Business Growth Masterclass

Welcome to the second in my blog series The Business Growth Masterclass

I’ve called this installment:

How to live and breathe the 5 part formula for Business Growth

Before we start, I just want to check that you’ve done the homework set in the last installment of the Business Masterclass.

  • You’ve created a strong, clear business vision that is realistic and achievable.
  • You’ve posted your vision in a place where you and your staff will be able to see it on a daily basis.

You’re going to achieve your vision (and your dreams!) by adopting the five-step process into all areas of your business.

It’s one thing to try a new marketing strategy, but it’s another to change your approach altogether. It’s just like dieting. Sure, if you cut 20% of your calories for two weeks you’re going to see some results. But, the minute you go back to your old patterns, the results quickly disappear.

Temporary changes generate temporary results. Sustainable results require changes in behaviour; the removal of old habits and creation of new ones.

All of the advanced marketing strategies that you’ll learn in the Business Growth Masterclass will contribute to one of the five steps. By the end, you’ll have worked through all areas of your business and optimised them for success (remember, a 10% increase in the 5 areas can lead you towards doubling your profits (not revenues!).

In this installment of the Business Growth Masterclass we will cover:

  • How the five-step process will impact all areas of your business
  • How to get used to working with the five-part formula
  • A review of the five steps
  • How to set yourself up for success with the program

The five-step process is a way of doing business. It’s not a temporary strategy, and it won’t generate temporary results.

The five-part formula is so effective because it touches on each and every area of your business. It will improve and increase and generate and sharpen and strengthen everything that you and your employees do.

Once you complete a step, you’ll never go back to your old way of doing things again. This is a programme for positive change and powerful results. The change is long lasting and the results are far reaching.

Choosing to begin the five-step process will have an impact on every area of your business:

Lead Generation Conversion Rates Number of Transactions Pound Sales Profit Margins
Any strategy you use to get people to call or walk through the door. Any strategy you use to get people to BUY from you. Any strategy you use to get existing customers to buy from you more often, or stay loyal to your business. Any strategy you use to get customers to spend more money in a single transaction. Any strategy you use to maximise the percentage of the cost of each product/service that is profit.
Advertising
Promotions
Press Releases
Listings
Website
Online marketing
Sales process
Sales staff
Sales scripts
Point of sale
Image Merchandising
Staff scheduling
Staff happiness
Staff training and development
Customer service
Customer loyalty program
Point of sale
Impulse items
Sales process
Sales scripts
Stock
Stock availabilityExclusivity of products/services
Product or service costs
Expenses
Rent / lease
Business supplies
Pricing strategy

Let’s get used to working with the basic formula that the five-step process is based on. You’ll want to post this formula somewhere visible, where you can see it on a regular basis.

# of Leads
X
% Conversion Rate
=
# of Customers
X
# of Transactions
X
Average Pound Sale
=
Revenue
X
% Margin
=
£ Profit

As you can see, each of the items in bold typeface is a factor that influences the bottom line – your profit. Each of these is a step in the five-step process. You will work on each line sequentially, and the impact on your profit will build over time.

A nominal 10% increase in each of the five factors would look like this:

Starting Point Goals (10% Increase)
Leads 4,500 Leads 4,950
Conversion Rate 30% Conversion Rate 33%
Customers 1350 Customers 1633.5
Transactions 1.3 Transactions 1.43
Average Pound Sale £140 Average Pound Sale £154
Revenue £245,700 Revenue £359,729.37
Margins 24% Margins 26.4%
Profit £58,968 Profit £94,968.55

Here are a few blank charts for you to use to see how a 10%, 20% and 50% increase in each of the factors will impact your profit.

Create the chart below on your pad of paper (use the same pad as last week ideally – the process of writing this down will give you a 400% better retention rate). Use the left side of the chart to fill in your existing numbers. If you don’t know, take a guess. The point here is to understand how little increases will have big impacts on your bottom line profits. We’ll show you how to start tracking your results at the beginning of each step in the program.

