Working Effectively to Generate More Revenue

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This blog will follow on from my previous blog based around the art of delegation which is vital when trying to build your business. As I explained in detail in my last blog, which you can read here if you missed it, as you begin to grow your business, there’s no way you can continue to complete all of the work yourself. You can’t be a Jack of all trades so how do you make sure you’re working effectively to generate more revenue? Here’s just a few of my thoughts on the topic!

  1. Look at which tasks you need to complete

When trying to work effectively, look at the tasks that you really need to take care of and which your staff can do. I mentioned my Urgent and Important matrix in my last blog and I’d like to reinforce how important I think it is here. The matrix will help you to prioritise your tasks and make sure you are using your precious time effectively. Your priorities may change on each day as new tasks come in and become more important. Don’t forget that you can always pass on the Urgent and Not Important on to your staff if they fall within their remit!

Urgent and important matrix2. Looking at areas of expertise

As a business owner it is natural to start off as a Jack of all trades. When I first started Coconut Creatives, I took care of all the bookkeeping, copywriting, answering the phones and meeting clients. However, as the business grew and I began to gain more and more clients I realised that my time just wasn’t going to stretch that far. When you get to this point, or even before you reach this point, I recommend that you look at which areas of the business are getting bigger and look at recruiting a good 6-12 months ahead of where you currently are. You don’t want to get to the point where you physically can’t do anymore work and then have to recruit and train another member of staff! Remember that it can take 3-6 months to properly train a member of staff so that they are independent and do not rely on you all the time. It will just put pressure on yourself than you have already. Plus, it could take you a good few months to find the right employee. This is another essential part of working effectively and I will elaborate more later.

In addition to bringing in members of staff to help you on a daily basis in the office, I also highly recommend that you get help with the financials of the business such as your accounts and bookkeeping. These activities can be completed by an outsourced company and is much cheaper than bringing in a full-time member of staff. If there’s only one area you look to get help in I strongly recommend that it is this. You spend money in this area but you will be able to see regular management accounts which can give you the information to make decisions about your business growth accurately.

Outsourcing to a company such as Rosemary Bookkeeping will leave more of your time free to focus on your Urgent and Important tasks! We outsourced our bookkeeping to Rosemary for many years but our business has grown so much that we have now decided to take it in-house.

  1. Vision and enjoyment

Working to grow your business is all about having a passion and vision for what you are doing. As you grow, it is important to keep the lines of communication open with everyone that is a part of your business, this helps to make sure that everyone is on the same page and you’re all working towards the same goals. It’s extremely unusual to have a full team who all share your passion for the business but I like to thinks that everyone at Coconut is working together and everyone feels part of the magic we are creating. At Coconut, I always try to recruit staff who I know will share my vision for the business. This means that the business stays on track and staff remain motivated to succeed and help me to achieve my goals. If you don’t genuinely love your business and what you’re doing, you will find it difficult to succeed and your staff will not feel the passion radiating from you and so will not be motivated to help you achieve your goals.

As you can see, there is a fine balance in making sure your business remains effective and your team share your passion for the business. If you expect your business to grow, there’s no way you can continue to take on all of the work yourself. I learnt this very quickly at Coconut. You have to keep your customers happy and if you’re delaying work simply because you can’t do it all yourself, then it is time to think about the structure of your business and which tasks can be outsourced and which need a member of staff, either part-time or full-time, to take care of them.

My recommended reading for this blog

I highly recommend reading Seth Godin’s books and, in particular, Tribes. Seth has a great sense of humour and the books are relatively short and easy to read so good to fit in around your busy business! In Tribes, Seth explains how we all have an opportunity to start a movement and to bring a group of like-minded people together in order to do amazing things. It is we as business owners who have a great opportunity to do this in a way that benefits everyone!

Jack of all Trades, Master of None

Being a business owner is a huge learning curve. If you decide to take the leap of faith and leave employment behind, you start to realise how much actually goes into running a business. Over the years, as my business started to grow and I was receiving more and more client work, I started to realise that I just couldn’t do it all on my own.

If you speak to any of the Coconuts, they will tell you that I am the Queen of delegation! Believe it or not, this is not something that comes naturally to me and I know that many business owners are reluctant to relinquish the control of small tasks to employees because they want to have full control of their businesses. Trust me, I know how difficult it is to put your baby into someone else’s hands! However, delegation can make you a much better business owner and means that you have time to focus on the overall business rather than getting tied up in the nitty gritty elements of the business.

I see so many small business owners and franchisors who are just starting out and are desperately trying to do everything themselves. They often find that their customers or franchisees suffer as a result or they just become stuck in a rut and are unable to continue pushing the business forwards. Building a great team around you to whom you can delegate tasks to is one of the keys to running a successful and growing business.

