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The 30 Second Business Blog (Marketing/Sales & Leadership)

· sales,leadership,marketing,business

1. To busy to steer

One of the main things I find a challenge is the balance between doing what I know I should be doing and doing the work. If you have become trapped in a loop of bad business or bad customers (however you define that) it is very hard to free the time to grow your business if you have any other responsibilities like a family or friends!! You have to ensure that you set time aside whether it be early morning (as this is right now) or late at night. You have to be steering the business as well as pressing the accelerator or you will go off the road

2. Find a mentor from your future

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to talk someone years ahead of me in the same industry. They have already trodden the same path you want to tread and have already made the mistakes you are about to make. I still have a some frantically scribbled notes from an amazing chat with Nathan Gold and his conversation with me has changed the way I do business. My business is leaner, more focused and has a long term plan in place. Who is ahead of you that can help you out?

3. What habits do you have that need to be replaced?

You are what you continually repeat. I find this a struggle because there are a number of things I do that don’t help me get to where I want to go. I often find i put others at the centre of my efforts instead if myself. I’ll get up early and work late but when it comes to myself I keep hitting snooze. One small step I have taken is to change the message on my phone to say “If it was for someone else you would” as a reminder that I need to put myself first so I can serve everyone else better. What small change can you make?

4. When is the best time to plant a tree?

When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the next best time to plant a tree? Today 

This is one of my favourite proverbs. It speaks to so many things in life and business and is so challenging. One of the things I am guilty of is procrastinating and working on the ‘wrong stuff’ It is often self doubt that stops me doing what I know I should. I have made a resolution that I am going to start planting trees today and stop regretting the fact I didn’t plant them 20 years ago. What is your favourite proverb and resolution made from it?

5. Develop or Delegate

For years now I have been advocating for the importance of development over delegation. Often when we delegate it is basically just shipping work on to someone else because we don’t want to do it - the intention is wrong and then the result is often wrong too. If we understand our role in any leadership capacity as it should then we should always look to help others fulfil their potential. If they fulfil their potential then so will you.

6. What is leadership?

There are many types of leaders in the world and the amount of styles and books and videos that are available is astounding covering this topic. This is because it is one of businesses and societies greatest challenges. Harnessing leadership or restricting it because of the positive or negative consequences. At its core though I have always felt positive leadership is about the betterment of others. A greater good. An impact beyond your role or life even. What do you think?

7. The questions we ask

I was watching a Tony Robbins programme a couple of years ago and was struck by a simple philosophy that he was sharing. We get the answers to the questions we ask. So what if we are asking the wrong questions?

This actually blew me away because I could see straight away in my own life and my customers how often we do just that - ask the wrong question. It is important to take stock and check what problem you are trying to solve - it might just be the wrong one

8. Action or Reaction?

I have found that when I get pissed off the only way to stop me feeling pissed off is to do something - do nearly anything. I have a habit of sinking deep into myself a couple of times a year and then all things can seem hopeless. I start deciding how bad things can be before I even try to make them good. This is my worst time as I am reacting to life instead of taking action. When you take action things happen - how could they not? Even if they are not exactly what you wanted it is still better than nothing. So if you ever get in a downward spiral remember it is better to be taking action than not.

9. Knowing your limitations

I am always honest with my customers and I think it is one of the things they like about me most. However it is not always as easy to be honest with yourself. You have to be aware of where you are limited or weak. You have to know where you need help, get the ego out of your way and allow others to support, take over or dismiss your thinking and plans. You cannot know everything and certainly you can do everything either. Pick your weak spots and go and look for some help

10. The grass is greener

One of the most human things we can do in business is be jealous of others success. We look over the wall, water or internet and see people ‘doing much better than me’. It us hard not to get demotivated when you see others with seemingly more for less. However the truth is seldom the same. I have worked in lots of great companies and have been surprised at first (now I expect it) that they are jealous of other businesses! I remember I worked a lot in the pharmacy sector and one day was talking to someone that said Boots were trying to get the intimate experience that many local pharmacies had with their customers, whilst at the same time the pharmacy group I was working with wanted to be more like Boots! Enjoy what you have and be clear what success is to you.

11. Be brave

I know this is an obvious thing to say but bravery comes in all shapes and sizes. There is what we all call real bravery when someone runs into a burning building to save a life or stepping in to confront know the type. However there is also the bravery of starting to let people see the real you. Setting up and running your own business can be just the time. We have our old life that we could live within our comfort zones but now we need to put ourselves out there. It can be deeply uncomfortable and even scary. That is when you need to be personally brave. It will be ok. Remember - when you take action you can only move forward

12. Business can and should be fun

Being in business whether it be your own or someone else’s should be fun. You are hopefully making a difference to other people whether it be your colleagues or customers and you get paid for it! However because can also be awful and sometimes that can last longer than you would wish it is easy to forget that fun is one of the key elements. You need to find the people that make you laugh or give you encouragement. You need to let them lift when times get hard because when the fun goes so does the passion. What could you do today to have more fun?

