Business Management

What are you worth?

Have you reviewed your financial assets recently? It’s useful to do it once a year and January is as good a time as any. We all do this as a matter of course for our businesses, or our accountants do it for us, but it’s more revealing to look at your total assets as an individual or a couple.

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Your business – a family or a battlefield?

Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer prize winning writer at the New York Times and author of The Power of Habit, said that companies resemble civil war battlefields more than they do “big happy families”. He describes workplaces as “fiefdoms where executives compete for power and credit – making their own performances seem superior and their rivals seem worse. Divisions compete for resources and sabotage each other to steal glory”.The cynic in me wants to say that many seemingly happy families exhibit the traits he describes and sibling rivalry is certainly a force to be reckoned with. However, most of us can recognise and relate to the situations that arise within businesses and organisations and contribute to, in the worst case failure, and at best under-performance and waste of resources.

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business management, business consultancy
“Everyone whinges about their boss” – and the benefits of a support network.

I just counted up 8 roles I have had this week – media planner, buyer, creative director, copywriter, HR manager, coach, trainer, account manager – all in the space of 5 days. I’m also a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother – and dog owner. I can be all these things only with the support of others – colleagues, suppliers, accountant, family, cleaners, gardener (not necessarily in priority order :-)) – and of course clients, without whom we would have no money and no reason to come to work. Many other small business owners could say the same. I think that, unless we are able to recognise our own strengths and weaknesses and focus only on the things we do well, we can very easily become overwhelmed and under-effective. The lady who cleans our house promotes herself as “A helping hand for the overwhelmed” and that’s exactly what she is (Debbie Wales at ShropGirlFriday). Sarah who cleans our offices is another star who saves us from the clutter that gathers around us as we work. And Peter who does our garden not only keeps the weeds in check but also has a key in case we’re delayed. He will walk our dog, or even take food out of the freezer when I forget. Our very good neighbour Richard also has a key. This sort of help is so valuable to working people – you may have a similar support network.

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Contracts – are they worth the paper they’re written on?

We’re encouraged to have contracts to protect every aspect of business life – but what are they really worth? In my experience, people will breach them if they are so inclined and, unless you have the appetite and money to take the offender to task, there is very little value to the contract. But let’s look at this more positively. A contract is the detailed, written form of an agreement between two parties and that is all it can ever be. There is however a much stronger and more effective contract that is never written down. It is the contract of trust.

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A party menu from 25 years ago – Carpe Diem


This menu, found in a notebook recently, was written by my son aged 11. It was preceded by a guest list and followed by a list of presents he hoped for. The present list included computer games, an England shirt, cocktail cherries and “some real good trainers”. Apart from showing that he really loved hotdogs, this book, blank apart from 3 pages, gives me an insight into his thoughts at that age and takes me back to my own situation at that time. It was 1989, the year I started Alpha.

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Motivation – it’s whatever turns you on

As a business owner are you driven by achievement, the lust for power and authority or the need to have good relationships? According to David McClelland* these are the 3 main drives and we each possess a combination of them all. A predominance of one of the characteristics over the others determines how we behave at work. Can you recognise yourself in any of these?

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Minimum wage and the plight of the poor employer!

What is the value of one hour of a person’s time? (This is a question of economics, not of philosophy by the way – we all know that time is invaluable and it’s all we really have :-)) Is my time more valuable than that of a trainee because I have more experience? Or does it depend on what each of us is doing in that hour? Can I accomplish more in an hour than the shop assistant down the road, or the doctor in his surgery, or the accountant in his office? Sometimes maybe I can and other times not. It all depends on what I am doing for whom and the value that is placed on that work.

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Why do we buy? And how can we use that knowledge to sell?

3 reasons why I love the Vision Express TV ad:

1. The theme is heart-warming and emotional

2. The soundtrack takes me back to when I was a teenager

3. There’s a cute baby in it

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Learn from the lessons we’ve learned

There’s nothing quite like first hand experience to teach you lessons in business, and in life. You wouldn’t attempt to teach someone to drive unless you had driven for a number of years and were fairly confident behind a wheel would you? And yet every day, business people put their trust in consultants who acquired their knowledge at university, or their experience in an unrelated trade, and expect to achieve good results. It was mainly for this reason that we decided to prove our ability and credentials in the food sector about 5 years ago. We had already been in business for 20 years at that point but we wanted to give ourselves a real point of difference.

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Alpha Design & Marketing, Branding, Graphic Design
5 of the best things about 2013 at Alpha (and aims for 2014)

Best things about 2013:

1.Growth Accelerator – we are registered to provide this subsidised service to our clients

2. Existing clients – thanks for staying with us – glad we could offer Growth Accelerator services to some of you too

3. New clients – too many to list here but you know who you are – great to have you on board

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