Archive for February, 2007

Web Worker Daily » Blog Archive Do You Need to Write a Business Plan? «

Web Worker Daily » Blog Archive Do You Need to Write a Business Plan? «

This is an interesting article, and on a subject I have debated with colleagues, established business owners and entrepreneurs in the past. My own view on the question of whether you need to write a business plan or not is clear. Absolutely YES!

Not because it provides you with a business blueprint or specific path to follow, but because the process of putting a plan together helps you to consider all of the options involved and understand them more fully. It sharpens up the target, forcing you to clarify exactly where you want to go (Even if this should change in the future). It forces you to consider exactly what you want to achieve, which absolutely HAS to be a lot more than just ‘I want to start a business’. It helps you to consider what might get in the way and how you plan on moving past these obstacles, and it provides an outline plan of attack on how you will achieve what you set out to achieve.

It shouldn’t be a rigid, unchangeable, ‘thou shalt follow this plan’ type document, but a guideline and a thought process to help you make sure you’re on the right track. With one, you at least have clarified what you want to achieve without working on a fundamentally flawed business model that you just haven’t realised is fundamentally flawed.

If you’re not sure, write a plan. If you are sure, write a plan. It needn’t take that long, and might save a lot of hassle.  You KNOW this is what you should do, don’t talk yourself out of it!

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Top 10 Reasons for failing interviews.

How well do you think you do in an interview? 

You can read book after book on how to interview well but the truth is in the telling, and on the day it’s about how the interviewer sees YOU. Not your skills, not your knowledge, not your education or qualification, not even your experience – YOU.  All these others might get you an interview in the first place, but they don’t win you the job.

I find that knowing how to do something is often less useful than knowing how NOT to do something, so here are my top 10 ‘Reasons for failing interviews’.

1  –  Not The Right Job.

        There are BILLIONS of jobs out there.  Go for the ones which are right for you. For an interviewer, it’s easy to spot when people are over or underqualified for a role, or just plain couldn’t do it. Pick the right interviews and don’t go wasting your own time or the interviewers.  NB. This is NOT to say you shouldn’t stretch yourself, just make sure that stretch is still realistic and not a waste of time.

 2  – Poor Communication Skills

        Who would you employ? The person with all the right information on their CV but an inability to communicate effectively, or someone with one or two gaps who is willing to learn and can express themselves easily and fluently. A lot of this is down to you as an individual – practice the bits you think you need and make sure they’re there when you need them.

3  –  Low Enthusiasm

        I know it’s an interview, I know you’re nervous, I know it’s hard to see exactly what the job entails, but pleeaase add some energy into your interview!  Be a little excited to even have got to the interview, and the prospect of getting the job should be great!  If it isn’t re read no. 1

4  –  Negative statements

        I’m not putting negative attitude, as for all but the most basic roles this should largely have been addressed prior to this stage. Negative statements about people, previous jobs, companies or challenges should be avoided where possible. Try and think if the good that came out of each situation and focus on that. Give each one a positive twist.

5  –  Lack of Preparation

        ‘So, what do you know about us?’ answered by ‘Well – it’s a sales job and the agency said I should try.’ Rarely goes down well. A little preparation beforehand to find out about company history, markets, products and finances ALWAYS goes down well.

6  –  Gaps in your knowledge of your own CV! (Resume)

       If it’s on your CV you should know it! It’s pretty common for recruiters to ask questions to validate theinformation they’ve been given. It doesn’t matter if its pure forgetfulness or outright deceit. If they think the information you’ve given them is not 100% correct it raises questions you could do without.

7  –  Mistreating Anyone

       Don’t make the mistake of thinking the only person you’re there to see is sitting in front of you asking questions. Apart from being basic courtesy, it’s not uncommon for people to ask their assistant or secretary’s opinion of job candidates. This can even go right to the receptionist on the front desk.  Treat people like people and with the respect that you would expect if you were in their position and you can’t go far wrong.

8  –  Personal Appearance

        I know there’s often different dress codes for different roles and different circumstances, but the key as far as interviewing goes is to dress up. I used to say that it’s always best to wear a suit, but times are changing and sometimes it’s best not to over dress nowadays as well. If there’s any doubt at all in your mind on what might be the best option, go for the smarter one. When you get invited back afterwards you can always rejig your ideas and appearance for next time.

9  –  Not asking questions

        An interview is an opportunity for you to get to know about them as much as it is for them to find out about you. Neither of these things can happen without communication, and this is two way. If you don’t ask questions it is easy to think there is a lack of interest in the opportunity.

