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HowsMyBusinessDoing Blog Selected as a Finalist in Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016

HowsMyBusinessDoing Blog Selected as a Finalist in Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016. Many thanks to all of you who got the chance to vote for our HowsMyBusinessDoing blog in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016. We are really proud to have reached the final stage of the competition in the B2B category. The winners will be selected on 15th September. Remember that the blog is for all SME businesses that want to improve how they operate and become more profitable. If there is any business topic that is of interest [...]

By | September 2nd, 2016|

Getting Your Business Online

Getting Your Business Online. It may seem ridiculous to some of us who have had a website for years, but many SME business owners have still not made the leap into the great unknown of creating a website and an online shop window for their business. There are all kinds of reasons cited for this including: I don’t need a website I am not technology savvy It’s too expensive I would not know where to start There is nobody in my business to look after it I have no need [...]

By | August 19th, 2016|

LWI Blog Awards 2016

Our blog has been shortlisted for an award in the B2B category in Littlewood’s Ireland annual competition, based on the usefulness of our blog articles for small and medium business owners and managers. Many thanks to those of you that have voted for the HowsMyBusinessDoing blog. We really appreciate it and we will continue to deliver our perspective on business issues that matter. If there is any topic that you would like us to cover, please drop us an email to let us know.

By | August 17th, 2016|

Capital Raising Options for Entrepreneurial Businesses

Capital Raising Options for Entrepreneurial Businesses. If you are an entrepreneurial business owner, with ambitions to grow your business beyond a life style business and to create tangible wealth, then you will need to figure out a way to fund the business growth beyond your personal resources through capital raising. This presumes that you have not inherited a substantial nest egg or have not made your fortune selling a previous business. Most of us start off our businesses with our own personal resources or savings and this is known as [...]

By | August 12th, 2016|

How To Break SME Businesses Out Of This Stagnant Cycle?

How To Break SME Businesses Out Of This Stagnant Cycle? The recession is over according to economic commentators but have you really felt the benefits of an expanding economy? Are your SME businesses finally enjoying an upswing in economic activity? Well here is the interesting thing, most of the small and medium business owners I talk to are saying that business is not much better than it has been over the last 5 to 7 years, with the exception of some temporary spikes that have proved to be unsustainable. Yes, [...]

By | August 5th, 2016|

There Is No “I” In Team

There Is No "I" In Team. As small business owners, we often start off alone or with just a small group of supporting employees, but perhaps not a team. As the business owner or CEO, we take ownership of the majority of headaches and frustrations. We are most likely to be the first to arrive at work each day and the last to leave. Everybody else gets paid before we do. The business frequently centers on us and our experience and knowledge, and without us there would be no business. [...]

By | July 29th, 2016|

Business Planning – Where to Start?

Business Planning – Where to Start? Some business owners and managers, who have never written a business plan before, can suddenly wake up to the need to put some structure on their journey into the future, instead of leaving it all to chance or deciding to - let’s see what happens first. This awakening to the need for business planning is key to building a predictable and sustainable future for your business. However, all too often the business planning commences before the business owner grounds himself in the here and [...]

By | July 22nd, 2016|

How Introverts or Extroverts Impact Your Business

How Introverts or Extroverts Impact Your Business. I have always been an introvert and I have often wondered if this was a product of my upbringing, a hereditary predisposition, a cultural bias, or whether it is simply a choice I made at some stage of my childhood. Looking to friends and acquaintances that I would classify as extroverts, I have had similar questions in my mind about them. This recently prompted me to read a book by Susan Cain, entitled Quiet, which delves into the two aforementioned personality types. It [...]

By | July 15th, 2016|

Communication in Your Business

Communication in Your Business Developing good communication within a business may sometimes be a low priority simply because most executives spend so much time communicating externally with customers, prospects, suppliers and other market participants. However, internal communication can be every bit as important as external communication. Whether you have a large team of employees or just a team of one or two, it is important that you have an awareness of the benefits of good internal communication. There are several elements to good communication. The first element relates to the [...]

By | July 8th, 2016|

Understanding Your Competition

Understanding Your Competition. When you decide to get involved in selling a product or service into a market, do you spend any time analyzing that market and the potential return you can hope to get? Do you look closely at existing competitors to get an understanding of market dynamics? Do you feel you know your competitors sufficiently well to allow you to make rational decisions about competing in a market or niche? This article looks at the attractiveness of your industry and how you can better understand your competition. It [...]

