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Author Archives: Nigel Greenwood


BuBul isn’t just some clever software – it’s a community of likeminded subject matter experts who are here to help others avoid the mistakes they have made!

One of the first experts to sign up was the amazing Louise Turner – wordsmith and award writer supremo!

Watch the video to learn more about her:

 

If you would like to know more about entering (and winning!) awards, you can contact Louise at louise@wordsmiths-unlimited.co.uk.

The word innovation seems to be everywhere these days. Seemingly every article we read about business includes comments about the importance of innovation, usually alongside a reference to growth. Growth of the economy. Growth of turnover. Growth of profitability. It is not a coincidence, innovation and growth are inextricably linked.

What do we even mean by innovation? There are hundreds of competing definitions of innovation and the following versions hint at the differences between authors in terms of focus and perspective:

  • ‘Turning an idea into a solution that adds value from a customer’s perspective’
  • ‘A feasible relevant offering such as a product, service, process, or experience with a viable business model that is perceived as new and is adopted by customers’
  • ‘A great idea, executed brilliantly, and communicated in a way that is both intuitive and fully celebrates the magic of the initial concept’
  • ‘The introduction of new products and services that add value to the organisation’

 

Since every business or organization is different, innovation will inevitably mean different things to different people, so the broader the definition, the better from our perspective.

At RTC North we generally view innovation as involving a new product, service, system, process, or business model. It is a simple definition which assumes that the innovation is based on new ideas or fresh thinking and that it adds value, or in other words, we are not pursuing innovation for the sake of it or tinkering with no strategic purpose.

It is perhaps easiest to understand what innovation involves by reviewing well known examples of successful innovation. The internet is full of articles from authorities like Forbes magazine listing famous companies such as Amazon, Rolls Royce, or Apple alongside lesser-known examples such as Procter and Gamble, L’Oréal and Pernod Ricard.

Innovative companies are constantly evolving as they investigate fresh ideas and pursue new services and products to present to the market. They are committed to innovation and associated research and development. They are adept at spotting trends and learning how best to meet emerging market requirements, but they also understand that not every project or product will be a success.

What innovation looks like in practice varies greatly. Historically, some sectors have embraced innovation far better than others, but the textbooks tell us that there are broadly four types of innovation.

Disruptive innovation gets investors excited since it involves an innovation that disrupts the market by displacing long-standing, established competitors. The disruption can either involve using a low-cost business model to enter the bottom of an existing market or new-market disruption where a business seizes a new market segment. Amazon, launched as an online bookstore in the mid-1990s, is an example of disruptive innovation.

Incremental innovation is something we come across in our everyday lives as it focuses on marginal improvements to what already exists rather than creating entirely new products or services. Examples might be a drinks manufacturer adding a new flavour to their range or a low sugar version of an existing drink. Incremental innovation involves gradual, often continuous, improvement, and can be viewed as a series of small steps rather than giant leaps forward.

Sustaining innovation involves a company creating better-performing products to sell for higher prices to existing customers. It is typically a strategy used by successful companies to pursue higher profit margins and examples might be computer manufacturers creating laptops that sell at a premium to desktop computers or phone manufacturers offering ever larger and more sophisticated mobile phones to an audience willing to pay for the increased flexibility that the enhanced product provides.

Radical innovation involves a transformative business model that changes the relationship between customers and suppliers by destroying an existing industry or creating a whole new one.  In the process of creating a new market for their product, radical innovators may change parts of the system, the processes of the system, or both, and the innovation is often underpinned by technology.

So which type of innovation should your company aim for if you are starting from scratch? That will depend on the markets a company operates in and the overall business strategy along with the skills and resources available. What is more important is that management and staff share the appreciation that standing still in a fast-moving market / economy is not an option, and that embracing innovation at all levels of the organisation is the best recipe for future success. The commonly held belief is that baking innovation into the DNA of the business should eventually result in competitive advantage

The good news is that most organisations don’t need to be told to innovate because they are doing it already. Just think about the new products or services that your business has recently introduced, or the changes to the systems and processes by which you are delivering them to the market. However, existing innovation often needs further support, resources, or recognition to reach its full potential so periodically stepping back and assessing where you are, where you are going, and what you still need to do is no bad thing.

If the thought of cost and time associated with innovation frightens you, just think about the alternatives. Take a good look around you and think about the many stagnant and uninspiring businesses that have failed over the years. Remind yourself that one of those could be your business if you do not value, support, encourage, and nourish innovation. Build innovation into your strategy and budgets, include it in meeting agendas, reward successful ideas and initiatives at all levels, and take pride in doing things differently.

Innovation is not always easy, but it is always vital, and if you need assistance, we recommend seeking support from local experts.

RTC North are experts in growth and innovation, for further information about services why not visit our website – www.rtcnorth.co.uk.

For more general business advice why not sign up to BuBul – over 70 subject matter experts for just £20 a month?

Refinance: a gamechanger for business growth

Whether its reading business publications, podcasts or messages shared at conferences and events, ‘growth’ is a concept that is on everyone’s lips… You should be growing your business!! What are you doing to grow your business? Growth, growth, growth…

For some businesses growth isn’t desirable and for others it can be a goal that seems difficult to achieve. In this current climate, some businesses are hunkering down and happy with maintaining their current client base, but if growth is for you, how are you going to achieve it?

Using finance to fund growth through acquisition

Recently I have noticed that businesses seem to be favouring acquiring another business as opposed to trying to grow organically. There are many articles written about the pros and cons of organic versus acquisition growth such as: https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/business-strategy-planning/manage-growth/organic-growth-mergers-acquisitions-choosing-right-growth-strategy

I guess it boils down to personal and/or professional preference about which you feel is best.

With this in mind, businesses for sale that have lots of assets can be a blessing in disguise for a potential buyer. That’s because it’s possible for buyers to refinance the assets of the business they want to buy and use the money to help pay for a portion of, or even the whole, business acquisition.

Of course, whether you can secure the funding depends on the assets and plenty of other factors, but this kind of financing can work quite well in the right circumstances. Find out more here.

