Froth Technologies is made up of two awesome guys, Simon and Ryan, who noticed a gap in the market when it came to yeast for brewing beers in New Zealand. Before them, there was… no one! Before Froth Technologies, New Zealand beer brewers were forced to buy their yeast from overseas. Which, due to its need for refrigeration, was a costly thing, and not great for the planet either.
Froth Technologies, despite being based in Wellington, chose Debra Chantry in Auckland as their business coach for two primary reasons.
Debra has a lot of experience with both startups and established businesses.
Debra has a food technology background – making it an ideal choice for someone in the food industry.
When choosing a business coach, it is important to take a page from Froth’s book and pick one that has experience in your field, or has the same philosophies and mindset as you do.
Froth placed within the top five contestants within the MYOB head start for startup awards but unfortunately fell short on the top spot. Out of 280 entries, Froth’s idea managed to standout allowing them to attend the MYOB awards to pitch their idea to a panel of judges. Simon and Ryan started their pitch off with a bang, with a great, interactive pitch that had the whole crowd laughing, applauding and enjoying the journey they were taken on when learning about their idea. They even sipped some of their own beer crafted with their yeast throughout the pitch.
“The next steps for Froth involves finding a site that will house the larger tanks and equipment we’ve just ordered on the back of our successful PledgeMe campaign. We’re also starting an R&D project next month where we’ll be working to unlock the flavours of Aotearoa by isolating previously undiscovered strains of yeast.”
Forth started with Debra over 12 months ago and came to her because of her background in food technology and startups, she was recommended by MYOB to help the guys at Froth really kick start their idea and help them really push their idea to the next level.
Once finishing their MYOB head start for start-ups journey, Ryan stated that “ We are stoked to have the opportunity to pitch in the finals, and loved the opportunity to level-up our pitching skills, tell the audience and the judges about Froth, and receive really wholesome feedback” as well as talking about the event and attendees “It was great to be surrounded by (and competing against) a cohort of such exciting, impactful new business ventures.”
Ventell is a business coaching service that helps entrepreneurs and business owners a like rediscover their passion for their business as well as make it grow. People like Simon and Ryan choose Ventell due to Debra and her team of coaches and their vast knowledge of a range of industries, including their own. These coaches help business owners and entrepreneurs on their business to help them in ways only coaches can, by looking at the business from a different perspective, offering advice, guidelines and forms of feedback that help boost any business to its next level.
If you are ready to scale up your business, Call us on 0800 332 007 or get in contact today.
Meet Natalie Richards, a down to earth ex-truck driver who used to work 60 to 70 hours a week. Having early starts and late finishes along with spending most of her time on the roads, food options were often limited and unhealthy. So, Natalie decided it was time to change her eating options by cooking her own meals. However, Natalie went beyond just home-cooked meals, she took classic recipes and transformed them into plant-based versions. Natalie then immersed herself with food and spent her time experimenting and creating new recipes.
Natalie made it her mission to offer a wide range of plant-based meals that are both nutritious and delicious. In 2016, this was the beginning of Prep. Prep offers healthy and delicious plant-based meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Prep meals are made from scratch using only whole natural ingredients. These meals are frozen soon after to lock in all the nutrients and flavours in biodegradable bamboo containers. So, it’s good for you and the planet!
As part of Prep’s journey, Natalie utilised business coaching from Debra Chantry at Ventell to help guide her in the right direction. Business coaching challenges Natalie to go further and achieve better results not only for Prep but also herself. Business coaching at Ventell is tailored to the needs of a business and generally consists of three steps.
Step One: Deep Dive Coaching Session
The first step consists of sharing everything about your business and utilising business tools such as the SWOT analysis, competitor analysis, prioritisation matrixes and more.
Step Two: Strategic Planning Session
This step uses information gathered from the deep dive to develop a detailed set of goals and vision, along with developing your business and personal plan.
Step Three: Regular One-on-One Catch-Ups
The final step is to start putting those strategies into action. There are regular catch-ups with your business coach to ensure you are on the right track and to re-evaluate any strategies if needed.
Natalie has been working together with Debra since the birth of Prep to where they are now. Natalie has driven Prep to success with the help and support from Debra’s business coaching. As Natalie’s coach, Debra has provided honest feedback, assisting to implement improvements on Prep and Natalie as a person, expose Natalie to greater networks, and more. The most important part was that Natalie had someone to talk to and receive support from as being a business owner is often very isolating and lonely.
“I also have a business coach, Debra Chantry, and swear by having one. She has been valuable to building my business.” – Natalie says in an interview with the NZ Herald.
Natalie has continuously pushed herself and Prep with the help of Debra which has resulted in her winning not one, but two awards at the 2019 Network NZ Awards. Natalie took home the “Best Start-Up Award” along with the “People’s Choice Award”. Alongside this, Natalie has been recognised as a finalist in the NZ Maori Business Awards.
