As entrepreneurship has always been
a strong interest of mine and one of the key motivators of all my actions, it
often comes up as a topic of discussion with friends and acquaintances.
Speaking with people about starting a business made me realise that a common
worry is that the whole process seems quite intimidating and terrifying to
people who have not done it before. That is absolutely normal as I doubt there
has ever been a single person who felt certain about starting their own
My team and I strongly believe that anyone can start their own business. This belief is one of our core values and one of the reasons that made us start our company in the first place. Our experience of working with people from all sorts of different backgrounds who managed to become some of the most successful entrepreneurs has confirmed that so far. Entrepreneurship is not only for the brave – if you are here reading this article thinking what it would be like to start your own business, then you are already there.
Here are 10 signs that you probably need to start your own business:
1. You are not too happy at work
If you are sick of that 9-5 job stuck in the office, or you’ve become fed up and are looking for a new challenge, or you simply cannot find a job that is fulfilling enough, then you have to try something new. Most people would just apply for another job in a similar field (and likely end up feeling the same). My suggestion is to truly explore all your options and always keep in mind that there is an extra one, often overlooked – that of becoming your own boss.
2. You want to be more flexible
Do you dislike your office environment? Would you prefer working from the comfort of your own home? Are you in full-time employment or a parent and are looking for an additional income? Being an entrepreneur is all about being in control, making your own decisions and being flexible to work on your terms.
3. You enjoy learning
Starting your own business requires quite a diverse skill set. Not everything will be about the product you are trying to sell anymore – you also need to be a good leader, a strong communicator, a networker, a decision maker and so on. No need to panic if you are not a natural talent in all these areas, most people aren’t – I definitely wasn’t. What you do need to have, however, is the willingness to learn new things. Becoming a business owner can be one of the few professions that require you to constantly acquire new skills and knowledge - which is quite the exciting journey!
4. You are passionate
One thing that is common among all business owners is that they are visionary people with a passion for making their dreams come true and sharing them with other people. If you find there is a particular product or idea that you find inspiring or a vision you would love to pursue, then it is worth considering taking it to the next level.
5. You like helping people
Once again, I can speak from experience here and say that when I first decided to start my own business I had a strong desire to help other business owners – and still do. If you are genuinely interested in helping other people and believe you can find a creative way to do so, perhaps it is time to launch that business.
6. You are creative
Creative people often feel restricted working for someone else. Setting up your own business is one of the best ways to share your original ideas and express your thoughts. Don’t let your creativity be filtered – be yourself!
7. You want to set your own schedule
Not everyone is made to work from 9 to 5 (not everyone is made to work in general, but that’s another story!). Different people can have different ‘productive hours’. If you are one of these people who wish they had a different schedule, perhaps it is worth considering starting your own company. Being an entrepreneur means you get to decide which days and times you work, and when you get to have a break or a holiday.
8. You are looking for an additional income
Are you perfectly happy with your current job, but feel like you’ve still got a lot of free time in your hands? Have you always wanted to start your own thing on the side? Starting a business can be a lot of work, but not always. The good thing about being your own boss is that you decide how much time you are going to invest and when you are going to invest it. If you like the idea of having your own business, but want to take it slow then by all means do – there are numerous examples of successful businesses which did not grow overnight.
9. You are motivated
People who are naturally self-motivated to get things done tend to be successful entrepreneurs. If you are one of those people, I would definitely recommend you consider entrepreneurship. If not, don’t be discouraged – it just means that you could use a mentor. Find someone that can push you to do the right thing and keep you motivated throughout the journey. That could be a friend, a family member or a business partner.
10. You want something more from life
Do you ever wonder if what you do for a living is actually meaningful or if your actions have a positive impact to those around you? If you are interested in creating something meaningful and making a change in this world, then chances are you are ready to become a business owner. Building something of your own is a significant achievement – plus you will always have an interesting story to tell people!
Be aware that entrepreneurship can be a tough but rewarding road. Ultimately, the most important piece of advice is to simply follow your heart and start trusting yourself. At some point, undoubtedly, you will get discouraged. Remember not to give up.
Enjoy the journey, and good luck!
