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I run my own business, which has its pleasures and its challenges.  I started to do what I do for good reasons, and I keep doing it for good reasons, but those reasons have perhaps evolved over time.  I recently worked out what is actually the most important thing to me – how I did it and how it’s helped me might be of help to you.

I was at a small independent networking group in Marlow (let me know if you want details – you might like it) and Helen Isacke of http://www.crowncoaching.com/ ran a great session on just this topic.

Helen provided us with a list of potential answers to the question, such as:

  • To maximise my income
  • To not have a boss
  • To manage people how they should be managed ... and so on.

There were about forty of them – not an exhaustive list, but a pretty good one.

We then went through a guided process to narrow down our top five, and then finally to end up with just one.

If Helen had started with simply asking what was the most important thing to each of us, it would have been a really tough question to answer.  By taking us through the process, we all ending up with one solitary item, we all enjoyed the process, and we all learned something about ourselves (and each other) along the way.

Thank you Helen!

And what was top for me, I hear you ask?  “Making money” was on my list, as was “Being my own boss”, but the one which came top was “Delivering value”.

Why? 

Primarily because I feel a huge burden of responsibility when working with clients.  They are entrusting me with their secrets, their worries, their dreams, in the hope and belief that I will help them achieve their objectives, whatever those objectives may be.  I need to charge for my services (mortgage, family and other calls upon my cash), so I don’t only want to help people, I want them to consider that the sum they pay me is more than outweighed by the return on their investment.

When I reflected on this afterwards, I came to the conclusion that if I achieve this, then the other things which are important to me also come to fruition. 

If you’ll forgive me saying so, I have a need for revenue.  If I deliver value, then clients will come back for more (more of the same, or services with a different slant), and that will result in more revenue. They will also feel more comfortable writing a LinkedIn testimonial, and in mentioning to business connections of their own that I provide a good service which could also benefit them, all of which can lead to additional revenue for me.

Running my own business is also a biggie for me. I like to go in the direction I want to go, and to do so in the way I want to.  To have those outcomes, my business needs to be financially viable.  So, delivering value leads to repeat clients and new clients, which leads to financial sustainability, which means I can carry on running my own business.

I’ve always tried to deliver value, as an employee and when running my first business as well as now that I’m running Enterprise Doctor.  Since I’ve been through this process, I’ve had more of an active focus on delivering value – I think I’ve perhaps moved from unconscious competence back to conscious competence, which I see as a step forward.

 

So – what’s top of your list? Or might you need help working that out?

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Posted by on in Sales

So, a nice man offered to link with me on LinkedIn. He's an accountant. Seemed a nice enough guy, relatively local, someone who might be able to use my services, someone to whom I might be able to refer people, someone who might be able to refer to me.

I accepted the connection request. And then I did what I always do under such circumstances (as some of you will know!), I pinged him a message asking what it was that had motivated him to want to connect.

He soon replied, with two key messages.

  1. They were able to deliver accountancy services at a lower price than my current accountant.
  2. They were keen that I should be aware of their specialism in the healthcare industry.

I did think about it, but then I pinged him the following:

"Hi xxxxx.

You really do know nothing about me.

The first thing you don't know is what I pay my accountant, so how do you know you'll offer lower prices?

Why do you think that your having lots of clients in the healthcare sector would be of relevance to me? Oh, you think I'm a doctor. How silly.

The other thing you don't know about me is that I don't believe LinkedIn is a cold calling tool. You really shouldn't connect with people out of the blue and then immediately sell at them.

Still, nice knowing you!"

Maybe I was a little harsh. Maybe being a little harsh has some validity! I really feel strongly that LinkedIn is not a cold calling tool, at least not a brazenly as he was using it. I wonder how many such connection requests he pinged out that day, and every day.

I really believe in the "know like trust" sales journey and I accept that I didn't know him and now I do. However, he hasn't made me like him. And the depth of his research was such that he thinks I'm a GP. If his accountancy skills are as strong, I don't want to do business with him.

What do you think? Am I right or am I wrong? Was I harsh? Was it justified??

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Thanks for visiting this blog, but I'm afraid you have one more click before you read it!

I know, like and trust Vicky White and she feels the same about me.  That's why she invited me to write a guest blog for her on the topic!  Please do go to http://outsourcepaservices.co.uk/know-like-trust-sales-journey/ for a quick read!