Imagine a business that has several machines, a few trucks, and several vans that they own outright. These assets have a market value and, depending on their age and usage, could be used to release a significant amount of money to finance the business purchase. This scenario can be applied in several business sectors.

Affordable finance to help grow your business

Looking at this simplistically, securing finance against the existing assets of a new business you want to buy may make buying it more affordable as you would be paying a smaller monthly figure over a set period of time rather than having to find a large sum or even raiding cashflow and leaving a big hole in your current bank balance, with associated uncertainty that would bring.

 How long would arranging funding take?

 If growth by acquisition is your ‘thing’, funding the purchase this way could be an excellent, and relatively swift, method to acquire a competitor. It is easier and quicker than you think and could be a real game changer. The only thing you would need to do is your due diligence.

Once you have decided to progress the purchase of the business it can, worst case scenario, take up to 8 working days to have the funds released.

What other collateral would I need to secure the funding?

It is typical for underwriters to expect a Director’s Guarantee when conducting a refinance. Basically, this means that the director(s) agree to service the agreement in the event that the business be unable to make the payments.

However, would you be buying a business where you didn’t think that you could cover all the costs and make a profit? Therefore, if due diligence is conducted properly, this should mean that the guarantee is never called upon.

Refinance can be a very powerful mechanism to raise cash in general and, in this case, could potentially help your business take the next step forward. Something to consider for sure.

If you want to learn more about how this could work for you, please give our expert James a call on 07703 188167 to arrange a chat and a coffee.

When you are starting your own business, it’s an exciting time and it’s easy to get carried away!

Unfortunately, the majority of new businesses fail – and most do so because of money (well, the lack of it anyway!).

So how do you stop yourself being a failure statistic?

The first thing is to stop and plan – take some time to work your finances out. This can be frustrating when you are eager to get started but it’s critical!

Start by deciding if you are going to work fulltime on the business or start just in your spare time. If you are going to start whilst you still have another job it can make managing the finances much easier but it will take longer to build your business! Either way, you need to carefully work out how much money you need personally to live on each month. Write down all your monthly bills (including food, fuel, social spending etc) and don’t forget to allow for saving each month for holidays and annual bills such as car insurance.

You should now have an amount that you know you need to arrive in your bank account each month. If you’re going to get that from your current job (and you will continue doing it!), that’s great because it means you don’t need to start taking a wage from your new business just yet.

If you will work in the business fulltime or will reduce the hours you currently work to get your business started then you now know how much you will need to take from your new business each month.

Now the bad news!

Don’t expect the new business to start making money straight away. That means you need to have some savings you can draw from each month that you can live on until the business can afford to pay what you need. This is the mistake that many new business owners make – they think their idea is brilliant, that people will start buying immediately and that the money will start rolling in – but real life isn’t like that!

Make sure you have enough money saved so you don’t have to rely on any from your business for at least 6 months – ideally up to a year. This removes a lot of stress from setting up your business and makes it much more likely that it will succeed!

But that isn’t the end of planning your finances. You now need to work out how much it will cost to set your business up – what equipment, premises, resources and supplies do you need? What insurance will you have to buy? What will you have to spend on marketing to get the business going? Don’t forget things like laptops, banners, business cards, stationery as they all add up!

So, to summarise:

Running out of money is the reason most new businesses fail. You can avoid this by carefully planning your finances before you start – even though you are really keen to get going!

 

Good luck!

 

Preparing Your Team For Your Exit

 

An exit strategy is a vital part of running a business and you’d be surprised how few business owners plan their departure. It is not solely about generating the most value out of your business and having your books in order, your management team need to be prepared for what is next. It is never too early to start planning and you should aim to begin around three to five years before your exit.

Objectives

Know your objectives, know what you want from your exit and how much you want for your business.

  • Do you want to sell your business to a trade competitor?
  • Is a family member or your management team going to take over your business?
  • Is your business ready for sale?
  • Do you want to exit completely, or to stay involved – as Chair, or a consultant, perhaps?

Answering these questions will help to influence your exit strategy. Set your goals and stick to them, there is no shame in saying no to a deal that you do not want.

Communicate

When planning your exit, you need to know how to communicate your plans to your team. It is vital that you know the right people to communicate to and the right time to tell them. You don’t want to spook your team by telling them too early when they haven’t been properly prepared. They may fear that their job security is on the line and panic, especially if you’re selling to an external buyer.

Become Redundant

Make yourself as redundant to the business as possible before you leave. Minimise the impact of your departure by sharing your responsibilities with trusted members of your management team. Prepare them for what is next and help them to understand the next steps. Show them that without you the business can continue to run smoothly. Transfer your knowledge and experience over to your successors so they are ready to keep the business running. Passing your insight will not only allow the business to survive but thrive after your exit.

Training Programmes

Provide extra training for your team and offer leadership courses to help them feel safer and more comfortable in taking your responsibilities after you have left. By providing new learning opportunities, you can prepare your management team to transition into your role smoothly reducing any stress they may be feeling.

Don’t Forget Your Customers

When planning your exit, you must keep in mind your customers. If they find out you’re leaving, they may panic, think the business is failing and go to one of your competitors. Reassure them that everything is going to keep running efficiently and that your management team can deliver quality service at the highest standards. Pass on any key customers that you deal with to your management team before you exit as part of your preparation and guarantee that they are in safe hands.

A well-prepared team will help increase the value of your business and ensure that it survives and thrives once you have exited. Accountants and lawyers will help with the financial and legal aspects of your exit and have a vital role to play in shaping the actual transaction, but generally don’t offer the specialist help needed to identify and develop your successors. Nor are they likely to be involved early enough to help with objective planning. Researching external advisors and consultants that can help you, and appointing them at the right time, is an important part of the exit planning process. They will help you to set realistic objectives, and coach you throughout the exit process ensuring that not only you are prepared, but your business and your people are too.

