Archive for the ‘Business Growth’ Category
We all know that Business Link is a great idea. Helping small enterprises to do business better (or in fact, to do better business) is good for the whole economy. And traditionally, the East of England has had a pretty good track record in that respect. I’m sure that EEDA and Business Link have had a part to play in that.
But, the frustration I share with many has always been the fact that finding out exactly what service and advice they provide, and which bits of it might be applicable to your business, has felt rather like catching smoke. And to be honest, the last couple of times I’ve talked to a Business Link advisor, its seemed a little as if they’re in the same position.
I was really pleased to read about their new Business Map, launched on their website today. EEDA’s Space for Ideas campaign in 2005 had a fresh, information-rich appeal and the graphic way of illustrating their advice and support for businesses launched today has a similar approach. Finally, I can see all that the development agency can deliver through Business Link. The map is clear, uses the feel of the London Tube map to create a sense of familiarity and usability – and it just works.
I noticed a new pattern of conversations last week. In all the meetings I had with associates and others in business, whenever the subject of credit crunch, recession or the euphemistic ‘cut backs’ (which for some reason makes me think of hedge trimming – sort of neat and green) came up, one theme came through loud and clear.
The desire for clarity. People are concerned about the downturn in the economy. But when you listen to them, its clear that they are more concerned about the uncertainty it brings. If we all had crystal clear knowledge of the extent and timescale of the downward trend, it would all be easy. We’d know exactly what action to take to sail through tough times. Trouble is, when there is less clarity, we have more options and therefore more choices we could make – but we have no clear indications of which we should take.
We’re told that we should cut back on spending, sit tight and ride out the storm. Then we read that companies that do so seldom thrive, but those that have taken risks and used recessionary times to expand have come out of the other end ahead of the pack. “Focus!”, we’re told – its critical. But wait! We also need to diversify to make sure our sales don’t suffer.
Last week I heard all of these opinions at some point or another and that when I realised that its panic that causes the problem. Everyone has a view but no-one really knows how to respond to the changes in the economic state of the country. We’re all just guessing to a large extent and therein lies the real problem.
Clarity is what we crave in order to reduce our choices and and increase our chances. Its easier to manage when we simplify the activities being completed but that’s not an easy thing to do. We feel compelled to work faster, harder and smarter. In fact, perhaps all we have to do is pause for long enough to make some clear decision.
I’ve just started reading David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” in an effort to make my life simpler and my time more productive. He points out that until we learn to manage our actions, we can’t control our productivity and stress levels. And further, that clarity of thought is what helps us to make better decisions on the actions we take.
The trick is not to seek clarity in the media, or from associates or colleagues. We have to learn to trust our intuition to some extent. Get to the essence of the problem, work our which actions will potentially give you the best outcomes, and then roll up your sleeves. That way you’ll spend less time worrying about what’s going to happen in the next couple of years, and more time focused on what actions you can take to be effective.
Energy is a company asset. I don’t mean utilities. Electricity and Gas are essential to operations as anyone in South Africa will know all too well at the moment. But what I am talking about is people. The energy that is applied to thought, to problem solving, to customer relations. Its critical to any business, but I wonder how many count it as an asset?
Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on the concept of Entrepreneurship with Graham Singleton of Make Yourself. We’ve been discussing a model for a presentation. As we explored what could be done to enhance entrepreneurship within companies, we discovered the links with energy. Its been a great experience working with Graham. His enthusiasm is infectious.
Energy is the life blood of an organisation. Its the fuel that drives both the pace and the quality of growth. But the challenge lies in the intangibles. Some people have it in spades, and others don’t have quite the same amount of ‘go’. Those that have it can infect others with enthusiasm, but they can also overwhelm. And although its not finite, it does need to be nurtured and sometimes conserved.
Its value is hard to measure – it never appears on the company’s balance sheet. But without it nothing happens. Although we can’t always control it, we should perhaps look after it – think of it as deposits and withdrawals from a bank. If we keep drawing on it without top ups, we’ll start running low. But shared with others effectively, it multiplies rather like compound interest.
Investing in your energy bank could well pay great dividends.
A couple of days ago I had a conversation with a friend who has just had a really bad experience with a senior member of staff. The incident has been expensive in two respects – the member of staff has taken that which was not his to take in some significant measure, and there is now the cost of recruiting and training a replacement. The cost of getting a new staff member up to speed is not insignificant. And its almost impossible to quantify the loss of knowledge that goes hand-in-hand with a key person leaving, in any circumstances. His faith in the recruitment process is somewhat shaken at the moment, to say the least.
You’ll understand then, why I was particularly impressed when I met Katherine Wiid from Recrion. Aside from the fact that its always nice to meet another South African in the UK, their approach to helping companies get the right people just make real sense.
Recrion doesn’t replace recruitment agencies. Instead, the service they provide is a really solid bridge between company and recruitment agencies. Recrion has all the expertise in writing job specifications and interviewing applicants. They’re the experts at filtering candidates so clients only see the best of the bunch. How great to be able to save time and money two different ways simultaneously. I was struck that using specific expertise like this not only saves the time spent screening and interviewing the candidates who are less than the best. But it also provides an independent standard for the recruitment process in the business.
Not only that, they’ve got a seriously cool giraffe on their site!