Today I got into a bit of an argument on Twitter (nothing new there).
It started with someone moaning about having to get up at ridiculous hours to attend to their business and me responding by saying that as they own the business they should employ someone to do this particular task.
It’s an important part of the business and led to a discussion about whether critical tasks should be delegated or not.
My view is that yes, they should. (I actually shouted, *YES* they should.)
Business owners are there to manage the business, to make decisions, to keep track of cashflow and consistently review how the business is working and make improvements where they’re needed. As soon as the business is big enough, *everything* else should be delegated.
If the business owner is the only one who can be trusted with a critical task it means that the business is too vulnerable and at risk and is probably unsalable.
Then we got into “what if the person the critical task is delegated to doesn’t do it properly?” Well, it is the owner’s job to check that it is being done properly and make sure people are properly trained or replaced. Delegation doesn’t mean abdication.
If your business is so small that you’re still doing everything yourself and you’re happy with that that’s fine but if you want it to grow you need to have a plan and that plan will very likely involve you stepping away from all of the stuff you do now and managing other people who will do it instead – and that’s a whole other skill set.
Basically, if your business is big enough to employ people and it still can’t run without you, there’s something wrong.
I was delighted to interview the BBC Dragons Den TV series newest stars today.
James and Richard Gold and Lewis Blitz have grown their business Skinnydip to £500,000 turnover in just eighteen months with a startup investment of just £45k
James and Richard, 25 and 23 respectively and Lewis, also 25, have been friends since they were children and decided when they were 15 that they’d like to work together.
After university, with no loans to pay back (!) they got jobs and saved as much as possible while developing their business ideas. Two years ago, with some help from friends and family, they invested £45,000 and went to work to build Skinnydip a brand of fresh and fun tech accessories including cases, headphones and speakers.
First order from Debenhams
With no proptypes and just some design ideas they hit the phones and got an interview with Debenhams buyer and left with an order! From there, their products are now stocked in all the major retailers in the UK.
The guys were so impressive that three of the dragons were fighting to invest £120,000 in them. Deborah Meaden wanted just 20% of the company, Theo Paphitis wanted 25% and Peter Jones 30%. Ignoring the retail specialist and the marketing specialist, the guys opted for the amiable Peter Jones. They described the decision as ‘not just about the money’ and they liked that Jones had offered to drop his shareholding down to 25% as soon as they paid back his investment.
The five minute clip we saw on the TV show was part of a two hour gruelling interview when the business and the guys who run it were taken apart and examined in great detail. They described the moment when they were given space to consult with each other before accepting any of the offers as a ‘blessed relief’. There was a five month gap between the show being filmed and going out on air and the hardest part in all of it was that James, Richard and Lewis couldn’t tell anyone except their very closest family members, and they were sworn to secrecy. The strategy obviously worked as I googled their names the day before the show aired and got zero results …. impressive.
What was also impressive is the work and preparation that goes on in the gap between winning the investment and going public. The winners had time to get their website ready to accept a lot of traffic and they themselves had obviously been well groomed in how to handle the PR machine. During the interview they gave me answers they wanted listeners to hear whether or not I’d asked the question but, fair play, that’s what the game is about and they did it very well. Their natural charm and good manners were still firmly in place and I’m sure their parents must be glowing with pride.
Why are they different?
I asked James and Richard what made them different from the millions of other people who have good ideas and never get them off the ground and they replied, with what I guess will become a trademark charm, that were lucky to be surrounded by talented people who believed in them and wanted to be involved in their company.
That wasn’t quite what I meant but we only had ten minutes so I hope to get a more detailed answer to that next time as I’m sure they’ll be back for more interviews.
Looks like a bright future for the Skinnydip brand and the enterprising young men who started it!
A recent discussion with some good folk centred on why this happening. Reasons varied from the pragmatic: there are a lot of tourists arriving for the Olympics so people hope to make the most of it, to the philosophical: in hard times, it may be that manufacturers hope that people will be more inclined to help keep profits in our own economy.
With so much business being done on the internet, an increasingly sought after skill is writing for the web so I pricked up my ears when I heard Chris Thomas of Milton Contact Ltd and Carsten Garrett of Gower Associates mention that English is still the most used language in business and that style and tone is every bit as important as content.
Writing good English is a saleable skill
Brits are a minority amongst English speakers (the majority being Chinese) but speaking and writing English well is a saleable skill in most places in the world. An English accent is still highly prized too!
According to Chris and Carsten, the British, as opposed to American, style of communication is also prized because it is predictable, gentle and polite and makes people feel valued and safe.
We’re not talking about an archaic style of business writing but simply of good manners and most importantly, understanding how we make people feel with our style of communication.
