Entrepreneurs' Blog

Ten Questions To Focus Your Future Decisions In The Present - Bev James
Use  this exercise to focus on what you need to Do next, in order to Be the way you want to be, in order to Have the outcomes you are visualising for the future.

1. What decision would make the biggest difference to your business life right now?

Whether you are a start-up entrepreneur or an established business owner, you probably wish there were more hours in the day. Investing money or resources in outsourcing, training or mentoring can be an excellent way to free yourself up to focus on the elements of your business that need your unique skills and vision.

2. If you stay on your current path, where will you end up?

Is your business heading in the direction you want it to? What is making you money? Where are you losing money? What activities contribute to the growth of your business? How can you spend your time most effectively? Take 10 minutes to plan your day first thing in the morning, and make sure you are not busy being busy.

3. What are you tolerating or putting up with?

Most people are ‘putting up with’ something that they feel would be too time-consuming to sort out. It might be your terms of business, an awkward client relationship, a poorly designed website or an underproductive member of staff. Whatever it is, there will come a point where there will be a cost involved in putting off the moment of decision.

4. If you could improve one business relationship who would it be with, and why?

There is a truism in business that 80% of your profits come from 20% of your contacts. Do you know who your most valuable business contacts are? There is another line that goes, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Could any of your relationships be causing your business damage? Do you need to make time to build some business bridges?

5. What are you putting off doing and what will it cost you if you don’t do it?

This may be connected to resolution number 3; or it may be connected to a personal skills gap or a lack of knowledge. If you are stuck in your comfort zone, sooner or later there will be a cost involved. Is now the time to grasp the nettle and  plan for change?

6. How different would your life be if you followed through with this goal?

Developing your skills in, for example, public speaking, market research, social media, financial planning, people management, can transform your ability to achieve your dreams. Investing time in you as well as your business will develop your range of skills and turbo-charge your drive and your business. Read the rest of this entry »

Retaining Your Top Performers And Keeping Them - Bev James

Retaining top performers starts on the day they first arrive and continues every day thereafter. In my business we celebrate a new recruit’s first day to let them know they are valued from the outset.

They receive a card signed with messages from the whole team and will find flowers or champagne to welcome them on their desk. We go out for a team meal to celebrate our success and build team spirit.

 

Tips for retaining top performers

 

  • Wow them, make them feel special, whatever job they are doing within the company.
  • Make sure they know what they need to do to be successful.
  • Have a planned induction process that ensures new recruits meet everyone in the company and have a contact in every department.
  • Develop and train, help them to consistently exceed their personal best.
  • Make sure they are in the right role to match their skills and values.
  • Ensure you have a balance between support and challenge.
  • Be honest, open and respectfully direct.

 

Develop an owner mentality in every employee

 

When an employee has an ownership mentality they never come to you with a problem without delivering a solution too. They are less likely to forget to turn off the lights or the air conditioning at the end of the day; they will be polite to all customers and will be more likely to return a sales enquiry. Read the rest of this entry »

DO IT! OR DITCH IT – Fall In For Business Success - Bev James

 

Planning to set up in business is invigorating; but starting up can be slowed down by concerns about the concept or anxiety about the risks involved.

My work as a leadership coach and business mentor have shown me time and again that if the business plan is sound and the start-up finance is in place (and managed wisely) only 20% of business success is down to having the right concept – the other 80% is to do with personal resilience and developing a mindset for success.

I have worked with a number of Olympic athletes who want to set up their own businesses when their years of competing come to an end. My role is to help them to plan their business strategy and to help them to appreciate their transferable skills. It is easy to see why they have achieved incredible success.

Their motivation is tangible. They don’t just know how to compete in a certain sport, they know why they compete. They are team players whose focus is fixed firmly upon the goal.

Those who have served in the armed forces share similar characteristics. They too display determination and self-discipline. They also the ability to perform under pressure.

Achieving what you set out to do has been a primary motivator. These are the character traits for success and are the ideal skills for adjusting to the world of business and entrepreneurship.

The people who stay ahead of the game and who get the furthest ahead in business are those who allow themselves no room for self-indulgence or excuses. They have a plan, they keep to the plan; they know their strengths and delegate the tasks they are not very good at, or dislike.

They stay focused on doing whatever is needed to achieve and surpass their goals. The best are also team players who know how to direct without dictating – and develop the ability to play to people’s strengths.

But there is another factor to bear in mind when running a small business – the willingness to ask for help and to listen to advice on matters where your skill level may be low. This can be the tougher skill to learn – but is the one that will be the most beneficial to those who are serious about success.

 

Following are my top tips for getting started – and deciding whether you are ready to DO IT! or DITCH IT.

 

1 Do it! Do your market research

 

Too many start-ups spend too much time developing the product or service and not enough time planning how to take it to market and how to sell it. Make sure your business idea is a calculated risk, not a foolhardy gamble. Never make assumptions about your customers, competitors or pricing.

Know your customer profile and make sure everything you do is aligned with targeting that market.

 

2 Do it! Expect the best – plan for the worst

 

A commercially sound plan is an essential roadmap for success. A common mistake is to over-estimate the number of customers or level of revenue in the first year of trading. A useful strategy is to start (very) small and grow gradually.

That way you can test results and adapt your approach or pricing if necessary. Test and measure all the way.

 

3 Do it! Find a business mentor

 

Working with a professional business mentor to jump-start your skills will put you in a position of strength. It can be hard to ask for advice if you are used to being self-reliant. But if you take good advice in advance, you are less likely to have to learn from expensive mistakes.

