Archive for April, 2011

Training does NOT make sense…

That’s a bit of a ripe statement coming from a Trainer, isn’t it?

Or is it?

If your business back is already up against the wall, to be honest you’ve left it too late to expect any kind of training to get you through an existing crisis.

Know how on Brand, Business, Finance, PR, Promotion, Marketing, Sales, Telemarketing, Market Research, Advertising, Social Media and so on – they’re each fantastic skills to have and an asset to any company but your chances of mastering any of them from scratch in time to be of help to you right now are probably slim to zilch :-(…

The good news is that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to start reversing your fortunes right now.

Whoever you are, whatever business you’re in, you have skills and assets you can trade – you just need to discover which have the most market value right now. The point is, these particular skills and assets may come so naturally to you – you are so unconsciously competent at them – that you don’t understand their potential value to others and they probably don’t even form a part of your current business offering!

Here are some ‘down and dirty’ suggestions (there’s nothing wrong with ‘down and dirty’ in this context – it just means don’t wait till everything’s perfect, just get on with ideas you can gainfully activate and use to your advantage):

  1. I’d suggest you go outside your inner circle to get help identifying what your greatest skills and assets are – those close to you, just like you, may be so used to them being part of you, they take them for granted and don’t see anything particularly special in them. So go a little more distant – colleagues and clients who aren’t your best buddies and see what their feedback gives you. Be prepared for some surprises ;-)…
  2. Next: Now you know where you have added and marketable value, who could you trade that with who’d bite your hand off and provide you with something valuable in exchange – something you desperately need but cannot provide for your business?
  3. Do your due diligence to make sure it’ll be a fair trade. I’d say forget competition for now – unless it’s ferocious – if you’re both still around as we come out of the recession, maybe that’s when to go back to the snarling gladiator routine if you must…
  4. Once your immediate crisis is over, take a deep breath or three and then take a good look at where skills training could or would help you avoid a similar situation in the future. Then may I, with all due respect (anybody who’s been around any length of time knows precisely where I’m coming from ;-)), suggest you put that training into place rather than waiting for the next hole to fall into…

What have you got to lose by giving this a try?

Or, to put it another way: What have you to gain by doing nothing :-( ?

Linda Mattacks - Small Business Training

PS: Let me know how you get on…

10 Top Reasons Small Businesses Fail and Quick Fixes

I did some online research over the past couple of hours on the Top 10 Reasons Small Businesses Fail.

The first I came up with was information from the Small Business Administration, an American federal government agency with some 2,000 permanent full time staff and a head honcho (called an Administrator) sworn into the post by the President no less… so I guess the USA takes small businesses seriously ;-)…

Anyway, back to the main plot: The SBA says (apparently in no particular order):

  • Over expansion
  • Poor capital structure
  • Overspending
  • Lack of reserve funds
  • Bad business location
  • Poor customer service and accounting protocols
  • An inadequate business plan
  • Failure to change with the times
  • Ineffective marketing and self promotion
  • Underestimating the competition

Now it might just be my limited powers of research (though I’m normally pretty good) but the only answers I could find regarding UK businesses was on a UK franchise site. Nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t have the same kind of kudos as a government agency.

Never mind – this time the reasons are in numerical order – presumably in importance of their contribution to failure. Let’s see what they are:

  1. The manager is incompetent
  2. Finances are not in place
  3. The Owner gives up too quickly
  4. Insufficient advertising
  5. Lack of branding
  6. Inability to close the sale
  7. Poor location
  8. Bad treatment of suppliers and (heaven forbid) customers
  9. Lady Luck
  10. Overestimation of demand and lack of USPs

So where are the similarities and how might you be able to get any quick fixes?

Remember that it’s often not what you know but who you know (let’s face it, if you knew that what you were doing was poor business and likely to come back and bite you in the you-know-where you’d hardly have done it, would you?). And if you’re genuine and ask people nicely they’re usually flattered and happy to help where they can.

  • Bad/ poor business and financial planning

Who do you know who could help you out here? How about Successful people you know who’ve been through what you’re currently going through recently enough to have what they might be able to impart still hold water in these economic times?

  • Poor location

I admit I haven’t had a need to know about business premises leases so again I’d say: Ask around and find a business person who does. It may be that you’re stuck where you are, in which case concentrate instead on other ways to combat it…

  • Poor Differentiation, Communication and Support of Brand Value in relation to Market Need and Willingness to Pay

If you don’t know somebody who has demonstrably got this right for their own business and can help you do the same for yours… I’d be happy to help :-)!

Linda Mattacks - Small Business Training

Stop the pain THEN find the cure

I don’t know whether it’s my shoulder that’s giving me aggro and bringing this home to me especially now, but it seems most places I look people are hugely prioritizing stopping the pain over affecting an ultimate cure to their problems.

Two months without a decent night’s sleep and I can sympathise :-( … Of course I want my full mobility back but right now I’d probably pay a king’s ransom to somebody who could wave a magic wand to make my shoulder a pain free zone and then look at sorting its ‘non specific’ cause.

It’s the same with businesses. The attitude seems very much to be: “There’s no point investing money in training me or my staff in skills for a business that won’t be here in three or six months time unless we do something radical now.”

Many businesses that did okay in a buoyant market are struggling in the current economy: We’ve been witnessing only too starkly how, when the banks get it wrong, there are knock on effects all down the line – like dominoes falling.

It turns out that trusted business relationships don’t actually count for that much when the chips are down and it’s every ‘man’ for himself. There’s nothing personal about it – it’s down to survival of the fittest.

Clients who never queried your terms before are now buying on price and often paying as late as they can. The banks won’t or maybe now can’t help out.

Doing what you’ve always done isn’t working. Traditional advisors haven’t been able to help.

What are you going to do? You have two choices:

  1. Carry on doing what you’ve always done until your ship sinks without trace
  2. Take your courage in both hands and decide the outcome is more important to you than being right

If you feel the second option is the right one for you, pick up the phone… 😉

What do you have to lose?

Linda Mattacks - Small Business Training

PS Ignore the date: This isn’t a joke

+44 (0)20 7209 1284

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"I was very impressed by Linda's determination to help and the constructive, but persistent, manner in which she identified issues and then tried to resolve them. After recent progress I was again reaching a stage where I seemed to be spinning my wheels, and she has given me fresh impetus to start moving forward again."