It’s good to talk

Its good to talk, to share the day

We know it’s good to talk. We are based at The Guild a coworking space in the beautiful Carlisle city centre.  Up until COVID our main business involved face to face contact with businesses large and small.  During Lockdown One we adapted to the new online world of Zoom ,Teams etc.  A brief respite during the Summer meant that we had the joy of actually talking to people face to face. Then Lockdown Two brought us back to the online world.

This week has really brought home how much we and other businesses have adapted.  We now all know more than ever that you have to talk and share your day with other businesses.

The new normal is not Shangri-La BUT it’s not Blade Runner either…

Our new normal is intense.  Like most SMEs we are probably working more concentrated hours than ever before. Some of this is good news and some not so good.  Answers to the following questions can have both a positive and negative impact on your life or on your business:

  • How many hours a week do you save not travelling to meetings?  But how many of those hours were non contact time that you could gather your thoughts in?
  • How many early mornings and late evenings can you fit in and not have to leave the house? Does this mean that work time has encroached on your home life?
  • Whether you’re working from home or from your business do you find you can focus on the task in hand quicker?  Are you focusing on business at the cost of everything else?
  • Does the loss of turnover ‘motivate’ you more to search out the new opportunities? Are you getting tired of chasing new?
  • Has the loss of regular income focused you’re mind on really cutting business costs back? Have you shrunk the business back to a point where you are doing everything again?
  • Or have lock downs and COVID made you really busy, where you are at full capacity? Is your business coping under the pressure and how much of this will continue once lockdown eases?

Questions, the good, the bad and the ugly can feel lonely without peers

The real danger of social distancing is that a cry for help or a shout of joy often goes unheard.  We know one of the main benefits of coworking is the ability to share the good and the bad.  Sharing this with fellow businesses just makes it better still.

We have found that we can now get some of this back online.  You don’t have to feel alone in the wilderness and you can share your joy outside of your room.

How we shared online…

Like many other businesses we have taken our established business relationships online.  Knowing who you are dealing with helps online relationship work.  We are working with a great business team who will launch a brand new product next year.  We were approached by an old business contact to write submissions for honours awards.  Knowing the team meant we could run phone interviews immediately and capture great stories around the nominees.

We are also working with a new business introduced to us by a fellow associate.  Here trust in the go between has meant we have all committed a significant amount of time to a project before any of us have met in person.

Trust is so important

Our final thoughts go to this week.  On Monday we held an ONIT Zoom meeting with our fellow Guilders. ONIT has been running for many months and it is now an online meeting of businesses (Guilders) connected with the Guild.  The agenda was simply how do we deal with our wellbeing?  We all laughed. We all reflected and most importantly we all shared our ups and downs.  Trust amongst a group of businesses that have shared the same experiences allows us to take on this new normal. We owe a personal thank you to Mondays group who just made our life that much better.

Peer to Peer, a place where it is good to talk

This week we also launched our first two Action Learning Groups for the BEIS funded Peer to Peer Network   facilitated by our Jacqui Jackson and the talented Tina Cook. This is where businesses can really share and work on solutions for their businesses with fellow business leaders. These groups will run through to March next year.  We are already really impressed with the level of honesty, trust and care our businesses are showing.  In Cumbria our cohorts and those of Cumbria Chambers are now full.  If you want to join the Cumbrian Peer to Peer Network there are still paces with groups led by Entrepreneurial Spark, the Leadership Secret and Skills for Care. Just contact Helen at the Cumbrian LEP for more details.

Final Word

It’s always good to talk.  The very act of saying out loud what you are thinking releases pressure from your brain.  We are sociable animals.  So please use what ever medium suits you AND get out there and talk.

If you want to know more contact us.


Change it’s not you it’s them

Are you facing change?

Do you agree  or disagree that “change it’s not you it’s them” ?

In January did you have a lovely business plan? Has the plan changed a little?

Now take a deep breath and answer this honestly.  Is all the change due to COVID or is a good part of it things you were always going to get round to doing?

Change in business often looks like it is driven by outside forces.  In many cases this is true but the type and scale of change is down to the leader of the business.  We subconsciously make decisions made on our perception of the world and this does not always match what the rest of the world is seeing.

Do you need Space to change?

Many of us have had space away from our business to really work on the business future rather than in the business.  So, is it that thinking space that is driving part of our change of focus in our businesses?  Admittedly COVID has had a huge effect on many sectors (ours included as coworking we had to physically close during Lockdown…the first time a business ran by our family has closed its doors for over 125 years).

But has the space to think allowed us all real time to unscramble the noise and focus on changing the business?  This change may not be dramatic pivoting.  It may just be a more focused look at costs or a re-evaluation of our customer base.

All changes big or small require confident leadership.

Is there the confidence to Lead?

So have you got the confidence to lead change? COVID and the ensuing media focus on the coming recession has hit the confidence of all but the most resilient leaders.  It’s OK to be unsure, we all are.  Nobody really knows what the future will hold.  That is the beauty of it , for once in a generation we are facing a level playing field of ‘business knowledge’.