 

If you’d like to have a chat with an expert about planning your exit strategy (and if you haven’t thought about it yet, you should!) get in touch with Peter Quintana at HGKC (Peter.Quintana@hgkc.co.uk) and if you’d like more advice on all aspects of your business it’s available from over 70 subject matter experts here

 

 

Our BuBul awards expert, Louise Turner of Awards Writers, has helped hundreds of people and companies claim their glory through awards. Here are her tips about how to prove your case if you run a small businesses and are considering entering awards.

 

If you want to win an award, you’re going to need to prove that you deserve it. And that comes down to numbers.

As an experienced judge, I’ve seen plenty of award entries which tell a great tale, but just don’t back it up with evidence.

But as a small business without the need for extensive board reporting, KPIs, dashboards and other analysis, what numbers could you use?

As with many things, the answer is – it depends. And what it depends on, is what kind of category you’re interested in entering.

Awards for small business growth

If you want a trophy for growth or success, the headline evidence is fairly obviously going to be turnover and profit. This might seem like telling Grandma how to suck eggs, but I have genuinely judged award entries in growth categories without these metrics in them.

Other numbers you could include to evidence growth include:

  • Employees
  • Clients, and the number of new clients
  • Client tenure – how long do your clients stick around? Has the average length of time increased?
  • Locations – whether that’s offices or sites

 

Awards for best employer

With recruitment so tricky in every industry right now, being able to say you’re an award-winning employer could help with what corporates call “employer brand” – how potential employees view you.

The kinds of numbers you’ll need to be able to present in an award entry include:

  • How many people in your team
  • Churn – how often do people leave?
  • Average employee tenure – how long do people stay with you?
  • Number of internal promotions
  • Sickness absence rates
  • Numbers about any benefits you offer, including holidays, volunteering days, pension contributions, Employee Assistance Programmes or other schemes
  • Team engagement rates, or other numbers from staff surveys (if you don’t do one, it might be worth looking into)

Numbers aren’t the whole deal of course, so you’ll also need to demonstrate your strategy for being a great employer. What do you consciously do that’s better than similar organisations? How do you know it’s what your team wants and values? How have you benchmarked your business against other similar ones?

 

For everything else…

The biggest thing you need to focus on when it comes to metrics and data is impact. How can you prove that what you’ve done has made a difference? How you define that is totally dependent on what you do, but here’s a way to think about it.

If you run a facilities team in a hospital, you might have a target to change lightbulbs in theatres within 30 minutes of them being reported as having blown. If you wanted an award for your team or that part of your service, you might choose to say that you meet your target 98% of the time. But is that the impact of you changing that lightbulb?

I’d argue not. The impact of changing the lightbulbs swiftly is enabling potentially life-saving surgery to go ahead. So if you’ve improved from 85% to 98%, you need to do a calculation about how much longer the theatres can be in use as a result, and show the judges how many extra hours of surgery you have enabled, which will also have an impact on waiting lists.

It’s an extreme example, but it’s the difference between 9/10 people said the training course was great, and 95% of people were still implementing what they had learned six months later.

Thinking carefully about the data you’ll need for a future award entry now could really improve your chances when you’re ready to submit. So, what else do you need to measure to help impress the judges?

 

Entering and winning awards is a great way to publicise your business and win more customers. Why not have a chat with Louise to see how she can help you?

E: Louise@wordsmiths-unlimited.co.uk

It’s now time to prepare your business for the Analogue & ISDN telephone line switch-off!

It was back in November 2017 that BT first announced that they were planning to switch off their PSTN and ISDN services in 2025. This was a massive announcement with the news that traditional phone systems would no longer operate after that switch-off.

The PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) is made up of various protocols including all Analogue phone lines and all ISDN digital phone lines (Integrated Services Digital Network). These two products have supported business and domestic services for decades and the impact of the announced switch off was significant! The design of Analogue phone lines dates back to the 1800’s whilst ISDN Digital Services have been with us since the 1980’s. Now that we are fast approaching the withdrawal of PSTN and ISDN services, businesses should plan to move away from these ‘end of life’ phone lines as soon as possible.

The experience of working through the Covid Lockdowns has shown business how inadequate PSTN & ISDN were in supporting home working, so the rush is already on to look at alternative telephone and communication solutions that will firstly protect against the switch off and secondly, provide businesses with a reliable, cost effective solution for our new, hybrid way of working.

Is it just Analogue & ISDN lines that are affected?

Unfortunately not, ADSL broadband services along with FTTC broadband (Fibre to the Cabinet), will also need changing as these rely on Analogue copper wires for their connection. Other products also need to be checked as these too may be reliant on Analogue lines – such as:
• PDQ – Credit Card machines
• Analogue modems
• Franking Machines
• Workshop Bells / Sirens / Lights
• Security Alarms
• Fire Alarms
• CCTV
• Lift Lines

If any of the above are in use in your business, these will need replacing.

Will my Business be affected by the Analogue & ISDN Switch-off?

The impacts of the switch-off are already being felt and this is only going to get worse!
The completion date of 2025 is in many people’s minds, a long way off. However, the effects have already impacted many businesses. BT have already started the implementation of “stop-sell” in many areas, whereby certain exchanges have already been upgraded and can no longer support any additions or changes to the Analogue or Digital Services being provided. This means that while the old legacy lines will continue to remain in place until switch-off, a complete upgrade is the only option should any changes be required.

What is the replacement option for Analogue & ISDN Lines?

Most of us are used to using the internet to watch TV, browse the Web, send and receive e-mails and make video calls – telecommunications is no different.

Cloud Telephony (sometimes called VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, SiP), uses the internet to carry voice calls just as it does for video calls.

Because Cloud phone systems are located ‘in the cloud’ rather than in an office, they allow a fully ‘Unified Communication’ solution meaning that telephone calls can be delivered between deskphones, smartphones, softphones (on a PC / Mac), cordless handsets and headsets so providing an ideal solution for remote and hybrid working.

Cloud telephony can be a low cost solution for both the larger organisation and the smallest micro business as it isn’t reliant on any hardware located in the client premises.

How can I learn more and prepare for the PSTN switch-off?

