Categories
Entrepreneurship Leadership Start up Strategy

In the kingdom of the blind

The favorite saying of my boss of 15 years and mentor Des Miller. I find myself quoting this saying more often these days and each time I recall the many amazing lessons I learnt from Des.

All to often business tries to many activities at once, leading to nothing succeeding. Focus and dominating a particular market, really allows excellent execution.

A few weeks ago I was speaking to someone I competed with in business nearly a decade ago and he recalled the outstanding success for the product and market, he said he would not even compete, even though he worked for a gorilla business, as the business I worked for owned the domain.

In the telco sector there are few that own a niche. Regional players, sector players ie hotels, schools and one that specialised in 1-50 employees in business and nailed the proposition. In a market where Managed service providers and Information technology providers are owning the customer, the challenge for the pure carriers is clear. Again the lesson is relevant: What piece of the kingdom are you going to own?

In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

Categories
Book Quotes Coaching Entrepreneurship Influence Personal development Strategy

The Challenger Spirt

This book was given to me by one of my team. I love reading and learning, so there is no better gift.

challenger2_smaller

The Challenger Spirit book written by Khurshed Dehnugara and Claire Genkai Breeze, is a book written before its time. The key to being a challenger is ‘does it have to be like this?’ https://relume.co.uk/the-challenger-spirit/

Claire starts with two lasting influences on her life ‘your work is your love made visible’ by Khalil Gibran and the 5th century Philo ‘be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle’

The book is full of gems and sections of questions to ask yourself, very thought provoking. The highlights for me:

  • Our sales teams are service oriented with up selling and cross sale being a spin off from a conversation rather than the purpose of the conversation.
  • Establishment leaders v’s Challenger Leaders: Establishment leaders have four blindfolds: Arrogance, Avoidance, Agreement and Antagonism. The book describes each one and how it shows up.
  • Challenger organisations and their leaders are more likely to fail when they imitate rather than disturb their establishment competitors. They fail when they default to what is already known to be successful.
  • The process of constant feedback and alteration in your brain only begins to slow down in your eight decade
  • Once you have made some positive and bold choices created your dream together and engaged people in it, the uncertainty of the environment quickly becomes much easier to navigate

The chapter on growing old disgracefully is all about staying lean and hungry. And what good looks like: say what you believe regardless of political implications. The way you deliver it is the key to success as I have learnt over the years in corporate.

I have always been a challenger, in every aspect of my life. I live by the saying “if it not scary its not worth doing’ and my purpose is all about challenging others to operate outside their comfort zones.  

This book is all about how to challenge well and even when the norms of the establishment look like a better way to get on in your career, staying true to what you believe and your values is the right thing to do and always deliver the best outcome for your company.

Categories
Career Change Entrepreneurship Personal development Start up

Five steps to a successful start up

You have a software application written and you are excited by the opportunity to start your own business. Launching it is not enough, to successfully secure sales you need know your market.

History has proved that marketing is the key to launching a successful business, you can have the best solution, but marketing wins. Once that stands out for me was SQL and Nested database. The latter is superior for scale, simplicity, yet SQL won the business. The alternative is a slow burn of referrals, which can work, but takes time.

So here are the steps:

Target market: Who are you selling to? What is their demographic? How do you get to the target audience(what do they read, what apps do they use)? Why are they buying?

Knowing how you reach your target audience is critical and knowing why they would buy your product?

How to?

1. Get a database of your target audience. There are many options to gaining access to a database:

  1. Utilise a company with same target audience: ie customer segmentation, industry segment and/ or regional. Set up a referral fee in exchange for using their database. If B2B business to Business then buy a list: Illion, Core logic, listing company Or: Building your own database, utilise the internet for research
  2. Dont proceed to step 1 without knowing who is your target audience. You will waste money and time, both precious.

2. Whats your message? Why are your target audience interested?

  1. Why use your product?
  2. Testimonials from exisiting customers
  3. Referrals. Will your customers refer to other customers
  4. Social media, connect with Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
  5. PR; utilise a PR company in your sector, to get the message out their.
  6. Note: Educating a new market is not for the faint hearted, definitely for organisations with deep pockets. If people don’t get it and you are not making sales, relook at the offering and your target audience. Jeffrey Moors book “Crossing the Chasm” describes early adopters in his book. Basically you need to look for risk takers

3. Easy to buy from

  1. Once you have steps 1 and 2 nailed, can your target audience order your product simply and easily. If its too complicated, then you will not secure the business even if step 1 and 2 are executed well.
  2. How many prospects have abandoned the process in coming on board, as it is to complex.