By | July 1st, 2016|

Importance of Clearly Articulated Business Goals

Importance of Clearly Articulated Business Goals. Do you have a woolly idea about where you want to take your business or do you have specific goals written down that everyone in your business gets to see? Do you spend so much time dealing with day-to-day business issues that you tend to ignore your goals and hope that they will be achieved anyway? A business will not get anywhere meaningful without having clearly articulated and written goals. Going through the process of writing down your goals is often the catalyst that [...]

By | June 24th, 2016|

Are You the Ideal CEO for Your Business?

Are You the Ideal CEO for Your Business? You may have started the business you are now running but are you the best person to take it to the next level of success? Are you bigheaded or humble? Do you possess the skill set and broad list of competencies that are necessary to be a leader in your industry? Perhaps you are in fact the ideal person to be CEO. However, do you have the honesty and humility to examine your suitability for the CEO role and to deal with [...]

By | June 17th, 2016|

Business Owners and Personal Productivity

Business Owners and Personal Productivity Do you ever consider your personal productivity? When you run your own business, you are taking more risk in the hope of earning a greater reward for your effort, when compared to working for somebody else. But does it always work out this way? The answer is only sometimes. The vast majority of people running their own SME businesses work harder and get paid less than they might get paid for working elsewhere. In fact, the business owners are often the last to get paid [...]

By | June 10th, 2016|

Magic of Mind Mapping For Kids – Revisited

Magic of Mind Mapping For Kids – Revisited. Back in 2009, I created a short video about the benefits of mind mapping for kids. It attracted thousands of views and still does. So why is this? Well, we all love our kids unconditionally, and we want to give them every chance in life. Some are fast learners and some have to work a little bit harder to get the same grades in school. However, mind mapping is a great leveler which can give all kids the opportunity to shine as [...]

By | June 3rd, 2016|

Workplace Stress

Workplace Stress. Dynamic environments frequently cause stress and this has implications for business owners, managers and regular employees as they go about their jobs. We normally associate dynamic environments with high tech businesses that are growing and moving rapidly in order to keep ahead of the demand for their evolving products. But workplace stress is no longer just a feature of high tech businesses. The recession in 2008 has had a profound affect on most business environments, as financial pressures have created stress in the workplace, even in what were [...]

By | May 27th, 2016|

Business Analysis – Get A Handle On Your Business

Business Analysis - Get A Handle On Your Business. Instinctively, we know what we know about our businesses. But what about the things we don’t know and perhaps should know? This gap in our knowledge can have serious consequences for the business. How often do you do a root and branch review of your business or do you ever take a look under the hood? If you do it at all, is it all encompassing or do you just look at the numbers? Does the feedback become a prompt for [...]

By | May 20th, 2016|

Ageism In Business

Ageism in Business - Fact or Myth? Modern living has delivered a number of benefits in terms of how long people are now living, particularly in western society, and life quality for the average person is much higher than it was even fifty years ago. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule and poverty still exists even in the richest countries, but on average people are living longer and enjoy the benefits of modern medicine, which keeps them active and healthy for longer. So what impact does this have on [...]

By | May 13th, 2016|

Some Barriers To Scaling Your Business

Some Barriers To Scaling Your Business. Now that the recession is behind us, more and more businesses are looking at how they can make up for lost ground during the last 7 or 8 years. Our political leaders are talking up the economy and we all want a piece of the often-discussed bigger pie. The recovery has been somewhat uneven thus far, and unfortunately not every boat has risen with the rising tide. So how can we overcome the barriers that still exist and win our own share of the [...]

By | May 6th, 2016|

Speeding Up The Cash Flow In Your SME Business

Speeding Up The Cash Flow In Your SME Business. How many times have we seen so-called “profitable” SME businesses go to the wall? It happens every day in fact. Perhaps it is because some SME business owners simply don’t appreciate the difference between profit and cash. If you get paid in cash, you can recognize the profit immediately, and be in a position to make payments to suppliers or pay for business overheads. If the sale is on credit, you need to wait until you have received payment and it [...]

By | April 29th, 2016|

What Does The 80/20 Rule Mean For Your Business?

What Does The 80/20 Rule Mean For Your Business? Recognizing the implications of the 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, can have a profound impact on your business and your life. But why is this? Well, if you apply it to your business or your life, you will quickly see that 20% of your inputs will yield 80% of your outputs or that 20% of your effort will deliver 80% of your results. Applying this rule to your business can stop you from wasting 80% of your time [...]