Read the rest of this entry »

24 Jan, 2013

Business In The Spotlight – Pretaportobello

Posted by: Bev James In: Uncategorized

Business In The Spotlight - Pretaportobello

Georgie Cooper started her business: Pretaportobello due to her love of creative fashion.  She is now an Ambassador for Start-Up Loans along with 11 other young entrepreneurs. Here is Georgie’s Start-Up journey:

What Makes Your Business Unique?

In 2008, Georgie Cooper founded pretaportobello.com, the fashion markets online, promoting and selling clothing and accessories from new, undiscovered design talent with origins at the world famous Portobello, and other fashion markets such as Spitalfields, Camden and Brick Lane.

The website enables customers from all over the world to shop at the market, any time, any day of the week and have purchases delivered straight to their door.
Competition in the online fashion space is really fierce, there’s the established names doing tremendously well plus, as the barriers to entry are so low, there are lots of new entrants selling cheap imports from China.

We feel we are different to the other online boutiques out there, so have more of a niche position – we’re not an online boutique, we’re the markets online. When we set up the company, there was a real gap in the market, there genuinely wasn’t anyone out there providing an online link to these fantastic physical fashion hubs… and so we decided to.

Like these markets, pretaportobello.com also sells vintage clothing and accessories. We recently launched our HaggleTM functionality so we’re now the first website in the world that lets customers interactively barter with the virtual market trader to get instant discounts.

To start a business you need a great idea. You need to fill a gap in the market, or meet a need that is not being met. That’s why pretaportobello.com received such a great response. Everyone loves shopping for fashion at London’s Markets, but pretaportobello was the first to put the market traders’ products online.

Entrepreneurs should note, though… a business idea doesn’t have to be totally unique, it could simply be that your idea can improve upon an existing business model, or serve the market better, more cheaply or in a different way.

Please Tell Us About Your Background

I am 28 years old. I left Bournemouth University with a degree in Fashion Design. I had various internships at fashion houses such as Emma Cook, Betty Jackson and Richard Nicoll, which, although great experiences were unfulfilling. Although I loved the creativity of design, I wasn’t sure if this was my calling.

So, instead of continuing along that path, I decided to turn what I already liked doing (shopping at London’s markets for new design talent and vintage finds) into a viable online business.

I left university in 2007 with a fashion degree and a pitiful bank balance so would often visit Portobello market with my sisters to hunt for bargains. We would always get comments on our Portobello finds – and requests from friends to buy things for them when they couldn’t get to the market themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

How To Turn A Good Idea Into Successful Start-Up
I am often asked what makes a good idea a good business idea; and how to turn it into a successful start up. Every business starts with an idea or an opportunity that fulfils a need or a want. Preferably both.

Identify a need or a want; find a way to fulfil it and you have the kernel of an idea for a sound business. But only consider developing the idea further if you feel passionate about the idea.

I have been asked to get involved with setting up many excellent business opportunities over the years – but I know that I could only remain enthusiastic if the whole concept fired me with enthusiasm. There is little point in buying a tool-hire franchise if the thought of doing DIY leaves you cold; or opening a florist if you are allergic to pollen.

Many ideas are good ideas. Whether or not they turn out to be successful depends on your passion for the concept, your belief in yourself, and the steps you put in place to plan your business journey in advance.

Setting up a new business is like planning an adventure holiday, with finite time and resources. To get the most out of your journey you will budget for your costs; your choice of route will match the time you have available; and your choice of activity will depend upon your interests, skills and passions. If you want to embark on something that needs specialist expertise, you will make sure you are trained or supported by those who know what you are doing.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro might seem a good idea: but it is only a good idea if you take people with you who know the way and have reached the summit before. It becomes a very bad idea, liable to end in failure (or worse) if you attempt it solo, especially if you have no experience of the climatic conditions.

It is wise to make sure you have taken good advice before you spend a single coin of your money – or an investor’s money. Whether you are a sole trader, a limited company or a partnership, there are certain business essentials to be stamped in your passport before you enter new territory:

Having belief in your idea

Whatever led you to your business idea, your chances of success will increase many times over if you have genuine belief in your idea and a passion for your business plan.

• Self-belief: Belief is what keeps you going when others knock you back; it’s what helps keep you going when you are tired; it’s what helps you to overcome unexpected obstacles and to see challenges as surmountable rather than a reason to quit.

• Plan ahead: Having a strong belief that something can work is not the same as blind optimism or letting your heart rule your head. Pour your belief into the practical structure of a business plan: stating your objectives, your financial plan and including a strategy and a timeframe for achieving your goals.

• Take good advice: Share the information with a business expert: such as your accountant or a business mentor – so that you have objective advice. Once the plan is realistic and healthy in its aims, it will become your anchor: your benchmark for testing whether something is right or wrong for your business strategy.

• Commit to your plan. The plan is an active document that will keep you on track and prevent you from spending too much money upfront on non-essentials, choosing a poor location, or changing direction in a way that is incongruent with your core idea. Read the rest of this entry »


  • Morgan Grage: I like this post, enjoyed this one regards for putting up. "No man is wise enough by himself." by Titus Maccius Plautus.
  • Derek: Brilliant article Bev, thanks for sharing. coincidentally the kilimamjaro example used is on my 2014 to do list! Ps thanks for the tips you gave me
  • jackson: thanks for your great article about developing your business idea to great business Jackson mutebi

About EBA

The Entrepreneurs' Business Academy is a unique and highly practical one stop resource for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, providing a range of courses , EVENTS and materials that give step-by-step guidance for entrepreneurs on their business journey. The EBA's courses have been put together by James Caan and Bev James MD of EBA and The Coaching Academy, and specifically designed to teach its participants the skills required to take an idea and turn it into a reality. Read more...

 

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