Monday, 23 December 2013

New Year, New ..?

Christmas has gone. We now turn to celebrating the coming of a new year.  This is traditionally the time to make resolutions to affirm values, to set out our new path.

We can, of course, do this at both the personal and the organisational level.

So, take a little time to think through how your work will change this year.  What will you do that is different and/or how will you approach it differently.

Think about others who are affected by what you do - especially your employees - and how you can improve their lot.  Doing 'a good turn' almost always pays dividends. Grow the capacity of your employees and you grow your business.

In productivity terms think through the implications of what you do and how you do it to make it more effective, more efficient and more sustainable.  This is not just good at new year; it is good business practice at any time.

Make 2014 the year you think afresh!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas is coming (sounds like the cue for a song!)

Whether or not you are Christian, I am sure you can appreciate the overall Christmas message of 'peace and goodwill'.

It is, however, a little bizarre that we wrap this message up within the biggest commercial period of the year when material presents seem to count for more than good thoughts.

It should do us good to remember that we are part of a 'big society' that extends across and around the globe.  However we can only act where we have both knowledge and influence.

So, think how you can turn the Christmas message into action within your company and the communities it touches. You'll feel better for it!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

recruitment problems

Do you have problems recruiting employees of the right calibre?

I have seen reports recently that relate to the literacy levels of young people in some of the most developed nations. .. like the UK and Australia.  These reports suggests that these countries are moving in the the wrong direction in international league tables.

Remember we are talking about 'developed' nations with a long history of compulsory schooling.

The problem (it seems to me) is that education has become a 'political football', used for 'social engineering' purposes.  Certainly in the UK, we have tried to create an educational system in which no-one can fail ... and all are 'successful'.

To do this we have 'equalised' to the lowest common denominator.  So, instead of giving every student the education they need to stretch themselves to the best THEY can be, we give everyone a relatively unsophisticated and certainly non-stretching education with assessments they have a very good chance of 'excelling' at.

We are now reaping the results of this policy - finding that recruits to the workforce do not have basic numeracy and literacy levels.  Some of these people are very smart - just not well-educated.

And these things take a long time to turn round.  Who is going to create the high-skilled workforce needed to secure my well-being through old age?

Saturday, 7 December 2013

I'm in Mauritius - working!

This is a beautiful place, of course.  But when we look at such island paradises, we sometimes forget they too have to build an economy to look after their citizens.  Of course, tourism is a major focus of economic activity but it isn't enough.  They need other sectors to be productive and contribute to the economy.  This means they also need the infrastructure and support services that other nations have to ensure high productivity.

They also need the entrepreneurial spirit that builds new businesses and makes them grow.

Mauritius has to build the infrastructure and the climate in which small businesses can start and prosper.  the government - and support agencies - have to get the right balance between support - and freedom ... minimising regulation, bureaucracy and 'interference' while offering positive support.

I am  trying to help Mauritius build this shared vision of a highly productive, highly entrepreneurial  nation - working with the excellent staff of the National Productivity & Competitiveness Council.  My discussions here on this my second visit give me confidence for the future ... but I know there will be plenty of slips along the way to a brighter future.  It is the vision that will keep the plans on track - and the collective efforts of lots of people who share, and believe in, that vision.

I am hoping that in subsequent visits, I see the seeds we have planted starting to sprout and grow ... and that Mauritius has a future as bright as its sunshine.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Get your staff onside

You want your staff to participate ... to take part in improvement projects and initiatives - even to initiate them.

But you have to first engage them - you have to make them see why you want to improve , why it is in their interests, and why they should become involved.

If you don't get their interest and support, they won't participate willingly.

So, think about what motivates them, what might encourage them and offer them reward .... understand their concerns, hopes and fears ... and  then find ways to engage them - on their terms, not yours..

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Motivate (first or second?)

On the LinkedIn group which I moderate (Productivity Futures) we have recently had a discussion about which come first - motivation or productivity.

One side of the argument (conventional wisdom) suggests that we motivate staff (with exhortation. encouragement, rewards or whatever) and that motivation results in higher productivity and higher satisfaction for the workforce.

The counter argument is that workers work hard - perhaps because they are well-organised and well-managed.... and that performance results in them being rewarded and satisfied, creating motivation for future performance.

In some respects, the argument is irrelevant.  As a business manger or owner, you need to work on the motivation of staff, setting achievable targets and goals (which are understood and agreed by those responsible for achieving them).   This is something which should be ongoing and regular - not an occasional one-off intervention or initiative.

