Tuesday, 30 June 2015

5 Great Tips For Visiting Trade Shows

I am pleased to welcome back Janet Torley of Events forBusiness. Janet was with us a few months ago sharing her top tips on networking. Today she is drawing on her experience and an event organiser to shed light on how to get the most from visiting trade shows or business exhibitions.Watch the video or keep reading.

 

As well as the tip in this blog you may find the following books useful. If you are interested in buying The Beermat Entreprenaur by Mike Southon take a look at my blogpost based on his tips for the perfect Elevator Pitch. 

      


Be Prepared
First up is really an obvious tip but one that always seems to be forgotten by at least a handful of visitors to every trade show. Be prepared. If you have the opportunity check who the exhibitors are and try and find out a little about each of them. Whether you are looking for suppliers or potential customers you may prefer to target those who are geographically close to you so check out where each business is located. Also part of being prepared is remember to bring plenty of business cards. I have lost count of the number of times a visitors has confessed he/she forgot to bring any business cards or gives a lame excuse that they are waiting for the printer to deliver them. Business cards are your most basic means of marketing yourself and your company so make sure you have plenty.

Give Yourself Time
You are not going to get the most out of any exhibition if you do not give yourself enough time. Before the event take a black marker pen and block-off at least a couple of hours in your diary, any less and you have to ask yourself whether it is worth going at all. Popping in to the exhibition for half an hour just won’t cut the mustard, you need time to go round and chat with the stand holders and then talk to other visitors. Think of it as an extended networking event and then dedicate the necessary time in your diary.

You Are Not An Exhibitor
Get this clear in your mind, you are not an exhibitor. You haven’t paid to have a stand so don’t go along as if you are a stand holder who has wandered away fro their stand and is still selling. Keep your leaflets to yourself and don’t try and be sneaky and avoid the exhibitor’s fee. The business who have booked a stand will probably have paid anything from a hundred pounds to several thousand pounds depending on the size and location of the events and they will be less than pleased at you trying to muscle in FOC. So do not try selling to the exhibitors, apart from you taking up their time when they should be selling to other visitors you will annoy and cause offence. Furthermore if you are annoying the exhibitors they are hardly going to be in a frame of mind to buy from you, you will actually be shooting yourself in the foot. By all means collect information and details at the event but contact the people you want to talk to afterwards when they have time to speak to you. If you want to sell on the day be a good egg and buy a stand and everyone will be happy.

Be Comfy
The final tip is an entirely practical one and probably more applicable to the ladies, who are prone to wearing footwear that looks as an elegant means of torture than comfort. You are going to be on your feet for a few hours so wear comfy shoes. If you have a briefcase, laptop case, should bag etc. do you really need it? Having done it myself I know you will wish you had left it back at the office so it you can, travel light.


Please note this blog contains affiliate links



Monday, 22 June 2015

5 Great Tips To Grow Your Business

Today I have invited Duncan Tannahill to share his 5TopTips on Business Management techniques to help grow and develop your business. You can either watch the video or skip ahead and read the post.


When it comes to helping your business grow and develop there are a number of things that you should be addressing.

Have a plan
You must plan and set out clear goals for what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve the goals. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant to your business. Also set a timeframe for achieving those goals, if you do not you run the risk of putting off taking action until tomorrow and ultimately failing to achieve your goal.

Avoid the Time-Trap
You cannot manage time but you can manage how you use time. Time is the most important resource in your business, perhaps even more important than money.  Tasks you undertake have two dimensions, namely, importance and urgency. The Time Trap is when you spend too much time on trivial not important / not urgent tasks rather than focus on the important / not urgent tasks. These are the ones, like planning, that will add most value to your business and are where you work on the business not in it.

Know your numbers
Simply put, know your numbers and really know your key numbers. You cannot drive a car without using the dashboard information and the numbers in your business is its dashboard. Knowing how numbers are arrived at, where to get the detail behind the numbers and what to do with the information is the key to driving the ultimate result.

Implement quality systems
No business will succeed in the long term if its quality of product or service delivery sucks.  So you must develop a quality system to ensure that your customers experience consistency of service and know what to expect. Don’t leave it to chance but rather have a clear system for the whole team to follow.

Your business compass
Know where you are going. Simply put, have a clear vision for the business that is shared with customers, staff, suppliers and so on. Sometimes this is referred to as a strap line which is fine, but have it written down and ensure everything you do is designed to drive to achieve that vision very day.


