Paul James - CAP Business Clubs
Networking is for nobs! That was my opinion back in 2007 when it was suggested I should start networking to help grow my marketing business. I was of course right (not) and would never attend these strange events……until my wife, who was also my business partner at the time made me. I did argue my corner, but….well….
Anyway, I went kicking and screaming to my first meeting and to be honest I felt like a fish out of water….but not for long. These people seemed to be “normal”. I was made very welcome and within a few meetings I felt very comfortable, amongst friends even.
It took a while longer to really get the many advantages networking has to offer. Like spending time with positive people every week, gaining knowledge from experts in various fields, and working with others you can trust. Up to that point I thought it was all about gaining new business!
Well of course I did gain new business, lots of it. It just took a while longer. Before this happened, I hadn’t noticed or indeed even measured how I was doing regarding receiving leads. Why was this? Simple….The support, knowledge and collaboration was just as, if not even more important.
Slowly I began to cease doing things “Paul Way” (which was often the long or wrong way around) and began learning valuable information. I began collaborating with others for mutual benefit, and perhaps the biggest buzz of all ……Giving. There’s something about giving that makes you feel good! I also realised very quickly that the biggest givers were also the biggest receivers.
Now, eleven years later I run my own networking clubs and have been for over six years. It’s been amazing to say the least, and the real beauty is ….My passion for networking has never wavered. There’s something new to learn every meeting, sometimes with huge beneficial consequences for my own businesses…. And then there’s the pleasure of watching others grow and prosper, or helping them through rocky periods, working with people I trust, as a team. I could go on…..
So, in conclusion – Was I wrong to trash networking as a form of marketing? Well, yes, in my case I was wrong. Would that be the same for everyone? I don’t know, that’s why we offer free visits at CAP Business Clubs …most groups do. I would encourage anyone to try it out, and even try several groups as clubs vary in structure. One size doesn’t always fit..and all that stuff.
One thing I do know – It was probably the single best move I made regarding my businesses over the past decade and a bit. For once I was glad to lose an argument with my wife….who of course is always right.
Bob Pointer - CFIL Global
In 1983 German magazine Stern paid £2.33 million for journals said to be the work of Adolf Hitler. Although initially authenticated by Historian Hugh Trevor -Walker the so called “Hitler diaries” were, after forensic examination, proved conclusively to be the work of master forger Konrad Kujau.
History is littered with highly skilled charlatans, con artists and bare faced liars. Whilst many are “professionals” using their deceptive behaviour for financial reward, others, for instance politicians, are often creative with the truth in an attempt to gain or hold onto power -Richard Nixon (Watergate) and Jeffery Archer (Daily Star libel action) are just two examples that spring readily to my mind.
Current US president Donald Trump dismisses all negative personal comments as “fake news”, while himself often being somewhat economical with the truth. Take for instance the claim that his Inauguration crowd was larger than that of his predecessor Barak Obama’s despite clear photographic evidence to the contrary.
We all can, and do, to a greater or lesser extent lie. Perversely our capacity for dishonesty is as fundamental to our day to day interactions as trust, it really is true that to lie is to be human.
Humans are emotional and impulsive decision makers prone to accept some well presented lies even in the face of contrary evidence. Furthermore, there is a school of thought that in the age of social media our ability to separate truth from lies is diminishing.
Consequently, our proclivity for deceiving others, and our vulnerability to ourselves being deceived are becoming more and more prevalent aided and abetted by the immediacy of this online world.
Amongst other things the Trump presidency is a prime example of how online social media is, for many, becoming the news provider of choice. Where would Trump be without Twitter?
Should we be surprised. Not really research has shown that deceptive behaviour is part of our DNA traceable back to our very beginnings. All our connected world has done is accelerated such behaviour.
In both our primal, virtual and real worlds manipulation and subterfuge have helped in gratifying our our most basic of human needs. Separating a “fool from their money” by the use of persuasion and manipulation is much subtler and more successful than any full frontal “smash and grab”.
Our curiosity and even admiration towards those who use charm and mistruths to gain an advantage highlights the duality and perversity of our nature.
So what are the psychological and neurobiological drivers that underpin our behaviour.