Then we end up with satisfied, highly productive workers - completing the cycle of motivation, productivity, motivation.... wherever it starts.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Targets are not enough

There seems to be an assumption that, if you set targets, people will - by default - be motivated to achieve them.

However, clearly you need also to have a plan ... a sequence of activities that move you ever closer towards the target.

The target is the easy bit. Establishing an effective plan is much harder.  So you should spend your effort in proportion to this difficulty ... and focus on the plan.

But even this is not enough.

When you have the plan you have to marshall the resources to make it happen ... and motivate people to make them want to achieve it.

In most situations, whether you reach your targets will depend on people not plans.  Focus your people - and make sure they have the knowledge and skills to help you move towards your targets.

Now you have a chance of success.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

SMES ... and productiivty

This week I have been at an event organised by RKW in Germany and involving representatives of the European Association of National Productivity Centres (EANPC) and the European Management Association (EMA).

We have been discussing the current state of SMEs in Europe ... and what can be done to improve their contribution to the European economy - important as Europe continues its attempt to climb out of recession.

My own view is that governments often have too many policies and programmes aimed at helping SMEs. My experience is that SMEs are flexible and adaptive ... and therefore will adapt to take advantage of, and funding from, government initiatives.... but the strong ones will survive anyway ... and the weak ones are unlikely to thrive and grow even with such interventions.

Governments should establish the necessary infrastructure (especially the macroeconomic and regulatory framework - where regulation should be minimal and supportive - but crucially also the education and training - for skills - infrastructure, the transport and communications infrastructures). Note that this framework applies just as much to large companies as to SMEs.

Government's job, then, is to get out of the way and let flexible, dynamic, innovative SMEs build their businesses within that supportive environment.

So we need fewer initiatives but a stronger, more appropriate infrastructure. Then we  let the strong survive and thrive.

This is what i have been saying on tyour behals.  i hope you think I gave the right message.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Do your competitors worry you?

Are you worried by what your competitors are doing?

If you are, it must be because you think they are doing some things better than you.

This is not their fault.

Identify what it is ... and then set about beating them at their own game.  Then identify what you might do that they will have difficulty matching ... and strike for a lead.  if you keep playing 'catchup', you will ultimately fail.  Let them catch you up instead.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

. .. and do them well.

I wrote last week of the need to identify the things that will drive your business forward ... and concentrate on those things.

But, of course, as well as doing them, we have to do them well.... at least as well as our competitors.

So, we have to understand what to do .. and how to do it .. .and what constitutes success.

We almost certainly have to measure how well we achieve what we set out to do ... so we know we are achieving... or can take corrective action if we are not.

And if we can find out how well our competitors are doing, so much the better.  So benchmarking what we do against what they do is important.

Keep your eyes on the prize at all times!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Do the right things to succeed

Small companies grow into big ones .... sometimes.  But only, of course, if they are successful.

Do you know what 'success' is ... what will drive your business forward?

You might be surprised to discover that lots of companies do not.  They plod along doing lots of good things but not always understanding the key elements that drive success.

Take the time to reflect, to think ... and then start to act on your success factors.  Get them right and you might sew the seeds of success ... and growth.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Keep it simple - do not complicate

How much can you improve the productivity of a process without changing the underlying technology?

Sometimes we look for the major changes that major process change can bring about.  However, real gains can often be achieved by simple changes to the way we plan, organise and control the process and the resources it consumes.

This blog is called 'Do Not Complicate'.  So. measure and understand the process ... and where it might be improved.  Then, improve it - simply.

Saturday, 5 October 2013


Success comes from being clear about what you are aiming for ... and then single-mindedly executing the strategy to get you there.

What you don't need are distractions - the little problems along the way ... but also the little side projects that crop up and you 'fit in' alongside the main project.

You need to be ruthless in eliminating these distractions ..... they constitute 'wasted effort'.

Organise your work and the work of those around you is that it is absolutely clear where the focus lies.... and what constitutes success. Then remove all the distractions, leaving the team to focus completely on this main focus.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Where do they go?

So, Blackberry seems to have gone.

A few years ago, business executives were addicted to the mobile email platform ... for that is what it was.

Then Apple - and Google via Android - showed what else could be done by a mobile device... and Blackberry was left behind.

Remember, however good your product is, however dominant you are in the market. some young upstart (startup!) will be trying to overtake you.  if you rest on your laurels, you get left by the roadside.

This is one occasion where productivity cannot help.  if you are selling the wrong product, it doesn't matter how efficiently you make it.

