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The Compound Effect in Business

By Team Icon on 01/03/2018 - 0 Comments

The ‘Compound Effect’ is a concept developed by Darren Hardy (The compound Effect – Darren Hardy). It is a very powerful process of behaviour and decision making that can improve and change lives. In the following article we have suggested some of the principles that should be put in practice for small business owners to improve their success rate and achieve their goals.

In simple terms poor decisions and erratic behaviour equals poor performance, whereas good decisions and consistently good behaviour creates success and high achievement.

Albert Einstein described INSANITY as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’. We all know these people. So how can they change and improve?

This can be clearly demonstrated when you look at some of the poor performing businesses. The business owner is most likely working long hours, but not seeing any improvement in their business and also as a consequence not being fulfilled in their personal life. They are unable to remove themselves from the daily grind and literally just go through the same motions every day without any chance of improving their business prospects.

So what are some of the key things that a business owner can do to improve their business potential.

1. Understand and define your core values. Many business owners do not have a clear vision about who and what they are. 

Do some self-analysis.

  • Who is the person you most respect
  • What are their 3 best qualities, do you reflect those qualities in your behaviour
  • What are the 3 most important values that you would pass onto your children
  • What 3 people in the world do I dislike and why

When you have determined these core values ensure your attitude and behaviour demonstrates this.

  • Does your business reflect your core values?
  • Does your team act and behave accordingly?
  • How do you engage and behave with your clients and prospects?

2. Behaviour and Habits

Behave in a professional and considered manner. Be consistent with your behaviours and habits so that people can see who you are and know what to expect from you.

You may and probably will need to assess and change some of your bad habits, this may not come easily so be prepared to use your will power and family or friends support to do this.

  • Wake early each day
  • Prepare for the day
  • Listen to your colleagues and respect their views (that does not mean always agree)
  • Behave consistently whether things are good or bad.
  • Act and behave professionally

Be inspirational and consistent with your actions and you will find that people will be more comfortable around you and be inspired to improve their own behaviour and work ethic. Create an environment that is positive and productive, encourage good habits and discipline within your workforce and reward them appropriately.

3. The Ripple Effect

Study the table below and see how small actions and habits can produce massively different results.

Watch late night trashy TV Early to bed
Get up late and tired in the morning Up early and refreshed
Ill prepared for the day Time to plan the day properly
Lack of energy and motivation Energised and motivated
Late for work - continually catching up Early to work - in control and productive
Stress and anxiety Happiness and reassurance
Failure Success and extra income

4. Momentum

This happens when you know you have started to make a difference. You have been through the arduous start up and pain of changing your habits and behaviours, it now becomes instinctive and almost subliminal. Your mind and body will work to expect or even demand the good habits that you have developed.

Get with the rhythm - that is how the momentum works. Like a top athlete gets into the rhythm when they compete, going through the same preparations every day and executing their skills to the best of their ability.
5. Patience and Discipline

This whole process is about taking small considered steps consistently over a long period of time. The small steps will not deliver immediate results, it’s all about belief, consistency and discipline. Gradually you will see the fruits of your labour taking effect and then the momentum kicks in and it becomes an enjoyable and natural process.

Think about a kiddie’s roundabout with 10 children on board. It is a real effort to get the roundabout to start moving, but soon it starts to move more easily until the momentum kicks in and means that you only need a minimum of effort to keep it spinning.

6. Invest in You

In order to succeed with this, as with most things in life, you need:

  • The will
  • The desire
  • The motivation
  • The vision


7 Keys to Unlock The Potential in Your Business

By Jon Sawyer on 01/03/2018 - 0 Comments

Coming up with a business idea is just the start of the long road to achieving business success. You may have defined a business idea, but now you must see if you can turn this into a profitable idea. Conducting a sound research study to see if there is a profitable market for your product or service is a good start.  However, what sets those businesses apart that go on to achieve dramatic and life-changing success?

