Saturday, 31 January 2009

The Heckler

Here she is, our American Mrs Angry, mouthing off at last week's British Library Business Nightmares event...

Gosh, I never realised I was so much like Ann Robinson.


Sunday, 25 January 2009

Entrepreneurs vs Marketers

Yep, I could go into every single business out there and establish my critique of what they're doing right and wrong. Businesses are ALWAYS suboptimised.

The trickier bit is to help them actually implement the necessary changes - while still fighting all the battles that represent 'being an entrepreneur'.

The old analogy of how do you drain the swamp when you're up to your neck in crocodiles... Sales falling, cashflow issues biting, bank managers threatening, motivation dropping, mortgage repossession looming. These are the realities of entrepreneurship c2009.

What these entrepreneurs need is not a heap of marketing theory and pointy criticism - it's practical & easy-to-implement advice on HOW TO GET IT DONE.

But then, as they say, those who can, do, those who can't, preach.

Wow What a Week!

I feel incredibly privileged to have a life where I get to be involved in so much great stuff...

Tuesday I was at Cass Business School, working with a group of 25 MBA students in a three hour session to demonstrate how a business can be created on a shoestring marketing budget through a 'pull' marketing strategy.

Wednesday I was at the British Library Business Centre state-of-the-art training facility with three entrepreneurs who I will be working with as their mentor in 2009 in a great session looking at each of their businesses in detail.

Wednesday night the now infamous 'Business Nightmares' evening (see previous Blog post comment string) at the British Library conference centre, on a panel of 4 entrepreneurs who've each lived through a business meltdown scenario, sharing our experiences to a packed house. If you want to watch the event it will soon be on YouTube - the attack on me from our American 'Mrs Angry' comes almost at the end and it was great that the audience were so supportive of me and my response.

Then Thursday back at the BL Training Centre with a fabulous group of entrepreneurs for my quarterly Entrepreneurial Masterclass. Far from ending the week tired and drained I felt inspired and energised to have worked with so many great people.

Entrepreneurial energy is the best on the Planet, everyone so upbeat, supportive and it also feels that the tough times we are facing is bringing out a wonderful camaraderie in everyone helping and supporting one another.

And it's great to be living my dream of inspiring, motivating and helping others to achieve personal fulfillment and success.

Monday, 19 January 2009

The Love Affair is Over Seth

As you'll know from previous posts, for a long time I was a big fan of Seth Godin.

I've read [almost] all of his books, eulogised about him at lots of business conferences I've spoken at and I would guess promoted his book Purple Cow [my favourite] to a cumulative live audience of at least 10,000 British entrepreneurs at those events over the past couple of years.

Not to mention buying a copy of Purple Cow for every one of my mentoring clients, featuring Seth on my Blog etc. - plus I'd also invited him to be interviewed for my new TV project

Yet, in a private email exchange this morning, in response to his recent Blog post about Love (and Annoying) (which obviously annoyed him!) I received the most curtly rude and arrogant response.

So, Seth, this Post is to let you know that my love affair with you is now officially over!

I think it's the same sort of American arrogance that has seen George W Bush leave office as the most disliked US president on record (not to mention the damage done to the US brand) and was displayed by Dick Fuld as he nosedived Lehman brothers into the ground last year.

Let's hope Barack Obama brings back a sense of humility to the US people.

The Art of Blogging

Once a month I do 6 x one hour free advice sessions at the British Library Business and IP Centre for entrepreneurs needing help marketing their business.

A couple of months ago I advised Disability Consultant Danny Puresh that adopting a 'Guru' marketing strategy would be a good (and very low cost) way to promote his business.

Essentially the idea behind a Guru marketing strategy is to position yourself as an expert in your chosen area, which is easy to do given the power of the web and especially blogging.

Today I received an email from Danny to say his Blog didn't seem to be working...

I'm posting below my advice as I think it's a good guide to how you can make Blogging work...

Hi Danny

I've just had a look at your Blog...

Apart from the train rant it's pretty boring I'm afraid.

Read master blogger Seth Godin on this (or visit his Blog).

First your posts need to be interesting.
Secondly they need to be controversial.
Thirdly it's far better if they cover a diverse range of a subjects so that your meta tags can be varied.
Fourthly you need to refer to other Blogs/sites in your Blog through hyperlinks - as that will attract more traffic to you

A good way to generate ideas for new posts is to set up Google alerts on subjects relevant/interesting to you - and then link to those articles with your own views on the subject. If you get alerts for someone else's Blog on a related topic leave a [controversial] comment there - and people will visit you via that.

For example, topical news like yesterday's TV debate about embryo screening for disability and this morning's SKY news interview with Racial Equality Minister about the prejudices against minorities now endemic in our society.

If you look back at the early days of my Blog I only attracted one or two comments (if any)...

But I stuck at it, got more wide ranging punchy and controversial - and slowly slowly attracted a following to the point where I think the biggest comment string on a post was 93 (about Barack Obama's election victory)

Yet still, if I lapse back into being boring, I only get a comment or two.

The good news is, my Blog is now highly ranked by Google and I'm often approached for comments/interviews/speaking engagements after people have found me via my Blog. Media love people who are punchy and who have strong opinions.