So, think about your own product range ... and who might be 'coming up on the rials' to overtake you.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Who do you 'touch'?

All businesses touch a number of groups and communities.  There are obvious ones like customers and employers - but also suppliers - and their suppliers through the supply chain - and people who live near your factories, stores, hospitals or whatever.

How do you touch these groups -how are they affected by what you do .. and how you do it.  If all your 'touches' are positive experiences., you create goodwill - and good business.

However, negative touches cause you 'pain'.

Its important to think through - and find out about - these touches and their effects on your business. You need to maximise and enhance the positive touches ... and eliminate or minimise the negative ones

Then everyone (or almost everyone) is happy with you!.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Mao Tse Tung

A strange title for a blog you might think,  but the other day I was reminded of Mao's epithet that "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step".  A good philosophical point/

It reminded me that the 'best laid plans' and strategies are no good unless we implement - and execute.

Sometimes we need to stop planning, strategising, and talking - and get something done ... or at least started!

So think about the things you have been thinking about ... the things you would like to do to improve the business .. .and take the first step.  Today!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Measure of success

How do you judge the success of your organisation?

By the profits you generate?

It makes sense, doesn't it?  After all, that is why we are in business.

The problem with profitability is that it only tells us how well we did in the last accounting period.  It tells us nothing about how well we might perform in the future.

So we need additional measures to ensure we are both healthy ... and fit ... for the future.

those additional measures will depend on the kind of business you run ... but might include customer satisfaction levels, repeat business, employee satisfaction (and motivation), etc.

I urge you to think about what you might measure to judge your fitness.... something more than simply taking your temperature (which is what profitability does).

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Fill the Gaps

Where are the skills gaps in your organisation? I hope you know. Identifying and closing them is how you ensure you continue to develop and grow.

You close the gaps by training and developing your workforce ... or by buying in the skills via new staff (or outsourced services).  

But close the gaps you must. Otherwise those gaps will result in holes in your profits.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Absent without leave

I read some data the other day on the level of absence in the Australian public sector.  It was astonishingly high.

Do you know what the levels of absence are in your organisation and how they compare to similar organisations?

Absence is a good diagnostic symptom . .. it tells you something is wrong but not what.

There are a number of possibilities.  One is that you work your employees so hard or treat them so badly that they suffer stress. Another is that the nature of the work is so unfulfilling that workers lose motivation.

Whatever the reason something has to be done ....  but that 'something' must be based on a clear understanding of the problem.  So you have to look beyond the absence figures at possible and probable causes - and then take action.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Office Knoweldge

Almost certainly you have a number of what are called  'knowledge workers'. The way in which they work differs from the working patterns of 'traditional' office workers - much more participative, team-based and relying on research and discovery.

How does the way in which you design and build your office space recognise these different working patterns.  Probably not at all.  An office is an office is an office seems to be the design mantra.

Design for the work they do, not the place they sit at should be the new philosophy.  Observe, record, ask - then start to think about space and the way in can be configured.... and, of course, make it flexible.

Your staff will thank you for it .. and they are likely to be more productive.

Saturday, 10 August 2013


How do you promote your business?

Have you always considered that paid promotional activity is too expensive?  So have many of the people I know.

However, one of them was brave enough to try Google Adwords, after finding out it was much cheaper than he had expected.

He sold online so his customers were likely to be searching for his products .. and Adwords took them direct to him.

This is not an advertisement for Adwords ... just a plea for you to explore promotional avenues you might have rejected out of ignorance... your prejudice tells you its too expensive so you never look.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

First improessions

When you go for a job interview, one of the pieces of advice you get is that 'First Impressions count'. So, how you look and act on meeting and greeting your interviewer really matter. The accompanying phrase is "You only get one chance to make a first impression".

Well, your catalogue - and your website - are like that.  The front cover of a printed catalogue - and your HomePage - are the chance you get to make a good, first impression.

So, take the time to get them right - and make them visually engaging. Spend a little money - on good graphic design. It will pay dividends.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Get Some Sleep

What keeps you awake at night?

There is probably something ... something you feel you don't quite have under control.

Clearly, this is your first priority - if you don't have control, you have to find a way of gaining control ... or making sure that the lack of control does not have potentially serious consequences.

So you need a 'mitigation plan'.  What will you do if whatever you are worrying about does (or does not if its that kind of worry) happen. If you are ready when things go wrong, you have a much better chance of minimising any damage - financially or to your reputation.

So treat the worry as a positive thing - an early warning system which gives you the chance to plan a mitigation strategy.

