Category Archives: business strategies

10 ways to start 2016 on a positive note

Business-Quotes

The recent Forbes report certainly shows that the bubble hasn’t popped yet.

That’s the easy conclusion of Forbes’ latest Hottest Start-ups list, which ranks Silicon Valley’s most successful companies in 2015 by one simple metric: the fastest growing valuations over time between funding rounds. That means their list captures the most in-demand start-ups, the ones for which investors had the highest hopes–and wrote the biggest checks.

Combined, the top 50 hottest start-ups raised over $7 billion this year and have a total valuation close to $120 billion.

Interestingly enough, Forbes took an end-of-year look at companies leading the way as valuations get extra frothy, ranking the Hottest Start-ups of 2014 by fastest growing valuation over time between funding rounds. These aren’t necessarily the most successful (or most hyped) start-ups — but they are the ones that investors are betting the biggest bucks on for the future.

The list is headlined by a who’s who of unicorns grabbing huge sums of cash. Ride-hailing juggernaut Uber (#16) is raising $2.1 billion to add to the $1 billion it raised in July. Workplace communication tool Slack (#2) raised $160 million, shared workplace landlord WeWork (#31) raised $433 million, and cyber-security start-up Tanium (#21) raised $120 million.

However, many start-ups at the top of the list are slightly off the beaten track. Secretive Uptake Technologies ranks first over all, coming out of nowhere to raise $45 million at a valuation of $1.1 billion. Uptake, run by former Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell, promises to provide the data analytics back end for the Internet of things revolution coming to major traditional industries like construction and aviation.

It is a fact that no business is guaranteed to succeed. But with the right level of energy, passion, determination to a belief in yourself and your product/service you can progress independently with your dream idea and business.

The beginning of the year has arrived and while it’s important to take some time to assess the positives and negatives of 2015, it is also worthwhile ensuring everything is ready for the year ahead so that 2016 does not start with unnecessary stress.

Many entrepreneurs are passionate about their chosen trade but aren’t always strong when it comes to the financial side of business.

It is the little things that people often forget about. Simple things, like cash flow and budget that can make all the difference.

The following 10 tips would make sure business owners cover all their bases and have a successful 2016.

1)      Budget for the year ahead

2)      Understand your business and its customers

3)      Analyse your monthly management accounts

4)      Keep your accounts and taxes up to date

5)      Secure your IP/IPR

6)      Know your limitations

7)      Invest in good legal and accountancy experts

8)      Build revenue streams with trusted relationships – no matter how small

9)      Invest in cash recovery experts

10)   Take a holiday and exercise every now and then

If you follow the tips you will see the benefits returned ten-fold.

Is there room in the boardroom for Generation Y

Question-Mark-HeadAs globalisation and the fast pace of the digital economy speeds up, customer expectations shift, and the impact of social media rises, the global market place is now more complex than ever before. Businesses that want to stay ahead of the competition – especially in customer-facing sectors like finance, retail and media – need Generation Y to help them understand and respond to the big trends that are already shaping the future: understanding tomorrow’s customers; responding to the desire for more responsible business; and gaining a competitive edge in emerging markets.

Rapid cultural change has been matched and it driven by rapid technological and demographic change. Today’s consumers are heavily influenced by social media, which has given them more access to information about how companies do business than ever before. If the industrial revolution gave power to corporates, the digital revolution has empowered the consumer. Companies that fail to respond to Gen Y’s desire for good business find their brands tarnished and their valuations plummeting. Generation Y business leaders can add value by acting as cultural translators, helping their colleagues navigate the new business environment.

As traditional models of business leadership break down, demand for Gen Y leaders who understand these changes will only rise. Globalisation has created increasingly complex decision-making environments which require new skill sets and fresh perspectives that were simply not around when many of today’s board room executives entered the labour market. Simply accumulating decades of experience in a corporate silo no longer means you will become a successful leader. In the fast-paced, digitally-enabled, multi-cultural and multi-lingual market place, every company now needs to balance Gen X’s experience with Gen Y’s dynamism, inherently global outlook, digital aptitude and understanding of responsible business.