Made in Britain doesn’t just apply to manufactured goods
I have been delighted and surprised at how many people from all around the world have asked to join The Inspired Group and have subscribed to our series “The A-Z of Business Success” each episode with an English speaking recorded interview.
Maybe the very thing that we think of as slightly anachronistic in a fast moving, Americanised world is the thing that we can take most advantage of and that “Made in Britain” can be applied to more than just commodities.
Does your business attract clients from outside the UK? Could it? Is this something you’d value? Tell us what you think.
Ann Hawkins and the amazing TIG can help you grow your business and achieve the breakthrough results your hard work deserves. To find out more, simply click here
Are you daunted by always having to create new content?
I often get asked about different ways of promoting a business or getting new business through generating content for blog posts, radio interviews, e books, printed books, free tips, webinars, podcasts, etc., etc.
All of these work on their own but they work even better if they’re linked up and even better than that if the content is generated by your fans, your network or your tribe.
If you need content and, instead of giving just your take on things, you ask other people to contribute and give them credit, you immediately get fans for your work.
The next best thing is to use that content in lots of different ways.
Put the radio recording, podcast or interview on your website or blog, add it to an ebook, turn it into free tips, make it into a training programme. Not everyone accesses things in the same way so make your content as accessible as possible in as many different ways as possible with lots of added but different value.
It has been said that best selling thinker and author Edward de Bono, the father or lateral thinking, mind mapping and creativity, only ever wrote one book but published it in 77 ways.
Some quick tips for engaging people in your work:
- If you have guest writers, interviewers, bloggers they help you to promote what you do.
- If you get people involved in helping to create the content, they’ll rave about it.
- If you link everything you do to your blog or website, that’s good sense.
- If you use lots of social media channels, draw all the activity into one, easy to find, central hub.
- If you turn a series of interviews, blogs or articles into something that people can listen to or buy afterwards, superb.
- If you have any opportunity to give people the chance to comment, question, take polls, enter competitions, submit photos – do it and always give credit.
How have you used these tactics successfully – share them with us in the comments …
Ann Hawkins and the amazing TIG folk can help you grow your business and achieve the breakthrough results your hard work deserves. To find out more, simply click here
Are other people spending your time?
Check by doing this after every meeting:
Did your meeting start/end on time?
If not what could you do to make sure this happens in future?
Who benefitted most from the meeting?
If it was you, is the benefit in the short or long term?
If it was others, why did you allow them to spend your time for you?
Were any of today’s activities less important than other things on your list?
If so, could you have postponed them?
You don’t want to be mean with your time but if other people are benefitting more than you, try changing lunch to coffee and coffee to a Skype call and a Skype call to an email.
Suggest other people do the prep for a meeting and send you the info beforehand. Don’t let anyone put a monkey on your back – make sure it stays where it belongs.
Spend more time on the important stuff and less on the urgent – especially if its more urgent for other people than it is for you.
Ann Hawkins and the amazing TIG folk can help you grow your business and achieve the breakthrough results your hard work deserves. To find out more, simply click here
News just in: there is no ‘Law of Attraction’.
Wishing for things doesn’t work.
You have to go out and make your own success yourself.
This is a guest post by my friend Ayd Instone, an international speaker, philosopher, songwriter and entertainer on the subject of creativity. He’s the author of a number of books and I thoroughly recommend his blog ‘Ding!’ which is full of thought provoking articles.
There is no ‘Law of Attraction’
I know this to be true because I have run experiments throughout my life. There are things that I have really wanted, more than anything, that I have focused positively and insensately on for prolonged periods of time. The result: I have not got them. There are things that I have not wanted, that I have paid no attention to at all, that I did not even know existed, that came upon me in my life.
This is why there is no Law of Attraction.
I know this for certain because I have studied science. For something to be a Law it must be true under all condition, every single time. Anyone who refers to Wishful Thinking (or Focus, or Positive Thinking or The Secret or As A Man Thinketh as a Law – they are dimwits. And deluded. And wrong.
Something that is sometimes true, sometimes works, where the rules are arbitrary and not universal and are not simple to describe, cannot be a Law, it can only ever rise to be a superstition.
But so what? What’s so bad about making a wish? What’s so wrong about buying into the latest cool spiritual revelation?
There is no quick fix
By thinking there’s an easy quick fix to all life’s problems (especially the financial ones) people always end up losing a lot of money and time that’s either eaten away by wasteful inaction, or stolen by snake oil hypnotists who are masters at exploiting us at our most needy.
In short, the Law of Attraction does the opposite of what it claims: it is the Law of Distraction, of Repulsion. It is a delusion.
On reading this there will be some disciples who will cry, “you’re not doing it right” or “you’re not trying hard enough” and yet no-one seems to be able to decide on exactly what the rules are.
