From Our Business Mentors & Coaches: What Mattered to Business Leaders in 2022

2022 started with a degree of optimism, although most were still wary of the COVID-19 restrictions and other continuing issues from 2021 such as supply chain issues and staffing shortages. Below, we summarise what our business mentor and business coaches have identified as the critical issues and challenges for our clients in 2022.

Business Performance

Business performance was top of the list, with businesses having to navigate supply shortages, talent shortages and delivering financial performance in terms of profit, cashflow and returns. The focus was on optimising the profitability of products, services and customers, while delighting customers, moving proactively with demand, maintaining high quality and a tight control on cost structures, improving productivity, and implementing better systems and technology to carry the businesses forward.

Cyber Security

Cyber security has reared its ugly head for some years, with a crescendo in 2022. Business leaders are constantly being reminded that they must focus on prevention of systems and data being hacked. Breaches in 2022 included:

  • Crypto.com: Cryptocurrency was subjected to a serious breach at the start of 2022 which targeted nearly 500 cryptocurrency wallets. The hackers circumvented the site’s two-factor authentication and stole $18 million of Bitcoin and $15 million of Ethereum.
  • Microsoft: Computing giant Microsoft was hacked in March, and in the process Cortana, Bing and several other products were compromised.
  • Red Cross: A cyber-attack hit the Red Cross in January 2022 via a third-party contractor, resulting in more than half a million records being compromised, including documents that the Red Cross classed as “highly vulnerable”. This hack led to thousands of people having their sensitive data stolen, and most of the victims are currently listed as missing or vulnerable.
  • Medibank: In November, Medibank confirmed that the criminal entity behind the cyber-attack on their company had access to the data of at least 4 million customers, some of which includes health claims.
  • Optus: Optus announced in September that the personal details of up to 9.8 million Optus customers were stolen during a massive data breach. This data includes names, dates of birth, phone numbers, emails and home addresses, as well as drivers’ licenses and passport numbers in some cases.

War in Europe

Our Business Mentoring professionals understand that the war in the Ukraine has had a catastrophic impact on all people caught up in the conflict, as well as globally through the indirect impacts caused by supply chain shortages, escalating costs, and the spreading humanitarian crisis, which continues to challenge us all. This war has increased the risk levels of doing business.

COVID-19

COVID-19 has devastated peoples’ health and taken many lives. COVID-19 and related restrictions will continue to increase costs, decrease availability of staff, and create challenges with productivity due to flexible and remote working arrangements. The flexible working arrangements will in turn continue to reduce the demand for commercial real estate.

ESG Environmental, Social & Governance

ESG stands for environmental, social and governance, and it refers to the three main factors that affect the sustainability of a company.

  • Environmental aspects are now critical, with public companies, governments and other organisations rightly demanding action to reduce emissions and make improvements around sustainability.
    • Every business needs to implement policies around climate change, as organisations around the world scramble to meet the environmental demands of the Paris Agreement and halt irreversible climate change.
    • Those that have been decreasing their emissions have reported an increase in returns over time.
  • Social aspects of ESG require business leaders to better understand the relationships of their business with their employees, customers, the communities they operate in, and more. Workplace health and safety, product safety and quality, staff wellbeing and consumer protection are some of the many social metrics that are considered.
  • Governance is the aspect of ESG that focuses on how the company is run. This includes board composition and operation, compensation, strong company policies and control systems, firm oversight of corporate executives, honouring shareholders’ rights and providing them with good information and reporting, complying with regulations and laws, and generally acting as good corporate citizens.

Business Culture

Business leaders realise the importance of developing an inclusive, ethical and harmonious culture that demonstrates high standards from the very top of their organisation. This must filter down to all personnel, while maintaining a performance focus to improve the business’s sustainable competitive edge.

At the same time, the culture must support:

  • Innovation to maintain and develop the competitive advantage of the business
  • The advantages fast-tracked during the COVID-19 lockdowns:
    • Remote working
    • Use of virtual meetings to speed up communication and reduce time and cost of travel
    • Reduced office costs
  • Mental Health and Stress Management – Mental health and stress are still feeling the impact from COVID-19 restrictions, causing lingering problems. Businesses need to identify, support and assist their people suffering from mental health problems by directing them to professional assistance, offering time off or providing other helpful services.

Shortages of Staff & Talent, and Challenges with Retention

All business leaders appreciate the importance of good people, especially with the market’s current  shortage of talent. Any business mentor will tell you that attracting the right people and retaining them is vital. This in turn is linked to a good company culture that attracts, retains, encourages performance from and develops and invests in good people. Pleasingly, many business leaders have pivoted to new ways of working and into new areas of business, with business leaders working hard to predict future skills, operating environments for staff, and types of workforces they may need. This includes assessing which jobs will become obsolete and what new positions are likely to be needed.

Other Challenges

Other challenges identified by our business mentoring team in 2022 include:

  • Cost of living pressures and inflation – The cost of living has risen sharply, with supply chain shortages driving up prices that impacts us all in both our business and personal lives.
  • Interest rates – Central banks around the world have increased their interest rates in response to the inflation rates to attempt to reign inflation in. These rate rises have added to the cost of living and the cost of doing business.
  • Energy costs – Energy costs have started to rise significantly for electricity and gas as supply chain restrictions due to the Ukraine war continue. This will continue to severely impact households and businesses in the coming year.  Along with interest rate rises, this will reduce the spending power of households, reduce company profits and slow economies down – hopefully not sending these into prolonged recession.

Thank You

First, we thank our clients for their support in 2022 – a year that has been a very challenging one for many.

We also extend thanks to our business mentors and business coaches for all the help and confidential support they’ve provided for clients in 2022. Especially thanks for the many significant successes, where you have helped our clients identify and consider commercial and strategic opportunities, found efficiencies and cost reductions, and improved cashflows and returns through facilitating good adaptation, decisions, development and implementation.

Contact Us

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how one of our individually matched business mentors or business coaches can assist and support you in 2023.

Choosing between a Business Mentor or a Business Coach

At International Business Mentors, we are often asked, ‘what is the difference between a business mentor and a business coach?’.

 

Most people cannot distinguish easily between the two. Both offer expert assistance in business, and both have a very valid presence. However, we would argue there are many different aspects aligned to business mentors and business coaches, and there is much overlap between these.

 

A business mentor:

  • Acts as an independent confidential sounding board for your issues, ideas and plans.
  • Brings their own unique experience of life and business and is willing to share their skills and know-how with you.
  • Can provide business mentoring that helps you to focus and look at your business from different perspectives. This helps you to identify strategies and opportunities for self and business improvement and growth.

 

A business coach:

  • Is more specific and goal-oriented, helping to address specific performance areas either in yourself or in the business.
  • Can be of great benefit when a specific area or aspect of your business isn’t performing well and needs attention.
  • Will be dedicated to helping you achieve specific goals and improve the performance of your business.

 

For more detailed information on business mentoring and business coaching, click on the links below:

 

 

At International Business Mentors, we use a matching process that involves assessing all the issues that need to be addressed and the personalities involved in order to find a suitable business mentor or business coach to fulfill the requirements of each individual business leader. Business leaders tend to be Directors, Business Owners, CEOs or Senior Executives.

 

Issues Business Mentoring & Coaching Can Help With

 

The mentoring requirements for a match may focus on one or two areas. However, typically there are many complex issues, and these will require a more experienced approach. These issues or requirements may include:

  • You need to sharpen your edge in business
  • Transitioning support is needed as you work through rapid changes
  • The future direction of the business needs to be crystalised
  • The business strategy and performance needs to rise to new levels
  • New ideas and proposals need a sounding board
  • It’s lonely at the top and you need confidential and impartial support
  • Immediate issues need a fresh viewpoint
  • Development and transformation are required
  • You want to be challenged in your thinking or approaches confidentially

Whether you have a business mentor or coach, they will listen carefully to you and help you to think critically through your issues and opportunities. They will also help you to consider the business and yourself in a holistic fashion. This business mentoring process will give you greater insights and help you to resolve issues and opportunities such as:

  • Developing strategy
  • Firming on business opportunities
  • Tweaking your leadership approach
  • Dealing with supply chains, competitor tactics and operational issues
  • Understanding your business’ financial dynamics and the returns required to be successful
  • How best to deliver for your most important stakeholders

 

International Business Mentors can match you to a business mentor or coach who can help you to improve your business performance and facilitate your personal development, leveraging and sharing their own business and personal skills and experience. Our business mentors and business coaches not only meet our high personal standards of integrity and ethics, but also come with strong business skills and experience.

 

Contact us to find out how a business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors can assist with business performance, give confidential independent support and help your development.

Leverage Your Business Performance with a Business Mentor or Coach from International Business Mentors

A confidential business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors will challenge you to further develop your business and your own leadership contribution. Our business mentors and coaches deliver supportive relationships and can act as your personal sounding board. Your matched business mentor or coach will naturally fill any strategic or experience gaps from their own extensive business backgrounds.

Areas Where Business Mentoring & Coaching Can Help

Here are just a few areas where the right business mentor or coach can help you:

  • Critically reviewing your strategy as your strategic and confidential sounding board
  • Coaching you to develop further:
    • Frameworks to solve business problems
    • How to evaluate opportunities
    • Leadership capability
  • Getting you critically thinking about your business, such as:
    • Improving financial performance through incremental changes with customer relationships to improve cashflow, returns and profit
    • Improving your use of limited capital and funding to improve shareholder returns and net cashflow generation
    • Critically assessing your people
      • Have they retired in the job?
      • Or can you give them a new lease of life and motivate and lead them to higher performance and a more fulfilling business existence?
  • Increasing your long-term control over the operation of the business through better organisational structure, corporate governance, job accountability, and policy and procedures
  • Considering how to better focus, mentor and coach your people on performance, with a targeted performance-based business culture
  • Implementing better frameworks to encourage the generation and capture of high potential new business ideas
  • Improving succession planning and crystallising what you really want to happen further down the track to you, your people and the business
  • Getting staff back into the office, or getting staff out of the office!
  • Downsizing overheads and improving cashflow
  • Considering the extra funding needed to step up growth and push the business
  • Facilitating new markets, sales, customers and business growth initiatives
  • Improving complex business relationship problems, with a business mentor or coach who is independent of the enmeshing complexities and emotions
  • Considering your own leadership positioning in your business hierarchy and what structures will best work for the business objectives and the target culture you need to succeed
  • Improving your thinking on investment in people as a longer-term approach to developing people, improving their motivation and getting a return on your investment
    • Have you got the right people to underpin the future strategy?
    • How do you need to upskill your experience and skills to support the future strategy?
  • Help with navigating business and industry politics, using your business mentor or coach as a confidential and independent sounding board

The above are a few examples of how business mentoring can add more value to your business and help you develop further.

Get Matched to the Right Business Mentor or Coach

To be effective, business mentoring or business coaching must be customised to fit well with you personally, as well as your leadership and your business. To leverage your business strategy, performance and leadership with a perfectly matched business mentor or coach, contact International Business Mentors today.

Are You & Your People Truly Accountable for Business Performance?

As Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”

For your organisation and people to be truly accountable, they should not simply be taking the credit when it goes well or the blame when things go wrong. Accountability is critically about delivering commitments and producing the related outcomes, not just doing the job or its tasks.

True accountability needs strong commitments and then positive delivery.

Any business mentor will tell you that delivering on outcomes and strategies must be done proactively and thoughtfully, with initiative and careful thought required and action taken to achieve effective completion.

Increasing the level of accountability and delivery of outcomes tends to increase motivation, and the commitment to work contribution also improves with motivation and improved morale. This in turn leads to higher performance and improved overall individual and business performance success.

Accountability Must Start At the Top

When it comes to accountability, good business leaders must lead by example. They must set accountable business cultures, where everyone (including themselves) delivers on their commitments to doing their job well and delivering on outcomes.

Good senior leaders and managers understand themselves and their people. All good leaders will appreciate that each person and team has their own unique motivational drivers. These need to be harnessed to galvanise the individuals and teams to increase their delivery of committed outcomes.

If we are to accept responsibility and be accountable, each of us must strive to understand our own behaviour and the consequences of how it impacts on the business’s performance.

If an individual in the organisation does not accept responsibility for their actions or failures, it will be difficult for them to develop and enhance their contribution to the business, or for the business to succeed in its strategic objectives. It can also affect their career and development.

Further, it is not just motivational but strong senior leadership and management that is necessary for a business to achieve success.

Senior leadership and management are responsible for keeping their people (and themselves) in check and instilling trust and confidence throughout the organisation and with other stakeholders.

If the leadership and management are strong, delivering on outcomes, confident and trustworthy, then their people will instinctively have more faith in their leadership and be more likely to hold themselves accountable for their own actions and performance.

Tips for Improving Accountability

To deliver on strategy and performance, leaders must:

  1. Clearly define the business strategy and set challenging performance expectations
  2. Have well developed polices and organisational structures to set performance targets and to measure their delivery
  3. Negotiate to get committed accountability and responsibility for performance which cascades down from the overall strategies to business units and individuals setting targets, KPIs and objectives
  4. Lead well to facilitate the performance, accountability and target business culture
  5. Hold themselves and their people accountable to targets and objectives, with adherence to policy, procedures and target culture
  6. For all individuals and teams in the organisation, give and receive regular formal and informal feedback on performance, KPIs, delivery of outcomes and strategy, compliance with policies and procedures, motivation and living the business culture. Also take the opportunity to identify where the staff member can be trained and improved to enhance their contribution and their motivation. Then analyse the feedback and make improvements
  • It is very important to provide your people with regular feedback – both positive and negative.
  • Positive feedback creates a sense of accomplishment in the employee and further improves their ability and confidence, so that they work better to achieve their goals and objectives.
  1. Pay your people well for delivery and commitment to the business and its strategy, results, accountability, initiative, culture and policy
  2. Have an open approach to generating new ideas for improving the business and identifying new opportunities and threats, and have some formal appraisal of those ideas raised. This will get buy-in from your people and enhance the business
  3. Reappraise the strategy and performance expectations from feedback and results
  4. At least annually, clearly re-define strategy and performance expectations based on the previous year and forward-looking analyses of the existing and potential:
  • Markets, customers, sales, products and services, and competitors
  • SWOT analysis
  • Internet and social media, digital transformation, IT and artificial Intelligence
  • Operations and supply chain
  • Financial: analysis, performance and funding
  • Research and development
  • Organisation and people
  • Risk identification and assessment
  • Ideas generated throughout the year
  • Succession plans
  • Takeovers, mergers and divestments
  • Policy and procedures changes needed

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches are routinely asked how to identify accountability issues, put in place strategies to fix any problems, and make accountability a core part of the organisation’s culture.

Call us today to discuss how business mentoring can help you create a business culture of accountability within your organisation to deliver performance and strategy.

Christine Cartney, September 2022

Strengthening Leadership Capability is Critical for Business Success

Leadership capability is a critical issue for all businesses and organisations, and it underpins the success of organisations globally. At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches assist business leaders to enhance their leadership capability.

Good leaders should inspire and develop themselves and their people to engender greater meaning and a gripping purpose. To facilitate such a change, the leaders should foster and embrace EQ and encourage this throughout the organisation. EQ is the ability to manage ourselves and our relationships effectively with self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Great leadership should aspire to a well-performing, empathetic, harmonious and appreciative leadership and workforce team operating together towards clear common objectives. This should be fostered within a strong culture that facilitates stronger customer loyalty, staff retention, deep satisfaction and better commercial outcomes.

Each business is unique, and leadership facing their own individual challenges and business opportunities. However, there are many principles and practical lessons in leadership that can be applied to many businesses. A well-experienced business mentor can support you and help you develop what is needed to improve your organisation based on your specific circumstances.

The Key Areas of Leadership Capability

As a start point to building leadership capability, the following key areas should be questioned:

  1. Distinguish between management and leadership
  2. Move beyond ‘leader’ into ‘leadership’ development
  3. Use meta-competencies and character development to enhance leadership capability
  4. Focus on creativity and innovation
  5. Conduct impact evaluations
  6. Follow best practices

See below for details of these key leadership capabilities areas for questioning:

  1. Distinguish between management and leadership
    Leadership is about exercising influence to mobilise others to collectively tackle difficult challenges and achieve organisational results, whether they are in a formal management position or not.
  2. Move beyond ‘leader’ into ‘leadership’ development
    Leadership development is not just about a focus on specific individuals, but also expanding the thinking to the leadership capacity of the whole organisation. This means developing leaders at all organisational levels and boosting the collective leadership capacity for the future of the organisation. This, in turn, empowers employees and bolsters employee engagement.
  3. Use meta-competencies and character development to enhance leadership capability

Competency models emerged in the 1970s to codify the required behaviour for specific managerial positions. Competency models were originally established by identifying the behaviours that led to past successes. However, today we would examine the mindsets needed for the future of the organisation, as things will have changed and evolved. Using only competencies for establishing leadership development, which is a good start, may fall short. This is because leadership is also fundamentally about relationships, as well as the individual leader’s competencies. The modern solution is moving towards using ‘adaptive’ or ‘meta-competencies. These are the sets of knowledge, skills and aptitudes that underpin or allow for the development of other competencies, especially those that people will need in the future, such as enabling learning, adapting, anticipating and creating change.

Developing character is also key to effective leadership development.

  • Competencies get us to the doorway of leadership, but character gets us through the doorway and into leadership.
  • Managers tend to control resources to get results, but leaders exert character to build a sustainable future.
  1. Focus on creativity and innovation

Any good business mentor will tell you that great leadership is needed for innovation, as modern businesses must create and adapt continuously to survive and succeed. This is driven by highly competitive and changing markets, and significant evolution in the ways of doing business such as online, artificial intelligence, and shifting business environments with cultural and political changes and economic shocks. Leaders must establish work cultures conducive to creative thinking, adaptation and innovation to develop a greater competitive advantage. This continual renewal process will also motivate the leaders and the staff to greater efforts and increase job satisfaction and productivity for increased energy and results.

  1. Conduct impact evaluations

Conducting evaluations is a vital component of the leadership development process itself, with three main benefits: extending the reflective dimension of the process by inviting participants to consider the value of their experience and how they apply it; gathering valuable suggestions for improvements to the process; and fostering employee engagement and loyalty.

  1. Follow best practices

Consider the following 14 best-practice principles of leadership development:

  1. CEO’s commitment
  2. Strategic orientation, alignment and scope
  3. Senior management’s involvement
  4. Clear and relevant program goals and objectives
  5. Careful selection and mix of participants
  6. Comprehensive and integrated assessment
  7. Thorough preparation process
  8. Pre-entry feedback/coaching sessions
  9. Business mentoring and coaching or peer coaching
  10. Highly experiential approach
  11. Reflective learning and journaling
  12. Building social capital through networking
  13. Program follow-up; and
  14. Evaluation

By implementing the above, organisations can empower their leadership and workforce to promote distributed leadership and a better performing organisation.

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how a business mentor or coach can assist with your organisational leadership challenges.

By David Cartney, August 2022

Gaining Respect in the Workplace

One of the critical factors highlighted by the pandemic is respect. Higher frustration caused many people to overreact, ranging from rudeness to abusive behavior directed at undeserving people just doing their jobs or unsuspecting customers. As a direct result, many businesses have tightened their procedures and codes of conduct, and many have joined an informal movement promoting and demanding respect be adopted in workforces nationally.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches are assisting business leaders to develop strategies to ensure a respectful workplace for all employees, stakeholders, and customers.

The Benefits of a Respectful Workplace

Giving more respect has many benefits in any organization:

  1. Increases job satisfaction
    1. Better staff retention
    2. Reduces conflicts
    3. Better attendance
    4. Better work done
  2. Strengthens employee engagement
    1. Deeper commitment leads to more quality outcomes
  3. Creates a fair environment
    1. Allows for the job at hand to be focused on
    2. Less focus on unfairness and arguing about it
  4. Is a stress reducer
    1. All staff will be more relaxed and less anxious in the workplace
    2. Improves focus
    3. Increases bonding between the staff in their teams
  5. Improves knowledge sharing
    1. More trust leads to better knowledge sharing and cooperation
  6. Increases productivity and results
    1. All of the above leads to better productivity and improved results
    2. These assist in reducing the risks to the organization from internal conflicts

How to Show Respect

Showing respect comes in four basic forms: tolerance, admiration, deference, and acknowledgment. Respect can be shown through:

  • Showing gratitude
  • Offering to assist others
  • Empathizing with different perspectives
  • Doing what you say you will do
  • Disagreeing respectively
  • Considering yourself
  • Complimenting the achievement of others
  • Calling out disrespectful behavior
  • Avoiding self-destructive behaviors
  • Affirming people’s opinions
  • Actively listening to others

Why Respect is Important

If people are respected and valued, this promotes a positive work culture where employees are loyal, fulfilled, and motivated to perform at their best for their company. People who are disrespectful of others are less than professional and threaten the performance of their company.

So, it seems clear that respect must be built into the DNA of organizations, procedures, and codes of conduct, and be closely monitored to ensure that these are consistently considered and applied and in compliance with regulations, industry best practices,s, and government laws.

There are many areas that impact respect and unacceptable behavior in business, and governments have legislated around the globe or set up inquiries to make improvements. Such areas include sexual harassment, workplace bullying, age/race/gender/other discrimination, modern slavery, and whistle-blowing. For example, the Australian Government set up the Respect at Work commission with a report in March 2020. The Respect at Work report aimed to provide a new framework for the prevention and reporting of sexual harassment. This report outlined the context in which sexual harassment occurs and current legal and regulatory systems that can be improved to reduce sexual harassment. The Australian Government has now committed to implementing all 55 of the recommendations.

We as human beings react very well to positivity, and this relates to kindness in all aspects of our lives – at work, at home, or in the community in general. A major study in the UK last year (The Kindness Test) revealed people who receive, give or notice acts of kindness enjoy higher levels of wellbeing, life satisfaction, and performance.

It is crucial that business leaders adopt policies that will promote respect and comply with the relevant regulations and laws in all areas of their workplaces.

How a Business Mentor Can Help

International Business Mentors can provide confidential and supportive aid for business leaders across a broad range of areas. This includes helping you to consider embedding policies and practices into the organization’s culture as well as strategies to promote respect and ultimately increase business performance. Our business mentoring and coaching professionals are well-equipped to assist you with these processes.

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how an experienced business mentor or business coach can assist with policy development relating to respect.

Chris Cartney

July 2022

Check Your Business Moral Compass or Flounder in Deep Waters

‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently’ – Warren Buffett.

Organisations and individuals making poor choices in behaviour or expressed values will almost certainly lead to deteriorating business reputations. This decline can be severe, rapid and punishing in today’s viral digital and social media age, and may lead to substantial damage to any such organisations or individuals both in reputation and destruction of economic value.

Business leaders are seriously thinking about and changing their ongoing strategies driven by the last few years of enormous business disruption and evolutions, as well as the rapid adaptation in competitive behaviour. Business mentoring and coaching can assist with this, allowing you to identify factors impacting business strategies and business risk such as:

  • Supply chain disruption due to COVID-19
  • War events and sanctions with regards to the Ukraine and Russia conflict
  • Shifts in how people want to work (remote working)
  • Technology enhancements and disruption
    • Rapid digitalisation
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Robotics
    • 5G roll out

Over the past few years, many organisations have suffered with sub-optimal reputations in the wake of rapidly evolving societal standards, expectations and viewpoints. This has resulted in many organisations and individuals being assessed as acting inappropriately. As a result of the inherent business risks of such events, the senior leadership of many organisations are (as part of general strategy development) reviewing their ethical and moral strategies and their related policies and procedures.

These reviews are to better ensure that their organisation and people behave consistently in the right way and in acceptable ways to all key stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, their own people, governments and the general public to the fullest extent possible.

What Senior Leadership Needs to Focus On

Senior leadership should:

  • Reassess (i.e. audit) their organisation’s ethical and moral positioning and behaviour to better ensure that the organisation is acting appropriately and is seen to be ethical and moral, rather than not acting appropriately
  • Review their moral and ethical policies, such as:
    • Framework for making ethical and moral decisions
    • Ethical sourcing
    • Inclusion and equality
    • Bribery and money laundering
    • Modern slavery
    • Non-discrimination
    • Privacy
    • Environmental safeguarding and improvement
    • Media handling on moral or ethical issues
    • Employment checks on character of new employees
    • Ethical use of social media by employees and senior leadership
  • Consider and implement the appropriate target culture, policies and procedures
  • Review the principles and tone that emanates from the top of the organisation through the leadership levels down into the hearts of the organisation
  • Consistently ensure that image, marketing, advertising, all forms of communication (including email, social media and websites) and media releases conform with the moral and ethical projected image that is consistent with good business practice, while also conforming with the organisation’s ethical and moral policies
  • Support detailed policies and procedures implementation to ensure that:
    • Acceptable behaviours and attitudes are in fact embedded in all of the people in the organisation
    • These policies and procedures have robust mechanisms to make corrections to behaviour and encourage compliance and improvements over time
  • Use established frameworks for thinking in this moral and ethical space:
    • These are philosophical moral and ethical approaches needed to help resolve any related problems or dilemmas that may arise, such as:
      • Resolving conflicts between shareholders’ expectations and external expectations
      • Deciding what to do when specific stakeholders’ views or expectations are at odds with the organisation’s or leadership’s policies
      • Deciding what to do when various key stakeholders have differing requirements and disagree among themselves
      • Cross cultural differences or expectations in what is morally or ethically acceptable behaviours between your own staff, other organisations’ staff or in doing business across other countries or regions
      • Critically assessing the business’s own ethical standards from first principles, i.e. not just using current thinking which may be misleading
      • Developing individuals to become better morally and ethically

Contact International Business Mentors to find out how a business mentor or coach can facilitate business leaders to better consider and address critical strategic business issues from a moral and ethical standpoint.

 

David Cartney, International Business Mentors.  April 2022.

Challenging Business Mentor Assistance for Business Leaders

Your business is unique, with its own strategic, market and operational challenges run by you and your leadership team. To support you in your business, or members of your senior leadership team or other key people, you must have a well-matched business mentor or business coach who is a good fit with your strategic profile and specific needs.

At International Business Mentors, we routinely analyse business mentoring requirements. We then recommend a close match with a suitable business mentor or coach.

Business leaders effectively benefit from a business mentor in deep and broad ways:

  • As a sounding board
  • Challenge your thinking
  • Frameworks for business thinking based on practical business experience
  • Fresh approaches to opportunities and solving problems
  • Help you analyse critical aspects of your business
  • Help you to improve your competitive edge
  • Provide needed individual confidential support
  • Wealth of experience to draw on

A business mentor or coach guides you as a business leader to draw your own conclusions for decision making. They will challenge you on your purpose and ambitions and the business’s performance in delivering these in terms of your strategy, customers and operations, financial performance and returns.

  • Business growing fast enough?
  • Right markets? Right products, services and customers?
  • Profitable enough?
  • Good net cash flow and returns?
  • Optimal organisational structure?
  • Good well-motivated and performing people?
  • Appropriate leadership?
  • Good governance and policies?

Should You Get a Business Mentor & Be Challenged?

Although your business may be successful, you might need a challenge to deliver on its greater potential and to fill in any knowledge or skill gaps.

To challenge yourself with confidential support, you should get your own business mentor or coach who can confidentially and constructively question all relevant areas of your business’ strategy and performance, including customers, competition, marketing, sales, finances, funding, shareholders, people, operations and supply chain.

Other areas for discussion might include developing strategy, clarifying risk appetite, business purpose, values, mission, corporate governance, business and marketing plans, management, administration, diversity of products and services, and future business and succession plans.

Example Questions

Here are some examples of questions a business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors may ask to assess and approach some of these disciplines:

  • Are the profitability, returns and cash flow at a good level?
  • Does the business routinely forecast cash flow to track business performance?
  • Are profitable customers loyal to the business and love its products, services and relationship?
  • Have you got great management and financial control systems, audit and company policies?
  • Does the business’s culture reflect and enforce the purpose of the organisation?
  • Have you managed your supply chain to get good cost prices, sufficient credit and reliable supply?
  • Is there a marketing plan supporting the current situation and future expectations?
  • What are your points of difference and unique selling points?
  • Do you have a sustainable competitive advantage? How are you defending this?
  • Are prices with customers, products and services correct?
  • How will you grow the business? How will you fund the growth?
  • Do you conduct analysis of major customers for profitability and potential?
  • Have you evaluated the effectiveness of promotional activities, including online and social media?
  • Does your IT set up work well? Is it cost-effective and secure?
  • Have you got the right people for the business?
  • Is your organisation well-trained, operating efficiently and motivated to deliver performance?

Above are only a few of the questions your business mentor or business coach might throw your way. Call International Business Mentors today to learn more about business mentoring and find your own specifically matched business mentor or coach.

Kickstart 2022 Business with a Business Mentor or Coach

Many business people have faced difficult challenges over the past 2 years, while others have found new opportunities. Most may be glad to see an end to 2021 and are looking to progress forward. Now is time to regroup and plan for the years ahead.

To help with your forward momentum and growth, why not consider a well-matched business mentor from International Business Mentors? Our skilled and experienced mentors will cast fresh eyes over your thoughts and plans and help guide, support and challenge you to shaping your future. This will be achieved within a confidential and supportive relationship.

Finding the Best Business Mentor for You

Matching you with the right mentor or coach for business mentoring is what we at International Business Mentors do best. Here’s our process for getting you the best match:

  • We listen to you
  • We assess your issues and potential needs
  • We consider the best business mentor or business coach
  • We consider the best personal fit with you
  • We match you to a business mentor or coach

Your business mentor or coach will have broad and deep business experience. This, coupled with a positive constructive mindset, will add value to and challenge your thinking and approaches to business.

We know that the initial requirement that may prompt you to seek a business mentor can be the tip of an iceberg, or the first steps in unlocking great potential. Furthermore, once initial problems or opportunities have been dealt with, other strategic issues usually emerge.

International Business Mentors will get you to list your critical issues, goals and objectives. In preparation to get a mentor, you should prioritise and list your immediate, short-term and long-term challenges and opportunities, including:

  • What specific issues or opportunities need addressing?
    • Strategy
    • Boards, people, organisation or business culture
    • Marketing, sales or customers
    • Growth
    • Reputation, public relations
    • Corporate governance
    • Financial performance
    • Acquisitions or divestments
    • Banks, shareholders
    • Family business dynamics
    • Environmental considerations
    • Competition
    • Supply Chain
    • Operations
    • Systems or IT
  • What are your business’ goals in the short, medium and long term?
  • Which areas would like to improve your own business performance?
  • Do you have gaps in your areas of expertise?
  • Commitment
    • Are you open to consider possible improvements and other points of view?
    • Have you the desire to learn and improve your business?
    • Will you seriously consider your business mentoring meetings and look to make improvements as you consider appropriate?

Importantly, our business mentors or coaches are not management consultants. They are there to guide, develop and support you and act as your sounding board. They may disagree with your viewpoint and actively discuss such things.

Your business mentor or coach will have much in common with you, but they will also have their own business experience and frameworks of thinking. These overlaps and differences between you drive synergies that you and your business can benefit from.

All of our mentors and coaches meet our very high standards of ethics and confidentiality, as critically, a successful business mentoring relationship must be built on the solid foundations of trust and mutual respect.

Contact International Business Mentors today to benefit from the guidance of a well-matched business mentor or business coach.

2021: The Year That Was

As we come to the close of another challenging year, we reflect on some common prominent issues concerning our business mentoring clients. There are of course many other important concerns and developmental areas, but there is a pattern that seems to have affected just about all businesses during this time.

Our business mentors and business coaches have assisted and supported business leaders by working together through many normal business challenges, as well as through the many problems and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 disruptions.

One area that is rising is the chronic shortage of talent, which is frustrating and hindering business performance and growth. Finding and securing the right talented people has and will continue to be a critical concern for all businesses.

Supply chain disruption and escalating costs for shipping and air freight have been another blow, whereby essential products could not be sourced due to shortages, container supply, labour disputes and trade tensions.

The changing culture of staff working from home has also been high up on the agenda. Whilst some employees have embraced the opportunity to work from home, being able to avoid a commute, spend more time with their pets and be productive in a comfortable environment, many staff members have not been happy with remote working, nor have some businesses. Those who do not want to work from home may lack discipline, need closer supervision, or may become demotivated with the lack of personal contact with other members of the business. Businesses that have collaborative work environments and particularly in service industries have found the demand to work from home by staff is not optimal for their business models. Other businesses have been able to adapt and will enjoy lower property costs in the future, and may even get better productivity from their happier staff.

The pandemic has accelerated the uptake and regular use of virtual meetings, which has largely been successful. This approach does make teams work together easily and efficiently and with less travel time. Where individuals and businesses have not adapted to this approach, they are missing out on increased efficiency, better communication and reduction in travel and accommodation costs – benefits and practices that will extend well after the pandemic has long been consigned to history.

The impact on commercial real estate will continue as businesses contract their required office space due to working from home, but also from the competition moving into online shopping. Similarly, the impact on housing will change as remote working increases the spread of individuals and families to further distances from city centres. Remote working also increases the available pool of people for a given business, from local to inter country, and will impact labour markets by increasing flexibility and competition between potential candidates. It has often been the case that many new staff over the last 2 years have not actually set foot in the office or physically met with their employers!

Border closures have caused problems whereby people have been shut out of their state and indeed Australia. The risks associated with travel saw business leaders stranded with uncertainty of when they could return to their homes and businesses.

The online take up has been fast-tracked for online commerce and online learning over the last 2 years. To support these changes, large scale implementing of systems for online sales and learning systems environments has been a necessary survival strategy, but also a longer term sustainable competitive advantage. The COVID-19 period has changed demand for products and service, and this will encourage new market entrants into markets. Customers have also changed, with savings increasing as lockdowns have reduced opportunities to spend, such as travel. The travel and holiday industries have also fundamentally changed due to the high risks of lockdowns. No doubt the pent-up demand will eventually kick start these industries again.

Industries based around business failures are still ramping up, as many businesses fail as a direct result of COVID-19 lockdowns or changing demand patterns.

The enormous changes caused by the pandemic will have lasting consequences. Many of these will be positive for businesses and all people that work, but some can cause enormous complications, making things difficult for business leaders. The confidential support offered by a business mentor or coach can be a very welcome service to help businesses adapt.

Another rising trend is sustainability. Sustainability is now higher in the minds of the public, customers and businesses, and businesses are adapting to implement policies, good corporate governance and strategies that place sustainability as a high priority.

Looking to the Future

The outlook will no doubt improve as countries get COVID-19 under control and international and local borders reopen. Many business and individual frustrations will dissolve and businesses and employment will recover, with a positive growing future predicted to recommence.

Now is a good time to reflect and anticipate how 2022 will play out and how you might best position your business and strategy for that promising future.

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how a well-matched business mentor or business coach can give you confidential support.

Chris Cartney, December 2021

Sustainability Will Continue to Shape Business Thinking and Strategy

One overarching emphasis for organisations is now ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) focus on sustainability.

ESG comes with a recognition that businesses need to generally be more sustainable with regards to the wider environment and social context, as well as implement strong corporate governance to make it happen. This emphasis translates into ESG and sustainability being core to strategy and the development of a supporting corporate culture, acting with some urgency and focus to make it happen.

An ESG and sustainability approach typically takes a long-term view of the business, which may prove difficult for boards and senior leaders who typically face urgent pressures such as supply or pandemic crises. Our business mentors understand that when short-term decisions are needed to secure survival and required financial performance, it’s easy for sustainability to take a back seat.

As a result of such short-term pressure in the difficult business environments that board members and senior management find themselves, they may feel that they are spending too much time on the sustainability components of ESG, at least until survival is established! To counter that shorter time frame thinking focus, they may need to look at a refocus of the strategy, purpose and mission as well as getting greater diversity in their ranks to counter or to at least challenge the thinking approach.

Diversity

The thinking of boards and senior management towards ESG and sustainability does depend on their general outlook, experience and training. If these key people are too similar in these respects, then it would be a good idea to consider becoming more diverse. This can be done by introducing at board and senior management levels great people with new outlooks, experience and backgrounds. Just keep in mind that more diversity still requires the individuals to be the best at their positions.

Clarify the Organisation’s Purpose & Mission

To get ESG and sustainability into an organisation requires the organisation’s purpose to allow this. The organisation must refine, if required, its purpose to motivate and enable the board and senior management to consider the wider aspects of ESG and the time frames of sustainability. Otherwise, they may be diverted from a focus on ESG and sustainability.

Long term and sustainable strategy needs a clear purpose to underpin it. Therefore, a clear purpose and mission is needed to galvanise the whole organisation into appropriate actions. These should promote positive improvements in a sustainability-orientated culture to deliver on ESG improvements.

Other stakeholders will also value a longer-term sustainable corporate view:

  • Shareholders need a long-term set of goals to encourage them to remain and invest in the future. Unsustainability equals low returns long-term and reduced current values.
  • Customers want organisations to continue to supply and grow with them for the continued supply of goods and services
  • Suppliers want to supply sustainably into the future, reducing their risk and making longer term investment easier to make and fund.
  • Employees want to feel they have a long-term future, with growth and opportunities in an organisation with values they can relate to and support.
  • Local governments would like to have strong sustainable businesses based in their neighbourhoods to enhance the communities they serve.
  • Communities would like to have long term sustainable businesses to employ their next generations and support their local and global environments.
  • The general public and governments highly appreciate good corporate citizens to sustain the economy and provide stability in society.
  • Regulators want to work with ESG focused organisations who will help improve compliance and better deliver on the political imperatives on environment, social and governance issues as well as taxation.

A major framework enabling boards and senior management to deliver on purpose was developed by Rupert Younger, the director of the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation and the chair of the Enacting Purpose Initiative. His approach is SCORE, which outlines the five actions—simplify, connect, own, reward and exemplify—to help boards and senior management to articulate and foster a durable value proposition and its drivers.

Simplify

Enacting purpose needs to be simple and clear and understood by the entire organisation’s workforce, its wider supply chain, and other stakeholders. This must be communicated well and starts with a statement of purpose from the board.

The statement of purpose should:

  • Outline a vision for long-term value creation in line with its purpose
  • Define how the company aims to create value by fulfilling unmet needs in society
  • Acknowledge negative impacts that must be mitigated to retain public support and its license to operate
  • Present a distinctive message, not just the same as others
  • Be relevant to increasing social and environmental pressures
  • Comply with environmental goals

Connect

After communicating the purpose, the purpose must connect to the strategy and funding allocations. Short-term decisions might mean profits sacrificed for a longer-term objective e.g., abandoning a profitable product that is socially harmful or making IP available to help during a pandemic.

This needs a framework for prioritising long-term and short-term goals, even in the face of short-term pressures such as investors or shareholders.

Own

Owning the purpose starts at the top, with personal responsibility by each member of the board and senior management who must implement the structures, controls and processes to enact the corporate purpose.

Senior management must ensure that the purpose and mission is entrenched in the organisation through their own great:

  • Example
  • Communication
  • Active management of all their people to support the purpose and mission

The board and senior management must make (and be seen to make) their decisions with the purpose and mission in mind within an effective communication strategy.

In family-controlled businesses, the family members on the board and in senior management can be highly effective in ensuring that the purpose and mission steer the organisation’s decisions and culture.

Reward

Primarily through its remuneration committee, the board establishes the basis for determining remuneration and promotion throughout the organisation. Delivering on the longer-term purpose and not just shorter-term profit targets needs to the objective. A broader set of strategic and financial and nonfinancial metrics should be used to evaluate performance over longer time frames. This has implications for the structuring of compensation for senior executives. For example, after British taxpayers bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland during the financial crisis of 2008, the bank’s board of directors linked 25% of executives’ variable pay to key performance indicators in the areas of “customer and stakeholder” and “people and culture.”

Therefore, targets and objectives that result in rewards to senior executives for performance should be evaluated in terms of both the company’s Environment, Sustainability and Governance activities and the external impact of its products and services. The board and senior management must be aligned with the priority of the ESG issues, as these impact the company’s financial performance and should therefore be embedded into executive compensation. For example, carbon emissions are less material for an insurance company, but for a coal-fired utility company they certainly are a high priority.

Exemplify

The purpose and how to achieve it must be set in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

  • Quantitatively – Businesses can integrate reporting on financial performance with reporting on sustainability performance, showing how results in the two areas are interrelated.
  • Qualitatively – It is important to have a consistent narrative, including how the company and its people are fulfilling its purpose.

Delivering on Sustainability

Since sustainability is now a major global issue, businesses now incorporate policies addressing their capacity to meet the economic, environmental and social aspects within all facets of their business. This must reflect the organisation’s purpose, mission and values, strategy, and culture.  Further, proactiveness in sustainability is now being demanded by major stakeholders and the general community of businesses and other organisations. For example, the carbon zero targeting at the world environmental summits is a major goal and requires embedding decarbonising into corporate strategies.

Our business mentors and coaches at International Business Mentors consider environmental sustainability as part of strategy development as appropriate for the directors, owners or senior management that they confidentially support. Many initiatives are being addressed by businesses in the sustainability aspects of their strategy, many of which bring long-term economic benefits to their organisations.

Examples of sustainability projects in business currently include:

  • Carbon Capture
  • Energy and climate reduction with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation and adaptation
  • Increasing wateravailability and efficiency
  • Minimising food waste
  • Modern slavery reporting and minimisation
  • Plastic reductions and improved recycling
  • Reducing energy use and greener alternative sources
  • Social and ethical sourcing with traceability and transparency of products and materials
  • Sustainable agriculture and reduction in fertiliser use
  • Sustainable packaging design
  • Waste reduction and resource efficiency

The Push is On for Sustainability

Government, business and other agencies through innovation, legislation, regulation and policy are already driving towards many of the environmental, social and economic outcomes enshrined in Sustainability. There’s no doubt that this and general social pressures will continue to increase the focus and priority that organisations will bring to bear on sustainability.

Call International Business Mentors to discuss how business mentoring and coaching can assist you in addressing your strategic requirements and facilitate your thinking and development around sustainability.

David Cartney, November 2021

Business Leadership Must Consider Their Employees’ Mental Health

Great leaders are concerned not only for the performance of their people, but also their welfare, and that concern tends to translate into a supportive working performance business culture that, in turn, promotes better, happier and more productive business teams and individuals. Any business mentor will tell you that this is the key to maintaining business performance and achieving success.

As a great business leader, owner or manager, it is important that you fully consider your leadership role in terms of supporting your staff’s mental wellbeing, particularly during tough times.

Your employees (and yourself) will experience a variety of pressures on mental health, even more so in the current pandemic. Added to this is the fact that each person will have their own individual personal circumstances adding to their individual stress, and eventually their mental health and their performance.

Mental health pressure in the workplace can be a physical response to a deteriorating balance between job demands and the resources and capabilities of the individual employee. Mental health in the workplace is an issue business leaders cannot afford to ignore, as performance and well-being will drop if not addressed. This is especially true given that the pandemic has increased mental health problems generally and has become a more prominent feature across all businesses.

Workplace and home stress have both increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had the following consequences:

  • High infections, hospitalisations and chronic health and death rates
  • Poor trading conditions for most businesses
  • Loss of employment or reduced hours for employees
  • General negativity in pandemic news reporting
  • Changes in consumer and business confidence
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Lockdowns and social isolation

Each of the above has taken an enormous toll on businesses and people generally.

What Causes Workplace Stress?

Workplace stress can have many causes that impact mental health in normal times, as well as being relevant during the pandemic. These causes include:

  • Uncomfortable physical working environments – poor seating or workspace layout, elevated levels of noise, inadequate equipment, etc.
  • Bullying, harassment or discrimination
  • Excessive workloads with unrealistic deadlines, leading staff to feel under pressure
  • Lack of support and poor working relationships, fostering a sense of isolation
  • Job insecurity or lack of career progression
  • Poor leadership or conflicts in management styles
  • Staff carrying out tasks they do not have the required experience or skills for
  • Staff having little control over their workload or activities

When you consider the above list, it is clear that a number of these areas may be more prevalent for your staff in the current pandemic. In addition, the pandemic affects us all and therefore there may be a cumulative effect, creating a culture of stress within the workplace that severely impacts productivity and the welfare of your teams.

What Are the Signs of Workplace Stress in Individuals?

Understanding the signs of workplace stress will help you understand how different people exhibit stress and how it affects their mental health.

Fundamentally, what is noticeable about stress or a change in the mental wellbeing of a member of staff is a change in their behaviour. Below are a range of indicators that may be a signal of an employee having their mental health impacted:

  • Altering work patterns – replying to emails late or early in the morning
  • Being vague or seeming unfocused
  • Consistently seeming fatigued or overtired
  • Incomplete projects
  • Increased irritability or conflict with others
  • Increased sick leave
  • Reduced quality of work or an increase in errors
  • Seeming unmotivated or disinterested in work

Of course, all members of staff are individual, so it is crucial to take the time to get to know each member of your team so you can spot the signs on an individual level. Of course, as their manager or leader, it is not expected that you act as a counsellor or mental health professional. However, you do have responsibility for their wellbeing and performance at work. The best approach is to be proactive by reducing the risks of your employees becoming stressed and ensuring that your team feel able to discuss any issues with you that may be concerning them.

Where Do You Start in Supporting Your Staff That May be Stressed?

Supporting staff to adopt strategies is a good start. Feedback from our business mentors and business coaches suggests the following strategies can be beneficial:

  • Regular contact:
    • Ensure that you have a method of maintaining regular contact with your team
  • Be socially engaged:
    • Organise a team or office Zoom meeting for Friday night get-togethers
  • Honesty works:
    • Try to be honest, authentic and sincere in what you say
  • Access support:
    • Ensure your team are clear about how they can access any support which is available through work, particularly for anyone struggling with mental health
  • Inter staff communication:
    • Ensure that all members of your team have effective ways to communicate with one another and have the right equipment to be able to do so
  • Self-care:
    • Encourage your team to take daily action for self-care
  • Fitness:
    • Maintaining exercise regimes
  • Have some ‘me-time’:
    • Allow employees to have a break and refresh
  • Nutrition:
    • Recommend a balanced diet. Some employers have had food parcels delivered to their staff, others have recruited dietitians to educate staff on the aspects and benefits of healthy eating
  • Positive thinking:
    • Give positive feedback and encouragement
    • Get them reading self-help positive thinking texts
  • Give your time:
    • Spend personal time with each individual online or in person as appropriate
  • Sleep:
    • Stress the importance of sleep for overall health, concentration, energy levels and overall mood.

 

Business mentoring from International Business Mentors can help you identify your people risks and put in place better strategies with your people.

Call us today to discuss how our business mentors can assist in your business.

Reboot Your Business Back to Basics

Businesses now live in a “new normal” which will continue to evolve rapidly, so all business leaders must now think carefully about what they should do to strategically meet the new risks, opportunities and challenges so they can succeed. A business mentor can be invaluable for this, providing different perspectives that might otherwise not be considered.

Business leaders must think about the following:

  • Where is your business now compared to where it needs to be?
  • You need to map out the past strategies, mission, values, capabilities, products and services, key relationships with all key stakeholders: customers, suppliers, staff, financiers, community, industry, governments, etc.
  • Compare to where you need to be to survive and thrive in the new environment, and find the gaps
  • These gaps need to be prioritised and the steps to fill these gaps need to be established
  • Filling in these gaps in priority order will underpin the success and survival of the business. These gaps should be implemented within a process of getting back to basics

Getting back to basics will allow for a considered, compassionate and responsive approach that adapts the business to needed changes, while still focusing on commercially strong leadership that every business needs now. Whether you have done well or badly through the COVID-19 epidemic so far, chances are you need to reset the organisation to get it back on track and be responsive to the changed business and social environment. Getting back to basics can energise the leadership and the business, enabling you to make necessary changes while focusing on your priorities. This approach should help businesses adapt and be better able to manage the uncertainties ahead in their business and social environment.

The evolving business environments are driven by:

  • The need to adapt businesses rapidly
  • Meeting challenges in:
    • shifting demand patterns
    • increased emergence of competitors
    • operational cost structures changes
    • increasing social expectations
  • These trends are leveraged further by
    • changes in technology platforms, systems, and processes
    • increased investment in Artificial intelligence
    • movements in social media platforms and advertising
    • Increasing mining of data and data analytics

So, what are the basics that you need to focus on to get your business more resilient in the face of increasingly risky business markets and environments? Our business mentors share what you need to know – read on to learn more.

The Four Starting Areas to Getting Back to Basics

  1. Set and stick to your priorities
  2. Take a hard look at your financial results
  3. Streamline and focus all systems on the top priorities
  4. Connect with your stakeholders and deepen relationships

Many businesses engage with International Business Mentors to get a business mentor or coach. Business mentoring can assist you in asking the right questions in this process to address the pressing strategic issues in your changing business circumstances.

Back to Basics 1: Set and Stick to Your Priorities

What are your 5 to 7 top priorities? These will depend on your specific business, the challenges you face in your business and what ultimately makes your business succeed. For example, for a consumer products and services company facing stiff opposition, these top priorities might be:

  1. Keep your best customers loyal
  2. Focus on quality of products and services and improve customer care
  3. Improve the transparency, online channels and reliability of delivery
  4. Get honest feedback from customers on products and services
  5. Ensure all staff are customer orientated
  6. Continuously improve delivery of products and services
  7. Ensure a good response from all key customer groups to advertising, social media and promotions
  8. Invest in image and brands

Anything not in the top priorities drops down the to-do list in Back to Basics 2 below:

Back to Basics 2: Take a Hard Look at Your Financial Results

Consider what you would do if in a couple of months’ time you had three months of effective shut down.

  • Calculate just how long the business would be able to continue until cash reserves or borrowing ability are gone
  • Which costs can be reduced immediately? Without impacting the priority areas.
  • Where are you profitable with good net cashflow? These are the areas to increase. Where there are negatives? Limit these areas.
  • Where can you generate cashflow immediately?
  • Are there any surplus assets that can be liquidated?
  • Can you get paid faster by customers and can you pay your suppliers slower?
  • Can you reduce stock levels, or in a service business reduce the length of time of work in progress?
  • Are there projects or investments (including Capex) that can be shelved until cashflow improves?
  • Only invest if the cash payback is very short-term, say 3-6 months
  • Are the cashflows being used to support the top priorities? Limit low priority areas.
  • Are your leaders and staff working productively, efficiently and cooperatively on the priority areas of the business?

All of the above seeks to focus attention on the financial performance of the business to improve profits and cashflow. Keeping debt down and deposits up in an uncertain environment makes sense, but only as far as the top priorities are being met, facilitating the success of the business in its markets.

Back to Basics 3: Streamline and Focus All Systems on the Top Priorities

Critically look at the process that deliver your products and services to your best customers and ask the following questions:

  • What are your critical systems to meet top priorities?
    • Ordering, procurement, CRM, delivery, after care, website, social media, data analytics, R&D?
  • Are all of these steps necessary in the critical systems?
    • Get rid of duplication or unnecessary steps
    • Speed up processes to gain efficiency
    • Improve quality of each step to improve customer experience and to reduce costs
    • Must establish whether your customers prefer the functionality of products or the personalisation of services
  • Does each step in your processes add value to your customers?
    • Ask for customer feedback and do basic research to align the steps in your processes that align with your customers’ own priority needs and value perceptions.
    • If non-value-adding steps are found, can you cut these (quickly)?
  • Is this the easiest and cheapest way to operate your systems?
    • What are your competitors doing with their systems that may be better than you do?
    • Can you have an independent review?
  • Is the complexity of your offering adding little to customers and much to your internal complexity and costs, and increasing the likelihood of mistakes?
    • You may have to rationalise the products or services back to the priorities that customers actually want.
  • Review current pricing levels, as demand has changed as your customers may have been very much directly impacted by the COVID-19 lockdowns
    • Pricing may be too high to maintain volume in your key market and customer segments.
    • Prices may be too low compared to your competitors or due to supply constraints or in the face of increasing demand.
    • The short, medium and long-term impacts on demand need to be estimated to aid the business in its future forecasts and its investment in the business in its product and service strategy going forward

Back to Basics 4: Connect with Your Stakeholders and Deepen Relationships

You need to have all of your priority stakeholders on side, be actively communicating with them, and reassuring them that your relationship is good, supportive and will deepen to benefit you both long-term. You must also convey that your business is solid and great:

  • to work for
  • in reputation
  • to buy products or services from
  • at valuing your customers
  • to supply and give credit to
  • to support with investment, debt or other funds
  • as a strategic partner
  • deserver of government funding and contracts
  • contributor to the community
  • holder and defender of solid values and behaviour
  • bastion of your industry and countries that you work in

To improve connectivity in these areas, you need to connect with all of your stakeholders on a regular basis. This will need a timetabled stakeholder connectivity plan. Relationship building will be key.

How to connect depends on the existing and target relationship and the state of mind of the recipients. For example, having empathy and taking time to listen to each other’s circumstances will build deeper and more resilient relationships to better serve all in the long term.

To get the support of a confidential business mentor or business coach to assist with the back to basics approach, and in other practical and strategic areas of your business, contact International Business Mentors today.

David Cartney

August 2021

Businesses Must Unlock Sustainable Innovation Now

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches facilitate senior business leaders and owners to rethink their business’s core skills to imbed continuous innovation to better survive and thrive.

Better innovation delivers more successful business models that enable businesses to better adapt to challenging market conditions and evolving operating environments. It also helps direct investment into future growth possibilities, while engaging key staff further into the fabric of their business through the lens of the future potential of the business itself.

Now is a critical time to consider unleashing continuous innovation in your organisation.

Your main motivators for adopting continuous innovation should be:

  1. The great current need to adapt to incredibly challenging and changing commercial and social environments, such as COVID disruptions, supply chain bottlenecks and the fast rate of social and geopolitical changes
  2. The need to motivate and retain your key staff by actively engaging them to think creatively about your business and its growing future.
  3. There is a need to generate fresh ideas about new products or service, or approaches to customers, suppliers or improvements to systems or operations, which in turn should improve your business.

How to Practically Kick Off the Innovation Process in Your Organisation

If you do not already have an innovation process or any input from a business mentor, then a good starting point is to create an ideas hopper. An ideas hopper is a central database that stores ideas from all of your staff.

A communication strategy with your staff needs to be developed to excite your people about generating new ideas, to introduce the ideas hopper, and to explain how the process will work to assess ideas and investment.

Senior leaders will need to consider how the ideas in the ideas hopper will be filtered and which filtration criteria need to be developed and implemented by the business, so that the business gets value delivered from innovation, such as:

  • The commerciality of the idea
  • The risks involved
    • Whether or not the ideas leveraged from existing (less risky) or yet to be found (more risky)
      • Skills
      • Technologies
      • Intellectual property
      • IT and operational systems
      • Processes
      • Customers
      • Supplier relationships.

Once the new business ideas have been filtered against the set criteria, those successful ideas meeting these criteria should be prioritised. The top priority items should be researched, and a draft business proposal prepared for senior management or board for consideration and subsequent approval to invest further time and resources into these priority ideas to improve the business.

A draft business proposal should assess the idea in terms of:

  • Overview of the idea and proposal
  • Fit with overall business strategy or new strategic directions required
  • Potential returns, impact on profits, profitability, returns, net cashflow
  • Overall risk
  • Likelihood of success
  • Timeframe to implement (short, medium and long term)
  • Project timeframes to complete commercialisation of the idea
  • Business case for the investment

Support for the draft business proposal needs to include:

    • Size of potential market
      • Potential pricing, direct costs, impact on fixed overheads, capacity to deliver
    • Will it be sold to existing markets and customers or to new markets or customers?
      • This is part of the assessment of the risk involved with putting a new product or service into its market or target customers compared to extensions to existing products or services
    • Analysis of competitors
      • This needs to assess the likely behaviour of competitors once the new product or service is in the market
      • This needs to be reflected in potential sales, cost to market and financial margins and requirements as part of the financial forecasts
    • Intellectual property implications
      • Does this leverage off existing intellectual property owned by the business?
      • How are you going to deal with intellectual property owned by employees?
    • Overall project timetable to develop the idea
      • Including go points and stop points which signal to senior management when to critically review the project and make decisions as to whether it should continue
    • Forecast of profits and cash flow returns
      • These forecasts must start during the development phase of any new ideas to capture the costs of developing ideas
      • The cost of the project should reflect the project timetable
      • The forecast should have a range of sensitivities to produce best case, worse case and most likely based forecast
    • Funding requirements
      • Funding will be required to develop and implement any new idea that has been through the filtration process
      • This should be part of each draft proposal

      Overall Requirements for Innovation from Senior Management

      It is essential that senior management and board control the innovation process to ensure that only the specified amount of resources is used in the innovation process. This will include setting the resources to run the innovation process, which will need a budget. It will also include just how much of staff time can be spent on innovation. This is to restrict the resources spent on innovation, but also to make sure enough resources are dedicated to the innovation process

      Senior management and the Board must also:

      • Set the criteria for the filtration process of the ideas hopper
      • Decide and communicate their appetite for risk in ideas
      • Portfolio-manage the innovation investments
        • For example: This portfolio will include short, medium and long term turnaround projects,
        • Consideration for risk of projects and size of investment compared to potential returns
        • Have limits set for investment in each area of the portfolio and the portfolio as a whole

      Reporting and Review of Innovation Progress

      There needs to be regular reports to the senior management and board on:

      • The size, composition and rate of growth of the ideas hopper
      • The draft proposals flow
      • Effectiveness of the filtration process
      • Existing new ideas projects in the pipeline, including:
        • On time re timetable
        • On budget
        • Whether or not these have hit stop or go points
      • Are resources used in line for the overall budget for the innovation process?

      Staff and Other Communications Review Innovation Process

      Senior management and board should ensure that appropriate and regular communication is used to encourage all staff to contribute to the ideas hopper and to give feedback on the development and implementation of new ideas into the business or its products and services.