We all have our own individual world view. It is formed through the lens of experience and knowledge gained from our interactions with others. We are by nature “herd animals”. Without the implicit trust and belief, we place in our interactions we would be both physically and mentally isolated. This would not be a positive experience.
We all routinely use mental shortcuts and unconscious apply rules-of-thumb thinking to make sense of the world around and those in it. We do tend to give people ‘The benefit of the doubt.Inevitably, these instant mental shortcuts will on occasions misdirect us. Our inclination towards trust in others makes us especially prone to the lies of less scrupulous predators that affirm our worldview.
Frequently despite exposure the lies of those we feel connected with are coloured by inbuilt beliefs, perception and bias and often ignored, ridiculed or attacked.
So the two Russian citizens seen recently in Salisbury at the time of the novichok poisoning are depending on your world view either agents of a foreign state or innocent tourists.
“Alternative facts” and “fake news” abound and there is little doubt that our new shiny technological enabled world provides a new frontier for lying and deceit.
So what does all this mean? It may be very negative and depressing but the fact (sic) is that the truth is not universal it is personal. Humans may have evolved but our primal inner battle between lies and trust are the same as they ever was.
Or is just my own personal truth.
“...but no one was interested in the facts. They preferred the invention because this invention expressed and corroborated their hates and fears so perfectly.”
James Baldwin (1955) Notes of a Native Son
Bob Pointer - CFIL Global
We are all rightly caught up in the euphoria of an England football team for once exceeding expectations and whilst I love the love I feel it will be at a price. Unless we now bring home the trophy the press and many others who now love him to bits, will be queuing up to stick the knife into Gareth Southgate. We seem to love building people up and knocking them down.
We went into the world cup with little expectations and the humiliation of Euro 2016 and defeat to Iceland still very fresh in our minds. We distanced ourselves knowingly or unknowingly from “our boys” THEY haven’t a chance THEY are too young, inexperienced, THEY have no stars, but THEY proved “US” wrong.
Now its not “THEY” its “WE” and the biggest danger is the sudden love and acceptance will prove a block rather than a lift.
So, what is this all about why we, as a nation, seem to be pessimistic by default and then keen to put obstacles or knock down those who try to better themselves and succeed.
Some years ago, I worked as a project co-ordinator for a charity and met two young people who both have had a massive and lasting impact on me. Both it is fair to say had had their problems in their short lives and were quite used to being dismissed or told no but both are by nature irrepressible in spirit and mind.
Will has just returned from a tour of China, runs marathons and seems to be really living and enjoying his life working within the NHS. Emily travelled alone to India and became immersed in the culture and in particular meditation and self- discovery and now is back in the UK a mother and happily settled in Devon. They both refused to be tied down and instead chose to live their lives.
I personally once approached the Essex County Football Association with a proposal to create a football club for disabled children and young adults and was seeking their support in a bid for £10,000 to the FA.
Whilst I received a positive response I was a little annoyed by their lack of expectations for those who would benefit. I laid out my ambition to create a pathway where the players would be able to reach their full potential, whatever that may be, including playing for their country. At this point I was told “it can’t be done”. Those who know me will know that I can be a bit belligerent and stubborn and to me that was a statement not an answer so replied “watch me”. Arrogant? Maybe but I believed in the young people and refused to be limited by their lack of vision or expectation.
In my mind I imagine a similar situation when Gareth Southgate spoke to the FA before the World Cup “I’m taking young untested and internationally inexperienced players and we will bring the trophy home” response “That can’t be done”………………………………
And by the way, I got the grant started the project and Adam a partially sighted and extremely gifted player went on to play Futsol for England.
For Emily and the very beautiful Waverley and Will you both have my utmost respect for just being you.
There has been a fair amount of research in recent years into the benefits of singing. These encompass the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. For example, singing increases the amount of oxygen that you absorb into the body increasing alertness. It stimulates the thyroid gland thus helping to balance your metabolism. It improves motor skills by developing the co-ordination between brain and body. Additionally, singing is a great stress management tool and helps boost the immune system, as well as stimulating the release of endorphins thus improving our sense of well being and making us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative.
