Category: ICON Business Solutions

7 Keys to Unlock The Potential in Your Business

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.

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The Compound Effect in Business

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 TVEarly to bed
Get up late and tired in the morningUp early and refreshed
Ill prepared for the dayTime to plan the day properly
Lack of energy and motivationEnergised and motivated
Late for work – continually catching upEarly to work – in control and productive
Stress and anxietyHappiness and reassurance
FailureSuccess 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
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The Man In The Shower

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.

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

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.

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Simple Stories That Help Us To Be More Successful

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:

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:

“We have always done it this way”

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Do You Miss Out On Work / Life Balance

The National Work-Life Week 2017 took place on 2-6th. October 2017. Did you know about it and are you making the most of your work / life balance?

This week was an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on well-being at work and work-life balance. The purpose is to get employers to use the week to provide activities for staff, and to showcase their flexible working policies and practices.

It should be the goal of any responsible employer to help their staff find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work. Does this actually happen in the work place and does it happen for the business owner?

Feedback from some ICON clients suggests that some business owner’s work-life balance is dangerously out of kilter.

According to a study by insurance provider Simply Business, almost half of the 2,000 individuals surveyed cancel social plans at least once a week, a quarter take less than 10 days’ annual leave and 25% have fallen ill due to stress and overwork.

The effects are likely to go further than physical illness, according to mental health charity Mind. With one in four people experiencing a mental illness each year, business owners need to keep a close eye on their wellbeing.

“Having a good work-life balance, including regularly having time off, is key to staying mentally healthy,” says Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind. “Taking proper breaks allow staff to return refreshed and revived, and small business owners are no exception. Every business owner wants to ensure their business is a success and this can mean putting in the extra hours from time to time. But consistently working long hours and managing an excessive workload can take their toll on our physical and mental health, with the potential to negatively affect business performance.”

But for many small business owners, there simply are not the resources or support needed to enable them to create a healthy balance.

While stress and overwork in itself does not necessarily lead to mental health problems, being exposed to prolonged periods of unmanageable stress can cause or worsen a mental health problem. So how do you spot the signs that a bad week is turning into something more serious?

“The symptoms of unmanageable stress can also be similar to the symptoms of someone experiencing depression and anxiety,” she says.

Symptoms of depression and stress, can be physical as well as emotional and will differ from person to person but may manifest in feelings of isolation, lethargy, lack of self-esteem, restlessness, irritability, hopelessness or a lack of interest in the things you normally enjoy.

Typical symptoms are having trouble sleeping or sleeping a lot, eating more or less than usual, experiencing aches and pains, and drinking more alcohol.

If you are an SME business owner it may be difficult to spot the symptoms as they gradually creep on you over time, and so it may be difficult for colleagues to notice changes in your behaviour.

The key thing is to try to head any serious problems off before they stop you in your tracks. The business should be there to help deliver the rewards that you deserve from taking on the challenge of running your own business and not to put you on a downward spiral.

Often this may be the result of the business not delivering sustainable, profitable growth and so the business owner may end up constantly funding the business which further increases the level of stress. This state is often described in terms of the business owner working ‘harder’ in the business and not ‘smarter’.

It may be time to take stock of your position and to review where you are. Don’t accept a poor work/life balance as the only option available, but take a decision to do something about it before it is too late.

What is the answer? A good option is to critically evaluate your life goals and to see if your business is helping you to achieve these. If not, then time for change. If yes, then well done. In any event, time to review whether your business is helping you to achieve your life goals is no bad thing.

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Three approaches to customer service

Being customer-centric means looking after the people who buy from you – a simple, desirable goal. But in an ever more complex world of software and social media, true customer-centricity that goes beyond rhetoric is no mean feat.
Broadly speaking, there are just three approaches to customer service: one is putting the customer at the heart of your business, the second is pretending to, but not really doing it, and the third is putting the customer last and celebrating the fact!

Oddly, the third of these scenarios is not packed with failed businesses; in fact it’s a growth industry. The “budget” sector – home to some of the world’s most successful airlines, supermarket chains and travel firms – offers customers the lowest possible level of service at the cheapest possible price.

In this brave new world, businesses are transparent about their limited service, and customers appreciate the opportunity to dip in and dip out without being offered a complimentary head massage or being asked to fill in a “How are we doing?” form.
Is the customer always right?