      • Legal aspects of Intellectual property – Senior management and board should ensure that all legal aspects of intellectual property have been and continue to be adequately controlled.
      • Maintain confidentiality and control – All sensitive information in the ideas hopper and in the projects should be controlled to ensure that no commercially sensitive information gets into the wrong hands or the public domain.

      Other Aspects for Senior Management and Board to Consider

      • Obtain professional advice on intellectual property, taxation and the best possible business structure for innovation to be managed under
      • Senior management should review the impact of the innovation process on the motivation and retention of key staff and report progress to the board

      Innovation is a desirable approach for all businesses, and critically it has become an immediate focus in the last two years.

      As part of embracing innovation, a business mentor or business coach can facilitate business leaders to consider innovation processes and issues. Business mentoring can help provide focus with a necessary clarity of thought on what it is you want to achieve.

      The impact of better innovation will be to help you to re-define or tighten up strategy towards future growth, leveraging off the ideas from within your organisation and re-motivating your people to invest their ideas and talent into the business’s future directions while making them more loyal to the organisation.

      At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches can assist senior business leaders, boards and business owners to get into continuous innovation to better survive and grow their businesses.

      Contact us to get your own business mentor or business coach to help you into innovation.

       

      David Cartney

      June 2021

What Makes a Great Business Leader?

Reviewing our business mentoring clients with their business mentors and coaches, we have found some critical behaviours and characteristics of successful great business leaders.  A confidential mentor or coach from International Business Mentors can help you become a greater leader. Read on below or contact us to find out how.

What We’ve Found Makes Great Business Leaders

Critical behaviours, skills and competencies are used by great business leaders when faced with material change and stress. Right now, many businesses face critical human, market, social and political unprecedented challenges as we transition through the massive changes sparked by the COVID-19 human tragedy. This has also led to significant business disruptions and has been added to by other changes such as Brexit, and the change of the US president. Changes on this scale are critical, and leadership needs to proactively adapt and drive optimal business success given the changes we now face.

Great Business Leader Essentials

Great leaders must be able to proactively deliver excellent performance and results against strategic plans and budgets, and lead their people in a distinct and agreed culture that consistently delivers on the business’s vision, mission and purpose.

  1. Make consistent decisions quickly and with conviction
  2. Keep customer priority the focus and consistently deliver outcomes
  3. Instil confidence and strengthen support from your people
  4. Proactively and rapidly adapt to change
  5. Reliability and systematic approaches
  6. Understand what drives the financial success and push up the cashflow, profit and returns
  7. Get engagement and buy-in among your people and other stakeholders
  8. Pivot on technology, changes in demand, your skills and remote working
  9. Have a deep understanding of your business
  10. Get intimately involved in developing strategy and its delivery as business situations change significantly
  11. Understand your markets and changes in demand, competition and product or service development needed
  12. Consistently make customers and customer value delivery central to the whole business
  13. Put in place strong competition strategies
  14. Marketing and sales are actively managed to deliver profitable growth
  15. Operations are delivered efficiently, with continuous improvement and cost control
  16. IT systems architecture, security and social media requirements are in place
  17. Understand and effectively use finance, and know the important financial numbers and non-financial KPIs to manage the business going forward, including forecasts
  18. Understand the importance of and how to maximise net cashflow, returns and profits
  19. Deliver on compliance with regulatory requirements and reporting
  20. Safeguard the business assets and reputation
  21. Clearly identify risks in the business and take active steps to mitigate and manage
  22. Secure Intellectual Property
  23. Ensure all contracts have been properly reviewed to avoid unnecessary legal risks
  24. Develop your people to optimise the business
  25. Understand the labour markets for the business’s required type of skills and talent requirements
  26. Have strong communication skills and use these well
  27. Maintain important relationships and feedback with the important and strategic stakeholders
  28. Improve your own performance capability in leadership and skills base through training, industry or other groups and business mentoring

Make Consistent Decisions Earlier

Great business leaders consistently make decisions earlier, faster, and with greater conviction despite ambiguity, incomplete information or being in uncharted waters.

“Former Greyhound CEO Stephen Gorman led the bus operator through a turnaround, said, “A bad decision was better than a lack of direction. Most decisions can be undone, but you have to learn to move with the right amount of speed.”

Keep a Customer Priority the Focus and Consistently Deliver Outcomes

Strong leaders focus on what their customers want and single-mindedly deliver business results. They develop a deep understanding of what their customers want, and then align their people and drive performance towards creating customer value.

Instil Confidence and Strengthen Support from Your People

Great business leaders instil confidence in their people and lead for success, while making the tough decisions in pursuit of business goals using strong conflict management skills. They listen to their people, giving them a voice, not a vote, and then they make their decisions.

Proactively and Rapidly Adapt to Change

Great businesses leaders adjust rapidly to changing environment with their new challenges and opportunities. CEOs know that they are many times more likely to succeed in changing environments if they adapt rapidly. This is an area where a business mentor can provide invaluable assistance.

Reliability and Systematic Approaches

Great business leaders are reliable, have a strong team around them, are particularly good at managing their organisations and have great planning skills. They establish business management systems so they are organised and know what is happening. This can include predictable focused meetings, dashboards of metrics, clear job descriptions and responsibilities (including their own), and monitoring performance and results from many angles to help make rapid course corrections.

Understand What Drives the Financial Success and Push Up the Cashflow, Profit and Returns

Understanding the financial dynamics of the business is fundamental for any great leader, as they must understand:

  • What is driving profitability now and in the future
  • How to keep a lid on cost structures
  • How to manage the balance sheet to optimise net cashflow and reduce the need for funding from an external provider
  • How to improve efficiency and productivity
  • Which products or service or customers give the best possible financial cashflow, profits and returns
  • Where the best potential is for future financial success (in what time frames) from products, services, customers and markets

This financial understanding needs to be coupled with an understanding of market potential and the elasticity of demand and the likely direction of suppliers’ prices and credit terms as the business expands or changes its offering, volumes and mix of business.

Pivot on Technology, Changes in Demand, Your Skills and Remote Working

Technology has allowed retailers to switch from physical outlets to online selling. Changing customer demand has been met by service businesses re-evaluating their skills base to target new customers or new services, or both. New technologies and operational models have been adapted quickly to evolve rapidly to compete in the emerging market opportunities. Great leaders find navigating change rewarding and they better compete in the markets than those slower to adapt.

Strong Communication Skills

Great leaders effectively communicate their strategic direction and positioning, their ideas, values, visions, missions, policies, advertising and offerings broadly with the following important relationships:

  • Customers
  • Shareholders
  • Debt providers
  • Employees
  • Suppliers
  • Labour markets
  • Partners
  • Alliances
  • Governments
  • Competitors
  • Public

A confidential business mentor or business coach can help you become a greater leader. Contact International Business Mentors today to find out how.

Strong Effective Communication Helps Your Business Prosper

Communication needs to be very well done in both communicating to and listening to people. But for this to happen, you must have a great communication strategy in place.

A communication strategy is a plan to achieve communication objectives. This may apply to internal communications, marketing communications or public relations.

A communication strategy has seven major components:

  1. Identify the target audience to communicate with
  2. Determine communication goals and objectives i.e. why we want to communicate
  3. Develop key messages i.e. what we need to communicate
  4. Develop a tactical plan of how we will communicate, to whom and when
  5. Decide which channels we will use
  6. Identify and set measures of evaluation so we know if we are successful
  7. Implement the communication strategy and evaluate

Any business mentor will tell you that good communication is always vital in business. Communication becomes even more critical during periods of significant change. The last year has forced major changes on all businesses, elevating communication to the critical range of risk and strategy.

Major Changes Businesses Are Adopting

Potentially significant business changes by owners, senior executives, shareholders and boards include:

  • “Pivoting” the business strategically into new areas
  • Addressing marketing and advertising campaigns
  • Revamping the business due to COVID
  • Dealing with a public relations crisis
  • Getting the business ready for sale or growth through acquisitions
  • Having brilliant new business ideas to evaluate and invest in
  • Engaging with business mentors to provide a fresh perspective
  • Redoing IT architecture
    • moving into the cloud
    • using new ERP and CRM software
  • Refunding or raising fresh equity
  • Renegotiating with suppliers or establishing supply chain alliances
  • Reorganising physical offices and operational spaces
  • Right sizing the staff and organisation structures for the changes to come

In the absence of an effective communication strategy, what you’re trying to achieve might not work. This can impact your relationship with stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, your people, funders of the business, potential equity partners, business brokers, potential buyers of the business, industry, and society as a whole. If you do not succeed in effective communication, then you may have doomed your business to second rate performance, or worse.

Strategic communication skills go far beyond basic communication skills into the ability to carry out organisation communication and demographic analysis, understand modern communication styles, and craft messaging for a global or specific audience.

Communicating and Listening Are Always Business Critical

To be effective, communication needs to be tailored to its audience and be relevant, current, clear, concise, accurate, and without pretence or jargon. In other words, it needs to be easy to understand, even if it is dealing with complicated or specialised information meant for experts.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches often help business leaders to develop their communication strategy or respond to specific needs. A problem with communication is that we may know exactly what it is we’re communicating, but this may not always be appreciated or understood by others. Fresh eyes from a business mentor can help you re-orientate and improve your communications strategy and implementation.

Another consideration in communications is how you communicate digitally, as this needs to be done properly, on the correct platform, for those it is aimed at.  Likewise, in traditional print media, the correct publication needs to be impeccably sourced, and the messages tailored appropriately.  Some things to consider:

  • Are we empathetic and show responsibility in communications?
  • What is the message needed to be relayed?
  • What are the words needed to express this?

Communications generally need to be well established and maintained, reviewed, and delivered in a comprehensive and timely manner. Your people need to feel connected, valued and inspired to perform to their maximum, and your stakeholders need the relationship to develop and your communications to be well understood and delivered appropriately from their perspective and in their preferred media and style.

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how business mentoring can assist you with communication and other business challenges.

David Cartney, April 2021

Critical Talent Shortages Emerging Due to COVID-19

To deliver on your strategic and financial performance in these challenging and yet opportunistic times, you must get the best people on board. Yet this is an increasingly difficult task, as crucial talent shortages are emerging.

As restrictions on peoples’ movement have increased with the pandemic, particularly between countries and interstate, this has created skills shortages of critical staff in many impacted geographical locations. These localised skills shortages will continue until free movement of people can resume after vaccinations against COVID-19 have hit critical uptake levels. This improvement will only happen when there is broad willingness and confidence by people to return to travel between countries and interstate for their employment.

Currently, International Business Mentors is seeing difficulties in recruitment of top talent as being an emerging problem amongst many clients. The areas in which these shortages are apparent are in most disciplines and management levels, but the most critical include medical staff and IT – particularly across IT Security / Cloud technologies, Software Programmers, and System Engineering.

What Contributes to Talent Shortages?

People shortages are a global problem, and there are several factors influencing this trend:

  • COVID-19 has prevented or slowed the import of qualified people from overseas or interstate
  • Movement between countries and interstate has been affected, with border closures making it impossible to travel
  • Many candidates have lost confidence to move because of potential outbreaks and consequent tightening of restrictions
  • Costs of travel and relocation are high due to the low level of travel
  • Additionally, many critical job requirements that relied on overseas or interstate skilled migration are becoming even more difficult to find candidates for

Why Your Talent is So Important

We have previously discussed the importance of recruiting and retaining talent. Your best people are the backbone of your business; you want to recruit the best and keep them with you. Not only will your own business benefit, but you also need to keep ahead of your competitors. Getting the wrong people can lead to a lost market position and an erosion of competitive advantage. There’s also a direct cost in getting a hire wrong: It is estimated to cost up to $100,000 to hire the wrong person, once training and on-boarding costs are considered.

Keeping your best people in the face of increased head-hunting due to the shortages of talent must be considered a priority for all key people. See our article for tips: Using Positive Reinforcement to Improve Talent Retention.

Also, re-training key staff is part of improving performance and helps retain your key talent. Read the following article to learn more: The Importance of Retaining Top Talent.

In this competitive talent environment, you should consider using excellent recruitment companies to assist you in the selection, identification and attraction of key potential candidates from the job market into your organisation.

What Our Business Mentors Have Learnt

Feedback from our business mentoring and business coaching clients has shown that last year was an incredibly challenging time for trying to attract and find good top talent. The need for new talent has also been fuelled by the strategic need by many businesses to shift (or pivot) into new areas because of COVID-19 into new and innovative emerging business categories or directions.

With talent scarcity, you will find it increasingly difficult to get the right people. You must have the right expertise in recruitment procedures. Our business mentors have found that it is worthwhile for many businesses to invest in the engagement of a reputable recruitment firm with consultants who have speciality experience and a proven network of top talent in their field.

The service provided by recruitment firms, in most cases, far outweighs the cost of such services and improves the success in getting the right people. The right people have many upside benefits for the organisation, including strategic delivery and performance.

To find out more and benefit from the support and guidance of a business mentor or business coach, contact International Business Mentors today.

Christine Cartney, March 2021

How a Business Mentor Can Help You Consider Your Future Business Scenarios & Adapt to Emerging Business Trends

As we thankfully farewell 2020, we must reflect on lessons learned and think how our businesses could have performed better. If only a business crystal ball had had been available prior to the pandemic!

Few could have anticipated the challenges and hardships faced by individuals and businesses as a result of the pandemic. However, with 2020 behind us, we must all look to 2021 and prepare for the many possible business scenarios that we will face.

Given the significant business and social changes and disruptions that we have recently experienced, and may continue to experience in the near future, what business opportunities will evolve? Have you and your leadership team proactively prepared your business strategy for the coming year? Have you considered what is trending now in your markets, with customers demand and with your competition in their delivery of products and service to customers?

It is time to consider the various difficult and opportunistic scenarios that your business could roll out in the next year to better take advantage of changes using your already identified strategic competitive advantages. Strategy development and subsequent implementation is an area where a trusted business mentor can provide assistance, helping to galvanise your leadership and your people into action.

Through great communication with customers and potential customers, you can instil anticipation and direct their focus onto your offerings while improving customer relationships. Your suppliers will also benefit by good positive strategy and communication, as this improves confidence in you and your business which in turn will motivate suppliers and customers.

Why it’s Important to Look Ahead

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches are facilitating business leaders to think strategically and to crystalise, anticipate and evaluate scenarios to be planned and implemented in the coming years.

Scenario planning is about risk identification and management. Some of the scenarios thrown up will come with high risks and potentially bad financial performance. These need to be anticipated, and plans put into effect to reduce the risks and the potential downsides. This scenario consideration approach is much better than simply reacting to downsides when these occur, as the impact may have been controlled to a much better extent if anticipated and planned for in advance.

As we now see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we wait for the potential vaccines to be effectively and promptly rolled out. The post vaccine scenarios will allow us to kick-start our businesses, move on our strategies, and reconnect with staff, customers and suppliers. What will emerge post vaccine will be a new business norm, and a good plan of implementation of your strategy must be in place and not left until after the event. This may necessitate readdressing dynamically detailed business plans, renegotiating new contracts and policies, re-considering the appropriateness of current office or building space, optimising flexible working patterns to suit the strategy, and looking at streamlining all processes in operation, customer facing interfaces and IT platforms. And of course, your top focus will be how to connect better with customers and grow your business

In all these business adaptation processes, you and your business could benefit greatly from business mentoring and coaching from an experienced business mentor or coach.

Currently Trending Areas to Consider

Some areas that are trending now include:

  • Re-imagining IT platforms to better service customers, reduce costs, reduce investment in systems long term, reduce risk of failure, boost data security and loss of data, plus improve analysis capability of customers data to aid marketing and selling processes.
  • Artificial Intelligence – In this brave new world, we must anticipate and consider how AI fits into your organisation and how it will impact productivity and staff.
  • Diversity – How to create a workplace with a mix of age, gender, background and experience to optimise the business performance.
  • Flexibility – How best to work remotely and with flexible hours, to improve business performance and reduce costs.
  • Innovation – We saw some amazing examples of how businesses adapted to the COVID-19 challenges in 2020, but innovation needs to be proactive and continuous.
  • In person vs. virtual meetings – What works best for your organisation? Consider the time and cost factors, as well as the need for travel, reducing travel costs and increasing available time for your people to work instead of travel. Get input into how this could be developed further to maximise the benefits form virtual meetings.
  • Environmental sustainability – More pressure is now applied to businesses to create solid environmental policies that consider population growth, density, land use, climate change and waste. This is also part of good corporate citizenship and should be actively marketed.
  • COVID plan – All businesses must have an effective and compliant COVID plan, which will have long term implications for people who are now more sensitive to infection control and will change their behaviour. This will involve customers and your own people.
  • Safety in the workplace – Continue to improve your safe working environment. Especially consider operational safety processes, risk identification, reporting of accidents or incidents including near misses, industrial manslaughter, corporate strategy addressing mental health, hygiene, and social distancing.
  • Look for changes in markets, customer demand and preferences, operations, supply, competitors’ behaviour and their adaptations in the market, social media impacts, regulatory changes, and geopolitical trends. Consider if there is a need or advantage to readdress business plans, market tactics, purpose and strategy as a result.
  • Ethics and Values – Would customers do more business with your organisation if ethics and strong values are paramount to your business?
  • Risk identification and management – Are you monitoring and evaluating risks to the business in a systematic and reasonable approach? What plans have been made to reduce and manage the risks in the business plan? How often are these reviewed by the leadership?

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how we may be able to assist you with business mentoring and coaching from a qualified business mentor or business coach.

Get Support from an International Business Mentor

At International Business Mentors, business leaders approach us to find them a business mentor or business coach for a wide variety of reasons. Some are commonplace, while others are most unusual. However, a common requirement is a strong desire to have confidential and personal support from a well-matched and highly experienced and ethical business mentor.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, during it and predicting beyond, regardless of the imminent issues being addressed in business mentoring or business coaching sessions, the benefits of having a supportive confidant are considered enormous by those engaging with a business mentor or coach.  The competitive challenges that business leaders face in this rapidly changing business world are stressful, and business mentoring or coaching support can make a real difference to their business performance.

Individually Matched Business Mentors You Can Depend On

It has often been said ‘it’s lonely at the top’. This is a truism that has and will continue to hamper business leaders. At International Business Mentors, we individually match business mentors and business coaches to their mentees, according to the experience, background and skills needed – as well as that all important ‘personal fit’. There will be particular challenges that need to be addressed with your business mentor or coach, such as an immediate or long-term strategic decision to make or a direction to plot. Various scenarios will always be faced, and what all our clients require is a business mentor to give honest feedback, act as a guide, share relevant experiences (both positive and negative), give confidential support, and where appropriate, challenge.

What Makes for a Good Business Mentor?

The main aim of business mentoring is to provide support and development for business leaders.  Business mentors therefore need to give honest feedback and have wide business experience. They need to be encouraging and have the ability to be a business leadership role model, challenging, questioning, acknowledging and having belief that the mentee will develop and improve their business performance. Additional must-haves include great personal skills and clear communication.

Enquire with International Business Mentors Today

A business mentor or business coach from International Business Mentors will constructively challenge you as part of your development to help you move further in your business development. Call us today to discuss how a suitably matched business mentor or coach can assist you with your business issues and provide you with a trusted and supportive confidant to help you develop your business performance further.

Will Your Business Be the Same After a Successful Vaccine?

We live now with renewed confidence that a successful COVID-19 vaccine will be released and rolled out rapidly here in Australia and around the world. In this event, what will your business look like post vaccine?

The answer to this question will depend largely on the business sector and market dynamics that your specific business is exposed to. Strategic considerations and fast implementation will be critical to success post vaccine. At International Business Mentors, our business coaches and business mentors are deeply involved with their specific business mentoring clients, assisting them in formulating the next steps.

There are many unknowns to consider in the relaunch strategies after a vaccine:

  • When will the vaccinations begin?
  • How long will it take to roll out?
  • How long before general immunity is effective?
  • What are the priorities? Who gets it first, second and so on?
  • When will general confidence return to allow businesses to get going on the demand and supply sides?
  • How will the ramp up impact business?
  • Will demand patterns be permanently changed?
  • Will supply chains be disrupted, and cost structures changed?
  • Will there be enough funding to ensure the needed bounce back in economies?
  • Shall governments support business to get back and firing?
  • Will unemployment dampen demand?

How Have Businesses Already Changed?

Business MentorsThe good news from the pandemic is that many businesses have adapted and are ready to move to meet the new markets, demands and routes to market that changed behaviour. Just look at the switch into online business. The interesting areas will be the pent-up demand for services such as eating out, entertainment, travel, and a range of personal services such as in the beauty and health industries.

The use of more data to understand customers has increased during the pandemic, plus many businesses have developed artificial intelligence and upgraded IT architecture to deliver what the business needs seamlessly and efficiently. More businesses are turning to integrated systems in the cloud or private cloud, with data mining used to understand customers’ reactions to advertising and social media. This is extending to get more detailed direct feedback to better deliver customer value, allowing for quick improvements to be made to offerings in order to improve the customer experience. This needs to be done while keeping cost structures under pressure. These trends are leading to increased competitive markets, and are opening up new business opportunities, which is leading to more competitive fights for each good customer

With a business mentor or coach, business leaders can benefit from strategies and implementation plans to seize opportunities to succeed in these challenging and interesting times. In business, we all are evolving rapidly towards a new normal in each of our businesses and markets.

Impacts of COVID-19 that Will Assist Businesses Post Vaccine

Remote Working Reduces Travel and Office Costs

This has been embraced by large numbers of business staff. Working remotely will reduce the cost of doing business in the future by reducing travel costs and reducing the need for office space. Yes, there will still be a need for face to face meetings to develop and maintain personal relationships, but overall, incorporating remote working in the future can have a real cost saving for businesses. Many staff will also benefit from the flexible nature of remote working, which may be mixed with working in the business office from time to time.

Less Travel Improves the Environment and Saves Time

Less travel to meetings will help the environment and also save valuable time.

Better and More Hygienic Work Practice

Many people will permanently improve their personal and business hygiene environments, which in turn will lead to healthier staff and a boost in productivity.

Better Use of Technology

Staff use technology more now than ever before, with remote meetings, data transfers, and logging into remote servers and iCloud. Businesses have also had to adapt and upgrade their technology platforms and skills. This makes them more adaptive and helps to lower costs in the long term.

Creativity and Adaptive Behaviour

The pandemic has forced business leaders and their staff, often in survival node, to focus and think creatively to find new ways to deliver value to customers, to reach new markets and to make a profit. Adversity has made many businesses fitter to compete in the new increased competitive environments. Unfortunately, there have been many business casualties along the way.

The above topics are just some of the key areas where business mentoring or business coaching from International Business Mentors can help, with business mentor sessions available via virtual or physical meetings.

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how engaging a business mentor can assist you with your new business scenarios and opportunities.

Plan Your Talent Pool and Work Now to Recruit the Best

COVID-19 has changed just about everything in the workplace. This not only includes new compliance issues such as distancing, mask wearing, hygiene and remote working practices, but also the skills needed to relaunch your business. This is an area where many businesses can get an advantage by recruiting the best talent now, beating the competition.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches are currently assisting business leaders in identifying new and changing themes around what is needed and how to best fulfil these roles.

Adapting to Change

The areas in which talent will have a surge include IT, health and education, all of which have had an immense impact during the pandemic and will continue beyond the restrictions. Remote working and other advances in technology have also created niche IT markets.

Some positions will become irrelevant or redundant. If these can be identified, consider the possibility of upskilling those affected staff. Other positions will be created. As part of the future-proofing strategy, where possible you should plan for what those positions might look like and who will meet the requirements.

Whilst some larger corporations have their own HR and recruitment departments, most do not.  Unless you or your people have expertise in this area, we find it is well worth seeking out a specialist and ethical recruitment firm to headhunt or refer to their own databases to provide the best possible candidates. With so much uncertainty now, the top talent will be actively looking to the marketplace to find the best jobs for which they fit.

How Can a Business Mentor Help?

Business mentoring can assist business owners and business leaders in defining the talent pool needed for their business growth strategy. The right business mentor can also help to put systems in place to maintain and support that talent.

Once you’ve employed the best people, you need to have in place support mechanisms to motivate, encourage, reward and retain them. The best talent will be highly sought after, so don’t leave this too late. It’s a simple strategy really, but one that is often disregarded or not considered.

Of course, business mentoring and business coaching is far more holistic that just this issue and can cover just about every aspect of business development, performance and growth as well as governance. At International Business Mentors, we believe it’s of the utmost important to get a thorough understanding of what business leaders are grappling with, especially in these currently challenging times, then match them with the best possible business mentor or business coach. After all, good people are the backbone of a healthy business.

Our business mentors and business coaches can assist business owners and business leaders to identify what is needed, determine the best way to find talent, and then build strategies to maximise their potential and contribution to positive business success.

By casting fresh, independent and highly experienced eyes onto your business challenges, our business mentors and business coaches can be a valuable resource. Call us today to discuss your business challenges.

Preparing Your Business for Post-COVID with Business Mentoring

COVID-19 is reshaping our world, and as a result, you need to reshape your business. How will your business adapt, grow and prosper post-COVID? Business leaders are facing challenges never seen before, meaning the support and independence of business mentors in Melbourne is more important now than it has ever been.

To succeed post-COVID, you will need to assess the possible business scenarios that you face. You will need to select a strategy to take advantage of the possible scenarios. You need to direct your business to where it can be successful and comply with COVID safety requirements and regulations.

To start in assessing your future strategy, you should consider the following steps immediately:

  1. Assess the financial damage to your business and current financial strength
  2. Refresh your business plan for recovery
  3. Estimate the funding needed to support your recovery
  4. Revamp your recovery forecast and next budget
  5. Have a recovery timetable, stick to it and make it happen
  6. Develop contingency plans for the next phase of COVID or next disaster
  7. Improve business adaptability

These are just some of the scenarios a business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors can assist with. These steps are further fleshed out below.

1. Assess the Financial Damage to Your Business

To rebuild the business and develop scenarios, you must determine the extent of any financial damage to the business and the increased cost of business in the future.

Ensure that your financial information is up to date: i.e. the profit and loss, balance sheet and cashflow, and especially the cashflow forecasts. Assess the impact of the pandemic on sales, including impact on prices, volume and mix of business coming through.

Also consider any changes to staff levels and the use of premises such as head offices and operational properties, and consider what this means for the future configurations of working with staff and remote working. Determine if you need to gear back up the staff numbers in the likely scenarios in the future.

What has happened to marketing spend, and where will it be spent in the future to attract and retain customers and sales? Particularly look at the potential to further use online selling approaches and social media marketing.

Look at customers that you may have lost and come up with a plan to recover these. Also, look at continuing customers and think of ways to make them more loyal.

What is the ideal operating model and therefore the staff required to operate the business? What ramp up costs are involved, and the timetable required? If you’re unsure where to start, business mentoring can point you in the right direction.

2. Refresh Your Business Plan

Coming out of COVID will either take you back to how you operated with some tweaking required or a completely new business model will be required for the new normal in your markets. You should analyse your industry and specific markets to understand the changes resulting from COVID-19 and crystallise the optimum new strategy for your business. What is driving changes? For example, a new business model may be driven and depend on how you will interact with customers in the future. Perhaps the personal interaction in the past may be less important and become partially or fully online in the future scenario. These are areas our business coaches and business mentors in Australia can assist with.

Analysing how your overall industry has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic will be essential for developing the revised business strategy. Research your competitors and your industry, look for the new trends, and focus on new gaps in the market or new opportunities that are critical to recovering or expanding your customer relationships and sales.

You should look at the current strengths and weaknesses of your business and how these relate to the new normal in the markets. You may have to revisit your strategic plan and look again at your strategic competitive advantage given the changes you find, and any adaptation required to compete successfully in the near term and the longer-term future. You should also look for short-term opportunities that COVID has thrown up to use your spare capacity and drive up financial performance in the short term.

3. Estimate the Funding Needed to Support Your Recovery and Source Funding

Your revamped strategy will need funding, so you will need to understand your cashflow forecast going forward and funding requirements to deliver that strategy.

Funding is a constraint in any strategy. If it can’t be funded, it will not happen. So, you should consider if sufficient funding can be achieved by speaking to your debt and equity providers to negotiate the quantum and cost of any funding required. The funders will want to know:

  • Your revised strategy and the research you used in forming it
  • Assumptions used in modelling the strategy, and their sensitivity
  • Your forecast financials and their accuracy and robustness

The potential funders will also have their own risk appetite for their exposure in your business and the industry sector. They will look for security and insist on triggers of ratios or covenants to ensure that they can pull back out of the funding if things do not go according to your new plan, as agreed with them. This funding process may significantly change your scope, and a wider source of funding may need to be considered.

Funding may be difficult to obtain, particularly if your financial performance and/or security are not sufficient for the funders. Also, you will have to look at a wide range of funding sources. This review will start with existing and new potential shareholders. You can also look for any government funding or grants for support during COVID and then move into the debt funders such as bank loans or overdrafts, lines of credit, vendor finance, accounts receivable or debtor finance, order financing, equipment financing such as leases, and sale and lease back of assets. At International Business Mentors, we have experienced Melbourne mentors who can help you assess the range of possible funding options that come with varying interest levels, fees and security requirements.

4. Revamp Your Recovery Forecast and Next Budget

Your recovery from COVID will require extra costs compared with temporary lockdown or skeleton staffing during the COVID escalation. This will be aimed at increasing revenues and customers to drive the needed increase in profitability. The revamped budgets or forecasts will need to be leaner on expenditure than in past years so that costs do not outstrip revenues during the recovery stages. All costs need to be challenged, including unit costs from suppliers, accommodation cost levels and wage levels for all staff. This will focus management on the bottom-line improvements that will be needed to recover successfully. Management must also manage their operational balance sheets, such as reducing inventories and reducing receivables while optimising the use of suppliers’ credit to reduce the need for working capital finance and to improve net cashflow. The forecasts scenarios must build in flexing of cost structures if the volume of revenue is lower or higher than expected.

5. Have a Recovery Timetable, Stick To It and Make It Happen

It’s critical to implement a timetable plan in your revamped strategy to recover from COVID. With help from dedicated business mentors for companies, you can design a timetable to coordinate the effort and timing to implement well. Your timetable will need to detail who will do what (and when) to drive the implementation. No recovery may result if implementation of the refreshed strategy is poor.

6. Develop Contingency Plans for the Next Phase of COVID or Next Disaster

Business leaders need to consider contingency plans for any slips back into COVID or another pandemic, or other critical events, emergencies or extreme conditions. The need is to insulate businesses to the fullest extent possible against such future threats. This will involve risk reduction tactics and increasing financial, capacity and people reserves and financial resources against future disasters. You will also need to improve profitability and reduce operational balance sheets in terms of working capital requirements, all of which would also help prepare for funding the future.

7. Improve Business Adaptability

The pandemic has taught lessons in adaptability. With help from business mentoring in Melbourne, some businesses in adversely impacted market segments have been able to flex their businesses rapidly in response to their significant revenue downturns. Flexibility is possible in many areas and can include:

  • Adding flexible business modelling to evaluate quick changes
  • Creative thinking by the business leaders and all staff to generate improvements
  • Debt rescheduling and refinancing in conjunction with debt providers
  • Equity raising and being ready to do so
  • Finding new market niches in products, services, customers and delivery
  • Flattening organisational hierarchies and promoting project and teamwork
  • Flexing overheads to meet the reduced demand levels
  • Harnessing the online marketing and selling platforms faster
  • Improving collections and profitability with specific deals with customers
  • Improving credit terms with suppliers using supply chain management
  • Managing for increased productivity and cooperative business cultures
  • Reducing discretionary expenditure rapidly
  • Reducing unit costs by renegotiating with suppliers
  • Senior management and owners changing leadership approaches
  • Shareholders restraining dividends
  • Staff able to work remotely efficiently
  • Staff multi-tasking across job functions
  • Switching resources from low profitable to higher performing uses

Contact Our Business Mentors & Coaches Today

With COVID-19 reshaping our world, there’s no denying the need to reshape your business. It’s time to engage our business mentors in Australia to help you adapt to your new competitive landscape. Contact us today to benefit from our experience in mentoring teams and individuals.

Business Focus Should Now Be On Post-COVID Readiness

By Christine Cartney, September 2020

COVID-19 has permanently changed how we operate our businesses and also substantially altered how we think that our businesses should operate in the future.

Business leaders must lead from the front and deal with their business’s wider and immediate challenges to drive home the success that their business and their people should be aimed at. They must also look to the future business approach and configuration in order to successfully compete in the future and deliver longer term performance.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentoring professionals are seeing rapid changes in:

  • Markets to volumes demand, prices and new market entrants and departures
  • Competitor behaviours pressures on market share in price sensitive markets
  • Customer demands are changing fast depending on their own economic priorities
  • Service and product delivery have increased and gone faster to online platforms
  • Organisational changes have been forced to cope with rapidly changing markets with delivery changes. Made more difficult with increased remote working and pandemic security measures put in place for staff and customers
  • Distributed people – People working remotely has increased the use of online meeting platforms and raised the need for management to remotely manage, lead and monitor contributions. Online meeting forums for business interactions are evolving, making it important to get better at running efficient and effective online meetings to maintain and enhance productivity and leadership contribution
  • Competitive strategy has evolved quickly with the wide changes happening in many markets, and the evolution required will produce winners and losers in each industry and market
  • Online take up of ordering by retail customers and businesses has been substantial and only businesses geared up for this will be able to satisfy the demand from this on-liner demand

Business leaders need to harness these changes and set a new business emphasis to re-focus the strategy and all key people to grow businesses leveraging of these changes.

Which Businesses Should Re-Focus?

This need to re-focus applies to all businesses whether they are prospering or struggling in the short term. Even those prospering need a good solid plan for the medium term to ensure success is built on further. And for those businesses struggling, they need to exercise tight controls and be fleet of foot in their markets to increase their chances of success and survival. Specifically, they should stimulate demand from customers, control their cost structures and motivate their key people to take up challenges now.

Business planning for the next business cycle is now imperative, and you should:

  • Urgently define any significant changes you have already made
  • Prioritise the changes that you will adopt permanently
  • Plan what will need to be reinstated, altered or reversed

For these areas, a business mentor or coach can provide invaluable support for business leaders.

How Our Business Mentors Can Help

At International Business Mentors, we understand that businesses have different challenges, which is why we match you with an appropriate business mentor or business coach.

Some business mentoring challenges require highly detailed involvement to address the wide commercial challenges of a business, while others may be more focused, but all require a confidential and independent sounding board, and confidential support. And that is where one of our business mentors can assist you.

Some current examples of business challenges or opportunities from our clients include:

  • Business plans updates and monitoring
  • Cost reduction programmes
  • Dealing with and communicating effectively with lenders and shareholders
  • Dealing with the evolving GEO political landscape
  • Due diligence and acquisitions
  • Ensuring that customers are at the heart of the organisation
  • Firming up on the revised purpose, mission and values
  • How to leverage up the business using new technologies, including AI
  • Innovation and growth approaches
  • Reassessing strategy
  • Relocation of head offices and right-sizing property requirements
  • Re-negotiating with suppliers
  • Securing cultural and organisational change to meet new market challenges
  • Support mechanisms for staff
  • Tightening cyber security

Our business mentors and business coaches can support you and challenge you to work through your business challenges and opportunities, helping you to develop and improve your business performance. Contact International Business Mentors today to get your own business mentor or business coach.

Positive Leadership Outlook Needed for Business Fight Back from COVID-19

By David Cartney August 2020

Never before have business leaders faced a fight back in business as widespread as the one from COVID-19. Business success and economics are now colliding to frustrate the performance recovery. While support and guidance from business mentors can help, positive outlooks are needed by all in business as a strategic competitive advantage to assist with business recovery.

In sports, when a team is losing a match very badly, the team captain and the coach must lead the team and inspire them to believe they can win. Without this crucial change in group psychology, the team will not perform and take the fight to the opposition. It does need the captain and the coach to be aware of their own morale and lend themselves to positive leadership.

How Does This Translate to Business?

Any business mentor will tell you that in business, the leadership must harness and combine the efforts of their entire business team, including themselves. Leaders must move themselves and their team to fundamentally understand that each must become positively aware, and that each person must mutually support their team members as well as the leadership. All must work on improving positive morale of themselves and any team members they directly interact with. They need to facilitate the same positivity at home as well.

Steps for Improving Morale

Business can be rebuilt with individual and corporate positive mental attitudes. This will act as a buffer against further downward cycle of business morale, particularly as continuous bad news is bombarding each of us (and our families) from all directions. Negativity is seriously self-fulfilling.

Unfortunately, the current reality of the market and economy cannot be avoided, but tackling the business and its fight back is more likely to succeed with a significantly higher team spirit and positive mental attitudes from the whole team, including all leaders in the business.

Improving the morale in the business can start with small steps:

  • Make all communication positive
  • Online meetings must be positive with positive body language, e.g. smiling
  • Start positive conditioning through reading positive business books, e.g. The 5 Rings for Executives
  • Focus your team on long term business success
  • Ask for and implement any short-term wins that the team suggests that make sense
  • Ask for short term focus by each person on critical tasks to get wins
  • Look to your business processes and look for critical changes that ought to be made (this is an area where business mentoring can be beneficial)
  • Increase the quality of contact with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders
  • Actively look for and feed your organisation with good news
  • Keep criticism to an absolute minimum and increase diplomacy and good manners
  • Thank people for their contribution and single out any outstanding performance, including those great at positive behaviour and communication
  • All of the team, including the leaders, must learn to focus all of their attention for short periods of time to condition their subconscious and calm themselves, helping to reduce stress and repair their confidence so they can start to feel their own positive outlook improve

At International Business Mentors, we find that our business mentors and coaches are facilitating the positivity of business leaders in their business mentoring sessions. Contact us today to get the benefits of confidential feedback and support from a trusted business mentor or coach.

Why Engage a Business Mentor to Support You in These Difficult Times?

by Christine Cartney

Countless COVID-19 impacted business leaders could benefit from the support of a business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors can provide.

In the current challenging conditions, business on your own can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to ensure your business’ survival or maximise its potential. There are numerous strategies and approaches you can take and many issues to deal with.

A close relationship with a business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors gives you access to confidential support and lets you tap into their broad business experience. You get honest, confidential feedback and an independent sounding board.

How Business Mentoring Can Help

Business mentoring can help find common concerns on strategic issues among business leaders, including:

  1. Maintaining safe environments for their people, customers, and suppliers
  2. Improving service and looking after customers
  3. Focus on how to retain their best people
  4. Consistent and clear communication to their people, customers, suppliers and community
  5. Growing revenue faster
  6. Getting sufficient sales and marketing effort and CRM activity
  7. Improving cashflow
  8. Looking critically at cost structures for quick wins
  9. Developing what the future will look like for the business
  10. Planning for post-crisis organisation, marketing and sales efforts and operations
  11. Dealing with and ramping up morale and productivity at all levels
  12. Setting up efficient, collaborative and productive remote working
  13. Re-focusing and refining the business’s focus, purpose, values and mission
  14. Improving quality and speed of decision-making at all levels
  15. Reassessing risks and containment strategies
  16. Emphasising and developing better performance and leadership

The issues above and many more are currently challenging business leaders, but help is available from a business mentor who can provide confidential support.

Highlighting one difficult area for leadership is the focus on looking after and retaining key staff. This can be emotionally draining, as many staff are valued, long-standing, loyal colleagues with excellent work performance history, who may have become demoralised, less productive or making poor judgements due to stress. Further, some key staff have unfortunately become surplus to requirement as the COVID-19 crisis has deepened and market requirements have changed.

During COVID-19, the supports from governments have been highly welcomed by the community at large and business leaders in particular. These have critically supported people and businesses to maintain their businesses and jobs. However, these supports will eventually be phased out. And given the inevitable changes required in business strategy, there will be difficult decision-making due to the significantly altered staffing requirements for many businesses. Potential changes in staff requirements may be significant in specific businesses. This change in staff requirements will be driven by shifts in demand by customers and by required changes to the mix of skills, experience and numbers of staff needed to operate and adapt. Business leaders will need to deal effectively with the new emerging economic reality of their business sectors and markets by quickly adapting their business organisations, including people, to compete in the post COVID-19 competitive environment. Strategic shifting provides the best opportunity to remain afloat.

Examples of Strategic Shifts

Strategic shifts impacting organisational structures and people can include:

  • Increased demand for online buying and therefore a greater need for more people in online marketing, operational and delivery skills
  • Operational changes will flow from the increased flexible workforce continuing to work remotely
  • Operational structural changes due to a significant reduction in demand for bricks and mortar office space and the potential reductions in related office staff

Arrange Business Mentoring Today

At International Business Mentors, we individually match business mentors and business coaches to each business leader. Your business mentor or coach will then work with you to clarify your major issues or concerns and help you towards the best possible solutions.

To select the right business mentor of business coach to support you, we match you to their relevant experience, background, skills, and the all-important personal fit with you. Our business mentoring and coaching professionals must also meet our very strict criteria, including experience with all facets of business and ethical standards.

If you need to be confidentially challenged and supported in these difficult times, call us now to get support from a business mentor or coach.

Business Focus in These Uncertain Times

By David Cartney, July 2020

The power of staying focused in business in these uncertain times will reap benefits greater than getting distracted and losing your strategic focus and intent.

Even in “normal” times, it was often difficult for business leaders and their key people not to get distracted in both strategy and execution, causing tensions and poor performance due to contradictory moves in conflicting directions. This ultimately leads to poor business performance and failure against strategic expectations.

Here are some questions we should be asking:

  • Critically, in these difficult times with the COVID-19 pandemic still holding sway over people and businesses, how should business leaders reduce the impact of poor business performance with greater focus?
  • How can you counter the general lack of confidence of your own people due to the general bad news and business conditions?

A business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors can assist business leaders by facilitating the processes needed to focus on what matters most and ultimately improve business performance.

Some of these areas include:

100-Day Plan

The start point is for business leaders to clarify their short and longer term vision and distil the practical critical decisions and detailed actions required, enabling them to develop a 100-day plan to revitalise the business and meet their short term strategy. Then the leaders must communicate clearly to their people their revised vision and these short-term actions. The 100-day plan must emphasise deadlines that must be met and targets critical to the success of the business. This communication and the subsequent practical actions will get the organisation and people moving with purpose and reinforce their belief in business leadership.

Focus Your Informal or Formal Team to Improve Performance

Since focused teamwork will increase energy and focus, you can use teams (formal and informal) to energise your organisation and people to implement the 100-day plan. Teams tend to work collaboratively (including remotely and online) and can cut through unadapting formal hierarchy structures to get critical stuff done faster. Leverage your teams to actively promote new ideas and stimulate innovation in how you do business, helping to generate new opportunities and enthusiasm to get the business moving.

You must focus, coordinate and align these teams with your 100-day plan and the vision and strategy you have produced. This is an area where business mentoring can help. All teams, leadership and other staff need to share information and work together. This working in teams and 100-day plan will give the senior leadership time to assess the business and formulate the new organisation structure and business plans needed to support the longer-term strategy.

The teams will need to focus on the 100-day plan, and senior leadership should consider how to manage and support the current teams and the likely future organisation structures. This process of focusing the teams should centre on customer service and delivery of products and services, operational efficiency, systems requirements, purchasing, succession planning for all key people, purchasing and cost control, business culture and engagement, and later on, the possible delivery of on-demand organisational learning as well as information centres, analytics and digital HR tools to help people operate, share information and work together well.

Developing Your 100-Day Plan and Longer-Term Strategy

In these difficult times, you should be looking to uplift your business quickly by focusing on growth from where you are currently in the market.

Consider these areas:

  • Competitors analysis
    Look at where your competitors are succeeding in the short-term and look for where you can equal or do better. This will need speedy evaluation and rapid action plans to take advantage of current conditions, and it may lead to permanent changes in how you service your customers. It may also give rise to new customers, products, services or geographical areas, while also changing how you deliver and operate.
  • What is trending in products or services?
    You must evaluate demand both immediate and longer term. Is the demand simply an impact of the current lockdown environment, or is it a fundamental shift longer term? For example, the rapid move to greater online shopping is a trend that has been accelerated short-term but is likely to continue well after the COVID-19 crisis has been solved.
  • Re-evaluate your competitive capability
    What do you do that customers appreciate and are willing to pay for? Is it the product? Is it the delivery? Is it the service? Is it just the low price? Is it the geographic convenience?

Where to Target Your Business Focus

A business mentor can help you determine where your business focus should be targeted. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Focus Your Business Around and About Your Customer

Focus on what your customers or potential customers want to buy. Successful businesses know and understand their customers and what they want now and in the future. You must offer your customers what they want to buy. Focus your business as customer centric, not as product centric. Customers must be the focal point of decision making, service delivery and product creation. Your customers’ focus needs to be on your offering and business. You will do this only by delivering high value to your customers and thereby encouraging them to keep coming back for more. This also gets them talking about you and what you deliver to other potential customers.

Focus On Your Brand

In these difficult times, it is even more important to focus on making your brand experience stand out in the minds of your customers. Your business depends critically on your customers’ experience with your business. All of their experiences as they interact with your business will determine how fast you grow.

Therefore, you must make sure that every customer touch point works for the customers and is their reference point of your brand. You will need to proactively research all areas and get direct feedback from customers. This is preferably done external to your own people to get unbiased opinions and look for instant actions so you can take on board positive suggestions for improvements from customers.

Focus On Improving Positive Cash Flow

The life blood of all businesses is cash flow. You must get revenues up at good prices and margins to the extent the market will bear. Keep cost structures to a minimum, without destroying the strategic fabric of your business. Get cost reduction from your suppliers and better payment terms. Find ways to get more cash sooner from customers. Delay unnecessary expenditure on assets and all discretionary costs, again without destroying the strategic fabric for the business. Delay payments and dividends to shareholders. Delay wage increases. Consider headcount reductions. Re-negotiate remuneration and focus bonuses on short-term success to get things moving. Renegotiate with all suppliers – both unit cost and terms. Get more funding from both equity and bank sourced finance

Focus On Your Own People

Positively communicate the 100-day plan and strategy changes, and give strong and regular updates on how well you and your people are delivering. Get interactive feedback in these sessions and listen to your staff positively. At the updates, always ask for your peoples’ support to keep the plan on track for the benefit of the business and all people in the business. This approach should assist in the development of a sense of ownership, achievement and responsibility for the plan, and improve your peoples’ morale and group productivity.

Focus On Sales and Business Development

Focus efforts on developing new customers, retaining existing ones and expanding your territory to tap the untouched potential. Business morale and impetus increase when a sale is made, and no sales equals no business. Increasing the leads should convert to increased sales. You must review your leads and sales approach to get the sales rolling in.

Focus On Results and Show These On a Dashboard or Whiteboard

To keep everyone’s focus, including your own, any business mentor will tell you that it’s important to measure progress and performance daily. This will show where your growth is coming from, and where blockages or lost opportunities are piling up against your 100-day plan and your vision and performance goals.

You and your people will see your own and each other’s performance and will want to contribute rather than being seen to underperform. You want them to act as a self-regulating and motivating group to drive the common performance, be active and have a positive outlook needed for your combined success.

Focus On the Whole Business and the Critical Parts

Critically, in this business environment, you must focus on the entire business as an integrated system that delivers performance. Otherwise, you will develop blind spots and performance will fail. The system or business needs to deliver value to customers, attract and keep customers, and operate efficiently to deliver what customers value at the right cost structures, including efficiency, profitability, and net cash flow. The business must have well motivated people with good leadership and management skills and who can work cooperatively together in a healthy and competitive culture.

Improving your business focus in this environment is one of the areas in which a well-matched business mentor or business coach can greatly help.

Contact International Business Mentors today consider a business mentor or coach to improve your focus and support you in these difficult times.

Purpose – Why is Purpose Important in Business?

By Chris Cartney, June 2020

Your business purpose should resonate both with your people and customers. You should be envisioning your business as one where employees are excited to go to work and customers are loyal to your business without a second thought. Business purpose has been described as the “philosophical heartbeat” of a company. Greg Ellis, former MD of the REA Group, said his company’s purpose was “to make the property process simple, efficient, and stress free for people buying and selling a property.” This emphasised the importance of serving customers or understanding their needs by putting his managers and employees in the customers’ shoes. It says “This is what we’re doing for someone else.” And it’s motivational because it connects with the heart as well as the head. Indeed, Ellis called it the company’s “philosophical heartbeat.”

At International Business Mentors, we find that business people who focus on a clear and articulate business purpose are better able to drive themselves and their business forward. With a clear purpose, you are better able to develop a clearer business strategy, create better competitive advantages against competitors, inspire more focused innovation, improve brand trust and customer loyalty, boost communication of the business purpose that coordinates efforts of your people, reduce wasted resources on non-critical activities, and improve understanding by your customers. Ultimately, a clearer purpose and focus helps drive individuals and businesses to better business success – especially when coupled with an experienced business mentor.

Since personal purpose is the most basic reason for our own existence, it must also be true for a business. Once business purpose is defined, you can then clearly state your business vision and mission, and these become core to developing your business strategy.

The Golden Circle of Marketing

There is great business value in your business purpose directly supporting your marketing to your customers. According to Sinek’s Golden Circle of Marketing, there are three layers of how to market your business. You can talk about:

  • WHAT your business does
  • HOW your does what it does
  • WHY your business does what it does

Sinek calls this the Golden Circle of Marketing, with the “what” on the outside of the circle, then “how”, and “why” in the inner circle. A business’ “what” and “how” messages speak to their customer’s rational brain, and these explain the services offered and how they are offered, typically in a way that attempts to make that business stand apart from its competitors. However, most importantly, the “why” statement targets the emotional centre of our brains, which neuroscience has shown us is how we make decisions. Here are some great examples of “why” statements:

  • Under Steve Jobs, Apple’s mission statement was “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”
  • Starbucks: “Our mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”
  • Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
  • SEEK: “To help people live more fulfilling and productive working lives and help organisations succeed”.
  • LEGO, the world’s largest toy company, doesn’t just sell toys; it strives for “the development of children’s creativity through play and learning.” To fulfil that promise, it designs compelling sets of blocks that can be assembled in myriad ways. Just as critically, it fosters online and in-person communities of enthusiasts of all ages to inspire ongoing engagement, learning, creativity and innovation.
  • IKEA, the world’s largest furniture manufacturer and retailer, has a clear message about the value it offers. It promises “to create a better everyday life for the many people” – as distinct from the affluent few – by “offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”

How Business Mentoring Can Assist with Defining Your Purpose

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches help many organisations to define, refine, or update their business purpose. Business mentoring and coaching can assist business leaders to reassess their business purpose and strategy, providing support for clarifying your business purpose, vision and mission.

Our business mentors and coaches will ask many questions to help get to the heart of your business purpose and strategy development, including:

  • What is your reason for existing as a business?
  • What are your values?
  • What do you do and for whom do you do it?
  • What should you provide to your customers that they demand?
  • Why is your business uniquely capable of providing its goods and services?
  • Why do you serve your clients in the way that you do?
  • Why are you in this industry?
  • Why did you start this business?
  • What is your promise to your customers?
  • Who does your business benefit?
  • What image of your business do you want to convey?
  • What does success look like for your business?
  • How will you achieve your goals?

From your clear business purpose, you can then develop your vision of what the business should ideally look like in the future in a clear and memorable way. For instance, the Swedish company Ericsson (a global provider of communications equipment, software, and services) defines its vision as being “the prime driver in an all-communicating world.”

Once you understand and have embraced your agreed business purpose, you can inspire collective working towards that business purpose, which underpins the delivery of your strategic objectives.

Next, you can develop your business mission. The mission describes what business your organisation is in (and is not in), both now and into the future. Its objective is to provide focus for management and staff. For example, a professional services firm might define its mission by the type of work it does, the clients it caters to, and the level of service it provides. For example: “We’re in the business of providing high-standard defensible tax and legal assistance to senior managers and their clients in medium-to-large accountancy firms.”

Next comes the business strategy, which is a plan of actions or decisions to assist the business in achieving specific business objectives, both short and longer term.

Why a Good Business Strategy is Important

The business strategy is a carefully planned and flexible master plan that management implement to meet the purpose, vision and mission and secure the desired competitive position in the market, carry on its operations, service customers appropriately, and achieve the desired ends of the business both financially and in all other respects. This includes the desired image, direction and destination of the business. A good business strategy has objectives such as:

  • Achieving effectiveness
  • Perceiving and utilising opportunities
  • Mobilising resources
  • Securing an advantageous position
  • Meeting challenges and threats
  • Directing efforts and behaviour
  • Gaining command over the situation

Before your strategy is accepted, it must be critically assessed for market sensibility, operational achievability, financial viability and sufficiency of net cash flow, profitability, returns and ability to be adequately funded, as well as strength of supply chain, systems, online presence and senior leadership capability, depth of your people, and organisational ability to deliver. If it does not stack up, some rethinking may be required.

Strategy development needs fresh eyes, and our business mentors and coaches are well placed to lend you confidential, questioning and confidential support.

To create a positive performing business culture, business leaders should use the development process of the business purpose statement, vision, mission and strategy as a motivational process. For example, the business purpose statement must speak to the very heart of the organisation, should be something all of your people and customers can directly relate to and be inspired by, and become central to all of your business decision-making and the practices of the business.

For example, if the business exists to deliver the best customer service, then that must be the focus of all your people, systems, products and services. Once defined, you can then move onto the mission statement, which explains what a business does and who it does it for. You must choose who you are going to provide your products and services to and what you will offer them. The vision statements must envisage the long-term goals for the business’ success and future, while the values statements explain what is important to the business and help to define its culture. Values describe the desired culture. As Coca-Cola puts it, they serve as a behavioural compass. Coke’s values include having the courage to shape a better future, leveraging collective genius, being real, and being accountable and committed.

Assessment of Performance

Strategy and operational plans pull all these processes together and allow for periodic reassessment to see if all are pulling their weight in the right direction and performing or not. The reassessment also questions if the strategy needs a rethink given changes in the economic environment, customer demand patterns, competitor threats or opportunities, operational advances or problems, needed system or IT changes, people opportunities or threats, new opportunities such as new markets opening up, competitors for sale, new product or service developments or external threats such as trade wars, wars, pandemics, social movements, new competitors entering the market, supply chain issues or opportunities, etc.

At International Business Mentors, our experienced business mentoring and coaching professionals can support you in developing your purpose statement and strategy development, as well as carrying out assessment, as part of the business mentoring program and business growth strategy.

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how a business mentor or business coach can help you define your purpose and build your strategy to support this.

Strategic Business Innovation is Critical for Survival, Growth and Competitive Advantage in our Rapidly Changing Business World

By David Cartney, May 2020

Given the complete disruption to many business sectors with the current COVID-19 crisis, it is time to reassess your business’ capabilities and focus on what you should provide for both existing customers and new customers. This requires a healthy disrespect for what has succeeded in the past and a great deal of innovation and fast research. Therefore, one aspect of business where it is now critical to gain competitive advantage is strategic innovation.

How Innovation is Being Driven by COVID-19

“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat.” – Steve Jobs

We have seen strategic innovation leaping to the forefront for many businesses, such as switching manufacturing by innovating new products to meet the short-term demands of the current crisis. Service businesses have also moved from traditional approaches to increasingly supporting their clients or customers and taking a long-term view of these critical customer relationships. Their service offerings have also focused into new areas, such as support and business mentoring.

In Australia, we have seen examples of innovation such as distilleries now making much needed hand sanitiser. Clothing manufacturers have switched to produce protective clothing and equipment, such as hospital patient breathing ventilators. Restaurants and cafes adhering to social distancing guidelines have switched to new or greater take-away foods and beverages, as well as actively growing their home delivery options.

Just like creativity, strategic innovation needs a business environment of encouragement and facilitation. That is an area that a business mentor or business coach can assist with. Having run their own successful businesses and worked through many changing strategic scenarios, they can share their skills, experience and innovative skills to further assist business leaders to embrace their own strategic innovation as part of their evolving business models.

What is Strategic Innovation?

In a business sense, strategic innovation refers to creating more innovative business cultures and the supporting of effective business culture, processes, products and ideas. It must also deal with assessing and implementing the innovations by improving services or creating dynamic products, or both. Strategic innovation means evolving your business culture and model to make critical changes in your existing business ecosystem to deliver much better products or services. This requires you to actively manage your people, operations, sales and marketing, finance functions, funding, products and services, supply chain, systems and IT, social media and online presence, delivery, customers, and customer feedback. This must all be strongly focused on your adapted business strategy, which will need change and improvement actively embedded not just in the strategy, but in the business culture and mind set of all of your people in the organisation.

Strategic innovation must directly support your business growth strategy to not only create new sustainable and profitable products and services, but to stay ahead of the game and your competition, and also create new and longer lasting competitive edges. This is where a business mentor or coach can help.

Globally, strategic innovation has been pushed into an upward trend, and one of the themes is to create more environmentally sustainable products. This is something that governments and significant numbers of consumers demand more and more. In the UK for example, brewers are looking at replacing glass bottles with paper bottles. Nestle is researching and developing packaging to reduce plastics, reduce sugar and salt, and promote other healthier food options.

How Business Mentoring Can Help

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

As part of our business mentoring programs, International Business Mentors encourages strategic innovative thinking to maximise business potential. Our business mentors and coaches will challenge and support you in a confidential relationship aimed to improve business performance, support you, and facilitate you to more success. They will actively challenge strategic thought and processes such as new ideas and whether they’re good ideas for the business. They’ll also help address other important questions. What feasibility and market testing has been done? Does the business case stack up? What is the plan to implement? Do we have, or can we get the required capability and capacity, and can these ideas be funded? Will the innovations make a projected return that is acceptable given the risks? How does this new idea enhance the good reputation of the business and its leaders?