By | April 22nd, 2016|

The SOSTAC Marketing Model For Online Businesses

The SOSTAC Marketing Model For Online Businesses. A useful tool for creating a marketing plan was developed by best selling marketing author and consultant, Paul R. Smith, in 2011. He calls it SOSTAC ®. It provides a simplified approach to creating a business or marketing plan for anyone who has never had to create one before. I am a great admirer of Smith’s work and I am reproducing the central tenets of it here today to create awareness of the tool. PR Smith published an update to his original work [...]

By | April 15th, 2016|

Project Management in Small and Medium Businesses

Project Management in Small and Medium Businesses. Change is inevitable in any business as we grapple with market and economic forces. Staying the same is often not a realistic option, if we want our businesses to survive and prosper. So, as owners and managers of small and medium businesses, how do we deal with change management? Some of us muddle through. Others put together change management or project management teams from within their business. A small minority of smaller business owners choose to bring in project managers to help them [...]

By | April 8th, 2016|

The Work Life Balance Conundrum

The Work Life Balance Conundrum. If you run a small or medium business, chances are that you will sometimes struggle to maintain a proper work life balance. It happens to all of us at some stage. When we are in the office, we are constantly in motion and the day gets extended at both ends, as business pressures demand more of our time. This can often be compounded by the harsh reality that when we are at home, our minds are still in the office. This is not fair to [...]

By | April 1st, 2016|

Happy Customers – Lessons in Customer Care for SME Businesses

Happy Customers - Some Lessons in Customer Care for SME Businesses. Customer care comes naturally in some businesses while some businesses simply fail to recognize the importance of their customers. This blog explores acceptable standards of customer service and the impact excellent customer service has on customer loyalty and profitability. Customers need to be seen as the highest priority focus in any business. If you are not entirely focused on satisfying your customers, you may find that your competitors will go the extra mile and the customers may no longer [...]

By | March 25th, 2016|

Gender Equality In Business

Gender Equality In Business. It may seem strange to be still talking about gender equality in business in the 21st century. It harks back to the 19th and 20th centuries, doesn’t it? Well yes, that is certainly where it belongs. But has gender based discrimination in business really gone away? The answer is unfortunately not. I have been in business for forty years and I have had the privilege to work for several periods overseas in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as working for the majority [...]

By | March 18th, 2016|

Corporate Governance and Business Ethics In SME Businesses

Corporate Governance and Business Ethics In SME Businesses. Many business owners may think that Corporate Governance and Business Ethics only have relevance for larger businesses. However, in my view, small businesses should look to the same principles to regulate how they operate and follow proven processes and practices that demonstrate how they meet with the highest standards in social, regulatory and market environments. So what is Corporate Governance and where does it come from? Corporate Governance can be defined as "a system of law and sound approaches by which corporations [...]

By | March 11th, 2016|

Smart Goals Vs Dumb Goals

Smart Goals Vs Dumb Goals. Smart Goals - If you have ever been on a business course, you will probably have learned the principal of Smart Goals. Smart Goals are used as a framework to help a business owner to focus on the journey forward and to put some structure on how the end-point of the journey can be reached. The framework is as follows: S – Specific M – Measurable A – Achievable R – Realistic T – Time-bound Specific simply means that you must focus on defined goals, [...]

By | March 4th, 2016|

Benefit of Intelligent Business Questions

Benefit of Intelligent Business Questions. Do you ask intelligent business questions? I have been in business a long time and I have been advising many businesses of different sizes, and in many different sectors, about how to improve their performance, for more than 15 years. It is interesting to note how a point of view can completely alter the context and substance of a topic or question. To get the right answers, it is imperative that you first ask the right questions. When meeting with potential clients, the conversation often [...]

By | February 26th, 2016|

First Steps In Growing Your Business – Get The Right Help

The First Steps In Growing Your Business, Get The Right Help. Growing your business is easy, right! Successful businesses often start small, grow over a period of time, and then hit against a restrictive barrier before they can scale to new heights. Many never make it to the next level of success. Maybe it’s not so easy after all, so why is this? Getting a business off the ground takes a certain skill set and determination on the part of the business owner(s). Having the right products or services obviously [...]