Natalie has recently expanded her product range by introducing the Prep Fitness Packs and is sponsoring Geovana Perez, New Zealand’s reigning WBO light heavyweight champion in preparation for her upcoming fight. Being a true entrepreneur and believer in her product, these fitness packs were first tested by Natalie herself which helped her lose 10kg in eight weeks alongside F45 training (see photos below). She has also recently won the F45 Training New Lynn’s “People’s Champion” title.
Every business owner needs someone who will encourage, inspire, and strengthen you to reach your full potential. Being a business owner means taking risks and making big decisions to try and generate business growth. Throughout Prep’s journey, Natalie has had Debra on her side as a mentor to consistently check-up and make sure that goals are being achieved and that Natalie enjoys what she is doing.
If you are ready for some real support, guidance, and knowledge it’s time for you to get a business coach. Ventell has a range of business coaches with different skills, experience, and specialties, check them out here. If you feel inspired by Natalie’s story, call us now to see how business coaching can help you and your business grow.
The following article was written for & published in the Verve Magazine – May 2019. In it, I talk about the things that I have learnt about running a business that is profitable, sustainable & that you love… They didn’t publish the full article, so I am sharing it below…
Running a successful business can be hugely rewarding & when you get it right, it can fulfil all of your dreams, both professionally & personally.
That said, going into business & maintaining a sustainable & profitable business can sometimes be tough. In NZ, up to half of our small businesses fail within the first 2 years.
There’s a good reason why some businesses fail, in fact I would argue that some should never have even started. However there are also some great business opportunities out there that can truly feed your passion & your brilliance, that can allow you to create a business & a life that you love.
Every Business Coach will tell you that you need a plan & I whole-heartedly agree with that, however without the following a plan is next to useless:
1. Know your why & follow your passion
Businesses that are started because people have ‘making money’ as their prime objective, often fail. This because when times get tough, there is little that will keep you in the business.
If you are clear about your reason for starting your business & you know your ‘why’ & what you are passionate about, then you stand a much better chance of success. When the tough times come, and they will, you can reconnect to this reason for being on the plant & what you are passionate about & it will see you through the tough times.
If you’re unclear about your why, then I would recommend getting some help to work through this & what your core values are as these will drive the business throughout its entire life.
2. Don’t listen to friends & family
I feel terrible saying this, however friends & family are too close to be taking advice from.
They want to be supportive & they want to see you succeed, so will be encouraging regardless of whether it’s a good idea or a good business model.
Or if they come from a traditional background they may be hugely critical about you going into business & might have comments such as, “When are you going to get a real job?”.
Remember that these comments come from their own fears so don’t dismiss them but do take what they say with a grain of salt & instead rely on actual market information to make your decisions.
3. Know your market & know your audience
Again, don’t rely on those too close to you to test or validate your idea.
Define who your ideal customer is, put yourself in their shoes & think about what ‘pain’ you are relieving or what ‘solution’ you are providing for them & come up with some assumptions about what they might want or need.
Then you need to test your assumptions with people who meet the criteria & are not too close to you.
In my experience, if you do these surveys face to face you learn a lot more from the experience than you would using software like survey monkey. When you are in front of someone having a real conversation you can delve deeper & uncover all sorts of things you might not have thought of.
I have worked with clients who after doing their market validation have a whole new insight into what they can offer to their clients.
Market Validation is also not a ‘one-off’ thing.
Things change so fast in the business world & there are new competitors, both direct & indirect, coming into the market all the time, so in my experience, regularly looking for customer feedback is crucial. Continuously testing the market to ensure that you are delivering what they truly want & need, at a price that is right for the value you offer will help you to stay ahead of the game.
4. Be prepared to Pivot or Fail Fast
Sometimes your idea might not be a great idea. I hate to say it, because I hate shattering dreams but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. There may not be a genuine need for it or people might not be prepared to pay what you need to charge to make it a profitable & sustainable business.
Don’t be concerned by this & please don’t hang onto the idea. If the market says or shows it’s not prepared to put their hands in their pocket & pay you what you know the value is, then be prepared to pivot or fail fast.
Pivoting is where you change the idea based on feedback, much like taking a different route to get to the same place.
Fail fast is not a negative, in fact it is quite the opposite. I have seen too many businesses, my own past businesses included, where the owner has poured their life savings & a huge amount of time & effort into an idea that was never going to work. Imagine if you could catch that early, put the idea to bed & not lose your house or your sanity over it?
Pivoting can happen at any stage in a business & generally happens following market validation. As your business grows, what you started offering may not be what customers now want, so continue with market validation throughout your business’ life & make changes as needed so that you can continue to pivot or pull out as needed.
I truly wish more businesses would pivot or fail fast rather than hanging onto an idea that they think is great but that no-one really wants or is prepared to pay for. The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move onto the next idea, that might be successful!
5. Ask for help
This may seem contrary to my previous idea of not asking friends & family so I want to be clear that I think that asking for help is essential, it’s just about asking the right people for the right sort of help.
