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Archive for the ‘Mindsets’ Category

Employees core needs

In 2014 the Harvard Business Review researched more than 12,000 (mostly white-collar) employees to find out what style of management increased productivity.

The study found that employees respond best when four core needs are met.

Core need 1 – working for a purpose

Employees who were aligned with the company Core Purpose are 170% higher job satisfaction and they were 140% more engaged at work.

And, employees who perceive meaning and significance of their work were more than 300% more likely to stay with you.

Core need 2 – feeling valued

Feeling cared for by a manager has a more significant impact than any other behaviour by a leader. Employees who feel they have a supportive boss are 67% more positive and engaged.

Core need 3 – time for renewal

Perhaps unsurprisingly, if people work more continuously and longer hours feel less positive.

Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30% higher level of focus compared to those who take no breaks, or who take just one break during a day.

Those employees who take frequent breaks report a nearly 50% greater capacity to think creatively and a 46% higher level of health and well-being.

Core need 4 – ability to focus

Only one is five people said they were able to focus on one task at a time without being distracted or interrupted at work.

Those who did have the space and freedom to focus without interruptions were 50% more positive and engaged.

Interestingly, the research found that employees want flexibility about where and when they work, and have far higher engagement levels when they have more choice.

Here are a few suggestions you can implement right now

  • Define and share your reason why
  • Ask your team to score you based on how much they think you care about them
  • Make sure meetings do not last more than 90 minutes
  • Encourage people to get up out of their seats and walk around every 90 minutes
  • Provide the opportunity for staff to take regular breaks
  • Set clear boundaries when people are not expected to take calls and answer emails
  • Create distraction free environment with spaces and culture so employees can work without interruption

 

Perhaps the first thing you can do is go first and set the example for your employees. Even if you don’t have employees use the strategies on yourself and with contractors and key suppliers.

 

Big goals, small wins

It’s good to be ambitious in business and think big. Aim to offer at least 10 times more than the status quo because in today’s world you need to be remarkable to stand a chance.

In terms of your goals, think about these being so big that you are unlikely to achieve in your lifetime. Big goals are more likely to inspire you, your market and your team.

But, the danger is that these goals can feel so far away and we don’t experience the joy of achievement.

Ticking things off your to-do list is great but how long does the feeling last?

One way you can increase you and your team’s sense of achievement, motivation and productivity is to celebrate small wins. Small wins are the tiny steps toward the bigger goals. And, research shared in the book The Progress Principle show that when people see they are making progress each step of the way they become more productive.

The research supports the case that people are much happier, more creative and productive when they can see progress on their goals from much smaller daily and weekly steps.

So, there are two things you can do to in your business:

  • Make sure everyone sees the progress you are making every step of the way.
  • Make time reflect and celebrate your progress

 

Don’t just review your to-do list. Take a few minutes each week to review your done-list and ask:

  • What tasks did I complete this week?
  • What did I learn?

 

Putting structure to this process with software will help ensure it happens. You could use a survey tool and include responses in your weekly team meeting. And, this can be used to help you define your culture by say we:

  • Acknowledge and praise our accomplishments
  • Share our learnings in a knowledge bank
  • Are willing to be held accountable for our agreed tasks and actions
  • Openly share our challenges and ask for help

 

When was the last time you and your team acknowledged your small wins?

 

Are you balanced?

Make no mistake about it, you are much more important than anything in or around your business.

You are so much more important than a few extra sales, a bit more profit or some cash in the bank.  You are also far more important than any demanding customer, ungrateful employee or a needy supplier.

Money can’t buy you health and happiness so everything you do about planning and growing your business needs to make sure you are happy at every level. There is no point having loads of money without having anyone to share it with. As the saying goes, no business success makes up for a failure at home.

So, the first numbers we need to consider are what I call you your personal numbers. These are a combination of financial and non-financial numbers.

To help us I’d like to introduce you to the Your Life Circle.

Draw a circle with four lines through the middle. At the centre write zero and where the line touches the circle write ten. Each line from the centre to the outside represents something that is important to you. These could be health, money, family and friends.

The idea is that you score each category from 1 to 10 and join the dots up. In the ideal world you would have a perfect circle but the chances are your circle will have some dents. Use this to help you focus on what is important.