Speak to someone who knows the telecoms industry really well and can advise you on what solutions are available. Not only will you need to consider an IP (Cloud) solution for your telephony to protect yourself against the switch-off, but you will also need to consider what type of Internet connection you have?

1. Is your current broadband affected by the switch-off (such as ADSL or FTTC)?

2. Can your current connection support both voice and data, or is a second connection required?

Finally, many in the industry believe that the huge volume of businesses and organisations that still haven’t made plans are such that there may not be enough resource to support the massive migration that’s needed before switch-off.

There’s no doubt that towards the end of 2024 and into 2025, there will be a strain on those supplying, supporting and installing replacement services.

There is positive news however; the replacement option of Cloud Telephony offers a much greater range of features that were previously not possible with the older technology and in addition, these are nearly always at a lower cost than the previous solution.

If you would like any help or advice from the author of this article, feel free to make contact – jeff.c@time-tele.com.

Jeffrey Cohen has been working in the telecommunication industry since April 1995 and has seen the transition from Analogue to ISDN Digital telephony and now to IP Telephony.

Time Communications has been supplying telephony to its clients across the country since February 2001.

Energy Price Cap, what it means and what it doesn’t mean

The new Prime Minister recently announced that there is going to be an
energy Price Cap which will last for the next two years.

What does this mean?

It means that the variable tariff and standing charge which providers apply to
their customers is capped. In other words there is an upper price limit above
which the providers cannot go. This figure is also significantly under the
actual wholesale cost of energy to the providers.

What effect does that have on the consumer?

This means that every customer must pay that tariff on the units they use as
well as the standing charge. Consequently the more energy you use the
more money you will have to pay. Conversely if you are a low user you will
pay less.
Remember you still have to pay for what you use, the more you use – the
more you pay.

What it doesn’t mean!!

The figure of £2,500 as quoted by the PM is what an average home will be
paying instead of the much higher figure quoted by Ofgem earlier this year.
This is NOT a price above which no one will pay.

Great deals still available to new customers
UW are still offering new multi service customers 5% discount on the price
cap as well as all the other benefits they offer.
Should anyone have any difficulty with this or need any further help, please
contact James Harris on 07971 203465 or james@jamesharris.club

How are you finding things now we are returning to a bit more normality?

Are you still working via Zoom or are you managing to meet clients face to
face?

Have you ever thought about what you are wearing when meeting clients,
either via zoom or in person? Do you look at your wardrobe and think you
don’t know what to wear, so just grab anything in the hope that it works?
Or, in the worst case, grab an outfit that you used to wear going out , but
now “it’ll do for work”? Perhaps, you don’t even think about it, and just
wear jeans and yesterday’s t-shirt.

As business owners we spend a lot of time working on our websites,
business cards and promotional material, carefully selecting the design and
colours – but do you spend as much time and thought into what you are
wearing?

First impressions are so important, whether on – or offline. So ask yourself –
do I look like the person my client is expecting to see?

Think of three words about how you wish to be perceived – examples are
professional, knowledgeable, approachable and write them down – I’m
sure you can think of many more – do you convey these words in your style
of dress? This applies to both men and women, and is so important.

In the first 4 minutes of meeting a client will decide so much about you and 55%
of that decision is based on how you look, and only 5% on what you
actually say.

Interesting isn’t it?

It doesn’t matter whether you wear overalls for work, being an electrician
for example doesn’t really warrant wearing a suit, but you can easily wear
jeans or overalls. Jeans are fine, but make sure they are clean and fit well –
builders bum is not a good look! Footwear should be clean- no muddy
trainers, and – don’t forget, if you are working in a domestic environment
you may need to take your shoes off – don’t have holes in your socks!

Perhaps you are in the finance sector, and need to be more formally
dressed.Check that there are no buttons missing, stains on your clothes,
hems dropping down – all small things, but collectively they make such a
difference.

The days of being booted and suited seem to be behind us but even so,
those who work in a more formal environment need to be dressed
accordingly. Think of cost per wear – your new business is going to be
bringing in money to your household, and you naturally feel passionate
about it, so buy clothes that reflect this. Well fitting clothes may cost a little
more, but it will be worth it – you will look the part!

All this applies whether you are Zooming or meeting face to face, so think
about what you are wearing and how your client sees you!

For any more information don’t hesitate to get in touch for a free no obligation
consultation and see how I can help you.

chris@cjstylist.com

www.cjstylist.com

Organising and opening a speech

In my last post, I offered some helpful tips on preparing to give a speech or presentation, plus some inspiration for deciding on a topic. This time around, I’m going to offer some expert guidance on organising and opening a speech in order to attract and retain your audience’s attention.

Organising your speech is more than just the order that you introduce your points – you also need to ensure that the words work together to keep your audience engaged and convey the importance of each point you make and how they relate to one another.

 

Organising and writing your speech

While many coaches use the ‘three T’s’ method:

Tell what you’re going to tell them.

Tell them.

Tell them what you’ve told them.

I favour the simpler model of SME:

Start
Middle
End

While it may seem to be common sense to start at the beginning, when developing your presentation, I actually advise starting with the end. What is it you want the audience to take away? What’s the end-result you want from the presentation or speech?

Start with the end in mind to define what you want the outcome to be, then develop three key points to make in the middle – your ‘Power of Three’.

 

Once you’ve made these points to engage your audience, try to focus on one main idea, backing it up with supporting material such as statistics or quotations. Using stories is a great tool, especially personal ones which can help you to emphasise and demonstrate what you mean.

After you’ve decided on the middle part of your speech, you can use the ending to summarise what you’ve just said – linking this back to the beginning if possible, to ‘close the loop’. Audiences like closure and it helps to show that you know what you’re talking about!

Finally, finish off with a ‘takeaway’, or put another way, a call to action. What would you like them to do? Learn more on your website? Check out some additional resources?

 

Ending with the opening

Once you’ve organised the main body of your speech, you have all the information you need to create an attention-grabbing opening.

