Charlotte Richardson-Beck No Comments

How to get those moments of clarity

You may have recently seen our Accounts: Debunked webinar, but what does ‘debunked’ actually mean? 

Let’s start with a definition.

Debunked means to cut through the ‘rubbish’ and get to the core of the subject. It's about removing the confusing jargon and acronyms to help you build a true understanding of the foundations of the subject.

As a business owner, you may find that you are hugely successful at what you do. But, you don’t really understand why; what do you do differently to everyone else?

This often occurs when we don’t truly understand a particular experience. When trying to explain what we do to other people, we can’t see why they don’t understand. To us it’s just ‘common sense’ and it can be hard realise that the real problem lies in our own blind areas.

That’s why we’re running a series of webinars and interviews ‘debunking’ different areas of small business. We started with ‘Accounts.’ Ray Moore explained each key areas of accounts that business owners ‘need’ to know and understand to get clear and deeper understanding.

What's next?

Now, we’re excited to announce that we’re teaming up with Paula Fisher, Founder of Practical HR, to produce a two-part webinar interview series – Management: Debunked. Paula has more than 30 years of HR expertise and, alongside Ray Moore, will be covering:

  • Employment law
  • Hiring and firing
  • Home-grown managers
  • Developing the leaders of the future
Register now to receive the webinars.

Ray Moore is on the Fluid Business Podcast with Andy Sleet discussing the DEBUNKED series in more detail. Listen below, or head over to Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Charlotte Richardson-Beck No Comments

Management: DEBUNKED

Continuing in Ray's DEBUNKED series, he's now moving on to the topic of human resources (HR) and management. In this two-part series, Ray will be talking with Paula Fisher, founder of Practical HR, an SME HR Consultancy based in Essex.

In the first part of the series, the topic is ‘Managing Homegrown Managers.‘ Ray and Paula will be discussing the importance of developing the leaders of the future and how to avoid the most common pitfalls of homegrown managers.

The second part of the series will be based on ‘Hiring and Firing.' Paula will be giving an insight into the legal side of things, while Ray will focus on understanding the mechanics of your team.

About Paula Fisher

Paula founded Practical HR in 2002 and has 30 years of HR Management experience, including senior positions in large corporate organisations. She has a Masters Degree (LL.M) in Employment Law and Employee Relations and has lectured employment law at Anglia Ruskin University.

Paula has worked as an SME HR Consultant for more than 15 years and her corporate experience enables her to bring a commercial approach to HR for SMEs. Paula has helped many organisations to understand the importance of HR to help them achieve business objectives.


About Ray Moore

Ray is the founder of Fluid Business Coaching and has extensive experience with SMEs. As an experienced business owner himself, Ray has a unique understanding into how business owners work.

Ray has helped more than 100 SME owners to grow and balance their business. He has developed a proven framework for business growth, enabling all types of business owners to take back control of their business and achieve the lifestyle they desire.

Register today for Management: DEBUNKED.


Charlotte Richardson-Beck No Comments

FBP 109: The difference between a leader and a manager

Hugo Heij and Andy Sleet are on the Fluid Business Podcast discussing the difference between leadership and management. Hugo explains why he believes that you can manage tasks, but not people, as people need leadership. He goes on to explain the ’16 cylinders’ concept and why employees seem to loose their drive and passion.

Recommended reading:
Lead without a title, written by Robin Sharma…kes-a-leader/

Our team of professional business coaches share their expert knowledge and experience every single week, empowering you, the business owner, to develop and grow your business the right way.

Join us as we cover core subjects areas in our unique and relaxed way, including: Rapid Growth, Family Business, Team, Efficiency and so much more.

Fluid Business Coaching No Comments

Many People Can Manage, But What Makes a Leader?

The business world is filled with people who can effectively manage tasks and departments to deliver results, but what happens when these managers are promoted up a level?

Before we continue to look at how people can make the step up from management to leadership, firstly let’s understand better what it is that effective managers do.

Managers are predominantly in place to make sure that systems and processes are in place to deliver the end results the business or department are looking for. They make sure that the people who report to them understand and follow the processes in order to deliver the agreed results. Their focus is primarily on the targets or bottom-line results and as such their mindset is mainly short term.

