A Potentially Risky Business…

Again in one of my many London cab journeys I found myself engaged with the driver who told me that the jubilee weekend had been a huge disappointment for him business wise.  Having worked all weekend he found he was only 10% up in his usual earnings despite the huge crowds.  “ What people don’t realise is that most Londoners have a taxi mentality, they are familiar with using them all the time; most Londoners leave London when big events are on and the crowds who come to these events are people who are not Londoners and they don’t have a taxi mentality. It’s the same with all big events, the royal wedding was the same, in fact I was actually down on my regular earnings that time”.  He went on to tell me that he was leaving for the Philippines the week before the Olympics start.  He was going for four weeks in order to get married.  He felt the city would be full of visitors without a taxi mentality and he would put in many hours for little return so what was the point? Get married instead.

I suggested that this might be a risky strategy and asked how long he had known his fiancée… “Two years, I have been out (to the Philippines) twice to be with her and we feel it is right for us, I’m just working on her visa and paperwork and then I’m off”.  I suggested that this was a brave move, one that involved a huge decision and a lot of change.   “You know what guvnor, I have been hacking this cab for twenty years, day in, day out, same old thing and nothing changes, I realised it wouldn’t either unless I did something about it”.  I said I admired his courage to which he replied “You know what, it’s about trust; change is about trusting in yourself and what you believe in and that’s what I’m doing.  I have to change to improve my position; What do you do?” he asked.  I told him.  He felt that it was great getting new businesses to market and said the only issue was that unless they were in a place like he was, going nowhere, they would not come to our company.

We all think we know best, until it is nearly too late. We all fear change; none of us can predict the future unless we create it for ourselves. I was impressed by the cabbies commitment to his cause; his life was going nowhere so he decided to change it. He had taken the steps to minimise his risk and had chosen a partner that would help him on the next stage of his journey.

Going into new countries as a business, without firstly really looking into the right kind of partner who knows the ropes is also a potentially risky business.

Conduit Partners have helped numerous business leaders and investors review their position in business, some of it has been in persuading them that change is needed, some already knew. Most has been in validating that it’s time to change and working with them through times of change particularly when entering new markets and territories in assisting to mitigate risk and optimise return on the investment.

To learn more about our approach to validating markets and go to market planning approaches that mitigate risk please go call 01235 831777 or email hollymunns@conduitpartners.co.uk

21st Century thinking, there is no box!

In today’s increasingly difficult economy with uncertainty around political and currency futures, is it any wonder that depression is expected to impose the second biggest health burden globally by 2020?

I have always believed that in order to predict the future it is up to us to create the future we choose and how we want to be in our outlook.  By empowering ourselves and being proactive in our approach to our work life-balance it is really down to us to affect the life we want for ourselves and our environment.  In doing so, we have a better chance of happiness and fulfilment and in avoiding melancholy, frustration and ultimately depression.  In order to avoid these pitfalls we must each begin to think and act outside of the box.  We need to let go of personal insecurities and embrace different and new approaches of achieving our objectives.  We must begin to become mindful of our approaches and actions and indeed mindful of our very selves.  This is harder to do than to talk about, however it is possible.  It is in this way that we introduce a frank and straightforward approach to how we engage with our clients on all levels.  It is only by boldly embracing new and fulfilling mind-sets that we can avoid the ruts and traps of tradition and in potentially becoming a statistic.  It is the fear of change that holds back the change that we so desperately need today and to move forward and create the 21st century we want.

I am constantly amazed that organisations, as well as individuals, continue to do things the same way over and over again and expect different results.  More and more people have said to me recently how difficult and worrying doing business is becoming and how frustrated and unhappy they are beginning to feel.

At Conduit, when we engage with new clients they initially state that ‘we do that ourselves why would we need you? We have been doing it this way for years with reasonable results’.  The fact is they may well do some aspects of what we offer as a business; however they do not specialise the way we do.  They do not have over 12 years’ specific hands on experience of direct commercial engagement over periods of time that have been proven in unlocking value.  They often fail to appreciate that our services may seem familiar on the surface, however they are completely different, we use new and exciting approaches in engagement at all levels in building value.