Our business mentoring and business coaching support is delivered by highly qualified and experienced business people. They are a valuable resource and significant personal support to you in this space. They provide a practised independent and impartial eye over innovation, business challenges and the wider and specific aspects of your business, while challenging you and giving you support.

Start Innovating Today

“Some people look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that are not and ask why not?” – Robert Kennedy.

Strategic business innovation is more than the next breakthrough of a product or service. It needs to embrace the cultivation of innovation, creativity and developing new ways to improve business processes and efficiencies. It also needs to be imbedded in the strategic plan for business growth strategies.

If your business sits on a knife’s edge for survival, or is in danger of the competition outperforming you as they evolve rapidly to compete in the emerging new business environment, then you need a business mentor or business coach.

A business mentor or business coach from International Business Mentors will guide, support and challenge you to meet emerging business challenges, re-align your strategy, and get you moving on strategic innovation to gain a competitive advantage and facilitate your business growth strategies.

Critical Review of Your Business During COVID-19

By David Cartney, International Business Mentors – May 2020

Coronavirus related disruption is a challenging time for all businesses, and especially for business leaders. Now is the time to review the short term and rethink longer-term strategies for an emerging future before your competition beats you to the punch. While it can be helpful to do this with guidance from a business mentor, even conducting a review on your own can be beneficial. Business survival is up for grabs, as are the future opportunities that will present themselves for those ready to succeed.

Business leaders should review the following critical strategic business areas during COVID-19:

  • Address immediate challenges or major issues to workforce, customers, operations, technology and business partners
  • Communicate factually and effectively to all key stakeholders
  • Customers
    • Take the pulse of your customers
    • Strengthen your relationships, support them and communicate factually and listen
    • Fix any immediate issues
    • Think how long-term shifts in core markets or business will impact your customers, what you offer and how to best position the business now and in the future
  • Fix short-term cashflow and funding issues
    • Protect revenue and financial performance with faster scenario planning and regular financial modelling to guide actions
    • Create fast start-back plans to get volume up and running and lock in any gains
    • Consider funding needs in the short, medium and longer term and seek funding as appropriate
  • Your people
    • Move faster with digital change and ensure that your business’ IT is capable of supporting your remote workforce, and all business-critical systems and your people have sufficient digital training and skills to work in this environment
    • Review any global mobility issues, travel rules, social distancing and virus prevention practices, first-aid plans and HR policies
    • Re-assess remote working strategy, including need to stop work or work remotely or relocate individuals
    • Consider a business mentor or coach for your key people
  • Supply chain
    • Review supply chains for short-term and long-term sustainability during the pandemic
    • Find alternative supply chain scenarios
    • Adapt allocations to customers and pricing strategies to reflect changes and limitations as well as long-term customer relationships
  • Regulations
    • Comply with government requirements in individual countries and local areas
    • Get to grips with how regulatory and competitive dynamics will change and impact the business
  • Strategy Review
    • Consider how to improve resilience to further shutdowns with contingency planning to cover such disruptions
    • Ask what is the new normal and how can you adapt your strategy to it?
    • Completely review medium and long-term strategy given the above factors
    • Involve your people, customers, operations, sales and marketing, IT, suppliers and funders in researching your strategy
    • Consider business mentoring or coaching to assist you in your strategy review

General Areas Likely to Change After the Crisis, Impacting Strategy

Businesses will realise that working remotely has worked well during the crisis lock downs, and the demand for large rented offices will likely drop sharply with more remote working in the future and more meetings and presentations held online. This will not be good for the commercial property market, as businesses will demand less space and may move more to shared business spaces and flexible space use.

After the crisis, there is likely to be fewer large department stores, with more online shopping and perhaps smaller retail footprints, and innovative mixed retailing and services evolving quickly. Retailers may partner further with more exotic services such as celebrity chefs, artists, opinion formers, bakers, authors and other well recognised brands offering a mixed service and retail experience. This will aim at improving brand awareness, particularly with those highly attractive online and wider audiences. Values such as business ethics or traceability of product origins and method of production may gain traction. This may arise as the current crisis has focused many people on the right things to be done. Unique and ethical products or services and their fresh brands will attract more customers, especially among the younger demographics. Collaboration between people has clearly increased during the crisis, and this collaboration will translate back into workplaces and across supply chains in the future.

Customers, particularly the middle aged and baby boomers, have also moved further into the online shopping space during the crisis, and this trend should continue. This is clearly the time to target these age groups with new online offerings of products and services. This move online will reduce both the need for retail premise space and the need to stock the past levels of product in retail premises.

Supply chains for all companies, organisations and countries that rely completely on China or any other single geographical source must re-consider their risk exposure and widen and deepen their future supply chains so they can cope if another pandemic strikes. Businesses should consider how best to support their specific supplier chains in the likelihood of future crisis events and collaborate with them in contingency planning and to solidify the business relationships.

Financial dynamics may have to be proactively re-engineered to reduce fixed overheads of businesses to reduce their financial risk in future crisis downturns. Such adaptation will favour flexible businesses with a history and mindset for lower organisation structures. To succeed in making such changes, business leaders will need to be flexible and develop more efficient work practices. This will need to be combined with developing and retaining good business knowledge, leadership, and understanding of how to maximise cooperation and get results. A well-matched business mentor or coach can help you and your business to adapt.

The Impact of Technology During the Pandemic

Technology has facilitated business, education, government, religious communities, membership organisations, and social interaction to a much greater extent than before the COVID-19 crisis, and communication technology take up will continue in the years to come. This has removed any stigma over working from home and will increase the use of remote meetings. The travel industry may face significantly lower business travel in the future, as businesses will now better appreciate the cost benefit of online meeting platforms to bring people together effectively and at short notice at low cost. Also, many of the travelling public may continue to avoid travel after the crisis as they realign their priorities and repair their own personal balance sheets. It is likely that the online travel industry will flourish further than those in bricks and mortar, who may well decline.

Technology in education has stepped into the pandemic breach and will no doubt play an increased role at all levels in educating future generations. This will further disrupt the roles of educators and change cost structures in education. This shift will suit most students in our educational institutions today who are from Generation Z, a generation that has grown up in a globalised world and are technology natives. This generation, the oldest of whom are now 25 years old, will have reflected on the impact on their education of this global pandemic. Many of them will face cancelled exams, sporting events and even graduations. This generation seems strongly defined by their technology environment, where the terms FOBA (Fear of Being Alone) and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) express their expectation of instant communication and feedback – effected through apps like Messenger, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Generation Z values greatly the power of working collaboratively to communicate socially and also to solve educational problems and mega challenges such as climate change and mental health. They also have a collective responsibility to self-isolate to protect older members of the community.

The technology environment dominance now includes not just students, but also older generations, and their parents and educators. This has been amplified with the current shift to remote learning and remote working.

All areas of service will move further online after they have realigned their service delivery during the crisis. This will range from lawyers, accountants and management consultants to medical advice, building services, food delivery, religions, clubs, music performances, training and education, and more.

Other Significant Business Trends After the COVID-19 Crisis

World Trade

The danger with world trade is that countries may revert to import substitution and higher tariffs to protect their domestic industries. This would reduce the potential GDP growth from trade worldwide, leading to significant inefficiencies at a much higher cost with lower choice for consumers.

Aid

Levels of aid budgets may not be renewed as governments struggle with reducing debt and re-balancing their own budgets. As a result, countries and organisations dependent on government funding may find they are no longer able to be funded. The same reduction in contributions will be true for funding that is traditionally provided by individuals who have faced the economic consequences of the COVID-19 fallout. There may be a renewed focus by communities and governments to prefer to fund local charities and organisations to help their own people before providing aid overseas.

Changes to Saving and Investment Behaviour

Many individuals and businesses will reconsider their need for cash buffers and investment risks in the future, and net saving rates will rise. This will reduce levels of consumption and increase the demand for investments.

Innovation and Growth Areas

The crisis has encouraged innovation, and the new economic turmoil will throw up many new opportunities, with whole industries being disrupted. The potentially lower and higher value of real assets and companies themselves will also open up more opportunities for takeovers, start-ups and mergers.

There will also be a marked contraction in smaller businesses that will not survive the crisis, and a tendency for the significantly larger and well-funded organisations to grow as a result and solidify their market shares. Pressure to win business in shrinking or no-growth market sectors will further reduce profitability and marginalise more businesses.

Organisational Changes

All organisations should look at how they have coped during the crisis and adopt positive changes to organisation dynamics, improved service delivery, sales, operational efficiency and cost structures as a result.

Government Planning

Broadly, governments at all levels should urgently review what has happened during the crisis to discover what improvements can be implemented quickly to improve resilience against such events in the future. They may also look at permanently streamlining resources and focusing services to improve the cost vs. benefit of the services they deliver.

Taxation

In general, taxation will no doubt increase, at least in the short to medium term, to cover the much higher debt levels of governments. Governments should also look at what efficiency gains they can implement to reduce the cost of government and roll back any such short-term tax increases.

Employment

Employment will be forcibly restructured in many areas where business has failed or has significantly lower revenues or activity levels. This will lead to much higher unemployment rates than in the last 2 decades. This in turn will put pressure on the government’s debt to fund the higher unemployment, making paying back the significantly higher borrowing to fight the crisis much harder.

Conclusion

In conclusion, all business leaders should critically review their short-term and long-term business strategy on a regular basis to reduce risk and plan for the optimal future. You should do this even if the future is unclear, as stepping towards a new approach is going to clarify your thinking and harness your key people so you can proactively approach the future.

Contact International Business Mentors to find out how business mentoring or coaching can assist you with fresh eyes to review your current strategy and give you confidential support in these turbulent times.

Trends that Are Fast-Tracking Because of COVID-19

We now find ourselves in a surreal world where what’s normal is changing constantly, with more restrictions and unpredictable outcomes facing us every day. Mental and economic challenges are unavoidable, as are the many spin offs associated with them. Although it may seem hard to put a positive spin on things right now, we must look forward positively and prepare for a different future with new opportunities.

The COVID-19 virus has changed our behaviour as it continues to sweep through the world, pressurising countries, societies and communities into government-enforced lockdowns and social distancing to control the spread of the virus. This crisis will eventually pass and leave behind a legacy in new methods of working, new patterns of consumption, and new ways of interacting with our fellow people and businesses.

The consequences of social and business hibernation have been daunting, with survival as the main motivation for the majority. All governments have recognised the importance of supporting people and business wherever possible, with the emphasis on business to keep them going and to maintain jobs for our workforces.

A business mentor or business coach from International Business Mentors can offer confidential and independent support in these difficult times. In past blogs, we’ve discussed many aspects of business and how strategically useful it is to appoint a business mentor or coach to assist business leaders. Business mentoring can help business leaders to critically think about, anticipate and adopt emerging market and strategic competitive changes to build flexible strategies that further their businesses success. This is now crucial for all businesses, enabling them to reassess where they are at and consider their changing competitive landscapes so they can strengthen, grow and prosper.

To help you get started, this blog post will detail the business trends currently soaring as a result of COVID-19 and the restrictions enforced upon us.

Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings, as a necessity, have become the norm. We posted a blog – ‘Face to Face vs. Virtual Meetings’ – back on 24th January 2020, discussing the various pros and cons of each. But now that unnecessary contact and social distancing is prevalent, virtual meetings have exploded.

Many platforms exist, such as:

  • BlueJeans Meetings
  • Cisco Webex
  • GoTo meetings
  • JoinMe
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Ring Central
  • Zoho Meeting
  • Zoom
  • And many more

You need to assess if the virtual meeting platform works well with how you do business. You must also assess whether it meets your security and systems architecture sufficiently to protect your interactions, privacy, data and other hardware and software from unwanted cyber intrusions. Be diligent in your choice and keep your online security current and effective.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentoring and business coaching sessions continue to provide valuable assistance via virtual meetings.

Remote Working

Working from home or remote locations outside of physical offices is now widespread. Fortunately, technology makes this possible and allows many people to continue working very effectively and remotely. As a result, remote working will likely become more widespread in the future and reduce the need for the same volume of expensive office space currently used by businesses.

Flexible Working Hours

Working remotely allows many people greater flexibility to get the job done at a time that better suits them. For example, some people are at their most creative very early in the morning, so flexibility allows them to work at the best time for them rather than within office hours. Remote working also reduces travelling time and reduces the costs of getting to the place of work.

Is Flexible Working a Desirable Competitive Edge for Your Business?’ is a blog we published back in September 2018. Here, we discussed the relevant pros and cons for flexibility, which has since become a necessary component of running a business during the COVID-19 crisis.

Online Learning

Since many people have more time on their hands during this crisis, many have responded by using this time productively to upskill through online training or education. This will drive up the online training space and lead to a permanent shift in the demand for online learning. It will also increase skill levels in the short to medium term.

Innovation

Living with COVID-19 restrictions has resulted in most businesses prioritising the protection of their own people while continuing to run operations for as long as possible. In many cases (especially in manufacturing), both objectives require workers to protect themselves by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and increasing their use of disinfectants. Many companies have quickly built up new production capacities for masks and disinfectants above their own demand and started to supply frontline medical staff and others in their daily fight against COVID-19.

Here are some examples of changing businesses adapting to the crisis:

  • Hospitality industry, now providing accommodation not to tourists but providing space for quarantine centres
  • Retailers starting to shift personnel away from physical stores towards supporting digital customer service channels
  • In Germany, McDonalds employees are supporting retailer Aldi to cope with the customer rush
  • Car maker Shanghai General Motors Wuling (SGMW) was able to receive medical-grade textiles from a supplier that previously provided interior textile for cars
  • ZF Friedrichshafen, a German automotive supplier, bought a small, faltering face mask company in China, transported the machines to its factories, and produced 100,000 masks a day within two weeks
  • Gin distilleries and breweries are switching production to making hand sanitiser
  • Hairdryer manufacturers have moved into ventilators for intensive care patients in hospitals

There is great potential for all industries facing tremendous current demand disruption to adapt rapidly, if they have idle capacity which can be repurposed and developed to provide innovative solutions or products. This would include manufacturing, airlines, cruise lines, retail, health services, tourism, education and restaurants. A business mentor or business coach can provide valuable assistance to help your business adapt.

Online Health Services

During the COVID-19 crisis, there has been high demand for online communication, which has empowered greater numbers of patients to reach out online for health services. Physicians and medical staff can diagnose, treat and in some cases operate on patients without the need to be physically near them. Greater use will be made in the future of telehealth services largely involving remote consultations with health practitioners, often using video conferencing with doctors and nurses using satellite and mobile phones, email, etc. Even in urban areas, the demand for these services remotely will increase after the current crisis passes, as it reduces travel time, has become more familiar, and can be delivered more cheaply than traditional physical consultations.

Government Media

Direct information services to mass audiences, using text and other online media, will increase as a way of communicating between governments and their populations as a result of its importance during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Research Collaboration

Research collaboration to find vaccines for COVID-19 across borders and institutions will lead eventually to vaccines and will also increase medical research collaboration after this crisis.

Online Shopping

Clearly people are now more involved in online shopping, and this will lift future online shopping volumes.

Beauty and Wellness Industries

Beauty and wellness industries will need to adapt rapidly to counter fear built up in customers to a service that involves touch. When the crisis subsides, the use of technology and marketing emphasis needs to change.

The beauty and wellness industries have only been gradually migrating to cloud-based, always-on, device-independent software platforms over the last decade, but the current crisis will be the catalyst to accelerate their adoption. Online bookings, self-check-ins, automatic payments and other related features will serve to eliminate unnecessary touch-interactions.

Salons would no longer be social hangouts, with individuals not so comfortable waiting in a lobby with other customers. This industry, like all personal services businesses, will need to use smart booking algorithms that optimise appointments to minimise waiting times, as well as adopting no-touch technology to take payments. There will also be a greater need to visibly exhibit their improved health standards, such as removing magazines and instead providing digital content on their own devices or screens.

Technology will allow these new hygiene and distancing standards to be exhibited and included in personalised direct communication with customers. Referrals and ratings of the business will be viewed beyond the quality of the stylist to include the cleanliness and sanitation of the experience.

Learn More Today with International Business Mentors

At International Business Mentors, our business mentoring and coaching professionals have broad practical and strategic experience in running businesses. You can tap into their experience for impartial support, helping business owners and leaders to consider the various scenarios and challenges of their business so they can further succeed.

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how a business mentor or coach can support you and your business through these challenging times and beyond.

Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses

We all think we know where our own talents lie, and what we are not so good at, but what if our perception is not realistic? In a business environment, any perception gap of our strengths and weaknesses can negatively impact business performance. Recognising real strengths in the business and maximising contribution, plus developing strategies to acquire or develop missing critical talents, is a recipe for continuous improvement and competitive advantage.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentoring professionals are well experienced in identifying, assessing and developing competencies needed by business leaders to succeed. A confidential business mentor or coach will give you confidential and direct feedback to help you develop or fill gaps.

“Everyone, regardless of ability or disability, has strengths and weaknesses. Know what yours are. Build on your strengths and find a way around your weaknesses.”

  • Brad Cohen

Why is it Important?

Competence development requires competencies, technical knowledge and skill, which have been identified as essential to perform a particular task or function through analysis of a particular position.

There are generic and specific skills essential for business leaders that depend on the type of business, industry, business culture, technical skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to perform and potentially succeed in your business. If business owners, CEOs, Directors or senior executives are missing some of these skills or experience, then they may need to be either mentored or coached by others who do.

The independence and experience of a carefully matched business mentor or business coach can be extremely beneficial in this space. Having wide business experience, they know the importance of identifying the right people with the desired skills, culture and behaviours from all levels in the organisation.

What About Tools and Tests?

There are many available tests and tools to help you identify desired behaviours, talents, personal traits, intelligence and EQ, but these should be only a guide and must be considered in relation to the business’ specific requirements. This overall experience-based approach is an area where business mentors and coaches can help by providing confidential support and impartial and independent support.

There are many aspects of business where a business mentor or coach can help by supporting you to improve business performance across different areas. Some of these common areas include: Strategy development and implementation, contingency planning, risk identification and prioritisation, corporate governance, performance culture development, decision-making, adaptability, financial analysis, building rapport and relationships, commercial awareness, communication – online, written and oral, public relations, concluding deals, customer focus, delegation, influencing, initiative, innovation, judgement, leadership – both personal and strategic, planning, tenacity and resilience.

Each of these core competencies or skills must be tapped into to help achieve maximum business performance, driving us to be successful. Sometimes we all need guidance, prompting, support and encouragement to reach this end. The right business mentor or business coach can provide valuable insight and input in this space.

SWOT Analysis

One tool to consider using is SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). This is a well-used, simple yet powerful tool to help you develop your business strategy.

Strengths and weaknesses are largely internal to your company – things that you have some control over and can change. Examples include who is on your team, your patents and intellectual property, and your location.

Opportunities and threats are largely external things that are going on outside your company, in the larger market. You can take advantage of opportunities and protect against threats. Examples include competitors, prices of raw materials, and customer shopping trends.

A SWOT analysis organises your top strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats into an organised list, which is usually presented in a simple two-by-two grid.

Some business leaders think they already know what they need to do to succeed, but a SWOT analysis forces them to look at their business in new ways and from new directions. Our business mentors and business coaches are experienced and routinely oversee SWOT analysis as part of their business mentoring approaches, helping to develop strategic plans.

Call International Business Mentors today to better use your strengths and understand your weaknesses with a well-matched business mentor or business coach.

Often Overlooked Business Talent Are the Seniors in the Diversity Pool

The focus on diversity in business continues to be embedded in the thinking and culture of organisations globally, along with the benefits of embracing relevant diversity policies.

“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.” — Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google

However, the diversity debate centres largely around the benefits of having more gender balance in the workplace, and this focus often overlooks another powerful and advantageous contributor to the business – seniors!

“When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organisation.” — Pat Wadors, Head of HR at LinkedIn.

At International Business Mentors, we are routinely asked to provide business mentors and business coaches to assist business owners, CEOs and senior executives in developing business growth strategies, supported by good and strong culture development. Culture as part of that strategy needs to enhance and retain the best possible talent pool and appropriate diversity in the organisation in the widest sense of diversity, including age profile.

The Value of Senior Business Talent

The concept of more senior age and how we perceive it in terms of business contribution has changed enormously, particularly in the last few decades. Whereas once thought of as ‘over the hill’ and ‘past it’, the perception of seniors has changed to ‘experienced’, ‘interesting’ and having a great work ethic. And no doubt, the extension of life expectancy, increased lifelong education, experience, and fitness of people generally have all added to the increased potential for business contribution from seniors.

It would be unrealistic to put an age defining number on working seniors, just as with younger employees – individuals have different competencies and qualifications.

Many businesses, including professional services firms, recognise the valuable contribution more mature people make, not only in the job, but as valuable support for younger members working on their careers, which is a type of in-house business mentoring role.

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.”—Malcolm Forbes.

What Seniors Can Offer in the Workplace

Some older workers may not have the same tech-savvy skills as some of their younger colleagues, although some certainly do, but they do have years of in-depth business experience. This is something that cannot be easily taught or replaced and includes:

  • Good leadership skills – This is often associated with stronger communication skills than their younger colleagues
  • Well-developed commercial appreciation – The seniors have seen many business cycles, opportunities and challenges that younger staff have not yet experienced
  • Experienced eyes for risks and returns
  • Know what they want from employment – Older people have been working their entire lives and are often not searching for the next opportunity like younger workers. They tend to be more stable
  • Excellent work ethic
  • Loyalty
  • Strong networks – Older workers have been in the workforce longer and they’ve had more time to meet people and develop contacts and network

While younger employees make important contributions to the workforce, have more recently acquired skill sets (especially in technology), and have high ambition, drive and enthusiasm, mature employees also have great contributions to bring to the business table.

Changing Out-Dated Thinking Towards Senior Employees

The Human Rights Commission in Australian – as well as similar institutions in many other countries globally – recognises the importance of employing seniors. The Australian commission is focused on addressing barriers to equality and participation faced by older Australians. This is achieved through research, education and policy activities to build awareness of the damaging effects of age discrimination and the waste of productive resources. There have been many enlightening stories of beneficial and successful outcomes from businesses who have embraced creating a diverse workplace capitalising on greater senior contribution.

At International Business Mentors, we have a diverse range of business mentoring and business coaching professionals. These meet our strict criteria covering business experience, qualifications, skills and strong ethics.  We match each business mentor or coach with an individual business leader according to what is needed.

Call International Business Mentors today for a suitably matched business mentor or coach to assist you and your business, helping you to develop an effective workforce and culture to support your strategy.

Business Challenges in 2020

It’s only March 2020, but already we have seen an extraordinary start to 2020, much of it devastating. Extreme weather – drought, catastrophic fires, red dust storms, destructive hail and then floods – together with the global threat of coronavirus has marred what should have been an optimistic start to a new decade. All of these factors will negatively impact business growth in the first two quarters of this year. Yet, in the true Australian spirit, we are getting on with rebuilding and trying to get back to business.

The Australian economy is still on track with some of the highest infrastructure investment across all states. The rebuild for the fires and storms will also help the economy to recover in the second half of the year. The extent of the coronavirus on tourism, accommodation, air travel, education and related areas will depend on the control of the spread and the medical response’s effectiveness. The effect of the virus will likely be global due to slowdowns in China and their trading partners worldwide, leading to China already taking measures to stimulate their economy.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches have identified common themes across most business sectors. Whilst many business challenges remain ongoing, more recent issues have emerged to dominate the business landscape. Here’s a summary of some of the biggest challenges facing businesses in 2020.

Sustainability

Sustainability has rocketed to a priority for most businesses and needs to be incorporated at the level of businesses strategy. Business policies will also need to be directed to embrace the need for improving, developing, delivering and creating initiatives to better impact the planet’s environment. The sustainability pressure on business is ramping up from customers, employees, politicians, stakeholders and the community at large, who are all demanding action in this space. It would be potentially disastrous for businesses to ignore sustainability. Taking action is also the right thing to do.

Safe Working

After some terrible industrial accidents, Worksafe is cracking down. For example, new legislation will be delivered to enforce jail terms for employers who do not provide a safe working environment for their workforce. Again, being compliant is a moral obligation, but safety in business should be demanded by all concerned.

Employees, Salaries, Awards and Compliance

Worker underpayments (being dubbed as “wage theft” in Australia) have made headlines and attracted the ire of not only the staff involved and unions, but also the general community, and rightly so. Employers must ensure their workers are paid fairly and keep up to date with relevant laws. Legislation is being considered to make this a criminal act.

Technology Changes

The rate of technology changes is heating up, with advances in all areas causing significant business opportunities as well as downsides. Not only are there advances in greater power and capacity of computers and handheld devices, but there’s also more interaction online. The information analysis of consumer behaviour and business improvements using advanced algorithms, artificial intelligence, data analytics, big data and robotics are changing the competitive landscape and will require greater flexibility and adaptation from businesses to compete. Otherwise, many businesses could become extinct in the future.

Talent

Attracting, recruiting, retaining and developing an appropriately talented and skilled workforce is another top-of-mind challenge for business leaders. In a competitive environment, the hunt for talent is constant, and the best talent is very attractive to your competitors. Ensuring that your people are understood and well-motivated becomes of even greater importance. People management and leadership should be the basis for developing a stable workforce to support the business as it grows and changes to meet developing and often disrupted market places.

Diversity

Diversity is not just a gender issue. For example, there has been a growing appreciation of the merits of incorporating a wider range of ages and people from different business experiences, education, cultures and backgrounds. It is vitally important to create a diverse, inclusive and harmonious workforce to tap into their wide range of ideas and sensitivities to markets, customers, process improvements and technologies. Like business mentoring, this diversity can provide a different perspective and enable the business to add to their competitive edge in their markets.

Strategic Purpose

It is a great strategic starting point to clarify the current strategic business purpose. As part of our holistic approach at International Business Mentors, our business mentors and coaches talk with our mentee clients and help them to review and understand why they are in businesses.

Plan B and Succession

Many business sectors and individual businesses will get into financial trouble as a result of a downturn in their industry or as fierce new competitive pressures emerge, or both, such as the impact of coronavirus on the restaurant industry. With business mentoring, you can work through a future proofing strategy where you consider your options to reduce risk and plan to take advantage of changes. As part of future proofing, you will need to consider the succession planning for the people and the business itself. This will help to optimise the future organisation to achieve the strategy and be adaptive to the inevitable changes that will occur.

Support

Support of all staff is needed to adapt to the changes and stay ahead of the game so you can out manoeuvre your competition. Training and development are essential components for business leaders to consider for themselves and all key employees.

Future Proofing

Future proofing is an issue that was rarely considered some years ago. We have undergone so much change in a short time, making it harder to predict what will emerge in the foreseeable future and beyond. However, keeping up to date with innovation in your industry and having discussions with a knowledgably and supportive business mentor or coach can help business leaders to freshly consider their options to future proof the business.

How Business Mentoring Can Assist with Challenges

All the above themes and challenges are currently on the agendas for our business mentoring and business coaching sessions. Our business mentors and coaches with their exceptional business experience are helping business leaders address these and many other strategic challenges that they face. All business mentoring or coaching sessions are held in a confidential, supportive relationship and environment, with the aim of assisting business leaders with their specific business challenges and helping them to develop and improve their business performance.

Since each business has some unique business challenges, we at International Business Mentors assess each individual’s situation and provide a tailored business mentor or coach to assist them with their business’ issues or goals. This business mentoring or coaching is founded on the business’ experience, skills, qualifications, and the all-important personal fit of our business mentors and coaches.

International Business Mentors can assist business owners, CEOs, Directors and Senior Executives thanks to the wealth of experience our business mentors and coaches possess. We help business leaders in all aspects of their business and the competitive scenarios that they face.

Call International Business Mentors today to find out how you can gain a business advantage with a business mentor or coach.

Customers Grow Business: Ignore Your Customers at Your Peril!

At International Business Mentors, we are frequently asked to provide business mentors to Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Executives to assist them with strategies for business growth. The nature of the business mentoring depends heavily on the type, size and industry of the business, as well as its specific challenges. Yet one recurring theme is the critical importance of establishing, nurturing and servicing their customers.

Success with attracting, servicing and keeping good customers is a key strategic imperative for all business success. Alternatively, to neglect your customers will adversely impact business performance and damage reputations, brands and trust, and potentially undermine business survival. Therefore, as you develop and flex business strategies over time, you must put your customers at the front and centre of your approach to increase the performance of your business.

Understanding Your Customers

To fairly embed your customers in strategy, and in day to day operations and marketing, requires a deep understanding of your customers and what you offer them. Understanding your customers and potential customers requires everyone in the organisation to understand with passion and appreciate how customers can impact your business, and how customers perceive your products and services as valuable to them.

This organisation-wide understanding of your customers will need to be updated regularly to assess any shifts and changes in your customers’ demands, expectations and any delivery expectation gaps that exist. Business mentoring and business coaching can assist business owners and leaders in reviewing how customers are viewed and integrated into the thinking of your organisation, as a natural part of your business strategy formulation and implementation.

It is considered that supporting your customers with quality service and products and a good experience should improve their satisfaction and loyalty. Customer service is a concept most businesses understand and get feedback from customers about. This is to ensure what you deliver is what customers really want and is delivered in a consistent fashion by your people and the business. Customer service should be measured in a professional and systematic fashion. For example, are the interactions with your people, product or services and systems what the customer expects? Does your business rely on a relevant and dynamic website or social media for customers to use? Do these attract, convert and retain customers? How does your offering compare with your competition? How could you improve your offering, and what suggestions have you elicited from customers to consider? A well-matched business mentor or business coach with experience in the customer space can be a valuable input to your strategic thinking around customer attraction, retention and growth, all of which helps your business to prosper and grow.

Setting Targets for Better Customer Service

Business owners and senior leaders need to be committed to ensure that they have clear strategies, resources and organisation, proper governance and policies to achieve the appropriate levels of customer service and satisfaction in order to deliver the strategic plan.

There must be targets set to measure what is achieved in:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Success of delivering the products or services
  • Marketing and sales performance
  • Comparisons with the competition
  • Operational efficiency, including systems, social media and online platforms
  • Cost management
  • Pricing levels achieved

This customer and performance information can be fed back to all stakeholders, as appropriate, to get continual learning and improvements in delivery by management, systems and your people. You can also analyse the reactions of your customers and plan for new and improved offerings and service.

Policies for Customer Expectations

Since customers are increasingly wielding power and reshaping the future, businesses need to monitor and manage customers’ evolving expectations. In this area, some of the policies our business mentors and business coaches assist businesses with include:

  • Anticipating trends and changes to your products and services
  • Calibre and training programs for customer-facing staff
  • Focusing on customer feedback to help know what they want
  • Helping you to consider how to entrench customer satisfaction in the company culture
  • Setting and monitoring KPIs relating back to customers’ experience

True business customer centricity and putting customers at the heart of the organisation has become all important. From the customers’ perspective, it is about choice, feeling appreciated and getting great value.

Customer dissatisfaction with suppliers does hit the news from time to time. The recent Royal Commissions in Australia, focused on the banking and aged care sectors, have found many customers left very dissatisfied with services. These customers have been disregarded by organisations for long periods of time, with weak governance unable to appropriately identify fairly serious conduct of staff towards those all-important customers and their eventual demands for fundamental changes. The resultant damage to these business’s reputations and the loss of trust from customers was substantial. All these failures, in part, stem from not keeping their customers central to their thinking and business culture.

The result has been a detrimental impact on these organisations’ financial performance and perceived business value. Since then, these organisations have begun to rebuild customer centricity and trust, and their prospects have improved. However, with hindsight, it is better to act proactively with customer feedback, ensuring it comes to the surface and is not potentially hidden from the organisation’s leadership. This can be done by considering improvements in the systematic processes to avoid any myopia to customer feedback, optimising the customer’s experience, and building this feedback and analysis into the long-term value to the business.

Innovating in a Competitive World

With increased population and technology, there’s now an ever-increasing number of businesses locally and globally, giving customers massive choices and increasing competition between businesses. Customers have access to an enormous amount of information which can influence how they buy, making it more strategically important to be customer centric long term.

So, how can you innovate with a customer focus?

This is where engaging a business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors can help you to better succeed with your customers. They are experienced in all facets of business, including the importance of innovating with a customer focus. Through confidential and candid discussion, they can help you consider what is needed for customer centricity and to deliver an excellent customer experience as part of your thinking, strategy and approach. This includes many aspects, such as:

  • Getting good customer feedback and analysis of the data
  • Processes to ensure customers are heard and action taken
  • Empathy of your staff with customers
  • Personalisation of service and products and differentiation in the market
  • Resources of time and effort with customer research
  • Expectations understanding and management
  • Resolution of customer dissatisfaction as a win/win
  • Integrity of the organisation from the customer’s viewpoint

A customer’s experience of excellence cannot be achieved with a textbook solution. Customer experiences and demands all need to be measured and reviewed. This needs scrutiny, and the results should feed into the development of business strategies and policies. Since you need a deep understanding of your customers, the ability to create the systems and processes is essential to meet your customers’ needs, allowing you to tailor what you provide in line with your business strategy.

The Power of Data

Another area which is often neglected is the use of data analytics to give crucial insights into customer needs, wants and behaviours. Sadly, many businesses and organisations do not adequately use the data that they have available. This causes them to miss out on potential opportunities, or to fail to adapt to changes quickly enough, resulting in them losing markets and customers as things change without them being fully aware.

Whilst many businesses are now totally dependent on digital solutions for serving their customers, others require personalised responses and interaction with customers. It is vital to have appropriate approaches for your specific customers and the products and services that they would appreciate and value. Customer centricity is a strategic requirement for success at all levels of organisations, from the Boards to Management and all levels of employees. Customer relationships and analyses are now recognised as some of the most important issues facing and potentially future-proofing businesses. It is no surprise that many Boards have appointed dedicated c suite senior positions to oversee customer related issues.

A business mentor or business coach from International Business Mentors is experienced in the customer-centric space and can help you to re-examine strategic customer thinking through confidential business mentoring. Call us today to discuss how we can help you.

Continual Learning Passion Leverages Business Performance

To be curious, to have an enquiring mind, to have a passion to improve and develop; this is what ambitious human beings strive for, leading to higher personal fulfilment. This applies to people in both their private and business lives. At International Business Mentors, we are routinely asked to provide suitable business mentors and coaches for business coaching to encourage, support and facilitate ongoing development of business owners, directors, CEOs and Senior Executives.

Learning should never end, and the pursuit of knowledge is hard wired into us from birth and remains with us for our entire lives. However, it may need to be boosted from time to time.

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”—Anthony J. D’Angelo

Why is Continual Learning Important?

In rapidly changing and disruptive business markets and workplaces, all organisations should demand continual learning from every employee to help them to adapt faster. Wherever the changes come from in business, such as new technologies, artificial intelligence, workplace practices, acquisitions, rapid growth or industry developments, your employees need to be ready with the best mindsets, tools and training that they need to succeed in the market and deliver industry benchmark performance.

The enhanced ability to adapt comes with continuous learning, helping to reduce the number of roadblocks to rapid change. These blockages will naturally occur during transition phases. Therefore, you can use continuous learning to help your people and organisation to adapt quickly to the new targeted practices and technologies. This will reduce the time needed to devise business growth strategies, make necessary changes, increase productivity levels, and gain smoother transitions with happier people and customers.

In the business environment, business coaching and mentoring is valuable for assisting with the continuous learning of individuals and organisations. This is achieved through a business coach or mentor challenging, introducing new perspectives, sharing their relevant past business experience and helping to develop key people in the business.

Learning to be Better Leaders

Continuous learning enables us all to better perform and develops us as leaders. The benefits are personal growth and improvements to business performance and success. At International Business Mentors, we use an approach that aims to underpin your business growth strategies by developing your key people and giving strong continual learning opportunities in a highly confidential and non-threatening relationship.

Continual learning also helps to avoid short sightedness in business, as myopia can lead to the business underperforming, or worse – it may lead to a stagnant workforce, causing your business to fall behind your competitors or not service customers well. Through continual learning, your employees can constantly push themselves and your business forward with the new mindset, skills, tools and knowledge necessary.

As business professionals, we have a duty to continue to learn.  For example, many professional bodies demand continual professional development frameworks, whilst others encourage and offer educational advancements such as webinars, training courses, journals/magazines and of course, individualised business mentoring and business coaching.

Furthermore, it is vital to ensure that we all keep abreast of industry changes, competitive markets and community expectations and build an appropriate corporate culture to reflect our performance expectations and high standards. Professionals who are effective leaders recognise the importance of developing and becoming lifelong learners. Today, formal training is only the beginning. As knowledge rapidly changes and accumulates, professionals must continue to learn to be current and effective. Whilst self-education or attending courses can be useful in a business sense, we can also critically learn much from exceptional people such as a suitable business mentor or business coach.

Other Benefits of Continuous Learning

Continuous learning also helps to enable skills sharing. From employee onboarding training to job-based skills, creating an open environment that allows people to share knowledge is essential. Best practices can then be discovered and improved, and past errors can be continually learned from. This all contributes to your people developing the skills they need to be their most successful, benefiting your business through better performance, multi-skilling and succession planning, and the increased satisfaction of the people in your organisation.

A continuous learning environment also helps to create internal career progression opportunities for your people. This results from the nurturing in a continuous learning culture, which means you are training your employees for future opportunities in your own future growing organisation. Significantly hiring from within also saves time, money and resources, in addition to reducing employee turnover and acting as a natural incentive for your own people to step up their performance to the next level and become a greater part of the success of the business.

Continuous learning should be encouraged, supported and extended to all your people, as embracing continuous learning and training not only helps nurture your business performance, but is expected by many people. It supports their growth and creates opportunities in many ways, as well as positively impacting their productivity and business performance. This in turn results in an enhanced competitive business edge.

Get Help from a Business Coach Today

In today’s rapid and ever-changing business world, it is important to continue with constant development and learning. This is an area where a business mentor or business coach can be of great assistance. Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how one of our business mentors or coaches can help leverage you and your people to embrace continuous learning for better development and performance.

“I’m still learning.” – Michelangelo

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” – Henry Ford

Face-to-Face vs. Virtual Meetings

“You will never see eye-to-eye if you never meet face-to-face.”

– Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

At International Business Mentors, we tend to strongly agree with Warren Buffet’s quote above, as meeting face-to-face is very important. However, the preferences for and effectiveness of meetings are evolving within the online virtual meeting space platforms. As people start to get used to those virtual environments, which are becoming closer to the experience of physical meetings, then our collective preferences will continue to adapt.

Virtual meetings have gained momentum and are now entrenched in everyday interactions. They continue to be enhanced by technological advances, making all manner of meetings, locally and globally, quick, easy and efficient. Yet many argue that the absence of human connection disconnects and can create interpersonal barriers or unneeded friction. At International Business Mentors, we have studied and looked at the various options for our own business mentoring and business coaching services. Our conclusion for our very personal and confidential services is that unless it is not feasible to do so (due to distance), business mentoring and business coaching is best done face-to-face.

The Rise of Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings have significantly changed the way organisations do business. In a wide range of organisations and businesses, there is no doubt that virtual meetings, where participants are at a distance from each other, are a valuable way to communicate. The technology can bring together people from around the globe in an effective visual and audio environment. Virtual meetings are cost-effective, immediate, do not require costly and time-consuming travel, and have a positive environmental impact. Avoidable air travel is a point of growing contention, so individuals and organisations wishing to help reduce climate change as part of their business growth strategies will wish to leave the smallest environmental footprints. Embracing more virtual meetings should help with this global issue.

However, there are some downside risks to using virtual meetings. For example, security is a constant challenge. When highly confidential commercial information is exchanged, there exists a risk of potential hacking or eavesdropping on meetings. Also, interpersonal relationships tend to be better fostered or enhanced with physical interaction, which suggests augmenting virtual meetings with some physical meetings might be beneficial.

Which is Best for Business Coaching?

At International Business Mentors, we match business people with a suitable business mentor or business coach who resides close enough for personal contact in regular mentoring meetings. Personal connection in this space is very important, as it helps to develop the working relationship and trust, which in turn enables confidential meetings to be fluid.

However, sometimes the preferred physical mentoring meetings are just not possible. We then focus on getting the mentoring relationship established by providing the best matched business mentor or business coach possible, who will work to establish the human connection between themselves and the mentee. What drives all of us in close relationships is our shared experiences, trust and working together to make progress, which in turn has a powerful impact on the shared relationship itself.

What About Conferences?

International conferences are an area where virtual meetings can be beneficial for a wide range of industries and businesses. The preference for conferences is still the personal connection to attend and to interact with presenters and other participants. However, virtual attendance is possible if distance is a problem, reducing the cost to participants. Conferences provide a platform for sharing ideas, peer-to-peer feedback, collaborations and setting agendas. The conference venues employ a vast number of people and inject funds into the host economy. They provide a forum for leaders with drive and vision which can shape their industries and provide a forecast for the future.

Contact International Business Mentors Today

As mentioned above, here at International Business Mentors, we believe that business mentoring and business coaching are best performed in a physical face-to-face setting that’s more confidential. However, virtual meetings can be useful when necessary as long as more care is taken to ensure the optimal relationship grows.

At International Business Mentors, we individually match business mentors and business coaches to business people, matching needed skills, background and experience plus the all-important personal fit. Our approach is needed to establish the relationships and add value from our tailored and professional confidential service.

Call International Business Mentors today to find out more about our business coaching and mentoring services.

Business and Sustainability

Bush fires rage, sustainability is questioned – is this the Imperative new Norm impacting business?
– Chris and David Cartney

We live in a rapidly changing world. For those of us who are baby boomers, looking back on our childhood seems very remote from that of today. Just about everything has transformed; much of which was important then is not so important now, and vice versa. This is very true for all business, with technology driving marketing, sales, communications, operational efficiencies and cost structures. The rise of vast amounts of personalised data, its analysis and market targeting potential, and the leaps and bounds in artificial intelligence will once again disrupt the competitive landscape and cause a ground shift in culture and business for the next decade.

One of the most critical examples of change is the developing shift in knowledge, attitudes and appreciation about sustainability. The fragility of the planet is of a growing survival concern to our world population. This critical threat affects every human being and our ecosystems that support us, i.e. all fauna, flora, weather, water, land use, etc. We therefore need to address how we should preserve and improve our planet by making the necessary changes to preserve or improve our lives compared to what will happen if we do nothing. At International Business Mentors, we make sustainability a top priority, and we aim to help other businesses in this area as well by making it a focus in our business coaching services.

Adapting to Sustainability

From a business perspective, businesses must create policies to minimise their own environmental impact. This will increasingly be demanded by society in general and be reflected by Governments’ demands in the future, but it should be done because it is the right thing to do. If the environment is not addressed and incorporated into the business culture and strategy of your organisation, you may not survive as a business. If for no other reason, your customers, your people and your broader community will resist organisations that do not demonstrate their active commitment to our shared environment.

There is a growing sense of urgency around climate change, and the sustainability issues we face on a global scale have skyrocketed on the public agenda. This will increase the awareness of all stakeholders, including your shareholders or owners, customers, suppliers and employees. So this issue needs to be addressed immediately as part of your strategic planning and turned into operational actions to deliver a better environmental outcome by your organisation.

Climate change has been identified by the World Economic Forum, and others, as one of the most significant risks that we face from a societal and business perspective. All society, including businesses, need to step up and respond proactively.

Prince Charles – the Prince of Wales – aims to inspire “action by financial leaders to drive a fundamental shift towards resilient business models and a sustainable economy”. He is but one of thousands of world leaders trying to invoke change and action on environmental policy.

How Business Coaching Can Help

At International Business Mentors, we’re often called upon to provide a business coach or mentor to assist with the full spectrum of business challenges and opportunities, including that of change, reviewing policy, cultural shift and adapting to changing community expectations of responsible businesses. This includes reassessing sustainability issues and how to better perform and comply with what is expected.

Our business mentoring and business coaching services can assist business owners, CEOs, Directors and Senior Executives – all of whom have responsibilities in this space to adhere and create responsible policies to address sustainability.

There will be challenges to get consensus from the widely diverse sides of the environment debate as it develops. What is needed is conserved action to make a positive difference.

The worldwide impacts of environment changes are no more apparent than the recent and continuing extreme weather and consequential unprecedented bush fires in our beloved Australia. Sadly, it is not over yet. Establishing the consequences of the fires will be an arduous and frightful task. The human, animal and business devastation and destruction will need on-going assessment. After what will be a long time, those affected will need help and counselling. They will also need to rebuild and make changes to minimise the risk of future carnage.

We in businesses must do what we can to improve our impact on the environment. Small practical changes by many can have an enormous beneficial impact on the environment and will also be good for businesses long term. If we can help in any way at International Business Mentors, please give us a call.

Reduce Business Stress with a Business Mentor or Business Coach

The right levels of stress can be a good thing, as it can be motivating and drive performance. But too much stress at unhealthy levels will inhibit your business performance and become corrosive to business and personal health. This needs to be managed to increase business performance.

Managing stress is one of the many areas in which a well-matched business mentor or business coach from International Business Mentors can help you. They can help you assess where you are at with your business and identify critical issues and stress impacts. They can then give you independent and confidential support to help you actively improve performance, stress awareness and management.

Tailored Assistance to Overcome Stress

As a business owner, leader or executive, you have responsibilities that affect you and a wide range of stake holders, such as the business itself, your employees, suppliers, financiers, customers and the wider community. It is not uncommon to feel overstressed while managing ongoing real challenges and pressing issues such as business growth strategies. Further, it is common for business owners, leaders or executives to take their challenges and related stress back home with them, which may cause further negative feedback loops, increase stress levels, and interfere in family relationships.

Constructive personal feedback on stress from a business mentor or business coach is tailored to you and your specific business. This support will depend on your experience and training, and the type, size, structure and industry of your business. There are many issues that create stress in the workplace; some affect everyone, while others are selective. For example, a business owner has the ultimate responsibility for their business’s success, whereas an executive team may be anxious about their job performance and/or job security. If not addressed early and well managed, too much stress can affect both the mental and physical health of individuals, and through them, the performance of the business itself.

A well-matched business mentor or business coach will be experienced and can assist you with business coaching to overcome issues such as stress. This stress dimension of your business performance can be improved significantly with business coaching and mentoring sessions to facilitate, guide and assess the legitimacy and severity of stress and the contributing factors.

Issues that Lead to Workplace Stress

Some of the issues that routinely come up when dealing with workplace stress include:

  • Overwork
  • Unrealistic targets
  • Rigid workplace practices
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Bad temper

The consequences of stress in the business may include:

  • Bad choices
  • Disharmony and poor communications
  • Drugs and alcohol abuse
  • Eating poorly and lack of good exercise
  • Low morale and productivity
  • Low performance
  • Missing out on exercise
  • Social exclusion
  • Strained relationships

Furthermore, if unchecked, stress issues can encroach into family life, and at its severity it can cause destructive family relationship and breakdowns.

With their experience and independence of mind as well as their fresh set of eyes, your business mentor or business coach can help you to recognise the critical factors causing undue stress in you or the business and help you consider better systems and better leadership to solve the problems that are contributing to high stress levels.

A Classic Symptom of Business-Related Stress

A classic symptom of business-related stress is when the owners or senior executives conclude that they are working too much in the business and not spending enough time working on the business. Relief is needed.

An independent experienced business mentor or business coach from International Business Mentors acts as a confidential sounding board, offering candid feedback and support in a safe and confidential environment. They can help facilitate discussions on the issues causing workplace stress, covering the following:

  • Delegating
  • Health
  • Prioritising tasks
  • Quality control
  • Skill levels and training
  • Taking stress back home
  • Time management
  • Work/life balance

Some suggestions from your business coaching or mentoring professional will no doubt include:

  • Fix business problems decisively
  • Button down real opportunities to make the business focus on the important tasks
  • Create defined boundaries between work and home
  • Set realistic boundaries – e.g. No emails/phone calls after hours, limiting office time
  • Enjoy some ‘me’ time – e.g. Sport, gym, walking, hobbies, reading for pleasure
  • Take a holiday
  • Spend quality time with family or friends
  • If appropriate, perhaps work remotely from home sometimes
  • Consider discussing the pressures and challenges you face with your partner to assist with support and improve communication

Call International Business Mentors to find out how a business coach or mentor can help you improve performance, better manage stress, and help you with business challenges such as devising business growth strategies.

The Impact of Change on Business Strategy and the Emerging Roles of Executives

The business environment today is fast-moving, and if you are expecting the pace of change to slow, you will be sorely disappointed. The world changes every day: populations are rising, customers demand greater diversity in products and services with greater speed, technology is driving change, and the economy and business markets are rapidly evolving. Business leaders who fail to embrace change and adapt their business strategy and their people can easily fail by remaining out of touch and unable to compete under current and emerging trading conditions.

Now, with the rapid change in the business environment, the roles of executives are changing. What was once thought of as obscure has fast become the norm. At International Business Mentors, we are routinely asked to provide business mentors and business coaches to help business owners and executives to remain current, deal with shifting expectations, and help anticipate and adapt to future changes in all aspects of business.

Why Is This Necessary?

Emerging issues such as climate change, environmental issues, corporate governance, mental illness, wellbeing, modern slavery, money laundering, waste, privacy, gender, diversity, parental responsibilities, technology shifts and trade wars are now commonplace issues in the modern business, and organisational leaders need to be kept alert to their implications and adapt appropriate policies, strategy and work practices.

The implications of such rapid change are escalating business risks and new opportunities. Therefore, senior leadership needs to critically refresh their corporate strategy and incorporate required changes effectively into their organisations in order to reduce risk and optimise business performance.

How Business Coaching Can Help

A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can assist you with the critical evaluation of strategy to meet required change in strategy, organisations and effective implementation. You will be taught how to challenge the status quo, given changes, and simply asked the right questions that lead to new ideas and new innovations that can directly impact the bottom line.

Any business can benefit from looking from a fresh perspective with business coaching in such areas as customer needs, new ways of delivering customer service, new ways of strengthening customer interactions, new products or services that might attract new customers or markets, operational requirements to fulfil customers’ expectations at the right cost levels, supply chain alliances needed, funding requirements, research and development, acquisitions, divestments, technology revamping, competitor strategy, and many other areas.

The Importance of Staying Up to Date

Business leaders not only need to be kept up to date with trends that will impact their business, but they also critically need to consider what their competitive positions are and should be in the future to meet the emerging trends in their industries. With an adapted strategic view of the future and their strategy to meet it, senior leadership must also plan their target organisation required to implement their strategy in the future. This will involve attracting the appropriate expertise and talent, or training up existing and capable executives to be better able to perform the critical roles and implement the adapted strategy. Critical to this process will be attracting, keeping and selecting the right people, particularly in the C suite roles, who will in turn cascade the changing performance targets and business culture requirements and manage all employees to implement the adapted strategy.

New staff members are very important in assessing the impact of change. New employees are especially valuable and can often point to areas of opportunity for improvement that existing staff in the company might have overlooked. Existing employees should also be encouraged to question why things are done a certain way and look for improved ways to get work done faster, better and with higher levels of quality and service and lower cost. This is another area where assistance from business mentors and business coaches can be invaluable.

Catering for Change

Change is important in organisations, allowing employees to learn new skills, explore new opportunities and exercise their talents creativity to benefit the organisation through new ideas and increased commitment. Employees need to be prepared to deal with organisation and position changes. Preparation will involve an analysis of the tools and training required to help them learn the new skills. Importantly, organisations need to properly evaluate their employees’ capabilities and then take steps to fill any gaps between current skills and the skills required to respond to growth.

Change will create new needed positions within any specific business. Examples of such new roles created to cater for such critical business changes include:

  • Facebook has appointed a Chief Privacy Officer. It makes sense that such a position has emerged in the space of privacy, but perhaps it would not have even been considered in earlier years.
  • Price Waterhouse Coopers now has a Chief Purpose Officer. Again, it makes sense in today’s environment.

Some other roles now anticipated by business futurists might include:

  • Chief Trending Officer – Will keep the organisation up to date on important shifts in public opinion on all manner of issues critically affecting the business.
  • Chief Environmental Officer – Not only a matter for public concern, but necessary to keep updated on environment protection laws and to be compliant to implement the business’s policies on the environment and avoid any legal compliance and hefty penalties. Sustainability will be an integral part of every business.
  • Chief Automation Officer – The emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it can be effectively integrated into the various areas of the business, and how this will impact people in the organisation.
  • Chief of Wellbeing – Businesses are embracing the importance of looking after their employees to make for a harmonious workplace and improve productivity.
  • Chief of Branding – Competition for consumers has intensified and as such, so has the importance of branding. This can be extended to employer branding in order to retain and attract excellent employees.
  • Chief of Fusion – The composition of employees, including diversity, part timers, contractors and flexible working conditions, needs to be monitored to ensure all are well integrated into the organisation.

There are many other positions that can be considered and created depending on the industry and size of the business. At International Business Mentors, we can assist with business coaching that can help create another competitive edge for businesses in a rapidly changing business environment. A well-matched business mentor or business coach can confidentially assist business leaders to anticipate needed changes in strategy and therefore the organisational changes needed, including the creation or adaption of roles to cover emerging issues that will significantly impinge on the business.

Your own business mentor or business coach can help you with change. This help is based on their own business experience, allowing them to assist you with critical discussion and support.

Areas Where a Business Mentor or Coach Can Provide Assistance

Examples of how a business mentor or business coach can support you in times of change include:

  • Help you reset your business strategy
  • Assist you to develop your target organisation to deliver that adapted strategy
  • Help you research and identify relevant emerging critical positions and anticipate future people developments
  • Help you consider critical new job requirements and performance targets to meet the strategy
  • Assist you in identifying who in the organisation might be well placed to fulfil a new role, and what training would be needed, i.e. succession planning
  • Discuss how to best use the job market to recruit future critical talent

Business leaders find critical change difficult, making it important to have a confidential, independent and experienced sounding board in the form of a business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors. This can be an immensely valuable business process that allows you to leverage up business performance.

Call International Business Mentors today to find out how business coaching can help you to adapt and grab your evolving business opportunities in a period of rapid business change and increasing risk.

Realise Your EQ to Be an Effective Leader

As a business owner, CEO or senior executive, you probably have high intelligence or IQ, but to be an excellent and effective leader, you also need to develop and exhibit your Emotional Intelligence or EQ. This is one area in which a well-matched business mentor or business coach from International Business Mentors can help you develop.

Emotional intelligence in leadership was once scoffed at as being soft or weak in the workplace. Today, a high degree of Emotional Intelligence is recognised as one of the vital ingredients for successful leaders, who use their EQ to further enhance work cultures and produce better performing individuals, teams and workplaces. Furthermore, once EQ is adopted and embraced, additional benefits can be realised, such as improved decision making, boosted employee productivity, and better retention and morale of people, all of which improves the basis for a more successful business.

How Business Coaching Can Help

At International Business Mentors, we frequently connect businesses with mentors and coaches to assist with identifying and assessing opportunities and strategies to develop business growth. Business growth strategies have many influencing factors, such as market potential, customer satisfaction, products or services delivery, sales capability, competitor strength, supply, possible alliances and acquisitions, appetite for risk, investment requirements and available funding, expected profitability, returns and net cashflow, performance culture, and organisational capability and development requirements. EQ is also a vital component which if improved can leverage up an organisation’s overall performance. Business coaching can help you to identify and develop individual leaders’ EQs so you can improve your business performance.

So, What Exactly is EQ?

People possess both IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional intelligence). It is very good news that EQ (unlike IQ) can be developed in all individuals.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor your own and other peoples’ feelings and emotions, to distinguish among them, and to use this information to guide your thinking, management and leadership actions and approaches. EQ is essentially a measure of an individual’s interpersonal and communication skills.

Emotionally intelligent people don’t just understand emotions; they know what they’re good at and what they’re terrible at. Having a high EQ means you know your strengths and you know how to lean into them and use them to your full advantage while keeping your weaknesses from holding you back.

In the workplace, attitudes towards employers and employees have dramatically changed in the last few decades. For example, diversity has been identified as a positive contributor for business success. Leaders cannot rely on emotional intelligence or their intellect alone when it comes to motivating a diverse workforce. Business organisational structures have evolved, and strict hierarchies are making way for more distributed forms of leadership with greater flexibility in workplace models. Research in this space has found that one substantial quality required of successful leadership performance is EQ.

Business mentors and coaches can, in an independent and confidential environment, assist business leaders to further develop the four major competencies associated with EQ – self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and relationship management.

Improving Your EQ

How great is your own EQ? Your answer in part depends on your level of EQ! For example, many leaders lacking high EQ think that they are emotionally intelligent, but they are not, and they lack empathy. This is where an impartial, motivated and experienced business coach or mentor can help, by providing honest and private feedback to support and facilitate needed developments in EQ.

So important is the rise of EQ, it has been recognised by the World Economic Forum as a crucial skill for the fourth industrial revolution, namely as a vital component for effective leadership. Once enabled and understood, EQ not only empowers you to understand your own modus operando, but appreciate how other people differ from you, allowing you to best work together with other people and bring out their best.

A business coach or mentor who is well versed in developing EQ will use objective criticism, impartial feedback and support to help you enhance your self-awareness and improve your leadership effectiveness. Furthermore, business coaching can help you construct, lead and operate teams that are better aligned and understanding of each other, which in turn leverages better business success through higher productivity, working relationships and retention.

Ultimately, a successful leader who is proficient in EQ and is better aware of themselves and others will be better able to deliver good leadership. This will assist leaders to create a more optimal business organisation and enable more productive workplaces in which people and business success can thrive.

Call International Business Mentors today to learn how business coaching can help you unleash your leadership EQ for a win-win in business.

Improve Your Winning Business Pitch with a Business Coach or Mentor

You may have excellent products or services and be a long-standing business, or maybe you’re an up and coming start-up, but unless you can reach your customers and sell the benefits, success may elude your business and feed your competition.

