Forming Beneficial Strategic Alliances

Establishing a strategic alliance is not a “shake hands” deal that gets put in place and then becomes the forgotten part of your business. In order to be successful, strategic alliances must be carefully selected, rigorously tested and, like your transformed business, properly systemised in order to work effectively. Many business owners make the mistake of forming strategic alliances with unsuitable partners that end up costing the business considerable amounts – both in lost revenue, costs in unwinding the relationship and in terms of damaged goodwill. When evaluating reasons for these failures, some common trends emerge:

  • Poor planning and budgeting
  • Assuming, trusting and not checking the alliance partner’s credentials, capability, reputation etc
  • Failing to assess the strategic and cultural fit of the proposed alliance partner
  • Not properly documenting the relationship and responsibilities
  • Not agreeing (and documenting) the split of income, contribution to overheads and client ownership
  • Failing to plan and set targets for the alliance
  • Not adequately communicating the nature and purpose of the alliance to staff
  • Not providing adequate coaching or support to enable staff to cross sell or identify opportunities
  • Having poorly defined procedures to manage the flow of work

So how do you go about establishing a strong strategic alliance? We believe there are 9 essential steps after you have decided a strategic alliance is right for your business:

  1. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of a strategic alliance
  2. Conduct a rigorous analysis of your potential partner(s)
  3. Understand what you and your potential partner(s) bring to the arrangement
  4. Negotiate the arrangement
  5. Structure and document your arrangement
  6. Agree on who does what
  7. Plan
  8. Execute
  9. Manage

You will notice that nearly 90% of the process takes place before you and your strategic alliance partner start to do anything with clients. There is a good reason for this – the 90% of the time you invest in preparation will allow you two important things: time to get to know your potential alliance partner even better and time to make sure you have structured an alliance partnership that suits your business.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

How to Grow and Managing a Business for Profits: Seminar

Growing and Managing a Business for Profits – What business owners need to do to boost income and manage a business through tough times

http://nuorderbusinessgrowth.eventbrite.co.uk/

Event Details:

Duration: Tuesday 13th June, 9am to 12.30pm.
Location: Mere Court Hotel Conference Centre, Mere, Knutsford, Cheshire.

Full Fee: £35 including booking fees and VAT
Early Bird Fee: £25 including booking fees and VAT (Sold Out)
Finders Fee: Receive £5 for every person you recommend who then attends the seminar.

Normally £50 + VAT, this personal invite entitles you to attend this joint seminar at a discounted rate.

Seminar Details:

Do you want to recapture your enthusiasm for your business or for the business you work for?  Are you looking for ways to grow your business and instill a sense of pride in your workforce that will result in increased profitability?

Then this is a seminar not to be missed.  Delivered by two experts in their field, Roger Brown and Lisa Gibson, the 3 ½ hour seminar programme will provide you with simple yet highly effective techniques to achieve your business aspirations.

You will come away with top tips on Social Business and the use of CRM and well as understanding the power of having the right person in the right job within any organization.

This seminar programme will benefit anyone who:

  • owns a business and wants help to grow or manage the business more effectively
  • wants tips and advice on managing and inspiring a team
  • want to increase leads and grow a client base

How do I book a place?

  1. Purchase your tickets. http://nuorderbusinessgrowth.eventbrite.co.uk/
  2. Once your booking has been received and assessed, you will be sent a booking confirmation, which will include the location, directions, and the terms and conditions.

About your speakers:

For information on Roger Brown and his testimonials visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerbrownnuorder

For information on Lisa Gibson and her testimonuals visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisagibsontriple3

A Healthy Balance Sheet For Life

We all strive for a healthy balance sheet when it comes to our business, but do we pay as much attention to the state of the non-financial assests in our lives? Items which feature on this account include our health and relationships, as well as the quality and amount of time we are able to spend enjoying leisure activities. Whilst the old saying “all work and no play” may seem rather hackneyed, it undoubtedly applies to many business owners, perhaps you amongst them?

Based on my own considerable experience, business owners tend to be passionate and committed, and are often to be found working around the clock. Although a hardworking and dedicated attitude is essential to business success, and not in itself unhealthy, a life of work without play is likely to be very damaging. Indeed, if left unchecked the addiction to work, can, and often does, lead to a whole host of problems; including burnout, stress and fatigue, not to mention other potential mental and physical health problems.