Techniques for opening a speech vary, but here are some effective ideas you can try:

  • Ask a rhetorical question to get them thinking
  • Stress why the topic is important to them
  • Make a startling or intriguing statement
  • Arouse suspense or curiosity
  • Tell an amusing or dramatic story or anecdote
  • Begin with a powerful, relevant quotation
  • Refer to a specific historical event
  • Use audience participation
  • Perform a demonstration

Whatever technique you choose, ensure that it’s relevant to the topic, the audience and the event or occasion.

A well organised speech or presentation is much more effective than being unprepared – if you’re jumping around with no plan or direction, the audience will be too busy trying to create order in your words, instead of paying attention to the actual message.

Next time, we’ll take a look at ways of controlling your nerves and using body language to make your speech your presentation more engaging and effective. Better still why not give me a call and see how I can help you prepare and profit from your next presentation.

 

Phil Heath DTM

0791 700 4464

phil@philheath.com

www.philheath.com

Preparing a Speech or Presentation

Speaking or giving a presentation in front of an audience can be pretty daunting. Being well prepared will help you manage your nerves and ensure you’re delivering the right message in the right way.

With years of experience in helping people fine tune their speech-making skills, I’ve developed tips, tricks and techniques to help you overcome your fears. These proven methods will soon have your audience hanging on your every word…

 

Preparation – the basics

For anything to be a real success, preparation is key – so firstly, let’s take a quick look at some basic preparation tips that will help you to craft your speech and ensure an effective delivery:

  1. Organise your speech – follow the SME principle, breaking your speech down into a Start, Middle and End.
  2. Write your speech – creating a physical script gives you the opportunity to change things around, while also providing a solid reference for practicing your delivery.
  3. Clothing – it’s important to look professional, but make sure you feel comfortable too.
  4. Visual aids – these can help the audience to understand what’s being said and reinforce the points of a speech in unique and interesting ways. Make sure they fit well with the content of your speech, whether that’s funny, serious, or technical.
  5. Practice, practice, practice – rehearse your speech as much as you possibly can, either in front of friends or a mirror. Focus on the speed of delivery and use a timer to help you pace your speech.
  6. Familiarise yourself with the venue – once you get to the event, check the stage or the setting where the speech will take place, getting a sense of the size of the space, where any steps or obstacles might be, and where to enter and exit.

 

Selecting your topic

Two of the most common questions I hear from people I help are:

What subjects can I talk about in my speech?

How do I choose what I’m going to say?

There are two key places you can find material: personal experience or through reference material.

From a business owner point of view you should be passionate about what you do – use that passion. You’ll deliver your speech with more conviction and enthusiasm if you feel more connected to it – helping your audience to respond more positively.

Use stories to make your point for example you can draw on your interests: Sports, Hobbies, Travel,  Entertainment.

Or your career: Business processes, Ethics, Investments, Retirement

If you choose to use references from elsewhere, you have an unlimited number of ideas at your fingertips from the internet, or you can visit your local public library.

You’ll discover a great deal of inspira­tion from websites, Media sites, University research, Medical sites
Books: Reviews of various genres, Possible re-writes, Analysis, Theory
Magazines: Economic trends,  Human-interest stories, Scientific discoveries, Entertainment

As you can see there is a wide range of sources that you can get speech material from. Just be careful that you’re not infringing on anybody’s copyright.

Now you’ve got some ideas for finding inspiration for your speech subject and getting yourself well prepared for delivering your speech, in the next instalment, we’ll delve a little deeper into organising and opening your presentation. Better still why not give me a call and see how I can help you with your presentation.

 

Phil Heath DTM
0791 700 4464
phil@philheath.com
www.philheath.com

Here is a guest blog from one of our fantastic subject matter experts – Phil Heath!

What is public Speaking?

Standing in front of an audience? Addressing a huge crowd? Speaking to a few people on the bus?

Yes to all of the above. Mention this to individuals like you and me and suddenly those two words create a picture in our mind:
Martin Luther King addressing the crowds
Mahatma Gandhi speaking to His followers
Adolf Hitler rousing his troops.

All these speakers had one thing in common – passion – in abundance.

And yet, as we gaze upon these great orators of our time the voice in the back of our mind tells us ‘I could never do that’.

In the majority of cases, you would probably be correct. But why would you want to do that? Do you ever have the need to rally your troops? Shout out the words of peace and freedom so that others will follow? Ha! Probably not.

There are times though when we might need to raise our voice to be heard. What about speaking in the Parish Council Meeting? How about standing in front of the office or your boss to deliver a presentation? Or speaking to a group of people with something you have a passion about?

That’s Public Speaking.

The words give us the impression that we are standing outside speaking to the public, but it can be any occasion where you might need to address an audience.

Some years ago, a survey was conducted amongst the business community where they were asked ‘what fears do you have?

Amongst the answers were fears from bugs, snakes, and animals, drowning, heights. At the top of the list – public speaking. The majority of respondents would rather die drowning than stand in front of an audience to tell us why!

These are among the findings of the Chapman University Survey on American Fears, which gave us these surprising results.

How ridiculous is that? I’m sure a lot of it was tongue in cheek and lots of Press inches probably put a spin on it however, it still highlights one thing. People don’t like standing in front of an audience and opening their mouths.

Why do you think this is? The mind plays tricks and tells us we are scared. What will people think of me? Will I dry up and forget what I was going to say?

Let me put your mind at rest.

Of course, you may be a little scared but what’s the actual worst thing that can happen to you? Certainly not death!

If you ever hear a speaker say that they are never nervous when they address an audience then I’ll show you a liar. Everyone gets nervous but nerves can be controlled. In fact, nerves can be a good thing. Nerves can keep us on our toes. They can focus the nervous energy and direct it to your enthusiasm.

Let me share with you a couple of tips to help you overcome your fear of public speaking.

First and probably the most important – Breathe!

I have seen speakers start a speech from their chair when they are introduced, and they forget to take a breath when they are at the front.

Tip – Just pause, think, and breathe deeply – then speak.

Second tip I can give would be to make sure you know what you are going to speak about. Write it down, practice, practice the beginning, practice the ending so you can make sure you have a powerful finish.