4. Build a business plan and cash flow and take it out to your network to test the above. Is the target marker large enough? Sold some niche products in my time and one the target market in Australia was 400 companies, only 10% come to the market annually and have a 10 year lifespan. Even if you won 100% of 40 Companies is that enough revenue to deliver the profit you are looking for?

This is a great opportunity to tweak your plans before going ahead for real.

5. Press the button, register the company and execute your plans.

Categories
Book Quotes Career planning Entrepreneurship Influence Leadership Strategy

Your a CEO of business working for the owners of the business and you are ready to move on.

Your a CEO of business with non execs that own the business and you are ready to move on, as you feel stifled. You love the business and you believe the business has great potential. You are restrained by the founders and owners, you are ready to do something else.

Owners who create, built and grow the business after many years decide to step back due to retirement, other business opportunities, personal circumstance and appoint CEO. The CEO is limited by the law of lid. First chapter of John Maxwell’s book on the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership  https://www.amazon.com/21-Irrefutable-Laws-Leadership-Anniversary/dp/078528837621 irrefutable. Often the CEO is restricted in where he/she takes the business due to the founders expectations, thinking and interference in the daily business.

Over time the CEO becomes frustrated and look outside for a new career opportunity, when the answer could be to look at alternative ownership structures for the business. The owners may want to sell out, realise their investment and they are looking for exit, as CEO you can facilitate by an industry buy out, private equity sale or a management buy out.

Each needs a thorough understanding of the market and the opportunity for the buyer. It’s a time to call on your network for assistance, advice and introductions. Once you have researched the possibilities, then approach the owners for their support.

The worst that can happen is the owners are not interested in selling business, the only thing you have lost is time. On the other hand if they are keen you are now running your own business.

The alternative to leaving may very well be the best opportunity to back yourself and give back to the owners.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Influence Intrepenuership Leadership Personal development Sponsor Strategy

Opportunity to work abroad

working abroad (2)At age 44 I had the opportunity to work abroad with an Australian company that I had worked for for 4 years. I set up the European arm of Quofore a mobiles apps solution for Consumer Goods field representatives and we had done very well, so I was invited to come to Australia and become Managing Director for APAC.

Personally I have grown as a result, especially the opportunity to expand in to Asia, where my team landed a large contract with Unilever in China for 10,000 mobile users across 2000 cities. Ten years on, this is the success I am most proud of.  The reason:

  • Setting up a business in China of which I am extremely appreciative of all the advice and support from Austrade.
  • Delivering one of the most successful ROI projects for Unilever globally
  • Delivering a complex project in less than 10 months.

In Quofore I had worked with the global CEO and CFO for over 15 years, I had extreme trust and I was treated always exceptionally well.

Since joining corporate which I did just over 7 years ago I have had similar opportunities. In July last year I was given an opportunity to drive a new segment of the business, something I had been doing as a side project. My new boss backed me gave me a team and said there is no one more driven than you to make it work. This opportunity was to grow a $300 million business from 0 in the next three years.

I was amazed at the number of people who said to me, why are you taking on this opportunity you had a far more prestigious role before managing a team looking after the larger accounts.  Seven months on those same people, now get it. Proving yourself through taking calculated risks that are high profile is a great way to get noticed.  I am indebted to my boss for supporting me and creating the opportunity.

Categories
Coaching Entrepreneurship Influence Intrepenuership Leadership Strategy

How do you construct and deliver strategy ?

Over the years I have experimented with the construction and delivery of strategy.  In the fast changing world we live in, we must always be prepared to revisit or evolve our strategies.

