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Why you need to build a saleable business

Very few business owners build a business that is capable of being sold and even fewer achieve the price they expected in the marketplace. This often leaves business owners feeling confused; how, after providing the owner with many years of success, can the business be worth so little?

Here are the three main reasons a business is not saleable:

– The business owner is the most valuable asset. If the business owner left, the profitability and value of the business would be significantly impacted.

– Family members and friends are employed or involved in the business and it may prove to be difficult for the purchaser to change the way the business operates.

– The valuation is unrealistic as there is a lack of profitability and reliable financial information.

Selling the business is usually the last thing on the owner’s mind; but building a saleable business isn’t just about the actual sale. Readying a business for sale means that it can operate without relying on the business owner, creating a business that has value and provides the business owner with the freedom to continue in the business or sell.

We often hear business owners say “my business is my pension,” but they aren’t building a business that has value and could fund a retirement! This is why the process needs to start with identifying the ‘end in mind’ – the dream lifestyle that the business needs to help the owner achieve.

Here are some things to take into consideration if you want to start readying your business for sale:

  • Start with your end in mind. What exactly does your business need to help you achieve? Ensure you start out with a clear idea of why you are building your business in the first place.
  • Remember that this isn’t a quick process. Allow up to five years to get the business ready for sale.
  • Communicate with your team. Make sure that they’re aware that this process will provide them with long-term security in their roles.
  • Ensure that business processes are streamlined and that your team is comfortable and confident in making decisions in the business.

Click to read more about readying for sale.

Ray Moore and Andy Sleet discuss in more detail on the Fluid Business Podcast:

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Five books every SME business owner should read

At Fluid Business Coaching we love a good book, so here are our top five must-read books for owners of small to medium-sized businesses.

  1. Can Your Business Step Up To The Growth Challenge? By Ray Moore

Authored by Ray Moore, founding coach at Fluid Business Coaching, this book gives a completely new perspective on business ownership. Ray explains his framework for business growth and how to overcome the common challenges faced by business owners. Commonly described as the “manual for business growth,” this is a must-read for SME owners.

  1. Black Box Thinking, By Matthew Syed

In this book, Syed covers the recipe for success and what gives some people the competitive edge. Black Box Thinking uses real-life examples to highlight how these learnings are transferable into the world of business, and why making mistakes is a crucial part of personal and business growth.

  1. 24 Assets, By Daniel Priestly

Why do some businesses have huge success, while others don’t? In 24 Assets, Daniel Priestly sets out the structure needed to build a valuable business capable of scaling and making an impact.

  1. The 7 habits of highly effective people, By Stephen Covey

This book is often referred to as one of the most influential books ever written, with millions of copies sold worldwide. Among the seven habits is ‘sharpening the saw’ the concept of consistently renewing and developing yourself. Which is a habit that all business owners should adopt if they want to stay relevant in the ever-changing world of business.

  1. Who moved my cheese? By Dr Spencer Johnson

In this book, Dr Spencer Johnson highlights the need to approach change an issue that often makes business owners feel uncomfortable. As an SME owner it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business, but this book demonstrates that by challenging the status quo, huge improvements can be made.

Did your favourite business book make our list? Let us know your recommendations!

 

 

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Why Your Business Needs to Become a Learning Organisation

Originally defined by author and senior lecturer, Peter Senge; a learning organisation is a company that has certain characteristics based around a culture of continual learning, sharing a vision and sharing knowledge. This type of organisation uses and harnesses learning to remain competitive in a business environment.

Today, employees have more knowledge than ever before. However, they are often led by managers that are accustomed to an old style of management; telling employees what to do, rather than ask and let them think for themselves. Old-style managers often have a fear that more junior team members could be more skilled/knowledgeable than them.

Today's knowledge workers don’t want to be told what to do, they want to be asked.

By putting trust into the ability of everyone in the organisation, learning organisations challenge the old style of management. The learning organisation is about asking and learning to learn from everyone in the organisation.

Here are the four main benefits of being a learning organisation:

  • Greater levels of innovation and remaining competitive
  • Having front-line knowledge to address customer needs
  • Employees feel valued and have the opportunity to be flexible and creative
  • Quickly adapt to internal and external changes – continuous transformation

So how can your business become a learning organisation?

