Tuesday, 31 March 2015

How To Create A Great Elevator Pitch That Converts


Mike Southon is known as "The Beermat Entrepreneur", after the name of his series of business books, and he is one of the UKs leading authorities on entrepreneurship and sales. He teaches the art of selling, is an entrepreneur mentor and delivers presentations at business events up and down the country. Mike’s advice comes from experience having built and sold his own company in the 1980s. In the 90s he worked on seventeen start-ups. 


When I met Mike at a Business50 event in Glasgow he kindly agreed to share some business advice based on his highly successful book "The Beermat Entrepreneur". To be specific his tips are on the topic of The Elevator Pitch or Elevator Speech. Mike has distilled the elevator pitch into its component parts to the point wher it is an easily remembered elevator pitch template. He calls it the Elevator Pitch Five Ps: Pain, Premise, People, Proof and Purpose.

If you are thinking of starting a business or the thought of selling brings you out in a cold sweat settle back what you need is a good elevator pitch. Thinking it through at the start of your business will not only help you better understand your business but also give you the ability to explain it others, including potential customers, in about a minute or two.

It is always good to have an elevator pitch, you never know when you will need it. Getting back to the basics of the elevator pitch the model is you find yourself in an elevator with a client and you only have a few minutes, or even a few seconds, to get your point across. If you have prepared your elevator pitch you will be able to easily present your business idea and do it clearly and concisely.

Do not be tempted to inflate your elevator pitch until it is at bursting point. All those details are for a later date, for now all you want to do it get people to remember you and what you can do for them. Nobody likes a pushy sales pitch so it’s always good to make it snappy.

In Mike Southon’s elevator pitch template there are Five Ps: Pain; Premise; People; Proof; Purpose.

An idea is always easier to understand if illustrated with an example and the example Mike uses in the video is an elevator pitch for my video production business.

Pain or Problem
The first P is the Pain or Problem you solve. What is it that you can that your client that he/she is finding difficult to achieve. Using Mike’s elevator pitch example for my business my customer’s pain or problem would be getting good video footage of their product or service and creating a first rate sales or marketing video.

Premise is the second P. Again using my business as an example am an excellent video producer and can do the whole job from writing the script through to uploading the finished video to YouTube and doing it properly so it will rank on Google. Small and medium businesses increasingly need video and my business can provide the ideal solution. In the case of your business what is it you provide?

People is the next P, the people in your business and how good they are. How does your sales, who does the finance and you. In the case of my business it’s myself and my wife. I take care of the creative and technical aspects of the business and my wife handles the admin and organisational aspects. I’m a national and international award winning writer and producer with more than 30 years’ experience in broadcast advertising. My wife’s background was in theatre sales and marketing, working in theatres across the UK. Again you need to provide the information that is relevant to your business.

Proof comes next and proof means testimonials. If you are not a natural when it comes to sales this sales technique will suit you perfectly because you get your customers to sell for you. Again for my business it would be something like, I create really effective videos for my clients so watch one of the many video testimonials my clients have recorded. If you see one that particularly interests you give them a call and they’ll give you more details about what I’ve been able to do for their business.
In my business I use video testimonials partly because video is my business and clients would probably expect me to use the medium for testimonials but also because video testimonials can be repurposed. First off they are stand alone videos. Second the audio can be exported easily and I can use them in podcasts. Third the transcript can be used along with a still from the video as a traditional print testimonial. Video testimonials give you more flexibility and are more credible since almost anyone can spot someone who is lying or reading a made-up script on video. I also make it transparent as to who the people in my testimonials are so if prospects want to check the authenticity of the testimonial they can. In your business you may not want to go to the lengths of using video for testimonials but I would recommend getting as many testimonials as possible.

Purpose is the last P and it stands for what is the purpose of your business? Obviously it is about making money but is making the world a better place? Are you having fun? Are you enjoying what you are doing? If you have started your own business you know how much harder it is than being an employee so you have to enjoy and be rewarded by what you are doing. The purpose of my business is to pay a salary but also to allow me to apply my creative and technical skills for the benefit of other business people who either cannot or do not want to create videos and TV commercials. Knowing what I create can and does influence others is awesome, what I do actually affects others, hopefully for the better.
You will have your own purpose for your business but clearly it is first and foremost going to be to make you money.

If you would like to read more of Mike Southon’s advice on starting a business and growing sales I can recommend his book The Beermat Entrepreneur: Turn Your Good Idea into a Great Business. The revised second edition paperback is available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com If you would like further details click on the appropriate link below.

For further details on Mike southon visit his website here: http://www.mikesouthon.com/

NB: This post contains affiliate links

Friday, 20 March 2015

How To Recruit Online with Psychometric Tests


If you are doing a job search for graduate jobs, part time jobs or in fact any job you will more than likely have a CV. You may even have employed someone to write your CV or teach you how to write a CV but the question is, how useful is a CV in the 21st century?