Of course, as with any addiction, the “work drug” damages others as well. Relationships with partners, children and friends all suffer as a consequence of the work junky’s habit. If the warning signs are ignored then sooner or later their partner, body, doctor, or all three, will tell them to quit.

So if you, or those close to you, recognise any of the symptoms of work addiction in yourself, then don’t ignore them! Instead, follow my 4-step rehab programme and develop a healthy balance sheet for life!

1) Plan Weekly Fun Time

Recognise that effective time management is just as important outside of your working life as it is inside of it. Just as you plan your schedule of regular business meetings and tasks on at least a weekly basis, make sure you do the same when it comes to planning your leisure time and activities. Top of your agenda should be to do something you enjoy with the people you love at least once a week. After all, you’re an entrepreneur, and with your imagination and all of those innovative skills at your disposal, finding regular free-time and ways to enjoy it should come quite naturally!

2) Live In the Moment

The focused and content person does not look back, nor look ahead, but lives in the present. This makes achieving the right balance between work and play so much easier. So when you’re working, simply focus on work! Be there in the moment, without thinking about what you could or should be doing. After all, you’re doing it, and need only pay attention to that. Likewise, when it’s time to play, then play. Don’t think about work or what you could or should be doing. When you are playing, recognize that you are playing.

Simple advice then, but perhaps I hear the cynic say, not as easy to achieve as it sounds? If that’s how it seems to you, then just remember, that just like changing any habit or learning any new skill, living in the moment is something that takes practice. However, once mastered the results are well worth it and your time will become much more rewarding, productive and enjoyable whether you’re working or playing.

3) Reward Yourself When You Deserve It

Give yourself more than just a pat on the back for a job well done. Reward yourself! Do the things you enjoy doing. If you love dancing, go dancing. If you love hiking in the woods, go hiking in the woods. Make a list of the things you like or want to do and commit to doing them in a set timeframe. Just like you’d make a task list and check things off as you accomplish them for your business, do the same with your “fun things to do” schedule.

4) Get Help With Your Business

Nobody expects you to know everything you need to know to run a modern day business, how could you? Today, every business looking to move forward and develop itself should employ professional advice to help steer the business owner into making the right strategic and tactical decisions.

As someone who has worked with many businesses from small/medium enterprises to large corporations here in the UK, has served on a number of business boards and “been at the sharp end” as a business owner myself, I can readily identify with the daily challenges of running a successful business. On the flip side, I can also testify to the pressures these demands place on your “other life” if you don’t find the time to escape and enjoy yourself.

Experts from around the world and the most successful people you’ve ever met do take time to have fun. You’re a business owner and that gives you the freedom to take vacations when you want to, to take a day off when you want to, and to have a little bit of fun right smack dab in the middle of the day without risking your job or angering your boss.

As business people we all like to see a good return on our investments, but sometimes we fail to see that this can be measured in more than just monetary terms alone. So invest time in doing the things you like to do and enjoy the returns. Not only will you have more focus and energy to devote to your business, you’ll be keeping the special people in your life happy too!


Don’t be a sheep

Having virtually run out of diesel yesterday, I had no choice but to find a local garage and stock up ready for today’s local business development and client meetings. I managed to find one forecourt that was still selling diesel and I even secured a bit more than the BP self imposed limit of 10 litres!

I assumed the ensuing panic would have been an occurrence across the nation, yet whilst on the way to the local Swan Networking Group at 7am this morning, BBC 5 live commented that panic buying had only occurred in clusters throughout the country. Why?

This got me to thinking about the ‘herd effect’ and what the lesson could business owners and those passionate about business development take from our self fulfilling prophecy obsession.

If you follow the crowd, expect the same results as everyone else…. think “the end of boom and  bust”, “we’re all in it together”.

I would strongly encourage business owners and business development experts not to follow the sheep. Rather conduct market research, investigate the competition, and then offer something different.

If you follow the herd and simply copy what everyone else does, you may end up with the same results as your competition (sometimes even better!). Then again you may not.

How Was 2011 For You? How Will 2012 Be?

How was 2011 for you? Was it all you wanted it to be?

How will 2012 be? Will it be better? How do you know?

We at nuOrder meet and talk to a lot of business owners, and the theme at the turn of the year is always the same; what went well during the previous year, and how do we replicate it? What went badly, and how do we avoid it?

Of course the real problem is that there are so many things which impact the fortunes of your business that the impact of one poor action or one poor transaction can wipe out the positive effect of the 15 transactions which went well.