Self-styled “ultra-low cost” airline Ryanair is at the very core of this approach. As with all short-haul carriers, it has been affected by higher fuel costs and the eurozone crisis, but it still managed to pile up impressive, ever increasing sales.

This despite a string of baffling announcements from Ryanair’s senior management that seem to imply the customer is merely an inconvenient necessity. Take chief executive officer Michael O’Leary’s idea that passengers should stand on short trips to make room for more fare-payers, or his (reported) ill-fated plans to introduce on-the-spot charges for mid-air toilet use. Has anyone forgotten the recent poorly managed cancelation of flights and inconvenience to customers?

Then there are the regular complaints from customers about “hidden” charges in the booking process, and the firm’s previous plan to introduce planes with bigger doors so that passengers can be shepherded on and off in double-quick time.

But in businesses whose marketing collateral is awash with customer-centric language – where the customer is number one – the delivery often falls short of putting a smile on your face.

Fundamentally, there are three processes that ICON recommends are key to any successful customer-centric campaign,

First, an intelligent and comprehensive database is required to track and record all details of customer interactions and behaviours.

Second, you must have the tools and technology in place that will enable you to make sense of the data and maintain its accuracy.

Finally there must be a process for the ongoing capture of up-to-date consumer data, behaviour and interactions. This data provides you with the required insight into the history of the customer’s interactions, relationship and behaviours that enables the marketer to successfully adapt and target their approach for each individual.

Sounds simple enough, right? But the process is littered with complications and pitfalls that can cause businesses to do it half-heartedly, and to stop short of the thorough process that creates the fullest customer picture.

Customer-centricity then is about doing, not saying. It is capturing data, offering people more of what they like and less of what they don’t like and, above all, dealing with them as individuals and as human beings with personalities.

Get the right balance, and your organisation will benefit from a growing group of delighted and loyal customers who feel cared for and appreciated. They will tell their friends. Get it right and you won’t need to write “the customer is king” on your marketing materials, because they will already know it.

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Why do Companies Need a Good Business Strategy?

Michael Porter (The E-Myth) describes the journey most entrepreneurs go through as they charter the course of their business.

He describes the process as the owner becoming focussed on the operational aspects of the business (becoming a ‘technician’), which can be to the detriment to developing sound business strategy.

Michael Porter (Competitive Advantage) goes further as he argues that having a sound operational strategy is simply not enough. Companies must be flexible if they are to respond to the needs of an ever changing market place, and must develop core competencies if they are to stay ahead of the pack. They must not just focus on being operationally effective. Faced with this, what are the ingredients of good business strategy and why is it so important?

Being operationally sound should be a pre-requisite of any business. Simply to focus all efforts on having operational effectiveness is essential to any business, but will not in itself set it apart.

For the past decade managers have been focussed on making small improvements in operational strategy and this has heralded the rise of programmes such as TQM and BS5750. Many companies have adopted such approaches and so any potential marginal gains against those of competitors may be nullified.

The result of such myopic focus is to even out any potential advantage for any specific operator as all face static or declining prices and pressure on costs that compromise a companies’ ability to invest in the business in the long term.

Porter argues that being operational effective is a pre-requisite to business. In essence, as the gap in operational effectiveness narrows, companies are unable just to compete on the basis of only quality and price – they must adopt a more balanced strategy.

What is the Essence of a Good Strategy?

Having a good competitive strategy is essentially about being different in some way. For example, EasyJet offers short-haul flights, based on a low cost fares whereby the whole operation is geared to fast turnaround times, and no frills so that they can keep their planes flying longer each day. Its customers include business travellers, families and students.

The strategic positioning for EasyJet is in terms of price and convenience for travellers, but their competitive edge is in the way they combine their activities to make this work.

This is why BA and other ‘full-service’ carries cannot compete profitably in this sector.

Finding a strategic position is about finding a market niche that a company can service profitably. A good example is in the furniture retail sector where companies specialise in supplying a specific type of product e.g. World of Leather and Oak Furniture World. Others such as IKEA have found an edge by offering a range of home furnishing items of good design and function, excellent quality and durability, at prices so low that the majority of people can afford to buy them.

The competitive edge that IKEA then has is the way that it combines its activities to deliver this. They offer a vast choice but merchandise a limited product range in massive retail units and product is gathered in store in flat pack units and assembled by the customers. Porter calls these areas activity systems and says that these are at the heart of effective business strategy.

