How to persuade others with small changes that make big impacts

That’s the theme of the excellent book, ‘The Small Big’, by Martin, Goldstein and Cialdini that occupied a lot of my reflection time on holiday recently.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the fifty+ tips, suggestions and recommendations contained in the book. The short, surprisingly effective, case studies and findings that support them cover a range of everyday business activities, from sales and marketing, to people motivation and achieving personal goals.

The content focuses on the art and importance of persuading people, sometimes individuals, often groups. However great your skills at producing pitch decks and  presentations, at crafting HR structures, juggling financials, giving speeches or wearing titles, people buy from people.

We are not – yet! – in a position where robots are running our companies, so persuading people to pay attention to you, to consider you credible, to trust you and then to take that all important next step to buy from you, matters today as much as it ever did.

And that’s an unavoidably subjective, often very instinctive, decision-making process for those whom we encounter; a process which, whether we like it or not, makes us all salespeople and brand ambassadors for the businesses where we work, regardless of our job titles or where we might sit in any corporate hierarchy.

The authors of The Small Big recognise that because we are living in the single most information over-loaded, stimulation-saturated environment that has ever existed, we simply do not have the capacity to fully process every piece of information that we come across.

Fascinatingly, however, through their pretty extensive research, they’ve discovered that

people today are just as likely to be influenced by small changes in how we communicate with each other as by the larger and more radical ones

In fact, we should even find the smaller changes more efficient, easier to implement or accept, less risky, less costly and more effective at delivering our objectives, than the larger ones…

Because, I’m sure, like me, you may often struggle for the richness of time to read a good book, I’ve cherry-picked the bits of the book that struck me most (3 themes in total), so that we can share and practice the tips and suggestions together.

So, here goes… Read More

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The risks we take …are they really worth it?

It is often said that no worthwhile reward comes without risk.

Mark Zuckerberg recently said that “in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks.”

Classic startup and entrepreneur ‘motivation speak’. Also true, in my experience.

Muhammad Ali once declared that “he who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”. An attitude that is shared by most sportsmen and women.

The critically acclaimed French novelist, Andre Malraux famously believed that “often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has bet on one’s ideas, to take a calculated risk – and to act.”

These are just some of the many variations of the same statement: risk is involved in the pursuit of every worthwhile reward.

But is it really true? Does everything worth having come with risk?

If you’re not a unicorn entrepreneur, world-class sportsperson or controversial political satirist, do you really need to take a risk to get where you most want to be? Or even before that, to take a risk just to discover what it is that you really want most?

It’s not something that I had considered much until two things happened to me recently. Read More

Don’t be afraid of the risks. Here’s 10 ways to turn them into opportunity …

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain, author

It’s true.

Here are my top tips for managing the everyday day risks we encounter in business and turning them into opportunities. They’re gleaned from personal experience and the extensive collective wisdom of the far more accomplished and wise folks amongst my network.

The tips are as relevant to startups and new businesses as they are to anyone running and growing a business or a part of it.

They follow on from my earlier exploration of the risks we take and whether they’re really worth it. Read More

The ups and downs of optimism, when you’re an entrepreneur

Reacting to the outcome of the recent general election, the UK government’s small business expert, Emma Jones (who is also the founder of the UK wide SME-representative organisation, Enterprise Nation), called for entrepreneurs to carry on doing what entrepreneurs are well known for: to face the future with optimism.

It got me thinking about the importance of optimism for anyone starting or running a small business today.

We’ve had a lot to deal with in the last 12 months: Brexit, Trump, the wholly uncertain political leadership of our country, cyber attacks, significant legal and regulatory changes affecting how we work, what we pay in tax or to workers, how we handle data…

And that’s all on top of the daily and ongoing challenges of being in business for yourself. These are often the toughest challenges of all: selling, marketing, designing and innovating, believing in ourselves, even when it feels like others might not; laying savings on the line, eschewing ‘safer’ ways to earn money…all in a bid to make what we dream of happen; asking and persuading others to partner us in sharing those risks.