Often, managers are a copy of the manager or managers that they have had before, bringing with them both positive and negative behaviours they experienced as a junior.

One of the biggest overhead costs on any business Profit and Loss Statement is almost always, wages. But what are business owners really doing to turn this cost into an investment?

While managers continue to focus on all the important aspects of achieving targets and driving bottom-line profit up, what are they doing to inspire themselves and the people they lead to achieve more than just their targets? What are they doing to innovate the way they think and act to changing business circumstances?

The speed which the current business environment is evolving means businesses need both management and leadership to take their businesses to the next level of success. Great management allows the business to keep its operational excellence while the leaders inspire the team to find new opportunities.

One of the key factors that any business needs is a good balance between management and leadership; however it is the leadership aspect that is often the missing element allowing businesses to grow in a profitable way.

We need to understand that leadership and management are not opposing forces, but remember they should complement each other and add value to any organisation.

So what is a leader?

Leadership is all about the interaction, understanding and inspiration of people in the business environment. We cannot lead tasks, only people, so it is crucial that as a business leader, we invest more in getting to understand our people better.

True leaders can take a business to a complete new level of success as they make things happen, which without them, would never have happened. They are long-term thinkers, and can often see opportunities to take a business in a better direction.

Leaders are people who consistently challenge the status quo and look for innovative ideas to move the business forward. A leader’s main focus is the people in the organisation, as they do not just look at them to perform jobs within a process, but look to inspire them to be the very best they can be. With a good leader, team members feel more involved and have a greater passion for the taking the business forward often looking for ways in which they can improve their own roles.

So what can business owners do to develop themselves and others into true leaders?

There is a way of developing leadership skills to enhance leadership ability, and also measure current skills down to 10 key areas, it is called Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence helps leaders develop skills that enable them to tap into the aspirations of people and show how the business can help them achieve these, understand that people need to belong to a group and understand how to engage with the main drivers of performance in people, their emotions.

Unfortunately the terminology of Emotional Intelligence can often lead to creating the wrong perception of what it really is. Many people believe that it is all about putting your arm around people as a leader and showing them that you care, when in fact, it is all about skills that help a leader understand themselves and the people they lead to create an environment where amazing results can be achieved.

“Leadership is the art of achieving extraordinary things with ordinary people; Emotional Intelligence is how you achieve this.” Dr Martyn Newman.

Leadership does not just happen, it needs to be learned and developed just like any other skill.

If you are serious about taking your business to a much higher level of growth and success, how much time are you investing in developing your own and the other senior people in the business leadership abilities?

Great management will bring results and excellent operational efficiency, but it is good leadership that has the ability to look over the horizon and take your business to unprecedented levels of success and growth.

For more on this topic and to learn about the 16 cylinder concept, listen to Episode 109 of the Fluid Business Podcast:

Charlotte Richardson-Beck No Comments

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:

Fluid Business Coaching No Comments

FBP 053: The 4 Behaviours Seen When Forming a Team

In episode 53 of the Fluid Business Podcast David takes a look at four behaviours seen when forming a team. Fluid founder and business coach, Ray Moore, inspired this episode from his recent article on the Levels Blog.

Recently, during a business coaching session, Ray was reminded by a client of four common responses he encountered to a business challenge. Over the years he has encountered similar experiences voiced by countless business owners when building a strong, resilient team.

Our team of professional business coaches share their expert knowledge and experience every single week, empowering you, the business owner, to develop and grow your business the right way.

Join us as we cover core subjects areas in our unique and relaxed way, including: Rapid Growth, Family Business, Team, Efficiency and so much more.

David Sargant No Comments

FBP 045: Why Do My Sales and Admin Teams Not Get Along?

In this episode of the Fluid Business Podcast, we cover why it isn’t uncommon for sales teams and admin teams to clash. Using DiSC profiling tool to understand how to better communicate.

Our team of professional business coaches share their expert knowledge and experience every single week, empowering you, the business owner, to develop and grow your business the right way.

Join us as we cover core subjects areas in our unique and relaxed way, including: Rapid Growth, Family Business, Team, Efficiency and so much more.

jinteractive No Comments

Are You Ready for the Journey?

