Tough times hit hard: 5 things that may help.

Brexit, economic downturn, lack of funding, new regulations and changing personal circumstances  are all events that can rock the foundation of your startup business. Making it through hard times requires a steel determination and some serious grit. However, these days I think we need more than just fighting spirit. Here are some thoughts on what else to do when tough times hit.

Cut Carefully

I really don’t like this cutting, because I think one should always be frugal with money. In addition, for small and growing business, cost-cutting needs to be implemented with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Cut too deep and your business will never recover. Cut too shallow and cash flow problems could force you to the back of the unemployment line. Exercise care and judgment in determining what and where to cut and by how much. And keep monitoring the impact.

Use Low-Budget Marketing

When recessions and other difficult times hit, the marketing function of a business is the first to get cut. With less advertising and marketing, the funnel of incoming prospects is reduced creating even more revenue decreases and setting up a vicious cycle.

The key to salvage any business in hard times is NOT to reduce your marketing activities but to REPLACE them with  Low-budget marketing ( include tactics such as PR, networking, public speaking, online marketing and more.) If you’re already doing that, then figure out how you can do more, through new channels.

Invest your way out?

Are there others feeling the pinch? Can you buy yourself some growth, with efficiencies to be made through scaling operations?

Customer. Customer. Customer.

In good times, business comes easy. Your sales pitch or marketing message may be less effective but will still get results. Surviving hard times requires going back full circle to the fundamentals: Keep it simple, and give your customers what they want and need. Make sure EVERY customer is happy, because you certainly can’t afford a single unhappy one.

Forwards!!

It’s easy to fall into the trap of replaying the situation that got you here today. If you had a failed partnership, replaying your mistakes is a mistake. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Lyubomirsky, Sousa, et al reveals analysis occurring during talking or writing is beneficial in difficult times while replaying negative events is detrimental.

There is a great book called “What got your here won’t get you there”, and that phrase is a great reminder of the need to pause, take stock, realign and move forward.
Go win. If it was EASY, ANYBODY could’ve done it already.

It isn’t personal. I just want BETTER.

The team around me is used to my objective, non biased, unemotional drive for constant improvement, but I was reminded today that not everyone can handle that kind of feedback.

We have to untrain people as they join us. Here you don’t get criticised. Here, we all just strive for better.

I say what I mean.

When I say “the outcome was poor”, I mean exactly that. It means we can improve, do something better, and that we have learned a lesson. Nothing else.

I remember the days when I worked in a different team, and a comment like that was an attack on the team or the individual. It is so easy to forget that most people still work in that type of environment. (I remember how exhausting it was.)

It isn’t feedback.

I take time to give feedback. I think, digest, review, challenge and form constructive feedback aimed at increasing confidence while improving performance (or perception, but that’s for another day. Remind me I should talk about that too.). I don’t lash out on emotional detours in the middle of a working day. But of course, today, that’s how my comment was perceived, and I need to fix that. I certainly cannot put the responsibility of knowing me and understanding how I communicate on the recipient. That would be hugely unfair.

It isn’t personal.

Just a little bit…in the GOOD way. I consider my team members partners, and we work together, side by side. In my view, we have the same goal, and we work equally hard to get there. I am much more focused on the end goal, and I have no time for internal competition. So when I push for better output, it is me objectively pushing for improvement. from ALL of us, including me.

And I will never stop. Sorry 🙂

The kids won’t EVER be silenced

When parents are still searching for their missing children and the number of deaths is still counting higher by the hour, it is so hard to stay hopeful. My heart bleeds for Manchester.

But we have to.

We cannot change the plans for today out of fear, only out of compassion. And we can not change our plans for tomorrow, or the day after that.

A little while ago it was my home country that suffered at the attack of a crazy evil person, out to kill as many as possible. Last night it was my adopted home country. No matter where we are from or which language we speak, I know this: you can’t silence the generation that was attacked last night. Those who have learnt to keep singing when the music stops will never ever be silenced.

When the music stops, we have to remember what the lyrics were. And Ariana Grandes “Dangerous Woman Tour” is as much a political and gender equality statement as anything else. She has gone from Disney princess to a strong activist fighting for womens rights.

She has taught millions of young women that their voices can’t be silenced, and they are proving her right, without apologizing for it for a second. They demand their own voice is heard and recognised, demand it to belong to them and nobody else, because they know they can.

They can, and they will.

They have already learned to not be pretty and sit in the corner until spoken to. Trust me, as scared as they may be, they will NOT run and hide. And neither should we.

GUEST BLOG: UK Ice Skating Champion Louise Walden-Edwards

I’ve recently had the pleasure of connecting with world class professional athlete Louise Walden, and convinced her to write about her approach to learning, a key aspect that we both view as central to success. Here is her story.

Louise Walden and Owen Edwards

“My View Of Learning…

My view on learning now differs dramatically to what I once thought it was as a child. As an active, easily distracted child, who was once described by a teacher as ‘no better than average’, learning for me was obligatory hours spent at school. I probably would have told you that learning was boring, inconvenient and dull.  As I reflect now, I question whether my view was the innocence of youth or in actual fact something that I had learnt in itself.

Now as former British Champion, Team GB member, World Class professional athlete and International Gold Medallist, who has built her career on constantly exceeding expectations, I can deduce a completely different perspective to that of my younger self. Learning for me is a fundamental aspect of life.  The knowledge that we gain from learning and the way in which we use it, is how we allow ourselves to evolve, develop and be our own success.