Although enthusiastic and ready to take on any task, large or small, the Coconuts do occasionally want to run and hide when I’m having an ideas session in the office – they know that there’s more work coming their way as they do everything they can to help me turn my ideas into a reality! It is because of them and my delegation skills that I am able to even think about these ideas in the first place. By stepping away from the day to day tasks within the business, I have a much broader overview of my business so I can focus on what we need to do to keep growing, even if that means I am creating even more day to day tasks!

At Coconut, we take care of a wide range of clients and create copy, design collateral, look after social media and we’re available over the phone or by email for support whenever it is needed. Add to this the invoicing, client account management, booking in meetings and all the other elements that go with running a business and you can start to see that there’s no way I could take care of everything on a daily basis.

If you try to do everything yourself, the sheer amount of tasks you need to complete within the day will become overwhelming and I have seen many business owners burn out completely. If you try to be a jack of all trades, the likelihood is that you’re going to fall down somewhere. I know that I can’t use design software and this isn’t where my skillset lies which is why we have in-house designers at Coconut and this goes for our other departments too. I built a team around me who could fill in my skills gaps and help me to expand the services I could offer to my clients. You might even find that your team members can complete the work more efficiently than you!

Having learnt the art of delegation, each team member at Coconut is an expert in their area of responsibility. My team each have their own roles and they know exactly what they should be achieving on a day to day and weekly basis, so that our clients receive the very best from us. My time is now spent looking at the bigger Coconut picture and driving the business forward for everyone’s benefit.

If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you’ve got to do on a daily basis, I highly recommend delegating tasks that you really don’t have to do to your staff. If you don’t have staff, you can use a great matrix to help you.

Urgent AND Important Urgent but NOT Important
Important but NOT Urgent Not Urgent AND not Important

If you list your tasks in the grid above, you will soon see which tasks you should focus on and which ones can wait for another day, be delegated or even removed all together.

By focusing your time in the most effective way, you can generate much more momentum in your business. Be busy and productive and, in turn, your business will grow.

Overcoming Adversity for a Stronger Business

As many of you will know, Coconut Creatives has been through a few changes over the last year. I’m a small business owner and, like many others, have faced adversity throughout the lifetime of my business. The key to overcoming adversity is to tackle it head on and not to let it phase you!

I have had to change and evolve Coconut a number of times over the last decade. Each time, I have taken a step back, evaluated the situation, put my best foot forward and done everything in my power to ensure that service continues as normal for clients whilst I rearrange the structure of the business. My business partners have changed twice over the last decade and, each time, I have come out of the other side with a business that’s stronger than ever!

As a small business owner, I am always conscious that I need to continually adapt my business to the current market in order to ensure that we stay ahead of our competitors and remain profitable. Part of being a good business owner is constantly evaluating and changing the way you do things or adapting your products or services to meet market conditions. Not many businesses remain the same throughout their lifetime. The demands of customers often change and many businesses need to offer something new to keep existing customers coming back for more and to attract new customers in new places.

Apple is a great example of a company that constantly changes in order to stay ahead of their competition and to keep customers coming back for more. Originally specialising in computers, we know that Apple probably wouldn’t still be around today if they hadn’t adapted to the ever-changing technological market place. Developing a portable music player, before moving into personal smartphones and tablet computers, Apple have ensured that they keep ahead of their customers’ demands. They release new versions of their software and hardware at least a couple of times a year and no matter how many iPods or iPhones they sell, they still manage to get customers queuing and camping over night for their next new product. Can you imagine a world without Apple? If Steve Jobs hadn’t had the foresight to adapt his business, there may now be a different front runner in the smartphone and tablet world!

When Directors and staff change, so too do the skills of the team which, in turn affects the services we can provide. As a business owner, I would highly recommend that you consistently evaluate your business and think about what you would do in any given circumstance. If the market changes, if your business partner decides to leave, you lose staff members or any other eventuality, how will your small business survive? In small businesses, the loss of one person or one change in the market or your customers’ needs can be colossal so think carefully about how you’re going to overcome any adversity.

At Coconut, we know that the franchise industry and the way that prospects discover, research and join a franchise is constantly changing along with technology and the online world! Not only does this affect the way our clients must do things, it also affects the way we, at Coconut must operate. We keep our finger on the pulse with franchise recruitment and keep our ear to the ground for any changes in the way franchisees are finding and buying franchises. At the moment, we know that online research is a huge part of the recruitment process so we’re looking at ways that we can diversify into the digital world! Watch this space for more on our new digital media products!

Rather than seeing adversity or challenges as a negative, I always see them as a positive and a way to regenerate my business and make it stronger and more attractive to clients than ever. As I look at our Coconut Team I am so excited at the opportunities that we are now able to explore and the future we have together. Don’t miss the chance to evaluate your businesses and seize the moment that is in front of you.

Can you ever enjoy public speaking?