This weekend, I've been chilling out with my family after an eventful trip to the Isle of Man last Thursday and Friday. I paid a visit to John, our AMAZING Isle of Man Partner. John is a great guy who's been with BLAM! for over 18 months. He's the type of guy who isn't technically minded but he's successful because of the way he builds a client database, and he has an incredible work ethic (more on John in future email).
John hosts business and sporting dining events on the island every other month, and has had many successful entrepreneurs and sporting legends attend as speakers. His most recent speaker was a huge hero of mine, Warren Gatland, Wales, British & Irish Lions rugby coach. As a proud Welshman, rugby is in my blood and it was an event I didn't want to miss. However, getting to the Isle of Man wasn't as straight forward as I would have expected! In fact we nearly missed the flight! This is what actually happened...
My colleague Ed (our International Partner Manager and all round top guy) and I, planned to visit John and attend this latest awesome event. John had promised me a seat on the top table, next to Warren Gatland and to say I was excited doesn't really cover it!
I set off at 9:30am from Cardiff on Thursday, heading towards Worcester to pick up Ed. We were aiming for Liverpool Airport and our flight was at 4:30pm. So that meant we had plenty of time...
The weather was horrendous, it just wouldn't stop raining, but I eventually arrived at Ed's at around 12:15pm, a little later than expected. But, we still had plenty of time, as the Sat Nav stated we'd arrive at 2.30pm, no problem.
We set off up the M5 and within 15 mins of driving, Ed realised he'd forgotten his Passport. I immediately called him a WALLY and managed to come off at the next exit to head back to Worcester, picked up his Passport and left his house again at 12:50pm. The Sat Nav said we'd arrive at 3.05pm which still gave us time to get there, fine.
But then something bad happened...
Within 30 minutes of getting back on the motorway, a road sign appeared "INCIDENT LONG DELAYS 30-45 minutes" and the Sat Nav jumped up to 3:30pm! This was the first time we started to become anxious. I made an executive decision to come off at the next junction and by-pass the incident on the motorway detouring through Dudley in the midlands. It wasn't plain sailing driving through Dudley, as we made a wrong turn, the traffic was bad and had further poor driving conditions. We finally managed to get on to the M6 but due to poor weather conditions and heavy traffic our speed didn't exceed 60mph for miles. The Sat Nav was showing 3:45pm, aaaarrgggh!!! We knew the gate closure was 4pm and this was going to be close! If we had one more traffic jam, we wouldn't be making the flight.
Then, what we had feared, happened! Another traffic jam by Stoke. We felt sure we'd been defeated as the Sat Nav was showing 4:00pm. This was the moment when we could have given up, but we still believed we could make the flight. I made the decision to come off the motorway again and head though country lanes, dodging sheep, hitting big puddles and overtaking tractors. Ed contacted Liverpool Airport Customer Service to see if there was anything they could do for us. Deep down we knew they couldn't delay the flight, but we were running out of options.
We managed to get on to the M56 and the Sat Nav was showing 4:05pm, the road was clear and Ed and I were shouting to each other, "WE ARE MAKING THIS FLIGHT! NO WAY ARE WE GOING TO MISS IT" Clearly our determination was all we had left, and we knew that we would be arriving after the gate closure time. Then something incredible happened.
We were approaching Runcorn and out of what seemed like nowhere appeared a new bridge called the Mersey Gateway. We couldn't believe it, this bridge had only been opened a few days and didn't show up on our maps. Ed and I were confused and so was the Sat Nav. After crossing the fantastic Mersey Gateway bridge we joined the A533 and the Sat Nav came back to life and was showing 3:55pm!!!!!
We'd taken a vital 10 minutes off our time. This was a defining moment. Ed and I were shouting with joy but we still only had 5 minutes to park the car, get through security and then get to the gate! This wasn't going to be easy and the odds were still against us.
We arrived at Liverpool Airport at 3:56pm and headed straight for the long stay car park which wasn't too far from the terminal, or so we thought. All we had to do was park the car and get to the airport as quickly as possible, sounds easy right?