Fortunately, a business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can help you. Our mentors and coaches have successfully run their own businesses and know and understand the importance of delivering a winning pitch.

Getting the attention of potential customers and delivering your own powerful and enticing pitch is a common blockage for business growth, and one that our business mentors and business coaches are often asked for assistance with. They are willing to share their business knowledge with you and help push you to succeed.

What Can Make or Break a Pitch?

As part of business growth strategies, a winning pitch is a vital component, and one that is often neglected. Sometimes the winning pitch is suboptimal, as the business leaders:

  • Are too focused on the products or services themselves
  • Miss how customers may perceive what is on offer
  • Are not confident in delivering the best message
  • Are affected by a combination of the above

Whether you are a business owner, CEO or senior executive, delivering a business concept with clarity and conviction is imperative to attracting and retaining your customers.

Feedback from our business mentors and coaches highlight some of the areas where they have offered valuable assistance in this pitching space. A start up business may be pitching for investment, whilst an established business may want to expand its customer base. In some instances, the pitch may be delivered by one person or two or more representatives, or by a team, but there are some factors common to all scenarios.

Some of the more common aspects of addressing this important subject, as reported by our business coaching professionals, include:

  • Know your product or service inside out. In one sentence, explain what your business offers i.e. the “what” and “why” of your products or services.
  • Do your research and understand who your customers are and what are their needs and problems, and how you meet or solve these.
  • Consider what marketing supports you need to promote your products or services e.g. slides, photographs, testimonials, brochures, and social media content such as articles, blogs etc.
  • Focus on your value proposition. Include the use of case studies or examples to make it more compelling.
  • Emphasise “why now?”. Explore how industry and customer demands have changed over time and why this makes your offering now even more compelling to customers.
  • Focus on how you can compete in the market and why you have a unique competitive advantage.

There are many variations to creating a pitch. A very technical product or service will need to have considerable technical detail, whilst a less tangible product, service or concept needs an attractive descriptive approach highlighting how it can help your target customer.

Improving Your Delivery to an Audience

Practice, practice, practice to get your pitch to the point where it’s pitch perfect, but be relaxed and natural in your delivery. You should also display your belief and passion in your products or services.

Be aware of your business, products or services and your own strengths and weaknesses. To improve your delivery, a well-matched and experienced business coach or mentor can help you with the desirable competencies and delivery, and work with you to capitalise or improve them.

Demonstrate your unique selling point clearly and how it can benefit your customers. Command attention and trust, and make it clear that you mean what you say and believe in your products or services.

Business pitch is only one important area that your business mentor or business coach can assist you with. However, it is relevant to all businesses, as all businesses have customers and competition. Having a winning pitch will give you an edge towards your business success.

A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors has broad business experience, including expertise in helping individuals to develop and deliver their winning pitch. Call us to organise business coaching or mentoring to help you with critical aspects of improvement in your own business performance and success.

The Top Business Coaching & Mentoring Issues Trending in 2019

So far in 2019, businesses have faced many challenges with recurring themes, as well as new and unique pressing issues, all of which our business coaching professionals can provide assistance and support for.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and coaches come with a wealth of business experience to share with their mentees, helping to improve business performance and success. We can provide a business coach or mentor for any industry sector, ranging from small businesses through to SMEs and large corporations.

The top issues in which our business mentors and business coaches have assisted so far in 2019 are:

Business Growth

This is a constant area where our business mentors and coaches can provide valuable input through experience, by casting an independent and impartial eye over the business and offering confidential support to implement change and improve business growth strategies. For example, examining the process for expansion in home markets and overseas, with the various supportive and incentive systems available.

Leadership

Good leaders are at the core of business success. Business owners, and those transitioning into leadership roles, want to be better leaders. With the help of a supportive business mentor or business coach, their leadership styles are examined so areas for improvement can be identified.

Ethics and the Stronger Moral Compass

Businesses with strong ethics and moral compasses have increasingly strong reputations and enjoy success. But for businesses perceived to be acting improperly, they can develop a tarnished reputation that impacts financial performance directly. Where there is adoption of strong ethics, procedures and policies that are transparent and compliant, business reputation can be strengthened and customer and market perceptions can be improved.

Emerging and Growing Business Issues

Our business coaching and mentoring professionals have also been called upon to assist with emerging issues, such as spin offs for Australian businesses as a result of Brexit. A potential free trade agreement with the UK could have possible enormous benefits, especially in agriculture and exports from Australia.

Other areas where a business coach or mentor can assist include:

Economic Issues

The following are emerging and growing economic issues experienced by our clients:

  • Turmoil in trade wars between USA and China
  • Oil shocks from Middle East oil disruption
  • Demonstrations in Hong Kong
  • Lower world GDP growth expectations
  • Lowering of central bank interest rates
  • EU political and budgetary conflicts

Wellness

The explosion in wellness centres has led to more businesses understanding the importance of incorporating wellness into the business and its culture.

Mental health

It’s important to identify mental health issues amongst employees. Once established how this may impact on the business, a business can assist and support those affected.

Automation, Robotics and AI Advances

Automation, robotics and AI advances are emerging as strong business opportunities that need to be assessed on how they will transform and completely change the competitive landscape and disrupt markets for individual business. These areas will need planning for transforming workforces, retraining, and gearing up for the new technologies. New approaches will also be needed for delivering product and services, marketing, selling and advertising online, and leveraging up social media.

Soft Skills

Whilst technical ability is critical in most instances, recognising and encouraging the less tangible ‘soft skills’ such as creativity is important. Other competencies can include negotiation, persuasion, interpersonal capabilities, flexibility, adaptability, teamwork and leadership. These skills can help to develop more productive workforces, leadership and management.

Diversity

The move is on to harvest the benefits of having a broader range of people in the workforce, such as a wider representation of women and a broader mix of ages, disabilities, business and market experience, technology competencies, and wider ethnic and cultural backgrounds. These greater diversities promise to unleash great business improvements and business growth strategies, but business leaders need to be more flexible and evolve their management and workplaces to deliver on that largely untapped potential.

Environmental Responsibility

The pressures of climate change affect some businesses more than others, but all organisations need to be aware of the relevant impacts and compliance around this sensitive issue. Wider stakeholder pressures will increase.

Compliance

A growing challenge is to keep up to date and compliant with changing national and international legislation, such as avoiding modern slavery, tax avoidance and money laundering.

Cyber security

This has become increasingly important in 2019, with every business at serious risk. Businesses need to put in place IT architecture and systems to check that vital data is kept secure.

Flexible Working Conditions

Flexible working such as hours and working remotely have become more common and part of dynamic management of workforces to increase productivity and reduce the costs of business. These new workforce paradigms come with new management challenges to ensure that productivity does increase and is maintained.

Customer Satisfaction

The customer continues to be crucial to all businesses. Attracting them, keeping them happy and retaining them in a competitive environment is a continually increasing challenge that a business coach or mentor can assist with.

Talent Retention

Good people are one of the organisation’s best assets. With the help of an experienced business mentor or business coach, policies and procedures can be implemented to encourage support and reward those most valued.

Request Help with Emerging Challenges Today

At International Business Mentors, we have business coaches and mentors in specific areas who can assist with emerging issues by taking a practical business approach that’s aimed to improve your business’ performance. This close supportive relationship allows you to tap into the broad business experience of your business coaching professional, who understands the challenges faced by business owners, CEOs and senior executives. For assistance in overcoming emerging challenges and developing your business’ performance, contact International Business Mentors today.

Unleash Your Creative Business Talents with Business Coaching

Tapping into creativity to maximise business potential comes easy to many entrepreneurs, business owners and executives, but sometimes creativity needs a catalyst to help you unlock its potential. One great creativity catalyst is your own business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors. They can help you tap into your creative self and offer suggestions from their experience, allowing you to generate ideas and new insights to help develop your business to achieve further success.

We all have some degree of creativity, and you can see this in our successes with arts, such as writing, painting, music or dancing, and in social interactions. We also use creativity strongly in business strategic thinking, market anticipation and operational decision-making. Creativity is a business competency and is increasingly being recognised as an immensely important attribute for success.

Very creative people may be born, but for the rest of us, we are creative to a greater or lesser extent. Many people find it difficult to tap into their creative space despite possessing the talent. At International Business Mentors, we are often approached to help businesspeople recognise and realise their potential to think and act creatively.

How a Business Coach Can Help

The business coaching and mentoring professionals at International Business Mentors are practiced and experienced creative thinkers who have facilitated many businesspeople in the creative process. They use their own imaginative and creative thinking to help build highly successful businesses and establish successful corporate careers.

A business coach or mentor offers you confidential support and encouragement while sharing their own experiences and utilising creative thinking. This can help you to unlock your own creativity by:

  • Encouraging you to be constructively creative by challenging your critical thinking to explore different frameworks for thinking, develop new concepts and ideas, and research aspects of an opportunity or problem needing to be solved.
  • Urging you to invite other opinions from within and outside of the business and to share ideas and business growth strategies generated through discussion, brainstorming or other activities. The better facilitated your thinking, the better your business ideas and creative input will be.
  • Encouraging you to assess ideas, and once agreed, to act quickly on ideas or find a solution to a problem. In this process, you and your people need to think about ideas and problems and agree on the action that will be taken, with a timeline and who is responsible for each step.

Acting on a creative thinking idea on impulse can be a dangerous route to take. Use your business coach or mentor to help you wrap around approaches to assessing ideas before you try and implement them. Brainstorming with your business coaching professional will allow your ideas to flow freely, helping you to generate more ideas for inspiration or problem solving. This will also help you gain the knack for continuing idea generation, enabling you to progress to a new level of thinking where you can be practical while avoiding negativity, particularly when reviewing and assessing business ideas.

With the help of a business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors, you can better review your ideas to establish which are best to implement and avoid the risky tendency in believing an idea will or won’t work before it’s critically assessed. This will improve the creative process and encourage more ideas while also providing business implementation benefits.

Keeping Yourself Fit Helps You Be More Creative

You need to keep fit to be more creative. This can be achieved through running, working out in the gym, team sports, racket sports, golf, skiing or snowboarding, dancing, swimming, hiking, sailing, fishing, or even going on good walks with the dog. Exercise not only makes us healthier, but helps to increase the blood supply to our brains, which enables better thinking and lets ideas flow more freely. Also, exercise stimulates the release of positive organic chemicals in our brains, such as dopamine, that facilitate creativity and make us feel more positive generally.

Your business coach or business mentor will challenge and support you to find creative ways to solve problems, one of which is tapping into your creative abilities.

Understand the Benefits of Creativity to Your Business

In order to appreciate creativity and the benefits it can bring to your business, you need to understand it. Creativity is one of the competencies packaged in the ‘soft skill’ basket, along with adaptability, collaboration, communication, time management and persuasion. Some people embrace these skills naturally, while others need more coaching in order to adapt to and utilise creativity. Creativity is about making connections around ideas, as well as coming up with something new or unique. You might see creativity as a time slot in your diary with your business coach or mentor to generate ideas and consider problems that need solving. You may also consider longer term strategy or market competition strategy in that creative process.

Effective leaders must be proficient in creative processes to maximise their use and development of this creativity asset to the business. Whilst creativity is currently accepted as a top business competency in the soft skills area, the other skills are also essential for generating business growth strategies and maximising business success.

Your individually matched business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can further assist you in emphasising how structures, skills and processes can be adapted and used, both in the thought process and the delivery of business ideas and solutions to problems.

Communication of ideas within the business is crucial. This includes direct communication with all staff of new ideas and solutions, as well as communication to get support for ideas and their subsequent implementation, with persuasion being a critical form of communication.

In Australia and around the world, creativity and innovation are becoming more recognised as highly valued skills, with substantial investments in training programs being made. Workshops on creativity are being delivered to all levels of people, from corporate leaders and business owners through to management teams and staff.

Find Out How a Business Coach Can Help You Today

Business coaching is highly recognised as a valuable business resource to help facilitate creativity. At International Business Mentors, we can provide you with support for creativity as part of a business mentoring or business coaching approach aimed to help you improve your business’ performance. Our business mentors and coaches know from their own business experience the importance of innovative and creative thinking. They can help you develop and deliver on your competitive strategic advantage for ultimate profitability.

Call International Business Mentors today to get your own business coach to assist and support you in unlocking your creative business talents.

Improve your Business’ Financial Performance with Business Coaching

There are many areas in which International Business Mentors is asked to provide a business mentor or business coach to assist business owners. Critically, one of the most frequent catalysts is to help examine and improve the business’ financial performance. This may be to address a specific problem or as part of the inability of the business to fund its own business growth strategies.

With the help of a well-matched business mentor or business coach who can cast fresh and independent eyes over your business’s financial performance, you as a business owner or senior management can better examine your financial data. You can then start to discuss what can be done and put into place strategies to improve profits, returns and net cashflow. These improvements should lead to a better ability to financially perform and consequently attract better funding to support the growth of your business.

Each business has its own financial dynamics, and different factors will be relevant at different times depending on the business configuration, including:

  • Its products or service mix
  • Ability to drive price or not
  • Loyalty of customers
  • Fierceness of the competition
  • Security of supply
  • Changes in demand patterns
  • Ease to market
  • Growth in markets
  • Ability to scale up the business
  • Ability to control costs and get economies of scale, size and appropriateness of the organisation structure
  • Need for and ability to give and receive trade credit
  • Levels of stock
  • Lead times with suppliers
  • Need for investment in plant and equipment, IT assets or Intellectual property

For the purpose of this article, we will give an overview of some of the more common issues business coaching and mentoring can help with.

Areas Where a Business Coach or Mentor Can Help

Some of the specific strategies that need to be considered and discussed with your business mentor or business coach might include:

  • Care well for and protect all assets – whilst this may seem an obvious must, it is surprising how many businesses don’t heed this crucial approach. This includes adequate insurance, repairs and maintenance, physical security, and legal protection for Intellectual Property.
  • Operating cost reduction – Buy better and implement supply chain management. Look to moving up and down the supply chain and get better credit terms with suppliers to improve net cashflow.
  • Overhead cost reduction – Look at the indirect costs in doing business and take a critical look at the overheads. Why do these exist and what benefits to the organisation are being delivered?
  • Deeper business relationships, including deeper customer, employee and supplier relationships – Any business coach will tell you that relationships are important to the success of a business; if one relationship is damaged, the running and success of the business can deteriorate. There needs to be specific strategies to target in order to maintain these critical relationships. For example, with customers there should be a customer contact policy that sets out the needed level of contact with each customer segmented by the type of customer. This should be documented in the CRM (customer relationship management) system and reviewed for performance.
  • Sustainable competitive advantage – Define your sustainable competitive advantage, improve and protect it. All businesses have competition; you must define or create a unique selling point and maximise this to your advantage. Unless you have and market your sustainable competitive advantage to those customers who value yours, then you will not be chosen by the potential customers you market to.
  • Good industry knowledge – Develop good industry knowledge and influence in the right places. If you are not an expert in your field, then become one, or employ or align yourself with the right people to give yourself better credibility and confidence.
  • Brutal financial analysis – Strictly enforce discipline in the analysis of profit, returns, balance sheet management, net cashflow, budgets, forecasts and targets. You can then use this information for the creation of business growth strategies.
  • Get the best pricing for what you do – Ensure that pricing is effective and not drifting down because it is easy to make sales. Your pricing needs to be realistic with the market and adjusted as changes occur in your markets. Pricing is part of strategy, so for example, you might decide to drop prices to gain market share, increase volumes, and reduce your unit costs as a result. You might also go the other way and differentiate your offering as a higher quality service in the market.
  • Get excellent systems, information and security – These are all equally important and relevant to each other. If any of these falters, the business is vulnerable to cyber-attack and may not have the information it needs to compete in the market or fulfil its orders.
  • Good performance and development leadership – Good leadership must understand how to get more performance and develop the business to produce good financial outcomes, and business coaching can assist with this. This impacts every facet of the business: customers, marketing, sales, operations, people, supply chain management, and the financial impacts that are driven by good leadership on profit, cashflow and returns of every single decision or strategic choice made.
  • Deal with the competition – Be aware of what your competitors are doing. A good understanding of competitors and an ability to out-manoeuvre or block their actions in your market or with your customers is critical. This will help retain customers, win new business and stop your competitors getting bigger and becoming more of a threat to your business’ financial performance.
  • Improve your offer to the market – Improve the market and sales potential for products, services or expertise. This depends on your industry, and the position you hold in the market. Make sure you are delivering an excellent quality product that your customers want to use at the right price in the market segments of your choice.
  • Invest in products and services – Manage the life cycle of your products or services, otherwise they will ‘wither on the vine’ at the same time. Enhance, refresh or replace aging offers in products or services to maintain volume and margins.
  • Plan to have great financial performance – Planning is critical to ensure you have good business plans and business growth strategies, solid organisational structure and people, correct pricing and credit processes, and the right sized cost structures so that you can compete and make a decent profit, returns and net cashflow. This will need regular review and changing if markets or cost structures change rapidly.
  • Risk management – Review and implement risk management systems and practice. This must be across the business. You need to identify where the potential risks are and how you will or can manage that risk, or indeed if you actually want to take that particular risk.

Get Assistance from a Business Coach or Mentor Today

The above issues are critical to any business’s financial performance. As a business owner or senior management, you can become consumed with the day-to-day running of the business, meaning higher level approaches get missed and you can become exposed to higher risks and lower financial performance. It therefore makes great sense for you to set aside time to step out of the day-to-day grind of your business and review these aspects of your business that can improve financial performance. You can do this with a well-matched business mentor or business coach from International Business Mentors. With personal experience running successful businesses, not only can they assist with the examination of the issues affecting the financial health of your business, but they can also assist with improvements and offer confidential support.

Contact International Business Mentors to experience the benefits of business coaching and help you deal with business performance challenges.

Better Productivity Improves Your Strategic Competitive Advantage

Superb productivity is a strategic competitive advantage against your competitors. The opposite is true of poor productivity, which can be caused by a lack of individual performance, wasting time, lack of engagement, and poor management and leadership. All of these factors can increasingly impact business morale negatively in the workplace. If left unchecked, this trend will lead to productivity spiralling further downward, eroding your business performance and weakening your competitive advantage.

How a Business Mentor or Business Coach Can Help with Productivity

Not only can a well-matched business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors help you to review productivity and business culture, but they can also assist you in many strategic areas of the business, including business growth strategies. They can help identify what issues are critical and assist you to work through possible scenarios or solutions to make improvements based on their own business experience.

So how do you reverse the trend of lower productivity and re-engage your people to use their time more effectively, and develop a more harmonious and productive workplace?

In most cases, this downward productivity is a chink in the strategic armour, and if left unaddressed, it can ruin any business. To improve your business’s productivity, compete in the market against productive competitors and better prosper, you need to support your employees. This can be done by improving performance culture, with strong productivity and tighter engagement by everyone.

Improving productivity is the right thing to do by your people and will help drive the business’s financial performance with better output, higher service levels, better morale and lower people costs of doing business.

Business coaching can help business owners and senior management to identify and deal with poor productivity. Being independent and experienced in this space with broad business experience, our business mentors and coaches cast fresh eyes over the situation and can discuss with you and share their skills and experiences as to how you might successfully fix the problem and improve productivity.

With the help of your business mentor or business coach, you can get your organisation to teach your employees to use their time more effectively and set performance targets that will result in a win-win situation. Further, as a business owner or as senior management, you will see the knock-on effects of higher productivity. As productivity improves, your people will have higher job satisfaction, which will result in better staff retention. Managing your people will become easier as they become better self-motivated, and you’ll see better business performance as a result.

Common Areas for Improving Productivity

To improve productivity, some of the more common areas to look at are:

  • Support your people with training in leadership, management skills, selling skills, time management, and up-skilling technical skills. Also look at organisational structure and clear job descriptions, with staff understanding their major focal areas to help the business succeed (and themselves long term).
  • Ensure that you have the right people in the right jobs to support the business. Should you employ staff, train and promote them in your business’ specific approaches, or recruit them already trained from outside.
  • Does internal policy support the need for productivity such as: Electronic device usage in working hours:
    • Phones – Whilst it is critical for some people to use their phones to communicate with customers, suppliers and the like, they can also be an enormous distraction.
    • Likewise, email can be absolutely necessary or not useful at all.
    • Reducing the lack of focus and time that is frittered away on devices can boost productivity.
  • Re-define what is required for each job and define reasonable policies to support what you expect in behaviours.
  • Are your reward systems coordinated to produce the right results, including productivity? For example, do you reward good behaviour and a job well done and let your people know that they are valued? They in turn will reward you with greater effort.
  • Prioritising – What is critical and what is not.
  • Focus on attention. This is more valuable than focusing on time. Work done in a few hours with peak concentration, clear thinking and no distractions defines our productivity.
  • Take a break. A typical attention span is 45 minutes depending on the individual and the time of day. So take a short break, grab a drink, and focus your eyes on something else. A break away from a screen will prevent your attention from waning and keep your mind alert.
  • Move regularly, as being physically active can enhance mental performance. Stand up and walk to a colleague rather than emailing them.
  • Moving increases blood flow to the brain, keeping it active and alert which helps people to better do their jobs, generate ideas and solve problems.
  • Eating well and staying healthy are very important. Having a healthy diet, medical check-ups and exercise are not only good for the body, but good for brain health, helping to boost cerebral activity.
  • Drinking enough water is an added advantage of having drinking water available in the workplace.

Where Can A Business Mentor or Business Coach Help You?

A well-matched business mentor or business coach from International Business Mentors can help you review productivity and business culture and also assist you in many wider strategic areas. Furthermore, they can help you to work through possible scenarios or solutions based on their own business experience.

The issues and challenges that you face in your business are wide and are likely to vary over time with your business’s objectives, industry, size, types of customer, products and services that you provide, nature of the competition, location, strength in people, supply and finance, and also the culture of the business. Having identified what your issues are and what your business growth strategies should be, your business coach or mentor can guide you as to how to address and put into place strategies for improvement.

Contact International Business Mentors today to start experiencing the benefits of business coaching and mentoring.

50:50: Achieving Diversity in Workplaces to Increase the Talent Pool & Improve Performance

By David Cartney – International Business Mentors

The lessons for diversity following on from various International Women’s days need to be learned. Although improving, not enough progress has been made in the last few years to redress the gender imbalances in most western economies on employment, senior leadership representation and incomes. At International Business Mentors, our business coaching professionals take diversity seriously and strongly advocate for reform in this space.

One Suggested Approach to Better Diversity in Employment

One approach to redress some of the existing gender imbalances is to implement diversity policies at the highest level in organisations, and also ensure that operational management implement these in practice. This would need targets to encourage implementation and would need to be applied to both genders where there is a gender bias in the distribution of employees. Our business coach and business mentor professionals are routinely asked for assistance to address and put in procedures to meet this challenging goal.

Adopt the Internal Target of 50:50

Feedback from our business mentors and business coaches suggests that one aspect of implementing diversity policy is to adopt internal targets (not quotas) of 50:50, and this could be adopted in all areas of any business or organisation. There is nothing like a measurable target to focus the mind and encourage critical thinking and concerted action to attain the gender targets.

Implementing a diversity target would encourage the use of the full market of talent to be considered in filling jobs or promotions and result in the benefits of getting the best possible candidates for the jobs irrespective of their gender.

To achieve and maintain 50:50 does require after employment that employers treat their successful candidates as equals irrespective of gender. They can be defined as “equals” if they possess similar qualifications, skills experience and demonstrated past performance, which are all independent of their respective gender. Once employed inside the organisation, these equals need to be given equal support and resources to enable them to do their jobs. They also need the same level of opportunities to progress within the organisation. This would allow an even distribution of genders to feed into the higher management and leadership positions and assist in the 50:50 upwards in the organisation.

Where insufficient talent of one gender comes forward from jobs or promotions, then research will be needed to find out the cause of these imbalances and steps taken to remove any blockages.

Examples of Steps to Improve Gender Distribution for Jobs or Promotion

When engaging one of our experienced business coaching professionals, some of the areas in which they can help might be:

Defining steps that may include the depiction of the job itself to remove sexual bias, ensuring both genders to be represented on the interview panels, advertising to attract a wider diversity talent pool, and further there might be a need for suggestions on how the education or experience paths up to this point can be improved to better diversify the people entering into this career path. Training of both men and women might be needed in terms of how to manage and interact and communicate with the diversity within the organisation or in its target organisation and culture in the future.

Micro Approach to Implementing 50:50

At the micro level, an on-going process is needed to achieve diversity at the target of 50:50. Where an area receives significantly greater than 50% of one sex, then resources need to be adjusted to encourage the opposite gender group to restore the balance towards the target. Once balance has been achieved, any one-off resources needed to encourage the lower participating group perhaps can be reduced at the appropriate time. If resources are not adjusted, then the risk is an imbalance in the opposite direction to the original skew, which would become a waste of resources as the target had already been met. And of course, some specific resources may be necessary to maintain the desired balance.

All Traditional Industries or Areas of Skewed Gender Employment Should be Specifically Targeted

All areas or industries which have traditionally been the enclave of either sex should not be allowed to continue to exclude the other gender group, and steps need to be taken to break these areas down so that a sustainable and more even balance may be achieved. This suggested approach targeting for the 50:50, and treating equals with the same resources, training and internal opportunities, should be applied to all badly skewed enclaves, and more urgently to existing predominantly male or female fields.

How Employers Can Benefit from 50:50

Employers need to employ the best people for their jobs and organisation. They should recognise that looking at largely only one gender for employment is reducing their perspective talent pool. This will result on average in sub-optimal employees, and poorer performance will result with reduced effectiveness of their organisations.

There are many other benefits that come with a balanced and diverse work force, including reduced risk, as differing perspectives can uncover new critical aspects of the business − similar to how a business coach can help. This can also assist with the creation of new business growth strategies.

There is also the likelihood of greater creativity and better engagement with stake holders, who are better served by an organisation that reflects their own diversity.

All of these benefits may be achieved for the business or organisation by redressing any imbalances to the 50: 50 target.

Conclusions

Setting 50:50 targets on gender diversity (not quotas) and measuring progress to attain the 50:50 could improve outcomes based on gender diversity that result in the employment of the best people. Ultimately, this would positively impact performance of business and other organisations.

The allocation of resources to achieve 50:50 targets should be directed to both genders in specific areas. These resources need to meet gender skewness in detailed areas of business and other organisations, including governments. Approaches to meet the 50:50 would be based on simple measurable gender diversity rules, which should become publically available data for all significant organisations. This would need to include any areas that are significantly different to the 50:50 and detail the progress to meet this target, and also outline the amount of resources being spent on each gender to achieve the current desired outcomes.

An independent, confidential and experienced business coaching professional from International Business Mentors can assist business owners and CEOs to recognise the importance of gender balance. When addressed and implemented properly, the benefits are significant, being an integral part of business growth strategies and making for a more productive and harmonious workforce.

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how a business mentor or business coach can help.

Reduce Fatal Financial Blind Spots by Strengthening Your Financial Skills

By David Cartney, International Business Mentors

Introduction

Many business owners and managers have significant financial blind spots that hinder their ability to effectively manage the financial dynamics of their business. This can lead to financial challenges and in some cases to the loss of profits, or unforeseen and unwanted negative cashflows. In extreme cases, the business may have to close.

Financially literate directors and staff can help business owners navigate through these financial blind spots.

With financially literate directors and staff, or a good business coach, you will have a bridge to help the business make better commercial decisions in all aspects of the business. This is facilitated through various financial analyses, advice and approaches, which effectively open our eyes to these financial blind spots and allow the business to be better run financially.

Below are the Top 10 Financial Blind Spots that I see regularly that many business owners and managers face. These are critical to the success and risk of a business:

1. The importance of profit, profitability & financial sustainability
2. Cash flow and its drivers to control it
3. Returns − the need to improve returns
4. Understanding cost structures and getting the margins right
5. Disciplined and accurate cash flow forecasts
6. Balance sheet management also drives cash flow & returns
7. Cash flow statements need to be understood
8. Calculating the impact of price changes on volume & cost structures
9. How to use net present values (NPV’s) & pay back periods
10. Improving working capital management with banks in mind

As you go through each blind spot, ask yourself these two questions:

1. Does this apply to my current business?
2. How can I improve on these blind spots?

Blind Spot 1: The Importance of Profit, Profitability & Financial Sustainability

The importance of delivering a profit cannot be understated for all businesses. Profit drives cash flow and losses that will eventually turn into negative cash flows, which increases debt and the risk to the business.

It is therefore essential that business management understands that although revenue is critical, it must be achieved with good profitability, as revenue without enough profit will undermine any business’s financial performance and cash flow.

Improving profitability requires financially literate directors and staff to analyse cost structures to ensure that margins are correctly calculated and to focus business on improving the profitability.

With good margin information, the outlook for a business can be forecast and assessed. This can be achieved by analysing the life cycle of its products and/or services and customers, as the future profits will be driven by their profitability and life cycles.

Adequate planning of future profits is an area in which financially literate directors and staff are well placed to analyse, advise, support with costing, and predict the financial impact of profit trends and business decisions. Decision-makers should seek these analyses or consider business coaching when assessing financial performance and before making their decisions.

Blind Spot 2: Cash Flow and the Drivers to Control It

Where management of a business has insufficient grasp of the drivers of cash flow, there is a high risk that the cash flow is not being optimised, or worse − decisions may steer the business in the opposite direction to that intended.

Financially literacy should enable analysis of net cash flow, its drivers and help monitor financial trends in the business and convey what steps may be taken to improve their cash flow.

Further, the financially literate directors and staff should understand what drives cash flow for each part of the business, as each has its own financial dynamics and its own constraints in what can be done in its peculiar circumstances. Each area or business faces its own financial dynamics and is impacted by its industry and business sector.

Management that grows the revenue but ignores the funding requirements needed to support that growth in increased working capital are putting the whole business at risk. The business may face increasingly negative cash flows as a result of such business growth strategies despite increases in their profit.

Financially literate directors and staff (or a business coach or mentor) are well placed to analyse the complex cash flow requirements and cash flow dynamics and drivers, assisting management to monitor and improve their cash flow, particularly during growth periods.

Blind Spot 3: Returns − The Need to Improve Returns

Many businesses poorly understand the concept and analyses of returns, and financially literate directors and staff should calculate the returns for various aspects of their business. They can bring these return calculations to management’s attention and make recommendations so that management can increase returns or exit those areas where returns are insufficient.

By taking action that is focused to improve returns, management will make better informed decisions to improve the business’s returns. Improved returns will help attract and retain providers of funding for both debt and equity. The improved returns will make the business a better investment prospect for the business owners and assist with future business growth strategies.

Other areas include: the expected returns from decisions such as whether to invest or not in CAPEX or acquisitions, or R & D where this type of financial analysis can support all businesses.

Blind Spot 4: Understanding Cost Structures and Getting the Margins Right

The complexity of many businesses makes calculating the costs and allocating these to products or service sometimes very difficult for management. If costs are materially incorrect, this will result in unreliable costs, misleading margins and potentially inappropriate decisions that result in profit deteriorating unnecessarily or valuable opportunities being missed.

As financially literate directors and staff can carry out costing properly, this will give vital information about good and bad profitability to decision-makers to help them make decisions with confidence, such as which products or services to push or drop.

Analysis of the costs opens the cost structures to direct assessment and to the potential of cost cutting and effort optimisation.

Financially literate directors and staff, as well as business coaching professionals, are invaluable in the costing process and have a deep understanding of cost structures. This process can establish more dependable margin information, aid decision-making in the critical area of products or services management, and facilitate cost cutting, as appropriate in a sensible way relevant to the business and its strategic direction.

Blind Spot 5: Disciplined & Accurate Cash Flow Forecasts

Most businesses cannot survive long without a disciplined approach to forecasting their financial results on a regular basis − forewarned is forearmed!
Financial forecasts predict events such as:

  • When increased funding will be required
  • If a payment of a dividend is sustainable
  • Should we invest in CAPEX or another business?

The discipline of financial forecasts focuses management regularly on the actions required to maintain the business’s financial performance. This will also support the business plan implementation. Updating forecasts regularly is usually required, as most business’s experience changes in the business environment rapidly and they need to adapt to the new financial realities as these happen.

Financially literate directors and staff are invaluable in the process of forecasting with their analytical skills and ability to flex forecasts for changes in the underlying and changing financial sensitivities.

Blind Spot 6: Balance Sheet Management Also Drives Cash flow & Returns

As growth in the net operating assets is a significant contributing driver to changes in funding, returns and net cash flow, the importance of good balance sheet management cannot be understated.

Financially literate directors and staff, as well as business coaching and mentoring professionals, understand the impact of changes in the net operating assets and must ensure that management gains from their insights.

If businesses are managed solely based on profit, then the accountant must ensure that management understands that changes in the operational balance sheet directly impact net cash flow and returns. The management must consider their balance sheet dynamics when making decisions. Financially literate directors and staff can do this by explaining why changes in the operating net assets are significant drivers of short-term net cash flow.

And further, balance sheet management needs to have appropriate resources dedicated to improving all aspects of the net operating assets, including through debtors, WIP and inventory reduction, and extending creditors on a sustainable basis.

The absolute level of net operating assets also drives the returns from a business, and financially literate directors and staff can act as good gatekeepers to ensure that balance sheets are controlled in both working capital and the amount of non-current assets to improve returns.

Financially literate directors and staff also filter and assess investment decisions to ensure that these will result in acceptable returns, using well-understood investment approaches to improve investment choices regarding CAPEX and other noncurrent assets.

Blind Spot 7: Cash Flow Statements Need to Be Understood

Understanding the benefits of cash flow statements can be difficult for management, as these are relatively technical documents and need interpretation by financially literate directors and staff.

Cash flow statements can be practically explained by financially literate directors and staff to operational management in one-page management accounting formats. These demonstrate the impact of both profit and changes to net operational assets on the net cash flow and are reconciled back to the more technical cash flow statements.

Financially literate directors and staff, and even a good business coach, can help management to understand cash flow statements and forecast cash flows. They can also help with what can be done to improve the cash flows in the future.

Blind Spot 8: Calculating the Likely Impact of Price Changes on Volume & Cost Structures

The impact of changing prices on volume, profit, variable unit costs and net cash flow need to be calculated by financially literate directors and staff. This will allow management to work out their best options in pricing to ensure these decisions have a positive impact on the financial results.

The analyses and calculations in these areas are complex, and the financially literate directors and staff need to follow well-established models and processes in making these calculations. Not only can product or service profits be estimated, but also customer profitability needs to be established as well as cash flow and returns from customers and products or services.

These types of analyses by financially literate directors and staff have a profound impact on business growth strategies, such as which customers and which products or service should be targeted to ensure good profitability, returns and cash flow. These types of analyses require good costing information. As costs change with volume, and volume changes with price, the volumes demanded will interact with the price elasticity of demand.

Therefore, as prices change, the variable unit costs will change with changes in volume. Management will need guidance from staff or a business coach in the approaches, as well as the calculations and estimation of all variables as prices change. These are complex interactions and calculations.

In the absence of these price and volume analyses and calculations carried out by the accountant, it can be very difficult for management to estimate the impact of price changes. E.g. a price increase may result in a drop in profit and cash flow. Due to this complexity, management may fall back on “rules of thumb” that will give misleading outcomes in financial performance and lead to drops in profit and cash flow.

Financially literate directors and staff can fundamentally change the course of actions by management once their analyses are complete on the impact of price changes on volume, cost levels, incremental profit or loss, and changes to cash flow.

Thus, financially literate directors and staff can help management to shape their decisions, so that the impact of pricing impacts the financial performance in the desired direction based on a deep understanding of the detailed interactions of price, volume and unit cost structures.

Blind Spot 9: How to Use Net Present Values (NPV’s) & Pay Back Periods

The use of forecast information to make investment decisions is well used, and the Net Present Value (NPV) approach is the most widely accepted. However, NPV is only practical under appropriate circumstances and the accountant should understand the calculations and be able to perform these and advise on when it is an inappropriate method. If not appropriate, they should give advice or make suggestions of more appropriate methodologies such as payback periods to assist in the investment decision-making.

Financially literate directors and staff can better assist businesses to improve their returns and cash flow and assist in assessing the risk associated with the making of specific investments and flows of cash.

Picking the right discount rate is fundamental to using the NPV approaches, and the financially literate directors and staff need a good understanding of the appropriate discount rates − particularly the weighted average cost of capital (WACC).

In all NPV related areas, the financially literate directors and staff, or a business coach, can support management with their expert knowledge and ability to complete the NPVs, and advise on the related issues, analyses and discount rates.

Blind Spot 10: Improving Working Capital Management with Banks in Mind

Improving the working capital measures is one area of financial performance that banks tend to focus on in assessing their business customers’ facilities for renewal.

One crucial area in keeping the banks on side requires an understanding from their perspective, and that involves tracking changes and trends in balance sheets, profit and loss, returns and net cash flow.

On the working capital requirements, this can be critical to financial performance, as it can be very volatile and change rapidly with potentially immediate and significant impacts on net cash flow. Banks use a range of working capital gap calculations and trends to better understand the impact of changes in the working capital requirements of their customers. These analyses impact their opinion of the business in terms of risk and the funding requirements and what they will extend to the business.

Financially literate directors and staff, as well as business coaching professionals, will be aware of these ratios that banks monitor in their assessment of businesses. And having calculated these ratios, these can help the business to control their working capital and stabilise or reduce the working capital gaps to keep the business’s financial performance and working capital requirements within acceptable limits to the banks. This approach should reduce the risk to the business and keep the banks’ facilities more likely to be kept in place. Whereas the banks are more likely to act to reduce their exposure to a financially underperforming business, where the financial dynamics are not controlled in a desirable fashion, given the constraints of the specific business and its environment.

Conclusion

The capability of financially literate directors and staff (or an International Business Mentor) to provide valuable service and support to management and businesses generally can be greatly enhanced by ensuring that the financially literate directors and staff have a current and practical understanding of these critical areas above. The lack of these is often the undoing of businesses’ financial success. Financially literate directors and staff, or a good business coach, need to not only communicate the benefits to management, but also complete these sometimes complex and technical analyses for management.

David Cartney, International Business Mentors

How Stigma in the Workplace Reduces Business Performance

There are many issues that can impact the smooth and healthy running of a business − particularly with how the people in the organisation are managed and lead. After all, it’s the people at all levels in the organisation who drive the business performance. Any business coach will tell you that one of the major challenges in this space is that of reducing or eradicating the harmful effects of stigma within the organisation.

Stigma contributes negatively to the critical business culture. It can be toxic and result in disunity of purpose and low productivity, high staff turnover and a failure to implement succession plans, leaving critical gaps in the organisation structure. This impacts business growth strategies and negatively affects long term business performance.

Fortunately, the right business coach or mentor can help Business Owners and CEOs to improve a wide variety of business-related issues. Business coaching can also help identify, consider and suggest policy and procedures to reduce the bad effects brought on by workplace stigma.

Addressing Stigma

Addressing the negative impacts of stigma is not just about making a more harmonious workplace, but is part of setting a good strategic culture which impacts directly to support business growth strategies.

Social stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person who is perceived as ‘different’. It can be manifested in areas such as culture, gender, race, age, intelligence, health and social standing. Stigmatising works through a process of labelling that seeks to attribute negative feelings in order to discredit individuals. Stigma not only affects the people being stigmatised (behaviour, low self-esteem, poor productivity), but impacts those who deliver it, often creating bullies who believe strongly in their own prejudices, which reinforces the stigmatising process and leads to their reduced well-being.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches often find that stigma is not necessarily obvious at first. They may be mentoring in other aspects of business and discover stigma smouldering in the background. Regardless of the cause, they can help you identify it and stamp it out.

If stigma is not addressed and handled appropriately, the ramifications to a business can be drastic, leading to a decay in culture, adverse legal implications, and the lowering of business performance − or at worst, the possible demise of the business.

Deloittes, in their study “Uncovering Talent: A new Model of Inclusion”, have identified four types of ‘covering up one’s appearance’. Many stigmatised people take these approaches to conceal what it is they feel or are made to feel ashamed of.

The Four types of ‘Covering’

  1. Appearance: Covering up aspects of one’s appearance, mannerisms and attire.
  2. Affiliation-based covering: Not talking about one’s identity, or not supporting work events for fear of being outed.
  3. Advocacy based covering: Not wanting to support or stick up for your group or colleagues.
  4. Association-based covering: Not wanting to attend a work group or function for fear of being exposed and discriminated against.

There are many similarities and some differences relating to stigma across businesses. An independent business coach or mentor who has experience in these areas can suggest the development of policy, procedures and strategies to stamp out stigma and avoid the need for covering.

How Business Coaching Can Help

Some of the areas related to stigma that a business coaching professional can help with may include:

  • Be consistent in work allocation decisions
  • Coaching the business owner, CEO or senior management to be less judgemental and address bias tendencies as part of leadership culture
  • Create team events, functions and rituals which encourage group connectivity
  • Develop a culture for workplace inclusion
  • Do not condone office gossip, and make it safe for those who wish to challenge others who disagree
  • Know your people on an individual level
  • Reduce stereotypes
  • Support those you feel are victims of stigma, encourage them to discuss what areas they feel they are unfairly treated, and put measures in place to fix the problem

The benefits of reducing stigma include:

  • Having more harmonious and productive workplaces
  • A more diverse group of people to improve business adaptability
  • Using more of a win-win approach generally
  • More productive and healthier people working better towards common goals, which in turn can enhance the business’ success and performance

Call International Business Mentors today to start enjoying the benefits of an independent business coach or mentor.

Using Your Strengths and Talents to Get Ahead in Business

The rise of positive psychology in recent years has led to a shift from focusing on weaknesses to acknowledging and working on strengths. This means instead of spending all our time fixing weaknesses, we’re now encouraged to develop those things that we’re good at − things that bring us joy. This approach could be the key to your business growth strategies this year.

Current research on using strengths in business shows that this practice provides greater work satisfaction, engagement and productivity. This is no surprise when we consider that doing what we’re good at and what we enjoy naturally leads to greater levels of passion, curiosity and innovation. Below, we’ll share three steps to using your strengths and talents to get ahead in business.

1. Find out What Your Strengths Are

You might think you know what your strengths are, but our opinions of ourselves can sometimes be biased. That’s why it can be helpful to get outside help from a business coach. Business coaching is often helpful because it aids you to see yourself from an outside perspective and make you aware of any blind spots. You can also use a technique that involves asking 10 or more people who you know well from different areas of your life for feedback on when you were at your best. However you do it, get outside feedback from others on what your strengths are, as you might be surprised at what they say.

Figure Out How to Apply Your Strengths

When you run your own business or you’re one of the key decision makers in a company, you have great responsibilities but also a great degree of freedom. Once your strengths have been identified, you can make changes to your work life to implement these strengths on a daily basis. Do more things that light you up and energise you. Delegate the things that are inessential or sap your energy. A good business coach can help you figure out which tasks to delegate. Sometimes it can be hard to let go of the reigns a little, but the freedom gained is worth it.

It’s not just about you either. If you know what your employees’ strengths are, you can work with them in a more effective way too. This will help lower staff turnover, as they’ll feel more engaged with their work. Consider people’s natural strengths during the hiring process to ensure you have staff around you who complement rather than compete with your strengths. High-quality business coaching will consider ways to get your team members working with each other’s strengths.

How Do These Strengths Make You Stand Out?

Just as you have personal strengths and weaknesses, your business as its own entity will have its own strengths and weaknesses. Considering these is an exercise that your business coach can take you through. Sometimes the business’s strengths and weaknesses are very much tied to the business owner’s personal strengths and weaknesses, such as in the case of sole traders where the personality of the business is taken from the personality of its owner.

In larger corporations, it might be the branding of the business in the marketplace, or it might be the sum total of a company’s culture which gives them a certain name for themselves. Either way, you need to know what your company’s strengths are and capitalise on them if you want to be competitive in the marketplace. Don’t compete in an area or on a selling point that’s a weakness − compete with your best self facing forward. Both on a personal and business level, driving forward with your strengths will always serve you well.

Leverage Your Strengths with International Business Mentors

It’s hard pedalling along in business without any external input. At International Business Mentors, we have experienced and supportive business coaching professionals who can help you find your key strengths and apply them to your business. If you need some extra help, we’ve got the winning strategies you need. Call us today for more information on (03) 8686 9192.

How a Business Coach Can Help You Build Confidence

When it comes to business growth strategies, building confidence may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, when you stop to think about it, the confidence levels of an entrepreneur can have a profound impact on their success in business, and any good business coach will know this.

When you sign up for business coaching, your coach will aim to help you develop confidence in all aspects of running your business. There will be some areas in which you naturally shine, but for the areas where you could do with more confidence, our six step method for building your confidence in business could be just what you need.

1. Where Do You Need More Confidence?

The first step is to identify the areas where you need more confidence. It might not be easy to admit it, but you might have some aspects in your personality that could be improved to ensure your business runs smoother. It can be hard to hear feedback, even from your business coach, but you can learn from it and use it to improve yourself and your business’ performance.

2. Imagine the Difference Confidence Makes

Now think about those places where you need more confidence in running your business and imagine what they would look like if you had that confidence, today. How would you act differently? Speak differently? Do business differently? And how would that affect your business? All these changed behaviours are well within your grasp. See it, believe it, be it − that’s how it works.

3. Small is Safe, but Confidence is Successful

Business coaching can soon expose any long-held negative patterns of thinking. This is a natural process of removing the layers of conditioning that have kept you small and boxed up over a lifetime. Everyone has them, and now it’s time to meet your critical inner voices. Just hear them and accept that they’re there, but crucially, you don’t have to believe them anymore.

4. Success Starts with a Positive Attitude

Now that you’re familiar with your critical voices, it’s time to plant the seeds of success into your own mind and pull out the weeds. Affirmations and positive thoughts are helpful for retraining your brain to think in more confident ways. Write out a few key phrases to boost your confidence and practice saying them ten times each day. You’ll soon notice a lift in your confidence levels.

5. Remind Yourself to Stay On Track

How will you remember to act and think differently in everyday situations? It’s so easy to revert back to the norm. Some people use timer alarms on their phones to remind them to do certain things. You might also want to change your computer passwords to something that reminds you of your new outlook on life. It’s helpful to do any new routines at the same time each day so that your positive changes become automatic over time. Business coaching can help support you to make these changes.

6. Take Daily Actions towards Success

There’s an old saying that goes ‘change nothing, and nothing will change’, and it tends to be true. Ultimately, new confidence will come through new action. Ask your business coach for strategies to quell your fears so you can move forwards with positive action. All the previous work you’ve done in identifying where you need confidence, imagining what that might look like and integrating affirmations into your thinking will give you a supportive base to work from. If you feel wobbly during this process, engage in some business coaching to give you the support you need.

Get your Business to the Next Level with International Business Mentors

Need extra input to get your business to the next level? Want to know how to be more confident as a business owner or entrepreneur? International Business Mentors can help. Our mentors are highly experienced in the business world and have had great results with previous clients. To learn more about our professional business coaching, call us today on (03) 8686 9192.

Improving CEO Performance with a Business Coach or Mentor

To succeed as a CEO is an ultimate business and career success objective, and at the top of the corporate ladder, it is the position most sought after. Yet the step up to the CEO position is not always straightforward and usually comes with many foreseen and unforeseen challenges. A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can guide you through the transition process and help you navigate the many challenges that stand in your path.

The Challenge of Transitioning into the role of CEO

If you’re transitioning into the role of CEO or trying to improve your performance as the CEO, then you have your work cut out for you. You will have new major responsibilities and great pressures to perform, such as delivering business growth strategies and financial results, growing markets, keeping customers happy, negotiating with suppliers, and working hard on all of your employees and your target culture to sustain performance, all while managing the day-to-day issues and cash flow.

There may be gaps in your knowledge or expertise, necessitating a confidential sounding board to run ideas, problems or possible solutions past. The problem is you may not be able to discuss these with colleagues, employers or board members. One solution is a confidential business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors.

A successful CEO must have a passion for the business and have a deep seeded desire for success. They need to understand the privileged position of CEO that they hold. Senior leaders who have recently become a CEO can seriously benefit from the confidential support of a suitable business mentor or coach who has firsthand experience and understands the challenges of being a CEO, allowing them to fill in gaps in experience that the CEO faces in their new role.

How Business Coaching Can Help

CEOs often lack confidential and trusted support from within their organisation and often feel that it is ‘lonely at the top’. Sometimes they just need to discuss particular concerns in detail with someone who has experience in a specific area of business, or just share their new ideas with an understanding confidant. An experienced business coach or mentor can share the benefit of their business experience, lend a sympathetic ear, give feedback, and challenge and support CEOs.

Other significant areas that business coaching can help with include developing leadership skills, improving decision making, improving interaction with the Board and reporting, considering better team building, and improving relationships with their Board, senior executives, staff, customers and other stakeholders. A business coach or mentor can also assist with forecasting, planning business growth strategies, and setting the target business culture.

Some critical areas that a professional business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors will work on with CEOs to increase their performance include:

  • Leading by example
  • Setting the vision
  • Being visible leaders
  • Monitoring processes
  • Understanding and using the financial information to support decision making
  • Providing better support for key employees
  • Improving listening skills
  • Developing better thinking frameworks for decision making and improved judgement
  • Honing communication skills
  • Proactively assessing and managing business risks where possible
  • Implementing better corporate governance

Learning on the job is a constant dynamic for successful CEOs, whereby they better manage and lead the organisation in many different and challenging business situations and strategic directions.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” ~ John F. Kennedy

Succeed as a CEO with International Business Mentors

Business coaches and mentors can be an extremely important and beneficial resource for a CEO. A business coaching professional from International Business Mentors offers a direct route in learning from their business experience, providing a CEO with a wealth of experience, wisdom, counsel and support from an independent perspective in a confidential setting.

To help you succeed, a mentoring relationship needs to be based on trust and the sharing of information, ideas, experiences and skills in a confidential and supportive environment. At International Business Mentors, we match business mentors and coaches to individual CEOs, taking into account the CEO’s specific needs, issues and challenges.

Call International Business Mentors today to find a great business coach or mentor.

Leverage Your Strategies and Focus Your Competitive Advantage with Business Coaching

We live in a fast-evolving competitive world in which few businesses are unique for long, making it crucial to constantly re-focus your competitive advantage to identify or create your customer value-adding points of difference. This is essential to set yourself apart from and stay ahead of the competitive pack.

In your ongoing challenge to keep ahead, you must be mindful of the risks and pitfalls that come with increased competition and the many changes that potentially occur in your business space. As a business owner, you need to know your product or service intimately, what your customers want, and how you can deliver value to them. This is the basis for understanding, creating and focusing your competitive advantage.

The next step is to do even better.

This may seem simple, but often you can become self-absorbed in your own business environment and become blinkered. Avoiding this trap is where a well-matched business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can help.

How Business Coaching Can Help

Your own business coach or mentor will look at you and your business from a fresh perspective and without the day-to-day pressures that you face. They also have wide and valuable business experience and can challenge you to think outside of the day-to-day priorities. They’ll support you to consider business growth strategies and other solutions to problems or opportunities that you face.

Constantly finding better ways to compete in your evolving business world requires creativity and ingenuity. You must also consider the wider business context and constraints such as your business’ ability to raise finance and produce good financial performance, and the capability and motivation of your people and your organisation to deliver on the strategies you consider. These are all areas where business coaching can assist you.

Implementing Business Growth Strategies

To succeed in delivering your business growth strategies, you will need to focus on identifying growth factors and how to implement them, which will require operational plans and developing resources, suppliers and systems to support and deliver on your strategy for growth.

Deciding on your business’ point of difference with your customers will vary depending on your specific type of business. For example, a “bricks and mortar” retail business would be very different to an online store or a different product or service business such as a law firm, manufacturer or distributer. They will also vary from businesses in other industries such as entertainment, software, health services, accounting, farming, tourism, consulting, education, charities, government bodies, etc.

Even your approach to the same customers as your competition may be quite different. For example, the competition may go for high service and higher prices, whereas you might target customers who are price sensitive and provide a no-frills service at lower prices but with higher margins, gaining cost advantage through greater volumes and a simpler offering.

Many strategic issues and ways of thinking through problems, decision-making, assessing and mitigating risks or assessing opportunities are common across industries. Many can be unique to your specific business or niche in the market. A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors is well experienced to help you and your businesses think through how to identify and implement your strategy and decisions that are necessary to sustain and grow your competitive advantage. Your own business coach will give you access to their business approaches and experience to help you with strategy and growth.

A considerable impact on your ability to deliver on strategy is your business culture. Your business coach or mentor can help you assess your business’ culture and help you to shape that culture to better achieve your strategy by harnessing and growing your organisation’s energy and enthusiasm.

Areas Where a Business Coach or Mentor Can Help You Improve

Business mentors and coaches can help you consider many areas where you can make changes for improvement, including:

  • Alliances and partnerships
  • Analysing where the business makes money and produces positive cash flow and returns
  • Better communication with customers, suppliers, staff, shareholders and financiers
  • Brand – customers prefer to deal with a trusted and reputable organisation
  • Competitive analysis
  • Convenience – make dealing with you and your business easy
  • Cost − competition is about finding cheaper, more efficient ways of making product or delivering service (on-shore or off shore, physical or on-line)
  • Develop KPIs for each area of the business to support the strategy
  • Exit plans for shareholders
  • Financing the growth
  • Hire great people, develop and hold accountable
  • Incentives
  • Innovation – think differently
  • Loyalty programs or repeat business incentives
  • Quality – people prefer quality if it’s affordable
  • Reputational protection
  • Risk identification and management or mitigation
  • Security and IT
  • Service – good service is crucial and can make a massive difference to customers
  • Speed to market, take your market share, claim it and keep it
  • Supply chain management to reduce costs, risk and better terms of trade
  • Technology – proper use of technology enables businesses to be more efficient. Use what is relevant to your business – e.g. Social media, big data, cloud computing, business analytics, mobile technology

The Need for Successful Strategies to be Customer Focused

Despite you being happy with how the business is functioning, and the policies and practices you have put in place to stay ahead of the competition, it is your customer who ultimately decides if your competitive advantage strategy is successful. Your perception may be different to your customers. Again, a business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can guide you in considering how to engage your customers so that you know what they value and whether they perceive that your business is delivering.

The search for new ways to innovate and stay ahead is continuous. With the help of business coaching and mentoring, you will be supported confidentially to better face the challenging strategic scenarios you will face. Act now to get the benefits and support from your own business coach or mentor by calling us on (03) 8686 9192.

The Benefits of Business Trust, Reputation and Good Corporate Citizenship

Any good business coach will tell you that trust is the basis on which good corporate businesses and relationships are founded. Trust depends on the reliance on integrity, strength, ability, surety and the confident expectation that things will be done properly. Only by maintaining the highest trust and standards can businesses confidently move in the right direction.

However, trust in businesses has slumped due to a number of factors, including large-scale data breaches becoming commonplace worldwide and the prevalence of “fake news”. This lack of trust is central in many current high profile global issues, including globalisation, climate change and political disruption.

In Australia, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has found misuse of customer trust as a central theme in its finding. Similarly, in New Zealand, questions around consumer trust were also raised in the New Zealand Reserve Bank and in the Financial Markets Authority’s report on the conduct and culture of New Zealand life insurers. This low level of trust begs the questions: Why should we trust? Who can we trust? Can we trust anyone?

Why Trust Is So Important

Trust forms the basis of all human relationships. There are also business benefits of high-trust relationships, such as higher revenue and lower costs, more profit, and increased commitment by employees to the business. These benefits of trust come from being ethical and acting with integrity. Ultimately, it’s important to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

The Impact of Technology on Trust

Since technology increasingly plays a central role in how we deliver services, business leaders now face new challenges in maintaining trust with customers. The increased use of technology itself may not be damaging trust, but the accompanying reduction in face-to-face contact could be contributing. At International Business Mentors, we find that people still value the old-fashioned values of open, honest and ethical behaviour in all business environments.

What Are the Benefits of Good Corporate Behaviour & the Trust It Develops?

There are many spin-offs to good corporate behaviour:

  • You and your staff will be proud to work there
  • Customers react positively and are more likely to demand your products or services
  • Risk will be reduced with better corporate governance and an ethical culture
  • Employees who respect the corporate image and admire the leadership acting responsibly, honestly and beyond reproach will perform to their best, go the extra mile and foster loyalty
  • Your broader business sector will trust you and it will be easier to do business
  • Raising funds will be easier, as trust reduces the risk to the funders
  • Government agencies will need to do less auditing on your returns and compliance
  • New staff will be attracted to your organisation
  • Your brand will improve and add value to the business
  • You will get better press and social media commentary

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, over the last few years we have seen many high-profile organisations around the world act improperly. This has resulted in a loss of trust that has damaged their reputations and relationships with their customers, suppliers, shareholders, bankers, staff and their broader community stakeholders. The resulting damage from this loss of reputation has been significant, from which some businesses will be lucky to survive even with the best business growth strategies in place.

Getting Back the Trust

The aftermath of such scandals evokes continual battles to win back trust, repair the damage and recover the substantial drop in financial performance that typically results. Innocent businesses will often be tainted in an industry when high profile organisations in their sector have been found wanting. Scandal is hard to overcome, and prevention would be better than the cure and also cost less. Good reputation should help optimise the performance of the business.

Protecting business reputations and maintaining a high level of trust is paramount to allow businesses to prosper long term, and a loss of that trust can be catastrophic in the short term.

Difficult Decisions Can Impact Trust

When faced with critical business pressures, our judgement may become compromised, which is a fact of life for all business owners and people in leadership. To have an impartial and experienced business coach or mentor act as a sounding board can help you maintain critical balance in your business and steer through difficult areas potentially impacting reputation.

