Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Step forward…

Recent events have proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is considerable value in stepping forward when you’re in business. You might think that sounds crazy – why give away time when we all know that “time is money”! We’re all fighting for survival and the best piece of advice on offer is do something for free – how can that be?

For me, it’s all around creating the right impression and letting people get a glimpse of the real you.
If you stop and think about it, volunteering is a great way of doing just that. By offering your services for free you are demonstrating a passion for the cause that goes beyond the petty requirements of a commercial transaction. This is something you’re prepared to do, come what may. You’re not even going to pause to strike a deal because that would delay you getting stuck into the fray.

Hopefully, you’re getting a flavour of where I’m going with this. In a world where all too many people get bogged down in the detail you’re striking taking a position based solely on your beliefs. That, I believe, is appealing and you may be surprised at the results it can produce.

This can work in a variety of circumstances and is not limited to any particular field of business as far as I can see. Whether you’re a Managing Director, a florist or a policeman we all need to influence our colleagues, peers and “customers”.

If you follow this particular piece of advice you’ll find you are better able to win hearts as well as minds. All too often in business, you see the failed attempts to convert only minds and the heart bit of the equation is ignored as lightweight, trivial or irrelevant.

In fact, I would say that the emotional side of the debate is even more important than the rational. If you are successful in what you step forward for just take a note of how many people recommend you to others. We all love someone who stands up for what they believe in because we secretly wish we had done so ourselves. By endorsing someone’s stand we can do our bit and you would be surprised how many people are ready to do just that for you.

All you have to do is step forward. Just make sure you don’t get confused with another similar expression about one step forwards and two steps back – that’s for other people who don’t have your high levels of ambition!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Northern Powerhouse – rhetoric or reality?

In the business world, if not the real world, there’s been a lot of talk and commentary lately about the Northern Powerhouse. Whether you think that’s a good thing or not is up to you but I would suggest the whole issue is going to increase in visibility very soon. It will likely impact all businesses in the North West in some way or other over the coming years so why not give it some thought at least.

So where does the idea come from and what sort of chance has it got of making a difference?

For me the issue of a North/South divide has always been around and has always seemed something very real and tangible – in a positive way. One of the great beauties of Great Britain to my mind is, and always will be, its huge diversity and regional differences. Whether you’re doing business with a company in Bradford, Birmingham or Bath, you are dealing with that diversity and doing so to the benefit of all.  Long may that continue.

But what happens when the economic imbalance becomes so great as to threaten the very survival of one of the parties involved? When all the action, jobs and overseas investment are in London there is a real danger that the great Northern cities will enter a dangerous phase of decline. Surely that is the time to at least consider taking some action.

 We don’t have the space here to go into all the arguments but there are plenty of debates going on all over the region for getting up to speed. My point is simply this – take some responsible ownership, look for example at the pros and cons of a high-speed rail link to Crewe or consider the benefits of Liverpool Super Port from your own commercial point of view and get involved.

Because of the nature my work, I know for certain that there are plenty of businesses here in the North West who simply don’t know what the Northern Powerhouse is or what it’s attempting to do to ensure our economic prosperity. The simple concepts of economic collaboration or targeting of growth can easily be obscured behind the very labels designed to make them accessible. We need to be smarter than that and cut through jargon to make a difference.

Ignore scepticism, take political bias with a huge pinch of salt but don’t waste the opportunity to derive some benefit from what’s readily on offer. It may take some effort to penetrate the fog but the reward will be there for the benefit of us all.