Tag Archives: Questions

Food For Thought: “Excellent: Very informative, covering business, marketing, finance and funding”

Last Tuesday was the big day for my “Food For Thought” workshop. Despite the ominous weather forecasts the snow held off long enough for the event to go fantastically.

The presentations centred around the need to ensure that new sales are the right sales to make profits – making sure that the businesses there are growing profitably, not being busy fools!

We started off with my favourite presentation topic – making sure that you have an up to date business plan that identifies what you need to do to reach your personal and business goals.

Despite the fact that we had some micro businesses and some full on large businesses everybody identified their own goals for 2018 and further afield.

We were lucky enough to have a presentation from Charles Baughan, the MD of the award winning sausage maker Westaway Sausages. Charles is an engaging and enthusiastic speaker and his romp through his top tips for success in the food industry left the group inspired to put their plans into action, and with good advice for doing so.

Next up was Hayley Reynolds, the founder of food industry specialists RAW PR & Marketing. Recently Hayley has worked with some of Devon’s most successful brands and she gave us a masterclass in getting good returns from PR efforts. By understanding the business’ target customers and the needs of the journalists and publications who can reach them she has had some fantastic (and cost effective) results.

Before lunch Janet Herniman, a North Devon based grant funding adviser gave us an entertaining overview of the current grant landscape. More importantly, as a result of her current work, Janet is able to give application tips from both the applicant and the grant assessor’s point of view. As she pointed out, there is a lot of hard work required to put together a successful application but given the sums of money potentially available (up to 40% of your projected spend) it is time well spent.

The morning was rounded off with a networking lunch, and time for the businesses present to assemble their notes from the day into their own personalised action plan. The feedback from the attendees was that they had thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it inspiring and aspirational.

So, now I need to build on this success: another workshop, new speakers, and maybe a different location!

Another perspective

Running a small business is a tough life: even when things are going well there are challenges and potential crises coming at you all the time.

It is so easy to get lost in “the thick of thin things”… but there is a lot of value in standing back and thinking about how things are going; looking at the big picture.

Have you got the customers you want to have? Are you making the number of sales that you were targetting? Are they as profitable as you expected? Is the difference better or worse than you were expecting, or is it just different (not better or worse!).The perspective that a non executive director offers is invaluable

“It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small”
– a line from “Let It Go” from the film Frozen

The way to get this perspective is to dedicate time to looking for it. I recommend that my clients schedule monthly meetings dedicated to thinking about how things have gone and what you need to do to make the future turn out the way you want.

In big companies this is called a Board Meeting, but it doesn’t have to be a big event. The key thing is to turn your phones and email off for an hour and focus on the business, not just working in the business.

It is useful to recruit someone who is not involved in the day to day business to help.
In plc businesses these people are called Non Executive Directors – responsible to the shareholders for the running of the business, but not given any decision making role.

You don’t need to make this person a Director, and they don’t need to have any specific experience in your industry or your type of business. What they do need is:

a) to be interested in your business and care for its success
b) some form of business experience, and definitely experience in a small business – it’s very different from a large business
c) to be someone you trust and respect

The last point is perhaps the most significant; this person is here to help you – if you don’t want to share your feelings with them, or take their advice they won’t be much help.

In my experience one of the most valuable features to look for is someone who asks questions – lots of questions. It’s not their business, so you wouldn’t expect them to tell you what to do. But questions help shine a light on why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Finally, its very easy to continue doing what you’ve always done: you really can’t underestimate the value of a fresh pair of eyes when it comes to running your business.

A fresh pair of eyes helps in small businessDo you find yourself repeating the same excuses for failing to reach your goals? Does it matter to you if you fail to meet a deadline that you have set yourself?

If you had to explain to someone else why you had missed your target it would start to mean a lot more to you! There would be no room for excuses.

It does of course take courage to open yourself up by asking someone else to look at your business.

It’s not always easy to hear someone else’s opinions. However if that person has your business and your own best interests at heart it will be advice worth seeking out.