Starting Point Goals (10% Increase)
Leads (#) Leads
Conversion Rate (%) Conversion Rate
Customers (#) Customers
Transactions (#) Transactions
Average Pound Sale (£) Average Pound Sale
Revenue (£) Revenue
Margins (%) Margins
Profit (£) Profit
Starting Point Goals (20% Increase)
Leads (#) Leads
Conversion Rate (%) Conversion Rate
Customers (#) Customers
Transactions (#) Transactions
Average Pound Sale (£) Average Pound Sale
Revenue (£) Revenue
Margins (%) Margins
Profit (£) Profit
Starting Point Goals (50% Increase)
Leads (#) Leads
Conversion Rate (%) Conversion Rate
Customers (#) Customers
Transactions (#) Transactions
Average Pound Sale (£) Average Pound Sale
Revenue (£) Revenue
Margins (%) Margins
Profit (£) Profit

Step One / Lead Generation: How can you get more people to walk through your door, pick up the phone, and/or visit your website?

Your leads are your prospects or potential customers. They are people who have taken action in response to your ad or promotion, and have shown interest in your product or service, but have not become a customer because they haven’t purchased yet.

Lead generation is important because you can’t increase the number of customers you have. This is because customers are the by-product of two things:

No. of LEADS X % CONVERSION RATE = No. of Customers

This means that you have to generate more leads and get more of those leads to make purchases in order to increase your customer base. Note; this is a very important step because your ‘cost of client acquisition’ (price you pay to acquire a new client) is the most expensive function of your business. (Yours, mine, and every other business on the planet by the way…)

So lead generation is about finding ways to reach the people who need or want what you have to offer and getting them to act – to pick up the phone, visit your website or walk into your business. This is what the majority of marketing strategies are trying to do.

  • advertising
  • business listings
  • direct mail
  • promotions
  • press releases
  • flyers
  • referral partnerships
  • publicity
  • coupons

Step Two / Conversion Rate: How can you get the people who walk through your door, pick up the phone, and visit your website to BUY something?

Conversions are the second factor in the customer equation. A conversion rate is simply our leads divided by our number of transactions in a specific time period.

No. of  TRANSACTIONS / No. of LEADS = % Conversion Rate

This is a key focus of your business and your staff’s time. After all, why spend time and money attracting tons of qualified leads if you can’t make them buy when they’re in the store? We call this “confusing being busy… with being successful!” Don’t let it happen to you.

Several aspects of your organization impact your conversion rate:

  • Your business image and the first impression customers have of you/your business
  • The strength and effectiveness of your sales team
  • Your sales process and staff training and development programs
  • The strength of your sales scripts (Do you want fries with that?)
  • The level of purchase risk involved in your product or service

Step Three / Transactions: How can you get your customers to buy from you MORE than ONCE?

The process of attracting and converting a customer is one that costs you money. Customers cost you money. They’re an investment that you need to make the most of to stretch your lead generation investment.

You can reduce the cost of your customer by increasing the number of times that they purchase from you. This increases the total number of transactions in your business and the amount of money that flows in.

So instead of continuously chasing down leads and converting them to customers, increasing transactions is about keeping our existing customers loyal and coming back to spend money.

  • exceptional customer service
  • customer loyalty programs
  • incentives
  • newsletters
  • convenience services
  • bonus amenities
  • referrals

Step Four / Average Sale: How can you get your customers to buy MORE from you each time they buy?

Your total revenue is the product of how many customers you have, how many times they purchase from you, and how much they spend.

No. of CUSTOMERS X No. of  TRANSACTIONS X £ AVERAGE SALE = £ Revenue

Increasing the average amount of money customers spend with you is the final way you can increase the amount of money that comes into your business. It’s amazing how small increases in this value can have big impacts on your revenue. If I were to come into your business tomorrow and you IMMEDIATELY needed to increase profits – this is the first place I would look and the easiest area to make a large improvement in your profits.

You’ll have to show your customer that they needed or want more than what they purchased. The amount that you are able to increase will depend on the type of business you are in – it’s easier to sell gel pens than an additional dishwasher – but generally every business can find opportunities to increase this figure.

  • The strength of your sales team
  • Merchandising at your point of sale
  • Add-on items
  • Cross-selling
  • Usage of impulse items
  • The strength of your sales scripts
  • Upselling
  • Opportunities for packaging and widgets
  • Staff training, development and incentives

Step Five / Margins: How can you make more profit off each product and service you sell?

The last opportunity you have to influence your profit is your profit margin. Your total revenue times your margin as a percentage equals your total profit.