So who are Generation Y? Sometimes referred to as millennials – employees who entered the workplace after 2000 – they are broadly classified as those born in the 1980s and early 1990s. They are characterised as a tech-savvy group, whose members are visionary, highly ambitious and not afraid to fail or to speak their mind. Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin are among the elite few who have become standard-bearers for this generation.

The influx of these fresh, talented individuals, many of whom find themselves among the business elite at a relatively young age, has proved a magnetic draw for organisations. Some businesses in pursuit of greater diversification have sought to bring Generation Y on board through such strategies as reverse mentoring (junior staff advising seasoned executives) or mergers and acquisitions, thus subscribing to a meritocratic culture that helps push aspirational young people to the top table.

The problems of ‘generation integration’ in the boardroom do not only lie with senior executives. Being a director, particularly of a large multinational, is not just about applying a standard set of procedures that might occasionally benefit from a shake-up and youthful energy.

Understanding that it can take time for individuals, particularly those of a different generation, to ‘click into’ the language of a board and have their point heard by colleagues is crucial to avoid this imbalance of power developing.

Integrating fresh young talent into businesses has always been crucial but is not without its challenges. Each generation can disrupt custom and practice within an organisation, but the hope is always that this disruption can be a catalyst for something better to take its place. This is where it gets interesting, because Generation Y has not just opened up new markets with revolutionary products. Over the last few years we have also seen the huge impact of their input on core traditional industries.

A final view on the way Generation Y can disrupt traditional industries is akin to a new industrial revolution. While such rapid change may make some feel uncomfortable, an even bigger upheaval is right round the corner. Just behind Generation Y is Generation Z. Born after the mid-1990s these are the first generation of ‘tech natives’, who have grown up never knowing life without the internet. Their impact on the workplace could make Generation Y seem like a mere blip in comparison.

The CEO Journey

Businesses must be able to learn and adapt faster than the rate of change in the respective markets. This is especially critical in times of economic, regulatory and business uncertainty.

Business and climate uncertainty increases the pressure on leaders to spend their time in the business, addressing the day to day activities that drive today’s performance and ROI results. These typical issues make tasking difficult and a balance to find sufficient headroom time on the business, considering how a leader must approach solutions to drive sustainable change and growth.

Sustaining growth and value in a company comes from making the right strategic choices and then aligning the business model and operational performance, stakeholder requirements and risk management to those choices.

It will take a good leader and his team careful consideration whilst considering the components of value creation and the important priorities in the short, medium and long term as spending time in the driving of the day to day performance of the business.

Being the CEO of a large company is like being the President of a small country. Effective CEO’s have mastered the delicate balance of leadership, hard work and innovation.

Many people set their sights on becoming a CEO from a young age, but what does that journey look like?

What should future CEOs prepare themselves for along the way to becoming a CEO?

On the CEO journey, there is quite a grooming process that most CEOs have experienced before they finally achieved that position. The road is generally both pressurized and tough and certainly not for the timid as well as respected.

The more traditional route is illustrated below, It’s called Keys To The Corner Office, and it was created by CEO.com. It breaks down the process of becoming a CEO into 3 steps which include education, experience and grooming. It’s interesting to note that the average age of a CEO at the time of appointment is 50 years old, and that’s of course after years and years of preparation, experience and working up through the ranks. If you take the non-traditional route to becoming a CEO which we already mentioned, you’ll get there a lot faster, but there is more risk involved. As always, there are pros and cons to both. You just have to decide which is best for you.

What To Expect On Your Journey To Becoming A CEO

CEO-Keys-final3aAnother key point for the CEO journey is organisational risk. Organisational risk is now on the radar of top executives, and it’s the CEOs – not Chief Risk Officers – who should ultimately bear the responsibility for risk management.

Organisational risk is generally broken down into three types of risk. First are the preventable risks. Examples are the risks from employees’ and managers’ unauthorised, illegal, unethical, incorrect, or inappropriate actions and the risks from breakdowns in routine operational processes.

