Do what you do best and delegate the rest

Do what you do best and delegate the rest

When you start your own business and it’s just you (or a partner perhaps) you do everything. You do the sales, the accounts, the admin, the mail, the work itself…… the list goes on. When you find that you’re in a position to grow and take on specialists you must take those chances as they’ll help take your business to the next level. This often isn’t easy though.

The first thing I employed someone for was the books. Within a year of starting we had a bookeeper that came in once a month. It was just enough to deal with the purchase ledger and VAT/Tax. We also had an accountant but that was a friend of the family helping me out so I guess I can’t count that.

I’m going to be honest with you – Over the years I have been pretty awful at delegating. It’s one of my weaknesses but I’m really working hard on it and want to share some of the things I’m learning with you. I like to have control, to know where everything is and like many other business owners, believe that I can do many things better than other people – This however is not the trait of a successful businessman I’m afraid. Businesses run by people like this can achieve a certain level of growth but if they keep on the same vane it holds them back. They must let go.

Having read the fantastic book ‘One Minute Manager’ (Aff Link) I’ve learnt that delegating is extremely important, but not just that, the process of ‘how to delegate’ is even more vital if you’re to get it right. I’m much better at giving things up now. In my Online Marketing agency, the two directors (of which I’m one) are building a team of fantastic individuals who we feel more than comfortable asking to carry out tasks, knowing they will be done and done with vigor. In your businesses you need to build similar teams around you – recognising where your skills don’t lie and filling these in around you.

I mentioned you need a process for delegating – a framework if you will. Well here’s mine – feel free to nab it.

My Frame work for Delegating

1). Define the task fully – When asking someone to do something, make sure the task is crystal clear. If you’re doing this by email or text, re-read it a couple of times if necessary to make sure you think there can be no room for error.

2). Define when you need the outcome to take place. If you’re asking for a report or something to come back to you then define that date/time clearly. I went wrong here a lot – I assumed by delegating that everyone else’s priorities would match mine then got upset when people didn’t deliver – it was my fault as I didn’t define my expectations on delivery clearly enough.

3). Define the expectations - Much like the time/date, if you have expectations of what you require, put them down as well. If you want someone to take something and make decisions on your behalf, tell them or it will probably end up back on your plate.

4). Set a follow up - When you agree the time/date, agree what the follow up looks like – is it a meeting, an email, a document on your desk.

5). Define success - Not always relevant with smaller and more mundane tasks but essential with larger, more important ones. Say what you ideally want the outcome to be so the person you’re asking has some indication of what they are working towards.

6). Remember what you’ve delegated - I really struggled with this before. Where do I keep a note of what I’ve delegated? I’ve tried lots of systems but I’ve ended up using a fantastic service called NudgeMail. You simply send Nudgemail an email with the date you want it to ‘nudge’ you (for example march20@nudgemail.com and it will do just that. I don’t remind myself of everything I delegate but I do with the larger task as sometimes a casual nudge to the person I’ve delegated to is required and I believe that showing you care and haven’t forgotten can also be important ;)

Now Your Thoughts

  • Are you a control freak or have you mastered the art of delegation?
  • Have you got any tips for us on this art?

Secrets for Super Successful Business Owners – Nigel Botterill

Secrets for Super Successful Business Owners – Nigel Botterill

On Wednesday night I had the privilege of watching Nigel Botterill, UK Entrepreneur and CEO of thebestof Franchise group present to 100 businesses in my hometown of Exeter. The tour of the country is called “18 Secrets that Super Successful Business Owners Know and Do…” – you can follow the conversation about the tour on the hashtag we created with thebestofexeter at #18secrets.

I’ve met Nigel a couple of times now but this time I was lucky enough to get an hour with him before the big event, discussing ideas and thoughts on business. I’ve written before about how important it is to ditch the negative people in your life and surround yourself with positivity and success – When you chat to someone successful like Nigel you can’t help but be lifted and ideas immediately start to flow – I was at the venue at 5ish and didn’t leave until 9:30pm – it felt like about an hour!

Now i’m not going to simply copy and paste Nigel’s points – that wouldn’t be cricket. However, from the 18 secrets, I’m going to share my big 3 takeaways from the night.