This is when the worst happened. Zone A... Full, Zone B... Full, Zone C... Full!!!! We entered Zone D and it turned into a single road. There were no spaces available and it turned into a dead end, grrrrrr! There was no way we were coming this far only to be being defeated by the car park. I reversed all the way out of Zone D and headed for the furthest Zones. Again, Zone E... Full, then eventually arriving at Zone F we found a space, phew. It looked like we were at least a 5 minutes walk/run to the terminal and the time was now 4:05pm!
We knew the gate would be closed but we grabbed our bags and ran as fast as we could to the terminal believing we would still get on the plane. Being younger and fitter than Ed (probably doesn't appreciate me saying that) I ran ahead and entered the terminal building. I saw the Easy Jet customer service booth and shouted " HOLD THE ISLE OF MAN FLIGHT". The lady radioed through and said "run as fast as you can".
We got to security and I pushed my way to the front, asking all the passengers to let us through as we had an imminent flight to catch! Every passenger complied and let us through. We could hear over the tannoy "FINAL CALL ISLE OF MAN". Rushing through security we ran as fast as we could towards Gate 10, the furthest gate away (of course it was). We were like the McAllister family running for their flight in the Home Alone movie!
Again, I ran ahead of Ed until a gentleman shouted in a Liverpool accent "HEY MATE, ARE YOU THE GUYS FOR THE ISLE OF MAN FLIGHT".... "YES" I shouted being almost gassed out.
We made it!!! I could not describe the elation! The impossible became possible and we boarded the flight high five-ing all the passengers on the plane as we walked to our seats. "WE MADE IT" we shouted, it was a great moment, as if we'd secured the best deal of the year. I had no idea where I'd parked my car but at that moment I didn't even care!
The most important part of this story is that we never gave up! We could have given up in Stoke, but we still believed and kept going! Despite all the odds, and despite the Sat Nav telling us you're not going to make it on time, we both believed we would make the flight!
Having a never give up attitude is the best formula to ensure business success. If you are persistent and consistent with your work ethic and determination, you will succeed. Hard work will always beat talent and add that to following a consistent business plan with defined goals and it is impossible to fail!
If you’re in a business where you are aiming at generating multiple leads a week, you’ll need a system to manage those leads.
In the most basic form that means you’ve got a spreadsheet where you list your prospects name and contact details and have a notes field for each time you make contact with them. This simple form of contact management does the trick to begin with but is only good for a basic sales process and soon becomes tiresome when your list starts to build.
You now need a Customer Relationship Manager or as we say in the trade, a CRM.
There are plenty of CRM’s out there that will allow you to import this list when you are ready, so you can start managing your data more efficiently. We’ve tried a few of them at BLAM and find that they tend to fall into two categories, those that have marketing tools and those that stick to contact management.
At BLAM Partners we’ve been using our own CRM for a few years now, which is a white label product based on an American platform. We’ve found this system to be extremely useful in our business due to it’s powerful marketing integration tools that not many CRM’s offer at this price point.
Pretty much all CRM’s these days offer great contact management tools, that’s almost always a given. A lot of them also offer a deals tracker tool which is a great way of managing a sales pipeline for forecasting, follow ups and general sales best practice. What we like about the BLAM CRM falls into three categories:
1. Ease of use: All elements of the BLAM CRM come with a video tutorial that simply shows you how to make the most of the system. All too often these days it can take a long time to get used to a new CRM system and can often require expensive training from a qualified specialist. We have found that even the most adamant technophobes can get to grips with our CRM within a few hours.
2. Landing pages: These easy to design pages can be built with a form to capture information that will go directly into the CRM with the appropriate tags attached. This means if you run a Facebook campaign to capture leads from a specific industry for example, each time the lead is filled in it will be tagged with that industry. Further email campaigns directed at that industry can then be managed and sent easily.
3. Autoresponders: All contacts can be added to an autoresponder campaign that is pre-defined by you and can run for months there after. This powerful tool allows you the sophistication of some much more complicated and expensive CRM’s and means contacts can be communicated with automatically without any further action. These campaigns can also overlap, meaning if a prospect on the fifth email in the autoresponder campaign turns into a customer they can be added to a different autoresponder campaign for new customers.
Some of these functions can be gained through using email campaign software such as Mail Chimp (which is great) but the ease of having everything work seamlessly in one place is really convenient.