Then there are the strategy risks. A company voluntarily accepts some risk to generate superior returns from its strategy. A bank assumes credit risk, for example, when it lends money; many companies take on risks through their research and development activities. Strategy risks are quite different from preventable risks because they are not inherently undesirable. And finally, there are the external risks which arise from events outside the company and are beyond its influence or control. Sources of these risks include natural and political disasters and major macroeconomic shifts.

External risks require yet another approach. Because companies cannot prevent such events from occurring, their management must focus on the identification (they tend to be obvious in hindsight) and mitigation of their impact.

An interesting report Exploring Strategic Risk, a global risk survey released by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), reflects the views of mainly C-level executives, board members and risk executives from the Americas; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Asia Pacific regions, state; two-thirds (67%) of more than 300 executives surveyed on strategic risk management practices say the CEO, board or board risk committee has oversight over strategic risk at their organisations.

Finally, to cultivate a successful CEO journey is to create shareholder wealth in our turbulent economy, CEO’s within companies need to spend as much time on building and executing strategies as on operating issues. Those that do will build skills and generate strategic ideas that evolve over time. Rather than fear uncertainty and unfamiliarity, these strategic CEO’s  can embrace them, and make the passage of time an ally against competitors that hold back when the future seems dark.

A famous quote once stated “ The hills we climb today are only foothills, compared to the mountains that we will climb tomorrow.”

Why it pays to think before you share!

think before you share 1There have been many conversations recently on when is the right time to share a post and what are the consequences of posting an inappropriate post. Earlier in the year I posted a blog with wine and app messaging – do we find the truth.

Every so often we get to party and we end up having a couple more drinks than we planned. As adults, we get to the point where we know how to drink responsibly, but like they say, “I didn’t go looking for trouble, trouble found me.” When that trouble is in the form of an adult beverage, it can quickly lead to embarrassing moments. Whether it’s your office party, birthday, or you just got a little too far ahead of yourself before dinner, it happens. Of course, you know what happens next… you take out your phone and get to texting and posting pictures.

These day’s social media is one of the most popular forms of communication in the 21st century, with over 1.6 billion monthly users. Anyone can connect with anyone else, or find out information about them that may not otherwise be available.

In the wake of employers going so far as to ask prospective employees to hand over their Facebook passwords, a practice that has been heavily frowned upon by Facebook itself, social media ‘screening’ continues to be a common practice amongst human resource professionals.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, as many as 37% of employers are checking out prospective employees on social media before they make a final decision.

Beyond that, some critics say it’s unfair for companies to use social media as a factor in screening potential hires. It could lead to discrimination, they say, and it may screen out otherwise strong candidates who have done some things the company doesn’t like but aren’t related to work.

think before you share 2They aren’t just snooping around for, say, embarrassing photos that offend HR’s sensibilities. To suggest that HR professionals monitor social media to root out private activity that they personally disapprove of is to make light of real dangers and potentially costly and protracted legal and regulatory risks

But there are implications that could as an employee offer the employer opportunities for suspension, for example; you are not actually responsible for a particular post, you decide to take a day out at the rugby and inform your employer that you have a stomach illness, your employer has is linked to your Twitter and Facebook account and there is a picture of you taking a selfie in the rugby stand cheering on your team, which is viewed by your peers, colleagues and HR.

This is where social media can lead to disciplinary action, social media effects our business and personal lives, another recent blog that I wrote discussed the fact whether in business you can separate your business and personal life online, the facts are this is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to effect this properly, your business life is your personal life online and your personal life is observed by your business life. In some situations you are hired by an employer because of your personal characteristics and high level of emotional intelligence with others.

One of the key problems with posts and in sharing is that because we live in a fast technological world not everyone reads all content or reviews images before liking them, sharing them and promoting them online, this time is usual spent on the train, in the tube or in between advertisements in front of the TV, posting information without a proper review and too quickly without thinking of the implications in the public domain.

All information once sent is recorded, the delete button has very little effect once you press the send button, so what is the answer?

Social media is viewed differently from employer to employer, not all employers have a social media policy, if you company has a social media policy, you should read the chapter and verse and pay careful attention to the guidelines and forbid yourself compulsion to post images and information that could damage your reputation and career.