The mental benefits of singing are, again, numerous. Significantly, it develops one’s ability to multi-task. For example, singing requires you to sing the correct word, at the correct pitch, at the correct time, at the right volume level and with the most appropriate voice quality. Indeed, singing and music in general uses multiple areas of the brain. For those who have suffered some brain damage, perhaps as a result of dementia or a stroke, singing has particular benefits in that it helps our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways thus ‘re-wiring’ our brains to regain lost function or access lost memories.
On a spiritual level, singing is uplifting and actually a form of meditation. Furthermore, it has been found that singing in groups seems to amplify many or all of the benefits.
It is true that there is a song for every mood. It is said that singing can open the heart and help release emotional blockages but are there some songs that are better to sing than others. This is something that concerns me in my work with the elderly and those with dementia, aphasia or learning difficulties. Whilst these groups still have the capacity to learn new songs in varying degrees, it is easier to concentrate on those that they remember from earlier life experiences or at least can be stimulated to remember.
It is thought that our greatest ‘personal song bank’ is generated between the ages of 11 and 27 and, in particular, during the secondary school years between 12 and 18. Hence, the following table gives a clue when choosing songs for particular age groups.
Year of Birth Song Era In Particular
1943 1954 to 1970 1955 to 1961
1938 1948 to 1965 1949 to 1956
1933 1943 to 1960 1944 to 1951
1928 1938 to 1955 1930 to 1946
1923 1933 to 1950 1934 to 1939
However, this gives a clue and is not definitive. For example, the period from 1955 to the early 1960’s was particularly vibrant with the birth of rock and roll, increased awareness and reference to pop charts and improving economic prosperity. Also, certain wartime songs and traditional songs made a big impact on individuals as did a particular liking for a specific genre such as jazz, country & western or songs from musicals. Another factor relates to the songs that were popular with our parents or our children and when working with a large group, each song choice will not stimulate memories and emotional or physical reaction in everyone. It’s about generating the maximum benefit for the group as a whole.
When working with the elderly and those with dementia in particular there is a danger in becoming patronising and assuming that one needs to stick to songs from the first half or the 20th Century or even to nursery songs like ‘Old Macdonald’ when, in fact, the era of Elvis or even the Beatles is having an ever increasing impact.
Andrew Callard - Aimed Business
I’ve never been so popular as this last week. All my old friends and businesses I vaguely remember are getting in touch by email to thank me and ask me to stay on their databases. All because of this thing called GDPR, which comes into penalties after May 25th.
Pseudo-phishersLots of businesses keep the email brief and then put a big button for me to opt back in. Great keeping it short and direct helps us time-poor recipients.
Often these are for businesses that are not on my normal email lists or sent corporately without my contact’s name. So I’ve no idea if the address is genuine. The opening line is usually reassuring, but also a bit scary. The second line urges action to avoid mutual disaster. And then there is that big button to press to start.
Start what exactly? Because let’s face it this is exactly the modus operandi of a spear phisherman trying to access my computer to extract data. Business behaviour being what it is we know that most companies have left it to the last week to comply. Perfect cover for the bad guys to sneak in. Ironically precisely one of the things GDPR is trying to prevent.
Can’t wait for Monday for the emails telling me that I’ve been fined- because of course the ICO will have worked the bank holiday weekend to catch out even more of the unwary. Or would they really?
Eric Witheridge - Blue Signage Ltd
How can local companies advertise effectively when the cost of boosting 'pay per click advertising is so expensive, opportunities for paper advertising are reducing and trying to boost your online presence in a sea of very slick international competition is getting harder?
One way would be to take an advertising slot on a small screen near by. Many Golf clubs, Leisure Centres and even Doctors and Dentist's surgeries have information screens available and will often encourage local businesses to take space on them. This provides a cheap and effective local advertising space and reduces the cost of providing the service for the venue.
Many Pubs and Clubs have screens that are only used to display sports and when not in use play local radio. Why not ask your Pub if you can have an advert on their screen when it's not being used?
They'll say that it's not possible or they don't know how to do it. This is the perfect opportunity to suggest they talk to Blue Signage. Especially, when they realise it could earn them extra revenue!