You could create lots of circles, one for each category. So, you could create a circle for your children with:

  • Fun this week
  • Reading a book with them
  • Listening to them
  • Time on the floor playing

 

For money you could have these categories:

  • House
  • Car
  • Holidays
  • Entertaining

 

You can also use circles in your business. For example, you could have a overall business score which could have these categories:

  • Sales
  • profit
  • Cashflow
  • Enjoyment

 

And, just like your personal circle you can break them down into more specific circles.

I’ll leave you to decide what is on your Life Circle. But, what I would say is that perhaps the scores should come from other people, as well as yourself.

Your spouse can tell you how well you are doing as a husband or wife, your kids can tell you how well you are doing as a parent. Your own parents can tell you if you are a supportive son or daughter and your doctor can assess your health.

In business your employees can score your management style, your customers can score your services, Google can score your Website and your sales and marketing metrics can tell you if your business strategy is effective.

But, only you know if you are truly happy doing the things you REALLY enjoy. As far as I know, we only have one life….take some time to think about what you really want to do. And, make sure you do it.

Mindset 7 – Finding the numbers

An entrepreneur listens to numbers, not words.

If we don’t know how well we are doing now how can you improve?

Entrepreneurs understand accounts and want to know the numbers behind the numbers that drive the financial performance. Think about Dragons’ Den, if the business owner doesn’t know their numbers they usually don’t last very long.

An entrepreneur is familiar with the difference between gross and net profit. They understand what Return on Investment and Woking Capital is and why they are so important.

They look to develop key performance and key predictive indicators which drive their business.

An entrepreneur bases decisions on numbers rather than feelings or mood.

When it comes to marketing they want to be able to prove a positive return on investment on every penny. They know things like:

  • The number of customers they have
  • How often they buy
  • The average order
  • The lifetime value of a customer
  • The cost of acquiring a new customer
  • How many people visit their Website
  • What percentage makes an enquiry or buy
  • Their sales won rate

 

The first number I recommend you find is how much you are worth to your business. To do this you need to know:

  • The lifetime value of a customer
  • How much time you need to invest in marketing to win a new client?

Divide one by the other and that is what you are work to your business (when you operate in a sales/marketing capacity). Now compare this to what you are worth generating working in an operational capacity generating revenue.

This mindset can give you massive leverage because you’ll be focussed on “investing” your time in sales and marketing rather than “spending” it doing work.

Mindset 6 – Dealing with fear

In business we will all experience failure and our biggest fears will be challenged, whether that is public speaking, cold-calling, negotiating, dealing with complaints or sacking someone.

It’s important to acknowledge that fear is dangerous; it can paralyze and stop us doing what needs to be done. The fear of being not good enough is the driver of procrastination and perfectionism.

I recently read that we are actually only born with two fears; loud noises and the fear of falling. This is not the same as the fear of heights, just the fear of the sensation of falling.

Everything else is learned. And, we can unlearn it.

Humans fear what we don’t know and often over-react to pain. For example, if someone complains about our prices we lower our prices to everyone, when actually only 15 or 20% are unhappy. This can cost us our business.

Being successful in anything means learning to be comfortable outside our comfort zone. An Olympic Athlete does not win gold without constantly pushing themselves past their pain barrier. In the end they get used to it.

We can look at fearful things as an opportunity to open new doors and grow as a person. And, remember what we are fearful of is probably what our competition is too weak to do; it’s where we have a competitive advantage.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Profits come from risk
  • Everything is a test
  • There is no failure, only feedback
  • Everything is relative

To make a profit we must take a risk. We need to manage our risk but not look to eliminate it.

Having the attitude that everything is a test takes the pressure off.

Expect 80% of what you do not to work. That way you can get it done quickly and without risking much. If you are going to make mistakes do them quickly and without wasting much time and money.

Also treat failure as feedback. If you make a cold call and get rejected look at this as an opportunity to learn what doesn’t work so you are closer to finding out what does. Failure is defined by a timeline and tomorrow is a new day.

Everything is relative because we are always comparing when we make decisions.

So, it is worthwhile asking ourselves is what you fear really worth worrying about?

What is the worst that can happen?

Whether it is a new positioning strategy, new logo, higher price, cold call or anything else how does that compare to being in Afghanistan dealing with the Taliban?