As the Summer kicks off in the franchise recruitment world and with an event taking place nearly every week, I frequently hear from clients, and even Coconuts, about how much they dread and hate public speaking. I have also felt the same in the past and can sympathise with those of you who are now dreading the busy Summer period!

Remember that public speaking is an important element of business ownership but, if you get it wrong, it can also be detrimental for your business. Whether it’s customers or prospective franchisees, no one wants to buy from the bumbling mess they’ve just seen up on stage! Although you may hate public speaking, like it or not, it does help you to grow and develop your business. It lets even more people know who you are and what you do to really give you that competitive edge. If you can get up on stage to give your expert advice or opinion and your competitor avoids it at all costs, who is more likely to gain new customers or franchisees? So, next time you decide to dodge a public speaking slot, think again! Don’t get left behind whilst your competitors go flying ahead, just because you were too frightened to get up and talk about what you do best!

Being confident on stage has really helped me to improve my public speaking skills. Although you may not feel confident, you need to look it! ACTING confident when speaking to an audience has helped me, gradually, to FEEL confident whilst speaking to a room full of people to try and sell my services. Public speaking helps you to build trust with whoever you’re trying to sell to and really does help you to bring in new leads for your business.

Although you may not be confident in getting up in front of people to speak, I can guarantee that you’re confident about what you know about your industry and your business. Use this confidence to outweigh the fact that you’re talking to a room full of strangers. If you’re good at what you do and have won awards and accolades for it, you should be confident in shouting about it and giving people your expert advice and opinions.

I often find that many business owners are extremely modest about their achievements. The EWIF (Encouraging Women into Franchising) awards are a prime example of when I have seen this. Although I wasn’t in attendance this year (as I was doing my current demanding new job of being a mum), in the past, I have seen so many of the women who have won an award shy away from being in the limelight but you should be proud of your achievements and be happy to share your knowledge. You wouldn’t be a business owner if you weren’t passionate about what you do so make sure everyone else knows how much you know and how passionate you are. As I have found throughout my career, giving your business a human touch really helps you to grow and develop your business. Humans buy from humans so the more you can inject your personality into the business, the better. From our name to our company ethos and the way we work, I have always strived to make sure that Coconut Creatives remains as personal as possible. By injecting my own and all the Coconut’s personality into everything we do, we have managed to remain at the top of our game for the last decade! (In later blog posts, I may even explain the reason why we’re called Coconut Creatives!).

So, before you think about dodging that public speaking event next week, stop, take a breath and think seriously about whether your fear of an audience really outweighs the benefits of the event. I can bet you that it doesn’t! Get used to public speaking and feel comfortable with it and I can guarantee that you will start to see results, quickly.

Babies, Weddings and Summer: A Busy Time to be a Coconut!

Sarah & Thea

Meet baby Thea!

You may have noticed that I’ve been absent from a few public events recently and you might have heard from the Coconut team more than me! My new baby, Thea, arrived on 10th May so I have been taking time out for a bit of rest and relaxation. As I take more of a step back and let the new Managing Director, Paul Clegg, take the reins for a while, I thought I’d keep you updated with everything that’s going on inside, and outside of, Coconut. I don’t think the words ‘rest and relaxation’ really exist when you’re a business owner!

The Encouraging Women into Franchising (EWIF) awards took place in May and I was sad to miss it due to my arrival being a little later than planned! However, I was involved in the judging process for the awards this year and personally read the entries we received. We received a record number this year and, as a fellow woman in franchising, it’s great to see so many women coming forward to shout about their achievements and the work they do on a daily basis.  Having attended the awards for a number of years now, I’m always surprised at how many of the winners believe that the work they won the award for is just part of what they do. So many go above and beyond for their franchisees, staff and customers that they don’t even realise what they’ve achieved! It’s encouraging to see more and more people coming forward for the awards this year. I might talk about women in business and franchising in a later blog as it seems to be becoming a much hotter topic!

Helen Wedding

Mr and Mrs Mansfield!

After a Coconut Wedding at the very start of June, Helen Thresh became Helen Mansfield and the summer season has now kicked off at Coconut. As many people begin to wind down for the summer, although we’ll be taking short breaks in turn, the team will be working hard to ensure that each and every one of our clients is up-to-date and ready to take on the busy Autumn recruitment period. Most businesses experience peaks and troughs in their busy periods but, at Coconut, we seem to be busy all year round. If it’s not client work, it’s events or Coconut promotion or developing our services for clients. While our client’s prospects lounge around on the beaches, we’ll be working tirelessly to make sure everything’s ready and in order when the masses flock back to England to start work again in September.

I may not be in the Coconut office over the Summer but I certainly won’t be stepping away from the business! I still have so many ideas whizzing around my head so I will always check in with the team to make sure they come to light and, of course, to keep them on their toes. I look forward to warm summer days, BBQ’s and, eventually, a return to full-time work in time for the winter chill to set in!