£ REVENUE X % PROFIT MARGIN = £ Profit

Essentially, your goal here is to make your profit margin as high as possible. As the final factor in the profit calculation, increasing your margin is a vital step towards maximizing your profits.

If your margins are too low, you’ll never make any money – regardless of how many customers you have, how often they buy from you, or how much they spend. Your revenue will perpetually go back into your business and be spent on costs.

There are three ways to maximise your margins:

  1. Increase prices
  2. Cut operating and product/service costs (operating costs include rent, leases, salaries, commissions, and office supplies)
  3. Increase gross profit margins (gross profit is revenues minus labor, materials and overhead related to the product/service)

Alarmingly, many business owners do not genuinely know their weekly/monthly/annual profit – you need to go into the business of generating a profit (this will be a paradigm shift for many – it is not about greed, it is about looking after those you care about. The more money you make, the more you can provide for your family, charity, your golf club etc…) and work towards increasing that profit each and every day, week, month and year.

Now that you have a good grasp on how the five-step formula works, and an idea of the marketing strategies you’ll learn to work with, take a few moments and set yourself up for success.

1. Schedule time in your week to focus on the 5 step process.

Identify two timeslots in your weekly schedule that you can set aside for this task – it’s important! This will keep you from putting it off for later, and delaying the positive changes to your revenue stream.

2. Post reminders of your vision, goals and targets in visible places.

Keep yourself focused and on track by surrounding yourself with the positive changes you have already made, and will continue to make. Post your business vision, personal and business goals and targets in your office and staff rooms.

3. Include your staff in the process.

Your employees are a powerful resource in your business – they ultimately are the people that you will need to trust and empower to run the business without your own day-to-day involvement. They are the people that your customers come in contact with on a regular basis, and represent your business image, brand and message.

Let them in on what you’re doing, and educate them on the five-part formula. Show them how their actions, input and skills contribute to the operations and profitability of the business.

4. Start paying attention to your current numbers and tracking systems.

Now that you have an idea of what factors and figures you’ll be working to increase, start paying attention to what those numbers look like now. If you have tracking systems in place, run some reports and get an understanding of your current situation. Think about these questions:

  • where do your customers come from?
  • what marketing campaigns work the best?
  • what lead generation strategies work the best?
  • how many of your customers buy from you?
  • how often do they buy from you?
  • how much do they buy from you?
  • what do your existing profit margins look like?
  • what percentage of your items are high margin, and which are low?

Now that you have an idea of where your business is going, let’s start mapping out how you’re going to get there.

In my next Business Growth Masterclass we will look at setting SMART goals and retraining the way you think about yourself and your ability to achieve what you deserve. There’s lots of important work to do!

As your mentor, I’m here to answer questions and provide support when you need it, so feel free to use the feedback form below to get in touch

Congrats for tuning in,

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Business Growth Masterclass

Hello there, and welcome to my latest blog offering.

I was with three of my business colleagues at the weekend and we were offering our services to visitors to the exhibition. As they approached our booth, we would ask a couple of fundamental business questions.

Bear in mind that our audience, as is the case in many industries and professions these days did not have a great deal of experience in business management, save that which they had picked up for themselves in their day to day lives. Sure, most people get through, especially when the market is stable, but few of them go on to make LOTS of money, and after a few years of grind, begin to wonder what it was all about, and why they keep pushing themselves for what seems like a very mediocre reward for their efforts.

If market conditions change, and the business starts going south, many of these same business owners lack the expertise to respond, and sadly, many of them do not make it through the lean times.

The two questions we ask are “Where are you now?” and “Where do you want to get to?”

All too often the answer to these two fundamental questions is “I don’t really know”

I am reminded of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. When asked by Alice “Which road should I take?”, he replies “That all depends on where you want to get to”. Since Alice admits that she doesn’t know where she wants to go, the Cat replies “Then it doesn’t matter which road you take.”

There is a substantial amount of evidence which points to the fact that if you set goals for your business (and your life, for that matter, there is a great chance that you will achieve all you want to. A key early step in any of our coaching programmes is to establish a set of goals with our clients before going on and implementing strategies and tactics to help them in achieving their goals.

This article is designed to give you a way of thinking about your business which will mean that you can become one of the winners, instead of being one of the “also rans”.

Welcome to the Business Growth Master Class! Are you ready to dive in?