10  –  Punctuality

         Arriving early is understandable, possibly even desirable. Arriving late is extremely poor form. Arriving late without giving notice of this is unforgiveable! Give yourself the best chance to arrive unflustered, on time and well prepared as possible. Leave a little early if you have to. ALWAYS take contact details of the person you are meeting so you can advise them if the worst occurs.

These are not necessarily in order, and interviews are always individual, however – now you know the top reasons for doing badly, ask yourself a question.  What will I do differently in my next interview?   Set yourself a target to change at least one thing. After all knowledge by itself is NOT power. Knowledge plus action – That’s power!

Get SMART – Goal setting for beginners

Failing to achieve?
Fed up with setting goals and having them collapse around your ears?
Can’t understand why nothing ever works out according to plan?

You need GOALS – Established, tried and trusted – with added SMART!

8 out of 10 people who tried our established, tried and trusted formula said that it worked for them – NOW make it work for YOU!

What’s that?  You say it hasn’t worked for you in the past – well, always remember that past performance is no indication of future performance – failure to achieve in the past does not equal failure to achieve today, or in the future! – Trust me, goal setting works if you set the right goals, and if you do what you need to do to achieve them!

Let’s have a look at how to set them first of all, because giving yourself a target to shoot for and creating a plan of action to get there just HAS to be a good way to achieve more doesn’t it?     

Set a goal, work towards it, achieve it, set another one -simple. 

But are we setting the right goals though? Do we really have the vision clear enough, so we can see our way forwards to our goal?

Remember! When setting goals, always add SMART! (It’s our secret ingredient that makes them work – all others are just dreams!)

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Tangible – SMART

Specific – The mind is a funny thing. It has the ability to make us think we know where we’re going, when really all we have is a vague idea. For the purpose of setting goals, we need to as specific as possible. Imagine a plane, for example, setting off from the United Kingdom and travelling to Australia.   Australia’s a pretty big place – it covers approx 7617930 km2.
If the pilot just set course for Australia, they’d have an enormous target, and would be as likely to land in Perth as in Sydney(about 4000Kms apart), either of which would likely be annoying if you were planning on visiting your Aunt in Melbourne. With every goal – the more specific we get, the clearer our direction. In business, ‘I will reduce costs’ is probably not the best goal statement. How much do you want to reduce? Where from? Will you maintain the existing revenue?
The more specific you make the overall goal, the clearer your path to it will be.

Measurable – If we can measure a goal we can track it. Each little step towards completion spurs us on to the next one, and helps to keep us on track to the ultimate goal. If we consider the pilot on his way from London to Sydney, a small variation in course would mean a huge difference at the end if it wasn’t corrected. We can track things in lots of different ways. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just enough so we can track our progress. If your goal is to increase production from 50 to 100 units a month in 5 Months, you have an easy tracking mechanism – to move from 50 to 60, 60 to 70 etc. If you then go off track and do not reach these milestones, you can reconsider your action plan and take steps to correct the error or rejig the target date.

Achievable – Can you do it? Note, the question is not ‘Will it be easy to achieve?’ Goals should stretch us ; challenge us to do and achieve more. They should always be achievable though, which means thinking carefully about the timescales we put on them and factors which might stop us from reaching the goal. If you can put an action plan in place, then the goal is probably achievable – as long as that action plan is.

Realistic – Goals must be set so that they are worthwhile and desirable for us to achieve. If they are not, then they are not very realistic. Why would we want to put all our effort into achieving a goal that we are not motivated to achieve? We wouldn’t, so goals that don’t motivate us are often just not realistic. It is for this reason that sometimes bigger goals are easier than small goals. Because they motivate us more they are more realistic, They create the desire to go out and do it!

Tangible – Tangibility is about being able to ‘feel’ a goal. Can you see the result? Hear it? Smell, touch or taste it?  Have you ever noticed what happens when you imagine your favourite food? The smell, the image of it on a plate, the delicious taste! Your mouth starts to water and you want that food even more? Try doing this with goals – how will it feel to have completed the goal? What will it change for you? Can you visualise it? How much more do you want it now?  Often, the actual goal is intangible. It is a change we want to make in ourselves. In that case, find a tangible way to measure it – to know that you are moving toward it and achieving.

If we can do all of this, we have set a SMART goal. Now all you have to do is put the effort in and you’re well on the way to achieving more than you ever thought possible.

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

Snow days

Did you get snow this week?
Isn’t it strange that when it snows, children look out of the window and are immediately shifted into a state of over excitement and ‘I wanna play!’, while adults look out of the window and immediately start to wonder how difficult it’s going to be to get into work.

