The MHC Blog

Powerful Business Insights for Succesful Leaders
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Act in haste, repent at leisure

Have you ever put your head in your hands and uttered the words “why does every business mistake cost me money!”.  Its always the way isn’t it, the chances we take or even the most thought out business decision that goes wrong costs you financially.  

Of course, the opposite is also true, the business opportunity you didn’t take but should have done that would have netted you significantly financially.

You are not alone, imagine if you were the top management team at Blockbuster video, who in 2000 laughed out of their office the management team from a newly formed Company called Netflix. 

Netflix proposed that it would handle Blockbuster's online component for it, and Blockbuster could host its in-store component, removing the need for mailed DVDs. According to an interview with former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy, "They just about laughed us out of their office." Blockbuster later closed shop (literally) and Netflix went on to thrive.

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Please look up!

Am I the only one who struggles walking nowadays?  Trying to avoid the smombies (smartphone zombies) leads me to screaming internally “please look where you’re going!” whilst zigzagging from side to side to avoid people walking towards me with their noses buried deep into their phones.

The problem is so prolific someone has invented the “The Type while Walk” app which takes over your phone’s camera so that you can see the ground beneath your feet, with an included font colour-changing tool means that whether you’re walking over pavement or grass you can change the colour to contrast for visibility.  In Salzburg, Austria, lampposts are being covered in airbags to stop people bumping into them as they walk around staring at their screens.  Phone handsets seem to be glued to people’s hands, there is even a recognised new anxiety “rinxiety" or "phantom pocket vibration syndrome”, these conditions refer to anxiety surrounding missed messages and phone calls and the more often you check your device, the worse the anxiety will get.

But how does the phenonium affect business?  Here are my 5 thoughts on the matter:

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Are you Keeping your brand promise?

Over the festive period I was a back-seat passenger on a longish journey.  A talk radio show was keeping me company, the topic of heated discussion, the Apple iPhone battery. 

A high school student had recently discovered an issue with his phone and decided to post on Reddit.com giving details of what he had found.  He had discovered the decreased performance in his iPhone 6s handset had to do with the phones lithium-ion batteries. He decided to research into why that might be, and found a suggestion online that he replace his battery. When he did, his phone sped up instantly.

His post went viral, eventually leading to Apple to make a public statement, a confession that is said could end up costing the company billions of dollars in class action lawsuits. Apple had issued a statement that made it clear that changes it had made a year ago were indeed slowing down the maximum performance of iPhones with older batteries.

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Time to plan for 2018

We are close to the end of 2017, where did the year go?

As work starts to slow down in the lead up to the end of year, this is now a great time for business and personal reflection.  Did you achieve everything you planned to do or did the year head down a different route? 

If you feel as though the year didn’t quite pan out as expected, ask yourself why this happened, was this due to not having a written plan or did your plan stayed firmly put in your bottom drawer?   The first step to achieving your visions is to commit to it on paper and then keep reminding yourself of your targets by referring to it throughout the year.

Here are 5 reasons why having a simple business plan will help you achieve all you want to achieve in 2018, they should spur you into action to create your plan now:

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Accountability - Why all the fuss?

I chose to write this piece now as I wanted to share my  findings where, over the years,  I have discovered a growing epidemic of the lack of Accountability within senior teams in business.

The word accountability is often over used and misunderstood and many a time I will ask the CEO if she / he has an issue with accountability in their business and the immediate reply is along the lines of –

“Oh no, we don’t have a problem with accountability here”

Then after a few probing questions it is very clear that actually it is probably one of the main areas that needs improvement.

I have found that there are 2 main aspects to Accountability that require attention:

  1. Holding Yourself Accountable &
  2. Holding Others Accountable

Both of which have huge benefits and because of this great return, tends to be challenging to implement. As I often say, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!”

Accountability essentially means 'the ability to hold yourself to account' that basically means 'the buck stops with you'.

So, let’s take a closer look at why being able to hold yourself and others to account is important and some tips on how to improve your score (also see below for more details of how you can measure this with our questionnaire)

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Are your internal systems customer friendly?

As a small business owner, we are constantly dealing with complicated, red tape heavy requirements of obtaining and keeping a Company trade licence, personal visas and Company bank accounts.  Even after setting everything up and being able to move forward with our work, we have annual renewals to contend with and after 5 years of doing this, it seems the process changes annually and every action requires at least 5 visits to the bank or sponsoring Company to update everything.

The internal systems and connecting departments all work independently of each other.  Departments that work alongside each other are not able to connect the dots and help us move forward.  Even “Relationship Managers” seem to complicate things rather than simplify and you are often puling your hair out with frustration as you struggle to find a straight answer.