As Entrepreneurs & Business Owners, we often don’t want to ask for help as it can feel like failure.
Asking for help is not failing. It’s a smart way to not be ‘alone’ in your business venture & to get some advice that may take you to the next level.
I ask you this. How do you feel when you help someone? It feels great right? So, why would you deny this feeling to someone else who may be able to help you?
Taking on board a coach, a mentor or someone to be a sounding board can be a great idea.
All I would suggest is asking the right people & not asking too many people, because everyone has different ideas & it can be confusing. Look for experts or people who have been in your position in the past and can share with you their experiences & what they learnt from that rather than telling you what to do.
6. Make sure you have the right commercial model
One of the biggest mistakes that I see time & time again is Business Owners in NZ not charging a fair price for a fair value. People often undervalue themselves & their product or service.
Price is not everything. If it were we’d all be using no frills toothpaste & driving Skodas. Not that I don’t love Skodas – they’re great cars but they’re not for everyone & I personally like my Porsche 🙂
Be sure that you understand what value you offer to your customer, what it costs to provide this value & what they are prepared to pay for it. It doesn’t have to be an equation of costs of goods plus a profit margin. If you can value price then you stand a much better chance of success.
Also, be sure that you know what capital is required to set up & run your business at all times & plan for it. Get funding help early on, before you need it. For all of us who have worked with banks in our business, we know that it’s harder to get money when you desperately need it than when you didn’t need it, so apply for it early.
7. Choose your business partners carefully
This is a lesson I have learnt a couple of times through my own experience & through working with clients.
Going into business with someone is like getting married or choosing a life partner. You will be together for a long time. There will be ups & there will be downs & there will be times when you just don’t agree on things or feel like you’re heading in different directions. You will also spend a huge amount of your time together, sometimes more than you do with your own family & we all know how families can fight!
There’s nothing wrong with this & if you have chosen the right partner, with the same fundamental values & vision as you, then you will be able to work through these & come out the other side richer for the experience.
My advice is to choose a business partner like you would a life partner. You wouldn’t rush into a marriage or life-time commitment. You’d probably date for a while, get to know each other, talk about shared visons & values & then, and only then, would you decide to enter into a longer term commitment.
Often in business, I guess a little like dating, we get excited when we meet a new person who seems to share our vision & ideas. They might also seem to bring something to the table that you might not have, such as knowledge, connections or money. And all of this can be great. However, if they don’t share the same fundamental values as you, then you could well hit a rock wall at some stage.
Take the time to get to know your potential business partner, spend time with them without the commitment of a partnership (there are many ways to do this) & talk about vision & values. Go through some difficult times together & then once you’ve ‘dated’ for a while then go through the process of writing up a ‘pre-nup’, otherwise known as a Shareholders Agreement & some guidelines for how you will run the business & what your values mean for you & then think about tying the knot. This process in itself will help you to get to really know the potential partner.
No-one likes a messy divorce, so all of this can help create a happy marriage.
8. Be True to yourself
This is your journey & your journey alone. You can get help & advice along the way & all of this can be helpful, however if you are trying to build your business the way that others think you should then you are going to struggle.
Every one of us has great intuition. We know what is right & what is right for us.
Listen to this & make sure that you are owning the journey that you are on & are following your passion & working with your brilliance, not trying to be someone else.
9. Let go of self-limiting beliefs
We all have them. That voice in our head that tells us we can’t do it, or asks us who do we think we are to be doing this, or just generally stops us from having big dreams.
My advice is to find out what these self-limiting beliefs are & work to just ‘Let them go’.
As humans, we are capable of doing anything that we set our mind to.
Work with someone to ensure that your self-limiting beliefs are not holding you back from creating the business & life that you deserve.
10. Have fun!
Life is too short! Make sure you take time to have some fun along the way – whatever that might be for you. Studies show that when we take time out to play & be creative, we give our brain the space to be open to more opportunities. This can lead to more creative & focused thinking.
Plus, who doesn’t enjoy being a big kid every once in a while?
Debra Chantry is an Entrepreneurial Business & Leadership Coach & also the Founder of The Common, which is a Business Club / Community / Playground that enables Business Owners & Entrepreneurs to achieve their professional & personal goals. Ventell, her business coaching practice, has been running successfully for 8 years & has helped over 500 business owners. The Common turns two on the 1st May 2019.
Below is an article that Debra Chantry, Our Principal & Business Coach, wrote the following article for The Icehouse…
Debra Chantry, Business Coach and Mentor at The Icehouse, sheds light on the importance of an Advisory Board – How an Advisory Board can impact your business, how your business can tell whether your Advisory Board is cutting the mustard, and what can happen businesses who choose to fly solo.
An Advisory Board is like having a Business Coach or Mentor, on steroids. Rather than one experienced person to help you with accountability and acting as a sounding board, you can have two or three that not only provide you with big picture thinking but the diversity that a single coach or mentor cannot offer.
