Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Best Business Position

From the 'Drop the Monkey Business' column in The Galway Advertiser 21/3/2013 P.96

How do you use your time in your business? Are you trying to grow your business, but spending too much time in the business as appose to on the business? How can you free up some time to do the real work you need to do to make your business the dream it was meant to be? Business can be a very lonely and slow paced venture. It can be very different to where it all started when you had an enthusiastic quest to be king of your own empire. The reality is that it can feel like you will end up being a Jack-of-all-trades, and everything that you never thought you would be. Yes, you become a superhero to countless customers; yet everyday you lock the doors and walk home alone only to repeat the same storyboard again and again wondering why nothing is moving or growing. To grow your business you need to put yourself in the best place for you, where you work at your best and your best skills are used the most. You need to be continuously planning your future, changing your game and moving the pieces. And when there is something that you can’t manage or that gives you a sense of overload, there is no shame in asking for some support or assistance. No shame in change. Financially, it maybe impossible to give a second thought to taken on extra staff and understandably so, however, there maybe one or two small changes that can be delegated that could free up time for you to do the things that you are really super at and who knows, maybe because of a change in your actions and habits you will eventually be in a better position to hire more staff and grow your business. So many business people are stressed to the hill not because they are doing too much, but because they are doing too much of the wrong thing. They are doing too many tasks that they dislike. When you do a task that you don’t like to do, the likelihood of it taking you longer to do and making a mess of it is quiet high. You won’t give the task your full attention. You’ll put it off until the last minute and you won’t do a great job because it’s not your field of expertise. I’m talking about the jobs that you hate to face such as your annual accounts, marketing, stock control or social media. I’m talking about the area of your business that you can’t stand and that take up too much of your time. The job that takes you a day, may take a trained expert one-hour. When you delegate or outsource these small jobs to trained professionals or others, you immediately free up valuable time for you to channel your skills where you know you have a high degree of self-confidence and where you will work to your full potential. You will become more relaxed and less stressed in the knowledge that the work that you hated to do is done professionally and quicker. You may have to pay a small fee, but nothing in comparison to the money you will save and the time you will gain. A business is only as good as the people behind it, meaning you need to change the focus to where your skills are strong and delegate or outsource the jobs that you long not to do where possible.  When you keep doing the same things over and over, you will get the same results. To change the results, change the game. A wise man once said ‘If you don’t change nothing, nothing changes’. Change position. Get into the best business position for you. There's only a limited amount of work you can do in a day, therefore you must up your game, position yourself in the best spot on the playing field, so that you will be the best player on your team, so that others will follow. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013


From the 'Drop the Monkey Business' column in The Galway Advertiser 7/3/2013 P.101

How does one listen to their business? The key to your business is your customers, therefore that’s a great place to begin. You only need to stop talking. It’s that simple. When you stop listening to yourself and your own internal voice and all external noise and waffle, you can pay attention to your customers. There's a big distinction between showing interest in your customers and really taking interest in your customers. Listening is a tool that can make that difference. One of my favourite books of all time is Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. Stephen hits the nail on the head when he says ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’ That’s the essences of listening and the secret of success when applied to business.

I don't recall where I first heard the words "you have two ears and one mouth, and you should use them in that ratio" nevertheless; it must be the best piece of wisdom one can apply in business. Give your business the love it needs by listening a little more and talking a little less. Switch off the chatter and listen. You maybe surprised at what you hear. Great business people know how to listen to their customers. You have to listen to your customers and allow them to shape the success of your business. Too often, we start marketing campaigns or launch new products without including the customer in the planning process.  They will tell you what they want and how you can help them. They will tell you if your service is great or poor. They will tell you if they’ll come back and do business with you again.

Listening allows you to get feedback and facts, so that you can make better choices that help your business grow in the right direction. To be always listening attentively is crucial to building rapport and trust with your customers. Listening is a real way to build a solid reputation for your brand. The good name of your business can depend upon your ability to listen.  If you stop listening to customers, they might not receive the service they should receive. When this happens regularly, it can taint the reputation of a business.

When you are actively listening it can be more engaging for the person speaking and you will understand the real message with in what they are saying. You are more focused on the topic and carry more intention to accept their perception of situations and help them where needed. When you are truly listening, your body language, eye contact, and overall focus will let the person speaking know that you are engaged and attentive. The lesson is crystal clear: you need to listen to and act on the needs and perspectives of your customers. Even if you don't like what they are saying, value what they have to share. Listen effectively, and actively absorb the information given. Show that you are listening and interested by providing feedback so the person with whom you are interacting knows the message was received.  A great listener is able to show the person speaking that they have been heard and understood. If you are talking, you are not listening and may lose a golden opportunity to get feedback from a customer or to be given an interesting idea for your business from a colleague. As the old proverb says, "If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”