There are many ways that a business coach or mentor can help you:

  • Act as a confidential sounding board, cast fresh eyes on cloudy situations and guide you through decision making processes, always with an ethical emphasis
  • Leverage their practical experience with situations where damaged business reputation was or could have been a major issue ‘Why do we remember the past but not the future?’ – Stephen Hawking
  • Share corporate governance experience to help you formulate policy to deal with and avoid difficult situations or reputation damaging behaviours

Aspects to Consider in Maintaining Business Trust

Always be forward thinking when making decisions and consider the risks, benefits and potential hazards of the decisions, including how these are made and the appropriate communication strategy with all stakeholders.

Consider one key corporate objective to become, remain and be seen as a good corporate citizen, with a good and ethical culture. Meeting this objective will take commitment and discipline from you and your whole organisation. The good corporate citizenship will require your strategy and mission, leadership, behaviour, business dealings, interaction with customers, public, government agencies, the environment, policies and practice in business, all to be done with a higher purpose in mind. This should aim to support and foster a safe and sustainable business that contributes positively to society and customers, as well as making great returns to your shareholders and looking after your own people. It’s about defining, imagining and then doing the right thing, which business coaching can assist with.

Corporate legislation around the world tries to encourage high levels of good corporate behaviours in specific areas, such as foreign bribery and anti-corruption laws − laws which continually get updated and overhauled. These types of legislation seek to control such unacceptable behaviours with substantial penalties. Your policies and practice need to be cognisant of these types of laws and ensure that you have policies and procedures in place to comply and not incur the potentially severe financial penalties or imprisonment that may be imposed. And of course, to avoid the severe impact on your business reputation and dilution of trust generally.

How to Build Good Corporate Citizenship and Regain Trust

Community expectations for good corporate citizenship are increasing. In their daily interactions, consumers that trust your organisation and your brand tend to be loyal but are quick in this age of social media to jump ship if reputational damage becomes apparent and has been spread.

On business reputation and trust as a business owner or leader, you must continue to learn and stay ahead of legal and community expectations. That requires approaches to increase your awareness of the expectation and consider a gap analysis of your actual practice or performance. This is another area in which a business coach or mentor can assist by offering informed and robust debate. Our mentors do not give lip service but will point out aspects that they see as potentially damaging when it comes to policy, trends, decisions or behaviour.

Managing reputational damage is a difficult exercise. Once mistakes have been made and reputation is damaged, action is required. The right communication is critical when you own up, apologise and act to fix the problem to contain the damage. The specific actions will vary according to the size of the business, what went wrong and if there are any legal implications. ‘Sorry’ can be the hardest word, but it can also be the saving grace with reputation. Speaking to major customers and a good selection of other customers to get feedback and communicate the action that will be taken will go a long way to solving the problem and getting customers back on side.

Strategy and Communication to Help Build Trust and Avoid Losing Reputation

Your business should adopt a strategy of compliance, transparency, honesty and care, always acting in the best interests of your key relationships to reduce the risks of damaging reputation and instead foster trust and relationships. Trust needs clear values, and a purpose beyond just financial targets. To be trusted, you need to commit to and communicate your clear purpose. What people should trust in your business?

Clear purpose and values will help build trust with your own people and help your business to define priorities and fortify your desired culture. Clients of International Business Mentors say that they built trust and culture with their people by being transparent about their strategy and values.

Combining Technology with the Old Trusted Values

In our age of breath-taking technological change and scepticism, it is the traditional and time-tested values and behaviours that remain the basis to building trust. These values and behaviours include being ethical, honest and acting with integrity, building face-to-face relationships, and communicating openly. These values build trust and generate business benefits, and they’re the basis for interacting positively with customers and employees. Even though technology induces increased changes, it is good to find that one thing has remained constant – old-fashioned values are the basis for future trust.

With the support of a business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors, you can feel confident that you will have done everything possible to avoid the damaging risks associated with loss of trust. Contact us now to develop your own trusted business coaching relationship and start experiencing the benefits.

Tips and Business Growth Strategies to Achieve Success in 2019

 

Using feedback from businesses in Australia and around the world early in 2019, International Business Mentors has put together a number of tips and business growth strategies that you should consider as a focus for the rest of 2019.

Our business mentors and business coaches support many businesses across a wide range of industry sectors. They support individuals with all strategic requirements and particularly with their business growth challenges.

Issues raised by our business coaching and mentoring clients as major challenges in 2019 include:

Disruption

Technology changes, the use of social media and digitalisation of processes is disrupting markets and competitors at a rapid rate. You need to consider what is available and move to embrace these changes, as appropriate. If you do not move with the rapidly changing competitive landscape and your competitors do take advantage, then you may be pushed out of your markets or your cost structure will be too high to compete.

Culture

Driven by disruption, culture has been an important issue in the last few years and will continue to be in 2019 and beyond. You must build, manage and lead the highly targeted culture that you need to succeed by incorporating such factors as productivity, engagement, customer centricity, cost awareness, quality, continuous improvement, sound ethical standards for building and maintaining trust and good reputation, and competition.

To overcome issues with disruption and culture, a business coach or mentor can be a valuable resource. To help you get started, here are some tips from our business coaching professionals:

Focus On Your Business’ Strengths

Focus on the core strengths of your business. What are you valued for as a business with your customers? Do not get distracted from your core strengths or waste time and resources on non-commercial outcomes. Understand what is important in your business, prioritise necessary actions or decisions, and don’t lose sight of what really matters.

Look After Your Key People, Customers and Suppliers

Your key people, customers and suppliers are your greatest assets. When you look after them, recognise and reward them, and develop them further, you can expect even greater business benefits. Foster loyalty with your people and customers, lead them properly, communicate effectively with them and manage their performance, and you should find that your people will reward you with greater effort and better retention.

Keep your supplier relationships strong with clear cooperative plans to reduce the risks to you and your suppliers. You should meet at regular intervals to discuss how you can improve business together and discuss future plans to see if you can both come up with ideas and plans to work closer together in the future to your mutual benefit.

Recognise Your Weaknesses

Until you recognise that you or your business has weaknesses, you will not consider improvement that needs to be made so you can implement effective business growth strategies. No one and nothing in business is perfect, so identify any shortcomings and work to correct or improve these. This is the start of the continuous improvement process.

Remember Your Investors − Both Debt and Equity

Your debt and equity providers are taking a risk investing in your business. They need to feel wanted and valued, and they also need to understand what their position is. Ensure they are kept properly informed (no surprises) and take the trouble to speak to them and find out what their expectations are of you and the business. Then plan to give them more of what they want in performance, culture and growth.

Diversify to Get Broader Teams and Better Talent

You should consider the advantages of employing a greater diversity of people with the right skills, including wider genders, ages or ethnicities. Diversity can enrich a business through complimentary skill sets, backgrounds or experience. Increasing diversity may provide fresh eyes in all areas of your business, ensuring you’re not holding back business performance unnecessarily.

Seek Help to Grow Your Business Performance

If you’re not happy with your business performance growth, then you should consider business coaching. A business coach or mentor will act as a trusted sounding board and can assist you to examine your strategy and the detail of your business.

Your own well-matched business mentor or business coach will be selectively matched to meet your specific requirements and will assist you with your business’ growth, strategy and other challenges.

Improve Strategy, Decision Making and Business Learning

A business coaching professional can help you become better at making decisions, learn effectively from experience or lost opportunities, and keep you strategically looking forward.

Keep Gathering Knowledge

You must continue to learn, and you need to strive to keep up to date and look beyond today into the future, leveraging your industry and business knowledge. With a business mentor or coach, you can re-assess where you are leading the business and its likely success in that future. If it’s not good enough, you should consider different futures for you and your business.

Embrace Change

It is a fact of life that business will see enormous advances, particularly in technology, and that change will continue. You must adapt yourself and your business to survive. If you are too slow to adapt, then seek help.

Get Help from a Business Mentor or Business Coach

A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can support you and your business in all of the above scenarios. We take care to get to understand you, your business and the strategic direction you want to pursue. We then provide you with a well-matched business mentor or coach to support you, by considering with you all aspects of your requirements including experience, skills and background.

Your business coaching professional will be matched to your personal fit and with your business to improve growth and provide you with confidential support. Call us now to find your right business mentor or coach.

Make Better Business Decisions

From directors in the board room to business owners, executives, management and employees, and in all our everyday lives, it is critical to make informed and well-made decisions. In a business environment, the decision makers need to be forward thinking and consider where the company needs to go in the future so successful business growth strategies can be devised.

To navigate to a successful future, you need to consider all the elements impacting your business and formulate a business strategy. In this process, you can benefit from fresh eyes and a critical approach from a supportive business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors, who can act as your own valuable and confidential resource.

As Isaac Asimov said: “It is change, continual change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” This is particularly true given the speed of change in society today.

When having to make important business or strategic decisions, you must keep the big business strategic picture in mind. To succeed, you must ensure that an integral and critical part of your business strategy is to implement the principles of building trust and integrity, with consideration towards customers, employees and the environment. Why? Because it endears trust, it’s good practice and it’s the right thing to do.

As Justin Trudeau said: “Openness, respect, integrity – these are the principles that need to underpin pretty much every decision that you make.”

How an Unbiased Eye Can Help with Decision Making

Your business decision making must be aligned with your business’ vision and strategy, and if it is not then you will be in trouble long term. Important decisions are usually stressful, and short-term pressures can often cloud judgement and lead to decisions that are not in line with your strategy. To counter this tendency, a confidential, trusted and experienced business coaching professional from International Business Mentors can help by casting a critical unbiased eye over situations or decisions, giving you confidential support and sharing their knowledge and experience of similar decisions or situations.

Sophocles said: “Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.”

Creating and adopting the right corporate culture that ensures the health of the business, as well as the broader society, needs good decision making. Good decisions can enhance the business’s competitive advantage and performance. Some of the areas in which an experienced business coach or mentor could facilitate this may be, for example:

  • Commence with a clear vision devoid of interference
  • Ensure materials that are used as reference are correct, relevant, and of trusted sources
  • Get contribution/input from relevant, ethical people who understand the business and its vision
  • Consider contrary views and alternatives
  • Be mindful of risks
  • Evaluate the decision making process

Improving the Business Making Process

An independent business coaching professional from International Business Mentors can help you with your business decision making process and identify any blind spots or inherent bias that presents itself in many decision making processes. The decision making process should be as follows:

  • Identify the decision(s) needed
  • Gather information
  • Identify alternatives
  • Weigh the evidence
  • Get a second opinion (potentially from your business coach or mentor)
  • Does the decision support the vision, culture and business growth strategies of the business?
  • Choose among alternative
  • Make a plan and take action
  • Review of your decision(s) and implementation

Challenges to Decision Making

There are many common challenges in the decision making process, but the common ones are:

  • Having too much or not enough information
  • Misidentifying the problem
  • Overconfidence in the outcome

In a collective decision making environment, such as a board, a wide range of views can be given proper consideration to improve decision making and potentially reduce risk. In a more closed environment, such as a sole business owner, there can be a lack of debate of issues or decisions that need to be made, and this lack of debate and breadth of experience increases the risk that critical aspects have been missed. In these circumstances, the support of a constructive and confidential business coach can be critical. A well-matched business mentor or coach can assist and guide your good decision making by facilitating the process.

Decisions need to be made – and preferably well made. Whilst it’s important to learn from mistakes, you can reduce the risks of making bad decisions with the help of a business coaching professional who understands you and your business.

Tony Robbins said: “Remember, a real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”

Making Decisions with Integrity

Another aspect of the decision-making process is to always maintain the importance of integrity, as a business will only stay in business if it maintains trust with its customers, suppliers and staff.

Richard Branson said: “All you have in business is your reputation – so it’s very important that you keep your word.”

There will, of course, be many variations on any decision making process depending on the size and type of the business, but most aspects of good decision making processes are relevant to all.

Experience is by far one of the best factors for successful decision making outcomes, which is why it’s useful to get help from a knowledgeable business coach or mentor who can help you make a significant difference by identifying and minimising risks.

A well-matched, experienced and confidential business mentor or coach can be a valuable resource to help you better navigate your business decision making processes. Contact International Business Mentors to get a mentor or coach who can help you.

How Diversity Can Improve Business Performance

Diversity in share portfolios tends to spread risks and access a wider range of possible opportunities. The work force also can benefit from diversity in its people to reduce risks and benefit from the diverse skills and viewpoints that can bring new opportunities and benefits, or identify risks that need to be controlled better. Diversity of people in the business team reduces blind spots in how we operate. The main feature of a blind spot is that you cannot see it and are unaware of its potential, both good and bad. Fortunately, a well-matched business coach or mentor can help you to consider your business from a fresh perspective.

In the modern workplace, diversity is well appreciated and becoming increasingly regarded, as it provides a richness of varied viewpoints. Diversity well-managed can create a balanced and healthy environment which impacts on the healthy performance of the business and the people within it.

Better diversity is also considered extremely important at the levels of the board of directors and the senior management team or executive, with diversity increasingly being recognised as a valuable strategic objective for businesses.

From the Board of Directors’ Perspective

The perceived lack of diversity in board rooms has become a global issue. The days of boards being comprised mostly of men from confined cultural backgrounds are changing, and the valuable contribution of educated and enlightened women and others outside of the confined cultural backgrounds is becoming increasingly recognised.

A well-functioning board needs to have the right skill set, from an industry sector perspective, functional background, relevant exposure, and so on, so that they as a team have the best possible skills and experience to navigate and monitor the business through the decision making processes, needed innovation and challenges that they will face. A business coaching professional from International Business Mentors can help you to consider your board composition planning from an experienced perspective.

Diversity is not just about gender, but wider considerations relevant to the business, such as: gender, age, experience, cultural background, innovative ability, board exposure, business education, industry experience, business connections, ability to think critically, adaptability, soft skills, team work, personality, technological appreciation, public speaking and communication skills, as well as appreciations of strategy, customers, operations, people, supply chains, finance, funding, cashflow management, risk identification, contract law, selling, social media, cyber security, people selection, incentives schemes, corporate governance, politics, performance management, project management, acquisitions, right sizing, shareholder engagement, banking relationship maintenance, and negotiations.

From the Executive or Senior Management Team’s Perspective

The executive or senior management team plays a strategic part in any business to deliver the performance required, implement new business growth strategies and pursue the strategic objectives of the organisation. With involvement in critical decision making, leading people, and managing departments, budgets, staff and other fundamental core business functions, they need to be not only well qualified and performance driven, but able to bring alternative view points for consideration back to the rest of the executive or senior management team. An executive with a wealth of diverse backgrounds, experiences and skills can enrich an organisation and give a cutting edge. An individual executive’s contribution can also be enhanced with a business coach or mentor who can leverage their breadth and diversify business experience.

How Environment Diversity Can Enhance the Performance of Any Team

Complementary and overlapping skills, knowledge, experience and expertise can bring a broad balance to a team. This can reduce risk and increase the innovative process in making business improvements. Selecting members with the right skills from a sector perspective, functional background and exposure to what is relevant to the business are some of the considerations when building such a team.

A good team construction needs to consider its membership from the wide range of diversities available and appropriate for the team to function well. The addition of greater diversity of thought to a team makes it more likely that critical challenge to issues will occur from new angles.

Some of the benefits of a diverse workforce include:

  • More experienced employees can offer frameworks for thinking through various types of problems or opportunities, have a broader view of risks (having been through prior business cycles), have valuable specific and relevant lessons from experience, have broader and possibly deeper skills in certain areas, and have diverse networks to call on for assistance.
  • Less experienced employees can offer a fresh perspective and have, for example, grown up in the technological age as technological natives and will become future business leaders.
  • All people of different backgrounds offer a different take on many aspects of the current business culture seen from their fresh eyes.

A business coach or mentor can help you think through the many different areas where diversity may help your business. From the staff selection process to a supportive role, a well-matched business coaching professional from International Business Mentors can be a valuable resource.

Hire for Performance and Diversity

When considering your workforce, consider complementary skills and the experience new people can bring to the organisation. Regardless of where they sit in the hierarchy of the business, good people are the most important asset. They need to be supported, encouraged and rewarded. You should want them to be motivated, contribute to their potential, and have them want to stay if they perform.

New board members who have enormous potential yet little board experience can be supported by an experienced and independent business coach or mentor who can assist with all manner of board dynamics. Key executives, especially those from different backgrounds, can also benefit from an individually matched mentor or coach who understands their circumstances and knows how best to help them reach their peak business performance.

A diverse workforce should help to attract talent, better service diverse markets, and drive forward thinking. For example, graduates and younger job seekers are more likely to consider an organisation’s policy on hiring a diverse workforce when researching potential career opportunities. If there is no diversity in the talent pool, potential talent may be missed out on.

Achieve a Diverse and Innovative Workforce

International Business Mentors has business coaching professionals who are experienced in helping to build diverse and highly functional teams. They do this by identifying the best possible mix of diversity, then assisting you to build, train and monitor the team.

Our business coaches and mentors work at many levels of businesses according to the desired business outcome and are selected after considering their fit with experience, skills and background. Our mentors and coaches understand the complexities and challenges of business, including creating diverse workplaces.

Call International Business Mentors today to find out how we can help you to achieve this.

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.”

– Malcolm Forbes

Lead for Strategic Innovation or Die as a Business

To evolve and survive, businesses need a long-term plan with investment led business growth strategies underpinned by innovation in all areas of their business.

Good business leadership must be looking to the future, as business generally is on the edge of many great changes. Leaders must innovate in how they want people to work. This is difficult to anticipate given the great technological and social changes impacting business, staff and customers. What will need to be done? Who will do what, and what will be the business environment that people want to work in?

Business leaders need to direct their organisations into the emerging and challenging business future, with confidence that changes and innovation in all areas will bring great business opportunities. Changes and innovation will not be uniform and will be structurally different by business sector and geographical location. Further, each individual organisation will make specific changes and innovations that will differ based on their own capabilities to innovate and deal with change. With help from a business coach, good leaders can identify potential opportunities and mould their organisations to take full advantage as appropriate.

What is Causing Rapid Business Changes?

Rapidly evolving customer demands and behaviours plus the all-pervasive impact of technology changes all combine with changes in social and community expectations to drive change. Add to this the business disruption of innovative competitors breaking into new and existing markets with product, service and delivery platforms at new cost bases, agile organisational structures, and supply chain truncation to reduce costs.

Innovation and changes will continue in how resources are used, with employment moving further into services. Decision making will increasingly be done with an emphasis on both technical skills and increasingly on soft skills to increase value to customers, increase innovation and to improve the business’s financial performance. There will be an increasing need for staff to crunch big data to understand customers’ changing demand patterns, which will be critical to adapt and anticipate future changes needed to product, service, delivery systems and staff, enabling leaders to implement new business growth strategies and manage future resources to succeed. We will all need to ensure security over all IP, data and analyses due to their critical strategic value in decision making.

What Changes Are Needed to Lead Your People to Create Innovation and Deal with Change?

Generally, given the innovation and changes anticipated, leaders need to align their staff and organisations with the strategic purpose of the organisation rather than just their particular tasks. All staff must be aligned with the specific business growth strategies that they must implement for future success of each organisation.

In order to understand what your staff should concentrate on in the future, you will need a GAP analysis between current tasks and objectives and those needed to support the future strategy and strategic purpose. This GAP analysis will need to be mapped onto the organisation structure and staff. A plan then needs to be created, filling these GAPS to achieve the target organisation and target capabilities. This should identify both hard and soft skills that will be needed in the future, some of which can be provided through business coaching.

A key aspect of all decisions in the future is that these are in strict alignment with the organisation’s strategic purpose. The leaders must implement frameworks to ensure that support is given to their people to train, innovate systematically and help them with change management.

The trend in business is that more work is becoming outsourced and project based, and this will impact culture. This will make it difficult for the business leadership, who must implement plans to maintain the target culture and support the future strategies in the face of more people working outside of their corporate umbrella. More people will have to work more cooperatively across jobs, functions and projects rather than at a closely defined job within a static corporate silo.

How to Align Rewards to Get Innovation and Change

Business leaders will need to create the policies, procedures and systems to support their agile future-oriented strategies and include support for the innovation and change management required as part of their strategies. The question business leaders must ask is whether their remuneration and incentives are designed to support the strategy, changes and innovation required. Incentives and targets need to be aligned with the strategic purpose and demonstrate good business innovation and implementation of necessary changes, with delivered benefits in line with those benefits used to justify the investments in innovation and changes to begin with.

The senior management team and leaders must demonstrate that they consider innovation and change on a regular basis in relation to their evolving strategic view of the business going forward, and deliver on the benefits of innovation in their thinking and plans to implement where opportunities are identified. After assessment, these innovations deemed good investments need to be properly implemented to derive the benefits. On a continual basis, the leaders need to re-envisage future business growth strategies so they can evolve with the innovations and changes that emerge.

Need a fresh perspective on innovation and change as part of your thinking and strategic development? Contact International Business Mentors and gain the strategic advantages that can come from an experienced business coach or mentor.

Achieve Higher Returns with Ethical Investments

It is often assumed that the objectives of social good and maximising profits and returns are a contradiction and mutually exclusive. However, the evidence suggests this is not the case, with “ethical” funds out-performing their comparative rival funds.

As per Clare Page, the global strategy chief of the Tobacco Free Portfolios Social and Ethical fund returned 6.3% over 10 years against comparable funds of an average of just 3.8%. Deutche Assets and Wealth, together with the Hamburg University, found a strong correlation between implementing good environmental, social governance and sound financial performance.

Page further suggests that the long term superior financial performance of the ethical funds may be due to a wider range of risks that have been fostered into the ethical portfolios. Any good business coach will tell you that the reality is that ethical concerns also include how a business treats its own people, its customers and suppliers.

The Damage Caused by Poor Ethical Policies and Relationships

Poor people policies can lead to higher risks of demotivated and relatively unstable work forces, which in turn can lead to high staff turnover and gaps in critical areas of succession plans, and then to poor operational and financial performance.

Poor ethical relationships with customers can prove fatal for these all-important relationships, which should be fostered long term. And since ethical awareness is increasing among customers, their tolerance of lapses will drop and the speed of reputational risk in this age of instantaneous social media contact can be substantial in a short period of time.

Poor ethical relationships with suppliers can lead to the suppliers not wanting to continue to supply the business, which may lead to a bottleneck and inability to supply customers’ demands on time or possibly not at all. This would feed into a loss of reputation with customers and potentially damage the business financially, regardless of the business growth strategies it has in place.

The Trend Towards Ethical Investments

As a result of greater ethical awareness, there is a growing trend for institutional and individual investors to place an emphasis on ethical investments in their portfolios. According to a 2017 Responsible Investment Association survey, 9 out of 10 consumers expect their superannuation to be invested ethically. The same survey suggested that 1 out of 2 dollars is now being invested in ethical investment strategies.

The scope of ethical investment strategies range from not investing in potentially harmful industries such as tobacco, gaming or armaments through to companies with strong stewardship and sustainability and a record of delivering positive social and environmental outcomes.

This trend to greater ethical investment support has now moved into investments such as Social Benefits and Green Bonds, with a balance of measurable outcomes in the social and environmental benefits in conjunction with reasonable financial returns.

Find out how a business coaching professional from International Business Mentors can help you focus your business on evolving better ethical objectives and policies together with sound business strategies, enabling you to gain better ongoing support from your investors, business relationships, customers, staff and the wider community. Contact us today to learn more.

How You Can Benefit from an International Business Coach or Mentor

Business coaching and mentoring has been around for a very long time and can be enormously beneficial for business owners, CEOs, directors and senior executives. At International Business Mentors, we can provide you with a business coach or mentor who can help you gain personal benefits for you and your business.

Business mentoring is recognised around the world as a valuable relationship that can greatly assist you to succeed in business, providing you with confidential advice, new perspectives on your business, and improvements to your business skills. Business coaching can also give you an impartial sounding board while unveiling practical methods and strategy frameworks based on the actual experience of your business mentor or coach. These benefits are delivered with much-needed personal support for you in a strong business mentor or coach relationship. Within your mentoring relationship, your mentor aims to encourage you and instil in you greater confidence, while still challenging you to grow, develop and succeed in your business objectives.

The Role and Benefits of a Business Mentor

We find many business people are not completely aware of the role and benefits of a business mentor. Your business coach or mentor is a facilitator; someone who assists you to find solutions to your business problems and helps you to make better use of your opportunities. They also help you know yourself better and look to use and develop your own natural talents further, as well as helping you to understand where to get assistance or fill any gaps. Your business mentor or coach will share their experiences, successes and mistakes, while your business decisions and business growth strategies will continue to be your own. Your business mentor or coach will challenge, support, steer and encourage you, as well as helping you to look at problems and situations from fresh perspectives.

National Mentoring Day was launched in the UK to recognise the significant benefits of mentoring across the world. It takes place each year on October 27th and was developed to help encourage and celebrate business coaching and mentoring in all its forms.

Placing Your Trust in a Business Coach

An important ingredient to successfully develop your mentoring relationship is trust. And for trust to flourish, you need your mentoring sessions to be confidential and your business coach or mentor to be independent and have no conflicts of interest. Both of you must keep your discussions confidential, ensuring a trusting relationship that allows both parties to talk freely with the knowledge that what is said in your meetings stays in your meetings.

Business coaching relationships also need good chemistry between both parties for success. That is why International Business Mentors takes great care to match you for your personal fit with a business mentor who has the necessary skills, background and experience to assist you with your requirements and help you achieve what you would like to achieve.

Your business can also benefit from business mentoring or coaching for key people, as having your key people better skilled can increase performance and help keep important staff for longer. You may like to send the message that you want to empower your key people to grow their leadership and business skills and contribution, and this performance will create even greater opportunities for them within your organisation. Greater performance from your key employees and better retention from coaching will be well worth the mentoring investment in your people and your organisation’s success.

Avoiding Blind Spots

Business coaching and mentoring can help you avoid blind spots. Sometimes, when you’re too close to something, you can develop blind spots. Your business coach or mentor will have a relatively objective and different perspective, with the ability to quickly identify problem areas that you might not be able to see. They may also be able to offer solutions or strategies that you need to consider.

Your business mentor or coach can be very encouraging, especially when you experience failures and setbacks that can impact your productivity and effectiveness as a leader. In hard times, having a mentor will help you to keep your head high and refocus you on what needs to be considered given the events and the context of the broader picture.

Developing Business Growth Strategies

Critically, when you have been at the helm of a business for a long time, or when your markets are fast moving or have undergone significant disruption, you can benefit from having a business mentor to relook at your strategy. This allows you to take a step back and become critically strategic so you can consider different perspectives, risks and opportunities and reignite enthusiasm with a reframed strategic direction. You can then implement your action plans to make your business growth strategies happen.

Minimising Stress

Feel like you’re constantly stressing about many different problems? Your business mentor or coach can help you triage your issues and decide which to fight today and which to leave until later. As you better prioritise in a strategic context, you will become more effective and less stressed.

Continual Improvement

Over time, a good business coaching or mentoring relationship will develop and flourish. The issues that once were a problem will be dealt with, and new aspects or challenges will arise for discussion and consideration. There are several strategic areas that need to be reviewed or revamped, for example, customer demand in the future, selling, product or service development, investments in the business, acquisitions, expansion plans, staff remuneration and incentives, geographical location, systems, social media strategy, business plans, risks, vision, strategies, culture, emergencies or contingency planning, and target organisation.

Your desired outcome with your business coach or mentor must be a win-win for everyone. As with all great mentoring relationships, the critical aspect is finding the right person to meet your specific needs. There are many considerations to be taken into account, and that’s what International Business Mentors does best. To get your own business mentor or coach so you can start enjoying the benefits that mentoring can provide, contact us today.

Embrace Change, Inspire People and Lead Performance

Businesses are experiencing change and disruption at an unprecedented rate. This has sparked a race to embrace your change successfully and sharpen your competitive edge.

For leaders who embrace the competitive and adaptable challenges as a business owner, CEO, or senior executive, this challenging change is exciting. Successful leaders must be those empowered by the change and who use the strength of strategic competitive advantage that successful change can deliver. To succeed, leaders will need to inspire and gain the support of their people, customers, suppliers and broader communities to execute change effectively. Engaging the services of a business coach can also be helpful in teaching leaders how to embrace change, in addition to assing with the development of business growth strategies.

New technology advances and digitisation is influencing how we manage all aspects of business. Technology impacts on just about everything, including market reputation in social media, recruitment, retention and redundancies of staff, creation and adaptation of new or existing products and services, communication, enhancing selling, ordering and delivering of products and services, cyber security, cost controls, regulatory issues, corporate governance, robotics, artificial intelligence, and more, with many aspects that are continually evolving. Technology also allows vast amounts of data to be analysed by increasingly complex platforms. This analytical output drives competitive behaviour and targets customers with individualised offerings, and it analyses the effectiveness of channels and delivery, production, service, delivery and many other factors of doing business.

Technology will continue to have an enormous impact on how and why a business can and should adapt and is fuelled by changes in digitisation, automation and information analysis, as well as the growing science of applied artificial intelligence.

Plan for a World that Has Accelerating Change

You will need to lead, train and inspire your people to see change as highly desirable, and facilitate your business’ needed transformations. Your leadership and processes must be effective and support your desire and your peoples’ desire to support the business’ competitive advantage to survive, thrive and succeed.

Your strategic approach to people must be to understand, facilitate and release their motivation to adapt and assess what specific skills and talent you will need. You must lead the upskilling, motivating and business coaching of yourself and your key employees, and recruit and retain those needed. You will need greater developmental skills, positive attitudes to change, and a desire and flexibility to adapt and compete to deliver your evolving vision of the future. That evolving future will inevitably shift and change with the evolution of the markets, products and services, channels, technologies and fast-moving demand pattern shifts of your customer base.

The need to adapt, change, train and have a positive attitude to change applies to leaders, individuals and teams. For example, consider the need to offer employees flexible working conditions. This shift is a massive change and may offer a win/win for business owners/leaders and employees. It is seen as a supportive measure, which has many spin-off benefits for all parties.

Fundamental Transformation in the Way We Work and the Skills and Attitude We Need

Business leaders of the future need a wider range of skills than ever before. This will require a deep understanding of technology, leadership, change management processes, and the ability to manage a diverse and changing workforce, customers, suppliers and the general business and broader community expectations.

Change, when managed well, can make your business more efficient. Reviewing processes and business growth strategies to be more effective can impact significantly on profitability. However, change managed badly will seriously drop performance from where it could be.

Like all the fundamentals of a good business, such as culture and vision, change must be led from the top. It needs to be proactively supported by the various layers and separate business areas within the business. Inclusion and encouragement are vital enabling factors for successful change management.

A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors has experience in all business aspects, including change management. Whereas some business leaders many just need confidential support in change management, others many need much wider involvement depending on the requirements. At International Business Mentors, we individually match business people with business coaching professionals according to exactly what is needed.

Our business mentors and coaches proactively see your business from different perspectives with fresh eyes, providing a valuable strategic resource for you as business leaders, especially when changes are critical for success. The right business mentor is someone who not only has exceptional business skills, but who can see the big picture and facilitate you with new insights to support you and help you navigate through critical changes to the business. Change can be difficult, risky and challenging, but if implemented well, the results can be profound for any business.

If you are facing change or multiple challenges and would like confidential support, call International Business Mentors to discuss how one of our business coaches or mentors can help you.

Is Flexible Working a Desirable Competitive Edge for Your Business?

We are currently living through enormous changes, with disruption in just about every aspect of how businesses are run. High on your list of strategic priorities should be retaining and attracting talented people. Great people are key to delivering business growth strategies and maintaining your competitive edge. But should you be offering employees greater flexibility in how they work together with the business?

Standing desks, team building exercises, social events, ongoing development such as business coaching, wellness initiatives, bringing pets to work, casual Fridays, and now more so than ever, flexibility in working hours and working from home or on the move, are all being tried and adapted to secure and develop more productive and happier workforces.

However, flexible working options aren’t always appropriate for every business type. For some businesses it’s a no, such as retail or personal services that demand the physical presence of staff. However, many positions such as task orientated roles, clerical, IT, administrative, research and reporting can be done anywhere, with technology enabling face to face meetings easily and effectively.

Cities globally are growing, and the daily commute can be time consuming and stressful. The avoidance of peak hour commuting or even travelling at all is an attractive proposition for many, and potentially allows more time and energy devoted to the job with less stressed people.

What are the Benefits of Flexible Working for Businesses?

Deepen Trust and Respect

Businesses should work together with their people to identify how they best work. This directly demonstrates respect that helps to foster a strong relationship based on trust. Showing regard for an individual’s well-being and personal life grows trust. Working to provide flexible culture facilitates people to thrive better in work and their lives generally and is a critical component of setting up flexible working.

Better Empowerment

When you are trusted to work autonomously with a supporting flexible organisation to do your job, this can be empowering. Most people will appreciate a more flexible structure that they can influence and fit better with their individual lives. They will also be empowered to greater manage the demands of their own roles and determine how best to succeed within the limitations and expectations of the business.

Use People’s Time and Energy Better

Any business coach will tell you that individuals work better and accomplish more when they’re at their best. Most people have certain times that better suit them and these optimal timings do change. For example, morning vs. night people, or parents of young children vs. everyone else.

Be an Employer of Choice

The benefits of flexible working go beyond better engagement and retention to improving the attraction to the business of top talent in the competitive labour market.

Your ability to offer flexible working practices is essential for attracting top talent candidates. Successful high performers can choose the best employer for themselves. Therefore, flexibility will be highly appreciated by those who value flexibility strongly, such as many among the millennial generation, parents, and those caring for disabled or elderly loved ones.

Extend the Talent Pool You Have Access To

Flexible working policies open up opportunities to a wider range of talented, experienced and well-qualified people who cannot easily work within the traditional 8-6, office-based employment. Stay-at-home parents, retirees and professionals with disabilities are all encouraged back into the workforce by flexible working options.

The Down Sides of Flexible Working

Working from home has become an acceptable practice globally, whereby business executives and employees can complete certain tasks effectively in a relatively uninterrupted, stress-free environment. However, it takes discipline and monitoring to ensure work tasks are completed timely and that critical communications are maintained with colleagues and other key people.

At home, many people find they are more relaxed and prepared to put in extra time to complete what needs to be done and do it well. It’s a way of showing appreciation for the trust and support shown by their employers. Employers get the benefit of having engaged employees, less sick leave, a happier workforce and higher productivity. However, for this to be maintained, employers must check and review performance to ensure the work is being done and standards are being met. Unnecessary distractions or lack of motivation also need to be appropriately dealt with.

To incorporate flexibility into a business, you should do a feasibility study to establish whether your business can support it, and in what areas and to whom you should offer the flexible working conditions. The objective is to get a win/win outcome for the business and the employees.

How a Business Coach or Mentor Can Help

A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can assist in just about every aspect of running a successful business, from establishing business growth strategies through to identifying and implementing flexible working options. They can also assist in monitoring such changes.

Studies globally have found that given flexible options, executives and employees would change their working hours and that this would not affect their ability to do the job. Some have young families and some want to avoid peak hour commutes, while others just want the option of occasionally working from home. Depending on the type of business, flexible working arrangements may also include rotating rosters and adoption of new technology.

Any changes affecting how businesses are run need to be carefully considered. An independent and impartial business coaching professional can help by drawing on their own experiences and guiding the change process.

If you want to improve quality of work and life for your people and attract and retain good talent, explore the possibilities and engage a business coach or mentor to help you implement flexible working practices.

Business Coaching and Mentoring – Your Own Personal Guiding Light

As a business owner, director, CEO or senior executive, there is always something you can learn to improve your business performance and bottom line.

Should you invest and engage someone who ticks all the boxes to help you develop, has experience in specific areas you need, and who can help you improve your performance?

International Business Mentors has been matching and providing superb business coaches and mentors successfully for 20 years. We specifically match our business mentors to each individual business owner, director, CEO or senior executive according to what is needed in terms of their skills, experience, background and the all-important personal fit.

What Business Coaching Can Help With

Here at International Business Mentors, our experience shows that business people contact us for business coaching for a wide variety of reasons. Some needs are specific, but more often than not, the catalyst is to help with business growth, their development and strategic aspects of their role, and have someone confidential to talk things over in a supportive and critical relationship.

Whether you own the business, are steering it strategically, or have a senior leadership role, you can often benefit from the independent guidance and support of an experienced business coach or mentor. Learning from a business coaching professional who has succeeded in your space, or in other business arenas, can deliver you critical learning from their successes and mistakes. This can give you your own extra resource. A key ingredient for successful business coaching is in the way International Business Mentors selects and matches you with a best-fit individual who can quickly give you value.

Invaluable Support and Assistance

At International Business Mentors, our business coaches and mentors have business experience across a wide range of businesses and business disciplines, meaning they can provide invaluable support and assistance. They have run businesses or have held senior leadership positions in substantial organisations. They also have impeccable ethics and a great desire to see you succeed with the development of effective business growth strategies.

In terms of matching a business mentor or coach with you, International Business Mentors has a rigorous process in order to get a great match. For a successful mentoring relationship, your business mentor or coach will complement your experience and your thinking, as well as meet any of your specific requirements. They will help you see things from different perspectives and fill in any gaps in your experience. This in turn will help you better identify risks, fix specifics, and take advantage of opportunities that are not necessarily apparent otherwise.
Business coaching aims to support, develop and challenge you to improve, meet your specific requirements, and give you access to your business coach’s experience.

The Key to Success

For a business coaching or mentoring relationship to be successful and create value, you must both value each other and have mutual respect which develops from working closely together. You must also be committed, and have a genuine desire to learn and improve. Both parties need to prepare for the mentoring meetings, then you need to progress the tasks or strategic thinking that you have agreed to in your previous mentoring meetings, or discuss why these need to change.

While in-house mentoring can have merit, an International Business Mentor meets a different requirement than the in-house option due to the independence and strict confidentiality provided by an International Business Mentor professional. In-house mentoring is good particularly in large organisations, for passing on the business specific culture and specific skills needed to run the business. However, International Business Mentors can provide confidential mentors who bring a fresh perspective and wider experience to the mentees.

The Benefits

For business owners, business coaching or mentoring can provide a wealth of benefits, such as a confidential sounding board at one end of the spectrum, or at the other extreme, addressing a complex task such as reviewing a business plan incorporating all the technical factors. With the help of a business mentor or coach, CEOs can devise effective business growth strategies and gain strong insights, including leadership, relationships, board reporting, and transitional issues. Likewise, senior executives can further develop their potential with the supportive guidance of a suitable business coach or mentor.

Why Succession Plans Are Needed to Underpin Future Business Performance

Whether you run a listed company, family business, partnership, SME, or any other organisation, to ensure the smooth development of the business from a people perspective, succession planning is an absolute necessity.

A well-developed succession plan not only reduces the ongoing risk to the business of not having the right people at the right time, but is also a prerequisite to a successful exit strategy from the business. Without succession planning, you could unintentionally be setting a recipe for disaster for the business. This could be attributed to unforeseen critical gaps in your organisation positions or skills required to deliver on business growth strategies and ongoing performance.

The bottom line is that if you do not deliver the strategic people capability, then you will not deliver the strategy and get the supporting succession plan implemented.

Overcome Your Natural Resistance to Succession Planning

Our psychology as business leaders, owners, CEOs and senior management can often become overly fixated on “business as usual” to deliver the performance required because our business is dear to us. Significantly, we tend to be very attached to our businesses, as we have created, contributed to and nurtured our existing businesses to make them our successful enterprises. We tend to have a resistance to forward planning as to how and when we will “pass on the baton.” Hence succession planning is often neglected or delayed. This procrastination becomes more dangerous with time, as it may lead to increasing risks to the business and can result in suboptimal decision-making, particularly with regards to hiring, firing and developing people across the organisation.

Therefore, ongoing and careful succession planning must be integral to our strategic processes. This is to enable our businesses to deliver on their strategies with the appropriate target organisation structures, with the right people, with the right skills and experience, at the right time. Formal succession planning is also needed to underpin any exit strategy by senior leaders and critical staff from the organisation, or for an exit from the business by its owners – such as a sale of the business, or an IPO – and this succession planning must be addressed well ahead of such events. A smooth transition, that has been well thought out and where the selection and training has been thorough, will help to avoid significant grief. In the event of a business exit by owners, this will help to underpin the business valuation, as this risk will be better managed. This better management is in the people and organisational capability to deliver the future projected incomes and levels of service required to meet expectations that support the business valuation on exit.

A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can help you consider systematic succession planning to support your capability in the future to deliver performance and reduce the risks of not having the capability and people to support your strategy and performance. Our business coaching professionals have experienced the succession process and can guide you in formalising your procedures.

Business owners and those who have held leadership positions in a business that they love can find it hard to address who will succeed them. After all, it’s hard to let go and it can be extremely emotional to approach this subject. However, with the right support, encouragement and assistance from an experienced business coach or mentor, you can work through the process and any decisions that need to be made so you can develop a succession strategy as to who and when succession will take place.

Why Family Businesses Can Find Succession Issues Overwhelming or Not Solvable

Family businesses find succession planning difficult as there can be complex situations given their close relationships, for example: multiple competing candidates in the next generation who want the top job. To unblock this and to develop succession plans, it’s recommended that an independent and impartial facilitator help implement the processes required so sub-optimal decisions can be avoided.

The independence of an International Business Mentors business coach or mentor can guide you to assess who is best suited for which roles, and how to present this to wider family members. The succession plans will also help in decisions on the transfer of ownership from one generation to the next, or to an outsider. This is vitally important in optimising the value of the business.

Once you have implemented a structured succession plan and ongoing update process, you can focus more clearly on the rest of the job, such as running the business and creating value for all stakeholders, family members and employees, developing business growth strategies, employing relevant staff, and where appropriate, head hunting new talent into the organisation.

In family businesses, having a clear people succession plan and an ownership succession plan can help avoid difficulties with estates and assets, which otherwise can lead to unnecessarily unpleasant and costly disputes between family members.

There are often very sensitive considerations or issues that must be addressed as part of succession strategy in family businesses. This is particularly true where some family members are not capable of adequately filling the required leadership positions, or do not possess the necessary skills or aptitude to drive the business forward in the absence of the previous owner. Further, there may be instances whereby some of the upcoming generation have worked in the business and others have not had that opportunity. This can lead to further friction with passing on shares as part of the ownership succession plan.

If there is an exit anticipated from the business by the owners and family, then a candid open family discussion well ahead of such an exit event is a necessary component for a successful transition. This process can be started by dialogue with family members and key employees, which a business coach experienced in succession can facilitate.

It is sometimes recommended to consider establishing a family council, as this more formal and structured approach can greatly aid communication. A family council should be the natural forum for discussions on exit plans and succession plans. However, it is the business itself that usually has the authority to accept and implement any succession plans for the business, as the family council will contain those who do not work, hold directorships or have ownership in the family business.

To progress succession planning in the family business, the current business owners need to establish and document their aspirations of how the business should be taken forward and supported by the succession plan in order to deliver the overall business strategy.

Culture in Business – An Important Part of the Succession Plan

Business culture is important in succession plans. Having built a business culture that reflects how the business is run, it’s important for the next generation to understand how that culture generates the strategic performance required and reflects the family business ethos and values.

If the family business has a board of directors, it should have strong independent directors in addition to the family board members in order to maintain a focus on the business’ performance and help resolve any family issues that arise. This may be simply to move family related matters off the board agenda and onto the family council’s agenda. The addition of an independent experienced business mentor or business coach is another desirable approach, as they can help you to consider how best to set up your board and how it should operate, as well as helping you consider difficult issues when these arise.

Relationships with other stakeholders of the businesses also need to be considered and be well managed in a succession plan. These relationships include key employees, suppliers, clients or customers, and financial institutions – all of which have a good working relationship with the outgoing owner and senior management. They too must be factored into the succession plan. Questions must be asked and answered as to who will maintain these critical relationships in the future and how you can successfully transfer these relationships to your successors.

As much as an incoming younger generation to the family business may be enthusiastic and capable, they may be inexperienced and need training and development. Assistance from a well-matched business coaching professional can help provide them with the support and help they need to develop into the roles of your succession plan.

When Handover of Positions is Badly Done

Handovers of positions to new successors in their new roles is a serious business and should not be rushed. Adequate time and thought needs to be planned for these handovers. Without this, valuable knowledge and experience will be lost and the successor will not competently step up in their new positions – to their detriment and to the detriment of the business, with increased risk, reduced performance and lower business values.

Other Issues with Succession Planning

The above are just some of the main issues needing to be considered when planning for succession. However, your business will have unique factors to your particular industry or circumstances, and to successfully implement succession planning, you should seek impartial, unbiased, experienced and independent support from a business mentor or business coach. International Business Mentors can match you with a business coach or mentor with deep experience and understanding of the complicities and practicalities of business succession based on their own business experience.

The Risk of No Succession Planning

The downside of not preparing for and implementing succession plans is higher risk if you don’t have the right people with the right skills capable of delivering your business and its strategy at the right time.

The Benefits of Succession Planning

The benefits of succession planning are lower risks, better planning and management of your people, easier changeover of positions, better recruitment and training, less stress for you in transitioning your own position and the business in the future, and better business values.

Call International Business Mentors now to discuss how one of our business mentors or business coaches can support you in planning your succession.

Increase Business Productivity through Wellness Strategies

Over the past two to three decades, there has been enormous growth in ‘wellness’ businesses. These businesses offer solutions in order to have a healthy and fulfilling life, resulting in physical, mental and social wellbeing that enables you to reach your full potential. The global wellness market is booming, currently outstripping the worldwide pharmaceutical industry and generating trillions of dollars.

This industry category covers all manner of health-related products, services and functions, including:

  • Alternative medicines and practices
  • Meditation
  • Healthy eating with nutrition and weight loss
  • Preventative and personalised health
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Beauty and anti-aging
  • The spa industry
  • Wellness tourism
  • The thermal and mineral springs sector

The wellness industry is about maintaining and improving health in order to stave off disease, stress, and negative health impacts from environmental degradation, age and illness.

There are many market offerings in wellness solutions for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, ranging from individual consultants to studios and shops, books, magazines, guru presentations, television series and even apps – and any business coach will advise you that incorporating these solutions into your life can vastly help to improve productivity and life fulfilment.

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness

From a technical perspective, wellness is said to have eight dimensions: occupational, emotional, spiritual, environmental, financial, physical, social, and intellectual. Each dimension of wellness is dynamically interrelated with all of the others, with each being equally vital and important in the pursuit of overall optimum health. One can only aspire to a more optimal level of wellness by understanding how to maintain and optimise each of the eight dimensions impacting wellness.

The Benefits of Wellness for Businesses

The worldwide interest in wellness is not just from special interest groups and individuals, but businesses and other organisations globally. Many are now adopting this methodology in their workplace strategy, as a healthy and happy workforce is a productive one. Business growth strategies are now beginning to see wellness implemented as a positive reinforcement for a happy life and good business practice.

Further, in 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to improve the lot of humanity on the planet. It includes 17 goals, of which ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’ is a prominent objective.

Healthy and happy employees who believe management truly considers their needs and wellbeing tend to work harder and go that extra mile. They are more productive and take fewer sick leave days than unhealthy employees. That means you have an engaged workforce that delivers far better results. In HR terms, this is known as discretionary effort. However, implementing wellness into the workplace needs a strategic focus to become a core value of the business.

How to Implement Wellness in the Workplace

A business mentor or business coach can help you create or refine your vision and strategic plan to incorporate wellness as one of the foundations for setting your business culture. Your shared business vision needs to be adopted throughout the organisation irrespective of size or composition.

At International Business Mentors, our business coaching professionals have deep business experience and understand the importance of creating an ethical, safe and responsible workplace that truly cares and respects its employees while still competing and delivering results. Once implemented and adopted, your rewards – as a business owner, CEO or leader – will be what your employees do beyond their job descriptions. This can include increased productivity and contribution to the business in their own areas, thereby benefitting your business as a whole.

However, embedding wellness and getting its benefits is not just the role of business owners, CEOs or leaders. Wellbeing needs to be understood throughout the organisation and then monitored and measured against the four pillars of wellbeing – mind, body, purpose and place – as well as the strategy and the performance requirements of all employees.

How a Business Coach Can Help

Some of the areas in which a suitably matched business coach or business mentor can assist are:

  • Developing vision and strategy
  • Setting the target culture to support the strategy from the top and leading by example
  • Transforming your organisation into one in which your employees want to work more
  • Developing a culture that maintains trust, morale, loyalty and productivity
  • Identifying which ‘well-being’ programme(s) are right for your businesses

A business coach or mentor can also help you consider the input from wider stakeholders into strategy and wellbeing and the target culture setting, e.g. from shareholders, funders, management, staff, families, community, suppliers and customers, as appropriate.

An independent and experienced business coaching professional can help you cast a critical eye across the entirety of your business and identify areas for improvement, acting as a support and independent sounding board in a confidential relationship. Contact International Business Mentors today to learn more.

How Business Coaching Can Give You a Competitive Edge in Business

All businesses face competition, so identifying your competition and how you can differentiate yourself from them and maximise your competitive advantage is critical for your business’ success. For your business to succeed and survive, you must have winning strategies to get ahead and stay ahead. One excellent way to devise and implement business growth strategies is to obtain assistance from a business coach.

Competitive Strategy Can Be a Sink or Swim Scenario

All business owners and leaders must know their competitors, and not just guess what competitors are doing. Therefore, you need to initiate your own strategic planning and implement your strategy to move forward and stay ahead of the game.

Being aware of your competitors’ activity is good, but you must also continue to initiate your innovative business thinking and establish what competitive criteria you need to work within and develop your capability to deliver.

At International Business Mentors, our business coaching and mentoring professionals understand that obtaining a competitive advantage is paramount. Our coaches and mentors have practical business experience, including direct experience of successes and pitfalls of running businesses. They also understand the impact of competitor pressure, and how to set strategy to compete better. This makes them well situated to help you with critical thinking so you can seek better competitive edges to perform in business.

Areas That a Business Coach or Mentor Can Help With

There are many areas of business and self-development where a well-matched and experienced business coach or mentor can help you to leverage your business performance.

For example, a mentor or coach from International Business Mentors can help you identify and resolve the critical challenges relevant to your specific industry and specific business situation, and then facilitate your development of new business growth strategies to improve performance. Your business coach or mentor can give you an independent, confidential and fresh view to help you focus anew on your own business performance.

Further areas that a business mentor or coach can facilitate and challenge you in include:

Building a Strategy Around Your Vision

This needs to be orientated towards your growth expectations in your markets, but also considers your competitors’ likely behaviours, your organisational capability, your strength with suppliers, and the ability to service customers with products and services that will deliver the required profitability, returns and cashflow required by the providers of equity and other types of funding.

Causing Disruption in Your Markets

You need to keep abreast of technology advances or surges with relevance to your industry. Players in the market who do not keep up will lose out by being outgunned in delivery, customer attraction and cost structures.

Defining and Refining Your Culture and Vision of the Organisation

This requires a target culture to support your strategy, vision and values, but also to facilitate strong performance of your people in the organisation.

Recruiting and Retaining Talented People

Organisations and people change over time, as does the capability requirements of individuals and the changing demands on your people. These are driven by your organisation’s evolving business growth strategies. Identifying the right people with the right skills, experience and cultural fit is paramount, as is training and development at all critical levels of your organisation.

Building Great Teams

Your business coaching professional will become part of your team. The importance of developing your wider business team will underpin your success with the business.

Managing Individual Performance

Rewarding a job well done and giving strong feedback usually encourages good behaviour. However, managing individuals’ performance requires good broad people skills. Your business coach or mentor will have plenty of experience to add to your thinking in this area.

Improving Required Leadership Style

If your strategy requires an inspirational leadership style, then you will need to get feedback from your business coach or mentor on how to improve your approach so you can fine tune your leadership impact to better deliver on your performance. This may require you to embrace creativity and innovative thinking to get buy-in from the creative side of your people. For example, you will need creative thinking to be strong when you are competing in a fast changing and fluid market place, where innovation in product, service and sales tactics wins the sales or keep the customers loyal to your offerings and services.

In Conclusion

All the above are only some of the components that need to be addressed when tackling your competitive edge. Many aspects of change and improvement in performance can feel difficult for most business owners to tackle, but they can be made much easier when you have a business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors by your side.

We individually match business coaches and mentors with you according to your individual personal and specific needs in terms of experience, skills, background, and that all important personal fit between you and your coach or mentor.

Being business owners or leaders themselves, our business coaching professionals have also grappled with the exciting task of business leadership, performance, and the need to grasp and develop their competitive edge. Our business coaches and mentors are picked to help, support, develop and challenge you, assisting you in gaining that better competitive advantage.

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss your needs.

Why It’s Important for Successful Business Leaders to Continue their Training and Professional Development

When you’re highly focused on keeping your business running, participating in continued professional development may seem like a luxury to you. Even though you learn daily just by doing what you do, continuing your education may help you work smarter and gain you and your business a competitive advantage. You may have read, completed courses and benefited from online learning. These are all good, but there is always something more you can learn to develop your thinking skills and strategic frameworks, such as having direct interaction with an experienced and well-matched business coach who has been in your position themselves. This applies to every professional, be it a Company Director, CEO, Business Owner, Executive or Employee. Continual learning develops and enhances abilities and subsequent performance, reduces risk, and makes for a well-rounded business person.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

 “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein

How Business Coaching Can Help You Learn

At International Business Mentors, we match our business coaches and mentors specifically with business people according to the skills, background, experience and personal fit needed to establish a beneficial relationship. Our business mentors and business coaches bring a wealth of experience that they in turn wish to share with those they mentor.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford

Business coaching can help you solidify your continuing professional development and assist you in learning and developing more in-depth skills and knowledge. This makes it easier to devise business growth strategies that give you a competitive advantage.

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin.

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

The Importance of Keeping Business Skills Fresh

Your continuing education and development must be part of an overall approach to you keeping your business skills and thinking fresh. You may find it difficult to find time to devote to your own ongoing development, but if you don’t, you will be doing yourself and your business a great disfavour. By only focusing on the important and often urgent day-to-day tasks at the expense of investing in your own learning and development, you won’t be able to become a better and more strategic business person in the longer term.

A business coaching or mentoring relationship is one in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide you forward and develop. Your mentor will have different areas of expertise, broad business experience, and a willingness to assist you to succeed. In a learning and development partnership with a business coach or mentor, you’ll be able to benefit from their experience and thinking.

Professional Development for Company Directors and Senior Management

In the case of Company Directors and senior management, the need for training, continual learning and keeping up to date is critical – as recent events in the Australian Banking Royal Commission enquiries have identified. The seriousness of these situations cannot be understated. At International Business Mentors, we routinely mentor and coach directors and senior management in director’s duties. They are encouraged to pursue specific training that may support them with their corporate governance requirements, the commercial challenges that they face, and the implementation of business growth strategies.

Business Owners are constantly under pressure to grow and maintain the business. With the help of a well-matched business mentor or business coach who has relevant background skills and experience, along with confidential support, the business owner’s performance can be greatly enhanced.

CEOs and senior executives are faced with constant challenges in their new or existing roles. The business world is changing at a fast pace, and with widespread strategic innovation, businesses now face more complex and dynamic issues than ever before. A business coach or mentor can offer specific help and support with transitions, relationships, reporting, and leadership issues, as well as acting as a confidential and honest sounding board.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F Kennedy

Professional Development for Senior Executives

Senior Executives also have some common and unique issues that can be helped by a business mentor or coach. The right leadership is often the difference between a good and a great organisation. As with any professional skill, leadership and management can be learned and practiced. For example, transition into a new role, relationships leadership, and managerial functions. A business coach or mentor can support, encourage and challenge you with the ultimate aim of increasing performance and development.

How International Business Mentors Can Help

At International Business Mentors, we specifically match mentors with mentees according to what is needed. Experience is everything in this space. After all, you cannot learn from someone who has not experienced the issues you are facing, but you can learn immensely from someone who has.

Continuous learning is one of the keys to success in life regardless of your occupation. Learning, wisdom and success are three things that go together. It would indeed be an arrogance not to take the opportunity to learn from someone else.

Whether you’re facing challenges or just want to improve your own business performance, a business coach can make a huge difference. Those who have engaged a well-matched mentor or coach see it as a game changer.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realise, the less I know.” – Michel Legrand

Our business coaching professionals understand the importance of learning and wish to impart their skills and experiences in a confidential and supportive relationship. Call International Business Mentors today to find out more.

Checklist to Better Succeed in Your Life-Work Balance

Succeeding in our life-work balance constantly tests us all, with our success or failure impacting on our personal and family lives as well as our professional and business lives. This is a constant struggle and may never be perfect, but by being better aware of the importance of a reasonable balance in our lives and having some frameworks to assist us, we can reduce many of the risks of undue stress, grief or failure that may affect important relationships and work performance.

The results of poor life-work balance and a lack of success in life and/or work is easy to observe in other people but harder in ourselves. And it can also be harder to make the changes we need to shake off old behaviours and adopt new healthier approaches to improve our lives and work on business performance, even with assistance from a business coach.

How to Find the Ideal Balance

Our assumptions, perceptions and attitudes may be limiting us in our pursuit of success and balance, as it often seems that career or business success is only possible at the expense of someone’s personal life. We have all encountered the workaholics that have no social life or have deteriorating family and personal relationships as a direct result of their personal lack of balance.

A classic example of assumptions impacting balance and success is where societal perception limits people to restrictive roles, such as where women are harshly criticised or pressured if they want to achieve career or business success rather than being primarily responsible for raising children and looking after the home. The same may also be the case for men who want to be primarily responsible for the children and home.

We need a shift in our perceived reality so we can optimise our career aspirations and personal goals with an emphasis on life-work balance simultaneously.