The whole purpose of an Advisory Board is to drive a business forward – but when should a business start a Board? A formal Board of Directors usually comes once there are multiple shareholders in a company. Those who make up the Board of Directors are more often than not appointed by the shareholders to legally manage, direct and supervise the company.
However, there is a middle step for startups & SME businesses and that’s an Advisory Board. An Advisory Board is more often than not set up by the Owner/ Manager of the business, with these Boards existing to provide defined advice and information in an informal and flexible manner. There may be a number of reasons why your business or startup may be seeking out governance in the form of an Advisory Board:
Others can help your success by providing valuable business insight and oversight.
A specific area of interest, e.g. entry into new market requires specialist advice.
You are looking for early stage market validation.
The flexibility of engagement appeals to you.
You need help with succession planning and/or to become investment ready.
You want your business to become more professional.
So therefore, if you meet any of the above criteria, and you are willing to share information then no matter what your size or your stage of growth, you are ready for an Advisory Board.
With the purpose of an Advisory Board being to drive growth or the business itself forward, it’s important to be very selective when choosing your members. They will often not only have experience and knowledge but also the networks and connections that can help your business to fast track. To ensure you get the right advice, you want members that encourage open and robust discussion of ideas – hence why family and friends are a strict ‘no-go’ zone.
The key question is: will my prospective board member add value to my company?
To be able to answer this question, the power of hindsight is essential. Knowing that a strong Advisory Board should have a diverse set of members that either have experience, knowledge, or networks and connections that can move the business forward is one of the first steps. Diversity means bringing the full breadth of relevant skills and experience from across all of the fronts the business has to operate in.
A strong Advisory Board will also be adding value to your business. They will be reading the reports in advance, contributing positively to the discussions within the meeting, challenging assumptions, offering knowledge and their experiences, and following up with the action points following the meetings. If they’re not doing this, then it’s time to fire them and move on. Fortunately there are few legal headaches around an Advisory Board – they’re designed to be flexible so that you can change them as the business needs change. The sooner you can exit and replace poorly performing members, the better.
An Advisory Board may be published/associated with the business i.e.: they feature on the company website or in materials such as business plans for fundraising. Therefore, it’s important that you not only background check the Advisory Board Member before they come on board but you also set the ground rules around what is expected and whether or not they can engage with the media on behalf of the company.
If the Advisory Board member has anything in their past or has a tendency to be ‘loose lipped’ with the media, then what they have done or what they say can have an impact, both positive and negative on the business. Just like employees, they are essentially an extension of your company brand. Without giving specific examples, you can imagine what an Advisory Board member, associated with your company, creating bad press can do for your business reputation!
Although it is not crucial for a business to have an Advisory Board, it certainly helps to fast track your business while keeping you and your team focused. Much like having your own personal business coach, Advisory Boards can really help with acceleration, avoiding common pitfalls in your market, opening doors to influential people, and establishing the bigger picture.
When you’re trying to really grow your business, flying solo can feel very lonely as well as dangerous. You want advisors that have experience in an industry that is relevant to your business and who have operated in a larger and more complex organisation. You often can’t see the wood from the trees or you are blinkered in your thinking because you are too close to the business. Sometimes this can lead to small issues, other times they can lead to you wasting valuable time, money and resources.
Looking to someone to walk with you, inspire you, champion you and celebrate success with you can make the journey seem a lot less lonely. If an advisor is not the wings to help you fly, then its deadweight.
Below is an article that Debra Chantry, Our Principal & Business Coach, wrote the following article for The Icehouse…
Debra Chantry, Business Coach at The Icehouse, shares her insights on how your business can develop its core competencies to increase your competitive advantage. Debra touches on the power of defining your competencies and the potential risks involved if these are overlooked.
To start, it’s important to fully understand what a ‘competency’ is – knowing this, we can set out to determine the different forms a competency can take and what this can mean for your business.
So what is a core competency? A core competency is a well-performed activity that is central and integral to delivering on a company’s strategy, enhancing their competiveness and increasing their profitability. To take it one step further, a distinctive competency is a competency that you have that no-one else has or can easily replicate which provides you with a competitive advantage. These can be one of two things:
These need to be things that the company has that cannot be easily acquired by competitors, such as:
Patents and trademarks
An existing customer database
Capabilities are the company’s ability to make use of its resources effectively i.e. bringing a product to market quicker than your competition.
A competitive advantage is produced from your distinctive competencies and can be defined as being a business that can sustain profits that exceed the average for their industry. Essentially, this can take one of three forms – either a cost advantage, a differentiation advantage or a focus advantage. This advantage creates value for the customer, and therefore the customer is prepared to pay more or you are able to offer the product for less.
When it comes to establishing your core competencies, first brainstorm the factors you think are important to your customers or clients. Think about the factors that influence the purchaser’s decision when they’re buying products or services similar to your own.
Following this, brainstorm all the competencies that your company has; the things that you do well. List these out and then use Hamel and Prahalads three tests (refer below) to see whether your competencies are true core competencies:
Relevance: Firstly, the competence must give your customer something that strongly influences him/her to choose your product or service. If it does not, then it has no effect on your competitive position and is not a core competence.