Hope this helps...


Any other tips for Danny (and me!) are welcome...

Friday, 16 January 2009

Business Nightmares at the British Library

Next week I'm involved in a Business Nightmares event at the British Library Conference Centre...

It's happening on Wednesday 21 January from 6.15pm to 9pm and on the panel with me are Gavin Griffiths (former owner of the Erotic Review and author of the Accidental Pornographer), regular commentator on this blog Bradley Chapman who runs Million Impossible, and Aamir Ahmad founder of dwell.

I've also got 8 FREE TICKETS available for this event (normally £10 - and I think they may already have sold out), if you'd like one the first 8 people to email me at with FREE TICKET in the subject title win.

Don't say I never give you anything on this Blog!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Desperately trying to preserve the status quo

Interesting to watch Peter Mandelson's announcement this morning of the package of support which has been put together by BERR to support Britain's small business through the current economic crisis.

For those of you who didn't see it, main features are £20billion worth of guarantees matching bank lending 50:50 (so if a bank lends £100k, £50k is guaranteed by the government) plus a £75 million enterprise fund providing seed & working capital for small business.

Small print is that the £20billion support is only going to 'ordinary risk' businesses - and interesting also that the government is only making a provision for £225million in defaults - which is around 1%. Methinks it will prove a lot more expensive to the taxpayer than that.

While it's great that support is being provided for UK business all this feels a bit like King Canute trying to stop the tide coming in. It feels like the government is desperately trying to preserve the business status quo rather than addressing the REAL issue of where is our future wealth going to come from?

As I've said elsewhere on this blog, I would really like BERR to identify key growth sectors - or sectors it would be foolish/dangerous to lose - and target all this financial support at those. For example, renewable energy, manufacturing, engineering, farming and bioscience. That would encourage ailing businesses to divert their energy and resources to exploring new, higher growth areas as well as build a really strong economy to secure the future (which in turn will provide the money to pay for all these current bailouts!)

Like it or not, the world economy is changing dramatically, and much as governments may try I don't think we will ever go back to the mass consumerism era of the past couple of decades.

It's just not sustainable.

Monday, 12 January 2009

How I made Seth Angry

I've removed this post as I didn't read Seth's emails properly - which politely request at the bottom that they aren't published or used on blogs etc.

So my apologies to Seth (and I suspect if he wasn't angry before he is pretty p*ssed off with me now!)

However, I've left the comments here intact for Seth to view - as I think they are interesting feedback on his personal brand.

It used to be that all great thought innovators came from the US but I think now the US brand is damaged, their power is perhaps waning.

Big gap in the market then for a fresh marketing guru? Stephen???

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Thank you Hani!

This is a post I have been meaning to make for a while to thank my regular commentator Hani for her wonderful gift to me of this beautiful painting. Hani came on my Masterclass at the British Library last September and sent the portrait through as a thank you for helping her with her business. I was hoping to have had it framed by now but Christmas took over...

You can view Hani's art at her website which is soon to be re-vamped.

It's wonderful to have so many talented and kind people in my life!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Feeling optimistic about 2009!

I'd like to send thanks to my friend Malcolm Levene for the post on his blog about reasons to feel positive about 2009.

Yes there is a lot of doom and gloom about what's happening in the economy but for me we are going through an uncomfortable but necessary period of change. The credit crunch is making everyone a lot more thrifty and I think it's also making us a lot more grateful for what we DO have. Living with an 'attitude of gratitude' is one of the key steps to happiness.

People are also seeking out inexpensive pleasures - despite the icy weather, my home town of Bakewell was packed during Christmas and the New Year with families wrapped up warm, feeding the ducks on the river and going for long countryside walks.

We're finally realising that happiness does not lie in material possessions, that retail therapy does not truly make you happy and as Malcolm says in his blog, people who live in a state of positivity and optimism attract far more great stuff to them in their lives.

The current struggles and tensions which are unfolding are simply the conflict between the old 'alpha' order trying to preserve the status quo in the face of a tidal change of rising spirituality amongst a now critical mass of people on the planet. It was this changing tide which swept Barack Obama to power.

The faster we accept the gift of the beautiful change which is coming through for us and go with the flow of it (rather than fighting it for fear of losing what little we perceive we've already got), the sooner we will find peace and happiness.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

38% of small businesses say they won't survive 2009

An incredible 38% of small businesses predict that they will not survive through to the end of 2009, according to an article in today's Financial Mail on Sunday.

Given that there are something like 4 million small businesses in Britain, that's something like 1.5 million businesses which may go under - with the knock on effect of redundancies and creditors being left unpaid.

As I've said elsewhere on this Blog, this country's economy is in serious trouble.

What the above does mean is that there is also tremendous opportunity - in the small business sector - either to help those ailing businesses or to assist the failed entrepreneurs phoenix themselves into new ventures.

Meantime, back to basics business rules now apply. Be careful who you give credit to. Defend cashflow. Adapt your offering to ensure it is still what customers want. And become as flexible as possible so you can move quickly to cut costs if you need to.

Time to batten down the hatches methinks - it's going to be a tough year, but also one of great opportunity for those well prepared to weather the storm.