Finally, It is simply too easy to turn social-media searches into fishing expeditions. Employers are human and cannot avoid being offended by employees’ private behaviour that goes against their values. Experience shows that employers fire employees for reasons having nothing to do with work. People have lost jobs because of their political opinions and religious beliefs. A photo in a bikini has cost many women their job. One man was fired because his employer didn’t like his short stories (too much sex and violence).

A wise man’s quote, “A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.”― Baltasar Gracián, The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Why strategy vs. the P&L is important

investor-readinessStrategic planning is critical to business success, it is not just about the revenue model and P&L.

Different from classic business planning, the strategic variety involves vision, mission and outside-of-the-box thinking. Strategic planning describes where you want your company to go, not necessarily how you are going to get there. However, like all other “travel plans,” without knowing where you want to go, creating details on how to arrive are meaningless. Strategic planning defines the “where” that your company is heading.

Delivering a strategic plan is one of the most important things any organisation, regardless of size can undertake.  A well-formulated and executed strategy establishes the foundations against which the organisation can create, monitor and measure their success. And yet many people find strategy and its purpose difficult to articulate.

swot-analysis (1)Why is strategy important?

Strategy is fundamental to the success and sustainability of any organisation for the following reasons:

  1. Understanding your company and industry

Strategy allows organisations to develop a clearer understanding of their own organisation and what is required for them to succeed. It helps organisations understand their core capabilities, identify and address weaknesses and mitigate risks. It can help organisations better design themselves so that they are focusing on the right things that are the most likely to deliver the best performance, productivity and profit both now and in the future.

  1. Growing in a changing world

Understanding what is taking place within the external environment is important to preparing a strategy that will ensure long-term profit and growth. Understanding changes that are taking place in your industry, or with your market place is important.

Because if you don’t adapt you die. Even successful businesses need to realize that what made them successful today is not what will make them successful tomorrow. With the rate of change becoming faster every year, it’s increasingly important that we understand what trends are going to impact on our business and our industry, and how we’re going to respond to them.

Whether political, social or technological, we need to what changes are going to affect our businesses. And we need to know how our organisation can respond to them. It enables us to find opportunities for growth and sustained profitability and it can help us identify and respond to changes that could make us extinct.

It is important that you understand what can affect you and your business both short term and long term.

  1. Creating a vision and direction for the whole organisation

All organisations and their staff need to understand their purpose, their destination and the course they are taking to get there. A company without a strategy is akin to sending your staff into the desert and leaving them to follow mirages in search of water. Without a destination and focus in mind your staff will wander aimlessly from one activity to the other never knowing what to focus on or how to prioritise.

Providing an organisation with a common purpose, goals and a set of actions to reach the goal ensures that everyone is working for the same outcome (your organisations success) and that time and resources are being allocated to the same goals and objectives. Simply it streamlines your business and ensures every pound and minute you spend on the business is in the direction of your sustained success.

While strategy is can be difficult for many organisations to commence, its benefits are far-reaching and many. From creating new business opportunities, to streamlining the operations and engaging staff, a well-formulated strategy will enable increased growth, productivity and profit both now and into the future

Why the P&L is important?

For a long time, the answer has been “more.” Ever since Frederick W. Taylor did time studies of steelworkers with a stopwatch in 1900, the measurement of business activity – called “Greater Taylorism” by Walter Keichel in his business history “The Lords of Strategy” – has grown ever more central to management. One result of this drive to quantify and analyse has been that senior executives often create numerous profit centers, or isolated groupings of both revenues and expenses nested within large businesses.

The two benefits are obvious. First, profit centers allow these executives to make better decisions. In organisations whose various revenue and cost accounts are not linked, poor economic performance can be hidden by positive results elsewhere, and decision-making is clouded. Second, profit centers help make accountability clear. By giving managers direct profit and loss responsibility, companies can incentivise activity that measurably contributes to the bottom line.

Finally, for a coherent strategy to work, then, the organisation executing it must be measured as a whole, rather than as parts. In other words, if a company is to have a single strategy, it must be driven by a single P&L.