However, achievement does need constant work, and a lack of total effort may result in great disappointment. With a lack of effort, you may find your life-work balance, but at very low levels of success in either work or business and in your personal life. You would feel that this balance without success is not acceptable and also isn’t sustainable in the longer term.

So how do successful people achieve their own career or business and personal goals with balance and make it look easy?

The Answer

Part of the answer is that successful life-work balance performers have awareness of what they want in life and work and are highly organised. They also have thinking frameworks, set goals, review their progress in all aspects of their life-work balance performance, and put their efforts into succeeding in all aspects of their lives.

The good thing for us all is that these high performers did not do this from day one – they had to improve their performance over a long time until their approach was ingrained in their everyday routines. They then look to push themselves further to succeed in all areas. They use feedback and listen, then incorporate improvements. They also consider their attitudes and frameworks of thinking in all areas.

Try the life-work checklist our business coaches have provided below:

Checklist – How to Succeed and Maintain Life-Work Balance

1. Track your time on work and life

Log your time doing everything for one week, including work or business related and personal activities. This data will help you understand what you spend your limited time on and where you are losing or wasting your time.

2. Determine your priorities

Critically reflect on what is most important to you to succeed in all areas of your work or business and life. Then prioritise these according to value to you, urgency, and what happens if you do nothing long term. Next, compare this to your time tracking and decide given your priorities which activities to start, stop, continue, increase, decrease or do differently.

3. Set specific goals

Take your list of priorities and set concrete and measurable goals such as taking more holidays with your partner, brainstorming better business growth strategies, improving time delivery of projects at work, etc. You must block time into your schedule for these activities, just like you would for an important meeting or a doctor’s appointment. Then schedule time to review your progress and reassess your own performance and future priorities, objectives and targets.

4. Schedule systematically

Successful people plan their life and work and make every effort to achieve it by scheduling. These life-work plans schedule all aspects of their lives. This will be put into their date planner (either paper or electronic) and is how they turn their priorities and goals into reality. You need to do the same and set aside 10 to 20 minutes each day to plan your tasks and activities for each day and the evening ahead.

5. Establish boundaries

Set fair and realistic limits on what you will and will not do – both at work and at home. Then you must clearly communicate these boundaries to your supervisor, co-workers, partners and family. For example, commit to not working late on certain days unless there is a crisis. Additionally, set aside a time at home during which you will not check or respond to work-related emails or voice mails.

6. Take care of your health

Your health should always be your top priority. You must be in good shape physically, mentally and emotionally to succeed in both your work life and your personal life.

  • Take care of yourself by eating healthy meals (especially breakfast)
  • Exercise at least three times per week
  • Sleep a minimum of seven hours per night

These practices relieve stress, increase energy levels and stamina, boost mental clarity, and improve your immune system, helping to make you a happier, more engaged and more productive person.

You should also refrain from the excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, or any drugs, as these keep the body in a stressed state and cause addictive and behavioural problems.

7. Nurture your family/relationships

Relationships with family, friends and loved ones are, by far, the greatest source of inner satisfaction and support. To neglect or damage these can impact badly on your whole life and work.

For example, working late happens, but it only becomes a life balance issue if it becomes the rule, not the exception. By making your personal relationships a priority, your productivity and effectiveness on the job will increase.

8. Make time for yourself

As much as your balance of work, health and relationships takes priority in your life-work, it is also important to schedule time for your own renewal. Indulge in at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted “you time” doing something you like. This will allow you to recharge your batteries and improve your wellbeing, which can be beneficial for your relationships and career.

Connecting with your spiritual source can also be very helpful, whether it’s your own philosophy, a belief in God or a higher power, or a deeper well within yourself. From this you can draw inspiration, guidance and strength. Setting aside a weekly day of rest can also be helpful.

9. Leave work at work

Develop a mental on-off switch between work and home and establish a transitional activity between the two universes. For example, you could listen to music or books, exercise, or keep personal appointments. Schedule such activities just after normal work hours, as this will stop you from spending that extra twenty minutes at the office which can then turn into hours.

10. Exercise your options

Modern thinking companies or employers can create policies and programs to facilitate life-work balance. Find out what options your business may offer in terms of flexi hours, working from home, job-sharing, or part-time employment. You may find an arrangement to work more productively, reduce stress and increase valuable personal or family time. If your business does not yet have flexible programs in place, consider suggesting one.

11. Work smarter not harder

Use your time more efficiently by using good time-management to cut stress and save time every day. This may include using technology to become more organised with tasks, emails and voice messages, avoiding delaying decisions, and learning to say “no” to time wasters.

12. Know when to ask for help

If you’re overwhelmed at work, set priorities and focus on clearing these first, and explain this assertively to your managers and other relationships. However, if a balanced life-work continues to elude you, engage with a business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors to help facilitate the changes you need.

Remember that a life-work balance is not an exact science and you must find your own way of successfully combining your focus on career, relationships and personal care into an integrated whole plan. This will likely change as new circumstances arise, so you must review your situation and adjust accordingly.

The Benefits of Finding the Right Balance

To implement the above strategies will take time, but changes will be incremental and have a positive and measurable impact on your life-work balance. You should start with one clear goal, achieve that, and then keep adding more one at a time. This will take a concerted effort to make the changes and maintain them.

If you commit to this quest, you can reap enormous health and quality-of-life and work benefits.

It is entirely possible for you to have a successful professional or business career and a fulfilling personal life. You need to take proactive control of your work and personal life to achieve a successful and balanced work-life.

How Business Coaching Can Help

A business coach or mentor will question your business growth strategies and goals and look at how you manage your time, methods, risks and strategy to achieve them. Your business mentor or coach can help keep you on track, giving guidance from their own experiences to help you succeed in your own life-work balance.

You must do the work yourself, but support from an excellent business coach can be immensely helpful. The business coaching professionals at International Business Mentors have deep experience in these areas. Our business coaches and mentors have been business owners themselves and are experienced with the dilemma of putting heart and soul into growing or maintaining a business, and the opposing demands of partners, children, parents and other relationships. You may not be able to achieve a perfect balance in every situation, but you can put in place procedures to move towards the successful life work balance you desire.

Having independent and experienced support from a business coach can be extremely valuable on your quest for improvement. Contact International Business Mentors today to learn more.

Using Positive Reinforcement to Improve Talent Retention

Why is it often so difficult to give your people positive feedback for a job well done? It should be regular and normal behaviour, yet some business owners and managers don’t do it. In not doing so, they run the risk of alienating or losing good and talented people who they want to keep!

French philosopher Voltaire wrote: “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Bill Gates said: “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

It is often said in a business context that your employees are your most valuable asset. So, let them know you appreciate them and reward them for a job well done.

Praise is a powerful motivator. Most people react positively to praise, and it often encourages them to go above and beyond. Human beings need to be valued and appreciated. And as Ken Blanchard said: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

Fortunately, recognising excellence – or even effort to do well – is a skill that can be learnt with the help of an experienced business coach.

Where to Begin

Start with setting KPIs and expected behaviour and then regularly monitor progress in feedback sessions, providing both constructive criticism and positive feedback when they have done well or excelled. Be very careful how you give constructive criticism. As Frank A. Clark said: “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” Also ask them for their feedback on the business and how they are managed.

Here are some other tips to help you get started:

  • Know your people, including their talents, expertise, and how they respond to praise.
  • Reward excellence, whether it be a verbal commendation (preferably with their peer group present) or a tangible reward.
  • Give feedback if praise has been received from another area of the business, from customers or clients, or from other team members.
  • Let staff know if you’re concerned about them professionally or personally.
  • Talk and listen to your people regularly to develop relationships and fill in your understanding of them. You should take the time to convey more about yourself and your expectations and to understand your people’s expectations.
  • Make praise timely, as the more time that passes between great performance and recognition, the lower the impact of that recognition. Immediately is never too soon.
  • Make praise genuine. Don’t praise just for the sake of praising, as it will lessen the impact when you really do mean what you say.
  • Say thank you. Make it public or keep it between yourselves as appropriate to that specific person. If going public, share your positive feedback on an employee with your organisation. You can do so via email, your corporate newsletter or a company meeting. Sharing an employee’s accomplishment can inspire others to raise the bar.
  • Make all praise accurate and specific. Don’t just tell an employee he or she did a good job; tell them how they did a good job. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but they’ll also know you pay attention to what they do, plus they’ll know exactly what to do the next time they’re in a similar situation.
  • Share your thoughts and concerns, and listen to their responses.

How Business Coaching Can Help

With the help of an International Business Mentor or business coach who is experienced in staff management, you can create a positive work environment in which your people will love to work. This in turn creates many spin-offs including effort and loyalty, and ultimately the business’s bottom line.

An experienced business mentor or business coach can assist in creating a positive culture that recognises and rewards good people for a job well done. Furthermore, they can help with business growth strategies and also suggest approaches and systems to monitor performance for both teams and individuals.

In the case of teams, for example, you need to make sure the right people are recruited with the right mix of diversity and skills. Team building exercises, often with an element of fun, can be a valuable investment, as can inter-team competitions.

Creating a Positive Culture

You can contribute to a more positive culture by taking these steps to recognise and reward hard work and achievement:

  • Go hunting – We’re conditioned to spend the majority of our time looking for issues and problems we can correct. Spend a little time trying to catch employees doing good things, too.
  • Be surprising – It’s good to celebrate birthdays, but an unexpected gift for doing well can also have a huge impact.
  • Strike a balance – Some employees will always be the stars, which is great, but try to find reasons to recognise the lesser performers, as this might be the trigger to improve their performance and give them greater motivation.

Final Tips

Recognising effort and achievement is self-reinforcing. When you do a better job of recognising your employees, they tend to perform better.

If criticism is warranted, state what went wrong, and reinforce how they can learn from it.

Not all the above will be relevant to all businesses. It’s likely that there will be some suggestions that are relevant or appropriate and others that are not.

This is just one of many areas in which an International Business Mentor or business coach can help. This can be done by assessing what works best in a particular business and looking at how to go about creating a positive culture that reinforces good work practices.

To enquire about how business coaching can assist your business with everything from positive reinforcement through to business growth strategies, call us today on (03) 8686 9192.

Ethical Business is Good Business

In addition to receiving business owners support from a good business coach, reputation is crucial for business success, with ethical businesses having a much higher chance to grow and thrive than businesses with poor reputations. All business owners and key corporate leaders should build and maintain ethical and reputable standards which feed directly into your business reputation and improve relationships with customers and other stake holders.

Recently in Australia and around the world, there have been many damning examples of how questionable ethical standards can seriously damage a corporate’s reputation and their business.

Examples

  • Volkswagen have erred several times – firstly with their allegedly misleading emission reports, and more recently through a further revelation that they may have tested the effects of toxic diesel fumes directly on human and monkey test subjects. These two events have no doubt damaged Volkswagen’s standing, giving their customers (and potential customers) a diminished view of the organisation and its offerings. This was reflected in a drop in Volkswagen’s share price and market capitalisation. As per Bloomberg on the 22nd of September 2015: Volkswagen lost almost a quarter of its market value after it admitted to its U.S. air pollution tests, putting pressure on Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn to repair the reputation of one of the world’s biggest carmakers.
  • Sexual abuse claims against high profile men in Hollywood are reputational disasters for the accused and their associated businesses. Here’s just one recent headline that’s made the news: After Weinstein, more than 100 high-powered men accused of sexual misconduct (USA today, 22nd November 2017, Updated 9:25 a.m. ET Jan. 30, 2018).
  • In late 2017, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia was accused of anti-money laundering failures. From the Associated Press, 14th December 2017: Commonwealth Bank has been hit with another 100 allegations of breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws, including failing to quickly report two suspicious matters relating to the financing of terrorism…. the federal government’s financial intelligence unit updated the total number of alleged breaches by Australia’s largest bank to more than 53,800.
  • In the USA, Wells Fargo, a previously reputable bank, suffered a loss of billions of dollars of deposits due to a loss of trust by customers bothered by the bank’s fake account scandal. From CNN, 31st August 2017: Wells Fargo (WFC) now says it has found a total of up to 3.5 million potentially fake bank and credit card accounts, up from its earlier tally of approximately 2.1 million. In other words, there are two-thirds more fake accounts than previously realized.
  • Murray Goulburn slashed the price of milk below what it had agreed to farmers, causing loss of confidence not only with their farmer suppliers but also the investing public. From FarmOnline National, 20th October 2017: Murray Goulburn’s troubles, which started with the ‘clawbacks’ saga amidst a declining international milk price last year, have failed to ease up in spite of a turnaround in the fortunes of dairy internationally. This year it announced the closure of its Kiewa and Rochester plants, while earlier in the month it said it would lay off 60 milk tanker drivers. The news of the redundancies comes as rivals such as Fonterra announce large increases in the volume of milk receivals.

The Importance of Ethics in Business

Although the above are large corporate or high profile individual examples, the same rules apply to SME’s and small businesses. All businesses, corporations and even Governments can’t afford to damage their reputation. The potential impact can cause a decline in customer, supplier, investor, banking and community trust, which in turn can impact bottom line, staff morale, productivity, and future financial survival of the organisation.

Any business coach will tell you that reputation is essential, as it is how a business is perceived by customers, employees, media, and other stakeholders. It is an intangible asset and is extremely powerful, as it can make or break an individual, business or other organisation.

Developing and implementing a corporate culture starts at the top, whether it be at board level or with a business owner. Most businesses exist to make a profit or to at least come out even, and building a good reputation is a critical factor to achieve this. Without a good reputation, or at the very least having systems in place to create ethical outcomes, businesses will crash. Some may slowly recover, while others will fail.

Here at International Business Mentors, we are extremely careful when selecting our business coaching and mentoring professionals. All our business coaches and mentors, must meet our very strict criteria for integrity and ethical standards. As well as the requirements for exceptional business skills, our business mentors and business coaches must have extremely high ethical standards. This is a paramount factor in their selection. To foster and develop a successful business coaching relationship, there must be trust, and trust is built on a strong relationship founded on integrity and mutual benefit.

How International Business Mentors Can Help

With business owners support and guidance from a tried and vetted International Business Mentors business coach, you can better work together on your business and personal improvement and better assess general business opportunities and risks. This includes the potential loss of reputation due to ethical considerations and putting in place checks and balances to minimise any potential reputational damage as part of your business growth strategies, culture and control.

A well matched business mentor or business coach can help you with:

  • Discussion of your organisation’s target culture set from the top, then trickling down by leading by example, enforcing that culture with your employees and customers
  • The development of critical shared values and the recruitment of like-minded employees
  • Checks to ensure that policies and codes of standards are in place, monitored and enforced
  • The development of how you can lead from the top with values, vision action and behaviour

Different businesses and industries will have a variety of special business issues to face, but the fundamental basics of ethical standards and broad cultural alignment remain very much the same.

Enquire Today

Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how engaging a business mentor or business coach can help you and your business build towards success. We can assist with developing business growth strategies in addition to helping you plan an ethical business environment to minimise the risks of a damaged reputation.

What is Your Leadership Quotient from a Business Coaching Perspective?

At International Business Mentors, we use Leadership Quotient concepts to match each business coach to individuals requiring business coaching, but what exactly is a Leadership Quotient? The dictionary definition of any Quotient is the degree to which a specific quality or characteristic exists. While you might be familiar with the original IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, researchers have also developed EQ or Emotional Quotient, or more commonly, Emotional Intelligence. Recently, this trend has been extended to the concept of LQ or the Leadership Quotient, which is a measure of a person’s leadership capability.

What Are These Quotients and Do They Matter?

The oldest of the three Q measures mentioned above is the well-known IQ. It measures cognitive ability and assigns a value to those who complete the test. This value describes how our measured intelligence falls within the whole population, with 100 being the average score of the population as a whole. Meanwhile, EQ is often defined as Emotional Intelligence and is a measure of ‘the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how well you can work cooperatively with them’. Businesses and other major organisations have begun to consider EQ in potential hires, particularly leaders. They claim that the EQ is a better predictor of executive success and the ability to develop business growth strategies than other measures, including IQ.

Another ‘Q’ has recently joined the Quotient revolution within emerging leadership thought and is another important measure of the ability to lead well: the Leadership Quotient, or LQ.

What is a Leadership Quotient?

A wide variety of researchers, authors and organisations have developed ways to measure LQ. Steven Covey’s Leadership Quotient is the most popular. It measures ability against the four main imperatives of a leadership: to develop trust, clarify purpose, align systems and unleash talent.

The Leadership Quotient is a sum of competence, character and capability (LQ=IQ+EQ+XQ). Others propose Leadership Quotient as a sum of morality + power.

Limitations of the Quotients

These efforts are well-intentioned and can be valuable. At International Business Mentors, we know the value of our experience when it comes to business coaching, particularly in developing CEOs, MDs, business owners and directors of companies, i.e. leaders. We have two important reservations on the current LQ trend:

The Leadership Quotient, and indeed all the Quotients, have the drawback of allowing someone else to define us. We are measured, categorised and defined within someone else’s model of how the world works. How many lives have experienced long-term negative effects from a poor IQ score? Or how many have developed a pompous ego because of an exceptionally high IQ? In either case, someone else defines us in ways that can have profound impacts on how we view ourselves, and this can be unhealthy.

The many Quotients, particularly the Leadership Quotient, measure what we do as leaders; Covey’s four imperatives are all active. At International Business Mentors, we are much more interested in developing leaders according to their potential facilitated by our business coaches with practical experience.

Leadership Quotient Questions

It is compelling for our business mentors to help develop business leaders to reach their potential and facilitate those leaders to better lead, devise business growth strategies, and survive.

Here are four crucial questions of leadership to facilitate a better Leadership Quotient or LDQ. Note that none of these can be easily measured by a simple test – but developing leaders who thrive is neither easily done nor measured.

How strong is my leadership and the business’s core?

At the core of every business leader’s core are the key questions of who are we and what is our and the business’ purpose? How will we achieve these purposes?

How healthy are you and your business?

Are you and the business thriving on all strategic and operational aspects of performance, and is your own leadership and the business developing?

How well are you helping the people in the business to perform and develop?

A true leader becomes strong with a widely developed skills base and helps their people and the business develop performance.

How well integrated are your own ambitions coupled with your potential and experience to succeed in leading the business forward to improve your strategic outcomes?

With a business coach giving you confidential and honest feedback, you can work through what you want for the business and for yourself.

Your business coach or mentor is there to encourage you to ask what you want to do as a leader. They’ll also help you with their experience so you can add it to your own, as well as facilitating the increase in your Leadership Quotient while supporting you in your development and acting as a sounding board for business growth strategies.

At International Business Mentors, we have a process that matches you to a great business coach or mentor who has overlapping and complementary experience, with a view to increase your contribution in leadership and develop you and your business. We consider all the lessons from the Leadership Quotients from a practical stand point.

Contact International Business Mentors today to learn more about business coaching for leadership.

Succeed Better in Your Start-Up Business with an International Business Mentor

Every day, budding entrepreneurs across the world come up with outstanding ideas for business opportunities that could be the next roaring success. Unfortunately, many of these opportunities fail or do not live up to their promise and fall short of expectations.

To increase your chances of success, you will need good business planning and should actively seek appropriate help from an experienced business coach or mentor who can guide you in critical business areas you are not familiar with. As a wise mentor once said, “We do not know what we do not know.” So why not learn from an International Business Mentor’s broad business skills and practical experience to enhance and develop your own business success?

For example, your business mentor can provide business coaching and help you with your first steps in assessing any new business venture. This necessitates you completing a brief feasibility study followed by a basic business plan including a financial forecast. From these steps, some conclusions can be drawn as to the chance of the venture being commercially viable and worth your investment in time, money and taking the risks involved.

This example above is just one of many common-sense approaches for those experienced in business. However, if you lack experience and have not been taught suitable frameworks for making business decisions, your start-up may not necessarily succeed, like many before. Furthermore, depending on the type of business you start up, you must consider a wide range of aspects, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, security, systems and IT support, health and safety procedures & training, and insurance.

How a Business Coach Can Help

Leveraging their wide business experience and selection for your own needs, an International Business Mentor or coach can guide you through assessing, planning and executing your start-up venture or extending your existing business. From your very first confidential meeting, your business coach’s broad business skills and background can add value to you and your business.

Some key areas you may cover with your International Business Mentor include:

  • Strategy
  • Feasibility
  • Business Plans
  • Financial Performance
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customers
  • Social Media
  • Operations, Systems and IT
  • People Issues, Culture & Organisation
  • Leadership and Your Own Development
  • Key Relationships Management
  • Control & Governance
  • Risk Management

You will also benefit from your mentor’s business coaching approach to develop and enhance your own business skills. Further, by tapping into their business experience, you can avoid many of the traps and pitfalls common in business.

Understanding what’s Important

At any specific time in your business venture, your business coach or mentor can help you better deal with what is most important. This emphasis at any time will depend on the stage you and your business are at, what circumstances you face, and what strategy you are pursuing.

Your International Business Mentor can help you ask the right questions at the right time. These questions may include:

  • What business structure do you need: company, sole trader or partnership?
  • Should you get debt funding?
  • Do you sell direct to customers or go through agents or distributors?
  • Should you cross sell extra services or product?
  • Which products and services do you want to provide?
  • What is the impact of competitor behaviour?
  • How do you make customers more loyal?
  • What profit should you aim for?
  • Can you reduce your costs?
  • What is the right organisation culture and structure?
  • Should you buy a franchise?
  • Can you afford this business?
  • Can you get supply and what should it cost?
  • Should you build this business up to sell it?
  • Do you need legal input?
  • What Image are you striving for in the market?
  • How long will it take to succeed?
  • How will I know I have succeeded?
  • Should you employ staff?
  • Where do you need to be located?
  • What skills are missing in the business to succeed?
  • How do I forecast my cashflow?
  • When should I have a board of directors?
  • What terms do I give to customers on payment?
  • How do I do credit control

An International Business Mentor or coach can guide in asking the right questions at the right time for you and your start-up (or existing business). They can also help you with business coaching to improve your leadership and management skills so that you can better establish and develop your business skills.

To start benefiting from your own International Business Mentor, contact Chris Cartney today by calling (03) 8686 9192.

Why Businesses Should Look Ahead to 2018 with a Business Coach

In 2018, it will be more important than ever for Australian and international businesses to have a business mentor or coach.

2017 has been a rather messy year for business, despite reasonable economic stability. The mining sector – once Australia’s major source of GDP – has remained flat financially, yet Australia continues to avoid recession with good employment, good exports, infrastructure spending, and low interest rates. But will this change in 2018?

From an economic perspective, Australian businesses have identified strong opportunities. From an export point of view, no longer does the economy rely principally on mining, with many businesses growing their service exports and developing in areas such as professional services, education and tourism.

However, there is a need to be mindful of the potential risks worldwide of destabilisation impacting economies and business, such as the Middle East, North Korea, uncertainties such as the ‘Trump’ factor, interest rate increases, Brexit, Catalan in Spain declaring independence, job instability, increasing taxation pressure across tax boundaries, threats from the development of disruptive technologies (such as evolving robotic technology), electronic currency, the increase and continual sophistication in cybercrime, and data security.

There is therefore much to consider from both opportunities and risks in 2018, making business coaching worth considering.

Business owners, directors, CEOs and senior executives all have responsibilities to take into account in their evolving business plans so they can strategise the likely future critical factors that will be presented in 2018 and beyond. They then must try and optimise their plans and decisions to enhance their businesses and counter any damage or risks that potentially may occur. The assessment of the business’s likely future is a critical process of considering these factors, futures and various options for the business. This strategic assessment process can be greatly enhanced with the key input from a high calibre, well matched, independent business mentor or coach from International Business Mentors.

How Business Coaching Can Help

An International Business Mentor or coach can critically help you see, test and appreciate your big picture and specific circumstances in your own strategic landscape. This should help you better identify and assess opportunities and risks. Additionally, your business coach or mentor can help you to consider your strategies from an alternative perspective, and can open up your awareness to other ideas and ways of evaluating the options you face. Essentially, two heads are better than one when it comes to challenging and assessing ideas and business decisions inside a very confidential and strong business coaching or mentoring relationship.

Assessing What the Future Holds

In 2017, we saw a general weakening in trust for Governments and large corporations, with potential damage to reputations, economies and business. 2018 will need government and corporate cultures to be realigned to woo back voter and consumer support, and to succeed, businesses face a real challenge.

This is where a well matched International Business Mentor or coach can assist you to assess the future possibilities for your strategy, corporate governance, and the assessment of your target culture needed for success going forward. And since the future is always uncertain, it is critical to optimally assess the future pipeline of business and the strategies, customer requirements, marketing, product and service offering, competition, operations, people culture, organisation structures, and the financial performance and funding required to achieve the best performance outcomes considered critical for your business to prosper in 2018 and beyond. These critical aspects should be reviewed inside your confidential mentoring meetings with your International Business Mentor.

Don’t waste time – engage a business coach now who can confidentially work with you to improve your business in 2018. For more information, call International Business Mentors today on (03) 8686 9192.

Can You Trust Your Instinct When Making Important Business Decisions?

Any business coach or mentor will tell you that instinct can be important when making business decisions. Over a decade ago, Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book ‘Blink’ was published with a controversial and scientific explanation of what is behind decision making. Gladwell celebrated the art of what he termed snap decision making, i.e. “the power of not thinking”, and he asserted the provocative case that “Great decision makers aren’t those who process the most.”

Gladwell stated simply that a central pillar of our western rational philosophy is that the longer we spend or the more effort we put into making a decision, the better the decision will be, and this belief system is prevalent. You can see the result of this everywhere. For example, if a person isn’t happy with a diagnosis, they’ll usually ask for more tests, or if unsure about a business decision, they may seek business coaching for a second opinion.

This same belief system underpins our attitude and approach in the workplace. The more data we get, the more analytical we become, as we believe that the more analytical we learn to be, the better prepared we are. For Gladwell, this was misleading, as it played down the role of our instincts, or what the psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer dubbed “fast and frugal thinking” – or decisions that we make in the blink of an eye.

The successful leaders and managers have always had good instincts. For example, Sri Sharma, founder and managing director of the paid search agency Net Media Planet, said that he has often relied on his “personal radar” to build his company from a single person start-up to a multi-million pound business, as it allowed him to think fast and make decisions.

Sri Sharma said, “I think of your instinct, your gut feeling, as a personal radar that is built up over the years,” and “Often the data you analyse confirms what your instincts tell you from your personal radar, but it can’t replace it. Instinct is vital.”

Does Instinct Play Less of a Role in the Decision-Making Process Today?

It was a very different world a decade ago when Gladwell was writing his book, and over the years since, the world is being quantified like never before. In particular, business intelligence, analytics packages and information databases combine to give companies unprecedented statistical data and hopefully greater understanding of their customers or client base. All this multitudinous data is gathered under the umbrella of “big data”, which deals with the tidal wave of statistics that floods in day after day.

In the Face of Such a Wealth of Data, What Place is there Left for Instinct, If Any?

“But data is only insight, not an answer,” Sharma says, and overall, he thinks it’s had a positive effect in the workplace and “There is definitely more data today, and as a result, better decisions are being made with an upward progression of good decisions.”

Dr. Martin Clarke, program and business director at Cranfield School of Management, agrees with Sharma. “Data does not provide the answer,” he says. Though some leaders and managers can fall prey to what he calls “management by spreadsheet”, the real challenge is always to interpret the data, and he feels there is “no shortage of instinctive decision makers” doing that today.

Rather, Clarke thinks there is a different consequence of the booming data in that “It has made the decision-making process more complex, more messy.” This is due to the significant increase in data to go through, with many more people involved and more perspectives to consider.

For Clarke, decision making has become more of a diplomatic process than in the past. “You might know the right decision because you have 20 years’ experience working in a sector, but you might have to sacrifice 20% of this right answer to please everyone. What you end up with is what I call the best answer, because it satisfies the greatest number of people. That is the balance you have to achieve.”

Has this Proliferation of Data Made People Less Decisive?

The fear is that too much data can lead to what psychologists call analysis paralysis, i.e. the idea that having too much data can hinder the accuracy of decisions or the speed with which they are made. Clarke thinks not. “If we are more cautious, it is not because of data but of economic uncertainty.”

Chris Cartney, a leading general manager of International Business Mentors who works with and analyses managers, has a different take. Chris worries about the difficulties people have in handling the amount of data and simply processing or archiving it efficiently. Chris critically considers the biggest problems lie in the interpretation by leaders and managers of the data and divining the core conclusions or truths. Chris believes that balancing insight and instinct is vital for all of today’s leaders and managers. She also thinks it can be particularly dangerous to make decisions when emotions are strongly impacting the instinctive thinking process.

This balance considered by Chris Cartney between data analysis and instinct with emotions has long been pondered by Sharma at Net Media Planet. “Managers have to rely on their instincts, but the time not to do so is when your emotions get involved – if you’re being led by your emotions, that is when you can make bad decisions.” Sharma’s point is one that Gladwell also touched on in ‘Blink’. An emotional response to a situation, he argues, can blind our instincts. However, with a cool head, Sharma argues, intuition must play an important role in businesses today: “It’s your personal radar. You learn to rely on it.”

Whilst there is compelling evidence that data is a powerful resource for researching facts that directly impact your business, disregarding your instincts based on experience and skills is a mistake. The fact is – and any business coach will agree – it’s best to consider both.

Statistics can be useful, and in some instances absolutely vital in order to make an informed business decision. But don’t detach yourself from the human element. Depending on the type of decision, where relevant, allow your instincts to kick in.

Experience should not be underestimated. Even if the data suggests otherwise, Learn more about the role of instinct when making decisions and discover how Business Coaching can help leaders make better decisions. a strong niggling that something is absolutely right or wrong can be the better option. Trusting your gut is trusting the collection of all your particular experiences. Situations change, and predictions are not always correct, so when making plans that affect your business, consider the possibilities and have a contingency back up plan.

Most importantly, engage a business coach or business mentor to help you. Your business coach or business mentor can give you an independent appraisal, considering all the information and sharing their experiences in similar instances. A well matched business coach or mentor can also help develop a business leader’s intuition. Going with your gut can allow you to be inquisitive and more open to opportunities. But these skills are not inborn or inherited; they need to be learnt.

Business leaders are ideas people. They are creating a vision for the future of the business, so they need to innovate using their instincts. Instincts allow you to make the most of opportunities that others don’t necessarily see.

How Can a Business Coach Help Develop a Business Leader’s Intuition?

Firstly, an International Business Mentors business coach or mentor has the necessary experience in having developed and used their own intuition in their business lives. They share their successes, mistakes, ideas and business acumen as they are driven by a desire to help those they mentor to succeed.

A well matched business coach or mentor encourages business leaders to follow their interests and to act on their ideas. Business coaching can also support businesses leaders to be committed and to focus and follow through. Instinct allows leaders to anticipate problems and set the rules for the future. It draws on things you have learnt and felt, much of which you may not even be consciously aware of.

An appropriate business coach can help leaders make informed and well balanced decisions, with an open mindedness that permits your ideas to change and develop. They’ll encourage you to think about your business issues before making a decision, and to also use your gut. This forces business leaders to be more instinctive.

Instinct vs. Common Sense

Learn to tune into your physical and emotional response as a pointer to the direction you need to take, and give credit to your initial response to a situation. If something doesn’t ‘feel right’, consider the options and weigh up the pros and cons of going with your gut feeling.

Instincts are vital in our decision-making to help us notice when something might be wrong. Yet in most situations, when we face significant decisions about the business, we need to trust our head more than our gut in order to make the best decisions. A business coach can help in such circumstances, as they can act as a confidential sounding board.

Contact Chris Cartney at International Business Mentors today to consider how a business coach or mentor can help with your business thinking processes, assisting you and your business with a confidential and supportive business coaching relationship.

How to Appoint and Appropriately Support Your CEO to Succeed with CEO Mentoring

Organisations must put sufficient time and effort into appointing the right CEO. After making this substantial investment, it’s important to provide the CEO with strong ongoing support coupled with a rewarding package that encourages them to succeed for the business. As the role is demanding, even an experienced CEO should receive support in the form of business mentoring programs or CEO mentoring.

The organisation should look strategically ahead at the CEO’s development as well as their succession plan. The hiring, firing and succession planning of a CEO is complex and often requires specialised expertise.

Whether it’s a board that oversees the CEO’s appointment, or the owner who appoints the CEO, critically the hiring process must produce the best possible candidate for the position. The CEO is absolutely crucial to delivering the short and long-term success of any business. Additionally, if business owners themselves are to be the CEO, they need to be realistic and ensure they are adequately skilled in order to perform this vital role.

The Role of a CEO

CEO mentoring is a worthy investment when the role of a CEO is considered. The CEO is the most senior executive in charge of managing the organisation. This is true for listed companies, private companies, not-for-profit organisations, government bodies, and various other businesses.

The CEO reports to the board (or MD, business owner or shareholders) and is responsible for meeting the strategic objectives of the business and its performance. For businesses, this will include maximising the value of the business, be it through the share price or maximising shareholder value, cashflows and profits. In the not-for-profit sector, the responsibility differs in that the modus operandi is to meet the specific mission and values of the organisation. In all organisations, the CEO must provide strong leadership and have appropriate experience to run the organisation.

The CEO reports to and advises the board or owners who will determine the limits of the CEO’s powers and responsibilities. The CEO then drives the organisation to achieve the desired strategy and outcomes, as well as overseeing employee training and performance, making key decisions, and having responsibility for operations, marketing, HR, business development, finance, and regulatory and policy compliance. With all this responsibility, it’s crucial for business mentoring programs to be available when support is required.

How CEO Mentoring Can Help

At International Business Mentors, we individually match business mentors or business coaches with CEOs depending on the desired background, experience and level of skills. Dealing with individuals in a broad range of business industries, sizes and structures means one size does not fit all. Furthermore, some CEOs require assistance in a range of areas, whilst others may be more specific in their requirements or only desire a confidential sounding board.

Today’s CEOs are under great pressure to reduce costs, deliver growth, keep up with compliance issues, manage technology and cyber security, and work on sales strategy and delivery. Most top CEO performers are constant knowledge seekers, but they can’t be master of everything. Fortunately, they can engage business mentors to help them in areas where they may be lacking. Open mindedness assists CEOs to improve their own business performance, giving them an edge.

CEO mentoring can help CEOs with:

  • Transitioning into the CEO role
  • Reporting to the board
  • Providing a confidential sounding board for ideas
  • Confidential and candid discussion on various areas, including:
    • Market strategy
    • Competition
    • Financial performance
    • Operations
    • Cost reduction
    • Supply chain management
    • People and culture
    • Leadership

It Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely at the Top

It’s often stated that it is ‘lonely at the top’, and this is particularly pertinent to CEOs, senior executives, directors and business owners. Whether you’ve recruited a new CEO externally, are appointing from within the organisation, or have an existing CEO, they all need to be supported with a fresh set of eyes and the right business mentoring programs. To learn how an experienced and well-matched business mentor from International Business Mentors can provide assistance, contact us today.

The Importance of Retaining your Top Talent

It cannot be understated – the right people are your most valuable asset. But finding them in the first place and then developing and retaining can be a challenge.

Any business coach will tell you that it is the people that will drive the success of the organisation, so it is critical to have the right people in the right places. Running a successful recruitment process is vital, as is having comprehensive retention strategies in place.

Finding Top Talent

Firstly, you must recruit the best, and unless you have the necessary experience, capability, business coaching and resources to do this successfully, you need to invest in the services of a reputable recruitment firm. This can save you time and money and also give you the option of the best candidates in the market to meet your specific requirements.

Substantially, the monetary cost to your business of hiring the wrong person far exceeds that of recruitment agency fees. This is particularly obvious once you calculate the extra costs in training, re-hiring, disruption to the business, and impact on your loyal and hardworking staff who have to pick up the slack, dragging down morale and productivity.

You also run a much higher risk profile during the period of the unsuccessful candidate’s time in the job and the replacement period. The risk to the business can be lost revenue, disenfranchised customers, impact on reputation and brand, reduced productivity, and even loss of other valuable employees depending on the circumstance.

Where to Begin

When looking for new talent, the first steps you need to take with or without a recruitment expert are:

  • Define the job description – Receive input from the line manager and HR to develop an accurate list of responsibilities, expected values, targets, skills, salary bandings, team work expected and reporting lines.
  • Make sure candidates are screened – You should aim for a strong short-list of 3-5 candidates.
  • Conduct interviews – You must define the questions relevant to the role and probe into the technical aspects and experience necessary for the role. Failure to plan this stage can lead to unnecessary delays and frustrated candidates.
  • Check references – Conducting this thoroughly is the only way to make sure the prospective employee has the technical skills required. You can also ensure their soft skills and cultural alignment are what you’re looking for. Reference checks should be done in detail and the questions should be tailored specifically around the skills and requirements for the position.
  • Test – Depending on the nature and seniority of the role, you might need to have appropriate testing performed.

The Next Steps

Once you have successfully engaged the person you consider to be the best person for the key role, the next steps are to develop, support, measure their performance, and, if they meet all the criteria, retain them.

The workforce has changed from decades gone by, and often, non-monetary factors are very important for retaining staff. These factors include:

  • Workplace flexibility
  • Career planning (where they will be in 3-5 years in the business)
  • Coaching or mentoring to increase their knowledge and potential
  • Regular performance feedback (not just at QPRs, once every 3-4 months)

Strong performers respond well to corporate support. They value being valued. A significant way to both develop and support your key people is with individual business coaching or mentoring. Not only does this inspire executives, but it provides tools to monitor their performance, development and ultimate contribution to the business’ results.

How Business Coaching Can Help

At International Business Mentors, we can individually match mentors to key executives, taking into account the skills and experience needed to help them develop and improve business performance. Furthermore, the support that a business coach provides can foster appreciation and loyalty to employers.

To better retain staff, an experienced business coach or mentor can assist business owners, leaders and senior management by aiding them to focus on retaining their best talent. This can include measuring certain areas, such as staff capability, performance culture, values, KPIs, performance appraisals, interviews, assessments, tests, and so on. Australia business coaching professionals will also be able to challenge you and give feedback, helping you avoid the pitfalls that can cause your talent to leave you prematurely.

Tips for Retention

The nature of your great talent is that they want to succeed and improve, enhance, be flexible and add value to their job and to the business.

Leadership must be at the forefront of selecting and managing their key people. It is often quoted that “employees don’t quit working for companies,they quit working for their bosses.”

Some of the practices leaders should adopt to retain their people include:

  • Facilitate employees to align their passions with corporate objectives.
  • Challenge all staff to achieve difficult outcomes and stretch them intellectually.
  • Allow them to engage in their creativity when answers are needed.
  • Care for them with appropriate remuneration, and importantly as people at an emotional level.
  • Be an effective leader and communicate the vision and mission of the organisation and how they and their job fits into that overall direction.
  • Recognise, praise and reward good people for their excellent contribution.
  • Be fair and give feedback where improvements are needed, and inspect any improvements in performance.
  • Increase staff responsibility where appropriate to grow their capability and job satisfaction.
  • Keep any commitments and promises you give, and if you cannot do this due to circumstance, discuss this with staff to get them back on side.
  • Give your people a voice. Listen to their good thoughts, ideas, insights and observations, and acknowledge their input into the direction of the business in the future.

Since keeping and developing your talented people is a priority in delivering your business strategy, both the people and organisational aspects of the business will demand continuous review and improvement and significant effort by all leaders in the organisation.

With the help of a suitable business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors, you can put in place the appropriate processes that are invaluable mechanisms to ensure you have the right people who will in turn contribute to the success of your business. Call International Business Mentors today on (03) 8686 9192 to learn more.

Strategy Execution: How to Better Implement and Achieve the Desired Strategic Outcomes

Develop Strategy and Effective Communication are Key to Strategy Implementation

Unfortunately, being caught up in the daily business grind tends to hinder any serious consideration of what has actually been achieved strategically.  A focus on short term work priorities does not necessarily help achieve longer term goals. Unfortunately, that business strategy you adopted only a few months ago, may have become obsolete. Further, despite everyone buying into the strategy not many have followed through. How did we collectively get the strategy implementation so wrong?

For business strategy to be implemented effectively it cannot just be the domain of company directors, senior management or the owners. Strategy must flow throughout the business to align each staff member with the common goals to get the whole team pulling together in the same strategic direction. It is critical to communicate strategy effectively, so that every staff member’s sees how they can contribute to, and create a sense of ownership in the strategy. Staff need to know they are valued in making strategy happen and how they must take responsibility to execute it. Strategy communication needs to be empowering. It needs to be transparent and deliver the vision, mission, values, strategic goals and risks, so that a positive strategy uptake occurs and subsequent implementation by the whole organisation. An International Business Mentor or Coach can help you through the strategy process.

Financial Modelling of the Potential Outcomes is Key to Strategy Development

Financial modelling is the most powerful strategic and risk management tool needed to ensure that strategy is evaluated. This is needed to ensure that it will deliver the financial returns, profits, cashflow, dividends, and business value that the company owners, funders, directors and managers need it to achieve. This financial modelling must consider the effect of multiple business scenarios to gain clearer insight into the various scenarios, and possible outcomes that will have an impact on the business’s future potential performance and quantify the risks. These financial and forecasting models need to fully integrate with financial reports (Actual and forecast Cashflows, P&L and Balance Sheet) and give graphical, statistical and dashboard data for executive decision-making and performance monitoring and control. Such financial tools must allow for the evaluation of the effects of business strategy and changes over an extended period and are critical in the identification of better alternatives business decisions and identifying risks to guide their mitigation.

Continued Assessment of Strategy Implementation is Critical

Strategy implementation requires setting tasks and processes with measured outcomes within a timeframe. To get successful strategy implementation we must consider the desired outcomes on a continuous basis. If during the implementation, the day-to-day tasks take over and the critical strategic actions do not get done, then the organisation will lose track of what they agreed to do to achieve the strategy.

When the desired business outcomes (budgets, strategic plans, group and individual’s targets and KPIs) are set then a strong sense of direction, priority and focus will have been established and can help direct the day to day focus. The strategy progress and the contribution made by all areas of the business need to be critically reviewed at least quarterly to keep the strategic plan on track.

Business Value should be Calculated Regularly in Strategy Implementation

Business value is generally only calculated when it is time to exit or when an investor wants to invest in the business. Business Value should be calculated on a regular basis so that strategy can be built around the target Business Value milestones.  Businesses are independently valued on a PE multiple basis approach, which has two aspects, both the quantum of profits and the PE multiple applied. Both aspects must be considered in strategy formulation, so there needs to be a business valuation in the monthly financial reports and analysis done to compared this to the financial model targets that underpinned the strategy.

Give Everyone Data to See their Progress Towards the Strategy

Businesses can gain great benefits by displaying and providing staff with live data on progress towards the Strategy and this feedback is a great facilitator of performance behaviour towards the strategic objectives. This feedback data on strategic measures and performance should improve the shared accountability for achieving satisfactory business outcomes. You should consider capturing and displaying real time data using mobile and desktop applications as well as visual displays throughout the offices and workplaces. It is a small capital investment with good returns. By showing strategic goals into expected weekly/monthly/quarterly outcomes, the people in the business can better respond to fluctuating trading or operational situations and get things back on track to meet or exceed their KPIS, targets and goals.

An International Business Mentor or Coach can help facilitate and develop you through the strategy process and the implementation and strategy performance review process.

David Cartney
International Business Mentors
June 2017

Boards Need Chairman to be Trained

Moving from a director position to the Chairman of the board can be a big step and can be made easier and more effective, if the Chairman has been trained for this position.

The Board needs to agree on the basic focus for the Chairman and devolve any extra authorities or resources they may need to effectively carry out their new duties. The level of support for the chairman is critical both with sufficient resources, such as secretarial, legal, report generation in time and the appropriate level for the board meetings. These include publishing of board materials and timetable, organizing venues, accommodation and travel for board members and other attendees, support from the other board members to adequately prepare for meetings, and follow up on agreed tasks. These can be adopted similarly by the senior leadership team.

The Chairman must ensure that the Board focuses its energy and wisdom on:

  • Appropriate matters requiring decisions
  • Is competent to come to suitable conclusions
  • Once board decisions are made
  • then authority to implement must be passed to the MD or CEO with a clear resolution.

The Chair can either be non-executive or an executive. Each have differing levels of authority over the management and operational decision-making processes. Again, these authority levels need to be clearly established or there will likely be management override and a disconnect between the board members and the operational staff. This is an area that needs chairman training to work effectively, see my quote below:

“There is no distinction in purpose between a board’s and management’s role. The board directs the business and oversee the interests of shareholders, while the strategies as agreed by the board are implemented by management. The chairman’s role is to lead the board and ensure appropriate disciplines are in place for the board and to distinguish between the board and management’s roles. The MD or CEO provides leadership to the management and the chairman sees that the CEO does what the board expects. The board does have a collective responsibility on this, but should leave most of the dialogue between the chairman and CEO or MD and only take collective action, if this does not work.” David Cartney, International Business Mentors 2017.

Board Reviews

The Chairman needs to implement Board Reviews as a Learning Process and requires honest & objective review of the board’s wrong or poor decisions or process, so that lessons can be learnt from these. This is a periodic review of the board processes and includes how directors should and do behave and the way that information is presented and considered. And how to improve board effectiveness. The Chairman should mentor the directors in all of the above.

Boards Making Decisions

Boards make judgments on a wide range of issues which effect the organization and these are based on various pieces of information and past experiences. All of this Information must be relevant and carefully weighed within the context of the required judgments. The Chairman must ensure that decisions that follow these judgements are based on the relevant and collective opinions, knowledge, attitudes and experience of the board members and for the best interests of the company.

Making collective board decisions, running the board business effectively, reviewing the boards own performance are only part of the arsenal of skills that the Chairman requires to do the job properly. Whatever the current level of these skills in the current or aspirant Chairman, these can be enhanced through the International Business Mentors’ Chairman training. International Business Mentors’ Chairman training is highly confidential, One-on-One and is delivered over 8 meetings or modules, with reading and preparation in between. It includes the Chairman’s input to and the boards responsibilities with strategy, monitoring performance, shareholders and stakeholders, board composition, management, relationships and effectiveness. This Chairman’s training is tailored for the specific Chairman (or the aspirant Chairman).

David Cartney July 2017.

For more information please visit : https://internationalbusinessmentors.com/training-and-services/the-chairmans-training/

How Business Coaching Can Help You Adapt to Change and Disrupt Markets

Change can be daunting, yet it can create new exciting opportunities from both a personal and business perspective. Change reaches out from the unknown and gets you and the business out of your combined comfort zones and into new and unfamiliar areas that require new skills and support. With business coaching from International Business Mentors, you can learn how to be a change leader and deliberately disrupt markets, creating strategic competitive advantage. Such an approach can be clearly seen in the uses of technology to outperform existing suppliers of services in markets such as the Taxi industry, which has been disrupted by the rise of Uber’s car sharing technology.

What Will the Future Hold?

As change can cause fear and unsettles, it often tends to constrain the way we think. This can reduce the speed of change needed to adapt successfully to new challenges or opportunities. We generally adapt well to familiar personal changes in relationships, growing up, having children, moving, aging, etc. This is because we have experienced others transition in similar situations, and importantly, we may have had some guidance from family and friends to support us through the change process.

On the other hand, business change can be less familiar, with a greater magnitude and speed of change in markets, customers, operations, people, finances or strategy. You can add to this your own need to make new types of decisions and deal with higher levels of leadership and management. A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can help you adapt and develop with the business changes as well as your own change into a new leadership position. Australia business coaching is also essential for business owners who are adapting to change or planning succession for the future of the business.

The Importance of a Fresh Look

Adapting to or creating change requires a fresh look from a business coach at all aspects of the business. Usually the first area to concentrate on is the market and your customers. You need to know what your customers currently want and value, how that is changing or can be changed, and what the markets are doing or will do that puts customers at risk of changing suppliers. While this seems simple, it is often not focused on.

Once you have a good view of the changing landscape of customer requirements and market responses, you need to create a detailed strategic framework – with a compelling vision for that changing future for the next 1 to 3 years. To achieve that strategy in a shifting business environment, you will have to train and recruit the right people, with the right skills to deliver that evolving vision.

Providing and Receiving Support

The people in the organisation will need you to support them and communicate clearly to get a good understanding of the vision and the future strategy. This is needed to motivate, coordinate effort, and create the effective team to deliver on that strategy. You will need to provide clear goals that give the leaders in your organisation the necessary flexibility and focus to respond to the changing business environment and deliver the required performance.

Other than adapting to your customer’s changing demands, you also need to understand and anticipate your competitors’ behaviour in your markets with customers. This is another critical area where Australia business coaching from International Business Mentors can be helpful.

To be effective, a leader must empower and skill-up their people to perform. You should therefore assess the support your leaders need in terms of direction, performance feedback, and business coaching and mentoring.

Learn More Today

Support yourself to succeed through change and adaptation by engaging an independent business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors. In addition to casting a critical eye over the changing environment through their own experience, they can help keep you on track and modify strategy as required. For more information, call us today on (03) 8686 9192.

Business Coaching for Strategic Business Team Building

When it comes to team building, a good strategic leader is essential. Possessing what it takes to deliver the required strategy, these exceptional leaders can attract the right people, train them, and then continue to inspire, lead, develop and demand superior team business performance. If you’re struggling to build a strong team, find out how a business coach can provide assistance in this area.

The Steps for Building an Effective Team

By working with a business coach and following the 12 steps below, you’ll have the ingredients you need to strengthen your business team.

1. Define the overall strategy and how this business team should contribute to the desired performance and outcomes
2. Define the people needed and prioritise skills to meet the strategy
3. Develop clear and common goals for the team members
4. Recruit the right people
5. Develop shared and common values to support the strategy
6. Set limits and ground rules for the team and individuals
7. Communicate the strategy, culture and required performance clearly
8. Empower people to use their skills and focus on performance management
9. Promote healthy and enquiring minds but also urgency to get critical things done
10. Measure the business team’s performance towards the strategic goals. Give them feedback and ask for suggestions to make improvements or take opportunities that the business team has identified
11. Reward the team for the team effort and the individuals for their contribution to the team results
12. Continue to provide the best strategic leadership and measure how well this is done!

What Makes an Effective Leader and Team?

An effective strategic leader creates a vision of the future that is clearly communicated in order to inspire their people, motivating them to deliver on the strategy to achieve the vision. This results in an effective business team that’s far greater than the sum of its parts, allowing the members to achieve great team results far beyond their individual abilities.

However, behind every consistently successful business team is a strong and effective strategic business leader who actively directs, trains, organises and encourages the team. Using careful planning to build a high performance business team, they start with forging the right mix of personalities, capabilities and agendas in order to create a tight business unit that’s willing to work closely together for a common purpose. This takes considerable work by the strategic leader and the other team members.

High performance teams must be created with a strong mission or purpose and be highly motivated to push for its delivery. Business teams are at the core of an organisation’s structure and their effectiveness strongly directs the success of the business. Getting business teams to work effectively requires individuals and their teams to strive for, and achieve, high performance. Any business coach will tell you that this is a vital component for success.

Problematically, bringing together individuals into a group and making them congruent isn’t easy. This is due to many factors, such as the mix of different personalities, skills, motivations, career aspirations, capabilities and leadership styles of individuals, as well as the complexities of the task and the process. This all means that building and shaping high performance teams is a significant ongoing challenge, although it has much upside if done well.

Business Team Dynamics

A strong and cohesive team will work together for common goals in an environment of open communication on the strategy and how they fit into delivering it. They will also need mutual trust, cooperation and commitment, and be results driven. The business team members must understand the differences in their fellow team members’ differing capabilities, styles and attitudes, and know how these can be managed to assist the business team to work effectively as a whole.

In many instances, an independent business coach or mentor can run a critical eye over and appraise a strategic leader’s approach. In the case of a business team, Australia business coaching can give an independent view of the dynamics and effectiveness to see how better business team performance and outcomes can be achieved.

How International Business Mentors Can Help

International Business Mentors individually matches business mentors or coaches with each business person and their business teams. Our business coaches and mentors play an important part in developing high performance teams and leaders.

1. Initially, a business coach or mentor works with the team leader to develop their leadership performance, after which they assist in developing the team development plan
2. Business coaches and mentors teach essential elements of effective team building and establish the initial team agenda
3. Business coaches and mentors help the teams through the process of establishing team norms and organisation. They are often present during team meetings to encourage high performance team behaviour and keep meetings on track

A business coach or mentor can assist leaders and teams on a variety of different levels as well as provide support for individual development and performance. For more information on Australia business coaching, call International Business Mentors today.

How Good Leadership Can Be Enhanced with a Business Coach or Mentor

Good leadership rightly continues to be one of the “top of mind” awareness topics amongst business owners, CEOs, directors and senior executives. All businesses need good leadership, and striving to be a better leader needs hard work and continual reassessment to keep you up to date with changing work environments, new ideas, and new approaches to leadership. While business coaching can provide valuable assistance in this area, you also need to be aware of what good people and leaders expect and deliver in terms of leadership.

A Simple Definition of a Leader

An effective leader is a person who creates an inspiring vision of the future before motivating, driving and inspiring their people to engage with it, improve it and deliver it. Concepts of good leadership vary widely according to culture, religion and political ideology, but in a pure business context, the definition and execution is unsurprisingly similar.

One aspect of leadership is the question of whether good leaders are born or developed. This is an old debate. The truth is, both factors are right to some extent. However, businesses can practically improve their leadership potential and capability of their organisations with measured approaches to leadership education and training, including assistance from a business coach. This enhances and develops leaders through a structured approach that shares with them real business and management job experience.

When a Business Coach is Necessary

It’s disappointing when leaders who have been trained are not as effective as they should be. A prime example of this is when owners or leaders are newly promoted or find themselves in different roles, or the business or roles have significantly changed. These leaders are not necessarily fully-equipped for these transitional circumstances, and they usually know that they could do much better. At International Business Mentors, we can help unlock their potential with Australia business coaching.

In these instances, a well-matched business coach or mentor can greatly assist, as they can complement the leader with their own business knowledge and experience. They are also passionate about passing this on to help develop the mentee’s leadership and performance capability. The business mentor or coach comes with wide leadership and business experience, and they’ll also have developed their own excellent leadership skills in business.

How Business Coaching Can Help

Identifying critical areas for development for a specific business leader is an integral part of the business coaching or mentoring process. Some of these target areas may or may not be obvious to the business owner or leader until the right time in the mentoring process.
What must be crystallised in leadership business mentoring is the type or style of leader being targeted. For example, different industries require different types of leaders with a focus and a blend of styles, e.g. focused on authoritative, charismatic, collaborative, transactional, analytical, systematic, or transformational. Family businesses may also need to include a family diplomatic style.

There are many theories about leadership styles. Some give the basic three: autocratic, democratic, or Laissez-faire. Then there are also the emotional leadership styles, all of which have strengths and weaknesses in different situations: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding. Each style can affect the performance and significantly tap into the positive emotions of your employees or team members. Choosing the right blend of leadership styles for the right situation and the right leader are very much the key to success.

What Makes a Successful Leader?

Successful leaders need to understand their strong supporters, followers and the broad base of their employees and staff. Corporate culture is set from the top with strong leadership, feedback and interaction with the people in the organisation. Leaders need to perform well in setting the culture to fit the business for its future strategy. When done well by leaders, the staff will support the changes needed and will be motivated to perform and deliver on the business vision.

Most importantly, an effective leader knows how to react when there is a crisis or when things just get difficult. A business coach can help you prepare for and deal with these situations by tapping into their experience. That is a fundamental benefit from an Australia business coaching relationship.

Other critical aspects of good leadership include good communication and behaviour. These may seem obvious, but unless a leader communicates well to his employees and behaves in a proper manner that reflects the target culture needed for the business to succeed, he or she will not get that vision across and could lose respect.

Good leaders also always remember that their best people are the best assets of the business. As a result, great leaders look after their best people and tend to lead and perform very well.

Benefit from Business Coaching Today

Give your leadership skills a boost and increase your confidence to be an even more effective leader with the help of International Business Mentors. We can provide you with a business coach or mentor who can assist you to improve your leadership in the business and help with core leadership techniques such as how to use a wide variety of leadership styles, how to improve your emotional intelligence or EQ, and how to lead effectively when things get difficult. When equipped with these skills, you’ll become a highly effective leader!

If you want to enhance your leadership with Australia business coaching, contact International Business Mentors today.

Electronic Overload Frustrates Critical Focus

The use of smart phones, tablets and PCs to access emails, texts and the myriad of social media during work hours, is becoming a drain on the resources of organisations.  The loss of productivity and the increase of safety risks, both result from the growing electronic distraction.  This has prompted many business owners and company leaders to introduce policies banning the inappropriate use of devices and particularly those being used to access non-work related media in business hours.

Smartphone for many is a device addiction and is so serious that experts have coined a term for the fear of being without a phone. Nomophobia – no-mobile-phobia.

Like in many countries, Australian employers are within their legal rights to discipline staff for breaching their internal policies on device use, and information access during working hours or using company devices. Therefore, businesses can ban inappropriate electronic usage in a bid to reduce the distraction, particularly with texts or checking social media.

For example, employers can implement a no-mobile phone policy. These policies and related rules must be stated to new employees during induction. Established employees need to briefed on these conditions (and any changes) plus be given the reasons for the ban on mobile phones by explaining the loss of productivity, safety concerns and any other relevant reasons.

This device and social media access and usage policy area, has created a new aspect for businesses to manage and has started a whole new industry for businesses and lawyers, to adopt and implement device and data access, corporate policies and resolve any arising disputes.

It’s not just smartphones or other devices that hinder productivity.  Email is another culprit affecting everyone in the workplace.

Many businesses in the USA and UK, have participated in experiments that ban email for a single day or a specific period during the day.