Related blog postsHow To Develop A Top Team - Duncan Tannahill

Online Business Success - Mike Berry
Put quality at the heart of your business - Tony Couch


Useful books

If you want more information on starting your own business take a look at Dragon's Den: Start Your Own Business: From Idea to Income. It's a practical guide to starting your own successful business, complete with examples and case studies from popular BBC show Dragons’ Den. The Dragons will show you how to turn your pipe dream into an income stream. This book shows you everything you need to know to:

• Create new ideas and find market niches.
• Develop a business plan to suit your lifestyle.
• Find funding from banks, investors or business angels.
• Deal with the practicalities of company registration, corporation tax, VAT, and much more.
• Develop marketing and publicity strategies to launch your business so that it makes an impact on the market.


    

Also recommended is Your 60 Minute Business Transformation by Martin Robertson. In this small book Martin shares a great deal of his knowledge. Do you: • Work longer hours than you want to? • Take fewer holidays than your employees? • Want to earn more? • Have sleepless nights because of the business? • Want tips on how to run your business more efficiently and effectively? Martin has been there and done it. He gives many examples of how he got it wrong in his first fourteen years of business, and what he learnt from it. He gives numerous tips on how to avoid making the same mistakes and transform your business from being mediocre to fulfilling and inspiring.



Please note this post contains Amazon affiliate links.

5 Great Tips To Develop A Top Business Team

If your business is to thrive you need to put a good team at the heart of it. Unfortunately that is easier said than done, especially if you are in the early stages of developing your business when you have a hundred and one things that need to be done by yesterday. The truth is that the sooner you have that top team in place the more time you will have to work on the strategic aspects of your business,. In other words time to work on your business rather than in it.

Today’s blog is based on Duncan Tannahill’s 5TopTips of How To Develop A Top Team, which you can watch just below or you can read on.

http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=ToshLubek
Duncan Tannahill is Managing Director of The Tannahill Partnership, a company that delivers business coaching to SME businesses to enable them to gain real competitive advantage. Here are his five top tips on how to motivate and develop a top team.

The Right People
Start by recruiting the right people. It may seem obvious but if you get this wrong you will end up frustrated and complain about your employees not doing what is expected. You need to invest time in setting out a well thought through recruitment process. You need to consider the job specification or description and the type of person who will likely be successful in the role. Then think through what the advert piece will look like and where you will promote the position. In the past it may have been the recruitment pages of your local newspaper that you would advertise but these days you have many more options such as local radio, online recruitment sites, traditional and online recruitment agencies etc. Once you have the candidates you need to set out the interview process and questions you will ask.


An Existing Team
What if your employees are in post? Well, consider how you communicate with them and share information about the vision for the business and how they fit in to helping deliver that vision through their job role. Stop finding fault with the team and rather highlight the things they do right. It might be harder to do but well worth the effort.


Regular Appraisals
Review your employees’ performance regularly both informally and with an annual appraisal.  People like to get feedback. And remember that an appraisal is a two way process or discussion with the employee. Successful appraisals also require planning and commitment to make them work and be seen as valuable, there are no short cuts!


Train And Train Again
Training should not be a one-off but something that is a regular part of the business. The best teams always train so you need a clear training plan supported by a suitable budget to ensure that you up skill the team continuously. Training must be tied back to the business plan and reflect the needs of the business going forward.  Well planned training will always give a return on investment in excess of 100%.


Inspire By Leading
Be the leader in your organisation and work to enrol and inspire your team.   Consider a great leader and how they operated, for example Winston Churchill.  What did he do and how did he perform. What set him apart from his contemporaries? In the field of commerce Harry Selfridge transformed the retail business in Britain through innovation and his inspirational leadership. His philosophy on leadership is as relevant to SMEs today as they were over a hundred years ago when he opened his London store.

·         “The boss drives his people; the leader coaches them.”
·         “The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.”
·         “The boss says ‘I'; the leader, ‘we’.”
·         “The boss says ‘Go'; the leader says ‘Let’s go’.
·         “The boss depends on authority; the leader on goodwill.”



Related Blog PostsHow To Grow And Develop Your Business - Duncan Tannahill
Online Business Success - Mike Berry
Put quality at the heart of your business - Tony Couch


Useful books

If you want more information on starting your own business take a look at Dragon's Den: Start Your Own Business: From Idea to Income. It's a practical guide to starting your own successful business, complete with examples and case studies from popular BBC show Dragons’ Den. The Dragons will show you how to turn your pipe dream into an income stream. This book shows you everything you need to know to:

• Create new ideas and find market niches.
• Develop a business plan to suit your lifestyle.
• Find funding from banks, investors or business angels.
• Deal with the practicalities of company registration, corporation tax, VAT, and much more.
• Develop marketing and publicity strategies to launch your business so that it makes an impact on the market.