Personally, I say if it snows, make snowmen! I got up early enough so that I could get ready quickly and spend a few minutes with my kids making a snowman. We had great fun, I was getting pelted with snowballs, we were all getting cold and wet, and we all had huge smiles on our faces!Snowman
After we’d finished him (we forgot arms!), the kids stood next to him while I took a photo for posterity. While they stood there a couple of families walked past on their way to school, and 2 children from 2 different families said the same thing “Why couldn’t we build a snowman mummy?”

At lunchtime on the same day, I got on my mountain bike and went out cycling. Now I didn’t have a lot of time as I had to get back for a meeting in the afternoon, but I really, really wanted to get out and cycle in the snow. Its hard work let me tell you! It’s slippery, cold, it gets clogged up in your brakes, and it really hurts when you get a faceful from a low hanging branch. 

But it’s also challenging, crunchy, sound deadening,Singlespeed in the snow :) fantastic fun, and incredibly beautiful.
Its funny – before I went out I had the usual comments of ‘You must be nuts going out in this’, and the simpler but somehow more cutting ‘ Nutter!’ (normally accompanied by a shake of the head). That same afternoon, no less than 4 people (who I know to be cyclists) told me they wished they’d done the same thing (and made excuses as to why they didn’t).

Now I didn’t have the longest ride in the world, I had to sacrifice a meal and have sandwiches instead. We didn’t make a big snowman (about as tall as my 2 yr old daughter), it didn’t take long to make, and we didn’t have to put ourselves out at all to build it.  Both times I had to get ready a bit quicker, and I had to put up with getting a little colder and a little wetter than I’d have liked, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world!
Why? Because I had an absolutely fantastic day!

I had a smile on my face all day and I had a couple of experiences which are pretty rare in this part of the world. I still got everything done that I needed to do, so the net result was that I had great fun, I spent a little extra time with my family having fun, and there was no real downside.
All because I chose to do what I wanted to do and did what I had to do to make it work.

Blink – The Power of thinking without thinking

The ultimate book about knowing what to do  and then just doing it.   Blink explores how people sometimes have almost paranormal instincts about things.  Instincts often trustworthy enough to be relied upon and acted on. Malcolm Gladwell is the bestselling author of ‘The Tipping Point’, and has created another masterpiece here.  His major claim is that ‘gut feel’ can often be more reliable than decisions made after painstaking information gathering and analysis. 

So many people in this world get caught up trying to understand everything before they act, even though their gut feeling tells them almost instantly what they should be doing. Blink is an analysis of this gut feeling and concludes that for the most part, instincts are based on ‘behind the scenes’ processing, which is just as valid as conscious thought.

It’s well written, and easily digested. With plenty of interesting anecdotes; a sculpture identified at a glance as a fake after huge amounts of analysis and study ‘proved’ it was legit; a fireman ordering his entire crew out of an apparently safe house just moments from disaster; Gladwell make cases both for and against trusting your instincts, and provides us with a fascinating and enjoyable read.

If you want to understand and/or trust your gut instincts better than you already do, you should buy this book.  Highly recommended.

BlinkBlink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Do you KNOW what to DO?

“Maybe Blogging might be a good medium to get your message across” she said. So here I am. Rather than just thinking about putting a blog together, not knowing exactly how and why, but knowing it was a good idea, I’m starting up a blog.

Hopefully it will be more than just a collection of thoughts and ideas to help and inspire you to get more done and achieve more, as I do have all sorts of plans for this page. 

Some of the ideas I’ve had for content so far are as follows :-

  • Referrals to other pages with good ideas, hints and tips to do more.
  • Book reviews about relevant and interesting / inspiring books.
  • Links to useful tools & technology
  • Casual links just to help you ‘feel’ good (because we all need to just chill sometimes)
  • Downloads
  • Recommendations
  • and comment on all the above

This will be a dynamic page, and I’ll be keeping it up to date regularly. Bookmark me and check back – you know you want to 🙂

    TIP

If you really want to get something done, tell people about it. Don’t give yourself the option of backing out!


About me.

A professional speaker focused on helping people get more out of their day; for themselves and their companies.
I help people get things done by helping them realise that all the knowledge in the world will do absolutely NOTHING for them - if they don’t use it.
I want to change the world, and getting the right people in the right place is only the start. In todays world it is so, so easy to get pulled into doing all the wrong things. I help people figure out what the right and wrong things are and make sure their energies are focused in the right place.
Feel free to comment, or you can contact me by emailing markbell AT mbsprogress DOT com

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