It is important to recognise that the differences in customer need (e.g. price) do not translate into a meaningful competitive position unless the best set of activities to achieve this are compatible. If this were not the case then every competitor would be able to meet the same needs.

Why do Companies Fail to Have an Effective Strategy

Business owners are faced with many choices and this impacts decision making as they try to eradicate any perceived loss in competitiveness. This may lead to them imitating everything about their competition which has the effect of damaging their own competitive edge. This is where often competition becomes the race to the lowest price.

Porter argues that effective business strategy delivers sustainable business advantage and is based upon the combination of the following:

  • Having a unique competitive position for the company
  • Where activities are tailored to fit the needs of the strategy
  • Where there are clear trade-offs and choices vis-à-vis the strategy of competitors
  • Where a competitive advantage arises from a fit across activities
  • Where sustainability comes for the activity system, not the parts
  • Where having operational effectiveness is a given.

It is leadership that is the vital ingredient to drive the review of strategy. Most companies owe their initial success position to a unique strategy position that will be copied by competitors over time.

The key challenge is to start over, and review which products and services are the most distinctive and profitable and to build the strategy around this as a hub.

Failure to develop a sound strategy will run the risk of having a ‘cookie cutting’ approach to business where the chances of long term sustainability and profitability are at risk.

To ensure you are taking the *correct* approach – speak to your local Icon Advisor. 

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Simple Stories That Help Us To Be More Successful

I wonder sometimes if suppliers, shops or service agencies actually want my business.

How many times have you bought something and the experience is one of complete indifference?

Over the years it has happened to me on a number of occasions – and guess what, I never go back, so they have lost my custom forever. I guess the reverse is also true when I buy something and actually feel that my custom is appreciated, that I receive service with a smile and the shop keeper wishes me good morning – I keep going back. AND moreover I talk to my friends, family and colleagues about both experiences, so there is a ripple effect.

It should not be difficult to understand this and yet in my own village I can point to at least 3 establishments that clearly don’t give a damn. The good news is I can also point to a number that do give a damn and I recommend them all the time.

Perception of Indifference

Today’s story is close to home as it happened to me at a local petrol station (I cannot disclose which one). I filled up with fuel and walked into the shop to pay and as I entered I picked up a chocolate bar. I approached the counter to find the attendant on a mobile phone. He would not make eye contact with me, but waved at me to put my card in the payment machine.

Not once did he apologise for chatting on the phone or make any effort to speak to me, it was like I was an inconvenience. He then realised that he had not charged me for the chocolate bar so gave me a disgusting look as he had to cancel the payment and start again – not once did he come off the phone, acknowledge me or say thank you for the business.

Of course I will never go back and he probably will not even acknowledge that he was being rude and unprofessional – his loss.

Indifference to your customers is one of the worst traits there is, you must ensure that you are always professional, polite and appreciative of their business. Make your customer feel valued and they will come back and probably tell others.

Consider your own purchases, which ones would you recommend to friends, family and colleagues – why is this. Think about how you can get your clients to recommend you by making them feel that you appreciate their business.

A smile or a thank you costs nothing but the value to the customer is massive.

Remember, if you are indifferent to your customer they will not be inclined to return and probably look elsewhere to buy.

Don't fall into this trap – ask for an independent view on your business, by contacting your local Icon Advisor now.

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Focus On Change

If you want to affect positive change in your business you need to focus on change in the beginning.

The only constant in the universe is change. Change is the one thing you can absolutely rely on and as such it should become your friend.
If change is an absolute, you must be focused on change in a positive way. You must focus on how you can activate change in a way that is always giving you and your business what you want.

Don’t let change overtake you and allow you to become its slave, as most business owners do. Do not fall victim to what they think is “unusual and unplanned events”.

You can control what happens in your universe, it’s just a matter of focusing on what you want and then go for it with 100% commitment.

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

The road less travelled is the one where you mould and construct your business with true purpose.

As an example, just imagine that you were to go on a car journey to a destination you have never been to before. One of the first things you would have is a map of how to get there.

As you travel along the way you may take small detours to put petrol in your car, see the odd sight etc. You would however eventually reach your destination.

Imagine you were to go on a journey to a destination you were unsure of, and you did not have a map. The question becomes – “would you make it?”

How would you know if you were on track or off track?

How would you know if you were heading for danger?

This is how most people run a business!

So what do you need?

You need a map of “your business plan”.

You need to know your destination and you need to be focused on getting there.

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