13. Change makes you happy

I often get stuck in a rut - and a rut is not a place I like. Even though sometimes my behaviour doesn’t reflect it I like change - I like new things, new places, new tech and new people. It does sometimes seem though that I hate all of those things. I just keep getting up, doing the same old things and finding comfort in them. However I often feel that is the time when I am least alive - I am just punching the clock. It is important to find things that take me out of this “comfort”. What did you do last to change something in your life or business to make yourself be happy?

14. Marketing is boring

Most of the marketing I see for businesses is boring. In fact this blog is a little boring if I am completely honest! You have to take risks with your marketing to be interesting - we are all afraid it seems to upset an unknown, unnamed person that may never have planned to buy from us in the first place! There is a line that you can walk up to in your messaging that allows you to do this - it isn’t over the line as this is often just offensive. It is right up to it. It provokes and challenges and gets in your customers face. As I get more confident I plan to take bigger risks with what I write and say - when I am with my clients I am incredibly direct so I need to learn how to do that with potential clients too. Putting my name on the business was my first step - what is your going to be to make this interesting

15. You have to talk to your team

One of the areas I am particularly passionate about with my clients is that I want to encourage them always to share what is going on in the business with their teams. There is a need in all of us to know what is going on in general and that’s no different at work. If you know the context in which you are working it adds so much more to the effort and focus you can put in. With so many people disengaged at work (recent studies say as much as 50%) then it is important you make them part of the conversation

16. DISC

I have been using DISC profiling for years now as a brilliant way to help people understand their behaviours, attitudes and what impact that can have on others - it is also a great way to see what round pegs you might have that could fit into round holes. Often people end up in careers driven by other people's agendas and they would be far better suited to different types of work. There is also poor recruitment that happens regularly when we hire based on personality and not and suitability. If you want to take some more about this with your team then get in touch

17. Fail to plan….you know the rest

Most of the business owners I have worked with have no actual plan of how they are going to get what they want. They are going week to week and I think this is because planning can seem like an all or nothing pursuit. Tools like the Lean Business Canvas don’t cut it in my opinion and then the alternative is a fully fledged planning process that stretches out into hours and hours of work. I use a brilliant tool that looks at Ripples of planning and the effect and results. It is 1 page, multi functional and reachable in less than 10 minutes plus you can use it for every department. Let me know if you want to get started

18. All top performers have a coach

The reason most top performers in any discipline do so well is they have a coach. They have someone who they trust that allows them to bring out the best in themselves. I have always believed that a coach has a role unique to any other. They don’t come with all the answers as often you already know them. But they don’t let you off the hook, know how much potential you have and ensure you don’t create any fake barriers. More often than not my client has had a breakthrough with just accountability. Let me know if you want to raise your game and take it to the next level

19. You set the standard

As a leader in your business it is vital that you lead from the front. You can’t lead if there is no leadership. We don’t follow people that are a work in progress. Most of the time we follow people because they have or do what we want. If you want your team to follow you with your plan then you need to be the standard. That means your attitude, dress, behaviour, consistency and integrity all need to be there every day. You can’t skip a beat. If you want to have a standard then look at yourself first and make sure you are doing what you want your team to do

20. Running a business is a bit like gardening….honestly!

I was out in the garden yesterday planting bulbs - it is pretty boring and repetitive work if I am honest and I could probably have come up with 20 things to do instead. I tried at least 5 and they didn’t work so I had to get started! After a while though I got into it. I liked the repetition as it helped me relax and I realised I was doing something boring today for something amazing later. See I got there in the end! When the flowers bloom next Spring I will be thankful for the day spent in the rain planting bulbs. What can you look forward to in the future that you are planting today?

21. A good accountant is worth their weight in gold

Over the years we have had a number of horror stories to tell about our finances. Some wounds were self inflicted but sadly many have been inflicted by poor service. Getting a good accountant is hard as once they have you many just do the bare minimum - here is my wish list:

  • They answer your calls
  • They plan in advance
  • They are honest
  • They don’t fudge answers
  • They say sorry
  • They are accountable

There is no substitute for being on the ball so make sure you do your part too

22. Old school still works

There is a tendency to think these days that the old tactics don’t work anymore and it’s all digital strategy from here on in. I disagree - I know from experience that the more direct you are the better the results you get. When you are selling a service business in particular then you need to get in front of people. As it isn’t a volume business you are in, mostly you can afford to be selective and choose who deserves your time and energy. So start thinking who you should be in front of - the sooner you start the faster you will start meeting the people that can help you grow.