Some coaches tell you to imagine the audience naked, but my advice is don’t do this as it can be an unwelcome distraction. Rather better to go on and speak. Bear in mind that only you know what you are going to say. The audience doesn’t. Say it with passion and if you forget something never apologise – the audience didn’t know what you were going to say anyway.

Final tip to remember is that the whole audience is willing you to do well and they want to hear you speak. Take comfort and strength in that. No-one ever went to see a speaker and thought ‘I hope the next speaker is rubbish’ See – they want you to do well.

If you really want to practice the art of Public speaking then why not book a call with philthefunnel.
Helping you with your presentation, speech, delivery all to increase your chance of making a sale and get more business.

Be the best speaker you can be and use your voice with the Power of Public Speaking.

 

Phil Heath DTM
0791 700 4464
phil@philheath.com
www.philheath.com

Our Proven Techniques for Increasing Lead Conversion Rates to Boost Your Sales

Attracting a lot of enquiries for your products or services is a good start – but it’s only the start. Your business will not flourish until you improve your lead conversion. 

Measuring the number of unique visits to your website and seeing it rise is good for your vanity, but that is all it is!

The only point of increasing visitors to your website is to direct them to your landing pages and from there to improve your conversion rate.

If you struggle to convert those visitors into customers your business will struggle – and may fail!

What is the secret to successfully increasing your lead to sales conversion?

This will be different for each business, but there are some key triggers that we all have and you can take advantage of these to build your sales.

Ultimately to maximise your lead to sale conversion you need to understand the psychological triggers that will make your potential customers buy – and that means first getting a deep understanding of your ideal customer.

Understanding your customer

By this we mean REALLY understanding your customer – as a person. It means putting yourself in their shoes and creating a detailed picture of them.

It even means giving them a name and background until they become so real that instead of asking “what would a customer want here?” you are asking “what would John/Rafiq/Sue/Anna want here.

Create detailed written descriptions of your ideal customers (you will have more than one!). These are known as avatars or personas and are critical to improving lead conversion. You can get more information and free downloadable templates here.

Give them a name, age, family circumstances, job history,  ambitions and challenges. What keeps them awake at night? What interests and excites them? What media do they use and why?

Keep going until you feel you have known them for years, and then move on to the next one until you have created a group of your ideal customers – these are the leads that will become your customers after all as you improve your conversion rate!

Once you have your ideal customer personas you can then move onto designing your marketing collateral, which will help you uncover new prospects, new leads and improve conversions. 

This is a journey though so don’t forget to always look for ways to improve. Keep reviewing and analysing your sales funnel!

Why your ideal customer will buy from you

Step one to improving the lead conversion rate is to understand what needs your customers have. 

That leads to understanding how your product or service provides a solution for a need, which in turn helps you to position your marketing copy correctly to increase lead generation. It makes sure you always have relevant content for your target market and helps you follow best practices.

You can see more advice on marketing material here

Don’t forget that you will need a landing page for each need you meet with a clear call to action. 

This makes it easier for your target audience to understand how you can help them, helping to generate leads (and the more leads you get the more you can practice improving your lead conversion rate!). 

You are unlikely to get this right first time, but don’t worry about that as you can learn from your mistakes and continually improve! Keep learning and changing your landing pages and social media activity. This will lead to improved conversion!

Using psychological triggers to improve lead conversion

The key to lead conversion for a sale is to understand the psychological triggers that will make your potential customers buy – and to have the necessary messages and functionality in place to take advantage of them by making the buying decision easy.

The buying decision is always triggered by one or more psychological factors, as proven by many separate pieces of research. 

To improve your lead to sale conversion rate you need to understand your ideal customers so well that you know which psychological triggers will make them buy your products or service. This is especially important for email marketing.

At this point you may be thinking “That’s all well and good for business to consumer, but I sell to businesses”. 

Except you don’t! – you sell to people whether they are buying for themselves or for a business! And it is always the psychological triggers that make them decide if they are going to buy from you.

As humans, we share many characteristics including mental triggers that cause us to take action. By understanding and using them to help potential customers buy, you make success in business much more likely.

Below we have listed the main triggers that researchers have established. For each, we describe the trigger and suggest ways you could use this to increase lead to sale conversion. 

Remember though – different customers will each have different triggers so don’t try to make changes until you are satisfied that you really understand the type of customer you want to attract!

Everybody wants to avoid pain

This is what psychologists call “the negativity bias.” All humans will expend more time and effort to avoid pain than to gain pleasure. 

This has been demonstrated on a neurological level as the brain lights up more from negative external stimuli than from positive ones.

This is the most important trigger for converting website visitors to customers. However, each of us have different pains. That means it is key to understand your target market and what their pains are or needs are. By doing this, you will be able to design the right marketing material and landing pages, improving both lead generation and conversion rates..

How you can use this

 The most prevalent “pains” are time spent, complexity, cost and inefficiency. Make sure these are pains for your target market and then focus your marketing copy on the pain, explaining that your product or service offers a solution. 

You will immediately get interest from your ideal customers. If you talk to potential customers, use a similar approach by asking open questions (beginning with who, how, what or why) to open up a conversation, finding what problem or challenge they have, but also what pain it is causing them before you start talking about your product or service.

Most people love something new or different

Research by neurologists shows that exposure to something new and unfamiliar can generate a feeling of pleasure by increasing the release of dopamine in the brain. 

Apple take advantage of this by regularly issuing new products with “teaser” campaigns prior to the launch. It gets their target market excited and in the mood to buy as soon as the product is released. 

Apple know that their consumers will want to try new features or experiences and are very likely to upgrade to the latest product.

How you can use this

 What is new or different about your product or service from others on the market?

Emphasise the differences. Launch new versions without all the planned features and functionality so you can continually refresh it by adding new features or benefits.

Everyone is looking for answers and reasons why

As soon as we learn to talk, we ask questions – why is the sky blue, are we nearly there yet?

Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, a psychology professor at the University of California, found our rational mind is always searching for meanings, as we look for explanations to make sure we can understand everything we experience.

The Xerox experiment by psychologist Ellen Langer found that people are willing to do more for you if you give them a reason, even if the reason is completely arbitrary (people standing in line to use a photocopier were 34% more likely to let someone cut in front of them, even when their reason was as meaningless as “because I have to make some copies”).

How you can use this

 Explain why you offer a product or service (and the features of them as well) and you increase the likelihood that someone will buy from you. 

Sometimes this is explained as “features which mean that..benefits”. For example – This car has 4 wheel drive, which means that you can travel safely on icy roads.

Story telling is an emotional trigger

When we read or listen to a story it impacts our subconscious, emotional brain which is associated with sight, sound, taste, and movement. 

Research shows this is where people make their decision whether or not to buy. Improving lead to sale conversion involves triggering the emotions of potential customers!

How you can use this

 Your marketing copy and landing pages should be structured as stories about your products and services that bring the benefits to life. This could be something as simple as a case study or testimonial, or take the car example above and add a story:

This car has 4 wheel drive, which means that you can travel safely on icy roads. Imagine being able to get home without worrying about having to abandon your car and struggle home through the snow and ice in the dark.

The law of least effort

Nobel Prize winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, says “A general ‘law of least effort’ applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. 

The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.”

In simple terms, people will always look for the quickest, easiest way to get what they want or where they want to be –a bit like water running down a mountain which always finds the easiest route!

How you can use this

 Create an easy to follow process for potential customers. Show them how your product or service makes it easy to achieve the result they want as quickly as possible. You can see more advice here.

We team up with people like us against common enemies

Sociologist Georg Simmel argues we create common enemies because it unites us with people we think are like us.

How you can use this

Think about the benefits of your product or service, especially what pain they remove, then you can explain the pain as a common enemy. For example, building on the example in the previous article of a car with 4 wheel drive:

We all hate not being able to travel when bad weather hits. That’s why this car has 4 wheel drive – so you can get where you want to be regardless of the weather.

The Information Gap Theory

George Loewenstein, a professor at Carnegie Mellon, discovered that when there is a gap between what we know and what we want to know, we will take action to fill that gap.

It’s a bit like having an itch that you want to scratch – your curiosity inspires you to take some action. Not only that, it also increases activity in the parts of the brain associated with pleasure. 

It’s that self-satisfied feeling when you find the answer you have been looking for!

How you can use this

 Break down your buying process into a few steps. To maximise lead to sale conversion, don’t give a potential customer all the information they would want at the beginning. It could be too much information for them to take in which would turn them away. 

Instead, set up a simple process with a few steps.  In each step, give some information to a question you think they will want answering, with a pointer to more information. This is an effective way to improve lead conversion rate. For example, using the car information above:

We all hate not being able to travel when bad weather hits. That’s why this car has 4 wheel drive – so you can get where you want to be regardless of the weather. To find out how it works, call XXXXX now.

Note: this does mean you need to think as a potential customer would – put yourself in their shoes, think of the questions they would have and what order they would ask them in.

We hope this helps – you can get more advice like this from over 70 subject matter experts here

 

Ellan was one of the first subject matter experts we signed up for BuBul. Check out this interview with her (she has some strong views on business advice!)

 

It’s OK to make a mistake…..

Ever told someone else that but never quite believed it was OK for you to make a mistake? I was like that for years, beating myself up when I messed up, always trying to learn from my mistakes but never quite getting out of the habit of making them.

And I still make mistakes now, but what I’ve learned over the years is that it’s how you react to them that counts. We messed up with BuBul: better business building when we had to migrate it soon after launch and some bits fell off during the journey.

It meant some customers had a really bad first experience. But we told them straightaway, got it sorted and gave them free access for life as an apology.

And you know it’s worth it when one of them sends you an email that reads “you have a FANTASTIC product and with the launch of any new software, people expect glitches…the experience wasn’t rubbish, it was just confusing, and the response and the fixing of it has been wonderful, so the only feeling I am taking away as I am sure others will, is its a great product with some great people behind it”.

So, if you do mess up, fess up and fix it – that’s the way to keep loyal customers!

Up this week is Jonathan Scott, digital marketing supremo and sales director at Northern Media who gets a kick from helping young businesses grow and has his own kicking ambitions linked to the number 9 and Newcastle United. Find out more about what gets him up in the morning

 

BuBul and business

 

  • Why did you want to be a BuBul expert?

Having worked in marketing for over 20 years, I get a kick from using my knowledge and experience to help young businesses grow and thrive

  • Best piece of business advice and who was it from?

Shy bairns get nowt (that was from my Dad)

  • Biggest compliment you’ve ever received from a customer?

Quite a recent one actually, from Mark McClennan from Monster Mesh. He largely attributes his growth and success to the SEO & PPC campaigns we were running

  • Business achievement you’re most proud of?

Giving young people a work environment that helps them learn, grow and be happy.

 

The personal stuff

  • Which five famous people (dead or alive) would you invite over for dinner?

Bobby Robson, Seb Coe, Madonna, Freddie Mercury and Billy Connolly

Football, Athletics, Music and Comedy!

  • What would you banish to Room 101?

Anyone who bullies

  • If you could be famous for a day what would it be for?

Playing number 9 for Newcastle United

 

Either/Or

  • Exercise or boxset binge?

Exercise

  • Work from home or work in the office?

Work in the office

  • Sweet or savoury?

Savoury

First up with our Starter for ten is Phil Heath, a world-class speaking coach, BuBul expert and secret tap dancer who’d like to have dinner with Fred Astaire and Doris Day. He lives by the motto Just Do It. Find out more about the weird and wonderful things that make him tick, when he’s not teaching people to speak in public:

 

BuBul and business

  • Why did you want to be a BuBul expert?

I was asked by Nigel to take part and it offered me the chance to be able to help others.

  • Best piece of business advice and who was it from?

Just Do It – nicked from NIKE. Sometimes we hesitate and the best thing is to get out of your comfort zone

  • Biggest compliment you’ve ever received from a customer?