Difficulty of Imitation: Secondly, the core competence should be difficult to imitate. This allows you to provide products that are better than those of your competition. And because you’re continually working to improve these skills, this means that you can sustain its competitive position.
Breadth of Application: Thirdly, it should be something that opens up a good number of potential markets. If it only opens up a few small, niche markets, then success in these markets will not be enough to sustain significant growth.
It’s important to understand that defining your core competencies gives you a better understanding of what makes you different from your competitors and more appealing to your customers. If you go one step further and understand your distinctive competencies, then you will know what truly sets you apart and gives you a competitive advantage.
Articulating this will help you sell more, at higher prices, and at a lower cost of customer acquisition, and will enjoy greater repeat sales and referrals.
A good example of a business who have set themselves apart from the rest of the market through their core competencies, is Apple – their competency being outstanding design. Great design gives them the ability to access lots of market that no one thought possible. The tablet computer has been around for years but it wasn’t until the iPad that the market exploded.
Design provides the essence of many Apple products. There were plenty of MP3 players before the iPod, but it was design that made it a wild success. Design is also extremely difficult to imitate well, as demonstrated by the sheer number of failed iPod, iPad, and MacBook knockoffs and imitations.
The risk of not defining your core competencies, your distinctive competencies, and your competitive advantage is that you may not be able clearly articulate to your customers the value that you can deliver – this means you’re putting yourself into the ever decreasing spiral of the price war. Without sufficient competitive advantages, your company will eventually be overtaken by companies (much like Apple) that can compete more efficiently or effectively.
The world is always changing so be sure to review these regularly and make sure you are still ahead of the competition and meeting the customer’s needs.
Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Fiona Hall from www.kiffin.co.nz.
We talked about breaking through the bullshit that keeps you stuck. I shared my top 3 tips on:
1. Earn what you’re worth
2. Get the sales that you need with the right activity
3. Overcome the Overwhelm
We chatted about all of the Tolerations that Business Owners & Leaders have & how you can change your life & uncover your brilliance.
As a Business Coach & Leadership Coach, I have worked with hundreds of business owners & leaders who have lost all their passion because they have started to tolerate all sorts of things. It doesn’t take much to start addressing these, rediscovering your passion and uncovering your Brilliance.
Feel free to call me for a free one hour session so that we can talk about where you are at and how I can help you – 0800 332 007.
It talks about one of the clients, Baby Sleep Consultant that Debra works with as a Business Coach. Debra has worked with Baby Sleep Consultant to develop their Business Strategy as well as their Digital Strategy.
A Digital Strategy has 6 components:
The article explores the Social Business Strategy that Baby Sleep Consultants have undertaken & the results that they have got from that.
When Emma Purdue started her business, Baby Sleep Consultant, just over three years ago she found Facebook a natural place to connect with potential customers.
“In years past, mums were mostly talking to each other on the phone but these days we’re socialising on social media – and with mums that’s particularly on Facebook,” says Purdue. “It’s important for us we’re engaging with them there so, when they are ready, they’ll end up coming to our website for more information or booking a consultation.”
In the early days, the business – which focuses on baby (and parent) sleep problems – found it easy to reach and grow its community on Facebook for free. However, when changes on the social media platform meant it was no longer getting the same organic reach from its posts (and they were increasingly being pointed towards paid advertising to increase reach) they needed a new strategy.
The business began developing VIP customer Facebook groups in some of the different geographic locations where its consultants operate.
Clients are invited to join the groups, members gain immediate online access to their local consultant (who manages the group), other sleep-related information and special discounts on baby and child products in their area.
Purdue reports the groups have grown organically as members – who feel they have an ‘exclusive’ relationship with the business – invite their friends, bringing more business the company’s way.
“In those VIP groups, our customers actively promote us; they’ll advocate we’re really good at what we do and they recommend us – which ends up in bookings.”
The company now has VIP Facebook groups operating for communities in Adelaide, Brisbane, Tauranga and Dunedin and has plans to roll them out across New Zealand.
Demand for Baby Sleep Consultant’s services in Adelaide, where the first VIP group was launched, has increased so much, Purdue says the company’s consultant there has given up her part-time job to focus on sleep consulting full time.
Purdue says her business coach Debra Chantry – a coach with The Icehouse business growth centre, who also runs her own business Ventell – pointed out Purdue needed to stop working so much in the business and start working more on strategies for growth.
“At the time I thought, ‘I can’t stop working with clients’, but actually about six months ago I did; from that point on, there’s been a massive change in the business – sales figures have tripled.”
Chantry describes what Purdue has achieved with the social side of her digital business strategy as ‘nirvana’ – hitting a sweet spot where customers are so engaged, they’re creating their own community to help each other as they’re helping the business.
More broadly, digital strategy is described as the activities, vision, goals and opportunities spanning everything in a business covering the IT, online and mobile spaces.