Tagged in: selling
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Posted by on in News

I've been doing for nothing what I generally get paid to do for a long time.  That used to be solely as a Business Mentor for The Princes Trust.  For a number of years I've also been doing that for Buckinghamshire New University.

They've recently started giving mentors the chance to say a few words online to encourage new mentors, and indeed new mentees, to step forward.  I was delighted to be given the chance to say a few words, and you can read what I said at  http://thebucksgraduate.com/2016/02/15/mark-harris/.

Re the words there from my mentee, and from the University, it's nice to be appreciated!

Tagged in: mentoring volunteering
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Posted by on in News

Today marked the start of Laptop Monday – an idea which has been kicking around for a few years, but to which I really started paying attention a few short months ago.

I work from home, and it can be pretty isolated.  Sure, I chat to people on the phone, and even Skype with clients, but that’s just not the same as interacting with people face-to-face in the same way that those who work in an open plan office get to do every day.

So, I designed & built Laptop Monday – a co-working event, to be held every 2-3 weeks at a hotel nearby, and started to promote it and invite people.  I did lots of tweets, pushed the events on LinkedIn, got articles in both of the relevant local papers, advertised on Marlow FM, used the auspices of the Marlow Chamber and generally networked my socks off!

The result?  There were 10 like-minded people there and, I am delighted to say, the objectives were achieved. 

Sometimes there was absolute silence, with 10 work focussed people hunched over their laptops.  Sometimes, only one or two were working, while the others had a group discussion about the late lamented Mr Bowie, the benefits of FSB membership or the latest resignation from nice Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.  Sometimes the babble was all pervading, as four or five separate conversations took place simultaneously.

Some of those conversations were most certainly within the domain of “co-working” – a range of help was given, a number of business cards were swapped, some old acquaintances were renewed and some new relationships began – as I left, the last two were in the bar discussing how they may be able to be of help to each other moving forward.

The only formal-ish part of the event was the “Lunch’n’Learn”, delivered by Sally Hindmarch of http://partnerswithyou.co.uk/, covering off “The five P’s of Presentations”, although she actually gave us six!  A useful interactive workshop from which everyone in the room benefitted.  As someone said afterwards, that session alone was worth the £15 for the day (which included tea & coffee all day, as well as free parking & free wifi).

So – onward!  The next event is 25th January.  Two places already booked.  Some of those in the room today said they’d be back.  10-ish people seemed to work well, but there’s room for more – happy to have you join us for 25th Jan, or one of the other planned events.

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Posted by on in Sales

Many businesses I speak to bemoan the fact that they’re not selling enough stuff, be that stuff a product or a service.  Top of the list of their moans is that they talk to people who it turns out are not the right MAN.

Don’t worry – I’m not being sexist with the word MAN – I know women buy things too!  The capital letters are a clue.  It’s an acronym for Money Authority Need.

If the person (man or woman) you’re speaking to is nor not the right MAN, you’re wasting your time, and theirs.

Let’s say you sell gold plated coffee mugs.  Best of luck with that business – there may be a market out there – you never know!

Money means disposable funds, money they’re actually prepared to spend on what you’re talking about.  I probably could find £1000 to spend if I needed to.  I’m not prepared to spend that money on a gold plated coffee mug.  The money is simply not available for that purpose.  You can extoll the virtues of your product for as long as you like, I’m just not going to spend the money.  You’re wasting your time, and mine.

Authority means the power to make the purchasing decision.  There may well be a budget for a number of gold plated mugs, but it’s not me who decides.  All the time you spend convincing me that you’re my ideal supplier, who can deliver my ideal product, is wasted time.  It’s true that decision makers have gatekeepers, but the sell to a gatekeeper is a different sell.  You’re trying to sell them the concept that they should be letting you through the gate. You need to identify the decision maker, the person with the authority to buy.  You then need to secure access to them.  Only then should you try to sell to them!

Need should be fairly obvious, but I get countless approaches from people trying to sell me things I don’t need.  I regret to advise I just don’t need a gold plated coffee mug.  It will create the wrong impression of me and my business.  My china mug fulfils its purpose adequately.  I’m happy as I am, thank you very much!  Please don’t waste my time, or yours.

So, before you make that call, or visit that networking group, or kick off that social media campaign, think about the MAN you want to talk to.  How will you find them?  How will you ensure they are indeed the right MAN for you?

If you want some answers to those questions, please do get in touch!

 

 

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Posted by on in News

Hiya.