    

Also recommended is Your 60 Minute Business Transformation by Martin Robertson. In this small book Martin shares a great deal of his knowledge. Do you: • Work longer hours than you want to? • Take fewer holidays than your employees? • Want to earn more? • Have sleepless nights because of the business? • Want tips on how to run your business more efficiently and effectively? Martin has been there and done it. He gives many examples of how he got it wrong in his first fourteen years of business, and what he learnt from it. He gives numerous tips on how to avoid making the same mistakes and transform your business from being mediocre to fulfilling and inspiring.


Please note this post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

5 Great Tips To Write The Best CV

Usually my blog and 5TopTips videos are intended to help businesses however there are exceptions and this post is one of them. The subject of this post is How to write a CV or Curriculum Vitae, so if you need help with CV Writing read on or watch the video.



Our expert on writing CVs is Certified Professional CV Writer Magda Tomaszewska from CV-World in Stirling so without further ado here are Magda’s 5TopTips.

First Impressions Count
Make sure you make the most of the headline in your curriculum Vitae. Use it to brand yourself and to convey very specific information about the value you can offer. You are crushing it if a business owner or HR manager will invite you for an interview just after seeing the start of your CV. Do not let it be a wasted opportunity, make that headline count.

Does it read well
Keep your writing simple, concise and to the point. Avoid cramming in too much information in any one section because the important detail will disappear in a forest writing. Your aim is to make it easier for recruiters to screen your CV so get to the point, you are not writing a novel.  If the recruiter cannot find what they are looking for there is no chance they will put you forward for the job.

Your achievements
In your CV writing show your achievements. Employers look for candidates who can solve their problems and deliver the results, so remember to highlight your accomplishments and tell them how you have helped your previous employers. Having qualifications may be good but it is what you can do and have done that matters most.

The right CV for the job
One CV does not necessarily fit all, target your Curriculum Vitae to the specific job. Remember there is no need to write down everything you did in your career, only include the information which is relevant to the position you are applying for. If you are making a change in your career it is very important to focus on your transferable skills, your soft skills.

Key words are for CVs too
Use key words. Try reviewing a couple of job specifications and find the most common words included in the requirements section. Think of the recruiter as Google searching your CV for the keywords and phrases that are relevant to that job, if you use those keywords your CV will get noticed and you will significantly increase your chances of being selected for an interview.
    


If you are still looking for further information on writing you CV take a look at the University of Kent's website. The 
National Career Service also offers plenty of useful adviceFinally the BBCs Kevin Peachey has a good video on advice for getting a potential employers attention.

Monday, 8 June 2015

5 Great Tips For Business Networking

Today I have invited professional coach and trainer, Jill Simpson, from DEVA Training in Kilmarnock, to share her 5TopTips on business networking. Watch the video or keep reading for Jill's insight into how to make networking more enjoyable and effective. 



If you are a networking newbie and not a natural extrovert then the prospect of walking into a room full of strangers is likely to be a daunting and intimidating prospect. But like most new experiences, once you get started you will probably relax and enjoy yourself. Just forcing yourself to do it is the major issue. To effectively get over that barrier it helps to be prepared so keep reading and you should pick up enough to not only enjoy networking but also make it effective for your business. For more networking tips check out my post featuring Janet Torley from Events for Business. Looking for books on business networking? These Amazon links may help, otherwise keep reading. 

         

No one goes networking just for the fun of it, there is a reason for going and that reason is likely to be that your business needs to benefit financially from the time and money you are putting into networking. So first up, don't waste the opportunity by hiding in a corner, only talking to people you already know or sticking like glue to just one person. Make a conscious effort to circulate because the more people you meet the greater your chance of establishing new and useful business relationships.

Now if you have never attended a networking event before do not be fooled by relaxed atmosphere and be tempted to regard event as a party where you can let your hair down. Remember you are representing your company and first impressions do count! Be friendly but professional.

Many networking events will provide a guest list in advance so go through it and identify anyone you would like to meet and if necessary ask the organiser to introduce you to that person. Although you never know who might recommend you in the future you might as well go for the low hanging fruit in the meantime and target the people you think it will be beneficial to know.

A mistake networking newbies sometime make is they think they are there to sell – DON’T! That might be your ultimate goal but you are there to make new contacts and build relationships. The more you understand the business needs of your new contacts the better placed you will be to solve their problems with your product or service. Show a genuine interest in the people you meet and listen to them, you will win their appreciation and trust. No one likes a pushy sales person so ease off and start identifying opportunities for building new business relationships.