As a child I associated learning with education and without choice, which back then I suppose it was to some extent, but my perception was also that anything outside of academia or anything a little bit creative, was merely playtime.  Where that view point came from I am unsure of, but that highlights to me that as teachers, parents and role models, we have a responsibility to be aware of how we inadvertently influence those around us.

I now find learning is exciting, necessary and valuable.

It is a privilege, it is precious and an investment in ones future.  Without learning we cannot grow, progress or succeed and it is imperative for limitless self improvement.  How you choose to learn, who you choose to learn from, the knowledge you gain from those experiences and then how you use it, is what makes us all unique.

 

My adult self now appreciates that learning does not need to be attributed to education, teachers or text books.

I am constantly learning from every person that I meet and every experience that I find myself in.  I believe that without learning from both negative and positive experiences, failings and victories, pessimists and optimists, we may never reach our full potential.

I expect I will always be selective with who I allow to demonstrate leadership and inspire me.  The ability to lead and to teach I’m my opinion, is giving the gift of knowledge to others and something I feel very protective of, as knowledge in the wrong hands may not always be productive.  Leaders and motivators therefore have a responsibility to allow people to be themselves, to encourage freedom of expression and interpretation of knowledge, so that a person may create their own path.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learnt as a child did in fact originate from my school days and from that very teacher who thought I wouldn’t amount to much.

I learnt from him I needed to strive to overachieve in every aspect of my life.

I have lived in fear of that word ‘average’ and made sure that everything I do is to the best of my ability.

I live by the belief that the sky is the limit and that if you dream, believe, work and focus relentlessly on what you want to achieve, you can and you will achieve it.”

Louise Walden-Edwards

~ * ~

 

 

 

 

 

Gut Says YES, Brain Says NO….!??

If you’re like me, you often find yourself with two options, both appealing for your young startup: one risky, the other is safer.

The risky option promise big growth, great opportunities and fast revenue. Even though you know it’s more than you can take on, you leap. Your heart is shouting a clear Yes, telling you how great it will be and how proud it will make you. Shouting No (almost) as loudly is your sensible and cautious head, which instructs you to slow down and think about it some more.

People around you (especially as you start up) will likely tell you to “listen to your heart,” and “believe in yourself”.  Oprah Winfrey (link is external), too, suggests you follow your emotional inclinations rather than those logic would suggest. But is that really good advice? Think back on the times when you did follow your heart. How did it work out?

Don’t trust your own memory!

Unfortunately, we tend to be bad statisticians when it comes to reviewing our own prior experiences. Research on reminiscence shows that we tend to remember the distinctive events in our lives, particularly those that were pleasant. For most people, even traumatic memories tend to fade with time (hello childbirth!). As a result, we’re almost programmed to go with our heart because we favour and remember the occasions when it provided correct guidance.

Go rational or go home

Your rational decision-making processes probably have a pretty good track record. You just wont remember as much of it: when you followed logic, it just wasn’t as memorable. It’s also possible that when reason prevailed, it told you not to do something; therefore, you have less to remember.

But guess what? All that being said: following your instinct sounds so much more fun.

Decision made. (As I was typing this I was debating with myself if I should follow the logical approach, or follow my heart about who to hire for our next team member. I’ve just clarified for myself that I should trust my gut. )

 

6 things that don’t work well for pre-entrepreneurs in corporates…

I know there are a couple of people who might be frowning as they read this post, and for that I am truly sorry. It isn’t personal.

I am often asked if it was scary to take the leap to become a business owner, and I am always slightly surprised by that questions. It wasn’t scary at all. To me it is a very natural state, as I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, where problem solving was paramount to everyday life. When I think back now, corporate life was the scariest out of the two!

Corporate Misfit?

Perhaps that is why I never really felt like I fit in into corporate life — when your fundamental aim is to solve the bigger problem, the following 6 thing don’t work well at all:

  1. silos
  2. red tape
  3. multi lateral politics
  4. Staying in your lane
  5. “It’s just a job” attitude
  6. Personal positioning

Several of the above points is of course things that a lot of great leaders in the corporate world is trying to counteract. They understand fully how it holds people back, stifles innovation and slow down growth. (So those of you who are now frowning: remember, it isn’t personal!)

Is “just do it” the only solution?

Is there a scenario where we can continue to encourage more entrepreneurship in the corporate world? Or is it simply not possible, and the budding entrepreneurs out there should just take the leap and get going, because their profile will never be truly appreciated in the corporate environment anyway?

 

Your Loss is My Gain, dear corporates

The observant follower may have noticed that:

a) My amazing PA has gone on maternity leave

b) I have been announcing my search for her replacement

Holy macaroons, there are some talented people out there, who are DYING for the chance to work flexible hours, from home. I have been flooded with brilliant emails from clever people, who are keen, eager, skilled, experienced and bright. Impressive, to say the least.

And that tells me this:

  • There is a LOT of available talent who are more interested in work quality than a high salary
  • The requirements for working parents are difficult to live up to for parents
  • The world still hasn’t fully adapted to using meeting and communications technology to enhance collaboration across geographical distances
  • If companies could be more flexible, they could increase commitment and engagement for staff, and they would be repaid loyalty and productivity in return

We use whatsapp, zoom, FaceTime and perch. Have a look, and see if you can rethink some of your headcount. It is absolutely worth it!