I think our soldiers have the right to be fearful, we don’t and if we are fearful of business then perhaps we are wasting our time and should go and get a job.

Mindset 5 – Smart marketer or dumb expert

This mindset is challenging for me because accountants are experts and many in my profession have a very negative attitude towards marketing.

They think marketing is unprofessional and selling is just dirty. They even look down of people that do it!

But, if we think about it, without marketing there are no sales and without sales there is no business. So, if we have spent years learning how to be an expert in something, we need to put at least the same time and energy learning how to be a smart marketer.

At the end of the day, marketing is an investment; it brings money into our business, everything else is a cost.

In fact, a business is marketing because marketing is about researching, finding out what the market want and giving it to them.

Experts go at it from the other direction; they design a solution and look to impose it on the market.

Remember, when it comes to growing our businesses and winning new business it doesn’t matter how good we are at what we do because at the point the customer makes the decision to use us they don’t know how good we are.

Even after they have made a decision they may not know!

Take accountancy for an example. Before I work with someone how does a typical small business owner know if I am any good?  Even after I have worked with them they will probably not be able to judge if I am the best at tax planning.

It does not really matter how much we know, or how good we are, what matters is the customer’s perception of how much we know and how good we are. And, marketing is all about perception and communication.

If we are not able to communicate in a way that makes the prospect feel that we understand them then they are not going to perceive we can help them.

That is why a smart marketer listens very carefully to their prospects. They use the words their prospects uses in their sales and marketing communication. And, they focus on demonstrating they understand the problems of their prospect.

A dumb expert has a Website with a homepage that tells you when they were established, what they do and how good they are. A smart marketer’s Website helps their prospect by offering something valuable.

When we combine being an expert with being an expert marketer we become very powerful.

Mindset 4 – Customers don’t care

This may not be what we want to hear but customers don’t care about us, our brand, what we know and what we can do. They just want their problems solved. And, they want them sorted quickly, with minimal hassle and cost to them.

As the saying goes, customers are listening to Radio WI FM.

  • The WI stands for “What’s In it”.
  • FM stands for “For Me?”

 

Yes, clients are selfish. They are looking at the world from their perspective, scanning for what they want and ignoring everything else.

They have a ME filter, so if we are talking about our brand, our company and what we do they will just ignore us. There will literally be no connection. That’s why most marketing doesn’t work and why most businesses don’t survive, let alone flourish.

One of the insights we get from this mindset is the understanding that we (and what we do) is literally in the way of our customers. We are literally in between the customer’s current situation and the outcome they want.

For example, I know people don’t want an accountant. They don’t care about Sackmans and the last thing they really want to hear is how much tax they owe, even if I have managed to keep it to a minimum with some tax planning. What they want is better cashflow, less stress, no debts, a better car and more free time to do the things they enjoy.

So, instead of talking about ourselves and our solutions, we need to join our potential customer with a conversation they are already having in their minds. Go into their reality and explore that with them, before inviting them into our world.

So, what are your potential customers talking to themselves about?

Well, I’d suggest they are talking to themselves about their problems. People are twice as motivated by getting out of a negative situation than having a positive outcome.

The chances are our prospects have some form of fear, anxiety, pain or frustration and if we can connect at this level we will do better than jumping in too high with all the positive things we can do.

Once we have connected on the negative and given them help them solve a problem, we can develop the relationship because we have helped the customer get a positive result.

It will also help us to keep in mind that we need to meet customers where they are mentally.

Mindset 3 – Working ON or IN your business

The concept of working ON and IN your business was introduced by Michael Gerber in his book The E Myth.

In the book Gerber shares his view that most people who go into business are not entrepreneurs but technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure.

A painter opens a decorating firm, a mechanic a garage and an accountant opens an accountancy business. I think it’s fair to say we have all done that but the key is being conscious of it and not getting caught “IN” the business.

Working ON the business includes strategy, business planning, growing the business, developing and refining the systems as well as training and coaching employees.

Working IN the business is doing the work of the business.

Working ON and IN are two very different activities. When we work ON the business we zoom out and see the business as a whole. We may be working IN the business but we understand we are not the business.