Now, you can sleep at night.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Keep records

SMEs are fast-moving, fast changing organisations. The problem is that too often we don't write things down, we don't maintain effective records, we don't even record all transactions.  These things  can come back to bite us.

So, I know you're busy but do take the time to think about the implications of decisions you take and actions you make.  Also take the time to record things.. better record more than less.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Time to Innovate

What allows SMEs to innovate?

Clearly the most important factor is the quality of the owners/managers. However innovation needs opportunity as well as capacity.  Those owners/managers need to understand the environment, the competition, the technology that define their business... and they need to be driven to search for something better, for improvements, for higher profits. Then they need the skills to translate ideas into practice.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?  But, it isn't.  That's why the few win and the majority lose.

What are you doing to become one of 'the few'?

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Small company ... big ideas

Many small businesses are so busy that they spend too little time thinking of the big issues and ideas they need to explore and investigate to secure their longer term future.

It can be difficult to take your eyes off the current set of problems for a while but if you don't start work on tomorrow's problems now, they will come and bite you .... hard.

If you want to be a bigger company, make sure you make an appointment with yourself to start thinking - and acting on these bigger, longer-term issues.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Where do I end?

Last weel I asked "Where do I start?" to make improvement  suggesting that you should know where to attack to have them ost impact.

Today's question is much easier to answer.

You don't.

Improving your business is a never-ending, continuous process.  Remember if you stand sill, someone will overtake you.

If you cannot face a future of unrelenting change and a quest for continual improvement, go get a job and give up running a business.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Where do I start?

Do you know which factors of your business are important?

What, if it changed, would have the biggest impact?  A 5% reduction in your material costs, your energy bill,your wage bill, or ...?

If you know which are important, you know where to focus attention and improvement activity.
If you don't, then who is managing your organisation?

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Do less

Many people think that raising productivity means doing more things ... but sometimes, it means doing fewer things more effectively.  Some even think the more things they have to do, the more important they are.

However, at a personal level, if people concentrated and focused more they might avoid endless 'email tennis' and cut the size of their Todo list.

The same is true of your organisation.  Make sure it is doing those things which your customers want done. Find out what it is you can stop doing.

So if you feel you are very busy, with lots of varied tasks, try prioritising and delegating.  Make sure your agenda consists of those things that make you money.  leave lesser things to others.  By all means keep a 'watching brief' but if you try to do everything yourself, you will fail to do some of those important things properly and thoroughly.

Saturday, 8 June 2013


When did you last read a business book?  Probably some time ago - if ever!

i understand that response. I've read many - and they vary significantly in quality and direct usefulness.

However, the reason to read them is not to learn direct lessons - but to subtly change the way you think. you need to read several over a longish period ... and then reflect on whether you think or act differently.

You should.

So, read. What have you got to lose.

Saturday, 1 June 2013


Selling is a skill ... or is it an art?

I am sure you have done your share of selling when you set up your business.  Some small businesses think selling is about selling the product ...but there is so much more than that.

Perhaps the most important selling task is to sell your ideas and your business plan .. but you also have to sell things to your employees .... often it is yourself you are selling.

So you should think about improving your selling skills .... of all kinds .. your ability to influence, to persuade, to negotiate and to clinch deals.  It will pay off handsomely!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Is it time to stop planning?

We all know that planning is essential ... it allows us to create structure and efficiency. We plan at various levels - from detailed production or marketing plans for our company to personal ToDo lists.

However, the other day I felt my own ToDo list was so long that it was starting to make me unproductive - because I knew I had to get to items on the bottom of the list but the urgent ones on top stopped me from doing so.  It started to irritate me ... and then to annoy.  My planning was getting in the way.

Then I got to thinking whether it is the same for more formal planning - the kind of planning we do at departmental or organisational level. Can these get so complex and complicated that they start to become unproductive?   If so, what is the answer. Does this only happen when we are under-resourced ... or is it a fault in execution?  Should we rely more on intuition? ... or improve our planning?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Read the figures = twice

The UK looks to be doing a little better than most people thought. Rather than contracting - and leading the UK into a further recession - growth has been positive, based on improved service sector activity.

Is this a good sign?  Well, its probably better than the alternative ... but reading too much into short term results is dangerous.

Wait and see is probably the best advice.  If things continue to go well for the next few months (at least two quarters), we can breathe a sigh of relief. In the meantime.  So the figures do matter - but not always the  figure (singular) - unless it tells us a real 'story'.  This is true of all performance indicators - they point somewhere but until we see a few consecutive results, the direction is not always clear.

