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As the year draws to a very quick close I just wanted to say a brief thank you to those of you who follow my work and contribute to my world in ways that you probably don't realise. For the feedback, working in partnership with you on your business and the ongoing connection...thank you!
I have enclosed one article in particular here that deals with the wearyness experienced by many at this time of year and also another that was the year in review (from my perspective) - what the successful businesses did well.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a truly refreshing break and looking forward to journeying 2014 with you.
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ARE WE THERE YET?
Weary from the year that's been? Some practical advice heading into the New Year.
times have you been on a road trip with children and heard that constant
question that gratingly gets on your nerves – “are we there yet?”. If you’re
like me you want to answer with, “of course not or we’d be...there” Kids, knowing the potential fun to be had at
the destination get weary in the waiting, the journey itself. I think business
owners are not to dissimilar.
I have heard
the question many times over the years - “We’ve tried various things to bring
about changes in our business but nothing seems to change. We seemed destined
to stay where we are rather than get to where we want to be - will we ever get
there?” They’re tired, disheartened and often at breaking point – either from
stress or from hope that has turned to disappointment.
If you are
one of those who are travel worn, here a few things that might bring a fresh
sense of hope for the coming year. It is a simple five stage process that I
have seen work time and time again. Simple upon initial glance, often
challenging in the follow through.
define or re-define your ideal
destination. Take a pen and in one or two sentences write down where the ideal place
is that you’d like to arrive.
obstacles Make a list of all the current obstacles that are blocking your progress.
Examples might include:
whole business is reliant on ‘me’
staff don’t care or we are understaffed
enough money; poor cashflow
for new jobs are low
obstacle identification Identify from the list, the one or two areas that have the potential to
affect some of the others. In the list above, I would potentially focus on
getting my staff on track (or off the track completely) ensuring I have people
beside me who willingly shoulder responsibility thus taking the full reliance
off myself. This in turn will free me to focus on driving more enquiries thus
increasing the financial returns of the company.
4. Implementation If you don’t proceed with this step, all activity above is a waste of
time. Schedule time whether daily or weekly to get to work on removing the
obstacles, driving change through your business
5. Accountability Whether a peer, friend, your accountant , external consultant etc,
establish a regular check in time with someone who will hold you accountable,
both to what you said you would do and your weekly implementation activity.
Easy to say,
harder to do – yes! However, I have seen over the years that those who follow
this process, never taking their eye off the destination, and committing
themselves to the process, not only enjoy the journey more but have a much
higher chance of arriving at the
destination. It might not be the original planned end point but nevertheless,
they say the journey in the mean time got a whole lot better.
Being involved in business improvement and
consulting in various industries, from capital city retail stores through to trade
services in mining country, has given me a good vantage point to observe what
various businesses across different markets did and did not do well in 2013.
This article looks at what the successful businesses did.
People Investment in both time and money on the
people front was a key trait of successful companies this year. From recruitment through to training and
managing their teams, the investment demonstrated significant returns. A few
They spent significantly more time on the
upfront recruitment process ensuring the new recruit not only had the technical
abilities but demonstrated enthusiasm and cultural fit with the organisation
They would rather wait for the right person
instead of just ‘plugging a hole’
Outbound recruitment was also noticeable in
that they actively sought out potential candidates who would be a likely fit
The successful companies were more likely to
eat together on a regular basis. The sense of ‘team’ reflected this
Managers and leaders weren’t afraid to keep
their people accountable, demonstrating what I have termed ‘tough love
They recognised that there is no line between
personal and business. Their people are ‘whole people’ and they are willing to
work with them on all fronts to ensure peak performance
They were willing to let the wrong people off
Financial and Key Data As in every year the successful businesses
placed a high emphasis on the collation, analysis and improvement initiatives
that came from key data and reporting processes. They have simple but very effective systems
to both analyse and make changes in real time. These companies also had a good
ability to focus on front end sales, cost control and the resulting profitability.
Whether it was financial information,
job lead times, customer satisfaction levels etc, knowing what was happening along with constant improvements gave
these companies an increased sense of control and progress.
With the dramatic increase of online research and decision making by consumers
over the past few years, the successful companies are investing both time and
money in their web and social media strategies. Statistics from the US, as
quoted by Forbes, show that in 2005 only 8% of the population were using social
media. In 2013, 72% are now utilising this stream of communication. Australia’s
Telstra said that “compared
to 2012, the proportion of online Australians who use social media has
increased 3 per cent to 65 per cent.” The companies making significant inroads in their marketing
are more likely to segment their market and then design the marketing strategy
accordingly. I’ve noticed that many have established new websites or upgraded
their existing ones and moved into the social media area (some with fear and
trembling). They might feel out of their
depth but they are embracing change and willing to think more broadly than they
have in the past employing though, a
sniper like focus on their key buyers.
and Process Streamlining
The embracing of technology was noted in the more progressive companies this
past year. Whether it was the integration of new technology and systems, or the
tweaking of what was already in place, the successful companies invested in making
things easier for both their customers and their companies internal processes.
Coupled with this implementation and integration, they were more likely to
review peoples roles within the organisation, allocating the appropriate tasks and
responsibilities to match those technology process points. Utilising
technology, the alignment of the right people to the various process points
along with minimising waste in their administrative processes often came with
significant shifts. One first-hand observation I
had was a company reducing its quoting time by 50% and its ‘job complete to
invoice sent’ time by 75%.
Leadership In my personal opinion, all the above
observations and successes sit firmly on the shoulders of management. Here are some points worth considering:
successful business owners and managers are leaders not followers
an abundance mentality when it comes to their staff. They won’t capitulate to
the whims and dictates of employees. If staff don’t like it, they know there is
someone else who will fill their shoes and they aren't afraid to communicate
people know that the leader cares but that business comes first
not afraid to make tough decisions
their decisions quickly and not given to procrastination
think and act
leaders are more likely to invest for the longer term even if it means a
profitability downgrade in the shorter term
opportunistic with an infectious positivity and determination that pervades the
Aside from the efficiency consulting work I do, I have decided to release a new coaching program in 2014 called IGNITION Coaching. It is a nine month program and details can be downloaded by clicking here.
Updated: Trades, Mining and Industrial Mentoring Program
"Ray has been an excellent guide and mentor over the past couple of years. His insights into certain aspects of our business have given us a clear direction and focus for the future." From Darren Hart (Accountant)
Apéritifs are generally served prior to the meal, said to stimulate the appetite. I find they are are also useful as a palate cleanser prior to eating. There are a number of different beverages used and tend to be on the drier side. One of the drinks I have used for this purpose since a trip through Italy a few years back is Campari. Served generally with soda water and lemon it is quite bitter but for those who enjoy the 'bitter side of life' can be a sweet thing. Aperol is another from the same family, a touch sweeter, less alcohol and served again with soda and orange peel among many other combinations. Great for this time of year and a colourful addition to the dining experience.
(Graphic sourced from Wikipedia authored by BambooBeast)
On a recent trip back from LA, I was hitching up my full length compression stockings mid flight as I had lost the belt that holds them up. The hostess was talking to me at the bar while I was hitching them back into place, and told me I should get 'skins' like hers (which incidentally were pink.) First time in my life I have ever done stocking comparisons.
"Having worked with Ray on numerous simPRO customer sites he always seems to be able to find and drive the efficiency gains our customers are look for. He Identifies any bottlenecks in their processes and realigning their workflows with simPRO and the correct personnel within the organisation to carry out the tasks to create a very efficient end to end process."
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