Emma Jones’ clear statement envisages that as small business owners and founders, we consistently face the future with optimism and that this is vital in these uncertain and challenging times.

But do we in fact face the future with optimism?

And if so, how do we? Read More

Turning ideas into great businesses – inspiring learnings shared by those who’ve done it (Part 3)

The final instalment in this 3-part blog series continues my conversations with some of my favourite entrepreneurs and business experts. I asked them 5 questions.

Part 1, focusing on the 1st question,  was all about where they find their inspiration. Part 2 looked at how they came up with the ideas that transformed into their latest business ventures.

Here, we’ll zoom in on my remaining 3 questions:

  1. how do you decide if your idea will make a great business?
  2. what kills a great idea and stops it being realised?
  3. how hard is it to turn a good idea into a great business?

Here we go…

Read More

Turning ideas into great businesses – inspiring learnings shared by those who’ve done it (Part 2)

The 2nd in this 3-part blog series continues my conversations with some of my favourite entrepreneurs and business experts.

I asked them 5 questions. Part 1, focusing on the 1st question, was all about where they find their inspiration.

Here, we’ll zoom in on the 2nd question: how they came up with the ideas that transformed into their latest business ventures.

Here we go…

Read More

Turning ideas into great businesses – inspiring learnings shared by those who’ve done it (Part 1)

I’ve been wanting to share this blog with you for some time – especially the insights and stories of those who generously shared their own inspiring experiences and tips with me while I was researching it.

The quest for where great ideas come from is something that has long fascinated me – not least because these days, I seem to be surrounded by people who’ve made real successes of their good ideas. And truthfully, I’d love to join their ‘club’. I really want to make a success of my ideas too.

In this blog, I’m going to share their learnings and advice with you, so we all have a shot at it!

Ideas and opportunities can come from the most unexpected places. And they don’t discriminate in terms of who can have them. Anyone can have a great idea.

What really makes an idea great, however, is what happens next. And that’s all down to the ability and mindset of the person to whom that idea belongs.

And that’s where my friends come in.

I asked them 5 questions on this topic. And because they gave me such great answers, I’ve split this blog into a couple of parts. This is Part 1 and it’s all about where they believe the best ideas come from.

Here we go…
Read More

Future business success depends on ‘digitising’ and re-skilling humans. Here’s what it takes…

‘We need to digitise the human’, concludes Accenture in it’s report entitled ‘Harnessing Revolution. Creating the future workforce’.

Such a statement conjures scary visions of being turned into a cyborg or suddenly having a chip injected into my brain. But then, I have always had an over-active imagination … and it turns out, that could be a good thing. According to the views below, it means I might still be employable 10 years from now! 

Accenture’s report is a thoughtful piece, drawing together the strands of AI and machine-learning, digital and technological solutions, academic and occupational education and the general realities of business operations today. 

Change needs to happen long before we start work

What comes across very clearly is the need for us urgently to start revising what we value in the workplace – and for us to initiate what’s needed for that change far earlier than graduate recruitment drives.  Read More

Super Google-whacking & how to create a great brand name

I’d never heard of ‘Google-whacking’ until earlier this week. It took my good friend, Rob Jones, to laughingly draw the analogy between my frustrated search for the right brand name for our new business and Dave Gorman’s magnificent ‘google-whacking’ adventures.

If, like me, you’d never heard of Dave and his adventures, I recommend checking out the linked material here. It’s an amusing read and one which I know many startup adventurers will also relate to in part.

What I’m going to share below is how to choose a good brand name for your business – drawing on all the practical and expert advice and tips that I’ve recently been given in relation to our own quest for a name for our startup. Oh and yes, there will be some Google-whacks as well…

Read More

15 top-tips for spring cleaning your business. What the experts recommend (Part 4)

This is the final part of my 4-part serious on spring-cleaning and taking stock of your business.

Here, I’m going to be focusing with my team of expert contributors, on our top tips for successfully taking stock of your business and what is helpful for moving forward. (You can find the other parts to this series, covering why and how you should review your business and what to prioritise, on merlie.co.uk)

So what are our top-tips?

There are 15 of them. Read More