1). “Making the jump from ordinary income to big income business means you need to make the jump from ‘doer’ of the business to ‘marketer’ of the business.” How true – if you’re stuck in the business doing the work on a daily basis, how can you be out promoting it and taking it to the next level? I’ve focused on this quite a lot in my own business in the last year and we’ve certainly reaped the rewards. I’ve built a great team around me who are able to deliver the product, while I market the business. A friend of mine (Richard Carpenter) uses the analogy of driving a car being like running a business: You start by driving the car yourself, taking it in whichever direction you want. The key is to move yourself from the front seat to the back seat and be driven around while you simply direct where you want to go. :) Although I’m being a bit sneaky by putting two tips into one, Nigel also pointed out that we should all concentrate on our marketing first thing in the morning (pref before anyone else gets into work) – a great piece of advice in my opinion and something I’m going to try and focus on over the next few months.

2). Your most valuable asset in business is your database! Your database is critical to your success if you’re going to make it big. Build it at every opportunity, get in contact with your customers regularly, send them something, make them an offer, give them a reason for coming over or for you to go and see them. There are loads of studies about how much easier it is to sell to your current client base than a new one yet many of us get caught in the trap of trying to pour more and more in the top of our funnels while not looking after the people who have already shown they trust us and are willing to spend their hard-earned with us! Absurd when you think about it! Your database makes it easy to keep in contact – go back and work out a plan for it today. (*If it’s email marketing then get in touch with my team at Optix because they offer an amazing service there – plug over*) I particularly loved this sentence from the presentation:

“It’s not your customer’s job to remember to do business with you….it’s your job to remind them”

3). Commit to learning. No successful businessperson got to where they are sitting on their backside watching TV. Many of these people are continually learning, all day everyday. They have huge libraries of business books, they are like sponges for information. Are you? Do you go home and put the TV on or do you read a business book and learn something new about your industry, competitors or other successful people? This last year I’ve spent time building my library of books, especially in the areas of business success and sales. Here are a few that I’ve read recently which I’d recommend hugely (affiliate links):

The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness

Think & Grow Rich

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

What Would Google Do?

Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude: How to Find, Build and Keep a Yes! Attitude for a Lifetime of Success

Little Black Book of Connections: 6.5 Assets for Networking Your Way to Rich Relationships

And thanks to a friend Julian Summerhayes who kindly gave me the following book which I can’t wait to read this week:

The Go-giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea

By the way, here’s the great news for any of you who hate reading (I actually fall into that bracket myself believe it or not) – Check out http://www.audible.co.uk/ – A great site which you can subscribe to and download new audio books/mp3s to your ipod/iphone/mp3 player and catchup with all the great stuff above while on the move :)

So those were the three big take aways from my night at 18secrets – do you agree with these? Do you have some killer tips to share? Let’s discuss…

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5 traits successful business people have – do you have these?

5 traits successful business people have – do you have these?

Missed a week due to travel folks so firstly apologies for that – clearly my first trait should be the inability to keep an appointment with ones blog :)

OK so there are probably hundreds of things you need to be successful in business but I’ve been day dreaming this last week and working out my top 5 – I love a top 5 as you know :)

So here they are in no particular order

1). Passion – In bucketfuls. I spend an awful lot of my time with other businessmen and women. In my working life, networking constitutes at least half my time. It’s one of the key ways we build our brand and get our company noticed. From there, when people want a job done, we’re at least in with a chance. One trait of seriously successful businessmen and women I’ve met over the years is passion for what they do. Passion is catching; you know when you’ve met someone who is passionate about their business – you come away feeling good about yourself. Without this trait you’re going to start off on the back foot. If can’t get passionate about your business is it the right business for you? Think on that for a while.

2). Sales skills – Every start-up business needs to bring in sales. If you’re on your own then that’s you pal :) If you’re not and you don’t like selling you better hope you’re in partnership with someone that does. You could have the best product or service in the country but if no-one knows about it then you may as well give up now. Sale’s doesn’t need to be cheesy, it doesn’t need to be immoral, it doesn’t need to feel dirty! Much of good quality sales is about building relationships and making the customer want to buy (not be sold). I strongly suggest reading the book below (affiliate link) which will, without a doubt, help with your sales process. In fact, even if you’re not in sales or running a business, read it anyway because its awesome.

The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness – You can buy it from Amazon here.

3). A good product or service – Not technically a trait, but the ability to either come up with or be involved in selling a good product or service is a trait that I see all the time in successful people. You make your own luck, you earn it. These people have a sixth sense for getting involved with projects that do well. They fail a lot as well but the difference is the ones that work, really work. I know there are an awful lot of people out there selling sub standard products and services in their business – forget that – it’s a short-term attitude if you ask me. It won’t be long before you’re found out and the churn rate on customers will be huge meaning you never build relationships with people, you continually need new prospects poured in the top of your sales funnel. If you ask me, without a good product or service that you truly believe in, just don’t bother. You need to believe that your customer is truly better off by choosing you over your competitors.