The first few articles in this programme guide you step-by-step through the process of establishing a strong foundation – or preparation – for the five-step process that follows. You need to prepare yourself, your business and your staff for the changes you are about to create and the success you are about to make yours.

You will notice that every major company in the world has a vision or mission statement – a broad, futuristic idea of what the company will achieve and look like in the future. The five-step process can help you achieve there, but you need to know where “there” is first.

I know you must be eager to jump into marketing strategies and get more people flowing through the door, or more sales ringing through the till. Be patient – this is important work that will build and contribute to your amazing success. Trust me!

In this Session we will cover:

  • What a business vision is and why it is important
  • Why your employees need a vision to follow
  • Examples of powerful vision statements
  • Your unique strengths and weaknesses
  • How to write your vision statement
  • What you need to achieve your vision

So, let’s take a look at what a vision statement is, and why it’s important for you to create one for your business.

A vision statement is a broad, inspiring image of the future state a business aspires to reach. It describes without specifying how aspirations will be achieved, or when. It is ambitious, and forward-thinking. It’s not about where the organization is now, it’s about what the organization will be, or aspires to be.

A vision statement needs to:

  • describe aspirations and intent
  • be inspirational for your staff and customers
  • project a compelling story
  • paint a clear picture
  • use engaging and descriptive language
  • be realistic
  • align with your company’s values

The vision statement will also provide a clear criteria or measuring stick for decision-making. When making tough choices, ask “Does this support the vision statement?” If major initiatives do not support the overall business vision, chances are they aren’t worth the investment of time and money.

If your business doesn’t have a vision statement, it needs one. If it does, then this is a good opportunity to strengthen it or make sure it is aligned with the current dream you have for yourself and your company.

I’m going to work through a step-by-step process that will help you hone in on what your vision is, and then put it into words.

You should note that a corporate vision statement – once created, agreed to and perfected – should remain consistent and unchanged for several years. When a vision statement is changed and revised, it is difficult to create a consistent plan that supports the achievement of the vision.

But first, don’t forget that your employees, joint ventures (companies you align yourself with – the most powerful marketing initiative on the planet is a Joint Venture) and your customers need to believe in the company’s vision too.

Your employees need a strong, clear vision statement just as much as you do. When creating a vision statement, keep this in mind. The vision will need to be something that your employees can embrace and stand behind. A powerful vision statement that your employees can get excited about will motivate, inspire and build morale on the sales floor and in the office.

Think about how you will communicate your vision to your employees once you have created it. How can you inspire them to nurture and support your vision on a daily basis, in everything they do? How can you empower and motivate them to feel ownership of the company’s future and their stake in it?

Take a look at these corporate vision statements so you can get a better understanding of what I’m talking about.

Amazon.com
Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

Dell
Dell listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services they trust and value.

eBay
eBay pioneers communities built on commerce, sustained by trust, and inspired by opportunity. eBay brings together millions of people every day on a local, national and international basis through an array of websites that focus on commerce, payments and communications.

Facebook
Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.

Google
Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Other Vision Statement Examples:

  • To develop a reliable wireless network that empowers people with the freedom to travel anywhere – across the hall or across the continent – and communicate effortlessly.
  • To be the country’s best quick-service restaurant chain we will provide each guest great tasting, healthful, reasonably priced fish, seafood and chicken in a fast, friendly manner on every visit.
  • To provide high quality products that combine performance with value pricing, while establishing a successful relationship with our customers and our suppliers.
  • To be a profitable provider of high quality software solutions and services that provide strategic value to our customers and create a company that can attract, recruit and retain smart and talented employees.

See what I mean? Let’s start creating your unique vision statement.

1. Start by looking at your strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of everyone who does business with you.

You’ll start with a bit of analysis on where you stand now. Use the chart as a guide, create your own on a pad of paper and fill in your company’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Think about strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of customers, staff, management, vendors or suppliers and owners.

For example, what would your customers say about your customer service standards? Would this area be considered a strength or a weakness? What would your staff say about training and professional development opportunities? What do you think about your income and overall financial growth?