You’ll need to encourage a culture of openness, learning to learn and an environment that supports people to make decisions, try out their ideas and experiment. Consider a change agent, such as an external coach or mentor, to help you lead your team to a new way of operating. Less formal learning such as coaching and learning on the job is much more effective than traditional training programmes and when aligned to the organisation’s strategy it can accelerate growth.

 

Andy Sleet and Hugo Heij are on the Fluid Business Podcast discussing this article in more detail, listen below:

 

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Planning For The Unpredictable

The UK faces uncertain political and economical times. Despite employment rates being at the lowest level since 1975 (ONS) and the International Monetary Fund reporting that the UK economy is performing much stronger than expected, consumer spending grew at the slowest  annual pace for three years (Reuters).

More than 99% of private-sector businesses are SMEs, but figures suggest that four in 10 fail within the first five years.

It’s time for SMEs to harness their strengths and thrive in the new world of change. So, how can we plan for both new opportunities and unexpected disruptors?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can prepare your business for the unpredictable:

Strategic planning

Your strategic plan will be broken down into smaller goals which help you to reach your long-term goal. The benefit of this is that smaller goals are flexible and can be adjusted to suit changes in the environment.

Most opportunities and disruptors are unlikely to have been on your radar even a few months ago. However, by embracing your strategic plan you will have a strong foundation to tackle unexpected events.

You’ll begin to find that opportunities and wins are not random; they’re the result of the implementation of your strategic plan.

Likewise, you’ll be more prepared for disruptors. The planning process and ongoing reviews are the time to consider ‘what ifs?’ By considering worst-case scenarios you’ll have a better understanding of how your business would cope and what measures need to be put in place.

Regular reviews

On a regular basis, consider what’s going well and what’s not. Regular reviews with your team enable you to identify potential opportunities and proactively adapt and allocate resources in order to make the most from it.

It can also help identify what’s not working and potential threats to your strategic plan. Addressing these disruptors enables you to take steps forward and in the right direction.

Agility of SMEs

Small- to medium-sized businesses have the ability to react quickly to emerging circumstances which gives them an advantage over larger businesses. This ability to react quickly and adapt to circumstances enables business owners to become more efficient and effective in their operations.

Through strategic planning and regular reviews, SME business owners should have a much clearer oversight of business and so adjusting  strategic priorities, resource allocation and financial investments is much simpler.

Andy Sleet and Hugo Heij are on the Fluid Business Podcast discussing this article in more detail, listen below:

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Accountability: The key to achieving business goals

Written by Ray Moore.

Ask a hundred people if they are happy to be held accountable for achieving their goals and results and 95% will smile, nod their head, willingly accept and agree to be held accountable.

However, the reality is the total opposite with the majority doing everything they can to avoid accountability. Often this is not intentional but the outcome is doomed just the same.

Why is this the case?

Humans become programmed to avoid accountability.

All around us this belief is reinforced by society at large and evidenced in the newspapers and on television. From politicians blaming the last government to bankers denying any wrongdoing or FTSE 100 CEOs explaining the reasons for unexpected drops in profits whilst still expecting their bonus.

The list goes on and on but how can we hold accountable people in our businesses.

Well the first thing to understand is no one can hold anyone else accountable unless that person has agreed and is totally committed to make it happen. It is essential that they are prepared to be held accountable for the agreed results or outcome within the agreed timeframe and that they truly take ownership of the goal and are prepared to take responsibility of their actions.

By definition this must mean that they have the necessary skills and resources to get the result or outcome. So always carry out a reality check to make sure the resources are available and the individual or team have the right skills and desire to carry out the task. The golden rule is check, don't assume.

 

Avoid digging elephant traps at all costs.

This is where we know the outcome is not realistic and achievable within the time scale or with the resources available, but we still set people up to fail. And guess what, they will fall into the trap and just like elephants they won't forget and next time they wont be so willing to take on the challenge.

Agree in advance how the outcome is to be measured and set the appropriate KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Always hold people accountable on facts not opinions. Ensure all parties are using the same information and that the KPIs are timely, accurate and available to all involved.

KPIs are to Keep People Informed on their progress and to give understanding and flexibility to achieve the goal. Make KPIs a positive feedback tool not a negative stick to beat or prod.

 

Here are two ploys often used to avoid being held accountable.

First, watch out for smoke screens.