Example of a policy: A non-email Friday

The ‘No-email Friday’ is a concept whereby every Friday for one month, business owners or executives resist the urge to check their email.

This is particularly challenging for any business owner or executive, who are in the habit of checking their email – albeit business related- up to ten or more times a day. They typically use their desktop, phone, tablet or even smart watch to access their messages across email and social media platforms to work out just what, if any are important.

Most found the challenge of restricting their own access to email very difficult at first, but many made the necessary adjustments e.g. by not getting email notifications.

Some participants found they could focus more strategically during the email absent periods, as they did not have the constant interruptions to respond to the many and diverse issues, that could be handled operationally later.

On the other hand, some participants for no-email Fridays simply deferred catching up on their hordes of emails to the next day on Saturday, which was also considered somewhat counter-productive.

Irrelevant emails

Non-business related email that are not removed automatically to junk or filtered out as SPAM e.g. personal offers or opportunities, are an ever-present evil time waster.

Most email from unsolicited sources are a constant challenge for everyone.  You are damned if you do not “junk” or mark as SPAM and damned if you don’t.  You need to bite this bullet, make the decision to mark your email and also improve your SPAM filters.

Unwanted phone calls

Unwanted and unsolicited calls can also be filtered out by telephone systems and these should also be used to reduce the background interference and noise in the office.

Getting the right policy

Restricting the use of electronic media and devices may not suit all industries or individuals, as there must be communication in the case of emergency, urgent business related issus or other risks.  However, developing policy is about getting the right balance, and tweaking what fits with the business and its individuals.

An International Business Mentor or Coach

An International Business Mentor or Coach can help with this minefield of electronic challenges by helping you assess priorities and clarify the important issues in a process to develop and implement an electronic device and data usage policy, that suits the business.

To find out more, please call us today on (03) 8686 9192.

Using Business Coaching to Transition from Working in Your Business to Working on Your Business

Many business owners find the transition from “working in” to “working on” their business a difficult process. Therefore they must adopt strategies and take advantage of resources such as business coaching to overcome this very common dilemma. Putting the right strategies in place to make this happen is vital, as a high business value-adding transition not only creates more personal time for the business owner, but also allows them to provide directed effort to focus on strategic business growth and achieve long-term business goals.

As a business owner, your “job” probably evolved from doing everything to possibly still doing everything and then some more. Unfortunately, this may be at the expense of contributing to the business, directing its strategy, and working on its improvement. Once you realise that you need to work at a higher level, you’ll be able to better delegate and focus more on growing your business rather than getting bogged down in the day-to-day tasks that need to be done – but not all by you.

When Do You Need to Transition to a More Strategic Level?

This depends on many factors, including critical mass and the calibre of people you have around you. As a business owner, you’ll know when you are on a treadmill and everything depends on your input to decision making, or you’ll feel that the business needs to lift to a higher level of performance.

Some things you need to have in place before you can transition to working more on your business include:

  1. You must already have in place a competent management team who are able to make decisions and heed your directions and policies.
  2. Delegate what is appropriate.
  3. Have strong controls over finances, credit, operations, personnel, purchasing, systems, internet and social media presence (and its impact on markets and customers), and sales and marketing.
  4. Develop a succession plan for all key staff, including yourself.
  5. Maintain good working relationships with your banks and other sources of funding.
  6. Get your own personal support system into place with a suitable and well-matched business coach or mentor so you can discuss ideas confidentially, be challenged, and have some experience on tap.
  7. Develop your strategy and how to implement it, keep an open mind by staying informed, and continue your business education in the broadest sense. Strategy is a continuous process and it needs to be adapted and reviewed regularly. It is not a “set then forget” process. Consider what you want and start working on an exit plan (or a succession plan including the next generations, if they are interested and up to the job) as part of your own personal strategy for your interests in your business.

It is important to realise that there are many ways to make this sort of transition, and business owners will do things differently depending on their circumstances and personal requirements.

Beginning the Transition

Once you have a good team of people around you, delegating is a good way to get traction by creating the time you need to make the transition to working more on the business. You will of course have to monitor your people closely when you delegate to ensure that they are up to the task. You can then reduce the monitoring as your confidence (and their confidence) develops in their new responsibilities and higher decision making. You will also need to monitor their performance from time to time as a “watching brief”.

Getting and developing the right people who have the appropriate experience and skills is itself a difficult process. It’s important to hire suitable people as you build and develop your organisation’s capability so that you can get the job done without you managing every detail. You will need support from an HR person or recruitment company to find the best possible employees instead of doing it all yourself. This is a form of delegation to outside people who will enhance your ability to reach your business goals.

Taking a Step Back

Many business owners try to handle their business transitions by themselves and be everything to everybody. You may become a bottleneck for change, which can keep your business back or at a standstill. You should be focusing on the bigger picture and the long-term business goals rather than just the change process. So consider delegating most of the change management involved with increasing your people’s delegation to implement your improved strategy. And importantly, tell them what you are doing, i.e. getting them to step up so you can also step up and work more on the business with a business coach.

You need to put in place systems and processes to ensure the standards you have set for the business are achieved and maintained. You will need to carefully look at the delegated authorities of your people and define what they can make decisions on, and when they must come back to you, e.g. signing contracts above a certain size, pricing changes, giving discounts, extending credit, buying fixed assets, rent or leasing agreements, travel arrangements, getting quotes on jobs, acceptable profit margins, and terms and conditions with customers. You should also specify those tasks you reserve to yourself, such as hiring and firing senior management, opening new bank facilities, and communication with other owners or shareholders.

Retaining the right key people as well as attracting them is critical to your own transition. Good people are a great asset, and you need to invest time and effort into maintaining their continuing contribution to the business. Communicate with them, train them if necessary, and reward them. For example, if you have a CEO or General Manager running the day-to-day aspects of the business, you should support him or her by providing them with your guidance and considering getting them their own business mentor or business coach. This will assist with their business performance and foster appreciation and loyalty.

Don’t Get Drawn Back In

Be wary of your own tendency to not let go of your own creation, i.e. the business you built. It is difficult for anyone, especially business owners who have built the business from scratch, to move on to working on the business. The business is their baby; they have worked in it and loved it. Too often, they are drawn back into working more and more in the business.

Where you are indispensable to the business by working in it, due to your expertise or personal contacts, then you need to take small step changes to realise a slightly better balance, as you still need to work more on the business. To help you in this, a business mentor or business coach who has experience in this type of transition can be a valuable guide and source of support. You are going to need this or nothing will change.

Letting Go Is Hard

Business growth is perhaps the most common reason (and there are many) why business people seek business coaching in Australia. At International Business Mentors, we’re frequently approached by business owners wanting us to find them a suitable business mentor or business coach who has experience with the transition process. The experience, knowledge and support shared through business coaching can provide you with powerful tools that you can tap into. These skills can assist with the various components of transition, general business, and the subsequent growth phase (which can have its own challenges).

A strategic approach is an absolute must for transition and goal setting. Being stretched, challenged and grounded is also necessary, as is ongoing review. An International Business Mentor can step back and look at things from an independent perspective, helping to guide you to focus on what you are good at so you can get the right balance. If you want to change the game in your business, think of the possibilities. If realistic, your business coach or mentor can guide you on how to get there.

For more information about our business coaching in Australia, call us today. We can advise how you will benefit from a well-matched International Business Mentor’s support.

Corporate Culture’s Importance for Performance & Risk Management

Any business coach will tell you that the culture that defines an organisation is set by the top leadership. This should be crystallised and directed by the board, business owners, CEOs and senior executives, as well as all staff across the organisation. Culture should never be underestimated, as it is the fundamental basis on how the company acts and how it treats its customers, employees, suppliers and business partners – all of which drives results long term. If the culture is poorly set or left to deteriorate, this can adversely infiltrate every aspect of the organisation and lead to a deterioration in performance.

From an organisation’s perspective, the directors, partners, owners and senior management are primarily responsible and are the guardians of the culture that promotes and controls good corporate governance and delivers performance. These guardians must act consistently as leaders and be seen to act ethically and with integrity in all matters.

The corporate governance culture must be focused on sound risk management and performance, and all must be alert to possible pitfalls or road blocks that could have an adverse effect on performance or the culture itself. The leaders are responsible for the culture – they must keep informed by asking questions and experiencing the performance and culture first hand. The leaders must also be following up what they find with good research and robust debate – both of which are crucial for setting and reassessing the good corporate governance cultural standards that they are trying to or should be striving to achieve. As issues arise, prompt and appropriate action such as business coaching should be taken to maintain and improve the good corporate culture that is required.

Signs of a Good Culture

Good corporate culture is articulated through values, expectations and codes of conduct. Here are some of the areas in which the leaders of organisations can improve their positive impact through their culture:

  • Articulate the values, expectations and codes of conduct
  • Perform as leaders and make improvements to results
  • Behave and be seen to act responsibly and ethically
  • Know the risks in performance associated with a decline in culture in any area of the organisation
  • Stay informed and engage with all areas of employees, from the CEO and senior management to all employees
  • Ask questions and insist on research, preferably independently from the management, if the cost benefit analysis is positive
  • Do not just go along with the current accepted wisdom (i.e.’ don’t rock the boat, as our performance is good right now’). Instead, be bold where you see possible cultural blind spots or weaknesses and get research done so you can act to make improvements
  • Communication channels need to be open and encouraged positively to give real feedback (good or bad)
  • The leaders need to lead by example so that their wider audience inside and outside of the organisation can see that they are serious about the culture and performance

Signs of a Deteriorating Culture

The following signposts indicate that culture deterioration may be present and business coaching might be necessary:

  • Loss of customers
  • Increasing complaints
  • Quality dropping
  • Service levels more difficult to maintain
  • Deteriorating relationships with suppliers or business partners
  • More complex problems arising including legal challenges
  • Surprises in not meeting targets or achieving contracts
  • A reduction in admission of failures internally
  • Performance starting to flatten with no real reasons being given
  • Worsening in internal politics
  • Lack of commitment to and taking of responsibility
  • Loss of focus or competing priorities getting in the way of cooperation internally
  • No positive leadership being demonstrated
  • Administration staff as a ratio of total staff rising
  • Lack of positive attitudes in all levels of staff
  • Performance reviews are generally good despite lower overall performance
  • Increased staff turnover

Whilst the job itself and remuneration may be more than satisfactory, if the culture is not good, employees will leave, taking with them needed skills and experience – as well as other costs such as training. Furthermore, the reputation of the organisation can become tarnished. Fortunately, an independent view provided by a business coach can give you the insight you need to make the necessary improvements.

The Importance of an Independent View

An important aspect to achieving and maintaining a good corporate culture is independence. Whether implemented by a board, a business owner, a CEO or senior management, there needs to be independent input to test the status quo and deliver fresh insights. Those working in the business can often become blinkered, making an independent view from a business coach or mentor vital. A fresh perspective can help provide you with illuminating information that allows you to make significant improvements to culture. An independent view also brings a diversity of skills and experience that are essential ingredients for healthy evolution and performance.

The Independent Business Coach or Mentor

An International Business Mentors business coach can provide you with a very critical independent view of your business for you to tap into. Our business coaching professionals boast outstanding business acumen, broad organisational skills, and strategic experience. We also individually match you with the best business coach to help you meet your requirements so you can get the best possible outcome from the relationship. You can rely on your business coach or mentor to deliver a wealth of business experience and provide confidential and independent support.

International Business Mentors can connect you with a business coach or mentor for a wide range of circumstances and for a broad scope of areas that may need improvement or a second view. Whether you’re seeking business coaching for boards, directors, business owners, family businesses, CEOs or senior executives, contact us today to find out how we can provide assistance.

Chris Cartney, December 2016.

The Effects of Time Stress on Businesses & Leadership – And How Business Coaching Can Help

Many business owners and CEOs share the frustration of working hard in their business to get good results, but often at the expense of a well-balanced time schedule. This produces time stress in the business and in leadership.

All too often, we hear and think that we are ‘time poor’. As business owners, CEOs or executives, we are keen to put in the hard yards to achieve superb business goals. This drive and dedication is a critical success factor and is admirable. However, it all too frequently comes with the high risk of burnout and at the expense of quality family or leisure time, all of which can impact how we feel and perform generally. The trick is to do it all in a balanced and practically sensible way, and a great way to learn how to do this is through business coaching.

 

Achieving a Balance

Trying to achieve a balance can bring to mind another common phrase: ‘More easily said than done’. This is because having the responsibility of running a business comes with enormous challenges, including inevitable deadlines, staffing issues, cash flow, and dealing with banks, financial institutions and other funders of the business. These challenges usually fall on key individuals, which can be daunting and cause stress.

The impacts of such stress can be adverse and affect your health, the business’s performance, your enthusiasm, and family and business relationships. It can also come with the risk of compounding bad decisions in business and family life.

Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the downsides:

  • Engage a business mentor who can provide business coaching.
  • Delegate where appropriate.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Monitor progress against KPIs, milestones and other measurements.
  • Consider more flexible yet structured working arrangements for yourself and employees. This is becoming increasingly important for workers who become more productive with flexible working timeframes.
  • Readdress business plans with realistic short and long term goals so you can develop a strategy to get you there, with a timetable to ensure delivery.

 

Minimising Time Stress with Business Coaching

A well matched International Business Mentor will have hands-on experience in these areas and understand your competing stress areas. Our business mentors are experienced in business coaching and know the pitfalls and challenges business people must deal with. They can share their experiences, successes and mistakes with you to help you structure and manage your time limitations.

Business people often approach us to find them business mentors or business coaches for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons is time frustration, which is a common catalyst for initial contact.  Once the frustration with time management has been dealt with by your business mentor and yourself, then the wider areas to improve your business performance can be addressed. Good time management is the fundamental basis for good business practice, but so too is the focus on other important issues that need to be resolved. Lesser important issues can also be dealt with later with less urgency.

While time stress in business and leadership can be challenging, with the help of business coaching from your own International Business Mentor, you can improve your time management. This will enable you to refocus on improving performance through planning and strategy, which in turn impacts on better productivity and motivation – all of which should lead to better results and a better life-business balance.

 

What Are the Benefits of Business Mentoring & Business Coaching?

While there are many benefits businesspeople can gain from engaging a business mentor or a business coach, it’s not only the person being mentored who benefits – business coaching and mentoring can also have a positive impact on the mentor, the mentoring program overseer, and if relevant, the organisation or company itself.

At International Business Mentors, we provide business mentors and business coaches for business owners, directors, CEOs, family businesses, and senior executives. While some of the issues faced are across the board and are relevant to all business people, others are unique or affect only a particular grouping.

Let’s have a look at the general overview of benefits that business coaching can provide, after which we will look at the more specific requirements we’re often asked for assistance with.

THE MENTEE (He or She Being Mentored)

The benefits of business coaching and business mentoring for the mentee include:

  • Improved business performance
  • Friendly, confidential support
  • The ability to be challenged and think laterally
  • Learning from the experiences, successes and mistakes of their individually matched business mentor or business coach
  • Having a confidential sounding board for ideas
  • Assistance with goal setting

THE BUSINESS MENTOR OR BUSINESS COACH

The business mentor can also benefit from the business coaching and mentoring process, as they are able to:

  • Share their experience and skills
  • Obtain satisfaction in the desire to help those they mentor to succeed

THE MENTORING PROGRAM OVERSEER

Benefits enjoyed by the mentoring program overseer throughout the business mentoring process include:

  • Satisfaction in seeing successful results
  • Building a solid and reputable reputation

THE BUSINESS, ORGANISATION OR COMPANY

As well as helping individuals, business mentoring and coaching is also beneficial for businesses, who can receive:

  • Results – namely improved business performance
  • Support for key executives to instil loyalty and appreciation
  • Assistance in a critical area

Why Use Business Coaching?

Over the years, International Business Mentors has been approached to find business mentors for people in business for many different reasons. The following is a summary of the most common triggers:

BUSINESS OWNERS

Business owners often seek out business coaching for:

  • Business Growth
  • Confidential support
  • Sounding board for ideas
  • Strategy and risk
  • Reassessing business plans and goals
  • Preparation for sale
  • Succession planning

DIRECTORS

Many directors have approached us over the years, requiring business mentoring for the following:

  • Improve contribution to the board
  • Relationships within the board and the executive
  • Reporting and committee work
  • Liaising with the CEO and other key executives

FAMILY BUSINESSES

We see many family businesses that need business coaching for:

  • Succession planning and constitutions
  • Career mentoring within the family business
  • Relationship issues
  • Business Growth
  • Prepare the business for sale
  • Board selection, reporting and succession ( if relevant)

CEOs

Due to the demanding nature of the role, it’s no surprise that many CEOs seek out business coaching and mentoring for:

  • Transitioning into the role
  • Relationships with the board and executive
  • Confidential support
  • Sounding board
  • Strategic input
  • Leadership

SENIOR EXECUTIVES

Senior executives often approach us for business mentoring that provides assistance with:

  • Transition
  • Improved business performance
  • Relationships within the organisation
  • Leadership

Regardless of what is needed in terms of assistance, it is critical that the business mentor not only has the right experience, skills and background, but is also the right personal fit. Without this, the business mentoring relationship may not develop, as information will not be exchanged freely.

At International Business Mentors, we have strict criteria in selecting our business mentors and business coaches before individually matching them with people in business. Each mentor has a wealth of business experience to share in order to help their mentee succeed.

Call us today for a no-obligation discussion on how you could benefit from business coaching and mentoring with International Business Mentors.

Business Coaching, Effort & A Competitive Edge = Gold Medals in Business

There are many similarities in the tactics and strategy adopted for winning by successful athletes and businesses. Take for example the champion sprinter Usain Bolt who strode to victory in the Rio Olympics 100 metre men’s sprint, the 200m and the men’s 4X100 relay. Usain, once again, proved his outstanding abilities to the world, and is the only person to win these events three times – and at consecutive Olympics. Michael Phelps in the pool was also stunning in his performance.

It was not just luck for these two athletes in winning; it was their personal triumphs through leveraging their natural ability or competitive advantages, enhanced with appropriate coaching and their own consistent hard work and sacrifices. As a result of these factors, they were able to hit all their training and competition targets at just the right time to succeed.

The same winning formula applies with business coaching.

How Business Coaching Can Get Your Business Ahead

A business coach or a business mentor will challenge, encourage and support people in business to improve their business performance; together they form a winning team and are able to share their experiences, successes and mistakes with passion and enthusiasm. The coach is there to help drive you further and stay on course in the broadest and specific targeted senses.

One secret ingredient of successful business coaching is making the right match with the right person to coach you. At International Business Mentors, we specialise in individually matching you with the right business coach or mentor. This person must have the right background, skills and experience all tailored to you, as well as the all-important personal fit and chemistry between you both. This personal matching process is mandatory in our selection of your coach or mentor, as without the right match, your business coaching or mentoring relationship will not be optimal.

Just like sporting relationships, a good business coach is there to guide and push you to achieve your personal best – and then some. This aspect of being challenged needs determination and hard work from the business coach or mentor as well as the business person being coached to ensure improved performance and ultimate success.

Who Can Benefit from Business Coaching?

The typical business people being coached include Business Owners, Company Directors, Family Business members, CEOs and Senior Executives. Our international business coaches and mentors, like their sporting counterparts, have exceptional experience in the broad business sense, as well as expertise gained through their specific business experience or journey. They come with grounded practical experience to impart and act as a strategic sounding board.

Our business coaching experts can assist with all fundamental aspects of business and have a keen knowing and understanding of people and how to coach them. This allows them to facilitate and push at the right time to get the best results from those they coach and mentor.

The Importance of Hitting Targets

Sporting and business coaches both need to get results for their athlete or business person. This may mean coming first, getting to the top 10, or simply improving performance. To hit the targets, they need a strategy for training and competition, as well as a plan to get there, including milestones. It’s also important for both athletes and business people to hold themselves accountable for their progress towards their goals.

At the Rio Olympics, we were constantly excited by the performances. But we were also reminded of how important the coaches were – and we saw the special relationships the athletes enjoy with them. Business coaches are just as critical in business, with business coaching playing an equally important role in enhancing business skills, encouraging the excitement of performance, and driving business people further towards success.

Whether you need the services of a business coach or a business mentor, the objectives have a common target to improve your business performance and help you develop. This enables you to reach your desired business goals with the close and confidential support that you deserve.

Business Coaching and Business Mentoring

Business coaching and business mentoring can be applied to all manner of business professionals across all industries. It is a process whereby individuals can be transported from where they are now to where they want to be. A specifically matched business mentor from International Business Mentors ensures the best business coach or mentor will be selected to assist you with their skills, background and experience.

 

Why Use Business Coaching?

A business coach or mentor can assist in a countless number of scenarios:

  • Business owners may need guidance and assistance to revisit business plans, develop strategy and risk assessments, and clarify the vision of their business to determine how it fits in with their personal goals.
  • Directors, especially those new to the role, can benefit from a business coach or mentor with various issues, namely board papers and reporting, contribution to the board, relationships with the CEO and other key executives, and a confidential and supportive sounding board.
  • CEOs can gain assistance from business coaching from a different perspective, whereby they are coached in the areas of board reporting and board relationships.
  • Senior executives can gain insight and knowledge from a well-matched business coach or mentor. An independent source of support is invaluable in helping senior executives with their business performance, resulting in better business practice and increased loyalty to their employer.

 

What Does Business Coaching/Mentoring Involve?

A great business person seeks to understand why reaching business growth goals is important, and business coaching provides various points of view from someone more experienced than themselves. After clarifying where a business person would like to take their business, a business coach or mentor can help prioritise what goals and strategies are needed to help progress the business closer to its goal. Typically, a business coach will meet with the business person on a monthly basis to ensure they stay on track and meet all commitments made during the past coaching/mentoring session.

A critical component of business coaching is accountability. A business coach or mentor is not a consultant. They will not do the work for you in your business; rather, they are there to keep you focused on the end result and remind you why it is important. They will motivate you to keep your commitments, act as a sounding board, and when needed, highlight the blind spots of you and your business. They will also challenge you to take control and to make the critical decisions.

Many successful businesses and business people can credit their results in part to business coaching. However, finding the right coach is the key. You need someone who not only has the right background and experience, but who you can easily communicate with, respect, and confide in. International Business Mentors can provide this service. Our business mentors and coaches all have sound business backgrounds and meet all other selective criteria.

 

Learn More Today

Your confidential International Business Mentor provides business coaching, accountability and strategy to get your business from where it is today to where you would like it to be in the future. If you’re ready to take your business or your career to the next level, call us today for a confidential chat about your business goals.

Chris Cartney
+61 (0) 407 560 520

The Challenges of Family Business

What keeps a family a successful Family Business.

Family businesses play a major part in our economy and society. Many owners want to see their children and grandchildren carry on the tradition but only 30% pass to the second Gen and only 15 % to the third Gen.

The reasons vary but include:

  1. Family members did not communicate well or handle confrontation or conflict. This festered, and problems impacted the business.
  2. Making each family member happy, took precedence over business and the business became uncompetitive, unfocused, unproductive and undercapitalized.
  3. People reacted to one another according to their family roles, not business roles.
  4. The business was run unprofessionally at random, informal and without good business practices and the lack of effective business coaching.
  5. The first Gen created innovative products or services with early success, but lacked continuous adaptation to competition and a changing customer demand.
  6. The first Gen’s energy and passion was not transmitted fully to the successive generations.

These challenges are not impossible to overcome. Family members can work together to make their businesses successful and engender positive family relationships.

What successful families businesses do to overcome the problems above:

  • Successful family businesses meet as adults and leave behind the emotional baggage that accumulates during growing up i.e. not a “parent-child” mode of relating move to an “adult-adult” approach and parents do not need to be “in charge”. This allows the family members to connect on a level playing field.
  • Successful family businesses develop the skills, trust and mutual respect necessary to openly deal with sensitive issues without becoming overly defensive.
  • Sometimes problems arise with family members inhibiting candid discussions. Successful family businesses solve this by tackling all complex business issues with open communication so the issues are identified and potential solution explored.
  • Parents offer counsel and support but must ultimately leave it up to their children to make choices and experience their own consequences. Furthermore successful family businesses all work together aware of interpersonal boundaries and any limitations of each other’s behaviour and don’t try to “fix” one other.
  • Successful family businesses anticipate when family conflict is escalating. They have ways to defuse it and not allowing damaging heat of the moment actions or responses that are hard to take back and recover from. For example, ultimatums may be dangerous and need to be dealt with.
  • Successful family businesses value and commit resources to time together, celebrating family and nurturing their binding relationships. Family get-togethers have a high priority as time to reconnect, have fun and just enjoy one another’s company. This is extremely valuable.

Combining these factors help to keep a successful family business positively connected over time, and sets the framework to succeed in times of difficulties. Although, only few families manage to practice these things systematically, nevertheless, these are all necessary factors to keep the family members aligned and helps direct them back on course when things get off track.

David Cartney
International Business Mentors

Whats trending in 2016 – so far!

Business evolves to take advantage of rapidly changing markets and technology platforms to deliver and interact with customers.

Some areas of business move relatively slowly, whilst others change so rapidly, it can be hard to keep up. If you examine what was happening to business and social change a decade ago compared with today, then it is easy to see that the way we do business continues to evolve at an increasing rate. We now need to expect and be prepared for even more change in the future and to stay ahead, we need to be adaptable, flexible and remain fit and able to keep up.

From a business perspective there are constant issues arising from the rate of change that require awareness, scrutiny, flexibility and adaptability. These include:

Technology or IT is probably the biggest change issue of all. It spans all businesses in all industries and sectors and in specific areas such as communications, hardware and software platforms, mobile devices, cyber security, social media, and cloud.

Crowd funding was practically unheard of in the last century, but is fast becoming a recognised way of connecting with potential supporters and customers. Crowdfunding is one-way small business owners can raise capital to start a business, launch a new product or service, or fund other company projects. The crowdfunding process starts when an entrepreneur puts out a call for financial support to the public, typically on the Internet through sites such as Kickstarter. Supporters then pledge to fund the project with a certain amount of money, and if the total pledges received meets or exceeds the goal set, the supporters make their donation (they do not have to contribute if the goal amount is not reached). Funds raised through crowdfunding are not paid back as they would be with a loan, but the business raising the funds will often provide free products, discounts, or other incentives to those who contribute.

The take up of online transactions is also trending and growing. Traditional forms of shopping, advertising, banking, researching, communicating and training, have changed dramatically -namely people do not have to physically be in a shop, print brochures, go to a bank branch, go to a library, meet people face to face in person or attend a training session in person. It can all be done online.

Cyber security continues to be a critical area of growing concern in 2016 despite the ever updating sophisticated software geared to prevent hacking. Precautions must be taken to avoid loss of sensitive information and revenue.

Cloud also continues to increase importance in its ability to store and backup data. Again vigilant attention to possible breaches needs to be addressed.

Different skills sets are evolving.
Take Sales and Marketing- it is always a buzz issue. From recruiting and training good sales and marketing people, to securing the necessary sales is a continual process. This process has become more complex- take for example the emerging role of the market analyst:

In the USA alone there were 290,000 market research analysts employed, with approximately 30% of them working in the professional, scientific and technical services industries. Others are employed in the finance and insurance, information, management and wholesale trade industries.
Consider a typical day for a market research analyst’s tasks that might include:
• Collecting and analysing data on customer demographics, preferences, needs, and buying habits to identify potential markets and factors affecting product demand.
• Preparing reports of findings, illustrating data graphically and translating complex findings into written text.
• Measuring and assessing customer satisfaction.
• Forecasting and tracking marketing and sales trends, and analysing collected data.
• Measuring the effectiveness of marketing, advertising, and communications programs and strategies.
Educational Requirements
• A market research analyst will need at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing research or a related discipline like statistics or maths. Regardless of the degree the coursework should include business, marketing, statistics, mathematics and survey design. Some jobs may require at least a master’s degree.
Other Requirements
• Market research analysts may receive certification from various Marketing Research Associations. Such certification, is based on education and experience, must be renewed typically every two years. In order to qualify for renewal, one must take continuing education classes.
• To be an effective market research analyst you must be able to communicate well in writing and orally, and be detail-oriented. You also need good critical thinking and analytical skills.

Social Media is another example of trending business applications and interactions with clients, customers and the public to get awareness and, customer relationships, and ultimately sales. Take Facebook which was originally a personal form of media and has since expanded into a business medium. Twitter also lends itself to business communication and of course LinkedIn is highly recognised for business connections and sharing information. These all need to be worked into the business marketing and IT strategies.

Scams threaten just about everybody be it from a personal or business perspective. The best protection is to be diligent and subscribe to a government operated scam watch site.

Advisory Boards with similarities and difference to traditional Boards have become more popular the past few years. A diverse board brings a variety of skills and experiences to the table. No business is too small to benefit from having an Advisory Board and it is a powerful management tool that no small business should be without. The advisory board gives you access to business people with open discussion, sharing ideas and concerns as a formal process.
Your Advisory Board is composed of people with a genuine interest in your business and a desire to see it do well and act as a management think tank, acting as a sounding board, a source of ideas and expertise and give you honest feedback.

Start ups are risky, but there is much more help available for new business owners and entrepreneurs than there used to be in the forms of business coaching by professionals. Governments have programmes in place to assist start ups and selective business mentoring can offer more personalised and specialised service.

Recruitment has changed significantly and remains a potentially volatile issue for businesses and business owners. The cost of employing inappropriate employees can be enormous as is the risk of legalities associated with employing new people. Using a reputable recruitment consultancy has the advantage of minimising risk in these areas.

Top executives need independent support. Retaining talent and developing top executives is now recognised as an imperative method to improve business performance. An independent business mentor can share skills and experiences to help senior executives in many ways, such as: transition into a new role, assist with relationships within an organisation, discuss ideas, and have trusted and friendly support.

CEOs need support too. They continue to hold enormous responsibilities and are accountable to the board and shareholders. Most could do with the support of an experienced International Business Mentor who can share their experiences from many different perspectives such as the relationship and reporting to the board, as well as technical issues. Furthermore a supportive sounding board is invaluable.

Conclusion
Evolution in business will continue and change will continue unabated. The skills and experience you need to succeed in business and to survive will change. Well experienced International Business Mentors can help fill your experience gaps and help you think and adapt to the strategic changes and choices you will no doubt face. You are not alone.

Chris and David Cartney April 2016

How a business mentor can assist you to improve your business performance

Whether you are a Director, a business owner, CEO or executive, there are always ways in which you can further develop and improve your own business performance by undertaking a right business coaching program. Each position has specific issues relevant to that role, yet many issues are common and across the board.

Some critical areas an International Business Mentor can help you improve

Some areas that a business mentor can facilitate improvements, which can enhance your performance, and through you the performance and profitability of the business, include:

  1. Look after your customers, as this will encourage loyalty and retention
    • Don’t become complacent here. Show your customers that they are valued and put in place (and reviewing performance) systems and people to deliver a quality services or products
  2. Reduce costs
    • By reviewing efficiency, reducing waste, expenses and eliminate non-productive processes and people
  3. Critically review strategies and business plans
    • And ensure there is alignment by marketing, customers, product or services, channels, operations, supply chain management, systems, financial performance and funding, people and organisational structure
  4. Time management
    • Review and examine how your time is best spent in the business and delegating less productive tasks to others.
  5. Create a harmonious workplace
    • This is part of your overall strategy to put in place the organisation, people and culture that meets your requirements and will help you to retain talent and optimise staff productivity and manage their output.
  6. Education must be ongoing- “when the pupil is ready the teacher will appear”
    • Attend training, relevant seminars, industry functions to keep up with important issues. These also are a valuable opportunity to network with other like-minded business professionals.

With your International business mentor, these and other aspects of the business can be examined and challenged while supporting you. Our Business Mentors have a wealth of business knowledge and experience, and they are prepared to share these with you on a confidential basis.

Use your International Business Mentor as the financial year-end is looming to reflect on your performance and future.

At International Business Mentors our Business Mentors are dedicated to meeting your specific requirements through effective business coaching programs. They are also trained to assist in your development. At certain times of the year your International Business mentor can be very helpful in assisting you in the tasks and processes you employ to reinvigorate the business and push to get better financial performance. The following is and example of the questions and approaches that your International Business Mentor may take in considering the financial performance as the financial year-end looms.

This year’s performance review

With the financial year end just round the corner it is time for you and your International Business Mentor to sit down and ask the difficult questions: “Did the business perform well – given the circumstance and the commitment to following through on strategy, operations, customers, people, financial performance and financial management?” and carry out business planning.

  • Were targets and expectations achieved in all of the above areas?
    • If yes
      • What can be capitalized on in the next few years?
    • If not, why not?
      • And what can be improved on to lift results in the future?
  • What specifically could be done better in the future?

Next year’s performance setting

From what you have learnt above its time to re-set the next three year’s strategy and work on the budget for next year. You may need to review these and present to the Board, get agreement, or make agreed amendments. Your International Business Mentor can help you through this process by critically reviewing the strategy and budget with you before you take it to the board. Or if you have no board give you critical feedback and interaction on your budget and strategy before you crystallize it.

Vision review

Vision needs to be powerful. It needs to give clarity of purpose and motivate you and your people. Do you and everyone in the business know where they are heading and how they are going to get there? Are we making progress towards our vision or not? Clear vision reduces wasted time and gets everyone moving in the same direction. Your International Business Mentor can help you develop, discuss and challenge your vision.

Movement and action needed

Vision needs movement and action to make it happen. Are all people in the business clear on how they contribute to the vision and have detailed plans, targets and KPIs? These must reinforce the successful achievement of the vision, strategic plan and budgets. Your International Business Mentor will challenge you to develop this approach, then help you review performance against it. And if there is insufficient drive then you need to explore ways with your International Business Mentor to get sufficient movement and drive to make things happen, including your leadership.

Your own development

Your own development is a key objective of your International Business Mentor. As you develop you will grow into the job, push yourself further and make an increasing contribution to the business performance. As you will have greater potential you will feel better about your self. Furthermore with personal growth tends you will come to a greater sense of worth and fulfillment. Reviewing these areas above should be part of your timetable as part of your own development and the re-invigoration of the business.

Your Leadership ability will increase

As you develop assisted by your International Business Mentor your leadership ability will deepen and broaden over time. This will assist you to perform better and further enhance your performance. You may also benefit from our various training programs for Owners, Directors and Senior Management.

For further information on our Business Mentoring service:

Contact us

What CEOs, Business Owners and Senior Management really want from Business mentoring or coaching

Business surveys by International Business Mentors over the past three years have found that half to three quarters of Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers get no outside support on their leadership skills development, but most are more than receptive to help from a business mentor or coach for business coaching programs, if given the opportunity.

Significant areas discussed in the surveys were:

Why is an independent Business Mentor or Coach so important?

Blind spots are not obvious when things are going well. It is very easy for Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers to focus inward, especially when business is good, but blind spots become very dangerous when business performance drops.

A good, independent Business Mentor can help with a clearer independent reality check for Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers.

A confidential Business Mentor can create an environment to think through various issues in the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Manager’s best interest. The Business Mentor is only concerned with the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Manager’s improved performance in leading the business.

Conflict resolution is an important issue?

Conflict management is critical in the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers role — just about anything that gets to their desks has an element of plus for someone and negative for someone else. If the conflict remains unresolved, it can gridlock the whole business: decisions do not get made and problems intensify and unproductive behaviors increase.

A Business Owner, CEO or Senior Manager who can better manage and channel conflict constructively can fix more underlying problems, and a Business Mentor can help them think more rigorously which ultimately helps drive better outcomes.

Why do so many Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers not receive Business Mentoring or Coaching?

Some still think that Business Mentoring or Coaching is somehow a sign of failure rather than a process that enhances better performance, similar to how elite athletes uses coaches. Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers should be confident about this, and see business mentoring or coaching as a tool for enhancing their performance.

Tension between boards and executive teams is reduced with Business Mentoring or Coaching.

When business is good, Boards often feel they don’t need to have difficult conversations with their CEO or senior management. The use of Business Mentors or Coaches can develop an open-minded approach to making improvements in good as well as bad times, which improves the likelihood that the Board will be less surprised by changes in the business fortune and discuss the needed changes.

Most Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers said it was soley their idea to receive coaching. Is it only their responsibility, or should it involve others?

Fundamentally, it is a responsibility of Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers and the Board of directors, if improvements are needed, to seek the benefits from engaging a confidential Business Mentor or Coach.

We may all recognize our strengths and weaknesses but there are critical times when the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers will benefit from the fresh eyes of the Business Mentor or Coach.

Performance evaluation may be the start point for bringing a Business Mentor or Coach on board: Start with what needs to be improved. This will give practical specific areas to work on with the Business Mentor or Coach.

Are the areas that Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers want to be coached the right ones?

This is a question for each organisation and the areas to focus on must be consistent with organization’s priorities. For example, over a quarter of Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers surveyed were working on their team-building skills, but less than 15% of Directors believed that this was an area that needed improvement.

Resistance was noted to being mentored on “soft skills” like motivation, compassion, and persuasion, despite their importance.

“Soft skills” are an important part of the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers’ toolkits. Being able to motivate and develop people allows a Business Owner, CEO, or Senior Manager to build a mature supportive leadership group at the top of their business. This improves how the senior team members work together and individually. Furthermore, the Business Owner, CEO and Senior Managers can better motivate, inspire, and lead those around them with the input from their own Business Mentor or Coach.

Should Business Mentoring be kept confidential in the organisation?

Business Mentoring or Coaching is essentially a private and personal activity. The fact that a Business Owner, CEO and Senior Manager is being coached is not something that would normally be disclosed to the rest of the people in the business.

Is there a relationship between Coaching and business success?

Large companies have used business mentors or coaches such as Dell, Google, etc., where coaches/advisors have been brought in to help young CEOs. For example people such as Jack Welch, a prominent top-business leader who worked with his business mentor Ram Charan for many years.

In general, there is a link between the mentoring and success where the Business Owner, CEO or Senior Manager embraces that success can be enhanced with their continuous learning and development. These motivated leaders seek out appropriately matched experienced Business Mentors or Coaches who help them frame topics, actively challenge and help them critically reflect on themselves and the business.

Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers who do this also benefit from information and knowledge from new perspectives and sources, which all helps develop their decision-making and own leadership and management capability.

How should Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers find the right independent Business Mentors or Coach?

Successful Business Mentors or Coaches need to be very experienced in and intuitive about business, have well developed and disciplined approaches to decision-making and understand interpersonal dynamics. They must be neutral in the relationship with no other agenda (e.g. wining consultancy work from the client), and must be able to tailor their approach to the individual’s needs and goals.

A good Business Mentor or Coach does not make you feel badly about yourself, but will engage you the Business Owner, CEO or Senior Manager to get up the next day excited about the business with improved clarity of vision, trying something new or taking a different approach.

What are the main take-aways from the International Business Mentoring or Coaching surveys?

The low percentage of Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers who have business mentors or coaches is significant. The key takeaway for them is that seeking out a business mentor or coach is not a sign of a weakness, but instead a key tool in improving leadership and senior talent in the organization. And mentoring can help long term make the difference between a good organization and a visionary one:

A visionary organisation is one that is supporting its wider continuous business improvement by also focusing on supporting and developing its leaders by providing them with appropriate independent and confidential business mentors or coaches.

David Cartney, PhD

International Business Mentors

Cyber Security

Information that is processed stored and communicated electronically is subject to a wide range of constantly evolving security breaches, hence the need for Cyber Security and keeping it up to date.

Cyber infiltration affects individuals and businesses in all demographics and industries and sadly many are falling victim to increasingly sophisticated scams, frauds and hacking.

Children and their parents are constantly reminded to be alert to online predators and inappropriate information.  Senior citizens, currently the fastest growing group of Internet users, are targets for cyber criminals and their insidious scams, sometimes robbing their victims of their life savings.

Businesses in both the private and public sector are also vulnerable to cyber criminals wanting to access an array of sensitive information including critical infrastructure, systems, networks, personal information, financial information, and security.

From a business perspective, cyber security is a major issue, effecting our nations security, government departments, big business, and SME’s down to micro businesses.  Unfortunately, no one is exempt.

Keeping ahead of the cyber bad guys – the hackers, organised criminal networks, industrial spies and foreign intelligence services who are out to compromise, steal, change and destroy information, and cause disruption to the running and profitability of any organisation is an ongoing challenge requiring technical experts and considerable financial investment to combat.

Businesses need to assess the implications and security risks of data storage both on and off site e.g. such as ‘the cloud’.  In particular, Boards and Senior Management teams need to constantly assess and review their policies on the use of individual’s mobile devices brought into the workplace or used to process the business’s information.  Notebooks, Tables and Mobile phones are all potentially at risk from hacking.

Cyber Security then is a critical component of any organisation’s risk assessment and warrants regular review to ensure that you are not unnecessarily exposed to this potentially serious risk area.

Christine Cartney

A good Business Mentor does not give lip service

A good business mentor will give candid and honest feedback to the people they mentor (mentees) and not just agree for the sake of conviviality.

Should they disagree with the thoughts or decisions being made by their mentees they will tell them and why.

How they deliver that message will vary according to their particular style and how the mentee would best react to it.

Right between the eyes, or sugar coated!  That’s where a good match between mentor and mentee, to get the right chemistry so there can be a smooth interchange of ideas, is vital.

Remember a business mentor is there to share his or her skills and experiences, successes and mistakes.  To steer or guide the mentee along the path to business success.

Whilst some business people engage a business mentor as a sounding board, it is still imperative for a good business mentor to contribute.  Giving lip service or a ‘Yes Minister’ approach is not what an International Business Mentor is about.

A business mentor is a facilitator, there to assist their mentees make informed business decisions.  If all the factors have been considered in making the best possible match between mentor and mentee, then it must be a good recipe for a fruitful and successful business relationship.

Women in Business and Women on Boards

The case for greater board and senior business position diversity could not be clearer. Well-managed, diverse teams are more productive, more innovative, and have higher collective intelligence than homogenous teams. Gradually women in business and women on boards of directors have increased their representation over the past few years.

The signs are encouraging, and globally, women have significantly increased their representation on boards. 

  • In Norway and Iceland the number of women on boards is 40%
  • Sweden and Finland have 27%.
  • France has 18%
  • Australia ASX200 has 17.6%
  • In China, the number of women in senior executive positions has increased from 25% to 51% in just 12 months.  This amazing statistic confirms a major shift in China’s corporate and cultural policies.
  • By comparison Japan only has 7% of executives as women.
  • The UK now aiming to increase female representation in the FTSE100 firms to 25% by 2015.

Although Europe’s biggest economy has a female leader in Chancellor Angela Merkel, women are under-represented in business life. In Germany more than 100 listed German companies will be required to allocate 30% of seats on their non-executive boards to women, under planned new laws which were dismissed by critics as tokenism.

In Australia the latest percentage of women on ASX 200 boards is only 17.6% (14 February 2014). This is the highest representation we have ever seen, but there is still a way to go.

However in the Not For Profit, University and Government sectors women have much better representation on boards and senior committees.

It is hoped that women will continue to be better recognised for their abilities and contribution to executive roles and as directors.

With the growth in women finishing their corporate careers, this will increase the need for greater opportunities beyond. These experienced and ambitious women from business or large organisations can significantly contribute by starting their own businesses or joining boards.

Various organisations and institutes around the world including in Australia are fully aware that there is a shift in the acceptance and encouragement for companies to have women on boards.

Many organisations have programs in place to assist women find suitable board positions. However it is important for boards to support their fellow board members men and women who are new to their role.

Boards can provide confidential support and board development for their new board members with a well-matched International Business Mentor. The Mentor can act as a sounding board and help these newer directors to reframe their board perspective and to increase their contribution to their boards in the future.

Chris Cartney

Getting the right business mentor for you and your business

If you think you need a business mentor then you will benefit from the relationship from the start. Our business mentoring involves a business and personal developmental relationship in which an experienced or knowledgeable business person helps to guide a less experienced business person, or one who needs to bounce ideas off an independent third party in a safe and secure relationship. Business mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialogue, and challenge. That is why our Business Mentors are carefully selected to meet your requirements and your personality. International Business Mentors provide exactly this service providing matched business mentors and we carefully monitor the relationship to ensure you keep getting value from it. Benefit from our many years of service experience in matching and developing ongoing successful and supportive business mentoring. With one of our carefully selected Business Mentors with proven track record in business and mentoring skills, you can seriously enhance your own development and your business performance

Retaining good People is good business

Job for life and loyalty gone

Long past are those heady days when individuals embarking on a career joined an organisation and expected to stay there for all or most of their working life. This past longevity of employment relationships did encourage deep loyalty, friendships and security, which in turn held, even many of the most ambitious employees in place. This is no longer the reality for most people and organisations.

The emerging challenges for organisations

Organisations now evolve quickly in response to pressure and are adapting more rapidly to change itself.

Modern employees and organisations face increasing challenges from changing markets, external competitors, transforming technologies, takeovers or mergers, restructuring, redundancies, and the need to continually make the business ‘lean’ and responsive.

This pressure has greatly increased the ‘poaching’ of skilled executives and has gradually become much more of a threat to organisations.

Peoples’ expectations from jobs has changed and increases business costs

People move jobs for many reasons including: career progression, personal development, a change in career direction, better salary packages or conditions, desire to experience different industries, companies or organisations, countries, cultures or lifestyles. These are all common reasons why people change jobs.

High turnover of staff is very costly and detrimental to most organisations. This is particularly pertinent where a business needs to retain specific talent and skills from their “up and coming” people, as part of orderly succession and risk management. The costs of replacing these key people – recruiting, training, settling them in long enough to get real productivity and the time factor in recruiting yet again are frustrating and detrimental to the overall performance across organisations. Therefore employing and retaining the right key employees is more vital today for strong businesses to continue to succeed.

Supporting executives with our Business Mentors improves staff retention

Employers can reduce the loss of key employees by identifying those who will benefit the organisation, from confidential and individual support and development using an International Business Mentor.

With one of our well-matched and independent business mentors to deliver career mentoring your key people will have confidential support and be challenged to develop themselves further, and get the benefit from the mentor’s experience in areas or issues that need to be discussed “off line”.

The business mentoring relationship is designed to enhance that person’s performance and contribution to the business, and to deepen the relationship with the organisation by offering individual assistance to enhance their careers provided for them by their employer.

Mentoring supports which challenges your people to succeed breeds relationship, loyalty and performance long term

Your organisation’s strategy on appropriate key employee retention requires investment to reduce the impacts of high staff turnover of key people:

  • Unnecessary employment costs,
  • Loss of productivity and effectiveness in the organisation
  • And reduce the risk

International Business Mentors can greatly assist you in this endeavour by individually assessing and matching business mentors with your key executives, where and when appropriate, to support your staff retention and development strategies.

Chris Cartney

May 2014

Setting a Robust Governance Framework for your Business

Corporate governance applies to all businesses from the huge multinationals to the modest SME, and yet many organisations neglect this fundamental aspect of running a successful business.

What is corporate governance?

Corporate governance refers to the set of systems, principles and processes by which a company is governed. They provide the guidelines as to how the company can be directed or controlled such that it can fulfill its goals and objectives in a manner that adds to the value of the company and is also beneficial for all stakeholders in the long term. Stakeholders in this case would include everyone ranging from the board of directors, management, shareholders to customers, employees and society. The management of the company hence assumes the role of a trustee for all the others.

What are the principles underlying corporate governance?

Corporate governance is based on principles such as:

  • Conducting the business with all integrity and fairness
  • Being transparent with regard to all transactions
  • Making all the necessary disclosures and decisions
  • Complying with all the laws of the land
  • Accountability and responsibility towards the stakeholders
  • Commitment to conducting business in an ethical manner
  • Another include that those in control to be able to distinguish between what are personal and corporate funds while managing a company

Why is it important?

Fundamentally, there is a level of confidence that is associated with a company that is known to have good corporate governance.

The presence of an active group of independent directors on the board contributes a great deal towards ensuring confidence in the business.

Corporate governance is known to be one of the criteria that investors and banks increasingly depending on when deciding on which companies to invest in or lend to. It is also known to have a positive influence on the share price or value of companies.

Having a good image on the corporate governance front can potentially increase the amount of capital available and reduce the cost of capital due to the reduction in risk as the corporate governance takes effect.

Unfortunately, corporate governance often becomes the centre of discussion only after the exposure to a particular risk or bad financial performance.

Good governance

  • Auditing compliance
  • Financial statements prepared
    • in accordance with accounting standards and
    • with appropriate disclosure to shareholders or owners
  • Strong compliance with safety, government and industry regulations
  • Appropriate management and board structures
  • Risk assessment and management in place
  • Robust and sound systems of internal controls
  • Proper planning and strategies in place to ensure proper leadership and control of the business.

Our International Business Mentors can help you consider your corporate governance

We are often approached by businesses asking for guidance from an experienced business mentor in developing or reviewing their corporate governance.  Whilst businesses differ enormously in size, structure, industry and vision, they all share the need for solid corporate governance and identifying areas of priority for improvement.

Many business owners may be focused on business growth and performance and may overlook potential weaknesses in good corporate governance.

Talking through with your International Business Mentor to help you establish and maintain good corporate governance is essential for organisations that want to continue as good corporate citizens and to perform and reduce risk in the business.

Chris Cartney

Is Independence in Business Mentoring Critical for Success?

Special close and fiduciary type relationships

Special close and fiduciary type relationships are enhanced in any mentoring relationship where the mentor is well experienced, has the required skills and personality to mentor and is independent of the executive’s organisation.

Typically, in a pure fiduciary relationship a person prudently takes care of the best interests of and often the money, investments or other assets of another person. It is a very trusted and privileged position to be.

A fiduciary relationship is a legal or ethical relationship of trust between two or more parties and it’s that level of trust you need with a business mentor. Nothing less.

Many special benefits are to be gained by engaging a truly independent Business Mentor and to truly succeed the mentor needs be independent.

So what is Independence in a Business Mentor?

Independence is having no current or recent dealings with a competitor in the same industry through their board, consultancy assignments, or other close associations that could impair impartiality.

Some organisations, although well meaning in their support for key executives, provide them only with business mentors from within.

Whilst the executive will gain insights from these internal mentors experience, they may get a one sided opinion.

Furthermore an executive being mentored internally, may have reservations in opening up to these internal mentors because of their political networks in the business.

By comparison, an independent mentor, individually assessed and matched by International Business Mentors alleviates many potential problems.

Although it can be beneficial for a business mentor to have relevant industry background, this does not always mean they must come from the exact same industry as the executive to be mentored.

An Experienced and Independent International Business Mentor

An experienced and independent International Business Mentor, with no other internal company agenda, can provide a fresh approach drawing from their experiences in other industries or businesses. This encourages the executives to think outside of the square and to critically assess the business frameworks in specific areas for improvement within a safe and confidential relationship.

David Cartney

As competition increases, evolve your Point of Difference

We are all challenged by competition for our customers’ business and most face increasing competitive pressure in their business sector.

To grasp needed growth or just to survive in highly competitive areas is tough. To thrive against the competition you need to adapt your business and improve in critical areas such as

We are all challenged by competition for our customers’ business and most face increasing competitive pressure in their business sector.

To grasp needed growth or just to survive in highly competitive areas is tough. To thrive against the competition you need to adapt your business and improve in critical areas such as:

  •      Sales, customer service,
  •      Operational efficiency,
  •      Investing and motivating your people to focus on what is critical
  •      And minimising waste and unnecessary costs.

These are all vitally important, but another strategic aspect that is often overlooked is increasing your business’s Point of Difference.

To bolster the Point of Difference all business owners and senior management must figure out how best to differentiate their products or services for their customers.

What do the customers really want?

The first vital Point of Difference step is to understand what your customers really want.  Fast and practical research is needed, so that you can enhance what you provide, and the way that you deliver to your customers.

Approaches to finding out what your customers want?Market research

Market research

  1. Market research
    • Analyse:
      • What your customers’ want
        • Independent surveys are good if focused and representative.
        • Ring the major customers and talk to them directly yourself.
      • Research what your competitors’ are offering.
    • You will need to find the market gaps from the above analyses in the market and exploit these.
  2. Environmental analysis
    • SWOT analysis – to help identify perceived and prospective areas of potential advantage.
    • Listen broadly to all feedback from customers, colleagues and staff – their input is extremely valuable
  3. Environmental analysis
    • New Gaps in the market and enhanced Points of Difference need to be embraced and this needs real change to you and the organisation, and not just “lip service” for success.
    • So you will need to be receptive to new ideas and change (and not get bogged down by preconceived ideas or thinking or by an overly rigid organisation.)
Actively consider your competitive advantage:

     Products and services

Have you got the right offering that the customers want? Can you move your offering towards what they really want? Can you tell them you are adapting to their needs. Can you give the customers a road map of what you are willing to do for them, given their feedback to you of what they want?

      Pricing choices

  •    Can you deliver your products or services for less? Should you?
  •    Can you find a cheaper or more efficient way of delivering your products and services?

      Good service

  •    Can you provide a better service to your customers?
  •    Do you know what constitutes good service in their minds.
  •    Do you know which customers are prepared to pay extra for better service or will remain loyal to you as a result?
    • This is very important, as you will be pricing against competitors.

      Maintain high quality standards

  •    How to you ensure consistent and high quality of products or services?
  •    Have you got systems and processes in place to ensure delivery of quality?
  •    Have you got people that understand quality and its importance to your customers?
  •    Have you got customers that actually give you great feedback on quality? Or do they just leave when let down and go to a competitor?

     Ease for your customers to deal with your business

  •    Do the customers find it easy and convenient to deal with your business?
  •     Is there any better ways for customers to obtain your products or services from you?
  •    Are your systems and processes easy to use by your customers?
  •    Are your people customer-friendly and follow up with the customers? How do you know this- independently of your own people?

      Brand

  •    Is your brand doing its job with customers?
  •    Are you building a brand that customers can identify with, and trust and has a value to the business?
  •    Do you have brand confusion in the market?
  •   Is your brand adapting with the services, products and customers as these change?

      Innovation

  •    Is your business and people innovative and capable of creating new thoughts around customers, products, services, new ways of doing things, brand, quality, service, motivation, profitability, cashflow improvements, advertising, social media use and anticipating needed or real shifts or changes in any of the above?
  •   Do you brainstorm after research and think differently and question what change you need ahead of your competitors?

     Seek new business with your Point of Difference and keep the customers you want to keep

  •    Your Point of Difference is embedded in all aspects of the business, so once you are on top of this then use the Point of Difference to attract new customers and leverage them away from your competitors. Then use an evolving point of difference to make your customers loyal and look after them in the way they want to be treated with the products and services they want and are prepared to pay for at a price that makes commercial sense to your business.
  •    Seeking out new business is a must but not at the expense of losing your current customers.  Priority should be given to continue building strong relationships with your existing customers.

International Business Mentors can help your Point of Difference

Our Point of Difference is that our International Business Mentors are individually matched to you and your requirements. That means they come with the experience and ability to compliment your own strengths and help you develop your own Point of Difference.

Our mentors can help you in specific areas, where you need a second set of eyes on things. You will also receive the support you deserve from your own confidential and private International Business Mentor.

Chris Cartney, General Manager, International Business Mentors Nov 2014.

Escape the Group Think Trap

Group think creeps up

Group think creeps up and can dominate just about any group activity. These crucial group processes include problem-solving, developing opinions, wholesome discussions, and critical decisions that need to be made.

Group think can manifest itself particularly where members of a close-knit group are like-minded with similar opinions to each other. This leaves little room or tolerance of independent, critical evaluation or challenge. Insidiously, the group thinkers mentally put more emphasis on conformity than on independent thought.

Shallow decision making process with group think

Groupthink can lead to shallow processes in the decision making process. It blinkers the participants who think they are doing the right thing because it feels good and every one else has agreed to the outcome. This can lead to less than optimal outcomes (and sometimes disasters) and can occur in any group that works together at all levels of organisations from governments, companies, businesses, charities, member organisations, family businesses, education providers, religions, political groups, families, neighbours, friends and all other organisations.

Group think can cause dysfunction and undermines

If there is a lack of awareness and is left unaddressed groupthink can cause dysfunction and undermines individuals’ and the organisation’s ability to rationally govern, make decisions and to operate optimally. This can be particularly important in the leadership areas of organisations such as in companies’ board rooms. In the board rooms you would expect a broad assessment of all options need to be thoroughly examined, various facts and opinions considered after robust research and debate before decisions are made. After all, these decisions will impact critically to the culture and performance of the company.

Leaders must be aware of group think

A Chairman of Board therefore should display leadership and balance in encouraging diverse input and be aware of the impacts of group think.

Group think, at worst, can lead to misguided loyalty, too much reliance on one person or a sub group’s opinions, in-group stereotyping, lack of impartial leadership, narrow mindedness, and overconfidence in the decision making process with self-congratulations when critical input has not been sought or perhaps heeded.

International Business Mentors can counter group think where appropriate

Whilst it is not the role of a Business Mentor to attend and influence decisions that are being made in a group context, an individual being confidentially mentored can be guided by an experienced independent sounding board, who is not part of the group think process.

Many organisations are unaware they even have a groupthink mentality, or would be in denial if it were even suggested.

For example, in a business context where the MD may for example have the final say in most decisions, it is very important to hear and consider other viewpoints. Therefore, a diverse and constructive management team is vital for effective communication and consideration of various opinions and research that may differ from the group think accepted view of the world. Many group thinkers become passed over by colleagues and by competition that has a more open view of the world and are more able to adapt to changing markets etc.

Get an independent view from an International Business Mentor

A carefully matched business mentor can assist directors, business owners and senior executives to give critical input to encourage thinking outside of the square, give a reality check, and offer an independent viewpoint. An International Business Mentor is experienced in groupthink processes and will challenge and support the person they mentor to better perform.