So how do you make sure that your business gets to where you want it to be at the end of the year? By planning properly at the start, of course.

How do I plan?

Many business owners know broadly what they want to achieve from their business for the year but haven’t got  plans in place to make sure they get there. In particular they don’t always understand what activities (type and quantity) they need to undertake in order to achieve the results they desire. Even if they plan the activities they don’t put measures in place to know when or if they’ve achieved them. That means that they succeed, or fail, by accident. (“Next year Rodney, we’ll be Millionaires!”).

Let’s draw the analogy with going on a car journey from the bottom of the M1 to Birmingham. What’s the first thing you would do? You’d plan the journey, of course. You might even use a satnav to do it for you…..

You’d determine that you should go north up the M1 until you get to Junction 19, where you would turn left onto M6, and then when you get to junction 6 you would turn left onto A38(M) and so on. You make sure you have sufficient fuel, your breakdown cover is up to date and sufficient credit on your card to buy more if you have to.

So you have a plan. Then you put it into action. That involves two things:

  • Knowing when you have achieved an objective in your plan (for instance arrived at M1 J19)
  • Doing the correct next step (Turn left)

So, what happens when you hear on the radio that there is a blockage before J18 on M1? You conclude that getting to J19 is not going to happen and you replan, leaving at J17 and planning an alternative route. Or you ask your satnav to do it for you. Or what happens if you are running out of fuel? Your fuel gauge tells you and you do something about it before you fail in your overall objective.

Running your business is no different. You need to have a plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be:

  • Plan the marketing activities (eg. targeted advertising spend, letters to prospects) you are going to do, and what you’re going to spend on them
  • Determine (measure) whether you actually did them, and what response you achieved. If not sufficient, change the plan to do more, or better.
  • Plan your sales skills and activity to maximise your conversion rate (eg. develop a sales technique which works)
  • Establish (measure) whether the responses you received converted to adequate sales. If not sufficient, change the plan based on your experience.
  • Plan your production capacity to ensure that you have the resources to produce your goods or services (eg. people, raw materials, processes) in sufficient quantity at the right time to service your sales
  • Measure the effectiveness of your production, to ensure delivery was completed in accordance with the plan, and to quality. If not achieved change the plan to resolve the issues.
  • Plan your financial needs to determine your working capital needed, and that your cash flow is as expected (see last month’s article on cash flow planning)
  • Confirm (measure) that items effecting cashflow eg. overhead expenditure, debtor days, creditor days etc are in line with your plan through a cashflow forecast. If not, plan and find ways to bring it in line.

How do you know when you’ve achieved your plan?

You have sold what you wanted to sell, made the profit you wanted to achieve with a bank balance in line with forecast. It’s either that or Birmingham!

What next?

If you’re not sure how to start to plan, or how to make sure that the plan works, then give your local nuOrder advisor a call. You’ll be able to take advantage of our no-obligation free Business Health Check, which will identify what you need to plan for, how best to put the plan together, and what activities you need to make sure that you’ve got there. Think of us as the satnav for your business.

Just remember, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Don’t Become A Statistic

Running a business is much like being the captain of a ship, but too often we don’t have the basic navigation tools so that when we are blown of course we can find our way back.

In the case of a ship the most basic equipment required would be charts and a compass. In a business these are replaced by a budget and some basic financial reporting that gives us a timely and understandable picture of where our business is and where it is going. Sadly too many business owners have neither and sail along blindly for long periods of time.

As the business sails along, it can be assisted by a favourable wind, or buffeted by a full blown storm! This can give the business a gentle push forward or blow it wildly off course, often with little advance warning. Like the skipper of a ship, our job is to safely keep the ship on the route to its destination, but all too often the storms end up as the driver of the business and luck becomes the main factor in determining its safe arrival.

This overwhelming reliance on luck is reflected by the high level of business failure in the UK. Statistically, around 10% of businesses in the UK tragically fail each year, and this death rate bludgeons on uniformly across the whole spectrum of industries and geographic areas*. Interestingly though, survival appears directly related to the size of the business.  For example, a business with more than 20 employees is 5 times less likely to fail than those with 4 or less*.

Why do we think this is?

Well larger businesses have some obvious advantages – more hands on the Bridge. They usually have a Team (board of directors) each of whom is a specialist in their field who are constantly looking out for opportunities to grow the business and simultaneously keeping a watchful eye out for impending storms or even a rogue wave that could sink the business.

