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Small Fish - Small Business Tips and the Latest News

Are You Part of this Team, You Goose?

I love this video! I have used it a number of times in team building exercises.

Show it to your team and gauge the response.

Follow this link
to watch this inspiring video that was posted on YouTube by WarWear productions.

Dean Atkins
Small Fish Business Coaching

Business Coaching and our Washing Machine

We keep on getting asked to explain what this funny thing we call our “Washing Machine” is all about. To explain this better, especially for those that appreciate something a bit more visual, we have created an online video.

The washing machine is a little device that we use to explain how and where business coaching fits into a business.

Focussing on Increasing Revenue, Improving Productivity and Reducing Expenses will flow on to an improvement in Profit – and this is what Business Coaching is all about. We call these 3 things the Drivers of Profitability. The process of working through these drivers and taking the necessary actions to implement change in a business is what business coaching is all about – the Small Fish way!

The following animated online video will explain what business coaching is, how it works, and how the process of Audit, Plan and Action drives change in a business:

Business Coaching & Our Washing Machine

We hope you like it as much as we do!

Kristian Reiss
Small Fish Business Coaching

Overwork- The Curse of the Small Business Owner

Suffering from overwhelm? Consider this:

Jon likes to say that "work will multiply to fill the time you give it and then some," but Mark Barrett from CIMarketing gave us this excellent line the other day:

"The only person to get everything done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe."

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

We all have our preconceived ideas on what motivates our staff to work hard and achieve excellence. Most of us would answer the question with money, but there are many other ways to motivate our employees. The reality will surprise you and make you rethink how you reward your staff. The following animation is both entertaining and illuminating and is a must see for all employers and supervisors.

Click here to watch the video clip posted on YouTube by RSA Animate.

Nigel Hobbs
Small Fish Business Coaching

What Does Your Company Stand For?

This is a great article and extremely relevant to all sizes of business. The truth remains that business values, and in turn business culture, comes from what is seen to be acceptable by the people that you answer to. If, as a leader of people, you can not show the resolve to demonstrate your values in everything that you do, they become nothing more than a marketing exercise.

To read the full article that was in the Sydney Morning Herald that Dean Atkins is commenting on, click here.

Do Your Referrals Come This Good?

After spending 25 years in customer facing roles I am a cynical and often-disappointed recipient of ‘take it or leave it’ customer service. I find that friends and family tend to rely on me to go back to a store manager or restaurant owner and provide constructive feedback about a poor experience. I’m the guy that everyone looks at when something goes wrong to see whether I am going to make a big deal of it. Having said all of that, I am absolutely against this new trend of complaining for the opportunity of getting something for free (that’s a whole new blog for another day).

So, when an experience is out of this world and blows my mind at the magnanimous effort displayed, I feel it deserves absolute grandstanding and promotion. Not to mention that this business outcome forms the basis of some serious referral marketing. What a great way to expand your customer base without spending any money!

I was a regular customer of Renegade Cycles (http://www.renegadecycles.com.au/) in Lane Cove, NSW. Why? This is where I lived………once. After moving out of the area, I took my bike to other stores for servicing and to purchase cycling stuff. But it dawned on me that they never quite lived up to my expectations. I had a race coming up and the bike needed a service. I decided to drive 20 something kilometres in painful Sydney traffic to Renegade Cycles even though I hadn’t been there for over a year. The guys were typically friendly and happy to help, and of course they remembered my name.

As I was about to leave, I mentioned a little trouble with my suspension. Was there anything they could do? One quick look, a couple of key questions and they knew exactly what the problem was. It needed to be sent to the manufacturer for servicing. Mmmmmm, small dilemma. That was likely to take 5 to 10 days. I needed the bike back for my last weekend of training so we went with the deluxe service, which I might add, was completed in a day (awesome timing, even though they were busy). They didn’t have the special brake pads I needed so they would order them in and do them after the weekend so I could have my bike. Given the time it would take to send the suspension off, I decided that it would have to wait until after the race.

I trained on the weekend and then took my bike back in on the Tuesday (long weekend) for the brakes. Inevitably the suspension issue came up. It was worse than my previous ride and was going to seriously impede my race. After much discussion with the guys at the shop, they proactively offered to ring the manufacturer to see what could be done. This was 4 days prior to the race.

At around 4.30pm on the Tuesday I got a call to let me know that my bike was completely fitted with an entire new suspension system. “What? How could you possibly…..?” Renegade had spent the whole day ringing and riding around to resolve the issue. They spoke with the Manufacturer who put them on to the authorised warranty dealer that just happened to be in Chatswood. They negotiated with the dealer to fix the bike and manage the warranty issue with the manufacturer. They physically rode the bike to Chatswood (about 20kms round trip), had the entire suspension system replaced and handled the issue of warranty on my behalf. All done proactively and without fuss or fanfare!!!!!

You can imagine my full surprise and adulation when I received the call to explain that it had been completely rectified in a day. The funny part was that the brake pads took longer. Needless to say, I had a blitzing race and beat my previous best time by 40 minutes. Yes, I’m giving full kudos to Renegade Cycles for that sensational race time, they deserve it!