This is where the issue is lost in other issues. The most common is questioning of the facts – but can come in many forms. Doubt is placed on the validity of the measurement and you end up feeling confused as you never really got down to the root of the problem.

Secondly, be aware of ‘curve balls'.

These are where a totally extraneous issue is raised and before you know it the conversation has gone off in a totally different direction. It's keeping away from the question that really needs to be addressed to a safe subject that takes off the pressure and avoids the accountability.

For professional smoke screen or use of curve balls just watch any politician being interviewed on the TV or perhaps just be a fly on the wall in any of the meetings in your business!

Think about your own business and if you find smoke screens or curve balls being used on you or indeed by you then check to see whether true accountability exists in your business. Perhaps this is a symptom of a much deeper disease but that is a whole new issue.

 

Fluid Business Coaches, Andy Sleet and Ray Moore, are on the Fluid Business Podcast discussing accountability in more detail:

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How to Work Smarter Not Harder

Continuous learning is about the expansion of skills and knowledge. Technology is changing the business environment at an ever-increasing rate so continuous learning is essential to remaining relevant and avoiding the situation where a particular role becomes redundant. To remain relevant, we need to respond to these changes.

In business today, there is a growing culture of ‘investing in people,’ rather than hiring new people, not only as a cost saving but also to develop and retain talent. Continuous learning should be a personal responsibility, but as a business owner and employer, it’s important to provide employees with training and learning opportunities. This enables your team to be able to respond to your business’s evolving needs, and also keeps employees feeling engaged and valued.

Related blog: Three reasons we should never stop learning…

In Stephen Covey’s book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,' he discusses “sharpening the saw.” Often, business owners try to work harder or for longer hours, but the real solution is to “sharpen the saw” – focus on continuous personal development.

Learning from thought leaders

Having recently returned from the Gazelles annual summit in Texas, Andy Sleet shares some key highlights from the speakers from the three-day event:

  • Robert Cialdini – Pre-Suasion. In his new book, Cialdini shares the art of opening the door ready for persuasion. He delves into how to influence appeal and how to effectively deliver a concept's appeal.
  • Michael Bungay Stanier – Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead forever – Michael shares how to lead your team and achieve employee buy in, in order to get your team actively strive to achieve your goals.
  • Chris Zook – The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth. In his book, Zook shares seven proven tools and ideals to help sustainably grow your business.

Although thought leaders are a great source of knowledge and can provide an insight into new theories and ideas, it’s important to remember that just because it’s written in a book, doesn’t mean that it’s fact. The best way to use this type of learning it to take the key learnings and apply them to your existing knowledge – this will help develop and grow your own opinions and thoughts.

Related blog: Fact or Opinion?

Peer-to-peer learning

Another form of learning is from peer to peer. The power of this type of learning can be underestimated, but there is so much that can be learnt from others that have similar ambitions and goals. Joining a diverse group of business owners can provide the opportunity to learn, be challenged and share experiences and perspectives.

For most businesses, growth, profitability and sustainability are an everyday challenge. Peer-to-peer sharing, support, advice and perspective can be the most effective way to overcome these challenges. As business owners, we need to find ways to share with and learn from our peers and build strong support networks.

Contact us if you'd like to find out about our business community.

Andy Sleet and Hugo Heij discuss this topic in more detail on the Fluid Business Podcast, listen below:

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Success at the Business Excellence Awards 2017

L-R: Ray Jarvis and Peter Boolkah

Ray Jarvis, owner of recruitment company Ackerman Pierce, recently won the title of Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Business Excellence Awards, hosted at the Harrogate International Centre in April.

Ray founded Ackerman Pierce in 2013 to provide recruitment services in the public sector. Ray's focus was to provide the personal service you would expect from a small recruitment company, whilst being large enough to meet clients’ needs. It has proven to be a successful formula and in just three years turnover has grown to £7.2 million.

Fluid Business Coaching’s multi-award winning business coach, Peter Boolkah, first met Ray when he was just 16 years old and instantly inspired him to take a step into the world of business. Peter was on hand to congratulate Ray on his achievement, commenting: “Ray’s focus on innovation, creativity and vision for the business and the culture held by his team is what led to this recognition. The fact that he plans to create 40 more jobs within the next three years shows his drive and ambition.”

Ray added: “Being a business owner can be hard with times of self doubt and sacrifice but it also brings huge rewards. I want to inspire young people to consider starting a business to create their own success.” – Congratulations Ray!