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Time to get your house in order

The summer months are a great time to start getting your house in order.  Even though I wrote at the end of June about summer not being a time for taking things easy, working hard to find new leads and closing out business, the reality is that work does slow down a little bit as you wait for key decision makers to either return or pick up their email whilst on holiday. 

The quieter periods in your working months are a great time to get your house in order, what we call in the UK “spring cleaning”.  Here are some ideas to keep yourself occupied during the quieter months:

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Time to stop the summer excuses!

Let me share something with you that’s got me a little hot under the collar, and I don’t mean the high 40’s temperature or the humidity you can cut with a knife!

Here we are, the day after the long Eid weekend, back at work and ready to get our work done, and already I am hearing the excuses of the summer slowing everything down, phrases such as “last time we will be doing this due to the long summer getaway” indicate that everyone is heading out of the country till September.

Let me try and explain how it seems to work in the UAE to those that are unaware.  We live and work in the Middle East and its hot during the summer months, it’s also peak holiday season as the kids are off and many non working members of families head to the airport with their little ones to spend the whole of the summer out of the country to escape the heat. 

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Company vision boarding

Many years ago, I worked for a large supermarket in the UK.  It was going through its first (of many) transformations, to scope out this transformation it involved pretty much the whole Company in how it should evolve and what the Company should start looking like in order to grow and keep up with the competition. 

All around the UK the Company organised team events of a couple of hours per event for vision planning.  It was not a complicated process, was huge fun for those involved, highly effective and (accidently?) resulted in a great amount of team building.

We were all ushered into a room not knowing what to expect, perhaps another boring training session where we were talked at and not asked our opinion, however we were presented with an arts and craft session! 

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got to have a plan stan!

As business consultants, we spend a lot of time with Company owners helping them write and then stay on track with their Company Business Plan. 

However, the purpose of this blog is not to harp on again about how important it is for businesses to have one (although, its extremely important), the purpose of this blog is to talk about how important it is to have a life plan.

Most of us in the UAE are expats, we came to the region with the beginnings of a plan, usually to find more rewarding work or to escape from some bad decisions we had made back home -  whatever got us on the plane with a one way ticket in hand, we landed and, in most cases, just got on with things. 

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Why you need to know your numbers

It’s been an interesting year in the life of politics.  Anyone following the US or UK political scene may agree with me, it sometimes feels like your watching a comedy programme, never has the political section of the evening news held my attention so closely – I ask myself daily “I wonder what have they been up to today?!”

My interest was held very closely with the recent 2 interviews with Diane Abbot.  You don’t need to know which UK party she is representing (Labour), or her job title (Shadow Home Secretary), just that during a key 2017 election time where she is being interviewed nonstop to convince the public of the credibility of her party, she wasn’t able to have an accurate discussion on key numbers.

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Slow down, relax and let business flow

Anyone running their own business, regardless of Company size or how long you have been in business, will know the immense pressure they feel to keep business flowing in, finding new leads and seeking out others that can help recommend their services. 

Running your own business often comes with hidden expenses that add to the pressure – the pressure increases tenfold when you have the responsibility of employees.  Add to this that its tough business world out there now, it’s no wonder you can let things get slightly out of kilter. 

Panic can creep in and you forget everything you have learnt about finding and getting new business.  Networking in the region is a huge business development opportunity that you must leverage from.  It takes time, it hardly ever brings immediate closed business, but works when you give the right amount of time and effort.

 Here are my 3 tips to remember when networking either in a group or one to one:

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Why Not Outsource?

Companies are certainly going through challenging times now.  Many Companies are having to tighten their belts, reducing costs as much as possible whilst at the same time maintaining and often having to exceed the level of service they provide. 

 A recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine “How to Build a Better Business with Outsourcing” https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/204652 got me thinking, why aren’t more Companies outsourcing their key support services?

This is an ideal time to start outsourcing key functions to specific Companies that specialize in the services they require, allowing for a senior professional to take care of a function on a “charge on hours used” basis therefore saving money. By outsourcing the day to day back-office tasks, the Business Owner has more time to focus on generating income.

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How to Successfully Implement Change in your Business

Five ways to ensure a smooth transition

This article was first featured in CPI Financial January 12th 2017. Read it here

When the nature of a business evolves or the structure needs amending, significant changes can be felt by all employees. It is never easy to manage a business at the best of times, but when change is thrown into the mix, your managerial leadership skills really come into play.  A Danish study of over 92,000 employees across more than 1,500 companies concluded that organisation change results in increased stress-related illnesses for employees. Companies that manage change effectively are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their competitors financially, with their employee satisfaction higher than those who do not implement changes correctly.

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