Back to the important part…….how do you as a business protect your Customer Experience? Do you have a strategy? Do you have a culture that instils this kind of response? Do you know whether your customers enjoy dealing with you and reward you with their loyalty? Do they tell their friends and family about you? I knew that Renegade Cycles were good, but this experience cements my desire to deal with them exclusively regardless of where I live. They have earned my custom, and they more than deserve my referrals!!!!

Simon Thomas
Small Fish Business Coaching

Pass Time While Waiting to Win Lotto

Turn Your Dreams into Reality

How many times have you thought about what you want in life, just to end the thought with, “it would be nice... maybe when we win the lotto!”?

Have you ever seen someone living your dream? They have the ideal job, home, car, holidays and boat and seemingly, all the time in the world to enjoy them all? How did that make you feel?

How would you feel if I told you that you can have everything you desire without winning the lotto?

Most people would think that I am some sort of self help crack pot that is going to try to sell them the next in a great line of “Get Rich Quick” schemes.

The honest answer is you can have it all, but it may not be quick and it may not be easy. Are you still interested?

If so, let’s play a little with a few ideas that will help you get to your goal.

1. Desire- How much do you want it? What are you willing to do for it? How easily swayed would you be if you were offered a similar result for half the work and in half the time, even if it meant not achieving your dream?

  • Take stock of yourself; are you where you want to be right now?
  • How do you see yourself right now; are you achieving everything that you set out to in life?
  • How do others see you; are you perceived to be the person that you know that you are?
  • What are you doing to change your situation?

2. Commitment- With that one word, “Commitment”, I have possibly lost half my readers. It is a word that congers up thoughts of hard work, sacrifice, longevity and faith. How silly does it seem that some of us have more faith in eventually winning the lotto than we do in our ability to commit to a dream? Lets break this down into something more achievable;

  • The first step to being a self made success, logically, is to take the first step. That could be as simple as taking ownership of your dream and no longer leaving it to fate.
  • Once you have decided what you desire, you now have to commit to achieving that result.

3. Assessment- In order to achieve anything, we need to use the right tools. Some of which, we may have and some we may need to obtain.

  • What skills, assistance and tools can you tap into to get the results you need?
  • What training, assistance or tools do you need?
  • Where are you going to obtain the necessary skills, assistance and tools?

4. Plan- What do you think would happen if a builder went to a vacant building site and started to build what was in his head for your dream home? Do you think he would end up with exactly what he set out to achieve? How would those assisting him with carpentry, plumbing, block work, electrical, etc, know what his expectations are? Would he finish the job, and give you what you want, in the allotted time frame and within budget? Common sense tells us that the job would end up a mess. For that reason, a builder speaks to his customers and reaches agreement on their expectations. They speak to Architects, Engineers and Consultants to ensure that the end result is achievable and agreed upon by everyone. Then they provide detailed plans to all stake holders.

  • Have a picture in your head of what you are setting out to achieve.
  • Set a plan as to how you are going to achieve it.
  • Enlist the help of others to ensure that the plan is going to work.
  • Ensure that all stakeholders have the plan and understand the desired outcome.

5. Activity- Or, more specifically, results based activity. If you have followed the last three steps, then start out to achieve your results without paying any attention to your Dream, Commitment, having the right tools or sticking to your Plan, how are you going to achieve the desired results? Each step of a plan will depend on the preparation that you have put into it. In the case of the builder, would they start building the roof before the walls?

  • As your level of activity increases, so too will your level of desire and commitment.
  • Keep revisiting and reassessing what you need to achieve and your plan. Be flexible, but unwavering. A small change in plan to improve on the result is great, but any changes that decrease your commitment and desire are unacceptable.
  • Keep moving forward. There will be times that you feel like throwing in the towel, during these times, even small steps are moving you in the right direction.

Most people in the world would now be saying, “If it is that simple, why aren’t we all rich?” I agree, this is simple, but how many of us are doing it? The real question should be, “do I have the discipline to follow these simple steps?”

Desire and commitment are very personal to each of us, we all have them, but they differ between each of us. If we have more desire than commitment, we often end up envious of what others have. If we commit to something we do not desire, we can find ourselves doing things for the wrong reasons. True desire and commitment, stay with us, even if we have been influenced by others. This can build resentment and is the reason why we must be true to ourselves.
Once you have the desire and commitment to achieve your goals, you are ready to set out on the next three steps of assessing, planning and doing.

These three steps are a lot harder to do on our own. Some of us allow our desire and commitment to cloud our judgement when we assess our ability. In turn, this will affect our ability to plan effectively, and ultimately our ability to deliver the activity required to achieve our results.

It is important to be honest, searching and humble during this phase. Enlist the help of those that know you well, sort out and learn from people that have achieved the success you are looking for and, most of all, enlist a mentor that will make sure you remain true to your plans.

What is the likelihood of success if you follow these steps? I think that you will agree, it is a lot higher than the likelihood of winning lotto.

Dean Atkins is a Business Coach with Small Fish Business Coaching. Small Fish- Audit, Plan, Action... it’s about getting things done.

