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Category Archives: Blog


How to make sure homeworkers aren’t just ‘lazy gits”

Since Covid – and that’s the last time in this blog I’m going to use that word, I promise – more people are regularly working from home than ever before.

There’s a tonne of reasons as to why working from home (WFH) has become an accepted working option for so many…

From your business point of view, it might be that there just isn’t the skilled workforce in your area and so you’ve had to cast the recruitment net further afield. Or, it might be that you don’t actually have office space to accommodate your team or want the additional cost of premises.

And from the employee point of view, WFH is often seen as a HUGE benefit… No more dreaded commutes stuck in traffic adding hours and a bucketload of stress to their day. There’s the money saved on fuel and public transport – though the rising energy bills might counteract any savings there. More often than not, though, it’s simply about a better work-life balance. Be it working parents being able to pick up their young kids from school or any other personal circumstances, commitments, hobbies or relationships that now have a chance of happening.  All because what was commuting time is now their own time and they aren’t so frazzled when they log off from their laptop.

If you’re struggling with recruitment and retention or just want to be an amazing employer of choice – you must seriously consider WFH as an option.

Work-life balance is viewed so highly in fact that employees are choosing WFH job offers that pay less than office-based jobs.

And don’t ever forget – a happy team, means a productive team as well as happy customers. And happy customers mean revenues that will make you smile… You catch my drift?

So, is there a catch? Well, the arrogant Alan Sugar – (he’ll hate not being called Lord, he he!) – has said “a large percentage of people who work from home are lazy gits”.

This dinosaur mentality – and unfortunately, Sugar’s not the only one to think this – is that working from home means skiving. Instead of blasting out the work they’re paid to do, they’re sitting on the sofa in their pjs watching Phil and Holly on the box and generally taking the p*ss.

But this is simply not the case for the majority of homeworkers. In fact, in a recent 2022 survey over half of those working from home said they actually completed work quicker than they would have in an office because of fewer distractions.

And, if a team member’s productivity does decline after moving to working from home – then, in the main, it’s their manager who’s to blame. Here’s what you need to do to make it work:

  • Set the scene – before agreeing and starting someone on WFH – there should always be an agreement and lots of support in place. The best solution for this is to have a Working from Home policy. It should include everything from channels of communication to what to wear (for video calls with team and customers). You should also carry out a working from home risk assessment together.
  • Provide all the tools – make sure they have all the tech and a secure internet connection needed to carry out their role. Can they access all the company files, hardware and software and do they know who to contact for IT support? Agree the routes of communication to be used (Telephone? Teams for quick questions and chats and email for work updates and queries?)
  • Provide clarity – make it clear what the deliverables are – just as if they were sat in front of you. Focus on the deliverables – not how they get there.
  • Teamwork makes the dream work – still make time for getting the team together – remote is better than nothing. Make sure someone chairs the meeting – so that everyone gets to speak. Quieter individuals are often happier to let the big mouths have all the attention – and this is even more possible in a virtual meeting.  And please, allow some time before the meeting starts for general chit chat. Use this time to check how they are really feeling and to bond as a team.
  • To. Know. Your. Team – Show interest in what they’ve done at the weekend, ask how the kids are (if they have any!) or what their hobbies are. You’d normally do this over a morning cuppa in the office – you don’t have that remotely so you need to make extra effort. Then, should their mental health be suffering you are in a better place to notice it and support them. And they’ll feel more confident coming to you with a problem. Working from home has many benefits but it can be lonely and some people will find the isolation is not for them.
  • Check in – this bit is key… Check in with them frequently. Hold meetings via Teams or Zoom so that you can see their expressions and emotions – emails just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to building a relationship and judging someone’s state of mind. Diarise these catch ups in advance and make sure they happen. And be clear in your communication. If you’re unsure they’ve grasped what you are asking, ask them to summarise it back to you.

Having all these processes in place means both you and your team have clear expectations and objectives. If then the ‘lazy git’ surfaces and, despite airing your concerns during one of your catch-up meetings, their performance is still sub-par – you have every right to raise it formally.

But, that’s unlikely to happen if you simple do your job and manage. Apparently, a Manager should spend 80% of their time managing. This seems a bit steep to me, but if you aren’t allocating a large proportion of your time to managing your team then you are not going to get the best out of them. Simples.

So, Mr Sugar, you should have been looking more closely at the role of managers rather than criticising those working from home. You and your ‘lazy git’ comment can get fired!

For more advice on managing a remote workforce, why not contact our HR expert Tracy (tracy@mint-hr.com)? She is one of over 70 independent experts available at www.bubulexpert.com for just £20 plus VAT a month.

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.

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

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

When you start your own business, you are full of different emotions such as excitement (this is going to be brilliant!) mixed with trepidation (maybe no-one will buy!) and, on occasion, a nagging internal voice that says maybe this isn’t the right thing to do!

As your business gets off the ground, every waking hour gets filled with spending time working on the business – networking, social media, arranging meetings, building and improving websites, sending quotes and making sales. And still you have those same feelings.

And then you become established, but still those feelings persist. You celebrate every sale, you mourn every lost lead or customer, you start to recruit staff, which only gives you more things to worry about.

Before you know it, you are losing sleep, you can’t switch off even at weekends or when on holiday. Your enthusiasm starts to wane, results start to slip and you’ve lost that attention to detail you once had.

The good news is that there are thousands of others just like you – owners of small businesses throughout the UK. The bad news is that 1,400 such businesses close every week. Many are just like you – trying to do everything, learning by their mistakes and sometimes having to close as a result.

Only 1 in 4 small business owners ask other people for advice, even though research shows it increases the chances of success by 49%. If you haven’t had external advice for your business yet, get it now!