You might think that you want to collect everyone’s business card, and if you are at a speed networking event you probably will (minus the ones who have come without their business cards, there’s always one), however you are likely to be wasting your time. Only the collect business cards of people you know you would like to talk to again and then be sure and add them to your database. After the event follow-up, invite them for coffee or send information that might be interesting to them. Good relationships take time and effort, and that’s also true of business relationships.

Finally listen, be courteous, be honest and smile. If you enjoy your networking it shows and the people you meet are more likely to enjoy your company, to like you and develop a profitable relationship with you.


Please note this blog contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

How To Increase Your Profit

Today’s post is based on a recent presentation by Duncan Tannahill Managing Director of the Tannahill Partnership and former CEO of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. You can watch an abridged version of the presentation in the video below or keep reading.




ProfitBuilder

Very often businesses give away profit and opportunity without necessarily being aware of it. If they systemised their business their teams could run the business more effectively and generate larger profits.

To achieve this Duncan Tannahill uses a model called ProfitBuilder that looks at Leads, your Conversion Rate, number of Sales, the Average Sale Value, and your Margin. When you multiply all of these separate factors you arrive at your Gross Profit, as you can see in Duncan's graphic below. Now the left hand column is a bit like looking at equations in a maths class so in the right hand column we'll put in some numbers to make it look real.



As you can see we have 2000 leads and we convert 30% of those leads into customers who each make two purchases with an average value of £200. That equates to a total sales value of £240,000. If we assume a margin of 20% that leaves us with a gross profit of £48,000.

Multiply A Little To Get A Lot

So what can you do with these numbers to make them grow and make the business bigger and better? Now what many business owners do not appreciate is that even a small change in each of those factors in black can make a huge difference to the Gross Profit. Really successful companies will drive those black items because they know what happens when you multiply each of those factors together you get a compounding effect. The increase in each factor might be small but multiply them together and wonderful things happen. Imagine we are able to increase each one by 10%, which probably is not unreasonable. So 2000 leads would go to 2200, your conversion rate would go up from 30% to 33% and so on. Those are all relatively small changes but what happens to the Gross Profit is that it moves from £48,000 to a staggering £73,790.




What the graphic is telling us is that if we increase each of those areas by 10% the over all effect is sales will increase by 46% but the Gross Profit grows by a whopping 61%.  

It doesn’t matter what your business is or what your numbers are currently, when you increase them by 10 percent it has to come out at a 61% increase in profit on the bottom line. If you can drive just these five areas in your business you are on the way to growing your business significantly.


To Discount Or Not To Discount

Here we will look at improving just one of those areas, the average sales value. This in itself is likely to cause you alarm if you regularly discount in your business or if you have increased your prices you will be feeling quite smug in a moment.

Every business has given a discount at some point. You know what happens, a customer takes a sharp intake of breath and tells you, “oh, that’s too expensive”. So you take 10% off the price. The trouble is you probably do not understand the consequence of giving that discount. When you give a discount you are giving away money and usually a lot more than you think.

For example, say you are selling widgets for £100 and the cost per sale is £60 so you have a 40% margin. Now if you give away a 10% discount what happens is you are now selling the same widget for just £90, so your margin reduces to £30.

So what have you effectively done in real terms by giving a 10% discount? You haven’t given away 10% of your profit, in fact you have given away 25 percent of your profit. But more alarming, if you run your business by giving discounts you will have to go out and get more customers just to make the same amount of profit.

In our example of a 40% gross margin and a 10% discount that is a 25% reduction in profit or you need a third more customers. So for every three customers you have you need a fourth one just to make the same money you would have made.

In contrast if you put up your prices by 10 percent, you have a $50 profit on a $110 sale so a 25% increase in profit and by definition you could have fewer customers and still make the same money.



The Takeaway
  • Give a 10% discount and see a 33% reduction in profit
  • Give a 10% discount and work a third harder for the same profit
  • Increase prices by 10% for a 25% increase in profit
  • Increase prices by 10% and only sell 4 widgets instead of 5 for the same profit

When you look at the consequence of making that 10% change, either up or down, you can see the actual change in your profit is magnified considerably. Understanding that can make a huge difference in your business so don't be so quick to agree to a discount the next time your customer asks for one. If you can avoid giving a discount you can stop that drip in the bottom of the bucket and make the bucket fill a lot quicker and therefore generate more profit more easily.


Duncan Tannahill is available through his website or by phoning +44 1360 449 023. For Duncan’s E-Learning Marketing System click here.