4). A head for numbers and in particular cashflow – Since I started this blog almost exactly a year ago I know for a fact the most blogged about topic has been cashflow. There is a good reason for this – because it’s so damn important :) Without cashflow you have no business. I’m not going to go over old ground again on this. I wrote quite a lengthy post about cashflow here and even gave a step by step guide on how to write a cash flow forecast – you have no excuse :)

5). The ability to accept help and support – Business is a lonely place sometimes, help and support is essential but how often have I seen business owners that think they know it all and therefore are not prepared to accept it fail – Too many is the answer!!! Friends and family without their own business may not understand quite what it takes to run a business and unless they ever do it themselves they may never understand. This doesn’t mean you don’t listen to these people or dismiss their input – it can be just as valuable. It’s important to build a network of support around you that you can bounce ideas off. I’m lucky to have a great business partner at Optix Solutions who I bounce ideas off and chat with about strategy regularly. We also have a couple of mentor figures who consult us on the business regularly and keep us on track. We also have supportive families and friends – all of which make the days when it’s not so fun, easier to deal with. The successful businessman or woman doesn’t know it all and is willing to listen to others…do you?

So what are your top 5? Maybe you just want to add in a couple? I’m keen to hear from you

Who do you surround yourself with? Oh and p.s. Happy New Year!

Who do you surround yourself with? Oh and p.s. Happy New Year!

Who do you surround yourself with? Have a think about it for a while – in business and your personal life…never underestimate the power of the connections you have both in and out of work and how these have a huge impact on your own life.

The people you interact with on a daily basis will change your perspective on the world, if they are negative people they could bring you down with them, if they are positive they will no doubt bring you up. Think of someone you know who is really positive and the feeling you get when around them – pretty good hey?

How are your relationships with others – what impact do you have on the people around you? Do you leave them with a happy feeling?

I’ll give you a secret, if you want to succeed or at the very least have a good life then surround yourself with successful and fun people and don’t spend your time with negative people who constantly try and bring you down. Now obviously this is not the easiest thing to do when so many of our relationships are carved out for us through work and life. For example, you probably can’t just get rid of that tricky client who always seems to be moaning, whatever you do or move away from the person you’re sat next to in the office because you don’t get on with them. However, there are some things you can do to help these situations, because ultimately, if you let them get you down then it will affect your work and life outlook and that’s not a good a thing.

Here are a few quick suggestions for how you can move towards a more fulfilling and successful career/life by surrounding yourself with positive people.

1). At Networking events don’t get stuck with people who simply spend their time selling ‘at you’. Politely move on and find people who are interested in your business and who have interesting businesses themselves. Spend your time cultivating these relationships.

2). I mentioned tricky clients and co-workers earlier in this post. Now some people just can’t be changed but quite often it’s simply a clash of personalities that drives a divide between people. Just for once, put pride aside and carry out a random act of kindness for the ‘tricky’ person in your life – buy them something – a good book or something else they’ve perhaps shown an interest in before. They won’t be expecting this and if this doesn’t change the relationship to a more positive one, maybe its time to consider leaving them be.

3). Pin point successful people as connections you want to make and work out how you can do so. Spending time with people that have already made it in business is one of the very best ways of learning – act like a sponge when you get these opportunities, soak in everything they tell you and try and use the time with them to learn as much as possible. I may well have built a couple of businesses from nothing in the last 10 years and be writing this blog from my experiences but when I recognise someone I could learn from, I’m quite literally, all ears.

4). Start a Master Mind group – I’m part of a couple of business groups which are essentially mastermind groups. The idea of these groups is different to networking – they work on the premise that more heads are better than one – if you sit down with other successful people and talk about your businesses you will learn more from what other people think about your business than you realise – It’s amazing what fresh set of eyes will see. I strongly recommend getting involved in a group like this and if you don’t know where to find one, start one (I did!).

5). Start a lunch/diner club with your best friends. The feeling you have when you’re out with your best friends is one of the best you can get so why not do it more often. As I’ve got older, my friends have all grown up, moved in with spouses/had kids and moved away. We have a group which meets up every quarter (generally in London) for a lunch/dinner at one of the best restaurants in town. It might not sound like anything special but its all in the setup – everyone has to pay in a set amount of money each month on DD and if they miss the event, the money stays in the fund. This eradicates most excuses believe me. We have one that flies back from Malta and one will soon be coming back from New York for this amazing day out. I hope that at least one person reading this blog sets a similar thing up – I promise you its worth it.

That’s just a few suggestions for living a more positive life through better connections and relationships. If you have some suggestions yourself that I’ve not listed then please do let me have them as I’m always keen to learn :)