Let’s have a look at the importance of and the relationship between financial accounts, management accounts and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).

Now this has all the hallmarks of being a dry boring article but don’t despair and dive for the headache pills just yet. I’m going to look at this by the way of a metaphor to bring some clarity and understanding to the subject.

We are going to embark on a little boat trip. We want to motor our boat from England to Holland.

So we need to do some planning. First off we must get the charts out and plot our route. What information do we need?

Well we need to know the weather forecast, the expected wind direction, the state of the tide and the strength of the currents so we can calculate our bearing to reach the destination.

We will also need to know how many passengers we have on board, the average full consumption, the overall distance so that we can calculate how long we will be at sea and therefore how much fuel and other supplies eg. the food and drink we are going to need for the journey. Quite a lot of info and planning. In a business this would be the budgeting or forecasting stage.

But hang on a moment have we forgotten something really basic. Surely, we really need to know exactly where the boat is moored. Not just the area but exactly where a boat is in which marina because that is where we are going to set off from. We may have done all our plans but if we don’t know exactly where we are starting from we are unlikely to reach of destination. In business terms the location is a set of accurate timely financial accounts. No good trying to start from where the boat was a year ago as it could be somewhere totally different.

Now knowing exactly where we are- we can jump on board and plan our course and then safely set off on our journey. We monitor our speed, fuel consumption, distance travelled and keep an eye on the compass, tide, wind speed etc. In business these measurements would be our operational KPI’s. These give us up to date information that we are on course and we are going to reach our destination. We can control the business by the KPI’s.

Now on route we need to check our actual position against where we think we are. Maybe we take a GPS reading and find out we are fifty miles off our planned route and are heading for some nasty sandbanks. In business this GPS reading is equivalent to the management accounts. These need to be accurate and up to date. It’s no good knowing that the boat was off course an hour ago or the management accounts are one, two or three months late. The information was there but no one bothered to tell the captain. Also it’s no good telling the captain he is off course without telling him how he got there. Perhaps the wind has shifted, blowing the boat off course. Knowing that, the captain can recalculate the bearing and bring the boat back on course.

I have spoken to many, many business owners over the years that have no idea which Ocean their boat is in let alone the direction they are headed or indeed the final destination. Often the captain (owner) is not too worried as they know there is plenty of water under the keel (large cash balance in the bank) and there are no storms brewing. In fact the skies are clear and blue. The boat can just chug along merrily, oblivious to the changes going on around them until it’s too late.

Unfortunately, in nature and in business we have seen over the last few years the climate change. Storms and sudden squally showers are becoming the norm. What served us in the past will not help us in the future.

So perhaps by looking at the importance of the inter relationship between financial accounts, management accounts and KPI’s we can gain, regain or maintain control over our business in these changing times.

To finish, here is a brief relevant extract from my book ‘The Levels- Can Your Business Step Up to the Growth Challenge?’ (Page 143)

You cannot make sound business decisions and grow through the Levels without tackling your financial understanding, forecasting and planning.

I know that, for many business owners, the idea of getting to grips with the finances takes them straight back to a time when it was easier to feign sickness than attempt double math’s, but this is an absolute necessity and with the right resources it doesn’t have to be as painful as it sounds (I promise there are no quadratic equations involved in any of this!).

The language of business is numbers and, just as on an overseas holiday it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the language spoken, a business owner needs to have a good enough grasp on the language of numbers to understand what’s going on within their business. Without the numbers, we are once again relying on opinions rather than the facts and that is something which can result in bad decision making about where the priorities for the business should lie.

I am not saying the owner needs to be fluent in that language. They can always hire an interpreter (an accountant) if the conversation becomes too complex or detailed but having no understanding of the language is like being stuck in the middle of Athens without a map. There are road signs everywhere and plenty of people willing to give you directions but if you can’t read the words or understand any of the lingo, you have no way of knowing which way to go. With good luck, a little judgement and the use of some slightly mad looking sign language you may well eventually get to your destination but the journey could be a very long and winding road!