According to Gerber, the role of a business owner is to create a picture of the finished business and to then go to work to build the business.

This includes know what type of customers you want and how many you need, how much you charge each client on average, what it costs to deliver and the resulting profit.

With this mindset you can now see your role as a business builder. When you get up and go to work you are not going to do the work, you are going to work to build a business that one day will be £500,000, £1m, £10 or £100m.

You may have to start doing the work but while you do this you can be developing systems so later someone else can do the work and do it like you do.

It is important to understand that being good at doing the work of the business is very different from being good and doing the work ON the business.

Being a good accountant has very little to do with building and managing an accountancy business. Sometimes the skills are in conflict.

Take me as an example, growing a business involves risk, doing the accounting work is about being prudent. And, building a business we need to be good at sales and marketing – most accountants admit they are not these activities.

Gerber suggests you think about your business as though you were about to write a book. What would that book of yours say? What would you, as the author of your book, wish to impart to your reader that would hopefully transform the way they think about their life, about their success, about their future?

It’s why causes are important to entrepreneurs. Causes add dimensionality to your business. Causes add meaning to your business, beyond simply making money.

As we go to work on our business, we must think beyond what the day-to-day reality of our business calls you to do. As an entrepreneur, we must rise above the stuff of doing it, doing it, doing it.

It means we must ask meaningful questions about our role in the world, our community, and how we can ingrain our new-found perspective into the DNA of our business, so that it lives, speaks, and demonstrates it in every action our business takes.

When we have the mindset of working “ON” the business we understand who our important customer is.

Is it your first? Is it your biggest or most profitable? Is it the one who is most connected and refers the most?

No. Our most important customer is the one that buys our business!

That could be someone who buys it from you or it could be YOU – because we buy our business every day by going to work IN it. Is it enjoyable? Is it profitable?

With this mindset we can think of our business as a product. Our job is to develop a product so great that people want to buy it.

Mindset 2 – From doer to driver

An interesting mindset to consider is what I call Doer to Driver which comes from our On-Track service.

Some people drive projects, but most people are doers. They see themselves taking the steps to get the thing done. But, as a business owner it is important you do not to get caught in the detail.

Question how you approach tasks and to get this mindset working for you. Stop focussing on the task and think start focussing on the result.

For example, if you think about writing a 20-page report to give away in your marketing then the “doer” in you will be focussed on writing. If you think like this then you may get bogged down and not complete anything, you may never even start.

But, if you are a “driver”, you start to think differently because you are focussed on the result.

For example, you could write 10 questions down and get a friend to come and interview you and record the discussion for transcription.

You can get transcription services overseas for £10 for an hour of audio. If you speak at 150 words a minute this would give you 9,000 words, enough for your report.

There are many ways to get things done. It is not just about working hard but working smart. We need to be efficient and effective. Do not confuse action with productivity.

Look out for smarter ways to do things. If we overload ourselves with actions you will not have the time to do the really important stuff.

Mindset 1 – Employee to entrepreneur

One of the things I do in On-Track is introduce business owners to mindsets. Moving from employee to entrepreneur is a massive mindset shift in the way we see and think about time and value.

Most people who go into business have previously had a job experience. This is really a reactive mindset whereas business success is about proactive.

Employees have an unconscious program – it goes like this, I show up and get paid. If I work longer than expected I get paid overtime.

This is ingrained every month with a pay cheque. The trouble with this is that an entitlement mentality can develop and when we go into business there can be a massive shock.

When we go into business we need to earn the right to be successful, no one is entitled to anything.

What you will notice about employees who have an entitlement mentality is that they don’t actually rise too far or achieve very much. The same with business owners that think in the same way.

An entrepreneur thinks about results and value. They want to solve problems and improve things, rather than just putting in time and effort.

It’s going to be useful to start thinking this way. Not just with client work but with marketing.

Most people who launch a business know they can do the work, just put some basic marketing in place and expect to make sales.

They expect people to turn up because they showed up, like the employee clocking on.

Then they are surprised when no one buys anything. They start asking themselves if the Website is OK.

The truth is the Website is fine, it’s the attitude that is the problem. It’s not enough to do what everyone else is doing and just put in some time.

As Accountants in North London we challenge businesses to adopt new mindsets and perspectives. I hope this post helps you.