Adverts start from just £10 per month per screen with the cost reducing for multiple locations. Have a look at how effective this is at the Main Place and Bells Golf Club. In fact, why not ask to place an advert on one of their screens before they fill up! For more information call us on 01594 888580
or 07791 190700
Bob Pointer - CFIL Global
EMPATHY IN BUSINESS
“People often confuse the words empathy and sympathy. Empathy means the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, whereas sympathy means ‘feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune” Oxford Dictionaries @ Oxforddictionaries.com
Gaining empathy in our communication with others is essential – or so we are told. But in normal business interactions is it viable? I suppose that all depends what you perceive as an empathetic relationship.
In formal encounters like business meetings we are told we should try to build rapport and be empathetic. But often we get so caught up in our own role in the process that we simply do not have enough capacity to relate at an emotion level with the other participants.
According to Feshbach and Kukenbecker (1974), empathy has 3 essential parts,
So, in the terms of formal business interactions, my contention is that the role of empathy has to be considered carefully. Empathy is not easy achievable - but an understanding of the commonality that exists between both parties can be conveyed and understood. Mutual understanding of the others position and a respect for them as a human being and equal is more achievable and in my opinion right for the situation.
I shall be making a short presentation to CAP meetings in the near future based on this blog entitled ALF – Always listen first.
Andrew Callard - Aimed Business
What do you want Gloucestershire to look like in 2050?
I’ve been talking at CAP, other business networking groups and with businesses and I’m shocked with how few people are aware that currently there is a consultation going on in Gloucestershire. Glos2050 is all about setting the strategy for what Gloucestershire will look like in 2050. It proposes 8 ambitions and 6 ideas and wants feedback now.
The Eight Glos2050 Ambitions
And The Six Glos2050 Ideas
Finding Out MoreThe consultation is available at https://glos2050.com/ . Please go there to find out more information and also to participate before 31st July 2018.
The Forest of Dean District Council is also reaching out to people who live, work and play in the Forest in order to set the economic strategies through to 2050. Its Forest Economic Partnership is looking for individuals who are happy to participate in sub-groups to discuss and agree the best way forward for the Forest as a whole.
To find out more visit the FEP stand at the Forest Enterprise Fair being held at Vantage Point Conference Centre on 18th April between 10-4. It’s also a great opportunity to network, take advantage of free training and meet other Forest businesses.
Ben Warner - Megabyte Technology
Every business uses computer system across multiple areas of their business. It is therefore vital that your IT systems are running probably when you need them.
Outsourcing your IT support will provide your business with professional IT support without having to add one to your payroll or waste your valuable time trying to find solutions to the IT problems you might experience.
Your IT support options can involve outsourcing specific tasks such as setting up new computers, installing networks or buying in services such as data backups and computer security.
If you choose the right IT support company they will willing to provide you with a flexible range of options at a manageable.
Small business should be able to benefit from the same level of IT support as bigger companies and using a good IT support company for outsourcing your IT support requirements means that this is possible.
Sarah Orchard - Orchard Marketing
Yippee I’m 10!
Well 2017 was a major milestone for my business, I made it to the big 10! No that’s not 10 clients but 10 years running a small business. Given all the stats around small business failure, quoted as high as 80% in the first 3 years, I feel very proud to have survived against what seem like the harsh odds.
I started in 2007 just as the big recession hit and at times it might have seemed like a foolish decision to walk away from my lucrative Corporate job but my motivations weren’t money-driven. I had become disillusioned with the politics, back-stabbing and how slow and hard work the progress always felt. Time to make a difference and do something that had more immediate impact and was more rewarding.
So I set up my marketing consultancy and had no clients and no contacts in the small business world. Gulp!
It hasn’t been plain sailing by any means and I have learned the hard way with mistakes and getting things wrong. I have also learned some good stuff that I wanted to share to help other small business owners flourish and not flounder.
So here is my top 10 tips for small business success:
1 Why are you actually in business?
Be true to yourself and do what you are passionate about. It shows! It pours from your being and infects your prospects customers, associates and also importantly, your family and friends. Life is too short to do stuff you hate ever day – find your passion!
2 Really know your Ideal Customers
It can be tempting to throw your net wide to maximise your chances of success. But it makes the marketing job much harder and in fact, niche is best. The more focused and descriptive you can be the better. I went too wide initially and just said Small businesses and really it is small business owners who sell to end consumers and have an experience business – tourism, hospitality, leisure, or retail. Be really clear who your customers are!