As any world travel enthusiast will tell you, if you can grasp the fundamentals of a language you will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and nuances of the country where it is spoken. Basically, your enjoyment of the trip will be much improved.

So, in Setting out the Stall to face the TRANSITION from Level 2 to Level 3, the first thing you have to do is put in place strong financial controls and management information that is capable of allowing you to go to the next Level and beyond. Start by making a review of your current information system and take a look at the information it is providing.

There’s no time like the present so you can do this right now!

jinteractive No Comments

New Year New Start! Is It?

Well it’s the start of another year, actually as I write this it’s the second week of the year and it’s tempting to write a motivational piece around fresh start, new goals and….and….

But, most of us are aware that with all the greatest of intentions our New Year Resolutions often quickly disappear into the mist. In fact, statistically the vast majority of New Year resolutions will have already been broken or will be broken within the next four weeks.

Now before I switch you off totally and you accuse me of just being an old grouch there is a positive spin on the whole New Year thing.

On one side 1st of January is just another day marking the day the earth starts on it’s next 365 day orbit of the sun. On the other hand it also marks the day to take stock. It is time to reflect and consider. It’s out with the old in with the new.

Indeed, I often hear ‘thank heavens that year is over things will now get better!’ putting some mystical relevance to this day. Our fortunes are not going to miraculously change with the change of a year number.

When we think about it, New Year Day highlights the passage of time. It marks the passing of the last 52 weeks and allows us to welcome the next 52 weeks. It is a great time to Stop, Review and Reflect.

Just how quickly did last year go? Like most of us it seemed to fly by. Indeed it seems the older we get the faster the years seem to pass. Can you remember how long school holidays seemed to last?

So, let me ask you a question. What happened in the last 52 weeks? Can you truly remember what you did last year? Take a little time to think about the four weeks of February. What happened, what did you do, what where your thoughts, what were your feelings?

Now you may think that was easy as something major happened to put the period into context for you but for the majority of us it was just another month. Choose another month and review how much you really remember. Days blur into weeks that blur into months and suddenly a year. Life is busy doing stuff and we don’t give ourselves time to reflect.

No we certainly don’t want to live in the past opening up all the sores of yesterday but let’s learn from those experiences to build a better future.

With the passing of each year let’s aim to build on the experience you have gained in the last and previous years. To look forward to taking your understandings from say the last thirty years into your thirty first year. Now that has value.

There is an old adage that goes something like this. ’When we spend our money we can always make some more but when we spend our time it’s gone for ever. So invest your time carefully.’

In my book, The Levels: Can your Business Step Up to the Growth Challenge? I discuss the difference between experience and understanding. Here’s a short abridged extract that gives a little background.

The Levels model will make you more aware of what has happened or is happening in your business right now. Your role is to constantly review your experience to date.

After each of the following chapters, my challenge to you is to Stop, Reflect and Review. Write down your experiences so far, how the topic covered in the chapter relates to your business and what steps you can take to make a change.

So, step 1 is to learn how to review and becoming aware that you may need to change the way you do things if you want to move forward and grow.

When you take a good look at your experience to date you may be in for a surprise. Maybe the CV says 10, 20, 30 or 40 years’ experience in a particular field. Interestingly, what we think of as 40 years’ experience gained in the cut and thrust of business can actually be only 5 years’ experience that has been repeated over and over again. It just gets photocopied in each successive year.

By truly understanding your experience and how you have arrived at where you are now, you will become aware of many more opportunities that you will be able to exploit in the near future.

The next step is then passing on that understanding to your team so that you can really take control and maximise the opportunities.

Let’s make the New Year a time to understand, to leverage our experience to impact the future. Start to review regularly. Make it at the end of each week. Write it down, not just a diary of events but what you were thinking and feeling. Seek to understand what has gone on. Re-read your weekly reviews every quarter, take the learnings and seek to understand. At the Year End you have gained a wealth of understanding to invest into the future.

Enjoy reviewing, it’s a powerful tool.

jinteractive No Comments

The UK SME Market: The Levels

In the UK there are around 4.5 million enterprises that are defined as SME by ONS. Interestingly 75% or 3.3 million of these enterprises do not employ staff. They are sole traders who should be considered more as self-employed jobs and therefore should be excluded from the numbers.