Given the increasingly digital nature of all our interactions, Chantry says it’s a broad remit: “If you really look at it, the list of things that come under that digital strategy banner can seem endless.
“In a small business context I think people can forget just how many of these digital tools we use these days – your accounting software, all the apps on your phone, marketing communications tools, social media and even internal tools for things like chat and messaging.”
However, to sharpen the focus, Chantry outlines six key areas that digital strategy generally encompasses.
The first, she says, is human resources – who’s responsible for digital, who’s leading it and who could benefit from it; then there are tech resources – the technology that’s actually being used; and data strategy – where and how data is stored and used.
The remainder include content strategy – what content is produced, where it’s kept and how it’s kept up to date; channel strategy – how digital drives relationships in the channel; and social business strategy – encompassing how social media is used within a business, as well as to grow external communities.
Chantry admits most small businesses have yet to find the bandwidth to come up with strategies spanning all six aspects. Many, she says, will instead tend to carve off a specific project within one of those areas.
“As a starting point though, the best approach is to get the key players in the organisation together and literally map out every single piece of software, data, and hardware they have – because that highlights how much ‘stuff’ a business already has, who’s responsible for it, whether it’s up to date and whether it integrates with other tools the business is using.
“Then it’s important to look at the customer journey, what the digital touchpoints are from start to finish, and how any of those could be enhanced.”
If you would like to talk to Debra Chantry or one of our Business Coaches about your businesses Digital Strategy, then please contact us – email@example.com.
Today, I was trying to work out how a potential client had contacted us to do a workshop / speaker event for them. I tried googling all sorts of key terms to see what came up… Still can’t work it out, but very grateful that they did find me & really looking forward to working with them.
Whilst I was googling, I decided I hadn’t googled myself for a while & should take a minute to see what came up. No big surprises – All of the usual stuff that I expect – several pages of articles about me, Business Coaching, Woman of the Year, Cars etc. – nothing too exciting & also nothing to get nervous about 🙂
However I was reminded that google has an alerts service for your name & I hadn’t received any alerts for a while, yet I’m sure I’ve been published a few times.
I went to my google alerts account (https://www.google.co.nz/alerts) & checked to make sure everything was set up properly… And it was there that I found that one of the settings had changed and so I wasn’t getting ALL alerts.
I turned it on & these popped up – 2 blog articles that I have never seen before:
An article on the Woman of the Year awards from 2013, where I was a finalist in the Business section for the Business Coaching, Mentoring & Charity work that I do… It was fun to look back on that night.
And then an article in Stoppress from one of my original start-up clients at The Icehouse. Interesting that this business has now broken into the UK & is up for sale (If anyone is interested then contact me directly):
These alerts reminded me how important it is to not only google yourself regularly, but also have a google news alert set up so that it can pick up any new articles or blog posts.
Alerts are a great way to automate the searching process & you can choose to receive these as they are published online.
Normally these will be positive things… but what if they’re not? Or what if your personal details pop up & you don’t want those made public (This happened to me a few years ago – my address & telephone number on a CV and a spa bath photo from Facebook that I had inadvertently made public)?
There are a few options. Firstly, find the original source:
If you are the owner then you can make the changes. (This solved my spa bath & CV issue for me!)
And if it doesn’t fit into the criteria for google to remove it, then seek help from a professional online reputation management specialist.
And finally, you want to see what order the articles on google come up in. Are they reflecting what you want to reflect online? If not, then you’ll need to start looking at online reputation management to take control of this.. Don’t underestimate how many people google you … And this will be their first impression… Is it one you love?
BONUS TIP: Don’t forget any other names you might have – nicknames, married names, maiden name etc.
I have just completed a half marathon – yay! I never thought I’d be able to do it and to be fair there was a lot more ‘fast walking’ than running, so I’ve still got a way to go to achieve my original goal, but today has been one big step towards it.
Throughout the 21.097km, you have a lot of time to think and I started thinking about how I got there and what it had taken to get me there…. And it struck me that there were a lot of synergies between this and achieving business success.
It started with a vision, I set some goals and then I’ve been executing some strategies and tactics to get there. There’s also been some other things along the way that ensured that I could achieve my goals and I thought it was worthwhile sharing, hoping to inspire others to think big and go for it.
So, what have I done so far and how can this be applied to achieving business success?
There appears to be 8 key steps:
Have a clear vision
Set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
Break this down into smaller, more manageable goals
Set strategies and tactics to achieve these goals
Find yourself a coach or mentor
Surround yourself with people who support you
Execute on the plan
1. Be clear about your vision
It all started at the beginning of the year. After a relationship breakup last year, I started to think about my life and what I wanted from it. I realised that from a fitness point of view, I wanted to get back to being truly fit & healthy. There were many other things I wanted, and maybe in another article I’ll share them, but for today I want to take you on my fitness journey thus far.