3 Get your pricing/fees right
You need to be good at the commercial numbers. Don’t be tempted to start low – don’t undervalue your experience and skills - as it is hard and sometimes impossible to raise your prices later! I was told a good rule of thumb and choose to ignore it as the daily rate seemed a bit scary – it took me 3 years to get to the fees I charge now. It made I was somewhat of a busy fool for the first few years.
In the Corporate world I didn’t really know all this networking ‘underworld’ went on. Meetings in pubs and golf clubs in the early hours, sometimes before dawn! I spent the first 18 months networking, trying to go to 1-2 meetings per week. It can be hard work but it paid off. It takes time though. I didn’t really start to see results for about 9 months but it has repaid my investment ten fold and I met some great business buddies and suppliers along the way, as well as getting client work too. Don’t expect to walk away with it on day one though!!
5 Get a business buddy – a mentor or some peer to peer support…
Working for yourself can be lonely. I had always worked in big teams in large corporates. Suddenly I was on my own and ‘I’ and not a ‘we’ anymore! Nobody to bounce ideas or problems off of. If you are finding stuff tough – sometimes your life partner isn’t the best person to chat it through with, as they get scared about money and your happiness. Find some fellow self-employed business people – a supportive supplier, a networking friend, get a coach, join a Mastermind group, or get a mentor through a professional body or association. It can really help you develop your business and grow it quicker.
6 Outsource what you are not good at!
Do what you are good at, outsource what you don’t have the skills or patience for. Grow your business quicker. It can seem like a cost but these people are experts at what they are passionate about so let them help you – with IT, accounting, office admin, telemarketing, marketing and social media. I got my own Virtual Assistant (VA) about 5 years ago and in the first 12 months I doubled my turnover. Getting her to help with things meant I could focus on fee earning. It was a pivotal moment for my business.
7 Working on your business, not in your business
We all hear this expression all the time but it is easy to forget. Nigel Botterill in his Botty Rules book speaks about working on your business for 90 minutes every day – not on the urgent stuff – the important, business development or innovation stuff that moves you forward. I think most small business owners will struggle with 90 minutes every day, so I recommend setting aside 45 minutes, 3 times a week to do your own important stuff and that includes marketing your own business, not working on client work. I do this myself and it really does work. Make sure you set aside this time at the best time of day for you – when are you most focused and/or productive?
8 Don’t underestimate the power of your own website and Google
As people keep obsessing with social media (don’t get me wrong I love it as a marketer and what it does for us small businesses) but it often means I meet clients who spend all their time on it and don’t’ work on their own ‘shop window’ – their website. If you had a physical retail shop, you wouldn’t neglect your face to the world would you? Well if you did, you would soon close! I’m on my third iteration of my website now in 10 years and investing in it and doing my SEO and blogging has brought significant benefits to my business. I have grown my website traffic 10 fold and I get 50% of my business from organic search – Google etc.
9 Love and nuture your existing customers
Businesses are always looking for new customers but what about your existing ones? People who have bought from you are much more valuable! It costs ten times more to acquire a new customer and just doing some basics like email marketing, client gifts and thank yous for referrals, can all work wonders. No fancy digital marketing techniques but surprisingly still very effective in this modern digital age! I get 50% of my business as repeat and/or referral / recommendation. I always send a little gift to my top clients and a thank you chocolate to people who refer work. Little thank you gestures mean a lot.
10 Above all else - keep your Integrity!
I find this the most difficult thing about running a small business (alongside chasing late invoice payments!!). You have to know when to walk away from business or a client, if it isn’t working. It’s a hard conversation to have with yourself and the client or supplier involved. But you must keep you integrity and your gut feel is always right. It must never be ALL business at ALL costs. It isiou the best - luckew tore new ot business, I hope it helps you be even more successful. good and identify with some of something I feel is really fundamental.
Well that’s it, I hope if you have been in business for many years (probably much longer than me), you will smile wryly and identify with some of my struggles and woes! If you are new to business, I hope it helps you be even more successful. I wish you the best - Good Luck!
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