To find out more about the BLAM CRM or any of our other partnership programmes get in touch here .
If you’re a businessperson, you are a salesperson whether you think you are or not. In fact, I would go as far as to say that everybody in a business, from the bottom to the top is in sales. After all, the sum of every single part of the business contributes to the whole, and that’s what people are buying when they make a purchase.
When I’m dealing with BLAM Partners, they are nearly all engaged in direct selling, but often say “I don’t want to come across as a salesperson” as there are lots of negative connotations to the word and the role. The truth is, because when we’re in business we are all salespeople so lets get over it and learn how we can sell best!
There are many ways to improve our competence at selling but first and most important is changing the mindset and embracing that we are all salespeople on some level. We are currently running a course for BLAM Partners called our Super Sales Training Day and on it we begin by helping people understand that being a salesperson doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Once that has been accepted, the real leaning can begin and from there leads success.
In order to help you embrace the inner salesperson a friend of mine Phil Jones, wrote a book called Toolbox. This useful guide to sales is full of great information that will help any salesperson develop their skills at this ancient art. You can get a free copy on Amazon here if you are quick, the offer ends tonight (Wednesday 31st May 2017, midnight UK time).
One of the great parts at the beginning of the book is a list of people who are awesome salespeople. The list includes Nelson Mandela, Katie Price and Jamie Oliver among others, all experts at getting us to buy from them in their own way. These people are not typically the kinds of people that spring to mind when we think of "salespeople" but without the skills of a true professional salesperson they'd be far less effective.
So the next time you hear the word salesperson, give a thought to the job and what it entails. After all one way or another we are all in sales!
"Sorry Grant, but I've been too busy, so there wasn't enough time to do that task you set me." grrrrrrr!
Anyone that's been mentored by me or attended one of our BLAM courses will know how annoyed I get when I'm told that someone didn't have enough time to complete an important task. "Being too busy" is a bloody epidemic that is infecting a huge amount of people and in most cases it's just an excuse.
Don't get me wrong, a lot of us have very busy lives and it can be challenging getting all of our tasks completed. The order in which we undertake those tasks though, is completely under our control, we decide which tasks we prioritise.
In nearly all cases, when we hear these kind of "too busy" excuses, there definitely was enough time, it's just that we chose to do something else instead.
If you fall into this trap, you may have been prioritising family time, relaxing in front of the tv or having a night out with friends. It's not that you were too busy or didn't have enough time, it's just you chose to do something else instead, which is fine. What's not fine is kidding yourself that you didn't have enough time, because I'll bet you did!
Acknowledging that there was enough time and that in fact you weren't "too" busy but you decided to prioritise something else instead is a huge step change in your thinking that can help you make decisions about how you spend your time most productively.
So next time you catch yourself saying, "I've been too busy" or "I didn't have the time to do that", remember you weren't too busy and there was enough time, it's just you chose to do something else instead.
Have a great week.
Running BLAM Partners gives me the privilege of meeting lots of people starting a business for the first time. This can be a daunting prospect for them and, let's face it, it's not for the faint hearted!
We provide plenty of resources to help these first timers, but with this article I wanted to reveal some of the less conventional tips that I've seen used to great effect for start ups. They may not be for you, but that's what makes life interesting, it takes all sorts!
1. Develop morning routines - This may seem a fairly ordinary tip, but that does very much depend on the routine! Having a sequence of practices that are geared around your businesses performance from the moment you wake up, puts you in the right mindset as the day begins. I know of some entrepreneurs that get up at 4am to get their work done whilst there are no distractions at all, so after their first stint of work they can fit in a gym session at 6.30am then a family fix around 8am, then they finally go into work.
2. Affirmations - Writing down a statement of intent and then repeating it out loud several times a day may sound a bit crazy, but thousands of successful millionaires do this, as described by Napoleon Hill in "Think and Grow Rich". There are numerous variations on this practice and it’s not for those that feel self conscious when caught doing it. I’ve had many a weird stare from other drivers when they catch me talking to myself on my morning commute in the car!