My vision was to get back to a level of fitness where I felt truly good about myself. For me that means regularly playing sport and being able to undertake any sporting challenge that I want to, knowing that I’ll have no fear and I’ll be able to do it. For those of you that know me personally, you will know that I am currently not really ‘built’ for sport but in my younger days I used to be an avid tennis player, runner & skier, who could turn her hand to any sport… And that’s what I aspire to again.
With that clear vision in mind, I started thinking about what I needed to do and what success looked like.
Without a clear vision, how do you know where you are going and what success looks like? The same can be applied to any business and yet so many businesses don’t take the time to articulate their vision.
2. Set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
The 7 habits of highly effective people states that you should start with the end in mind.
On this basis, there’s no point in setting a goal that is easily achieved…. Look further ahead and decide what your ultimate goal is.
Then don’t be afraid to write this down and commit to it. It’s very rare that goals that are written down don’t get achieved… no matter how big or small. However you get a lot bigger sense of satisfaction when that achieved goal is a big, hairy audacious one 🙂
In my case, it was to be able to run a half marathon by the end of the year, or sooner. I’m not there yet, but I’ve signed up for another one in August and by the end of the year I expect to be able to do it.
3. Break this down into smaller, more manageable goals
That said, BHAGs can be completely overwhelming, so make sure that you break these down in to smaller, more achievable goals.
I decided that being able to just complete a half marathon by April 2015 would be my first goal.
The next goal after that is to be able to complete a 5km run by the end of May 2015 and then it’s a 10km run by end of July.
In business, things may not happen quite as quickly, so it’s important to be realistic about what can be achieved in the time frames you pick. In general when I plan myself, or when I work as a business coach, we look at quarterly goals that lead to the annual goals that lead to the 5 year goals.
What is important is that you are clear about what success looks like, you write it down and you commit to it. Then you need to measure yourself against these goals, adjusting whatever is needed to achieve them.
4. Set strategies and tactics to achieve these goals
The next step is to set strategies to achieve these goals.
In simple terms, a strategy is the “what “ you need to do and the tactics and the “How”.
The “What?” is “What are we trying to accomplish?”
The “How?” is “How are we going to accomplish our goal?” and then who is going to do it and when.
So, if we use my running example, I wanted to be able to run a half marathon by the end of the year.
How I would do that were the tactics… And in the beginning it was to go for a walk / run at least 3-4 times a week until I was easily able to do 5-6km, four days in a row.
By the time Easter weekend came around, I had managed to do 5 days in a row of 5kms and I knew I was ready to take on the half marathon.
My next tactic is to run 4-5 mornings a week, increasing the amount of time that I run until I can easily run 5km…. And then I’ll increase to 10km and finally the half marathon.
With a business, the strategies and tactics are crucial to achieving your goals, so make sure you have thought these through and again have them written down.
5. Find yourself a coach or mentor
I don’t know about you, but I achieve more when I have a coach or a mentor.
I find that I need someone to keep me on track. Someone who can hold me accountable and also someone who really understands what is going on – the good and the bad.
That someone needs to be someone I can pick up the phone and talk to when I’m having a bad day, when I need some inspiration or when I have crazy ideas and need a sounding board.
A coach or a mentor provide you with a sanity check or sounding board, they help you realise the real opportunities and then they hold you accountable for executing your plan and achieving success.
In my case, I have a special friend that I can call on to give me inspiration and get me back on track. She also stepped in when my original half marathon partner pulled out…. That’s the sort or person you need for your personal life and for your business!
6. Surround yourself with people who support you
This sounds really obvious, but sometimes we don’t notice that some people are not the right people to have around you if you want to achieve success.
Not everyone will be supportive of what you are trying to achieve. They might appear to be so, but over time you realise that they are not fully supportive, in fact subconsciously they might even be sabotaging your efforts.
I still haven’t quite worked out why people do this, but I think it possibly comes down to their own insecurities? It’s probably not something I’m going to be able to solve though nor do you need to.
The reality is that you don’t need these people around you. You need to be surrounded by truly supportive people to achieve your full potential and this might mean getting rid of people in your life who don’t meet the criteria.
How do you know you have the right people around you?
Listen to the language they use. Watch how they react to you sharing your dreams and goals. See how they respond when you tell them of your successes and achievements, even the small ones. Those that are truly supportive will always use positive language, they’ll encourage you to strive for your dreams and goals and they’ll be truly thrilled when you achieve your successes.
Without the support of my amazing friends, I wouldn’t have got to where I am right now and they continue to inspire me to go further….That’s how I know I have surrounded myself with the right people.
7. Execute on the plan
The most important part of all of this is the ‘doing’. A great idea, a great plan and great strategies are nothing without execution.
For me, and the half marathon effort, I had to make sure that I had time put aside to train. Without training, there was no way I could ever have compete … And training takes time.
In a busy world it’s easy to prioritise other things but you have to think about everything you do and decide if it is taking you towards your end goal. If it’s not then get rid of it. Make time for the things that do take you forwards, both in the short term and the long term, block out your diary and commit to them.
