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Advice from Outside the Square

Category Archives: Leadership

10 Things Every Small Business Needs To Do To Succeed

As a business advisor and accountant, I am often asked what a small business needs to do in order to succeed. It's a simple enough question but there are so many things small business owners need to know, need to be, and need to do in their businesses. So I asked a number of my most successful clients what they thought about the question, and, using my own experience gained over the last 30-plus years, I have collated the top 10 things that a small business needs to do to succeed. 1. Make sure that you are marketing effectively. From experience, I cannot stress enough how important marketing is to the success of any small business. The problem is that most small business owners are subject matter experts - they are good mechanics, good lawyers, good accountants, good toy retailers, good garment manufacturers - and this means that they try to make their business succeed by being good at what they do. Unfortunately, that is not enough. A business succeeds only if it finds and continues to find customers. Some of these will come from word-of-mouth or reputation but the volume of these new customers will not be enough to grow your business. So, you...
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The Value Of An Ethical Business

So, this is going to be a controversial posting. I wonder what you think about the morality of your behaviour when you choose to change professional advisors? I don't mean the professional ethical rules, but the morals of how you do it. And how should the professional advisor react? Here is a story of how a client of mine decided they wanted to change accountants. Read through the circumstances, and then tell me what you would have done. (more…)...
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Build Value In Your Business…By Going Away For Three Months!

Has the title of this month's article got your attention? Who wouldn't like a 3 month sabbatical, put up your hands! Like many entrepreneurs and small business owners you are probably struggling with your work-life balance. You are working long hours, sometimes weekends, when you go on vacation you can't help feeling the guilt, your phone or tablet is always on and always calling for your attention even at all hours of the night. Yet the reason you started your own business, apart from the passionate belief in what you are doing is...getting time to do what you want. Just stop for 10 minutes (yes, you can!). Ask yourself why you aren't able to find that "life" part of the balance. Do these reasons sound familiar?
  • I need to really dedicate myself to this business to make enough money to take that time off;
  • I'm really busy because I can't afford someone else to do some of the work;
  • I have it all in my head so I can't leave;
  • I'm ultimately responsible for the business' success;
  • As I expand there's even more work to do;
  • ...
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Managing People? Learn about 3 skills

Yes, we have read about "Leadership" and how that is different from "Management". Yes, we are well aware that moving a large group of people towards common goals require vision and the ability to translate that vision to the employees. Yes, we are clear about how productive a vibrant and self-motivated workforce can be. But wait, what if we are talking about managing rather than leading (some of us remain "managers" of people after all). What if we are talking about managing the work of individuals? After all you can't "lead" 50 individuals individually. What do you have to do? Here's my suggestions:- 1. Learn to delegate, and delegate properly, making sure the objective is clear, the authorisation is approved, and the tools are available, as well as be clear about how often and how you want to be informed. 2. Learn to push different buttons. You will be managing a number of individuals that make up a team, but each individual will be of different ages, different experiences and be in different financial and social circumstances. Understand what makes them tick and push the buttons that motivate them. 3. Learn to work with different motivating forces - I accept good teams can display coherent behaviours...
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