During the two-day event, Peter’s hard work and dedication was also recognised as he walked away with two well-deserved awards for the EMEA (Europe, Middle-East and Africa) region: Best Client Retention and Most Community Impact 2017.

Peter has been working with businesses to achieve success for 12 years and has won many awards. He is the Levels certified, as well as achieving certification from Gazelles International, ActionCOACH and Talent Dynamics.

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Andy Sleet achieves Gazelles International Certification

 

We’re proud to announce that Fluid Business Coach, Andy Sleet, successfully achieved Gazelles International Certification in April this year. Andy is now one of only six Gazelles International coaches in the UK, joining fellow Fluid Business Coach Peter Boolkah. Andy’s certification means that Fluid Business Coaching is the only Gazelles Certified Business Coaching practice in the UK.

Gazelles International is a worldwide coaching association that uses the using the Four DecisionsTM as the framework for growth. The Four Decisions are based around People, Strategy, Execution and Cash. These Four Decisions are the foundation for scaling up high-growth businesses and achieving balanced growth.

To find out more about each of the Four Decisions, click here.

Certified Coaches are able to assist their clients to implement the Four Decisions framework and One-Page Strategic Plan to align and focus them to achieve their goals. Andy’s expertise enable him to coach SME business owners and leaders to accelerate growth and get real results.

Within the Levels Framework, the Gazelles ‘toolbox' is usually used to grow businesses from a Level 3 to a Level 5 business. On Episode 091 of the Fluid Business Podcast, Andy explains how it can be used to grow Level 1/2 businesses that are ready and willing to approach high growth.

Ray Moore interviews Andy Sleet about his Gazelles Certification, listen below.

Andy has over 25 years of experience working within a corporate environment and has extensive experience of managing large teams. Before becoming a Business Coach, Andy owned a successful construction business, which means he understands the challenges that business owners face. If you’d like to find out how Andy can help your business, book a free one-hour taster session.

 

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Adapt or die, the choice is yours

Written by Ray Moore.

In today’s rapidly changing environment, businesses need to proactively adapt and ‘keep up’ with the pace of change. Any business that resists changing to market and industry developments faces loosing their competitive edge and ending up in an ‘evolutionary cul-de-sac.’ Here are the top two ever-changing areas that SMEs should focus on:

Technological advancements

Without change, we would still be using cash as our main method of payment. In the podcast (Episode 090), Andy and I chat about a high-street retailer that resisted the change from cash to using credit cards, which had a detrimental effect on the business. Technology advancements are often the catalyst for change and although it can be seen as a disruptor at first, in the long run it is likely to make for smoother and more convenient processes.

Customer expectations

Using the example of payment methods again; we know that card payment is the norm in almost all shops and restaurants. Customers expect to be able make card payments and don’t carry much cash around with them. Any business not accepting card payments is going to inconvenience customers and fail to meet their expectations.

The expectations your customers have are constantly changing. Today, many customers expect to be able to make contactless payment and in the near future your customers may expect something else. Being in touch with trends, your competition and industry developments is essential to meeting your customers’ needs.

As I mentioned in the Podcast, small businesses are not just competing locally, regionally or even nationally anymore, we are all competing in a much more globalised world, therefore we need to embrace the changes and not fall behind the curve.

Read more about this topic on my blog.

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Get your FREE copy of Ray Moore’s book!

Founder, coach and author, Ray Moore, has released a revised edition of the book: Can your business step up to the growth challenge?

And, for a limited time, we’re giving paperback copies away for free!

The book is the go-to guide for owners of small- to medium-sized businesses. Over 14 years, Ray has worked with hundreds of business owners and spent thousands of hours developing The Levels Framework. In this book, Ray explains how the Levels Framework provides the growth structure for all small- and medium-sized businesses. Every single chapter brings together Ray’s extensive knowledge and experience with actionable advice and easy-to-understand concepts.

Can your business step up to the growth challenge? focuses on how to make the difficult transition up from a small- to a medium-sized company. The book will challenge and change your entire way of thinking!

Get your copy of Can your business step up to the growth challenge? if you want to:

  • Grow and develop your business
  • Learn how to take your business to the next level
  • Save yourself from making common business mistakes
  • Understand the stages of business growth

Don’t just take our word for it! The first edition of the book was rated 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Click here to get your FREE copy …