The key is to make sure you have the time and the resources to commit to executing on the plan. Do this by freeing up your time through getting help and outsourcing non-key things. Think of the opportunity cost of doing things yourself that don’t take you closer towards your end goal.
Do everything you can to give yourself the best chance of success.
And always remember this…
When you feel like quitting, think about why you started…
It always gets you re-motivated!
8. Celebrate Success
It’s important to celebrate success…. Even the small successes are steps towards your greater goal…. So celebrate each and every one of them.
Share them with your support network and your friends and family.
Give yourself rewards for having achieved what you set out to do… Appropriate to the size of the goal.
For me, having completed the half marathon, I decided to treat myself to a couple of new running tops. They will remind me of what I achieved but also help me towards my next goal. I also went out with a friend to celebrate.
When I complete a half marathon running the entire way then I am going to take my support network out for dinner and I shall be treating myself to a week at a luxury retreat… Can’t wait!
PS: I don’t think I’ll be able to walk tomorrow, but it’s a small price to pay for the massive grin on my face right now… And that will keep getting me up and getting back into it 🙂
As published in the New Zealand Herald December 25th 2014 – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11378818
Those who make an effort to send handwritten Christmas cards will always stand out from the deluge of e-cards, writes Debra Chantry.
“Where did all the real Christmas Cards go?”
I’m not talking about the mass printed, generic Christmas message cards where each staff member signs their name, but the ones with hand written, personal and meaningful messages.
With digital having such a huge emphasis these days, are we losing the human touch?
This year I got close to a couple of hundred electronic Christmas Cards – from everyone from my dentist to a lawyer I have never used, to a supplier that I stopped using years ago. Some even got my name spelled right.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Scrooge… I love Christmas! And I preach avidly about Digital Marketing and what it can do for a business, so it’s not that I don’t like email.
In reality, I liked that they took the time to wish me Season’s Greetings, however, I can honestly say that I can’t remember any of those cards or what they said, nor who the person or company was that sent them. They were gone with a swipe of the ‘delete’ button.
On the other hand, I have received three handwritten business Christmas cards and I can tell you exactly who they were from and how they made me feel.
That’s because they took the time to mention something that had happened this year, something we had done together or they were thanking me for something that I had done for them. I can still feel that grin when I think about them and they take pride of place on my desk and will do until the New Year.
People do business with people… We sometimes forget that.
A company can’t really wish you Season’s Greetings – it has to come from a person.
So how do we combine the power of Digital and the human nature and intense power of the offline world to get the best results?
One of My Icehouse clients has done this perfectly.
Wendyl Nissen and Daniel Ellison run an online store selling all natural cleaning products, beauty products, recipes and ingredients. www.wendyls.co.nz
Just recently we ran a report to see who the top 20 customers were in the online store and Wendyl and Daniel took the time to write a handwritten note inside their latest recipe book and sent it out to them, along with a voucher and a discount code for them to buy more of the books from the online store for their friends and family.
The purpose was to thank the customers for being their top customers and to surprise and delight them. We don’t really mind if they use that coupon or not.
Put yourself in those customers shoes… How would you feel if a gift turned up unexpectedly in your mail with a hand written note from the owner of the store. I’m guessing you’d be over the moon and would want to tell other people about it?
That was the response that Wendyl and Daniel got. People were thrilled to pieces. They took the time to write and thank Wendyl and Daniel and even better, the sales of the book increased too, thanks to the online voucher.
It’s good old fashioned ‘surprise and delight’, which creates word of mouth in the offline and online environments and everyone is happy.
Now imagine if you could delve deeper into your customer relationship and find out something unique about that customer, and make that message even more personal (without pushing privacy boundaries) – maybe even choosing a personal gift based on something you know about them … I’m thinking that you could create an advocate for life. Someone who will happily talk about you and your business to people they know.
Now I know that you can’t do that with every one of your customers but that’s not what Wendyl and Daniel did. They picked the top 20 customers and went with that.
In an ideal world you’d pick the top 20% of your customers, who likely bring in 80% of your revenue and you would take all of your online knowledge about them and use it to communicate with them and choose a gift, as a person to another person, in the offline environment.
The other 80% you can send an electronic email to but do think about what’s in it for them and do at least try to get their name right 🙂
I hand wrote 36 cards this year to my top customers and suppliers. In every one I put a personal message, based on what I knew about them from our CRM (Customer Relationship Management Database), my relationship with them and the work that we had done together.
It took me four hours and I came out with blue fingers as I discovered my fountain pen was playing up. However, as I watched each person open them, the look on their face was worth every minute. And those that I didn’t see in person have taken the time to thank me. I’m thrilled and I hope they are too.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Debra Chantry is a business coach and Executive in Residence at The Icehouse, helping owner-manager and start-up businesses to take their business to the next level. She also runs her own business growth agency, Ventell, which helps people take their passion and turn it into excellence in business.