The small business rarely has such a Team as every aspect of the business is under the control of just one or two individuals. If we stay with the ship analogy, the captain who should be reading the charts with an eye on the compass while steering the ship, is too often down in the engine room stoking coal.  Who then is steering the ship when the storm comes? The inevitable outcome is that many smaller business owners end up treading water, blown of course, or simply drown. The only question is how long will it take to die?

The statistics highlight the obvious, small businesses all too often rely on good luck, but unfortunately this good luck will only last so long!Start: 1st January 2009 – End 31st December 2009

279,000 Business Deaths

Don’t Risk your business and personal fortune by relying on Luck

So, as the captain of your business, you need to stay on the Bridge, you need to have the right tools – for a ship these would be a Depth Sounder, Radar, Charts and Compass – for a business owner you need a business plan, budgets, financial reporting and some KPI’s (key performance indicators).

The good news is help is at hand. nuOrder advisors can make a huge difference to your business; we provide all the missing elements and help you and your business find a safe course and, as importantly, help you stay on course.  Diagnostics are put in place that will tell you where your business is today and where you are heading while making sure you keep a sharp eye out for impending storms – it can mean the difference between you and your business treading water and eventually drowning, or growing into a healthy stable business giving you the rewards you deserve.

Take action now. Ask for a free Health Check Questionnaire, just answering these questions will give you a fresh insight into your business and we will arrange to come and undertake a free review of your business.

* Source ONS

Stop Procrastinating And Enjoy Success

Too often we are pumping our brains with unhelpful procrastination and punishment scripts that paralyse us into inaction. It’s easy to get into a habit of programming ourselves with reluctance, paralysis and self-defeating thoughts. Why do we believe it will be easier not to do the tasks or work and instead put them off? Maybe we are afraid of failure. If we do the task we will not be successful, or it won’t be perfect.

Eventually we get that something done and we realise how it was not that hard to just push through and get it completed and out of the way. Then we wonder why we didn’t finish it sooner when it wasn’t that hard, or didn’t take that long. It’s a wonderful feeling of euphoria when we overcome blocks, of seeing the end result of finishing. Maybe we procrastinate long enough so that when we do overcome that silly block (eg. completing a tax return, writing the report or finishing the budget) it is a euphoric feeling!

Successful people use helpful scripts and develop strategies to overcome and minimise these blocks. They learn how to recognise the signs of indecision and procrastination, and how to cut them off before they develop. Their negative feelings and scripts are kept to a minimum or ‘rewritten’ quickly.

These are the helpful scripts that can get you through:

  • I am in control
  • I will just keep going until I finish
  • I will keep going and persevere
  • I can do this – it will take time but I will succeed
  • I am positive
  • I can make this happen

The first step in dealing with our paralysis scripts is to recognise they exist: it is to look for internal and external barriers that stop us achieving our goals. Here are some helpful tips:

Keep focused on the big picture

Sometimes we get sidetracked and upset about small things along the way. It is important to be able to tell yourself to step back, think of the bigger picture, remember what your vision is – and put the small things into perspective, so they no longer sidetrack you.

Tell someone you know what you are aiming to achieve. Share goals with those close to you.

Habits are our biggest obstacle to changing our behaviour. Habits are simply scripts, those that are part of the ‘black box of our brains’, deeply ingrained or embedded in us.

Remind yourself of the benefits ahead

Sometimes we procrastinate over decisions and actions, and this makes us feel bad. We are scared or anxious about what we have to do. So we leave a decision outstanding – waiting for a time when we can say one way or another more confidently what the decision should be. Some people procrastinate and look at everything several times over several days or weeks – maybe months or years with some decisions. A good thing to do is to focus on what’s best to achieve a goal and get the benefits ahead. It keeps you moving forward. It stops you getting stuck.

One of the best benefits we should remind ourselves of is simply how much better we feel after making the decision we were avoiding, or doing the task we were putting off. Focus on the importance of the task and the outcome, rather than thinking of the pain and effort of a difficult task. Tell yourself: “I’m going to feel better once this is done.” Create a situation for where there’s more pleasure associated with doing the activity, than there is pain.

Too often we get stuck, or blocked, because we are focusing on the immediate difficulties and not on the eventual benefits. Whenever you find yourself procrastinating, remember why you are doing it, think of the benefits and how good you’ll feel once you’re finished.