Growing a business

I attended a local and exclusive networking event last week for SME Business Owners, Advisors and Entreprenuers called the K-club (

There was an excellent talk by Sarah Goulbourne from Gunnercook LLP who spoke passionately about the ‘Sea Change in Law’.

With regard to my own work as a business consultant helping SME business owners in pretty much any sector to plan and grow for the future, Sarah’s talk about how to grow a modern law firm was real music to my ears.

Sarah’s business Gunnercook is trying to demystify the client legal experience and I suspect the way law firms grow and market. Sarah simply believes that a modern law firm needs to put in place marketing and sales systems like most entrepreneurial businesses. I believe Law firms in America are even starting to offer basic services over the internet (see LawPivot!).

nuOrder believe that any businesses can put in place a tested sales and marketing system and get fantastic scalable results that can be measured for success.

I you need help doing such as thing drop us a line at nuOrder and we can help you today.

Best Business Planning Practices

What separates a weak business plan from a good plan? Or a good plan from a great one? As with any reliable roadmap, a powerful business plan clearly lays out a course and provides alternatives to follow should any roadblocks appear.

A business plan is an important tool for internal planning in any business and for garnering support from external sources. Use the business plan best practices here to create a solid plan for your business.

Build the plan around its audience

A business plan can be used for many purposes and should be created with its use and audience in mind. You might create a plan as a tactical rollout guide for a new product or market, as an annual strategic guide, as a tool to lure investors, or as a way to get your organization excited about the coming year. The way you’ll use the plan should shape its focus. A plan aimed at raising money needs to focus on the talent and experience of your team to boost investors’ confidence in your company. It should also be slickly produced, printed and packaged. A strategic guide for internal use, on the other hand, might focus more closely on the steps required to roll out a new product. Multiple versions of your plan may be required if you have more than one audience and purpose.

Focus on finances

A strong business plan demonstrates that there is a financial impact related to all strategies, ideas, and assumptions. In one way or another, every section of your plan needs a financial bent – How will marketing generate income? How will the competitive environment impact your ability to make money? What will production of a product cost and how will that impact profitability?

Be realistic in your enthusiasm

While it is natural for a business plan to reflect a belief that your offering or approach is superior to anything else on the market, remember to temper your zeal. In creating each section of the plan, ask yourself what a sceptic would be concerned about regarding your statements and assumptions. For example, if your plan concerns a new product introduction, ask yourself about the barriers to acceptance. Always return to the “why” – Why would customers switch allegiance to you? Why would companies outsource a service to you, etc? You can put a plan to the test by sharing a rough draft with someone you know who has a sceptical nature.

Segment whenever possible

No small business can be all things to all people. Focusing on specific market segments will improve the accuracy of your planning, since you will be able to build your financial assumptions around the specific needs of those segments. Don’t limit segmentation just to your marketing efforts – the habits and values of your target audience will likely influence everything from product development to pricing.

Produce carefully

Whether you are sharing a business plan with staff only or a discriminating outside resource, features such as charts that clearly illustrate a point, statistics that back up an assertion, or judiciously-placed graphics can increase the likelihood that your audience will be receptive to your message. Once your plan is complete, have it proofread by two different people to ensure that mistakes don’t undermine its effectiveness. Also, consider the appropriate way to package a plan. A plan for bankers, partners or investors should be printed on high quality paper and bound. You can cut some corners with an internal document, but be sure your document reflects the effort you put into it.

Revise, revise, revise

A business plan is a “living” document that requires periodic review and continual improvement. Your plan may be your company’s roadmap, but your business can quickly be thrown off course by market downturns, shifting buying habits, or even better-than-anticipated sales. Review your plan regularly to see if you’re on track and adjust budgets and priorities accordingly.

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.

Downturn has unexpected benefits, say 87% of firms

We recently came across an uplifting piece in one of the national papers. I’ve contacted HSBC to get a copy of the full report, but for the interim please enjoy the article as featured….

[Since the article was written Uk Plc has since returned to positive GDP growth. Let’s hope growth is here to stay]

Nearly two-third of businesses expect to grow in the next two years despite the economic slump.

A report by HSBV Commercial Banking highlights what it calls ‘Growth Pioneers’ – individuals who are taking control of the future of business and steering the UK towards economic recovery.

The report looks at the strategies business owners employ to ensure they survive during the downturn.

These include diversifying into new markets with a focus on exports. Firms are also looking at innovative forms of finance, from invoice financing to peer-to-peer lending. There has also been an increase in the number of business owners choosing to work with other firms and organizations, to use their combined strengths for mutual benefit.

According to the report, 87 percent of business owners believed there had been unexpected benefits of the  downturn. Steve Box of HSBC say ‘this report reveals the hidden successes we are seeing on a daily basis – British businesses getting on and growing despite the economic downturn.’

nuOrder have asked for a copy of the report. So far we entirely agree with the ‘extract’ and look forward to hopefully studying the report in detail.