"Rich Dad, Poor Dad"

I have just read a great interview with Robert Kiyosaki, the author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, where he speaks about the measure of wealth as being the amount of time you could survive if you stopped working tomorrow.

He goes on to explain that most of us fit into a cashflow quadrant;

“E” are employees, earning a salary or wage.
“S” are self employed or small business owners, people who are responsible for earning their own wage.
“B” is for “Big Business”, the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson.
“I” are investors, searching for low risk high yield opportunities.

To read more and find out where you fit, check out the article posted on richdadwisdom.com.

Dean Atkins
Small Fish Business Coaching

The Art of Setting KPI's

How many of us have worked in businesses where conflicting KPI's prevent us from doing our job effectively?
One business I worked for, spurred on by a shrinking client base, called their sales team together and demanded that they specifically target smaller clients. They pointed to figures that showed that this market segment had been left to dwindle by egotistical sales people that look for the quick fix of selling to large customers at discounted rates.

Later the same day, the manager of the credit department stood before the same sales team and told them she had successfully reached her KPI, of reducing debtor days, by closing accounts the moment they went over 45 days. She pointed to figures that backed her claims, showing that most of the smaller businesses that had historically bought from the business had their accounts closed because they had cash flow problems at some point.

The truth was both the sales and the accounts department were working to KPI's that were conflicting. This in turn caused unrest in the business as everyone pursued their own KPI's with no regard to anyone else. The important lesson form this is to ensure your KPI's are aligned throughout your business to ensure success for everyone. If you are having troubles setting KPI's in your business that deliver results, please head to www.smallfish.com.au where help is available.

To read more on The Art of Setting KPI's, click here for an article that was listed on smartcompany.com.au.

Dean Atkins
Small Fish Business Coaching

Getting your business back into shape - Article from the Illawarra Mercury

This is an article that appeared the Illawarra Mercury on the 31st May 2010.

Running a business involves a range of difficulties and day-to-day challenges that often results in you losing sight of your original goals and ambitions. It is a tough call to run the business and oversee your own performance.

The original vision you have for your business can get left behind as you struggle through the day. This is where having someone with an objective view to come and help you identify where you want to go and how to get there can be a valuable investment.

As business around the world has become increasingly competitive, the demand for business coaching has increased. Businesses that use coaches range from one-person businesses needing help in acquiring customers through to multi-million dollar companies that need comprehensive business planning and strategy work so they can progress to the next stage of growth.

Seamus O'Brien, a business coach at Small Fish, has spent half his working life as an entrepreneur and the other half employed at very senior levels in a number of corporate and not-for-profit organisations.

“I have had some spectacular successes and dismal failures over a long life as an entrepreneur,” said Mr O'Brien. “I have done the hard yards and learnt from my experiences and backed this up with a rigorous process of professional development including a Masters Degree in Business Administration before working as a business coach.

“Businesses are often responsive to the opportunities of coaching and mentoring when they want to grow and give new life to their enterprise. They are often very effective people who are dissatisfied with their enterprises current progress. After initial promise the enterprise may be trapped on a plateau with opportunities staying just outside of reach. For many it is part of a long term plan to exit their current business, taking with them some just reward for their investment of time, effort and money.

“My impression is that all business and enterprise operators think that their set of circumstances are unique and maybe from one point of view they are right, but it seems to me that there is more similarity than difference. Often this is expressed as working hard in the business and taking no time or having no systematic way of working on the business. Things slip, opportunities are not identified or if identified they pass by without being successfully capitalised upon. Gradually the competition overtakes them and what was once a thriving enterprise starts to inexplicitly decline. There is much research on the business life cycle that would leave me to believe that while individual circumstances are unique the pattern is unfortunately very predictable. The good news is it can be addressed.

“However, it is important to remember that there are no magic bullets. People need to work systematically and be ready to be challenged to do things differently. The good news is that as the coaching process progresses they report return of their original energy, optimism, increased levels of motivation and enthusiasm. This is not just for the business but for life,” said Mr O’Brien.

Warwick Reader, the founder of marketing and consulting company Profit Growth Systems, has over 25 years of broad hands-on experience across all areas of business strategy, sales and marketing. As the executive director of the Illawarra Business Advisory Service, Mr Reader also has extensive experience advising small to medium businesses on the best methods to start-up and grow their companies.

“It is usually when businesses are at a sticking point that they ask for help,” said Mr Reader. “They can see potential for growth but don't know how to proceed. The boss is usually too engaged in the day-to-day running of the business to be able to step back and look at the bigger picture. While the business owner or management team are experts in what they do, they may need assistance in other aspects of managing the business where they don't necessarily have the experience,” Mr Reader said.

“A good business coach can understand the owner's needs and those of the business and act as a sounding board to bounce ideas off as well as provide independent and objective advice to keep them on track to meet their goals. There are many family owned companies in the Illawarra that have become successful but have not kept up with the requirements of modern business practices. This has often stymied their growth opportunities and exposed them to business risks that could have a negative impact on their future.

“While each business is unique there is a commonality in what is required for each business to be successful and grow. Businesses need a sound business plan including marketing strategies, good business management, as well as leadership and passion for what they do,” said Mr Reader.

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