You may remember the film depicting the trials and tribulations of the career of Steve Jobs who firmly established Apple as one of the leading global companies. Similar stories also lie behind the fortunes of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook. So what lessons can we glean?

Innocent Drinks represents a very useful case study. Friends Adam Balon, Jon Wright and Richard Reed all looked to bright futures after leaving Cambridge University – one working in advertising and the other two with positions as management consultants. They identified a gap in the market for a new type of smoothie drink based on natural ingredients supported within company promoting ethical values.

They then set up a stall at a music festival to try their ideas – they left the decision whether or not to start a business in the hands of the customers at the festival. A sign above the stall read “shall we give up our jobs to make these smoothies”? One bin read ‘Yes’ and one ‘No’. Customers made their decision by throwing their empty bottles in either bin. They then wrote their business plan 11 times and searched everywhere for funding. The result: Innocent Drinks made its first million in its second year and now sells two million smoothies a week, with a 75% UK market share. In 2009, Coca Cola paid nearly £100million for a 58% stake.

A similar example is found with honey salesman Burt Shavitz who decided to make some extra cash from making candles from Beeswax. By the end of the first year they had sales of $20,000 – not nearly enough to sustain their business. One day he decided he had enough – he had arrived home and the window in his cabin had blown in and snow was all over. He then decided to change his approach and the breakthrough came when he started cooking up natural soaps and perfumes on gas stoves, while also making lip balm made from bees wax. In 2009, Burt’s Bees hit its 25th. anniversary with a revenue topping $250 million.

So what lessons can be leaned from these examples and those of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple and Facebook?

Don’t Underestimate the Amount Involved
Success will come through plenty of hard work and application. Being good at what you do may make you technically proficient, but this won’t necessarily help you to achieve success. To do this you will also need a knowledge of all areas of the business mix and how these all work together to achieve sustainable, profitable growth. These areas are: marketing, sales, operations, finance, legal, HR and IT.

Face Problems Head On – and Face Your Fears
It may need you to try areas of work that are new or ‘foreign’ to you. If you don’t like tackling finance or sales issues – maybe its time to try. You need to know what the problems are in each area so you can plan accordingly. Remember not to abdicate any of these areas – delegate instead and ensure you receive regular feedback.

Take an Iterative Approach
The best way to start any business is to start small and then build once you establish the right formula for success. Some will want to have a complete plan in place before starting – the trouble with this is that you will not be aware of all the problems until you start. So take baby steps. This will ensure that you get the formula right first before you start to expand.

Keep Focused
Many entrepreneurs will have a multitude of different activities and commitments in place at any one time, resulting in a lack of time to concentrate on issues at hand. Many do jump from idea to idea with no real commitment. So the key is to strip back on all commitments and keep focused on the job at hand.

Keep Going
The stories of failure rates are so daunting, it is surprising why anyone should eveer wish to ever start out in business. What is evident is that many give up too early just when the going gets tough. Those that succeed remain determined and focused even in the face of severe obstacles. There could be no greater exponent of this approach than Steve Jobs at Apple.

Keep a Sense of Balance in Your Life
Whilst you may find that business starts to take over, don’t be so fully absorbed you lose sight of what is important around you, namely your own lifestyle and family life. It can be all too easy to find that important family events get missed and life gets put on the back burner while you concentrate on the problems at work. Make sure you keep as sense of balance in your life as this will keep you energised to deal with your challenges at work.

Keep Learning – Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Any action should be part of a learning process where you constantly fine tune what is needed to achieve the best result. Don’t you or your team keep on making the same mistakes again and again. Make sure you track your progress and have measures in place to ensure you can keep on learning from what you do.

Whilst you cannot guarantee that by following these seven keys you can be another Steve Jobs, in following this approach it will help you to take their lessons of what worked for them, and to put these into action, to help you find out what works for you. Of course, we would also say that you also need some expert business advice from ICON Business Solutions, but this we will leave down to you!
In any event, good luck.