I spoke to Nik Plevan, founder and Managing Director of e-Talent, an Edinburgh based software company that produces online recruitment screening systems for companies and online recruitment agencies. In Nik’s opinion the way employers have gone about recruiting for the last 50 years is no longer relevant. The use of the internet in the recruitment process and meant that it’s all change for the way companies choose their shortlisted candidates.

Nik told me, “You should really stop taking paper applications because those invariably lead to huge amounts of work and effort which is ultimately fruitless because you’re working with data which is not particularly helpful. Whereas if you asked people to apply online you can make the application an interactive process. The candidate can go through a series of tests to try and identify characteristics that you can use to base your decisions on. In traditional recruitment what usually happens is the HR Manager spends most of their time rejecting people. Whereas with the recruitment that I’m suggesting you would spend all of your time selecting the best people from the good people.”

So the online screening systems that Nik’s company produces will incorporate a psychometric test that ultimately generates for the recruiter that is much more useful in the selection process than traditional techniques.

Ultimately in traditional recruitment you are at the mercy of the candidate and how good they were at presenting themselves and convincing you without really knowing whether they have the necessary soft skills or not. By using some psychometrics you can ensure everyone on your shortlist is likely to be suitable for the job and identify warning signs early on in the process thereby preventing you recruiting the wrong people.

So is the CV dead? 

Well not exactly. Nik agrees CVs still have a place but in his opinion it is not at the start of the recruitment process. “Once you’ve actually got the people with right soft skills then the CV comes into play and you can drill down in their experience. But the critical aspect is that by then you already know they have the right soft skills. So you’re really identifying the best people out of the good people.”

For more information about the term psychometric test see this article on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_testing

For details about online recruitment agencies and business visit the government website https://www.gov.uk/employment-agencies-and-businesses/overview

If you are applying for a job and want some great tips on how to to do a successful job interview see my blog post and video with Magda Tomaszewska from CV World by clicking here.  


To see the video: Online Recruitment with a Psychometric Test – The new way for employers and recruitment agencies follow this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfE1izd5sWU

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Why You Have Eaten Insects Without Knowing It

If you answered none you’re kidding yourself because it is perfectly legal for food manufacturers to include insects (and worse) in your food. To be honest it would be difficult to make bulk food ingredients 100% pure, some impurities are bound to be in there and insects will be one of those impurities. Wheat flour has an average of 150 or more insect fragments per 100 grams and ground thyme has an average of 925 or more insect fragments per 10 grams. So although you may not be eating a huge amount each day, over a year all those fragments add up.

According to entomologist Marcel Dicke from Wageningen University the average person in the west eats up to 500g of insects annually through processed vegetable-based products and foods dyed with insect derivatives. Putting that into context, 500g is half a standard bag of sugar! But thinking positively those insect fragments are not going to do you any harm, I know because I've been eating several whole insects and survived the experience.
What do they taste like

Recently I had the opportunity to find out what bugs taste like when I took the Rentokil-Initial pestaurant challenge. If you watch the video you will see how I got on and I promise this bush tucker isn’t gross. The guys from Rentokil-Initial offered me a range of insects including roast locust, salt and vinegar crickets, cheddar cheese mealworms, chocolate coated bugs and a scorpion lollipop. You may have noticed something from that list, most of the insects were flavoured because the reality is they do not taste of much. To me the roast locust tasted a bit like bland Shreddies but when cooking regular food we season and add flavourings so perhaps that applied to bugs as well. The one thing I did discover was that they did not taste terrible or disgusting, even the appearance of the locusts and crickets was OK. 


Why eat insects and bugs

In terms of sustainability farming insects is an environmentally friendly way of producing animal protein and good fat that could also be quite cheap. Producing insects uses 1,000 times less water than that require to raise beef and insects are far more efficient at converting food into protein. According to Professor Dicke 10kg of feed could sustain 9kg of locusts whereas the same amount of feed would only produce 1kg of beef, 3kg of pork or 5kg of chicken.

If insects are so good why aren’t they on the menu

The UN says that for about 2 billion people edible insects are already part of their diet. Bugs are highly prized in many eastern countries as a good source of protein with Thailand being the largest consumer. The Thai insect industry is estimated to be worth about $50 million annually. Street vendors in Bangkok serve up insects in street markets although most western tourists tend to stick to the more familiar foods. In many parts of the world certain insects and bugs are considered luxuries or delicacies.

Why we should be eating more insects

Insects can be tasty, a fantastic source of nutrition and their production is far more environmentally friendly than raising traditional livestock.