Chris Cartney February 2016

What keeps a family a successful Family Business

Family businesses play a major part in our economy and society, many owners want to see their children and grandchildren carry on the tradition but only 30% pass to the second Gen and only 15 % to the third Gen. The reasons vary but include:

  1. Family members did not communicate well or handle confrontation or conflict. This festered and problems impacted the business.
  2. Making each family member happy, took precedence over business and the business became uncompetitive, unfocused, unproductive and undercapitalized.
  3. People reacted to one another according to their family roles, not business roles.
  4. The business was run unprofessionally at random, informal and without good business practices.
  5. The first Gen created innovative products or services with early success but lacked continuous adaptation to competition and a changing customer demand.
  6. The first Gen’s energy and passion was not transmitted fully to the successive generations.

These challenges are not impossible Family members can work together to make their businesses successful and engender positive family relationships.

What successful families businesses do to overcome the problems above:

  • Successful families businesses meet as adults and leave behind the emotional baggage that accumulates during growing up i.e. not a “parent-child” mode of relating move to an “adult-adult” approach and parents do not need to be “in charge”. This allows the family members to connect on a level playing field.
  • Successful families businesses develop the skills, trust and mutual respect necessary to openly deal with sensitive issues without becoming overly defensive.
  • Sometimes problems arise with family members inhibiting candid discussions. Successful families businesses solve this by tackling all complex business issues with open communication so the issues are identified and potential solution explored.
  • Parents offer counsel and support but must ultimately leave it up to their children to make choices and experience their own consequences. And Successful families businesses all work together aware of interpersonal boundaries and any limitations of each other’s behaviour and don’t try to “fix” one other.
  • Successful families businesses anticipate when family conflict is escalating and have ways defuse it and not allowing damaging heat of the moment actions or responses that are hard to take back and recover from. For example, ultimatums may be dangerous and need to be dealt with.
  • Successful families businesses value and commit resources to time together, celebrating family and nurturing their binding relationships. Family get-togethers have a high priority as time to reconnect, have fun and just enjoy one another’s company is of highest value.

Combines these factors help to keep a successful families business positively connected over time, and sets the framework to succeed in times of difficulties. Although, only few families manage to practice these things systematically, nevertheless, these are all-necessary to keep the family members aligned and helps direct them back on course when things get off track.

David Cartney

International Business Mentors

International Business Mentors Drive for Success

Where you are in business, there is always something you can learn to your advantage.

Business owners can learn from many sources:

  • Competition
  • Industry groups
  • Employees
  • Experienced International Business Mentors

Leverage business success

Improving your understanding can help you leverage business success.  Highly successful business people constantly seek to improve and develop their success.

Therefore developing a culture in your business whereby you lead unashamedly and invest in your own development, and support your employees to do likewise, will spark evolution into a healthier business DNA to support your positive business growth.

With your own International Business Mentor, picked for your specific requirements, you can quickly assimilate significantly benefits to you and your business.

How it works for you & your business

Through in-depth mentoring discussions on your business you can tap directly into your International Business Mentor’s experience and knowledge. You will receive much needed confidential support and a no-nonsense and practical sounding board to kick around ideas, opportunities and concerns.

Your key executives can also strongly benefit from an International Business Mentor to improve their performance for the business.  This opportunity and support will also go a long way to deepen loyalty and retention, as well as improving their engagement in your business.

How does an International Business Mentor help your business success?

International Business Mentors create a platform for more positive improvements for you, your key staff and your business success. And by challenging you to improve and facilitating ideas and adding their own experience you can distil insights and move with a clear focus to make yourself and business better.

David Cartney, January 2015

 

Do we need entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs occupy a central position in market economies. For it’s they who kick start the economy’s engine, activating and stimulating all economic activity. Nations’ economic success worldwide is as the direct result of encouraging and rewarding that entrepreneurial instinct.

Yes, entrepreneurs drive economic growth

“Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.”   Ronald Reagan

How many entrepreneurs are there?

“Conservative estimates state that over 400 million people in 54 countries are actively engaged in entrepreneurship- (loosely defined as starting and running new businesses). This figure doesn’t include the (potentially) hundreds of millions more engaged in forms of pseudo-entrepreneurship in science, medicine and politics- their contributions no-less important to our society’s economic, social and intellectual growth.”

Vikas Shah, Thought Economics, March 2015

So what makes a good entrepreneur?

“Entrepreneurs should focus on what they believe is worthwhile, exercising their own judgment without blindly following the crowd. Find that sweet spot at the intersection of what you do best and what you love to do the most, and your odds of success are immediately much higher. If you do what you excel in doing, you’ll be better than your competition. And if you focus on what you love to do, you’ll be doggedly persistent even when faced with strong competitors, reversals of fortune, and beguiling distractions.”  Sir Richard Branson

Do entrepreneurs get a bad wrap? Yes.

Often to explain historic recessions or great spurts in economic growth, the entrepreneurs are blamed. For example, when growth slows, it is blamed on a decline in entrepreneurship or in growth phases that the growth in entrepreneurship is responsible for the unprecedented expansion. William J. Baumol 1990

And there is historic precedent for this blaming… “From the fall of Rome (circa 476 AD) to the 18th century, there was little increase in per capita income in the West. However, with the advent of entrepreneurship, per capita income grew exponentially in the West by 20% in the 1700s, 200% in the 1800s, and 740% in the 1900s…“.  Murphy, 2006

Famous bankrupt entrepreneurs compound the image problem

Back in the 1980s ‘entrepreneur’ became a dirty word in many parts of the world as some high profile entrepreneurs businesses failed and lost investors money.  Fortunately, we all seemed to have learnt from mistakes and nowadays have a respect, albeit cautious, for the creative business thinkers in our midst who try to take their concepts off the ground and build businesses.

Famous entrepreneur bankrupts

Alan Bond

In 1992, the West Australian businessman was declared bankrupt with debts of $1.8 billion, then Australia’s largest collapse. He served time in jail, but is reportedly now mining diamonds in South Africa.

Christopher Skase

Another crash-and-burn 1980s entrepreneur who fled to Majorca, Spain after the spectacular demise of his company and eventually died there, pursued to the end by the Australian government.

John Elliott

Forever linked to his colorful language the former Carlton football club president declared himself bankrupt in 2005 but was released last year. He has now launched himself online with The John Elliott report.

Robert Maxwell

The suspicious death of the British media tycoon (found floating in the Atlantic ocean after an apparent tumble from his luxury yacht) triggered the sensational discovery that Maxwell had been illegally using the pension funds of his company to prop it up and fund his lifestyle. The Maxwell companies filed for bankruptcy protection in 1992. His two sons were later declared bankrupt.

But do entrepreneurs bounce back after a set back?

Yes they do:

  • H.J. Heinz bankrupt 1875, then founded Heinz
  • Henry Ford, bankrupt 1903 then founded Ford motor
  • Walt Disney bankrupt 1921, then founded Disney
  • Donald Trump bankrupt 1990 then prospered in real estate
  • Kim Basinger bankrupt 1993, then famous acting career

Why are entrepreneurs so resilient?

Entrepreneurs are resilient because generally they love what they do and are passionate about it. They are creative, interesting and sometimes eccentric. Most have a gut feel and some have a clear vision about what they are doing and they are a persistence. Most have the ability to think nimbly and outside of the square, which allows for different concepts and diversification to be considered to get an edge in their markets.

The concept of entrepreneurship is seen as the process of seeking out and developing ideas that create value then with innovation and drive to seize those profitable market opportunities.

All business comes with risks.  And although outstanding success is part of the motivation, sadly they will sometimes fail.

Entrepreneurs can reduce their risk by having a personal business Mentor

Fortunately there are ways to help, encourage and support our great entrepreneurs. Whether you are an entrepreneur or a business owner support is vital to minimise risks and to develop and enhance business performance.

A well matched International Business Mentor with a wealth of experience and the right background, experience and skills tailored to you can be of great assistance.

Call us and we can talk about it.

David and Chris Cartney May 2015

 

Business Owners and CEOs understand the importance of developing and supporting their key people as a top priority for business growth

What do successful leaders say is important with people?

We all know that great people and strong teams are the foundation of business success and growth in Australia and around the world.

Many people arrive with strong technical skills and these can and are taught and honed.  Critically the less tangible skills such as leadership and interpersonal skills require the same investment but with a slightly different approach.

What does leadership development need?

Leadership needs many qualities to be development in people.  For example, some of the most successful CEOs shared their views on leadership qualities such as:

  • The ability to listen
  • Connecting great people to each other
  • Sharing problems
  • Grasping the challenge
  • Act and think like a leaders
  • Being future focused and fix what is in front of you
  • Developing diverse teams
  • Cultivating relationships outside the organisation
  • Nurturing and maintaining networks
  • Keep on learning
  • Be flexible yet disciplined

Comfort zones need to be breached

Leaders do not evolve inside their comfort zones. As key people progress through leadership roles they must want to and actually put themselves out of their comfort zones and learn from these experiences.

Are leaders born or trained?

Leadership and interpersonal skills come naturally to some people, whereas some people simply find these harder to acquire, not unlike all areas of technical skills. So the approaches to learning may need to be tailored to suit the individual.

What is the impact of size and complexity of the business on leadership development?

Size and complexity has an enormous impact on leadership development.

Large organisations

Larger organisations that are more complex will need to invest greater amounts in the development of their leaders and it should be formally budgeted for to ensure that the benefits are delivered. The benefits should include an improved competitive advantage in the market. For example, how well the organisation adapts to changes in customer demand or supply chains can be critical for survival and success, as is developing and implementing practical strategy.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

SMEs are often less complex businesses (compared to the large organisation, but not always) and may be at a stretch point or have simply outgrown their ability and experience in leadership to push the business further and grow in their market.

These businesses may not have the resource to systematically develop leadership, and should consider specific business mentors for key people including the owners.  Some SMEs may also find that the investment in management leads to a loss of these valuable people to their competition. Therefore some forms of retention incentives may be necessary to keep the benefits of staff development inside your own business.

What resources to allocate to leadership development?

The investment in leadership development depends on the opportunity to lift the game of the organisation and compete in the market. This has also to be balanced against how long you want to keep your leaders. Do you want to develop from within or get a proportion from outside and integrate these? These are strategic decisions. You also need to look at the cost as in any investment. What is the likely return on investment (ROI)? Hence my comments above that if you invest in people you should want to keep them long enough to get the return on the investment, including encouraging them to pass on their skills to the next generation coming through.

Are our business mentors a good resource for developing leadership?

Our well-matched business mentors can fill in the leadership gaps with appropriate experience is a cost effective way. This is by improving individuals on their leadership skills and their business acumen. Our International Business Mentors will also help with the wide range of business thinking and previous experience to broaden out and support your aspiring and developing leaders.

Chris Cartney, May 2015

 

Competitive Advantage in a Changing Business World?

The world continues to change rapidly and we need to keep up

This is especially true in the business environment, where competition is rife.  Therefore it is imperative to embrace change, adapt to the market and take advantage of sound opportunities as often as possible. This is just to stay ahead in the “new normal” i.e. our fast moving and challenging business environments.

Digital evolution is the competition for most businesses

Marketing our goods and services in the digital world will continue to grow and morph at a faster rate, which will constantly change the way we must do business or just get left behind.  So the risk of not doing enough in this digital space becomes one of survival.  The digital world itself has become the competition.

Clear and present danger

The imminent digital danger is the ongoing challenge to keep up with the inevitable technological advances. These are in platforms and methods of social media and the electronic capture of information, customers and sales where appropriate and useful to your business.

Critically you need to be adept at the use of digital approaches to research and seek out new opportunities, while remaining flexible, but disciplined, so that your digital competitive approaches do not compromise your normal policies, compliance and safeguards.

Take advantage of global changes

The rapid rise of Asian business and markets, particularly that of China and India have also fundamentally changed how the rest of the world must do business.  A prime example of this is how profoundly the manufacturing industry has centralised into these growth economies over the last 15 years.  Yet despite these changes many businesses have adapted, and become innovative and evolved their business models and strategies, so not only have they survived, but have flourished.  This is a lesson to all businesses to understand the dominant strategic changes we face, and then adapt to take advantage.

We do nothing at our peril.

Population growth

Changes in demand worldwide are being felt and are driven by increasing populations, with fast changing demand patterns. This causes increases and demands into certain goods and services such as housing, medical requirements, planning and infrastructure.  Consumer goods and services can move from old ideas of products or services to new ones rapidly.

Growing affluence in growth economies China and India

Consumers

As individual consumers’ incomes continue to rise in China and India the demand patterns of these groups will develop further and as customer groups will dominate the consumer markets worldwide for decades to come. What is your business doing to supply this market?

Companies

The companies and businesses in these growth markets will continue to increase their resources and will invest outside of their regions into the supply chain servicing back to their home markets to meet rising demand. What is your business doing to support these supply chains?

Ageing populations

The increase in the ageing population and the changes in the way retirees spend their twilight years, will lead to surging demand for their accommodation, lifestyle choices, medical requirements and a wide range of other service.  All these changes effect relevant businesses and represent significant opportunities.

Younger generations changed demand profiles

Younger generations in the western developed countries have changed factors impinging on their demand patterns compared to earlier generations. The rapid increase in online interaction and the advances are being driving largely by mobile technologies.  These younger generations have a huge commitment and ability to interact with their digital world, to research, make suggestions and contributions.  They can influence or be influenced rapidly by their relevant peer groups and the social media platforms and their content.

This is an exciting era to be in business.  These new generations and their interactive environment represent a massive opportunity to deliver new ideas, products and services. And these can be delivered, marketed and sold through the evolving digital platforms and supported by the social and online awareness.

Your business or service provision needs to be ready and take full advantage of these massive generational and market shifts.

Get your Competitive advantage into shape

In a competitive business environment success is not achieved by simply keeping up with the broad spectrum of changes.  It is by the traditional strategic approaches of understanding the competitive landscape, keeping abreast of changes then being innovative, taking advantage of the sound opportunities for your business.

The approach to developing a competitive advantage needs strategy and adaptation to markets.  You may need some help to drive it along and think outside the square.  Your own International Business Mentor can assist in these critical processes and help you better to succeed.

Tap into your own International Business Mentor

Tap into your international business mentor’s skills, knowledge and experience to assist you strategically, to identify opportunities and avoid pitfalls, rise to the challenge, seize opportunities and you will gain that confidential strategic support that may not otherwise be available.

Christine Cartney June 2015

 

The Risks of Recruiting Inappropriate People

Does Your Organisation Recruit the Right People

Getting the wrong staff hurts your business

Unfortunately, the majority of large businesses, government departments, SMEs and small businesses continue to suffer the significant loss of time, resources and revenue, from recruiting inappropriate people.

Unless your organisation has dedicated and qualified staff to recruit the right people at all levels, then you risk the same annoying and repeated waste of time, not to mention the lost opportunity performance of getting the right people into the positions.

Lack of internal expertise or resourcing in HR

Even with your own dedicated internal HR team, they are not always sufficiently resourced to attract and recruit senior executives and staff that will contribute, develop and stay loyal to the organisation, so consider outsourcing.

Help keep your best staff

Loyalty is less commonplace in today’s workforce, but with incentives such as training, recognition and rewards, businesses and organisation can reduce their risk of losing key personnel and help to retain their best talent.

Get key executives their own International Business Mentor

Develop your key staff and supported them to achieve their aims by providing a well-matched International Business Mentor. This is particularly of benefit to organisations that wish to develop and retain their senior executives.

Large intakes of staff need good process

At times, big business and government departments have large intakes of staff.  The cost of processing applicants and getting it wrong can be enormous, so it’s important that the process can identify those candidates that actually possess the required skills and competencies to successfully fill the specific roles.

Before you recruit or advertise do your homework

As a prerequisite to recruitment you must develop very good job descriptions and determine the characteristics of the ideal people who need to be attracted and employed.  Advertisements need to be professionally worded and displayed to only attract people possessing these identified skills and competencies required for the roles.

Have a good process on vetting resumes

Resumes need to be carefully scrutinised and filtered to identify only those candidates for the short list who are likely to perform well and meet the requirements.

Test candidates skills to reduce the short list further

From these ‘short lists’, further testing should be considered such as personality, specific required skills, IQ, and cognitive tests. In some cases role-plays may be part of the assessment process.  How the candidate performs will help you to filter out those not so well matched for the role.

The interviews

Usually after the tests have been administered and assessed the all-important interview takes place.  Again questions should be pre-prepared and asked by an experienced recruiter to assess potential and past performance.

Check the candidates’ references and background systematically

Finally, references and qualifications need to be checked and verified.

This is a complex process, but is absolutely necessary in order to avoid the pitfalls of hiring the wrong people.  If it is done correctly this process may avoid enormous wastage of time, resources and reduce employment risks.

Outsource recruitment if necessary

As this whole recruitment process is critical to organisations then appropriate individuals must complete the process itself. Outsourcing should be considered, if insufficient resources or experience exists internally. If necessary, outsourcing is an excellent investment as recruitment organisations can provide the necessary qualified recruiters and resources to implement the recruitment process successfully.

Market Changes for the recruitment industry driven by the Internet

The recruitment industry is a subset of HR and provides good services to reduce time and cost as well as to make better recruitment choices.

Recent changes particularly on advertising positions and vetting candidates via on-line sites have streamlined recruitment. This has been achieved in the recruitment processes by automating much online and represents yet another industry being improved and becoming more efficient through the changes possible on-line.

However, since HR and recruitment deal with people and their abilities, emotions, personalities, unique traits, then qualified individuals best appreciate these aspects. HR and recruitment professionals are well trained and experienced in the assessment and interviewing of potential candidates and in developing the requirements needed to meet the jobs to be filled.

Conclusions

  • Where appropriate you should engage with HR and recruitment specialists to secure the right people for the jobs you need to fill.
  • And you should also consider the investment in an International Business Mentor to help develop and retain your key staff.

Experienced, skilled and qualified business mentors should provide the business mentoring.  Our International Business Mentors have the experience, skill and background to share their business skills and develop your key people.

Call to find our more about Business Mentoring

Chris Cartney

October 2015

0407 560 520

 

Getting the right Business Mentor for you and your business

When you need a business mentor you will benefit from the mentoring relationship from the Get Go!

For us, business mentoring starts from a sound personal relationship between you and your business mentor.  Once established you will leverage off your relationship helped by your experienced and knowledgeable mentor.

Your business mentor will guide and develop you, and help you with gaps using their complimentary practical experience and depth of knowledge. When you need to bounce ideas around then your independent mentor is there to work with you and road test these inside your safe, secure and confidential relationship.

Yes, business mentoring does answer questions and provides ad hoc help but It is founded on an ongoing close relationship of practical business learning and dialogue all focused to develop and challenge you to progress.

So critically for your benefit our business mentors are carefully selected to meet your personal requirements and your personality and development needs.

International Business Mentors provide exactly this service providing matched business mentors and we carefully monitor the relationship to ensure you keep getting value from it and continue to be challenged.

You can benefit from our many years of business mentoring service experience in matching and developing ongoing successful and supportive mentoring.

Contact us to start benefiting from one of our carefully selected and matched business mentors.

Chris and David Cartney 2016.

The Business Breakfast or Lunch

Business meetings were traditionally lunchtime affairs and until the mid 1980’s were exempt from any taxable implications. That all ended in 1986 when business lunches– often lengthy and extravagant – amongst other benefits became contenders for FBT. At the time this caused a furore in Australia. Restranteurs were panic stricken believing their lunchtime trade would disappear and executives quaked at the thought of having to pay for their lunchtime jollies. However, once initiated these fears were short lived and the business lunch continued to be a useful means for entertaining clients or having discussions with peers or other associates out of the office environment. The excesses of the 1980s and early 1990s played a more significant impact on restaurants as they became a ‘discretionary’ spend rather than a business necessity. Still business people need to eat and business meetings need to happen. As an alternative to lunch time meeting the breakfast meeting gained popularity. Starting early, breakfast meetings do not take out such a large chunk of the working day, for the most they are less costly, less formal, usually without alcohol, usually not so filling as lunch, and business people are often ‘fresh’ at the start of the day. Although most restaurants are not open for breakfast, many city and suburban hotels, cafes and catering businesses provide for the business breakfast meeting. In the past breakfast was in some circumstances considered to be a poor alternative to lunch, however it is nowadays a worthy alternative to the more time consuming option of lunch.

Which is better a Self-Help Book or a Business Mentor?

So which do you really need a self-help book or a Business Mentor?

I suppose that self-help books are not interactive whereas a well-matched Business Mentor is. Furthermore self-help books do not seek to understand your specific journey, skills, experience, abilities, talents and ambitions.  They cannot take into account that your business environment can change dramatically- markets, customers, operations, your leadership role and responsibilities, and that your business and social context can shift and may be very difficult to navigate.

So one of our International Business Mentors who understands you, your skills and your business context and issues, can help you discover and unleash the best of who you are and support you at critical times along your business journey – now that is a lot more than any book can provide.

However, the self-help books do have their place, as a start point, to help you reflect and think about your direction and framework, but these are qualitatively different to the in-depth assistance you can receive from one of our well-matched International Business Mentors.

Business Mentoring is valuable to you because as you progress in business the challenges you face become more difficult and the impact of your decisions on yourself, your family, your business, and your employees become all the greater. Navigating business with confidence can be greatly assisted when you get confidential feedback from a trusted source and bounce ideas off of your International Business Mentor. You will value your confidential Business Mentor and have deep discussions with a confident whose only thought is what’s in your best interest, and knows you well enough to help you get more out of yourself.

You should not just wait around for someone to offer up his or her time to mentor you. You should take a close look at getting your own International Business Mentor. Once you discuss your situation and issues with your International Business Mentor you can begin to solve issues, define future success, sort out and prioritize your major challenges, and define where your future strategic business success lies. Your Business Mentor will engage you, add value to your growth and help you consider the best way to move forward.

You, as a mentee, will appreciate that where you are in your business life is a complex journey.  With the help of a Business Mentor, navigating this journey becomes much easier.  Your Business Mentor has a genuine interest in the outcome of your business life.

At International Business Mentors we can match you specifically with one of our well-vetted and highly experienced Business Mentors.  Once you have met with your confidential and well-matched Business Mentor you will find value right away.  And you will begin to develop within a strong supportive relationship.

Your Business Mentor will be focused on what’s best for you and your business.  And a focus is given to your current role and future goals – identify potential risks, obstacles and opportunities and how to deal with these along the way.

Your Business Mentor will help you consider the external realities of your own and the business’s situation from an independent viewpoint- for example, you may be running the company, or a large division within one, and you may have external investors or shareholders. You may be trying to grow the business, sell it, fix it operationally, advance within the company or other challenges. Your Business Mentor will help you understand the situations you find yourself in and discuss how to reach your goals. Your Business Mentor can help you steer a course and build your confidence so that you can better strive towards where you want to be.

Ultimately, the goal of a successful Business Mentoring relationship is that you progress personally, with personal support to a situation that brings greater personal and business success. Part of that success will be discovering yourself and developing a better understanding of your business. The objectives of a good International Business Mentor is not to only to help you make improvements in your business successfully, but to help you develop so that you derive greater value in your business life.

David Cartney

Melbourne, Australia

Summary of Australian Statutory & Common Law Directors’ Duties 2015

A Company is an association of a number of people with a common object. It is owned by Shareholders & managed by Directors. Once created the company is an entity in its own right & has a legal personality to do what a natural person can do. For example, a Company can own property, & sue & be sued in its own right.

Summary of Australian Statutory & Common Law Directors’ Duties 2015 1

Company 1

Director 1

Director’s Duties 1

Statutory Duties 2

Section 180(1) – Care & Diligence 2

Section 181(1) – Duty to Act in Good Faith 2

Section 182(1) – Use of Position 2

Section 183(1) – Use of Information 2

Section 191(1) – Disclosure of Interest 2

Duty to Avoid a Conflict of Interest 3

Duty to Exercise Power for a Proper Purpose 3

Duty to Retain Discretion 3

Insolvent Trading 3

Recovery action by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) 4

Defrauding Creditors 4

Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (‘TPA’) 4

Environmental Protection Act 1970 (Vic) (EPA) 5

Occupational Health & Safety 5

Company

A Company is an association of a number of people with a common object. It is owned by Shareholders & managed by Directors. Once created the company is an entity in its own right & has a legal personality to do what a natural person can do. For example, a Company can own property, & sue & be sued in its own right.

Director

A Director is a person employed as an officer of a company & has a duty to perform the duties of management of the business of the company.

Director’s Duties

Below are the several main directors’ duties found at Common Law & in the Australian Corporations Law.

Directors’ duties derive from three potential sources: –

  •  Statute, primarily the Corporations Law;
  •  Those developed by the Courts, particularly those duties arising from a director’s fiduciary position; &
  • Those that may be expanded upon or shaped by the particular circumstances of a company, primarily by a Company’s Constitution or Replaceable Rules & other contracts such as Shareholders’ Agreements.

The Constitution or Replaceable Rules that apply to the Company have effect of a Contract between the Company & each member, between the Company & each director & company secretary; and between a member & each other member, under which each person will observe & perform the Constitution & Rules insofar as they apply to that person.

Statutory Duties

[N.B. these statutory duties can extend to beyond those with the official title of ‘Director’.]

Section 180(1) – Care & Diligence

“A director or other officer of a corporation must exercise their powers & discharge their duties with the degree of care & diligence that a reasonable person would exercise if they:

  1. (a) Were a director or officer of a corporation in the corporation’s circumstances; And
  2. (b) Occupied the office held by, & had the same responsibilities within the corporation as, the director or officer.”

Section 181(1) – Duty to Act in Good Faith

“A director or other officer of a corporation must exercise their powers & discharge their duties:
(a) in good faith in the best interests of the corporation; and
(b) for a proper purpose.”

Section 182(1) – Use of Position

“A director, secretary, or other officer or employee of a corporation must not improperly use their position to:- gain an advantage for themselves or someone else; or cause a detriment to the corporation.”

Section 183(1) – Use of Information

“A person who obtains information because they are, or have been, a director or other officer or employee of a corporation must not improperly use the information to: gain an advantage for themselves or someone else; or cause detriment to the corporation.”

Section 191(1) – Disclosure of Interest

“A Director who has a material personal interest in a matter that relates to the affairs of the company must give notice of the interest”

There are various exceptions to this rule.

Common Law – Fiduciary Duties

Duty to Act in Good Faith
The duty of good faith is owed by each director & is owed to the company itself, as a whole. Directors are required to act in what they honestly believe to be the interests of the company. In considering what is in the interests of the company’, a director must have regard to the interests of the shareholders of the company & the interests of the company as a commercial entity. The courts have also considered it proper to take into consideration the interests of the company’s creditors.

Duty to Avoid a Conflict of Interest

A director has a duty to avoid conflicting his or her own interests with the interests of the Company. A director is liable to account to the Company for any profit derived or to indemnify the Company from any loss arising from the director’s action. Additionally, the Company can choose to void any contract that the director entered into as a result of the conflict.

Duty to Exercise Power for a Proper Purpose

A director must exercise their powers conferred on them under the Company’s Constitution or the Act for a proper purpose. Powers must not be exercised for an ulterior purpose or for manipulating voting power.

Duty to Retain Discretion

Generally, a director cannot contract as to how they will vote at a future board meeting. A director can however, having entered into a contract on behalf of the Company in the bona fide exercise of his or her duties, agree to take certain action at a board meeting that is necessary to carry out the contract.

Insolvent Trading

Directors are now under a positive duty to ensure that the Company does not incur a debt while insolvent.

It will be the liquidator, rather than individual creditors, who will have the primary right to sue directors for insolvent trading with money recovered by the liquidator being available for all unsecured creditors on a pro rata basis.

Directors can also be criminally liable under the insolvent trading provisions of the Corporations Law.

Section 588G(3) of the Law provides that a person commits an offence if:

  • The person is a director of the Company when it incurs a debt; &
  • The Company is insolvent at that time, or becomes insolvent by incurring that debt, or incurring at the time debts including that debt; &
  • The person suspected at the time when the Company incurred the debt that the Company was insolvent or would become insolvent as a result of incurring that debt or other debts (as paragraph (1) (b)); &
  • The person’s failure to prevent the Company incurring the debt was dishonest.

Recovery action by the Australian Tax Office (ATO)

The ATO has made Director Penalty Notices (“DPN”), issued pursuant to section 222AOE of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, part of their enforcement activities. Directors of a Company, which fails to pay its tax as it becomes due & payable, are liable to pay to the Commissioner of Taxation a penalty equivalent to the unremitted amounts.

Prior to recovery of that penalty from the directors, the Commissioner of Taxation must issue a written notice requiring the directors of the Company to cause the company to do one of the following things within fourteen (14) days, namely:

  • Remit the group tax or prescribed payments;
  • Enter into & comply with a payment agreement in relation to the company’s liability with the ATO (upon default of which, the current directors are personally liable for the Company’s obligations under the agreement);
  • Appoint an administrator to the Company under Part 5.3A of the Corporations Law; or
  • Begin to be wound up under the Corporations Law.

Directors of the Company will become personally liable even if they were not appointed at the time the liability was incurred.

Defrauding Creditors

Directors’ criminal liability for corporate actions leading to the defrauding of creditors can be broken down into two parts:

  • Criminal liability under State Crimes Act; &
  • Criminal liability under the Corporations Law. Criminal liability under Crimes Act 1958 (Vic):- s81 – obtaining property by deception
  • s82 – obtaining financial advantage by deception
  • s83 – engaging in false accounting
  •  s84 – Where an offence committed by a Company under section 81, 82 or 83 is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of any Company director, manager, secretary or similar officer, or any person purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the Company shall be guilty of that offence & punished accordingly.
  •  s85 – directors intend to deceive creditors by false or misleading statements &/or publication

Penalties may include imprisonment

Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (‘TPA’)

The TPA provides for directors to be criminally liable for the actions of their corporations by virtue of Section 75B which acts as a ‘secondary liability provision’. Essentially this Section provides that a person, which would include a director, commits an offence under the TPA if they are in any way directly or indirectly knowingly concerned in, or party to, the commission of an offence against the statute.

There are two requirements for a person to be ‘knowingly concerned’ in a contravention.

They must

  1. Have the requisite knowledge, &
  2.  Be concerned in the contravention.

Environmental Protection Act 1970 (Vic) (EPA)

Under Section 66B of the EPA, a director is liable if their Corporation contravenes, whether by act or omission, any provision of the EPA.

Thus, as soon as the Corporation breaches the EPA, the directors are also criminally liable. It is possible, under the legislation, for the director to be prosecuted but not the Corporation. However, the general practice to date has been to charge the Corporation & the director with the proceedings heard together.

Given that liability for directors under the EPA is strict, the key to the Victorian legislation is in the defences available to a director for contravention of the EPA. These are contained in Section 66B(1A), namely:

  • The Corporation’s contravention occurred without the director’s knowledge;
  • The director was not in a position to influence the Corporation’s conduct in relation to the contravention; or
  • The director, being in such a position, used all due diligence to prevent the contravention.

Occupational Health & Safety

Crimes (Workplace Deaths & Serious Injuries) Bill 2001 creates new offences & penalties for Criminal Manslaughter.

Corporate Manslaughter can result in substantial fines.

  •  Directors & senior officers can be imprisoned & also receive a fine.

A further offence of negligently causing serious injury is prescribed in the Bill.

  •  A Corporation can be fined & directors & senior officers may be imprisoned & fined $120,000.

David Cartney 2015, InternationalBusinessMentors.com

Economic Outlook Discussion late 2014 early 2015

Differences in economic conditions between the big advanced economies are widening

Eurozone and Japan

The situation is quite different in the Euro-zone and Japan. Although they still point to growth, Euro-zone business surveys have softened and the slowdown is broad-based.

Industry surveys in big economies like France and Germany, as well as in Belgium, turned down recently and there are signs of some lower demand in their services sector.

The Japanese economy is expected to contract in June quarter as demand falls in the wake of the April 1st hike in consumption taxes.

Japanese exports are also soft, despite solid growth in its important Chinese export market.

Slowing trend in emerging economies

  • With 3-month annualised industrial growth slipping from over 5% in late 2013 to around 3½% in May.
  • Export volumes from these economies actually fell in early 2014, remained weak in April, but then rose in May.

  • China’s growth remained solid in June with good growth in industrial output, while YTD investment and retail sales volume growth are up by double digits.
  • India’s growth finally picked up in early 2014 and third quarter surveys of industry look brighter.
  • Other emerging economies of East Asia growth remain modest and should stay flat until world trade accelerates.
  • Latin American growth has faded, as Argentina moves into recession.

Economic outlook looking forward

  • Global growth
    • Should quicken from 3.1% in 2014 to 3.6% in 2015, which is around the long-run trend.
  • The most buoyant results to come from the US and UK.
  • Euro-zone has a weak outlook
  • Japanese firms think they can emerge from their recent slow period.
  • Emerging market economies
    • should still account for bulk of global output growth,
    • Emerging market growth should return to over 5% in 2015 as India’s growth finally begins to pick up
  • And the contribution from advanced economies will slowly rise.

David Cartney

International Business Mentor’s First Quarter 2014 Survey of our Mentoring Clients

Current strategic concerns of our mentoring clients

Where to grow our businesses

In a recent survey of our mentoring client much has been discussed on the changing landscape for businesses. In particular the reduction in business growth and jobs. For example, in certain markets of the manufacturing industry and a range of other businesses, this has led many clients to question where their potential future economic growth should be aimed at.

Another area of concern has been the slowdown in many mining sectors, which after a sustained period of investment is now moving to harvesting the returns from its investment and production.

Many consider that they should look at the industries that might have strong business growth including agribusiness, tourism, gas extraction, education and financial services (such as wealth management).

To facilitate economic growth it was thought essential that businesses move into growth areas and this will be required by both large business and the SME sectors which currently employs large numbers of people in many economies.

Growth needs greater Business Mentoring support

Business owners and managers responsible for growth are demanding increasing support. A part of this support is needed from our International Business Mentors.

Business mentoring support is essential given the relatively high degree of entrepreneurship needed to grow businesses, as turning good ideas into good sound sustainable business is not without difficulty.

Our clients also expressed concern that many new businesses tend to fail within the first couple of years of inception and established businesses can also retreat from new areas after initial poor results.

Business owners and managers growing more risk averse

Our mentoring clients told us in this survey that they have become more risk averse and fear failure in new areas, given the last few years of problematic market conditions and the difficulty in getting funding generally.

Our business mentors also confirm this risk aversion and report that they have had increasing discussions with the mentoring clients on growing the businesses but increasingly on the detrimental impact of possible of failures.

Our business mentors have also discussed more greatly the likely outcomes of growth and what might be appropriate action to take but also highlighted the alternative downsides of not growing the businesses.

Lack of success becomes a retreat from growth in new areas or exiting the businesses

From an economic growth perspective generally many of our mentoring clients consider it is a great pity that many fellow business owners, who fail early on in their ventures, tend to retreat back to secure and paid jobs, and that established businesses with limited success in new areas retreat quickly back to the familiar. This is considered to reduce business generally and inhibit overall business growth.

International Business mentors helping to work through growth

Our business mentors are increasingly assisting our mentoring clients who are owners, management or entrepreneurs to critically consider their growth from many aspects, such as:

  • The products or services most likely to be right for each market
  • How to properly plan and organise the operations of their business to deliver these products and services
  • How to build their organisation for the future
  • How implement their competitive strategy
  • To improve their supply chain management
  • To analyse the performance of products, services, customers and management
  • To better predict and to manage
    • Profits,
    • Cashflow,
    • Returns

All of which should better support their business growth plans and successful outcomes.

Lack of Funding

Another area of concern from our clients is the lack of appropriate funding for each stage in their business growth life cycle.

From the point of view of start-ups the owners tend to commit all of their own funds into the business.

  • Once they’re up and running they need to attract venture capital once they’ve proved their ideas.
  • This funding will assist in commercialisation on a larger scale to achieve profitability, cash flow and returns needed to satisfy the provider of the venture capital and the original owners.

Mentoring clients also expressed concern over the number of businesses that they know where the smart innovators and successful businesses owners leave their home country and migrate to where they can find better venture capital markets.

Business Education needed to improve and support business growth

Our business mentoring clients also indicated that they thought that education systems needed to generate good business owners. They suggest that the higher education systems teach students from all subjects how those subjects relate to the business environment and how they might start up their own businesses rather than simply moving into employment careers.

Conclusion on First Quarter Survey 2014 of our mentoring clients

In conclusion, we find many of our business mentoring clients are struggling with where they will direct growth in their businesses.

They want increasing support from our International Business Mentors.

Our mentoring clients have become more risk averse with new start-ups or development into new areas of business.

They want the development of a deeper venture capital market for funding.

Our mentoring clients would like to see more higher education that prepares the students to think like entrepreneurs, so that more new businesses can evolve and be created to support the overall growth in economies.

David Cartney, 17th of April 2014.

What has the Australian economy got in store for 2015?

For the coming year Australia should look at its external environments and the possible impacts on our economies.
The World Environment

The world’s economic regions and 230 nations and sovereign states can be separated into old news and tomorrow’s future news. The old news are the EU, Japan and the USA which together had 55% of the worlds GDP in the late 1990s, that has fallen to 42% and falling fast.

For the coming year Australia should look at its external environments and the possible impacts on our economies.

The World Environment

The world’s economic regions and 230 nations and sovereign states can be separated into old news and tomorrow’s future news. The old news are the EU, Japan and the USA which together had 55% of the worlds GDP in the late 1990s, that has fallen to 42% and falling fast.

  • The EU countries are almost all deep in debt, taxed highly, working with excess’s rules and regulations, and nanny states.
  • Japan’s a similar position and has the worst world debt at 250% of GDP. Japan’s recovery will be slow and has a             long-term weak growth outlook.
  •  The USA is much better prospects and will continue to gain momentum.

The Asian mega-region, which is Asia-Pacific less Japan plus the Indian sub-continent accounts for 35% of the world’s GDP and is growing three times as fast as the world at around 7%.

Australia is centred in the Asia-Pacific region were 80% of its trade takes place and two thirds of all its inbound tourism and immigration come from. This represents an upside from Australia, if it can lift its game and compete.

While Australia’s growth in 2015 is expected at about 3.3% slightly higher than 2014 and will come largely with Asia.

Polarisation

The outlook for the World’s top 20 nations with around 80% of the world’s GDP shows a great polarisation between old and the new economic zones.

Top Growths expected

China 7%, India 6.5% Indonesia 5.6% Turkey 3.7%, South Korea 3.7%, Mexico 3.6%, Poland 3.3%,

World averaged 3.3%.
Lowest Growths expected

Taiwan 3.2%, Australia 2.9%, USA 2.9%, UK 2.7%, Canada 2.5%, Spain 1.7%, Germany 1.5%, Brazil 1.4%, Japan 1.1%, France 0.8%, Iran 0.6%, Russia 0.6%, and Italy 0.5%.

Interest rates

Australian interest rates are expected to rise a little and Aussie exchange rates to weaken further then return to slightly higher levels against other main currencies particular the US dollar. With the US ending of quantitative easing this may have caused as yet unrealised inflation. Inflation itself may be tempting for governments with international debts who may look to bring back safer levels of debt to GDP i.e. under 65% instead of the current level of around hundred 115% of GDP as debt.

Australian Economy

Australian economy has been slowing in 2014 and the estimated GDP growth is 2.8% for the calendar year, but expected as slightly stronger in 2015 3.1%, but still below the long-term average of 3.5%.

The Australian economy is prone to recession after the end of each business cycle. And the next danger period is considered to be around 2017-18. These recessions usually occur due to a collapse in capital expenditure, not collapsing consumption expenditure or exports. Despite a collapse in investment in 2001 recession was avoided by boosting the housing sector the first home-buyers’ grants of $7,000 in 2000 then $14,000 in later years. No such incentives were needed in 2009 due to a significant backlog of mining investment plus a stimulus spending under the government. That stimulus spending may not have been necessary as households were at least $10,000 better off than the previous year due to the fall in mortgage rates from 9.25% 5.25% and a sharp fall in petrol prices. The real effect was a significant increase in the federal government’s deficits and cumulative debt.

The concern at the moment is the tailing off of mining investment however the federal government in particular is looking to fill that gap with large scale infrastructure spending. Mining has not been helped by the significantly lower resources prices with, for example, Iron ore dropping 50% in price this year alone. This will also drag the federal government’s revenue significantly lower and delay any improvements in the deficits that they have inherited, with no real ability to get cuts in expenditure through the upper house in Canberra.

However, it is unlikely that Australia will have recession in the next few years. Australia may also avoid the next expected downturn in 2018. If this can be avoided then Australia would have been recession-free from more than a quarter of a century

Inflation looks like it will stay between the federal bank guidelines and interest rates are likely to rise only marginally. Mortgage rates should begin to rise from the historically low levels at under 5% upwards to the longer-term average rate your 7.75% over the next 3 years.

Productivity is back above the long-term average of 1.7% with 2% in 2014 however in the not-for-profit sector which is more than 22% of the economy their productivity growth in five years 2014 was -0.4%. These not -for-profits sectors include education, health, public administration safety, utilities and public transport.

So what reforms do we need?

The first political hot potato is industrial relations reform.

The second is faster broadband which is vital for the digital era that we have entered.  Australia is well behind most OECD nations and many nations of the neighbouring Asia-Pacific.

Both of these reforms above are critical, as Australia is now part of the world’s fastest-growing region with the fastest modernising area in the most competitive region.

What are the fastest growing industries in 2015

The fastest-growing industries in Australia will be health, mining, professional technical services and finance and insurance.

What are the slowest growing industries in 2015

The slowest will be manufacturing, agriculture, utilities and media.

Job Growth

Jobs lost in the past five years were 146,000, whereas 944,000 new jobs were created which is six times as great.

Over the next five years we should expect this ratio of new jobs to increase compared to those lost.

The new jobs will be in the new age service industries, whereas the losses are expected to be manufacturing and mining and other agriculture.

Conclusion on Australian economy 2015

Good job growth plus infrastructure spending by federal government should help push the GDP growth and support employment. The weak Aussie dollar will help exports, but edging up interest rates will put a brake on investment. The lower oil prices will help at the petrol pump, but the improvements to productivity are badly needed particularly in the not-for-profit areas and a better platform for electronic and data speeds are needed to compete in our economic region.

DavidCartney@bigpond.com

December 2014

 

What’s keeping business leaders awake at night? 21 January 2013

The main issues discussed by business leaders in meetings with their business mentors in the latter part of 2012 and early 2013 are:

Economic Factors

Slow payments are impacting on cash flow and banks exerting pressure.

Retail sector is suffering due to economic uncertainly and Internet sales.

Technology

Keeping up with changes and trends in IT and communications is just getting harder.

Also deepening complexity of how the various social media platforms impacts on business and how best to adapt and use these applications responsibly and to our best advantage.

The risks of using the “cloud” putting many off using it and the worry about backing up information securely.

Staffing Issues

Increasingly vital to retain talented personnel and consider initiatives such as- implementing loyalty and reward programmes.

Also, the costs of training new staff members are becoming prohibitive.

Leadership

Since the Business Owners and CEOs set the standards and culture for the organisation, that drive success, it is becoming essential to strengthen our leadership and organisational skills.

Sounding Boards

The old saying ‘its lonely at the top’, still rings true.

With the experienced ear of an International Business Mentor, Business Owners, CEOs, Senior Executives and Directors benefit from candid discussions in regular business mentoring sessions, on a strictly confidential basis, on all your current concerns and strategic directions that you are facing.

 

International Business Mentoring Client Survey 2012

We conducted our annual survey of our mentoring clients in November 2012 and had a 71% response rate. The Mentees were asked to rank their experience with their international Business Mentor in respect of various factors.

The table below shows that the factors ranked highest by our mentees in the Excellent column are Sounding Board, Strategy development, Ideas generation, Better business performance and Own motivation. The lower half in the excellent column are Personal performance improvement, challenge, Encouragement & support, considering new approaches, better staff retention and Personal Growth.IBM_Survey

Although Personal Growth is ranked lowest on the excellent column it is ranked highest in the Good Column.

Overall responses

The overall percentage performance is healthy at 55% for the excellent ranking and we believe that this reflects the effort we put into the matching of the International Business Mentors with the Mentees and our improvements during the year.  We are pleased with the over all score of the excellent and good which represents 85% of the respondents. And of course we continue to work on improving our scores in 2013.

Thanks

We would like to thank our mentee clients for their support this year and for those completing the surveys and also thank our International Business Mentors for their commitment and efforts this year.

General Manager

Chris Cartney

December 2012

The 9 Laws of Performance 2012

Why 2012 you may ask?  The power of this article comes from accepting the limitations of society’s capacity and capability to keep up with the rate of change of technology used to replace people in the decision making processes of modern business, hence the need for time to establish a limiting boundary.  Change is the law of life!

Abstract

This article is about a journey of discovery focused on the impacts and side-effects of the rapid rate of change of technology used by modern business in gaining and maintaining that elusive competitive advantage.  The laws are a consequence of trying to implement compliance management systems in operational units, the supply chain and the dismantling of infrastructure leading to the realisation that regulations may seem unfair to business, and business not realising the potential improvement in the quality of management toward long term sustainability.  The 9 laws are an integral way of thinking in improving the quality of management to maximise finite resources.  It is a snapshot of scientific research into the life cycle of business performance and highlights the lead and lag time between the evolution of management, technology providers and the education system.  The 9 Laws are in logical sequence from a viewpoint human capability and capacity.

Pre-requisites for the digital age

Organisational Factors

Globalization, Acquisitions, Mergers and Administration affect risk and performance management

Highly reliable organisations are unable to keep up with legislative obligations of this digital age[1].  My strategy is overall compliance, e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley, QA, TQM, Six Sigma, OHSA, Workplace Relations, Accident Compensation, WHO, etc. and any technical standards.  These are the starting benchmarks for a learning business that has a strategy of high reliability to achieve a competitive advantage.  Furthermore organisations are losing out to the rate of change in the digital age, are unable to keep up with procedures for safety, risk and performance obligation that are practical and applicable.

Adapting the three laws of robotics to digital age complexity management.

Laws that form an organising principle and unifying theme of organisational behavior:

Laws of digital age resource management

A person or system of artificial intelligence (replacing people in the decision making process) may not sanction the law of unintended consequences which can bring harm to the organization or its people, or through inaction, bring the organization into disrepute.

The Board of Directors/CEO/Executives have accountability to:

  • Identify and record the overall risks and then establish the remaining risks to be managed by people for the life cycle of the technology.
  • Set the performance & competency targets for maintaining these remaining risks.
  • Establish the system of communications & measurement such that competent people can forestall the law of unintended consequences.

Use fuzzy logic mathematics to resolve ambiguities, which may arise in the future, in this law

A system of artificial intelligence must obey orders given by the leadership of the organization except where such orders would conflict with the First law

A system of artificial intelligence must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

Performance Criteria

OH&S Act – Code of Practice for Plant – this code established clear guidelines by incorporating IEC 61508 functional safety of electrical, electronic and programmable electronic safety related system – Part 1 in the list of standards that set the performance levels required to be implemented by the governing body of a business.

Also the OH&S Act definition:

‘A state of knowledge that a person in that POSITION OR SITUATION is expected to have. It is not something which varies according to a duty holder’s own subjective or personal knowledge base.’

NOTE

The ‘inaction’ clause is essential – software has systemic failures – usually catastrophic. – Therefore action must be taken by the artificial intelligence or people!

Part 3 – Software requirements

Predicting & preventing failure

Part 2 – functional safety of electrical, electronic and programmable electronic safety related system – hardware requirements

 

Introduction
The insight that the application of technology in business has outpaced the transformation of management from industrial to digital and knowledge driven economies led to today’s complexities in business. This is highlighted in many cases of disaster recovery where the responsiveness factor is low and in cases of litigation the courts are ruling systemic management system failure. Governments and Corporations are having bad experiencing resulting from outsourced risks. The 9 laws of performance integrate the 3 laws of robotics. The underpinning principles are:

  • People are the business without them nothing happens
  • Regulations are reactive hence the need for business leaders to be pro-active

The 9 laws are comprised of:

  1. Vision
  2. Space
  3. Marketing
  4. Sharing
  5. System
  6. Passion
  7. Internal business intelligence
  8. External business intelligence
  9. Corporate Governance

The rational

  1. The Vision statement is the pathway the organisation puts in place to establish its operations and targets.
  2. The Space is the area of operations and its focus is on the use of local intelligence to gain ideas, innovation and invention for that market space.
  3. Marketing is about the turbulent life and business conditions and asking the right questions to verify and validate the ‘space’ intelligence is in line with the vision statement, its also underpinned by intelligence from the 7th and 8th law
  4. Sharing is about the 3 T’s truth, trust and transparency within a production unit – to enhance the potential for growth and provide supporting systems for learning in self and corporate development. Our unique integral object and data object naming conventions provides the power of knowledge to the people specific to their function and location maximising the use of technology.
  5. System – the secret is in the system which is about:
    • Capturing, distributing and recalling knowledge in compliance with regulatory obligation.
    • To store and produce a deck of cards for;
    • The 5P’s Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance as well as,
    • Maintaining all relationships within the business unit and providing summary reports for collation to enable an overall learning organisation specific to an industry.
    • To ensure the level of peak experiences in leadership which require continuous development for enduring states of thinking to become permanent traits in leadership.
  6. Passion is about the 3 R’s respect for self, respect for others and responsibility of action
  7. Internal business intelligence is about:
    • The continuous scanning of the internal intelligence for continuous improvement in maintaining that competitive advantage.
    • To provide intelligence transfer (lessons learned) to similar units of production globally
  8. External business intelligence is about:
    • The continuous scanning of the external intelligence to stay one step ahead of the competition
    • Capturing knowledge from all sources to improving and internalising risks at the approved as low as reasonably practical (ALARP) level of risk.
  9. Corporate Governance is about:
    • Knowing why, what, where, when, whom and how to apply governance within the organisation
    • To have the evidence why government regulations are inappropriate.

Entry into these laws can take place at any level.

Reference List

  1. IEC 61508 Functional Safety of electrical, electronic and programmable electronic safety related systems parts 1 though to 7 (Published as AS 61508 in Australia)
    • NOTE: many of the listed standard reference come under the umbrella of this standard
  2. IEC 60300 Dependability Parts 1, 2, & 3 – Section 1 – 12 of part 3
  3. IEC 60300: 1984, Reliability and maintainability management
  4. IEC 60300-3-1: 1991, Dependability management – Part 3: Application guide – Section 1: Analysis techniques for dependability: Guide on methodology
  5. IEC 60300-3-2: 1993, Dependability management – Part 3: Application guide – Section 2: Collection of dependability data from the field
  6. IEC 60300-3-9, Dependability management – Part 3: Application guide – Section 9: Risk analysis of technological systems
  7. IEC 60319: 1978, Presentation of reliability data on electronic components or parts
  8. IEC 60362: 1971, Guide for collection of reliability, availability and maintainability data from field performance of electronic items
  9. IEC 60409: 1981, Guide for the inclusion of reliability clauses into specifications for components (or parts) for electronic equipment
  10. IEC 60414: 1973, Safety requirements for indicating and recording electrical measuring instruments and their accessories
  11. IEC 60513: 1994, Fundamental aspects of safety standards for medical electrical equipment
  12. IEC 61511 – Functional Safety – instrumented system for the process industry
  13. Draft IEC 61499 – Function Blocks for industrial Process measurement and control systems
  14. Draft IEC 61804 Ed.1 Part 1- Function Blocks For Process Control, Digital Communications, General Requirements 1999
  15. Draft IEC 60261 – Safety of Machinery – Functional Safety – Electrical, Electronic and Programmable Electronic Control Systems.
  16. AS 4024.1 2006 (Series) Safety of Machinery
  17. NASA Software Program – NASA – GB 1740.13-96
  18. DOD-STD 2168 – Defense System Software Quality Program and the quality related provisions of DOD-STD 1679A (Navy) Software Development and DOD-STD 2167A Defense Systems Software Development.
  19. DEF – Ministry of Defense, UK
    • DEF 00-55 – Requirements for safety related software in Defense equipment MOD 1997 Part 1 Requirements, Part 2 Guidance
    • DEF 00-56 – Safety Management Requirements for Defense systems. MOD 1996 Part 1 Requirements, Part 2 Guidance
    • DEF – 00-58 HAZOP studies on systems containing programmable electronics, MOD, 2000 Part 1 Requirements, Part 2 General applications guidance
  20. DEF (Aust) 5679 The Procurement of computer base Safety critical systems
  21. OHSA 29CFR 191.119 Process Safety Management
  22. ANSI/ISA S84.1 Application of Safety Instrumented Systems in the process industry
  23. ANSI/ISA S91.01 – 1995 identification of Emergency Shutdown systems and controls that are critical to maintaining safety in process industries
  24. TUV Prufing der Sicherheit und Fehlertoleranz elektronischer Steuerungen (Approval of Safety-aspects and Fault Tolerance of Electronic Systems) (8/2002)– Automatisieringstechnik 50 Ó Oldernburg Verlag
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    • Part 1: General safety requirements of industrial heat processing plants
    • Part 2: Safety requirements of furnaces and fuel supply systems
  26. AS 4360 Risk Management
  27. EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency 40 CFR 68 – Risk Management Program
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  30. AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems – Requirements
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  33. AS 4292 parts 1 to 5 – 1995 Rail Safety Management
  34. AS 4100 – Steel Structures
  35. Transport – Alternative Compliance – Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme – Business Rules
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  38. VGB Kraftwerktechnik Gmbh –Kraftwerk Kennzeichen System (KKS) (Power Station Identification system)
  39. Siemens – Plant Coding System
  40. Contract Documentation – my involvement was compliance management of the contracts and data is covered by confidentiality agreements for the following major works contracts:
    • Power Station 2X500MW lignite coal fired power complex (Vic)
    • Oil Refinery (Vic)– Maintenance Contract
    • Coal Gasification Research Facility (Vic) – ($100M)
    • 2X Olympic Dam Expansion Project
    • Century Zinc (Qld) – New mining project, Mine and Port facilities – Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) Contract ($1200M)
    • Mika Creek Power Station (Qld) ($100M for Instrumentation)
    • For all of the above – documentation essential to my research

    Contractual conditions

    • Process and Instrumentation diagrams
    • Lists Input/output signals
    • Quality Assurance Requirements
    • Procedures and instructions
    • Applicable standards
    • Level of compliance specified

    Tender Documentation

    • Power Station – Instrument Upgrade ($50M)
    • Sulphur recovery units ($60M)
    • Gas Turbine Station Stage D ($80M)
  41. Company/Contract specific Standards such as: Esso, Mobil, Shell Oil refinery standards – Extensive list of proprietary standards that meet specific needs in the operations/maintenance phase for these companies.
  42. VGB Kraftwerktechnik Gmbh – Verlag Technisch-Wissenschaftlicher Schriften; Klinke Strasse.27-31 4300 Essen – Begriffsbestimmungen in der Energiewirtschaft (Regulations in the Energy Sector) Teil 5 (part 5) Verfugbarkeit von Warmekraftwerken
  43. Regulatory Impact Statement for Transport (Rail Safety) Regulations 1998
  44. Stuart R Nunns – Functional Safety of Safety – Related Systems: the Influence of IEC 61508 and Development in Conformity Assessment Schemes on Business Drivers – Eutech Engineering Solutions Ltd, Belasis Hall Technology Park PO Box Billingham Teesside TS23 4 YS UK
  45. David Kiang- Technology Impact on Dependability Requirements – Convener, Joint Working Group IEC/TC65/WG10-ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7/WG9 Nortel Technology PO Box 3511 Station C Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1Y 4H7
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  48. Victoria Stavridou Computer Related Standards and Safety – Workshop Proceedings 1082-3670/97 IEEE
  49. Ron Bell – Health and Safety Executive UK Chairman: IEC/SC65A/Working Group 10 -IEC ACOS Workshop V – Functional Safety within the IEC: Developments to date & the way ahead.
  50. Gerald W. Ash and Knowledge Management Luminaries, Fred Schoep formerly IBM, Jack Vinson Pharmacia soon Pfizer, Stephen Denning formerly World Bank, Will Hooper Xerox and others – Developing Quality systems in Knowledge Management – Paper presented at QSA Asia Pacific Forum October 2002
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  59. Quality Control Management in accounting practices Australian Society of CPA’s / The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
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    • N3 Guidance Notes – N3 – Risk Management Guidelines
    • AASB 1031 Materiality
    • AASB 1039 Concise Financial Reports
    • AASB 1034 Finical Report Presentation and Disclosures
    • APS 1 Conformity with Accounting Standards and UIG Consensus Views
    • APS 1.1 Conformity with Auditing Standards
    • APS 2 Engagement Letters to Clients
    • APS 3 Compatibility of Australian Accounting Standards and International Accounting Standards
    • APS 4 Statement of Quality Control Standard
    • APS 5 Quality Control Policies and Procedures
    • APS 6 Statement of Taxation Standards
    • APS 7 Statement of Insolvency Standards
    • APS 8 Statement of Management Consulting
    • APS 9 Statement on Compilation of Financial Reports
    • APS 10 Client Money and the Maintenance and Audit of a Members Trust Account
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  78. Health Services (Private Hospitals and Day Procedure Centers) Regulations 2002 S.R. No. 79/2002 Version incorporating amendments as at 7 March 2008
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[1] In the Sarbanes Oxley regulation the obligations for measurement are delegated to the Auditors that are outside the organisation – thus external auditors have the problem of measuring performance and report on it. Measurement has become very complex. In today’s digital age, transparency & accountability require clear statements of outcomes oriented measures & targets and the tracking of such from top to bottom. These are defined within the OHS Act which are: predicting and preventing the political, social, and environmental and physical consequences of any mishap or incident that may lead to a software failure as these can have catastrophic consequences. In 2012 we have learned that auditors have failed to achieve this.