The Conduit building blocks and our commercial approach is unique, effective and proven. We diagnose businesses that are failing to meet expectations and enhance further those that are demonstrating potential.  Our approach identifies patterns and we unbundle and free up business models that are stuck or failing.  We engage as if part of the management group and work with the team day to day.  We ensure that the focus and alignment of the business is optimised, and that all aspects of the resource are operating in unison to deliver to plan.  We test current beliefs and encourage opportunistic thinking.  We develop together believable and achievable objectives and goals.  Quite simply we enthuse potential.  We mentor the team to choose the future they desire, we then empower them to create it themselves.  We not only think and act outside of the box; we don’t believe there is one. 

For more information on Conduit’s proven approaches please call 01235 831777 or email hollymunns@conduitpartners.co.uk

Communication Breakdown?

We have found that communication in this age of instant communication remains poor.  Companies are often failing to communicate their vision effectively; frequently they then fall short in aligning the workforce behind a common well-articulated vision for the business.  Expectations are often blurred and unclear, or they have a low priority or indeed are ignored completely. This leads to them being open to misinterpretation. Taciturnity should be the scourge of today’s business as it gives birth to ambiguity, there should be no mistake about vision and mission in today’s business and no excuse for failing to have them crystal clear both internally and to the outside world.  Whilst we hear many bosses and business leaders requesting frankness from their staff and to ‘tell it like it is’, how many really mean this and would know how to manage it?  Leaders who invite confidence should be mindful never to violate that confidence.

The first rule I learnt as a CEO was to communicate all expectations with unmistakable clarity; I was keen to ensure that each member of staff took responsibility and remained their own person, in accordance to their own true feelings and objectives. That said I never insisted on loyalty; that would be their personal choice.

Conduit Partners begin any business engagement with a bespoke workshop; in most of the company workshops we facilitate, we insist on all of the senior team being present for the day.  This offers a unique insight into the dynamic of the team, how they relate and interact with each other, the dialogue and vocabulary. We see where the silos are, the loners, the team players and of course the terrorists and saboteurs.

Only a team of strong and independent managers aligned behind a common vision with a true focus can enable a business to succeed.  Irrespective of who is at the helm, a well balanced team, with the appropriate skills and qualities, are essential in supporting an early stage business with ambitions for rapid growth and expansion.

In order to create the bonds of common purpose and enjoy the value of cultivating a trusted and valued team, reviews in communication and purpose should feature regularly and should not be underestimated.  Leadership requires choices, every day.  Many of these choices require value judgments; an effective leader communicates these in a way that inspires.

Conduit Partners workshops are designed to get to the heart of these issues, to evaluate where the communication is strong and where it is failing.  This in turn allows a company to focus on the areas that are productive and generate revenue, to become an effective communication stronghold.

For more information about how to improve the communication in businesses and to unlock the true potential please contact Conduit Partners Ltd on 01235 831777 or email hollymunns@conduitpartners.co.uk

Is your business keeping its eye on the prize?

We all know the old adage: if you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got.

I’m always amazed at how many businesses keep plodding along, doing what they’ve always done, and getting less and less of what they should be earning. They find their revenues flatlining and their profits perishing as the business faces its inevitable demise. All because the owners don’t recognise – or can’t admit – the need for help.

Change is terrifying: it’s uncomfortable, disruptive, and brings to the surface all kinds of deep-down fears of the unknown. Yet having the courage to admit that the way you do business needs to change, that your company needs help, is the first step back to commercial health.

The FTSE 100 companies regularly seek expert advice and guidance, and they are forever learning, growing and evolving. SMEs, for some reason, are more reticent about bringing in outside help, not realising the value that a fresh perspective – from the outside in, rather than the inside out – can add to their businesses.

Bringing in external support teams such as Conduit Partners invokes change, which people have a natural tendency to fear and resist. We focus on supporting businesses through that change; through the phases of denial, reluctance, frustration and the discomfort that change brings.

Companies willing to go on the journey eventually see the value, and start to accept the possibilities that change can bring. From our initial business audit through to the development and implementation of strategies for commercial growth, company bosses can begin to see the opportunities, and then start to move forward and grow.

Good managers, top leaders and entrepreneurs know this: they welcome the prospect that fresh eyes and experience can bring. They don’t fear but embrace the chance of breakthrough and growth; they don’t feel threatened but strengthened and inspired by support and guidance; they accept and welcome mentoring and see the value of coaching.

The commercial diagnostics that we carry out on a business help create a vision for success, open up its blind spots, and refocus its eyes on the prize.

If you’re facing yet another month of emaciated profits, do you have the courage to ask for help to release your business from the shackles of ‘but we’ve always done it this way’? Or are you content to get what you’ve always got?