23. Time to relax

One of the big mistakes we used to make was to only have one big holiday a year - we went ‘off peak’ for us to minimise the impact and took 3 weeks +. This sounds great in theory but we were absolutely wrecked and tired when we arrived. We had basically run ourselves into the ground and had no energy left to relax or have fun - it took far too long to relax and then we started to dread the return! We figured that once every 3 months we needed a break - for a week or even a weekend - but we had to get a break of some kind. Don’t run yourself into the ground - you are your best asset and you mistreat that at your peril! Time to book a break!

24. Beware the armchair expert

It isn’t easy to not be swayed by armchair experts that will stress you out, challenge your confidence and make you think you have it all wrong. The image of Harry Enfield's character saying “you don’t wanna do that!” jumps to mind! These opinions are often ill founded and lacking any expertise or even experience. The best way to avoid it is only listen to advice and opinions you have asked for. Find yourself a coach or mentor and incest time in reading and training. That way you can be certain to get the guidance you want, not the opinions you are given

25. Great websites that I have used

It’s often hard to know where to go to get some good online services so here are 5 of my favourite:-

  1. - brilliant services available from just $5
  2. - a one stop shop that details every government resource for SME’s
  3. - an amazing appointment maker for you and your clients
  4. - every from you will ever need
  5. - the easiest and best website builder in my opinion!

Hope these are useful

26. Start ‘em young

I am running a programme at the moment called the Student Enterprise Programme. It is aimed at getting young people interested in Entrepreneurship at an early age. Some of the ways young people approach business that are different from adults include:

  • They are more open and positive to new ideas
  • They are not afraid to ring a customer
  • They don’t know why people won’t buy
  • They have fun constantly
  • They take adversity well

Overall they are optimistic. If you want to know more about this and other government funded programmes I run then contact me for a chat

27. Start Up Cash

One of the things I have noticed in working with young people on their start up businesses and mini companies is that they are really open to doing something else to generate cash to start their business. I thought there was an interesting point to make here as adults myself included tend to look for finance. Here are just some things they are doing to give you some inspiration:

  • Selling cakes and cookies
  • Buying jewelry parts on online and selling them assembled
  • Buying electronic goods cheaply and selling on
  • Buying and developing clothing lines and selling them at markets
  • Creating books and informational products
  • Inventing apps and getting other people to build them in Coder Dojo’s

When you literally don’t have access to cash it’s great to see what is possible with just €30-€50 and how you can turn that into several hundred Euro

28. Set yourself an hourly rate

When you are charging your time out it is easy enough to figure what you should be charging per hour - however we often don’t bill our other time out to the business. You are costing money by being home or in the office. Set an hourly rate similar to the one you charge your customers and then see whether the work you are doing has the same value as the time it is costing you. You will find there is a lot of work that doesn’t warrant the investment.

29. Trust your gut

However long you have lived on this planet you have building up something called intuition. It has been developed through countless interactions and experiences that you have had every day. It is your self preservation function - it is probably the thing that you have ploughed the most learning hours into for your whole life. So when your gut is telling you something is wrong then you are probably right. Listen to your years of training yourself. You won’t always be right but you won’t often be wrong.

30. I love goals

I love setting and achieving goals - it is one of those actions that you can do for yourself, by yourself and then gift yourself the result when you get there. Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith as you may in no shape to achieve them but getting started is better than nothing. Next year at this time I will be completing the Dublin Marathon. For the record I am currently 17 stone and haven’t run in 3 years. But I know I can do it. I have paid the fee and now I need to start the training. What can you pay the fee on today, commit to and then get started on today?

31. Take action

One of my main frustrations with myself is matching the genius of an idea I have thought of to a plan. All to often my ideas fall into a folder called “Unlimited Potential with Limited Action” - I get distracted by life’s trap and procrastinate - I lose momentum, lose steam. I could have ‘made it by now’ if I wasn’t just so damn busy. It is time for that to change. It’s time for something to change. What is blocking you from your results? What are you going to do about it?

32. It isn’t easy to be honest

I have really noticed in the last few weeks how much I lie to myself to keep myself happy…. And by happy I am obviously not happy!! Who is!! But I am definitely not helping my cause in search of happiness because the lies just keep me where I am at. I need to hear the truth sometimes and that is often best from your partner. I have noticed that I might not like all she has to say but it is always coming from a perspective of me and us being happy. I am going to turn off my internal lie machine and start to see what difference it makes.

33. If I think it’s going to be a problem in 12 months it is a problem today

I have been known to worry. Worry about everything, anything and often nothing. Usually this grips me at the most useless time of the day...4am. Then my sleep is gone and I feel worse!

I have learnt to ask I ask myself this question:-

“Will this be a problem in 12 months time?”

If it won’t be in my opinion then it isn’t a problem today and I can stop worrying, find some solutions and move on. What questions or techniques do you have to stop the worry?

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