I needed a meeting with someone in or near Beaconsfield the other day.  He suggested Costa.  I suggested the Regus centre in the services at J2 on the M40.  He agreed to my suggestion.

It is a little bit weird parking at the services for a meeting, but once you’re over that mental hurdle and go upstairs to the hushed office environment, the weirdness goes away and you feel like, well, you feel like you’re at work.

You’re met at the door, your Gold Card is swiped and you’re in.  Given the 2 hours max parking, make sure you sign in to the visitors book – that gets you free parking all day.  Help yourself to the free refreshments.  Log in to the free wifi.  Enjoy the free air con.  Smile at the other people around.  Then the bad news – you’re supposed to get on with some work!

My meeting went well – the only bad news was the stifling heat when we left the lovely air con – never mind.

So – is this a shameless plug for Regus?

Nope.

I mentioned the Gold Card you need to get all this for free.  Well, you could buy it from http://www.regus.co.uk/products/businessworld-membership/gold.aspx for a mere £25 / month.

Or, you could get it free as just one of the membership benefits of the Federation of Small Businesses.  That’s where I got mine.  Go to http://www.fsb.org.uk/office-solutions to get yours!

Business advice from Enterprise Doctor – for free!  I suggest you take this medicine – it’s not at all unpleasant!!

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Hi.

Really surprised it’s 7 weeks since I blogged – life is a bit of a blur, but that’s no excuse.

Actually, I wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago.  It’s on the subject of outsourcing, why you should, when you should and such forth.  So why haven’t you seen it?  Because it’s going to be published on someone else’s blog in a couple of weeks as a ‘guest blog’.

What’s the rationale?

Well, she doesn’t have to write a blog, so that’s easy for her!  It also means that she can publish a blog that she’s comfortable will be of relevance and interest to her readers and that they will be entertained / stimulated / given food for thought from a slightly different perspective to her usual standpoint.

For me, if her readers find me interesting, well, maybe they’ll follow my blog, or my Twitter feed (@enterprisedoc), or at least have a browse of my website (http://www.enterprisedoctor.co.uk/), which will hopefully be to their benefit and to mine.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, firstly as a bit of a teaser – in a couple of weeks I’ll point you at her blog so you can see what I had to say on the subject.

But also to make you an offer.

Do you think you could write a blog that would appeal to the type of people who might follow me & read my stuff?  If so, would you like to submit a guest blog to me?  If you so, I may choose to publish, if I agree that it’s interesting and relevant.  All my fans will then know a little about you.

Not quite sure who the loser is here – my kind of outcome!

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Posted by on in News

I realised on Thursday (and I’ll tell you why in a mo) that I’ve not blogged in a while.

Why not?  Because I’ve been busy!

As a brief run-down, so you know I’m not just making excuses since I last blogged I have:

  • Enjoyed watching the views go up & up on Youtube for the Christmas show on Marlow FM I did with Mike Duckett of http://www.coachingforsuccess.co.uk/ – 69 views so far, so little old me is quite happy with that!  If you want a listen (it’s quite entertaining) go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1I-Xnasc3sc on your next lunch break & prepare to be entertained.  How long will it take you to guess who the guest was?
  • Wrote a marketing strategy for a professional Institute – they wanted it partly to use as an aid in recruiting their new Marketing Manager – they liked it so much that they asked me to write the job spec & person spec, and then they asked me to take part in the whole recruitment process – challenging work but thoroughly enjoyable & delighted that they’ve made clear they want to put more work my way.
  • Went to Spain for 6 days.  It was work – honest!  OK, so I played some golf, ate some food, lounged around a bit too, but I was actually working with a business owner I know out there, helping him primarily with his first real foray into social media.
  • And speaking of social media, we had Vicky White of http://www.outsourcepaservices.co.uk/ in the studio.  As the web address implies, she’s a PA you can hire by the hour or the day, but one of her key areas of expertise is social media, which she proved a number of times on air.  We’d heard that a number of Beatles songs had social media references within the lyrics – hear Vicky’s explanations at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsAsKkqGGug .  Her thoughts on Google + (perhaps more positive than yours!) are at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-pdSGMMaOo – have a listen – it may well give you food for thought!
  • Mike and I often try to out-do eachother with absurd but true topics – to hear Mike telling us about a treadmill with a desk built in, so you can walk and work at the same time, have a listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shGjyc4Cba8 – I think he might win!

Oh, and what prompted me to get back into blogging?  Vicky, of course.  No point talking about social media without doing it!

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