More soon. Roger

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

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.
  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

For information on Lisa Gibson and her testimonuals visit

6 ways to grow your business

1. Get an edge
Find an underlying advantage of 10 to 30 times over the competition to dominate your industry. How to figure this out? Look at your industry’s biggest cost and time constraints and challenge the conventional thinking in those areas of the business.

2. Own a phrase
Brand is about owning a word or two in the minds of your market. And how do you know if you own the phrase? Google it and see if your company shows up.

3. Hyperfocus
Align the entire company around a single measurable priority each quarter. Not 75, not five, but one overarching focus for the next 90 days that removes a significant bottleneck in the business. What about yours?

4. Control your cash
Growth eats cash, so construct a business model that fuels your growth without the need of outside capital. Gift cards, advanced payments, tighter billing practices, and shorter sales and delivery cycles are a few of many strategies. And to stay focused, look at your cash position daily. You’ll sleep better knowing the business can fund its own growth.

5. Write!
Flood the digital market space with blogs, white papers, YouTube videos, and Twitter messages that align with the phrase you own. Then enhance your authority.

6. Pulse faster
If you want to move faster, pulse faster. The executive teams of the fastest-moving companies huddle daily, as if in constant crisis mode — driving on priorities, metrics, and data gathered from the market.

And successful executive teams gather once a week vs. annually to get some talk time around the six strategies I’ve outlined for growing the business. It’s about having a bias for action.

Business Strategy – Complacency

“A feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger, trouble, or controversy”.

“An instance of contented self-satisfaction”.

How often have you heard one of your business clients utter the immortal words “Things were going so well – I didn’t see the danger until it was too late!”? While having a feeling of satisfaction in a job well done is a positive outcome, that same feeling can be the ruin of a good business when overshadowed by short sightedness, arrogance and over confidence. The one critical characteristic that separates okay businesses from great businesses is their desire (at all costs) to avoid complacency creeping in to their operations.

Complacency comes in many disguises:

  • Thinking you are so far ahead of your competitors you can “take it easy” for awhile
  • Considering you know what your clients need better than they do
  • Ignoring the importance of clients (and staff) who refer new business
  • Believing you have enough experience, knowledge and/or skills
  • Disregarding high staff/client turnover and considering it someone else’s problem
  • Assuming that “good enough” is going to be satisfactory to your clients

These are some of the signs of a business that is complacent about its success. Complacency can strike at any area in your business: your efficiency and productivity; the effectiveness of your procedures and systems; the quality of service you offer your clients. Some of the most common areas of complacency we see are in the leadership, knowledge and skills in a business. While complacency is defined as a “feeling”, unlike being happy or angry, the damage to your business can be profound. Let’s consider the impact of a complacent leader and complacent business:

  • “I know enough/I have sufficient skills to run this business” – people, businesses and markets change every day. If you are satisfied that you know enough, or have enough experience to effectively lead your business towards your vision, reconsider. Leaders who seek to continually build their knowledge and skills are far more effective in keeping abreast of important changes and making course corrections so benefit of their business. The day you stop learning is the day you stop leading
  • “We are far too good for our competitors” – that may be true today but what about tomorrow? If your business is complacent, it fails to understand that there is always going to be another business in the market seeking to overtake it and attract your clients
  • “Our service is good enough” – service can always be better. A Business that cast’s off complacency and adopt’s continuous improvement are those that have recognised how dangerous being satisfied with the “ways things are” can be
  • “Sure we have high staff turnover but that’s just because staff can’t hack the pace” – if you are complacent about staff turnover, you are failing to recognise that things are not all rosy in your business. Thinking it’s your staff’s problem is a certain recipe for eventual disaster.

Complacency is insidious and starts with something as simple as “oh – that’s good enough”. As the leader, you need to ensure that you continue to challenge the status quo to avoid complacency creeping in. Ask yourself: “How can we do better?”; “What ways can we improve our service?” and most importantly “What lessons did we learn when things went wrong?”

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.

Give Your Business Direction

Overview Having a clear business direction is the most powerful business improvement tool you can use. There are many clichés about planning and business direction:

  • “If you don’t know where you are going any road will do.”
  • “Poor Planning Produces Pathetically Poor Performance (modified from the military version)” to quote two.”

As worn as these clichés are the fact is that they are, by and large, true. Without a clear business direction your business will not go anywhere. It may survive on enthusiasm and energy in the short term but in the longer term it will fail.

Some people say they are not planners and it is true some of us are better at planning a direction, setting goals and achieving them than others. But saying you are not good at it is just an excuse, an admission that you don’t enjoy the discipline the process brings to your business and even less the fact that you end up with something by which you and others can measure your performance.

Setting a clear business direction doesn’t have to be a complicated process – in fact the less complicated the better. In its simplest terms it is a matter of deciding where you want to be at some point in the future (“Where”); critically assessing your current situation (“Now”); and setting in place strategies to get you from where you are now to where you want to be (“How”). Add a time frame (“When”) and a means of measuring how well you are actually doing against what you thought you would do (“Measuring”) and you have it – a clear business direction.