By | February 19th, 2016|

Company Culture and the Daily Huddle

Company Culture and the Daily Huddle. Many small and medium business owners are slow to recognize that company culture is equally important in small and medium businesses, as it is in larger corporations. I published a short video on this topic a few years ago, which attracted several thousand views around the world, and I am giving access to it again here today as a reminder of the importance that business culture has on business performance. Click here to view the video – it runs to just over 3 minutes. [...]

By | February 12th, 2016|

Scaling and the 3 Pillars of Execution Capability – Part 3 – Infrastructure

Scaling and the 3 Pillars of Execution Capability – Part 3 - Infrastructure. Two weeks ago, I introduced the topic of creating execution capability for businesses what want to scale. I talked about how people are one of the 3 critical ingredients needed to scale a business and I introduced some ideas about developing roles and responsibilities, effective recruiting of employees, and leadership and management styles that work. Last week, I talked about the importance of building effective processes in your business. Scaling and the 3 Pillars of Execution Capability [...]

By | February 5th, 2016|

Scaling and the 3 Pillars of Execution Capability – Part 2 – Process

Scaling and the 3 Pillars of Execution Capability – Part 2 – Process. Last week I introduced the topic of creating execution capability for businesses what want to scale. I talked about how people are one of the 3 critical ingredients needed to scale a business and I introduced some ideas about developing roles and responsibilities, effective recruiting of employees, and leadership and management styles that work. This week, I will be talking about building effective processes in your business. Scaling and the 3 Pillars of Execution Capability – Part [...]

By | January 29th, 2016|

Scaling and the 3 Pillars of Execution Capability – Part 1 – People

Scaling and the 3 Pillars of Execution Capability – Part 1 - People. Even though many of us entrepreneurs choose to operate as sole-traders, there comes a time in our business when we must decide to accept the status quo, and whatever limitations come with that, or decide to scale the business to something much bigger than we have right now. A decision to scale our business means stepping outside of our comfort zone and building execution capability that gives us the chance to succeed at a totally new level. [...]

By | January 22nd, 2016|

What Is A Customer Avatar and Why Is It Important?

What Is A Customer Avatar and Why Is It Important? We all have a general sense of whom our ideal customer or client is, but have you ever taken the time to describe him or her in detail? The picture of your ideal customer is sometimes called a customer avatar. It can actually be quite revealing if you create a persona with attributes, commonalities, likes, dislikes, worries, frustrations and even a name. So how do you approach creating a customer avatar? I use mind mapping to create my customer avatar, [...]

By | January 15th, 2016|

Can I really afford the new equipment my business needs?

Can I really afford the new equipment my business needs? It may seem obvious to some of us that we simply cannot afford to invest in a new computer system or a new piece of equipment for our business, if there is no money in our bank account to cover it. Wrong! If we wait until the money is in our bank account, chances are that we will never be able to afford it. The key here lies in the word invest. If we make an investment in our business, [...]

By | January 8th, 2016|

Benefits of Defined Roles and Responsibilities in Your Business

Benefits of Defined Roles and Responsibilities in Your Business. When startup businesses begin to achieve a measure of success, it becomes necessary to start adding structure to the way in which the business is managed. One of the areas that need special attention is human resources management and roles and responsibilities in particular. I have discussed the recruitment and selection process in another article -(http://howsmybusinessdoing.com/what-is-topgrading-and-how-can-i-use-it-to-hire-the-best-employees/). However, before you can recruit successfully, you need to clearly identify why you are hiring people and what you expect them to do after they [...]

By | January 1st, 2016|

Identify Your Management Style – Micro-Management or Empowerment?

Identify Your Management Style - Micro-Management or Empowerment? If you run your own business, and perhaps have moved from being the only employee, to having a number of employees working for you, it can be a challenge to let go and to allow your employees to get on with the job you took them on to do, instead of resorting to micro-management. You must learn to accept that not everyone does their job the same way that you would do it. You might even be surprised to find that your [...]

By | December 18th, 2015|

What Is Topgrading and How Can I Use It to Hire The Best Employees?

What Is Topgrading and How Can I Use It to Hire The Best Employees? Would you be surprised to hear that out of every 12 people hired, that 3 are C players (mediocre to poor performers), 6 are B players (average to good performers) and only 3 are A players (consistently excellent performers)? This means that only 25% of the people your business typically hires, are at the top of their game. This is kind of scary, particularly when you consider that the cost of mis-hires is multiples of a [...]

By | December 10th, 2015|

Do You Use Spin Selling in Your Business?

