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…

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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…
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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…

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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

Resources for spring cleaning your business. What the experts use and recommend (Part 3)

This is Part 3 of my 4-part serious on spring-cleaning and taking stock of your business. In Part 3, I’m going to be focusing with my group of expert contributors, on their favourite resources when they review their businesses. (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 in your experience, what are the best resources for reviewing a business?

I asked each expert to identify his/her favourite resource(s). As you’ll see from the chart below, my contributors rely on a wide variety of helpful resources, ranging from online resources, advice from coaches, comparing notes with peers, advisory boards, social media, to app-based/digital management solutions, amongst others.

We’ll delve a little more deeply into some favoured examples of these resources in a moment. Read More

Priorities for spring cleaning your business. How the experts do it & what they advise (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of my 4-part series on spring-cleaning and taking stock of your business. In Part 2, I’m going to be focusing with my team of expert contributors, on what you should prioritise when you’re reviewing your business. (You can find the other parts on merlie.co.uk)

So what are the most important things to prioritise when reviewing your business?

I asked each of my contributors to identify their top 3 items to prioritise when it comes to reviewing business performance and deciding what to focus on in the months ahead.

As you’ll see from the chart below, their views were quite varied, Read More

Spring clean your business. How the experts do it & what they advise

Limber up and get out the feather duster. It’s time to take stock of your business and do a bit of spring-cleaning.

I was looking for some guidance on this topic myself. But I actually couldn’t find anything particularly helpful, beyond a fair amount of theoretical guidance and some out of date blog posts.

So, I asked a very broad cross section of business experts from my network for their practical tips on what to do, when to do it, and what are their secrets to doing it really well.

Here’s what they very generously shared with me. It’s a great feast of helpful information and resources, so I’ve split it into 4 parts. This is the first part and it focuses on how often, and the best ways, to take stock of your business and keep it on track. (You can find the other parts on merlie.co.uk). Read More