Here are the 6 steps to setting a strategy and delivering a strategy:

  1. Seek Feedback. Seek feedback from your peers, boss, Prospects, Customers and Suppliers: What do you need to focus on?  What is the CEO’s vision for the business in the years ahead? How are others responding to the vision?  Seek out their inputs into what you need to be focused on. What are the priorities by stakeholder? Where is the overlap?  Distil into 3 to 4 key areas. If you can note a couple of key activities required for each.
  2. Run a strategy session: Go to the widest audience possible to share the key areas and flush out the detail.  I sent a note to hundreds of employees across the business on the basis only 40% would turn up. That was true, but even better the spread across the business and the delight of being invited to participate was overwhelming. I was told I was mad to invite so many, but my strategy was validated with externals who knew the value of engagement early.  The input and energy in the room was incredible and my Strategic plan when I walked away, had been challenged in way not possible if you are limited to your immediate peers and team. The credit team had never been involved in this way before in building strategy and felt they could influence the direction and support what was happening.
  3. Develop plan on the page. You have now got enough on your 3-4 pillars of strategy to have a high level plan and what you expect to achieve.  This is not a final version, because has you navigate each pillar you will continue to learn and develop the strategy.
  4. Check in with stakeholders (peers, boss, Customers, Suppliers) Check in with the plan on the page, understand from them data points, potential risks, so that you go to the next stage which is putting the plan into action.  Continue to check in quarterly with stakeholders to ensure you are on the right track and also get feedback on progress.
  5. Monthly bulletin/ Webinar Once you are underway, you need to communicate, communicate communicate. How your team is progressing? What are the insights? What help you need?  Go far and wide, as people in large corporate are so removed from what is happening in other areas, they are keen to know and often keen to support.  Don’t limit your thinking, as the inputs and support can come from far and wide. Continually reference the 3-4 pillars. It helps people understand where the activity and insights fit into your strategy.  The structure helps everyone understand what your team is doing and how it fits into the overall plan.
  6. Your Team The most important part of delivering the strategy. Working closely on their plan how it aligns to the pillars of the strategy. Empower them to lead initiatives in the strategy, including evolving with peers. This is a great stretch for your team.

Remember no one expects you to have all the answers, the reason for sharing strategy far and wide is for it to be challenged and it to evolve into a highly successful vehicle for delivering a key strategy to the business.  Sharing as you learn with your wider audience takes everyone on the journey, easy to digest in small chunks of learning, as opposed to brain dump when you have worked on a pillar of strategy for over 6 months.

Being able to develop and delivery strategy to a business is a key leadership skill.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Leadership Personal development

How to start an advisory board for your business?

On a recent mentor walks I was asked by three female entrepreneurs on when and how to start an advisory board.

Lets start with the Why have an advisory board? Here are are the reasons for starting an advisory board:

Advisory board

    1. Broader skill set of advice ie Governance, Risk, Investment. Can also be achieved by contracting specialist advice
      2. Transi

tion from owner to employing a Managing Director

    3. Accelerate growth of the business
    4. Expand the network
    5. Raise the profile, by association with the advisory board members, tap into their network
      6. You recognise you are limiting the growth of the business by your thinking:here is the sum

mary on the Law of lid https://hgimnetwork.org/2015/01/book-summary-the-21-irrefutable-laws-of-leadership-by-john-maxwell-part-1/

When should you start the advisory board?

  • When the business is growing and you as an owner need advice on what to do next?
  • When you about to make a step change in the business?
  • You have a plan for growth and need advice or support on how to achieve it?

How do you go about establishing the advisory board? Finding the right people that compliment you is key:

  • Look at the gaps in skills in your organisation
  • Are the gaps in diversity?
  • Look at advisory members with a network which will help you drive business
  • What do you need for the future growth, does the advisory member understand what is needed to make that step change.
  • Are you prepared to pay the advisory board? This will determine you can attract.
  • Ensure they have completed the Australian Institute of company directors course and exam
  • Consider mentors who have guided you through the early stages of setting up the business.

Here are all the organisations that advertise for advisory board members:

https://www.womenonboards.net/en-au/home: paid and unpaid

https://aicd.companydirectors.com.au/ paid and Not for profit(NFP) unpaid only

https://www.directorinstitute.com.au/

Also ask your network, they are probably already supporting you, mentoring, making introductions and advising.

Payment or non-payment? Many execs who are looking to transition will support you for nothing to begin with, but as the business grows then be prepared to pay for their time. Also be prepared that the people you bring on to the advisory board initially may not be right for the long haul.