Monthly Archives: June 2014

Taking people with you

We will gather 1

Social media makes community action so much easier

“If you want to get something done, ask a busy person”

Recently I’ve been grappling with a problem which, I’m sure, is quite common.  This makes it all the more frustrating that, after 35 years of trying to mobilise people to take action of one sort of another (ie throughout my career in not-for-profit marketing) I’ve hit this brick wall now.

I’m working on two projects are the moment (I’ll save the blushes of those involved by excluding details) where people who have previously expressed interest, do not now seem to want to be involved with those projects. I know they’re active, committed and yes – busy – individuals; that’s why I asked them in the first place!

Over the last few months, I think I’ve given them both ample opportunity to get involved and the chance to say directly if they want out. But, despite my best efforts, they’re pretty much voting with their feet and staying away without explanation. A couple of people have said they’ll get involved when the projects are up and running, but I need help now!

As I write this, lots of questions fill my head…

Are they interested but just too busy? Someone suggested summer is a bad time to start things because of holidays and competition from fair-weather activities. But these people first declared their interest at the start of 2014.

Maybe they’re no longer interested and don’t want to offend me by saying so? Granted I regard many of them as friends, and sensitive friends at that, but I regard being upfront as hallmarks of a healthy relationship. Indeed one of those people has been both helpful and honest by telling me they’re bowing out from further involvement.

Another question is whether I or they are being reasonable / unreasonable? I admit I sort of co-opted them to get involved, but a mild bit of bullying is sometimes needed to persuade and, after all, they’re grown-ups. Surely it shouldn’t come down to me chasing them all the time?

Revisiting basic marketing principles, I suppose one way for me to get answers to these questions is to ask the people concerned, individually, how they feel about being involved. The fact that so many are staying away suggests I’m doing something fundamentally wrong (painful to acknowledge) or maybe their reasons are all different, all equally valid and/or could be addressed with a bit of effort on both our parts. If I don’t ask them I’ll probably never know.

In the meantime it would be great to get insights and advice from readers of this blog. As I said at the start, I’m sure I’m not alone in having trouble drumming up support for a new initiative. How did you get to take people with you when you needed them?

Enterprise essential – Fair pricing can raise expectations and standards

Deciding whether to pay £100 for a training course encourages some associated questions. What does £100 of learning look like? How will I know if I’ve got value for money? How else might I spend that £100 for equal value to the individual/ enterprise? How will I ensure my £100 investment in training turns into an asset after the course?


Enterprise essential – Offer value at a fair price

Warren Buffett says “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” This means you need to aim to be the best, and price accordingly. This is about building your value so the fair price is attractive because the offering is desirable.


Enterprise essential – Know your value

Set your prices according to how much the market values what you have to offer, rather than what it cost to produce it. So understand your customers and monitor the competition for guidance. That said, if you can’t achieve a decent profit margin between cost and selling price you won’t be in business for long!


Enterprise essential – Learn about price, value and negotiation

Even in times of economic hardship we under-value the products and services we provide and pay too much for those we purchase. Price is only one of many factors that influence the purchasing decision. Learn to sell well in the open market and to win contracts. When buying, develop your negotiating skills with suppliers – a recession is a good time for bargains eg in stationery and printing.



What makes an entrepreneurial enterprise?

light-bulb-new-businessSounds like a bit of tautology – isn’t the definition of an enterprise ‘an entrepreneurial organisation?’ I hear you say. Maybe, so … what makes one enterprise more entrepreneurial than another?

Paula Howley, ‘creator’ of the Social Enterprise Mark thinks it starts with mindsets – around the culture of an organisation.

Social enterprise is a big mind-shift. The most important thing is the culture of the organisation. You can’t set up an enterprise if you are continually having internal battles where staff members of the board are resistant. You need to identify that culture is an important part of the jigsaw and work on that.”

Below in the form of a list (for which no apologies) are eight (of many) characteristics of entrepreneurial organisations – a synthesis of the output of half a dozen thinkers and doers in the social enterprise sector. How do you stack up?

Self-awareness: You know about expertise and skills gaps in the enterpriseand take steps to plug them through training or recruitment.

Environmental awareness : You have a handle on trends and opportunities affecting your work. Some years ago Innocent Smoothies had ‘front foot’ meetings each week to avoid nasty surprises (they may still do so).

Passionate but purposeful:  You are committed and clear about your cause; it’s about balancing mission and money.

Plan for change: You’re not afraid to changeyour plan. (But you can only do so if you’ve got one!)

Fearless with figures: You understand cost, price and viability. Do you have robust financial systems?

Market understanding:You know the market – and compete on quality and customer focus. You know the difference between the customer and the consumer.

Delegated decisions: Staff are enpowered to make decisions. Drivers for a major parcel delivery firm in USA are authorised to spend up to US$100 to fix problems on the spot

Taking measured risks as a way of life:Failure is a comma, not a full stop. “Stumbling is only moving forward faster” says Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream

A final thought… Are organisations entrepreneurial or are they just a collection of entrepreneurial individuals?

Enterprise essential – Price is not a finger in the wind calculation

As business author and blogger Nicholas Bate says “Setting a price is not a quick phone conversation before catching a plane to Boston. A price point is a subtle capturing of profit, customer psychology, market penetration and positioning. Give it its due.”


Enterprise essential – Get on top of the figures that matter

In a fast-changing business environment you may need to identify new performance indicators and tighten up your financial monitoring – including actual, against forecast, income and expenditure. Do this more rigorously and more often and share your findings throughout the organisation. If you don’t know the figures that matter, find out!


Enterprise essential – Manage your cashflow

‘Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is reality’. It’s no good having a smart office and a warehouse full of products if you can’t pay your staff at the end of the month. Control your cashflow by maximising income (while not compromising your social purpose) and chasing debts. Control costs (easier when they are variable rather than fixed) but think strategically – a short term gain may be a long term loss.