Depending on the complexity and size of your business your business direction might cover an A4 sheet or it might be a more significant document. This is one situation where size really doesn’t count but – clarity is paramount. Like any good process there are a number of steps to setting business direction that will bring clarity to your thinking. The key steps are summarised below:

Step 1. – Where You Want to Be. What is Your Vision? Develop a vision for your business and personal life. A vision is a statement of where you want to be at some point in the future. What is it that you want you business to look like? What will it be doing? How well will it be doing it? What will it be providing for you? How will it feel to have the business where you want it. It is a view of an attractive future for you and your business. It is bold and exciting and importantly is in some way better that what exists now. Generally it is timeless and while it might change on the way it is something you are always aiming for. It is what you are aiming for in everything you do in business.

Step 2. – What Business are You In? Clearly define what business you are in. In doing this you are also defining what business you aren’t in. Define the purpose of your business. Work it out from a customers perspective – what do you need to provide to your customers not what they are going to get. This is often called the Mission of your business. In a military context it states the overall target and how and when the target will be achieved. In a business context it defines the business you are in, the core purpose of the business, your target markets and how you are going to operate. It incorporates the culture you want in your business, its philosophy. It defines how your business is different from others. It is supported by your core values or guiding principles.

Step 3. – Define Your Guiding Principles Your guiding principles are the core values by which you want to run your business. They are a benchmark on which you base a decision to proceed or not. If a core value is to be compromised in going down a particular track then you would make a decision not to proceed. Core values can include:

  • How you want to conduct you business
  • How you want to treat your customers
  • How you want to treat your staff
  • The quality of your products
  • Your ethics
  • How you want to treat the environment

Step 4. – Set Your Key Objectives This is a goal setting exercise. What are the specific goals you want to achieve? What do you want to achieve over the next 6 months, 1 year, 2 year, 5 years, 10 years? Make sure they are:

  • Specific – be clear and focussed on what you want to achieve
  • Measurable – how can you measure your progress?
  • Attainable – are the resources available or can be secured to enable you to do the job?
  • Realistic – be bold but be credible
  • Time framed – define when you want to achieve your goal

Step 5. Develop your Strategies For each goal set specific strategies that will achieve your goal in your timeframe. The more strategies you can implement the faster will be your growth. But remember growth needs to be balanced so make sure you are addressing each area of your business at the same time to keep all in balance.

Step 6. Do a Nike – Just Do It! There is no change without change. This means that all the planning in the world won’t create change unless you act.

Gunfire software not working – a business lesson!

I heard an interesting news story on BBC Radio5 live today about gunfire detector software not working for the UK Police.

West Midlands Police have been testing a very expensive system that has been used with great success in America. The results in the first UK installation? Only 2 gun shots were detected, but over a 100 irrelevant reports were raised.

How is this relevant for business strategy you ask?

It appears that most UK criminals don’t buy ‘off the shelf guns’ and UK cities give off a very different sound pattern to that of US cities. This makes very good sense now, but shouldn’t that have been thought of before lots of money was spent and police time was wasted.

So what’s the business lesson?

This story made me think about the phrase … “think globally and manage locally” that I remember from the early 90’s.

Whenever a business is trying to sell products or services into a new territory or market, the business should consider what changes need to be made for the offering to work in this new market. For example many people buy a franchise (supposed to be a business in a box) and then try to reinvent the wheel when the standard offerings and system don’t work in the new territory.

Research the local market and fully understand how you need to flex your offerings accordingly.

Until next time.

BBC Article

Your Business and the Business Life Cycle

Your business goes through several life cycle stages, and different financial strategies are appropriate at each or the four distinct states.

Use the Business Life Cycle Checklist below to identify your company’s current position in the business life cycle and better understand the issues that you’ll be dealing with in each phase.

1. Startup/Emerging – The business is developing initial products, defining markets, and deciding what business structure to use and creating its first operational systems. Issues faced:

  • Preparing business plan/improving results
  • Improving/ managing cash flow
  • Accumulating funds for specific business needs
  • Selecting entity structure

2. Growth/Expansion – Sales are growing, more employees are needed, operational systems will soon be outgrown and increased revenues are bringing tax issues to the forefront. Issues faced:

  • Protecting investment in business
  • Protecting against business risks
  • Managing business taxes
  • Implementing retirement plans
  • Establishing programs to attract and retain employees

3. Mature/Prosperous Growth has brought cash reserves that require investment decision, operational systems need to be further refined and the importance of keeping key employees increases. Issues faced:

  • Investing business cash reserves
  • Getting business valuation
  • Structuring benefits for owners
  • Protecting against impact of loss of key employees

4. Transition/Exit It’s time to decide whether to keep the business in the family, diversity investment away from the business, sell or transfer the business or go in a new direction, and revitalize or rebuild. Issues faced:

  • Create buy/sell agreement
  • Implementing a business transition plan
  • Retaining business within the family
  • Selling at desired price
  • Finding next venture