Let’s put aside scepticism for one moment and look at the Universe as if the claims of the Law where actually true.
If the natural laws of the universe were able to be manipulated as the Law of Attraction demands, we could not have any science or any technology at all. They require unrefutable, unchanging natural laws.
If Newton’s laws of motion, if chemical reactions, gravity, the electromagnetic force and other natural laws were all at the whim of someone’s individual will, what would the universe look like?
All matter and structure would collapse. We would live in a dark age of magick and chaos where the most powerful minds (those who can ‘try hard enough’ and ‘do it right’) would have the rest of us bent to their will. They could wipe us out, or manipulate us like voodoo dolls, they could bring the stars crashing down, they could set themselves up as gods.
Fortunately they don’t, because thoughts do not manipulate matter unless we intervene in the process by using our hands.
The words manipulate, manage, manoeuvre and manifest are all derived from the verb ‘to handle’, i.e. to use one’s hands, not one’s mind.
Let’s look at a few more mundane examples.
If you believe in the Law of Attraction you must never hold any insurance policy of any kind. Just by preparing for death, accident or thinking about any kind of safety net means you’ll be asking the universe for trouble.
Make sure you don’t wear a cycle helmet as you’re just ‘attracting’ to fall off and bang your head.
Another aspect that is intrinsically linked to belief in the Law of Attraction is that the controlling force behind it, the Universe, is amoral. This means that we must be careful what we wish for. It also means we can wish for personal success and riches guilt free. There is no judgement. We can use the Law to be as greedy as we wish and in fact this is often encouraged and the main practitioners of the Law promote the wealth angle and cite their own wealth as proof that it all works. The Universe, it seems, just gets us whatever we really want.
Stephen Fry once said of such ‘New Age’ beliefs, “At least when we believed in God, we didn’t believe all this horse sh**”.
And he has a point. If we want to believe in a universe or being that grants wishes, looks after us and communicates with us in some supernatural way then we should turn to the most researched, explored, debated, believed and trusted methodology for that kind of system which is contained in a set of books called the Bible. (Other faith based books are available).
But people stay clear of the Bible (and the other major faith based doctrines) because it says something that the Law of Attraction doesn’t say: you actually have to do some work.
And that’s the attraction of the Law of Attraction, that you don’t really have to do any work. You don’t have to be righteous, or truthful, or love your neighbour, or worship and praise a higher authority, or support a community. It’s spirituality without the religion which is like having a cake without baking it.
Some people deride religion as if it’s some sort of disease. It isn’t. All it is, is a mode of life that sticks to particular rules, an organised system of living a life. Football can be a religion. Religion isn’t a dirty word. Religion is about order and about getting things done, on time when you said you were going to do it, in the way you said you were going to do it. To do something ‘religiously’ means to do something continuously and consistently.
The Law of Attraction is anti-responsibility and anti-action. It is wishful thinking. It is a promise of a quick fix, an easy way out without having to do any work.
But what about all those people who claim they have indeed ‘attracted’ success?
There are two factors that play a vital role in any success: taking action and coincidental luck. Just study anyone who is or was successful and you’ll see that they all DID something AND were in the right place at the right time, often without conscious design to be there.
There is no evidence that wishful thinking increases ‘luck’. There’s plenty of evidence that directed, focused action increases ‘luck’. There’s also plenty of evidence that lack of action produces lack of success (even for people who were in the right place at the right time).
Taking action means actually doing something rather than just thinking about it or wishing for it. Directed focus means deciding on the right action that will likely get the desired result.
If dream/vision boards, positive thinking, prayer and meditation help you decide and set goals that create focus then they are useful tools. What you think about dictates what action you’re likely to take.
So instead of waiting around for the Universe to deliver our wonderful wishes, we should be taking matter and energy into our own hands, manipulating the Universe for ourselves, to manifest the outcomes we desire by focused, directed action.
As humans we are creators. We make things. Civilisations rose through action. The great discoveries of science were made by experiments. The great works of art were painted, transcribed, carved and written. In short: things got DONE.
It’s good to dream and it’s good to plan but it’s even better to DO.
But leave all that ‘wishing’ to Peter Pan.
And if you STILL have a spiritual need, a vacuum inside you that needs filling, go join an established Church, and ask questions. Be very wary about finding the answers from some millionaire guru selling bootcamps and books. Do you really believe that anyone has had a genuine spiritual experience simply by paying money to get it? To get anything worthwhile in life you have to do the work to get it. Usually things that come easy aren’t worth having.
Ayd Instone is an international speaker, philosopher and entertainer on the subject of creativity. He’s the author of a number of books and writes regularly on his blog ‘Ding!’ Follow Ayd on Twitter @AydInstone.
So tell us what YOU think. Comments in the box below ….