Do You Use Spin Selling in Your Business? The concept of Spin Selling has been around since 1987, when Neil Rackham first published his well-researched book “Spin Selling“ on this topic. I believe that the methods described in Neil Rackham’s book still offer great benefits and I am writing about it here for SME business owners that have yet to hear about Spin Selling, and hope they might use this knowledge in their businesses. The easiest way to explain the sales model is with a diagram, which I have crafted [...]

By | December 3rd, 2015|

How to Build Effective Structures in Your SME Business

How to Build Effective Structures in Your SME Business. When we are setting up a small SME business, we are often on our own and don’t have the luxury of delegating tasks or building functional or operational structures that support the business. For many of us, it is a case of surviving on our wits one day at a time, and focusing on the income generating activities that keep the business alive. But you can only do this for a while before you burn out, or the business collapses due [...]

By | November 27th, 2015|

Implementing Effective Credit Control Procedures in Your Business

Implementing Effective Credit Control Procedures in Your Business. Do you take credit control seriously in your business? Do you use effective credit control techniques to minimize business risk? Do you take a systematic and structured approach to assessing customers before deciding to grant or renew a credit limit for each of your customers? Do you actively monitor your customers in relation to their payment performance? Do you closely watch their performance in the market place and with other suppliers to give you an early warning of trouble coming down the [...]

By | November 20th, 2015|

Business Analysis Tools for SME Business Owners

Business Analysis Tools for SME Business Owners. Not every business owner has the means or desire to hire a Business Consultant or Business Advisor. So what should a business owner do if he wants to get a good understanding of how his business is performing, particularly in relation to how it is performing compared to other businesses? Well a good place to start, is to find out what business analysis tools for SME business owners are useful and readily available. The image below shows a model of the typical business [...]

By | November 12th, 2015|

The Benefits of Continuous Learning and Benchmarking your Business

The Benefits of Continuous Learning and Benchmarking your Business. “Nobody knows my business better than I do” is a proud boast I sometimes hear when talking to business owners that have worked in their own SME business for a long time. They do not consider the possibility of benchmarking their business against other leading businesses. Many believe that they cannot actually improve their business or that an external person can offer meaningful insights that could actually make the business perform better. I frequently admire their confidence in their own abilities [...]

By | November 5th, 2015|

What does a Management Consultant or Business Advisor actually do?

What does a Management Consultant or Business Advisor actually do? There is sometimes great mystery around the question - what does a management consultant or business advisor actually do? This is particularly important to know when you are considering engaging one for your small or medium business. An even bigger question is “what value is delivered to a business owner who engages with a management consultant or business advisor?” Let us explore the answers here. A typical management consultant or business advisor is a business person with practical experience in [...]

By | November 2nd, 2015|

How to Command and Control Your Business using Mind Maps

How to Command and Control Your Business using Mind Maps. As your business grows, it increases in complexity and this creates more demands on the business owner or the CEO. Keeping all the balls in the air at once can be difficult if not impossible. So is there a special skill attached to managing a large number of things at once or is there a tool that can help the business owner to cope? In fact, there is no special skill involved, but using the right tools to keep you [...]

By | October 29th, 2015|

What is this Vision, Mission and Objectives thing all about?

What is this Vision, Mission and Objectives thing all about? There is much written about the importance and desirability of having a vision, mission and objectives for your business but what is it really all about? In reality, it is simply a framework for understanding both long-term and short-term aims for your business and the underlying reasons why you take on the hassle of running a business at all. Lots of business owners see it as an academic exercise that must be completed as part of the business planning process. [...]

By | October 27th, 2015|

Now that the Recession is over, what should Small & Medium Businesses do next?

Now that the Recession is over, what should Small & Medium Businesses do next? It has been a tough few years for small & medium businesses and those of us operating in the small and medium business space have undoubtedly felt the impact of the financial crisis. We have endured years of cost cutting and job losses in order to survive, but those of us that remain in business are in a reasonably strong position to start growing again as business and consumer confidence improves. Our biggest challenge now is [...]

By | October 23rd, 2015|

Why Would I Want to do a Business Health Check on My Business?

Why would I want to do a health check on my business? When we work in our own businesses, we tend to get caught up in the day-to-day decisions and the administration of daily challenges. We often fail to lift ourselves above our daily routines to take a helicopter view of where we are going, and the steps that we are taking to get there. Sometimes, we even get so caught up in our daily tasks that we don’t fully understand where we are, how effectively we are running the [...]

By | October 16th, 2015|