concept!

When we are adopting something new, that has been successful tried by others, we should of course scale the methodology to suit our own needs however testing the original concept with a core group of ‘customers’ or contacts before adapting it would be far less wasteful all round.

So why is it we always feel the need to change a potentially proven system or process rather than work within it? I believe it is an emotional decision based upon staying within our own comfort zones.

We all know how we feel most comfortable when it comes to working and anything that stretches us beyond that we will seek to change or even completely avoid. So if we come across elements of the methodology that we are looking at and, either consciously or sub consciously, think I really don’t want to do then we will amend the method to remove that element, or at least reduce the amount of it we are required to undertake and emotionally based decision may well remove impact negatively upon the main reason the original concept worked so well with the consequent reduced level of outcomes!

Thus when we find a methodology we feel we want to bring into our businesses or lives I would like to think we can all sit down and objectively review the various elements that make it up.  We can consider which of these elements we don’t really feel we ‘want’ to do or that we will ‘least enjoy’ doing and then, by writing this all down we can assess the likely impact on the process as a whole.

We can now, better understand the likely effect of reducing, or removing them and theses parts of the methodology and make the informed, factual decision’ rather than making the original ‘emotional decision’.

I would love to hear if you have ever experienced the above in any way and what the outcomes were for you, and/or your business, from that scenario - so please do leave a comment and thank you for stopping by and reading this weeks Blog.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Don’t Waste Your Chance to Shine

 Are you truly applying yourself to be a winner?

Once every four years it is hard to avoid being dazzled, amazed and inspired by the achievements of the World's Athletes as they “Go for Gold” and maximise their chances to shine, such as at the games in Rio.

Behind and before the smiles, the tears and the gold, silver and bronze medals though comes a number of things that even the most un-athletic of us business owners could learn from and, dare I suggest, adopt in our keyboard and chair ridden daily lives.

Firstly we have the athlete’s passion for what they do and the goal(s) they have set themselves – this is set a long time before they even start to compete to be in a team representing their country, it is what comes first. So are we as enthusiastic and passionate about our businesses goods and/or services and as clear about our goal(s)?

Secondly come the application, dedication and sacrifice to achieving those goals that they are so passionate about. These people are up early, go to bed late and working on achieving their goals day and day out. They will give up on a social life, family time, holidays and more in order to put in the effort that is needed to win – to get to their goals. Are we in business as good at applying ourselves and dedicating ourselves to achieving our end goal?

Thirdly they have a plan, process and/or system. Each day, each week, each year there is a routine that they follow. By doing so they can see and measure their progress towards their goals, take heart from the successes and achievements along the way and learn from the setbacks and less positive situations that they find themselves. Do we all have such a

Fourth is that they surround themselves with those who believe in them and support them. There is no room for self-doubt and no time for those who might doubt them, all around them, will be ‘in their corner’ no matter where their journey takes them. They will have at least one coach and/or trainer to support them with knowledge and skills to achieve. Do we all have a coach in our corner – I know I do.

I often find business owners very resistant to declaring their passion for their business and what goods/services it offers, lacking the dedication to make it successful, without a plan or process in their own lives or that of the business they are running and often plagued by doubters and those who will drain their enthusiasm and energy more through being negative.

By putting all these things in place we can all achieve far more just as the World's Athletes do and have, we in business are fortunate in that we can display our successes more often than a few times in our careers, so lets make the most of the opportunity and shine as brightly as we can.

I’d love to hear what you already do, what you will be doing in the future to keep yourself on track to achieve your goals and the benefits that you see, please leave a comment on these and thank you for investing some time in reading this Blog.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Does ‘Real Life’ Have Cookies?

Anyone who has a ‘life’ on the worldwide web, be it on Social Media, browsing websites or researching for a project will be used to those pop ups that say about a site using cookies.

The first obvious effect of visiting a side that does is often to be found on your Facebook account where the targeted advertisements on your page miraculously start coming from the page you just visited – it’s as instantaneous as it can be annoying, especially if it’s a page you visited by accident!

Like most people who function in the virtual world I’m use to the above and tend to filter it out – however what I am less used to is the self same result occurring away from this virtual world, in fact in ‘real’ life’!

I am aware of the “Law of Attraction” and all that goes with that, however the events of the last three days seem to transcend even the possibilities this offers to those who practice the belief that it works – let me expand.

On Saturday and Sunday I was to be found up a ladder at the front of the house rubbing down, preparing and then applying several base coats and a top coat of a well known wood stain – we have the original Bay windows on the front of the house dating back to the mid 1920’s and they needed doing and I wanted to renew my ladder and decorating skills. Then on Saturday night my wife and I joined our Chief Bridesmaid and Best Man from 30-years ago for our annual meal out to celebrate the two ladies Birthdays - these being just a few days apart. All perfectly normal activities and then came the delivery through the post box this morning!

After the postman had been and gone we had three leaflets through the letter box the first two were form the self same restaurant that we visited on Saturday night, one being their take away menu the other a discount voucher (As a separate matter I would have suggested offering a free desert or liquor coffee to add value rather than money off in order to add value!) If these first two leaflets made me smile at the coincidence – the third one made me stop in my tracks!

Why did the third one have such an impact? Well this final leaflet was from a sole trader offer painting and decorating services Interior and Exterior works!!!

I now have to ask myself the question does real life have cookies as this would appear to indicate it just might!

What are your thoughts and have you had a similar experience, if so please leave a comment and thank you for investing your time in reading this.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Simple is still the best!

Like many of us in business I am more than familiar with the acronym KISS, standing for ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ and a recent experience has reminded me of just how important this remains in business today and also prompted me to write this Blog.

I am far from being a regular overseas traveller, in fact it has been some 8-years since I last left the shores of the UK, so when it came to acquiring some overseas currency, in this case US Dollars, I found things have moved on.

I went in search of travellers cheques and cash and was instead confronted with the option of a ‘pre-paid debit card’ on to which I was expected to load my anticipated requirement and then use as one would a normal debit or credit card when purchasing goods and/or services.

Now I can appreciate the benefit of having a card to use over Travellers Cheques that may need to be cashed to use, however I liked the previous way of having both the cash and travellers cheques as it meant I could ‘spread the risk’ with some of the cheques being left in a secure place, some with me and some spread round other members of my travelling party – to me this card presented a ‘risk of one’ as, if lost, I had no access to my pre-arranged funds.

There was another matter that bugged me as well, at the time of acquisition with potential supplier A which was that I could only pre-load a set limit, I then had to go on-line and activate the card and then transfer money to it direct from my bank account, up to a maximum level. All rather time consuming and a tad off putting and I still had this nagging ‘risk of one’ banging away at the back of my mind!

I then, found another option on the card from an alternative supplier – no restriction on the initial amount loaded on to the card they offered, no need to go on-line and authorise the card and a second card, with a different number, provided at the same time for no additional charge in case the first one was lost or stolen – hooray this was easier, dare I say simpler, to set up and overcame my concern of the ‘risk of one’ – one simple form and a phone call later and I walked away with the cards and had some great customer service to go alongside it.

This all reminded me that keeping it simple has always been and remains to this day, the best way to offer a service to your potential customers. There may well be even simpler ways of achieving what I sought, this though has been a acceptable and appropriate outcome for me.

Why not take a moment and look at the process you ask your potential customers to go through to buy from you and consider how you might simplify this and make their lives easier – reduce their pain and they may well buy more, recommend you to others and come back themselves more frequently. Simplicity really is best.