The Man In The Shower

By Malcolm Orchard on 24/01/2018 - 0 Comments

Simple Stories That Help Us To Be More Successful

When engaging with business owners for the first time our Icon Business Advisers often get remarks such as ‘my staff just don’t listen, they make so many mistakes and I have to correct them, do I need to tell them everything’.

I guess the problem is as a business owner you have been through most of the disciplines as the business grew and probably developed a lot of the processes yourself. Its second nature to you and you know intuitively what you want done and how certain things should be approached.

As a business owner you have to be able to COMMUNICATE precisely to ensure your message or instruction is received correctly. To just assume all your clients and prospects know ‘what you do’ or assuming your staff know ‘what to say’ is lazy and unprofessional and ultimately will cost you business.

As an example, if your personal culture as a business owner is excellent service then you MUST ensure that all the people who work for you buy into that culture and understand that they may need to go the extra mile to be consistent with the cultural message.

Often business owners are so engrossed in the business that they forget to communicate clear messages to their staff and customers and inevitably mistakes are made.

I guess this is also true in our private lives - as the following story demonstrates.

The Man in the Shower

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbour. Before she says a word, Bob says, “I’ll give you £500 to drop that towel.” After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob.

After a few seconds, Bob hands her £500 and leaves. The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks,…

“Who was that at the door?”
“It was Bob the next-door neighbour,” she replies.
“Great!” the husband says, “Did he say anything about the £500 he owes me?”

Moral of the story:

You need to share critical information with your peers and staff to avoid damaging or embarrassing results.

A lot of business owners are poor at communicating internally, but more importantly communicating to their customers and potential clients or worse still not communicating their marketing message to their own staff.

Ensure that information is shared and communicated in a professional and clear manner. Good communication with the staff will also motivate them, especially if you congratulate them or recognise their positive attitude and response to this.

In fact, the worst type of business owner/manager is the one that stays in his office, will not engage with his staff and rants if things go wrong. The one person that will suffer most from poor communication is YOU the business owner. Motivate your staff by behaving as a leader (not a tyrant), take time to listen and share ideas.

So, ensure you share all critical information with your staff and clients – do not just assume your staff know what to do if you have not communicated with them and just as important ensure your prospects and clients know what you do.

For candid and reliable business advice talk to us at Icon Business Solutions, contact us now for a chat over coffee.

Should Stress be a By-Product of Running Your Own Company?

By Tony Golley on 22/01/2018 - 0 Comments

Many business leaders think this is the case! A picture of a business owner may conjure up an image of someone at the tiller on a ship, confidently steering the course. The reality may not always be the case as rates for mental illness are on the increase – why should business owners be immune to this?

Running a business can be a very lonely experience. With most start-ups failing in the first five years the pressure to succeed is massive as business owners may feel vulnerable to pressures of competition, staffing, profitability and most importantly, time. It is fairly normal for business owners to work extra-long hours which may have a negative impact on pressures and relationships at home.

So what are the warning signals as pressures start to build? These will be different in each case but inability to make clear decisions and in good time is a strong indicator. Inability to work smarter rather than harder becomes the norm whereby more time is spent in the office for less result. In some cases a business owner may cope with only a few hours’ sleep each night as they find it difficult to relax.

Also the pressure to be feel the need to be contactable at all times is a good indicator as some business owners find it impossible to put their mobile phone or tablet to one side. This is often the result of high expectations a business owner will place upon themselves for getting things done, instead of effectively delegating tasks.

Many business owners report to ICON they know that they need to find more time for themselves but they don’t know how to do this. Sometimes, they report they don’t know if they can take time off to go on holiday.

Being unable to break the cycle can ultimately lead to depression and mental illness. This can have a devastating effect on the individual and can seriously damage the long term prospects for the company, and effect business and personal relationships. The stigma associated with mental health means that it is often thought of as a weakness, which may lead any sufferer to try to conceal how they feel and not seek help.

What can be done to turn the situation? Clearly the first stage is to recognise you have a problem and then the second is to try to seek appropriate help.