This is true for your business. Be wary of reading too much into the latest figure - unless it shows a trend following on from previous figures.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Ignorance is expensive

Small businesses often use 'involuntary IT mangers' (IITMs) .... non-technical, untrained staff who, by accident or through organisational prompting, take on the role of managing IT operations.According to a recent small business survey commissioned by Microsoft, this costs the US about $24 billion in lost productivity, largely because these staff are taken away from their 'real' jobs.

This just reminded me of the old adage... "If you think training is expensive, think about the costs of not training".  Have you (thought about it)?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Is BYOD for you?

'Bring Your Own Device' is the term given to the situation where companies allow staff to take in their own smartphone or tablet and have it connected to company networks and data sources.

What does this do for productivity?

Well, I dont think we have enough evidence yet to suggest this is a help or a hindrance.

Clearly there is quite a bit of work to do by the IT department to ensure all devices  (or at least all major operaring systems) can work .. and that security can be maintained.  However, much of that work overlaps with the work they would have to do to provide security on 'company-owned' devices.

For staff, it means they get to stick with a device - and a user interface - with which they are familiar.... but possibly means they get little training or support from the company.

Perhaps the question about productivity is not one we should be asking ... the situation exists ... it seems that staff do want to use their own devices ... let's just work out the best and safest way in which we can meet their needs.  If your staff feel comfortable because they are using a familiar device  they are more likely to be productive.

Saturday, 27 April 2013


When was the last time you went to a conference,

Yes, I know they can be expensive and time-consuming, but if you select wisely you will meet people like you who have problems similar to yours.  You might be able to learn from them, be inspired by them or just take heart in the 'group therapy' that comes from sharing issues.

Any of those would be worth a few hundred dollars!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Be Zenlike

If you run s business ,you are probably very busy ... if not, you might not be giving your business all your attention,

However busy you are, you need to step back every once in a while and look at the big picture and the long-term.

Its a bit like life itself.  Sometimes we are so busy dealing with 'transactional life' (getting on with things) that we forget the 'spiritual' or 'contemplational' aspect of life that helps us clear our mind, feed our soul or whatever.

So, sit back in tour chair and think where do you want to be next year (not next week) and how you might get there. It will put today's panics into perspective and might freshen you up a bit - for tomorrow's little panics.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Follow retail

I'm currently writing (or more accurately co-writing) a book on productivity improvement in the retail sector.

It seems that retailers have broadly 'got it right' ... they work hard at productivity improvement ... but they always maintain a balance with maintaining excellent customer service.

Of course those of us in the know about the the true focus of productivity improvement - and those steeped in the 'lean' tradition -know that productivity always has a focus on customer need and customer value.

If we are not creating customer value, we are not being productive!

So, nect time you are looking to improve your business, take a walk round your local supermarket and think "What can I learn from the way these guys operate?"

Saturday, 6 April 2013

A little India is needed

I've been in India for a few weeks. People there are very entrepreneurial ... lots of them set up micro businesses, some of them grow into SMEs, a few grow really large. the sheer size of the population means that full employment in the Western sense is unlikely but also means there are all sorts of niche markets to be exploited. So creativity and entrepreneurship flourish.

How do we create that 'drive' and that energy in the West. Do people here have it too easy?.. they get the basics whatever they do.  Where is the impetus to strike out on your own and take the risk?

How do we create the equivalent of Indian entrepreneurship in a rich, Western economy?

Saturday, 30 March 2013

As soon as I finish reading this...

I am a sucker for those articles and posts that purport to tell me how the iPad (or some other device) can improve my productivity.

I've worked with technology long enough to know that it is the systems, processes and procedures you adopt (and their inherent efficiency) that govern productivity, rather than the technology itself... but, like millions of others, I can't resist the thought of the 'silver bullet' that can transform productivity.

Oh well, bak to the measurement, analysis, hard thinking and new ideas that are usually needed ... as soon as I've finished this piece about some new software.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

I am in India looking at the employment skills of graduates ... which are almost non-existent. They are very bright and they know lots of stuff but they have few practical skills ... they do not know what working in an organisation is like, how to prioritise and schedule tasks, how to cope with multiple deadlines,etc,

This is not just true of Indians.

So when you are recruiting staff make sure you pay attention to what candidates can DO, as well s what they know.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Young Turks

I have been in Turkey with a group of Turkish (mainly industrial engineering) students. They were smart, confident, talented, confident.  Are your staff like this?  If not, is it because of the way you train or treat them?