Based on the EU employee definitions of the remaining 1.2 million businesses:

  • 83% (968,000) employ under 10 and are classed as micro enterprises
  • 15% (172,000) employ more than 10 and less than 49 employees and are classed as small enterprises
  • Only 2% (26,000) employ more than 50 and less than 250 employees and are classes as medium sized enterprises.

(Source B.I.S Survey 2010)

The demands of these three segments are completely different and the complexity of transitioning from micro to small and small to medium brings totally different issues.

Let’s have a quick look at how businesses in each of these segments can behave.

Level 1 – The Power Boat Phase

Micro businesses behave like a power boat. They are nippy and manoeuvrable. Flexibility is their advantage beating other boats to the action. They are quick to react to the conditions as they are very close to the sea. They can see things coming but have to constantly focus on the moment.

To ensure the other power boats (competition) don’t steal a march on them the skipper (business owner) is constantly on the lookout for the next job and keeping in front of the game. If the skipper (business owner) takes their hands off the controls for a moment disaster can ensue.

The ride is always very bumpy but exhilarating.

The skipper fixes the engine, maintains the boat, makes sure they have the right crew and gets stuck in when they arrive at the next job.

With never enough time to properly maintain and improve the boat means the boat and the small crew taking such a prolonged pounding the speed may be slowed to make it a more comfortable ride. This results in them being beaten to the jobs by other new boats in the area.

However the main problem is that in choppy or stormy conditions they can easily be sunk- losing everything.

Level 2 – The Fishing Boat Phase

Small businesses behave more like a Fishing Boat, the sort that battle the storms of the North Sea. It’s built to weather the conditions but it relies on the skill and knowledge of the skipper to keep it safe. From his experience the skipper knows where the fish are most likely to be and keeps an eye on the weather.

The skipper doesn’t have to get stuck in hauling the nets or sorting and storing the catch. Oh no! The crew just get on with that.

So what does the skipper do all day?

The skipper works long, hard hours to ensure the boat and crew are safe as well as finding the catch to feed all on the boat.

The boat is built strong enough to face most conditions but will often have to limp back to port to face long and expensive repairs. Past profits are pumped into the boat just to keep it afloat. If its condition is not kept up to scratch then the stormy seas will claim it.

The boat can easily become top heavy (too many overheads) and capsize.

Without the skipper the boat would drift and eventually flounder.

The skipper works from their gut backed by their experience. What they do can’t be easily taught and so it is difficult to hand over to the next skipper. Indeed it needs years and years of hard graft to develop the next skipper.

Level 3 – The Cruise Liner Stage

Medium sized businesses behave more like a Cruise Liner. The captain spends some of his time on the bridge but he doesn’t have to be there all the time. There are competent crew who can man the bridge whilst the captain is spending time with the passengers (customers) and crew (team) ensuring smooth passage for all on board.

How would the crew feel if the captain spent all his time down in the bowels of the ship in the boiler room keeping the engines going? The safety of the ship is the responsibility of the captain so they need to be kept abreast of all the relevant information to make informed decisions.

On board the communications crew (accounts and administration) who are constantly check the depth of water under the ship and that the ship is on course. The wireless section (Marketing) are monitoring what is going on around the ship and getting all the weather updates. Radar (KPIs) is looking out forward to avoid the icebergs so that the captain can be secure in keeping the course and speed. The Purser department (Customer Relationship and Marketing) ensure the passengers are happy and informed with what’s going on. The Entertainment Department (Sales Team) are down in the bar or in the Jacuzzi schmoozing the passengers!

Only joking unless it’s after 3 pm of course!!

The Liner is large enough and built with stabilisers to face large swells with ease and can also survive major storms relatively untouched.

It’s much easier to replace the captain than it is the skipper in small boats. The boat continues on its chartered course with all the crew knowing where they are headed and their role and responsibilities in reaching the planned destination.

The captain does not have to be the business owner. The business owner has the freedom to be onshore if they so desire. The owner knows the condition of the ship, it’s crew and passengers at all times. They know where it is headed and whether it is on course. The owner however has the freedom to be onshore knowing his ship is in good hands.