Getting back in control and making decisions is an important step in the process. Whilst you may need to seek appropriate medical help, at the same time at ICON we would recommend getting help from an external party to find out ways in which the burden of managing the business can be shared in the short term. In doing this business improvements can often be made fairly quickly as it will be easier to identify and exploit the opportunities facing your business when you work alongside another party.

This will help you feel you can get back in control which is an important step in the process. The main thing is to recognise there is a problem and then to take a decision to do something about it. Failure to take action may result in an ever decreasing spiral of stress and declining results for the business!

Contact your local ICON advisor now, and take that initiative.

The Price is Right

By John Sawyer on 15/11/2017 - 0 Comments

In the words of the old game show - how do you know if the price for your product is right?

Do you have a pricing strategy that maximises your competitive position in the market to get you the best results in terms of profit?

It is our experience at ICON that many companies do not have a pricing strategy, instead they tend to follow the what has worked for them well in the past and fail to update or review their pricing activity – often across their entire product or service.

However, failure to review pricing may mean that you are missing out on additional revenue gains that may potentially fall to the bottom line to increase profit.  This article describes some key pricing strategies and offers guidance as to how these may be used to have bring your pricing strategy up to date.


What are the Main Pricing Strategies?

Pricing for any product or service is normally based on the 3 dimensions of cost, demand and competition and a company can use any one, or a combination of these to as the basis to set pricing. The following is a review of some pricing strategy options.

Cost – Based Pricing

This refers to an approach where a desired amount of profit margin is added to the cost of the product to obtain the final price. Cost based pricing can take two key forms – cost-plus pricing and mark-up pricing.


Cost-Plus is a simple approach whereby once you calculate the cost of a good, this is multiplied by the mark-up percentage to derive the sale price. This is a simple approach but ignores the impact of competition, who may be charging substantially different prices. It also ignores replacement costs and is based on historical data that may have changed. Cost-plus pricing is also known as average cost pricing, and is widely used in the manufacturing sector.

Mark-Up Pricing

This refers to the process whereby a fixed percentage of the cost of the product or service is added to the price to get the sales price. This approach is common in retailing and is popular as most contractors are willing to accept this method for an agreement of a sale since it is assured of having its costs reimbursed and of making a profit. With mark-up pricing there is no risk on such a contract.

Target Return Pricing

This method involves identifying 3 key elements; - firstly, the price at which the product or service will be competitive in the market; secondly, the desired profit to be made, and lastly, the target cost by subtracting the desired profit from the competitive market price.

Demand Based Pricing

This refers to a method in which the price of its product is determined by its anticipated demand profile. If the demand is high then the price is set at high levels and low if the reverse is the case. The success of this pricing approach is dependent on the ability of the company to correctly determine the demand levels, and is often seen in the hospitality and travel sectors. For example, airlines use this pricing approach and have yield management teams to ensure maximum sales revenue from each class of seat sold on a plane.

Competition based Pricing

This is where the company reviews the market to identify a market pricing position compatible with the positioning of its own product or service against those of its competitors. This is a useful tool as it will oblige the company to review the market place and to identify how and where its own product or service fits in the competitive landscape. Apple computers use such an approach in order to reflect their premium positioning in the market place.

Transfer Pricing

This involves selling goods and services within and across departments and divisions within a company, and is used to manage the different profit and loss requirements within different areas within the same company. Big multinational companies use such an approach, and are often criticised for doing so, as by doing so, they are able to minimise taxation liabilities. Notable examples of this are again, Apple Computers and Starbucks.


Which Pricing Approach is Best?

The answer is that there is not one pricing approach that meets the needs of all business types and sectors. The above examples represent a summary of some of the key pricing strategies – there are others such as price penetration and market skimming.

A good example of price penetration is where a product is sold at a level to gain maximum sales which may be below its cost of sale, and in some cases is referred to as loss leading.

Retailers are skilled at enticing customers into shops with bargains on core staple food products such as bread, milk and eggs in the hope that customers basket spend is increased with many higher margin products.