“I never thought that I would be able to present to an audience and now I have just pitched the biggest sale of my life and won the business – and my boss loved it and congratulated me” Thanks for all your help

  • Business achievement you’re most proud of?

Surviving and doing something I love

 

The personal stuff

  • Favourite film – and why?

Saving Private Ryan – the story of a reluctant leader who becomes a real true hero. Tom Hanks in one of his best roles. Tear-jerker every time!

  • Which five famous people (dead or alive) would you invite over for dinner?

Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Victor Kiam, Judy Garland, Doris Day

  • What’s your hidden talent?

Tap dancing

 

Either/Or

  • Seaside or countryside?

Seaside

  • A talker or a listener?

Listener

  • Golf or Motorsport?

Motorsport

Accountants set for business boost with BuBul

BuBul, the online software that puts directors of start-ups, or existing SMEs, in a virtual room with 30 business experts, is available to accountancy practices who want to provide existing SME customers with added value services from today 22.03.21.

In 2019 there were 5.9m SME’s in the UK but 20 per cent of SME’s fail in their first year and only 42 per cent last more than five years.

Developed with the help of the University of Bradford the BuBul software, which can be white-labelled by accountants and offered to existing customers, delivers customer journey driven analysis, advice, resources and tailored recommendations that are proven to boost turnover, profitability and improve customer retention.

It includes a dashboard that shows the top five recommendations for each client, leading to more informed conversations, as well as identifying recurring client themes the practice can utilise in its own marketing materials.

BuBul founder and blue-chip customer experience veteran Nigel Greenwood said: “Technology has transformed the relationship between accountant and client over the last 20 years and practices are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate their proposition and demonstrate the added value they provide for customers.

“BuBul is a cost effective and simple solution that benefits the accountant, because it provides that differentiation, while at the same time increasing customer turnover, which will drive additional accounting revenue.

“BuBul helps small businesses grow and prosper by giving them access to the tools and advice that larger companies take for granted. It is easy to use and provides online access to the tools, advice and resources that have helped companies like Amazon and Apple rise above the competition on the back of a superior customer experience.

David Spicer director of business and community engagement from the School of Management at the University of Bradford said: “We are delighted to see the launch of BuBul and look forward to seeing this delivering real benefits for SMEs.

“Our work with Nigel on the development of BuBul is a great example of our partnerships with local firms, linking them with School expertise and supporting their work and development thought working with our staff and students on projects like this. This creates great opportunities for us and our students to learn on live business challenges too.”

BuBul works by asking directors a series of questions that can take up to 30 minutes to complete, each answer determines the next question, so the user has a unique experience that is tailored to their business and customers.

By asking questions BuBul is able to identify changes and developments that need to happen to successfully launch a new business or secure rapid and sustainable growth for established SMEs and gives directors the tools they need to implement those changes.

In around half an hour BuBul presents users with:

  • A set of tailored recommendations for the best possible chance of success and growth
  • Links to the advice needed to start making the changes
  • Contact details of trusted experts for additional, individual help
  • For existing businesses, a map of customer touchpoints with a clear picture of which touchpoints need attention

White labelled versions are available to accountants for a £500 +VAT set up fee, which includes unlimited Start licences. Grow licences are £1 +VAT per month with no contractual tie-in.

BuBul donates 5 per cent of its revenue to charities that are committed to helping people set up their own business.

SME’s in Yorkshire are set to benefit from tailored business advice with the launch of BuBul, online software that puts directors of start-ups, or existing SMEs, in a virtual room with 30 business experts.

In 2019 there were 429,000 SME’s in Yorkshire but 20 per cent of SME’s fail in their first year and only 42 per cent last more than five years.

Yorkshire-based BuBul, which is free for start-ups and has been developed with the support of the University of Bradford, delivers customer journey driven analysis, advice, resources and tailored recommendations that are proven to boost turnover, profitability and improve customer retention.

BuBul founder and blue-chip customer experience veteran Nigel Greenwood said: “I’ve spent my career analysing the importance of the customer journey and improving it to increase sales and profitability.

“Seven years ago, I decided I wanted to help small businesses grow and prosper by giving them access to the tools and advice that larger companies take for granted. By using those skills face-to-face in SMEs, we were able to drive tangible results.

“BuBul is the next step in the evolution of advice to SMEs providing online access to the tools, advice and resources that have helped companies like Amazon and Apple rise above the competition on the back of a superior customer experience.

“It’s well-known companies who seek advice increase their chances of success and that most SMEs don’t because of the cost – that’s why we’re offering BuBul Start free to those companies who are just starting out and BuBul Grow is available at a fraction of the cost of face-to-face advice for those companies who are already established.”

David Spicer director of business and community engagement from the School of Management at the University of Bradford said: “We are delighted to see the launch of BuBul and look forward to seeing this delivering real benefits for SMEs.

“Our work with Nigel on the development of BuBul is a great example of our partnerships with local firms, linking them with School expertise and supporting their work and development thought working with our staff and students on projects like this. This creates great opportunities for us and our students to learn on live business challenges too.”

BuBul works by asking directors a series of questions that can take up to 30 minutes to complete, each answer determines the next question, so the user has a unique experience that is tailored to their business and customers.

By asking questions BuBul is able to identify changes and developments that need to happen to successfully launch a new business or secure rapid and sustainable growth for established SMEs and gives directors the tools they need to implement those changes.

In around half an hour BuBul presents users with:

  • A set of tailored recommendations for the best possible chance of success and growth
  • Links to the advice needed to start making the changes
  • Contact details of trusted experts for additional, individual help
  • For existing businesses, a map of customer touchpoints with a clear picture of which touchpoints need attention

BuBul Start is free to start-ups and BuBul Grow is £9.99 a month with no contractual tie-in. It is available to anyone who is looking to set up or grow their own business with white labelled versions available for social enterprises, charities and accountants, who want to help their existing clients grow or attract new business.

BuBul donates 5 per cent of its revenue to charities that are committed to helping people set up their own business.