Since farming insects is much more efficient than raising beef we would need far less agricultural land to produce the same amount of protein. Insects are also good in terms of greenhouse gas emission. Beef production accounts for about 37% of human induced methane emission, a gas that is 23 times worse than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming. By reducing traditional livestock and moving to insect farming we could be well fed and reduce our impact on the environment. It would be sustainable agriculture.

Eating insects is also healthy. Insects have far less fat than beef and whereas beef is about 18% protein the meat of a grasshopper approaches 60% protein. So if you are worried about fat and your arteries a diet of insects might be a good choice.

What insects to eat

Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle and feed on stored grains. The mealworms I tried were cheddar cheese flavour and had a marked similarity to cheesy corn puffs. Mealworms can be boiled, roasted or fried and can be bought as a snack food. They are said to have a nutty flavour. Mealworms can easily be raised at home, feed them on oats, wheat bran and some vegetables or fruit as a source of moisture. Any you don’t eat will be eagerly taken by your garden birds.

Like all the insects I tried the crickets were dried and flavoured, in their case they were salt and vinegar flavour. The house cricket is the most common type to be used for human consumption. Crickets are widely eaten in Thailand, Cambodia and Mexico they are often boiled, pan fried or roasted.


Locust is a biblical food and considered kosher. I tried roasted locust but they can be cooked and prepared in many ways including pan or stir fried, deep fried in batter, barbecued and boiled. The choice is yours.

Want to try some insects yourself?
I've found a selection of edible insects on Amazon for you. If you are in the UK use the Crispy Critter Taster Pack link immediately below on amazon.co.uk. If you are in the US use the amazon.com link.

UK Readers 
If you watch I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here these Bush Grub Crispy Critter Taster packs are officially licensed from the show but unlike the bush tucker trials in the TV programmes these are not disgusting at all. The Crispy Critters have been oven baked for crispness and flavour. The pack contains a selection of four crispy critters. BBQ worms, Mexican worms, Salt and Vinegar crickets and Curry Crickets. Yum Yum! The flavoured Crickets and Mealworms and are available on Amazon UK.

US Readers
The selection available on Amazon is much greater than that available in the UK and the Ultimate Insect & Bug Candy Sampler Gift Pack includes bugs in various savoury and sweet flavours. These include the following:
3- Crick-ettes: Bacon & Cheese, Sour Cream & Onion and Salt n' Vinegar edible crickets.
3- Larvets: Cheddar Cheese, BBQ and Mexican Spice edible worms.
3- Scorpion Suckers: Strawberry, Blueberry & Apple edible scorpions.
2- Ant Candy: Cherry & Apple edible ants.
For more details on mealworms see this page on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mealworm

For an interesting article on eating locusts see this BBC article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21847517

This post contains affiliate links and I may benefit if you click on them.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

5 Great Tips for Your Job Interview


Today I welcome Magda Tomaszewska to my blog. Magda is the owner of CV World in Stirling and is a Certified Professional CV Writer and Career Coach. She specialises in guiding people to build careers they really want and deserve. As part of her service Magda provides job interview tips, advises on interview questions and answers and how you should handle those job interview questions. So before you send your next job application listen to Magda’s 5 Top Tips on how to have a successful interview.
Tip number one. Present the best of you. Remember the first impression is a lasting impression. Look smart, professional and do something that puts you in a great mood before your interview. Be confident, positive, motivated and smile.

Tip number two. Mind your body language. 55 percent of your communication is your body language. Remember to use open gestures, maintain eye contact and build rapport with your interviewer. Come across as someone they would want to work with.

Tip number three. Put the right message across. What would you like your interviewer to know about you? This is a perfect opportunity for you to convey that message. If you focus on it, you will create a strong image of you and your value to your potential employer.

Tip number four. Research the company. They will ask you how much you know about them. Regardless of your position, it is vital to know what they do or make, how long they have been around, their culture, goals and future plans. Also, anything positive which is in the public domain will be a great material for your interview.

Tip number five. Prepare a list of smart questions. The question you can be sure to expect is: do you have any questions to us? Here is another opportunity for you to show your real interest in the job and the company. Impress your interviewer by asking a well-researched question about their organisation. Another good idea is to ask about the results they expect of you.

For some further great job interview tips have a look at the Guardian Jobs site 

If that isn't enough for you, another good source of information is the National Careers Service website. As Magda Tomaszewska indicated you need to prepare for your interview and since some questions come up time and again – usually about you, your experience and the job you are applying for - there is no excuse not to be prepared. To see a fairly comprehensive list of the 10 most common questions you can expect follow this link to the National Careers Service.

For more top tips for small business visit the Tosh Lubek Channel on YouTube, where you can also leave a comment and subscribe.


You can see the video Interview Tips - Your Job Interview Questions Answered and Interview Techniques on YouTube here http://youtu.be/i7014W-m1Vg