Strengths Weaknesses
Customers
Customer service
Product or service availability and quality
Business location
Business image
Staff
Training
Salary
Professional development
Benefits
Quality of work environment
Management
Training
Benefits
Staff skills
Vendors / Suppliers
Product or service quality
Owner (You)
Income
Business image
Salary

2. Analyze your observations, and remember that your weaknesses represent great opportunities for change and improvement, while your strengths need to be nurtured and developed.

Take a look at what you have written, using the chart above as your guide, and answer the following questions on your pad of paper:

What does the overall picture look like?

How does the overall picture align with the dream you have for your business?

What great achievements and qualities exist in the strengths section? (List 10)

What opportunities exist in the weaknesses section? (List 10)

3. Now that you’ve assessed where your business stands today, where do you want it to be? What opportunities exist?

Here you will take the strengths and opportunities you identified in step one, the analysis you completed in step two, and start describing them in words. Use the chart below as your guide, write three sentences that describe the future state of your business. I’ve included some samples to get you started.

Vision
Customers To be a regional leader in customer service.
Staff To inspire and develop our professionals.
Management To lead a generation of environmental responsibility.
Vendors / Suppliers To offer only the highest quality sprockets.
Owners To be a profitable and highly respected organization.

3. What opportunities and aspirations are the highest priorities for you and your business?

Take the sentences you created above, and list them in order of importance to you. You may have to do this several times before you feel the order is accurate. Then, combine duplicate sentences, or ones that describe similar things.

Once you’ve finished your list, take the top three to five sentences and combine them into a cohesive paragraph.

4. Refine your statements so that they are broad, future-oriented and use words that reflect your values, priorities and dreams.

You need to refine your statement so it is smooth, clear and easy to understand. Here is a checklist to use when reviewing the words you have written:

  • is it inspirational for your staff and customers?
  • does it project a compelling image?
  • does it paint a clear picture?
  • have you used engaging and descriptive language?
  • is it realistic?
  • does it align with your company’s values?

TIP: You can use phrases like:

A leader in…
Support the development of…
Offer opportunities to…
Continually create…
Build on…
Inspire…
Develop…
Facilitate…
Achieve…
Deliver…
Bring together…

5. Include your employees in the vision creation process, and ask them for feedback.

Do they understand the vision? Do they support it? Does it inspire them? Can they find meaning in their work based on it? Incorporate their feedback, where possible and relevant.

6. Put your vision statement somewhere everyone can see it – your staff, management, customers and vendors.

Once you have created your vision statement, share it with the world. Your vision is something you have committed to, and can let everyone know where your company is heading. It allows them to see where you want to go, and gives them the opportunity to help you get there.

Now, do you have everything you need to start working towards your vision?

In the next few articles, we’re going to work through a comprehensive goal-setting process that will act as the road map for achieving your vision. You’ll also review, in depth,  the strategy that you will use to achieve your goals, and in turn, the vision you have created.

As your mentor, I’m here to answer questions and provide support when you need it, so feel free to email me at davepreston[at]ologycoaching.com (replace [at] with @ – this is spam prevention).

Congrats for tuning in,

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What can we learn from the Olympics?

Posted on 13 August 2012

What can we learn from the Olympics?

Over the last few weeks we’ve all been watching the world’s best athletes and sports people compete in the London Olympics. What an incredibly talented array of high performers we’ve had the privilege to watch! But what can we, as business folk, learn from what we’ve witnessed in the sports arenas?

One thing is clear – talent alone is not enough – in sport or in business. You also need an abundance of drive, determination and self-discipline.

It has been said that top flight sport is a meaningful metaphor for business, with some striking parallels.  Common features include strong competition, the smallest margins of success, setting and achieving goals and targets, committing to both long-term and short-term strategies and tactics, hard work, perseverance, determination, teamwork, dealing with success and recovering from failure and setbacks.

So what can we learn from sports people as entrepreneurs and business owners?

One difference between sport and business is the way goals are set. In sport, the goals are clear – you know what day and time the Olympic final is, for example. And everything is moving towards that one point where you will have to be at your best.

In business things are more complex and there’s usually a series of goals. So running a business requires a level of flexibility. Nevertheless, having a goal or a fixed deadline is vitally important.  As an example, in organising the Olympics all the buildings in the Park had to be finished on time, it was a given. So in business we need absolute clarity of the desired outcome.