3. Meditation - Meditation can help you focus on your goals, define your purpose and relax your mind when the stress of running a business gets to you. It is becoming a more conventional tool these days and there are plenty of apps that will help you begin your journey to reaching mindfulness nirvana. How much meditation you undertake though is down to you, but it's all too easy to say "I'm too busy to meditate”. I’ve even gone as far as getting a meditation teacher in to the office to educate the my team on how to get the most out of their meditation.
4. Talk to your pet - I recently read an interesting article from a fantastically wealthy entrepreneur who gauged his motivational talks by how long he could keep his pet Great Dane sat paying attention to him. If the dog lay down whilst he was practising he would assume it wasn’t good enough and adjust it until he held his attention for the full speech. So, I am now suggesting that we all practice our pitches on our pets, if we can’t hold their attention, what chance do we have with prospects?
5. Dress to impress - Think about what you wear and the way you look every single day because like it or not you are judged by the way you look. Unless you are a Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg (who are on another level entirely) looking as good as you can, appropriate to the business you are in, can give you the edge. If you are the best dressed person in the business meeting you are already making a good impression and for the right reasons.
If you find these tips interesting and want to find out more about how we help our BLAM Partners achieve success check out one of our webinars that we run every week, available to all here .
Have a great week!
One of the hardest parts of growing a small business is managing staff. Dealing with the day to day issues that come up preventing you getting on with growing your business is one of the most frustrating parts of running your own company.
I've listed five tips here that have helped me manage my staff over the years that you may find useful.
1. Build systems: If your internal business systems are designed around the roles of your staff it can save a lot of problems along the way. If each time you have a staff issue you amend your system to accommodate the situation, your systems should evolve and avoid similar problems in the future. An example of this would be a member of staff consistently forgetting to undertake a particular task. By applying a flagging system, a reminder, alert or trigger, you will then either solve the problem or have the evidence to discipline accordingly. My motto is, always be improving the systems, always keep learning from mistakes.
2. Communication: One of my personal weaknesses this one! Quite often I have found that I have neglected to communicate new initiatives in my businesses appropriately to all of the organisation. This sometimes causes me to verge on paranoia and end up repeating myself a lot to my team! By keeping all of the staff informed on the business goals, objectives and general on-going issues, you can build a fantastic team atmosphere. Regular team meetings, social events and a communication system that fits appropriately with your business are key. In my various businesses I have used a variety of different tools for doing this and they change depending on the level of staff I'm communicating with. For example, I often use a What's App group for management teams and then email communication, triggered from our CRM for more general staff matters.
3. Set goals with rewards: I use a staff review system that includes goals and targets set on a quarterly and annual basis. Each quarter the previous goals are reviewed and marked by achievement. My managers also use this system with their staff and it works consistently down the managerial line. When goals are achieved rewards are based on the achievement. There are several rewards systems available to employers now such as Perk Box but I've used a variety, from a good old fashioned bonus through to a holiday.
4. Work with strengths: I few years ago an extremely successful entrepreneur showed me how he managed his staff from the very beginning of their employment by assessing their strengths. I found this to be completely in line with my core values and love the positive approach of focussing on strengths rather than weaknesses. There are various strength finder tests that are available along with books that help you best understand the way to utilise the strengths and manage accordingly. Each member of staff takes the test and then you can see what their strengths are and what job roles will suit them best. I have now taken this to the next level by employing team members based primarily on their core values fitting with the business and then fitting their strengths with the appropriate role there after.
5. Know the law: On more than one occasion I have found myself in need of an employment solicitor when dealing with a tricky staffing situation. Employment law can be a minefield and when faced with a situation you need to know you’re getting the right advice. For many years I have been a member of the Chamber of Commerce who offer a free employment support line. They gave me invaluable advice and support and I highly recommend their membership for that service on its own. There are other organisations that provide similar services and for the business owner with only a small team this is a great first step in resolving issues or making sure you are operating correctly and in accordance with employment law. Of course, for more serious instances, a employment law solicitor may not be avoided!
Despite this article having elements relating to staffing problems, I would like to end it by saying that despite having my fair share of issues over the years, my team have been awesome. When you find the right people, they are the greatest asset your business has and are the foundation of the organisation.