Saturday, 9 March 2013


I have been doing some work in India recently and have been talking to employers about the process of employing recent graduates and post-graduates. What came across loud and clear and often were comments that such graduates are not 'work-ready' because they lack the knowledge and skills to become an effective member of an organisation on day1.   I am sure many of you will echo that view.

Graduates knows (lots of) stuff ... but they cannot do stuff.

This led me - in my day job with the institute of Productivity - to produce our latest book - Productivity and Employability skills - which helps develop some of the key organisation-related skills, but does so in the context of parallel and complimentary porductivity improvement skills. Our belief is that we can help graduates 'hit the ground running' when they enter the world of work.

Because we are developing skills, the book is backed up by materials and exercises on our website where that can develop skills and receive feedback.

Go to the IoP Academy (at for details of the book.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Look hard and often!

I was reading something the other day which reminded me of the number of keyboard shortcuts available within some software packages.  If you take the time to learn these, they can shave seconds off simple tasks - improving your performance and productivity.  Yet each individual time you use one, the benefit is tiny.

Performance improvements in any process are like this.  Each one may be very small ... but a number of small improvements can make a substantial gain overall.

So always look for the simple, small gains ... but look hard and look often. They may offer you a massive gain over the next year.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Protect your brand

 I don't know whether you know about the horsemeat scandal in the UK - where horsemeat has been found in a range of pre-produced 'beef' products but it  does remind us that each of us is responsible for securing our own supply chain - and knowing what goes on within  it.

We can't blame our suppliers, our distributors or the government when something like this happens.  Well, we can try ... but our customers will hold us responsible ... and it is our brand that will suffer.

You've probably taken a long time to build your company and brand. Don't allow someone outside of - but linked to - your company to destroy it.

Make sure you know how secure  your supply chain is?

Saturday, 16 February 2013

How's the market?

Is the market for your product or service growing?

Not too many are at the moment.

This means, of course, that you have to increase your share of the market if you are to grow.... and this implies that you need some kind of 'edge' over your competitors.

Do you know what it is - or what it could be?  You should!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Be a tortoise

Most small businesses stay small. Many of them do not survive.  Many fail because they grow too quickly and run out of working capital.  This is often because their owners are over-ambitious - wanting to run before they can walk... and seeing the magic pound/dollar signs of growth. At other times it is because the owners are concentrating on 'getting the job done' rather than planning and controlling.

So, take a step back from your business and think about the future - a realistic future.  the, think carefully about what it will take to get to that future - and the mistakes you might make on the way.  Then move cautiously forward, keeping one eye on the future but the other very firmly on the present.

If the future is approaching too slowly, accept that caution is better than a tortoise rather than a hare.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Good Advice

There are many blogs offering 'personal productivity' advice - often linked to reminder/time management software... but often just offering simple advice.

A common piece of advice is to 'declutter' your life - get rid of distractions and focus on the real issues.I can see the wisdom in this so from now on I will stop reading such blogs and focus on real work.

I feel decluttered already.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Small does not mean insignificant

Small businesses have lower costs than larger businesses.

However their unit costs are usually higher and their cost base (as a percentage of sales) is also usually higher.

Cost control is therefore not just important - but vital.

If you take your eye off your costs, you can get into trouble very quickly.  So, of course  you need a good costing system - so that you understand where costs are incurred and at what level - and why.

However, only you can judge whether a particular cost offers good value to the business.

So take a good look at your costs -all of them - and assess the value they provide to the business. Then think how you might reduce them - without impacting on that value.,

This is not an annual review - it should be a continuous process. Value/Cost is your productivity - its what generates your profit. Maximize it!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Have you put on weight?

Are you bigger than you were last year?

I don't mean personally. I mean... Is your business bigger than it was?

If not,where did you go wrong? If you don't know, you need to start to find out. Otherwise you are faced with another year of no growth - or worse. so take a look at our competitors, your advertising  your product range and find out what is not working.

Then change it!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Technology for the New Year?

When times are tough (as they are now), we tend to turn in all directions looking for some help.

So, will technology help us out of the current mess we are in?

 It is possible for some types of organisation - but I wouldn't bet on it.

 In concert with something else - procedural review, process re-engineering - you stand more chance -but relying on technology on its own sounds like desperation.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Now for something real

The new Year resolutions have been broken - probably.

 But there is still time to change the way in which you run the company.

 But if you are going to change - get it right.

 Your employees will not thank you for another half-baked initiative.

 So - your real resolution might be to think things through before making change.