How many times have you thought that there are a lot of busy fools in business?  In sport, busy just doesn’t cut it – unless it is activity directed at the chosen goal, then it has no place. Business is no different.  If people are hugely busy but they’ve got no real clarity of their desired outcomes, the chances of delivering the right results are slim. The number one driver for sports people is performance; businesses need to have that same performance culture if they are to be successful.

What about the role that coaches play?

First of all, there are NO successful athletes or teams who don’t have a coach!  A coach provides independent insight, helps create fresh perspectives and can often see the barriers to progress that the sports person is simply too close to see.  Coaches allow the athletes to get the very best out of themselves and to reach their full potential, whilst at the same time letting them take ownership of what they are doing.

Why should business be any different?

The best sports people are never satisfied – they are always striving for the next improvement.  They are right to do so – their competitors have a powerful motivation to beat them and you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be working hard to do just that!

Business is no different – you are only as successful as your last set of results, so don’t get complacent!

Success in sports and business alike relies on the ability to continually move performance to higher levels. This year’s best performance won’t be good enough next year or the year after!

A lot of your success will be down to having a tough mindset.

Like top athletes, the best business people are not born but made.  OK, there has to be some natural aptitude, but the real key to sustained excellence – in sport and in business – is to develop resilient mental toughness.  If you can stay focused on those things that really matter when faced with myriad distractions, if you can bounce back from setbacks with a determination and a renewed appetite for success, and throughout you can believe in yourself when the going gets tough, then you stand a chance of success!

Remember the famous Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think that you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’ll be right!

Next point – all work and no play makes for a rather dull existence, so DO celebrate success!

Copy the sports people – take time to celebrate your victories.  Remind yourself what your hard work and dedication is all about.  I would suggest that things have never been tougher for most businesses – many of us are focused on survival as a key priority – but don’t let that stop you celebrating your successes, however small they are.

We all experience nerves and stress when we are doing important and maybe less familiar things, whether it is in business, sport or in our personal lives.  Maybe our culture tells us that this is a bad thing, that we should not feel this way.  Don’t believe it – it is both normal and often helpful.  The heightened awareness created by a little nervousness (as opposed to a level of complacency) helps us to focus our best efforts into getting the best result that we can.  Anyone watching the Men’s 200m Final would have seen that Usain Bolt was visibly nervous before his successful Olympic title defence – it was in actual fact a key element of his performance on the night.

One of the world’s greatest golfers, Tiger Woods, said you can’t expect to feel the same on the golf course as you do when watching television.  Woods gave himself permission to feel nerves on the first tee – and it doesn’t seem to have hindered his performance!  So harness your emotions, rather than wasting energy and attention in fighting them.

That’s all very well, but to get to the very top requires something else on top of the things already mentioned.

That something else is Mindset – self-belief and the mindset of the winner.  It is the thing that keeps you trying over and over again.  One of the outstanding road cyclists of this year has been Bradley Wiggins – after winning the Tour de France, he went on to Olympic Gold – both by convincing margins.  Wiggins set his stall out to get his fitness to a level that could achieve this – not just strength and stamina, but the mental toughness to endure the hardships of harsh training and even harsher competition.  And he did it.

No easy route here – his success was down to the tens of thousands of hours put in practicing, training and improving.  Maybe that approach is too hard for you in your business – maybe you are looking for that “quick fix” – the silver bullet?  It doesn’t exist.

As has often been said – “good enough never is” – so why settle for second best?  Do you have the level of discipline that successful sports people have in abundance – that of never being happy with your performance?

Accepting second rate performance is a huge risk in business.  In sport, when a person does badly, their performance is reviewed, analysed and they work out how to improve (usually with the help of their coach). Sadly, in business average performance is often tolerated. The choice is yours – you can either carry on accepting mediocrity or do something about it.

It’s not easy, though, is it? In today’s difficult market conditions, it’s easy very easy to think that things can’t be changed.  We end up acting as victims and accepting our lot.  Well, it’s not good enough – you only have to look around and see that even in this difficult recession, there are companies who are forging ahead.  One final sporting analogy – the best tennis players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray deliver the core skills their basics exceptionally well under extreme pressure.

How do they do that?  They filter out those things that are unimportant to achieving success – and under pressure, they focus solely on the task.  That’s what we need to do in our businesses – don’t allow yourself to be distracted from the things truly necessary to succeed.

If you’re interested in applying the Olympic standard to your