If there is one lesson to be learned, that is to review your pricing and to have a strategy. For example, know what your cost of sales are and break-even point is. This is the sale price at which you equally offset the combination of fixed and variable costs.

Have an understanding of the competitive landscape and where you are positioned within it. You may be able to squeeze additional margin out of some of your product range, but without reviewing your approach, you will not know.

A solid understanding of what your customers are capable of bearing is also required. Don’t just focus on price increases at the start of each New Year, but look at how you can achieve marginal gains across your range of products and services at different times of year.

Research undertaken by ICON has found that the group most reluctant to increase prices is business owners themselves.

Failure to have and review a pricing strategy may lead to reluctance to change because of a perceived fear this may have a detrimental impact on sales. The reality may be that such a change may mean you lose customers that do not want to be loyal to your product or service as they only purchase on price alone. These customers may in fact cost you money to service.

So make time now to review your pricing strategy. Don’t be afraid to tackle these questions, but get an informed position, and from there take your appropriate course of action.

If you are able to squeeze extra margin from your sales by a change to your pricing strategy, just think what you could do with the incremental profit?

Get in touch with your local ICON advisor to see how this impacts on your business,

Simple Stories That Help Us To Be More Successful

By Malcolm Orchard on 14/11/2017 - 0 Comments

Today’s story is a good analogy for business owners who have been running their business for a few years and have not refreshed their working methods. Very often we continue to do the same things each day/week/month without thinking about WHAT we are actually doing and WHY we are doing it.

New technologies and new ideas are great at streamlining and improving our methods of working and can bring a number of benefits to the organisation – not least cost and time efficiencies. Sometimes you may be going through the motions without really understanding WHY you are doing it or WHAT you are trying to achieve.

It may be that when the process was first introduced it worked well, but as the business has grown the process should have been revised or changed.

I have worked with organisations that have never considered the ‘WHY’ or ‘WHAT’ when going about their business.

Business owners should always be challenging themselves to improve their working practices and not be afraid to encourage their staff to suggest better ways of working. This review should be a vital undertaking, especially when the business is growing and expanding, the processes need to follow suit.

He following story illustrates this beautifully. This story is called:


But we have always done it this way.

A little girl was watching her mother prepare a fish for dinner. Her mother cut the head and tail off the fish and then placed it into a baking pan. The little girl asked her mother why she cut the head and tail off the fish.

Her mother thought for a while and then said, "I've always done it that way - that's how Grandma did it."

Not satisfied with the answer, the little girl went to visit her grandma to find out why she cut the head and tail off the fish before baking it.

Grandma thought for a while and replied, "I don't know. My mother always did it that way."

So the little girl and the grandma went to visit Great Grandma to find out if she knew the answer.

Great grandma thought for a while and said, “Because my baking pan was too small to fit in the whole fish”.

Some business owners are so close to their business that they unable to take time to look at the business strategically and see that there could be a better way to do things.

So take a step back and look at the organisation as a whole and also consider the constituent parts to ensure that they work in harmony. Refer to a knowledgeable specialist that will see the business from experience and with fresh eyes and may be able to see some obvious benefits from change.

I had a classic situation last year talking with someone who had taken over the business from his parents.

He was using post-it notes and scraps of paper to take orders and make notes– because that’s how they had always done it. He did not know any other way of working because he was trained by his parents to follow suit. It just needed someone to show him another method.

He now has a proper day book and order processing system, but it was a real pain to get him to change. But what a massive difference it has made to the way the business runs.

We call this ‘not knowing what you don’t know’ and often occurs when we engage with business owners. After all most business owners are great at what they do, but do not necessarily understand the fundamentals of running a business.

Business owners need to regularly step away from their business and look at it more strategically. Do not be afraid of change, listen to ideas from your staff and advisers, embrace it and see the benefits that can be delivered. Do not be satisfied with doing something just because:


Latest News and Articles

01/03/2018 -
The Compound Effect in Business The ‘Compound Effect’ as a concept is a very powerful process of behaviour and decision making that can improve and change lives... Read More