Is Your Business Fresh or Just Reached Its “Sell-By” Date?

Only Fool And Horses, is an iconic British Comedy series.  In one particular episode, “Trigger” is telling his group of friends that his broom is 20 yrs old, despite the handle and broom head having been replaced several times. It’s comedy gold and its impact is sadly lost in my delivery.

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My point is, long-established businesses often change and evolve with time, much like Trigger’s broom.
The original founder, staff, products, service and possibly location, may have changed for a long-standing business. Is it still the same business? Of course it is.
The foundation on which the business was established, remains the same but, how long can it survive?
The longevity of any business will depend on how it adapts to change, it’s resilience and fortitude through hardship, adversity and its vision to embrace new recruitment methods, its working practice and technology.
Maintaining your market share and expanding, demands the wisdom, experience and customer care of an old soul. Balance this with creative passion and vision for introducing new technologies, like Social Media, Networking, Digital Marketing and Adaptive Advertising.
Businesses who view these technologies as “Fads” rather than “Fundamental Fashion”, will lose ground in the face of emerging competition.
Younger companies like, Facebook, Google, Hootsuite, Twitter, Ebay, Amazon and Alibaba, are constantly changing on an almost day by day basis to maintain their stronghold.
No matter how small your business, without a website and some interaction with online Social Media,  you’re pretty much lagging behind in the wake of Tech and Media-hungry competition.

Is your business Fresh?

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Mentorship – Having a Hart to Hart

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Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger, but have a certain area of expertise. It’s a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn.

“Mentoring” is a process that always involves communication and is relationship based, but its precise definition is elusive because its function is so multi- layered and personal to both Mentor and Protégé.

Wikipedia describes its definition as:

“Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time….”

In July 2014, I created the concept for mywhirld.com. Bringing it to fruition, in the recruitment market place, posed various challenges for me:

• Funding

• Development

• Business Planning

• Route to Market

and;

• Marketing.

Before tackling these issues,  I needed guidance – Someone to bounce the idea off.  Deciding who I could reveal my, “next big thing” to, wasn’t straight forward. I don’t trust easily. The philosophy of lending someone £5, is to accept you may never get it back. Trust is not the issue there but rather a test. Trusting someone to help guide your business idea, is another matter. Many of my previous clients are successful business owners or board members.

Jon Hart is one of those clients and for nearly 10 years, I’ve come to trust him.

I wasn’t clear about what he did exactly. At that early stage, I didn’t need to. I was confident knowing  that he had successfully developed several of his own businesses, in a variety of markets.

“Jon, I’ve a got a great idea for a business.”

“That’s what everyone’s says, Bryan.”

Now, he’s as excited as I am about Mywhirld’s future.

His experience in the corporate workplace, brings with it all the attributes I need from a mentor.

His skills in IT, Digital Marketing, Social Media and Coaching, have been a God-send.

My question to anyone seeking a Mentor is, can you trust Him/Her? 

From there on, the rest is very much down to a tailored requirement. What you seek from your Mentor, must be established at the beginning. That process begins by asking yourself, “what do I want my mentor to help me with?”

Identifying what your strengths and weaknesses are, is important.

The road of entrepreneurship and start-ups can be lonely and scary, filled with uncertainty.

You will face many difficult questions on the way and confronting them early on, will lessen your burden.

Take guidance from a seasoned traveller who knows the route – the potholes, obstacles, twists & turns AND, when you need a mentor most…..that dreaded fork in the road.

I know of people who’s Mentors knew nothing about business but, they possessed motivational skills while others only required emotional support.

I’m very fortunate that Jon and I compliment each other. Our characters are very different. My brainstorming and zeal sends me off in various directions. He knows when to pull on the reins. Another point which is so important to bear in mind, and I come back to my first consideration, when finding your mentor:

 Jon and I don’t always agree but I trust and respect, above all else, his time, patience and wisdom. In fact, our opinions can sometimes be polar. I value his commitment and long experience so, at the risk of being stubborn in my decision, we rely on a balanced approach.

Later, all his skills have proved valuable as we approach to launch Mywhirld.com

I’m grateful to have found my Mentor and Coach.

I’d love to hear from you about your thoughts and experiences of being a mentor or protogé. I wish all of you starting your own business, the very best and don’t give up.

Platoon Leader vs. Manager

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Having left the army in 1989, at the age of 20, my leadership and management skills were very much in early development. Two valuable skills were emerging from the African heat and dust –
Leading from the front and, managing soldiers, by identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
Profiling members of my team was critical for building a cohesive and effective force.
Beginning my civilian (civvie) career, in junior management, was daunting and the belief that I would be putting my arsenal of skills to bed to develop a new array of techniques, could not have been further from the truth.
A platoon facing the enemy requires the stamina, courage, fortitude, versatility, training and strategy of a battle-ready team. The measure of its success lies in victory but the pinnacle of true success is its ability to continue when it’s leader falls in battle.
Production Management proved no different and my early mentor was a seasoned veteran in “civvie” leadership & management.
After 25 years, his words of wisdom echo as crisp and loud as they did then.
“Your mission Bryan, is to make yourself redundant.”
I was confused. I had only just started. Was he crazy? I had bills to pay and I liked the meatballs they served in the canteen.
“When you can walk away and the department can function, effectively, without you being there, you’ve done what every Manager should strive for.”
“Then, and only then, will I promote you.”
To this day, no inspirational quote or education has stood me on firmer ground than those words he etched in my memory.
In my experience, understanding people is critical. To identify ones strengths and weaknesses are the building blocks of effective management. Identifying my own, allowed me to source professionals from HR and Engineering, who were able to help train and develop my teams. They helped engineer and design new working practices and assisted to promote staff who possessed leadership skills and passion to drive up production and manage sections within the department.

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Along my journey, I’ve learned that no Manager can do it alone – Try, and you will fail.

Have the humility and wisdom to ask for help because, after all, a goalkeeper alone cannot win a football match. Stand behind an effective team.

As Managers, we do ourselves a grave injustice and thwart our own development by not recognising and developing those people within our teams, who can achieve more than we are prepared or bothered to discover. Take courage in your convictions. Be confident to delegate to those who you recognise are capable. By serving the very employees who serve you, you will empower them to self-manage. By providing continuous support and loyalty, you will develop the trust and reciprocal support of your staff, allowing you to spread your ambitious wings.