We gain confidence from sharing and refining our ideas.  Build a trusted network , support each other and watch that confidence grow.  You may even get confident enough to let your new ideas grow in the hands of others.

Have you the confidence to Let Go?

Many of us as business leaders do have trouble letting go. If we can build up our confidence and focus on what we want to change in our business then we can let others take our business forward.

Use the right tools for you!

We are all different.  Use your difference as your advantage.  Make decisions using the tools (Strategyzers Business Model Canvas is a great example) that suit your style.  Don’t be prescriptive in your change journey, be you.

If you want a ‘confidant’ that will challenge you to help you on your journey, give us a shout at Thomas Jardine & Co


Number 10, productivity & living with jeopardy

Number 10

In these changing times we are living with jeopardy. This week at number 10 Jacqui met Boris Johnson. He said that he believes for the country to thrive business must flourish. Thomas Jardine & Co are doing our bit by working closely with Be the Business and others to help UK Businesses to increase their productivity.

Why productivity is important

The UK is facing an unprecedented productivity crisis. If we don’t correct this, we will inevitably lose business to more productive countries. Fixing this means we cannot continue doing what we have always done, we must learn to adapt and change.

Black Farmer and jeopardy

Whilst Jacqui was meeting Boris in London, we heard a master class from Wilfred Emanuel-Jones (Black Farmer Ltd) in Penrith. Wilfred took us through his story of dealing with jeopardy which he defined as the risk of loss, harm or failure.  He emphasized that businesses who can thrive with jeopardy will lead the way in the future. The world is changing rapidly, constant change will be the norm. We will all have to learn to unlearn what we know and adapt to new realities.

We have seen the future is bright and met some jeopardy masters

Jacqui’s visit to number 10 was sandwiched within a two-day course Thomas Jardine & Co delivered on design thinking for a marvellous group of SMEs and entrepreneurs. This course was part of Lancaster University’s Cumbria Growth Hub. Over these two days we really saw the ability of business owners to grasp new concepts and square impossible circles. Good business owners by default are living with jeopardy. If government allows them to flourish, they will help solve the productivity challenge.

Jeopardy is all around us, embrace it! Let’s enable the people who live with it daily to help create a business environment that increases our productivity to a level that is the envy of the world.


Working on your businesses future

What’s important in your future

It’s a simple question.  But a really hard one to answer.  Go on try it….what do you really want to be doing next year, the year after and in ten years time?  If you answered this with bullet points from your business plan please take a moment.  Have you thought about your life outside of the business? Now answer the same question, what do you really want to be doing next year and how is your business going to help you get there?

I am my business

There are so many people prepared to help you plan your future based on some great business models.  This is great if your business future matches your life plan.  We know running a business is different to the employed world.  The business becomes part of you and despite what everyone says it does become personal.  However like all things in life if you take control you will get more from it. Look at taking control of your business future as taking control of your health by regular exercise or your weight by starting a better diet.

So what is the secret of a good diet plan or a good exercise plan?  It’s to set goals and stick to the plan. Planning your business future is exactly the same. Like improving your diet or fitness, planning for your business can’t be separated from the rest of your life.  You know going on a diet at the same time as starting a bakery course isn’t a good idea.  Have you ever planned a business project at exactly the same time as a family holiday?  Would reviewing your business budget over Christmas really be a good idea? Both previous examples should be extreme examples, but probably not for a lot of us…  Good planning allows you to enjoy both your business and the rest of your life.  If you are stuck in the wheel of ‘business first’ every time maybe it’s time for a change.

A business with a lifestyle not a lifestyle business

What a lovely phrase ‘lifestyle business’ .  The world is full of lifestyle businesses.  Many of them make a good living for their owners who are actually getting paid for essentially living their dream.  Essentially most people don’t go into business to make a fortune. They create a business to get away from the problems they have met in the employed world.  When business are ran well the owners can make a good living and have a good lifestyle.

On the flip side business must be taken seriously.  There are far too many examples of start ups looking for a lifestyle that because of poor planning haven’t worked well for their owners. Business is relentless and even the best can get tired and that’s when its time to revisit the business gym or business diet club.

Finding your business gym or business diet club

Why does the Great British Public when it wants to get fitter or loose weight go to the gym or join a diet club?  The two reasons for this are that’s where the experts are and that’s where people who want to get fitter or loose weight go to.  It’s the same with business.  If the business has lost its way or it wants to get better, it goes  to experts form accountants, business advisors and business groups such as Be the Business. If the business wants motivation it should work with likeminded businesses (your peers).

Help can also be found from universities such as Lancaster University have always offered access to a range of experts from masterclasses to 6 month courses.  They also play host to resident entrepreneurs (Jacqui is a resident entrepreneur here).  Other universities host business experts to match the academic work they are doing ( Jacqui is part of WE-LEAD at the University of Birmingham).

As Thomas Jardine & Co we regularly work with universities, growth hubs and other business groups to design and deliver business courses designed to help businesses with specific development needs.  The most effective of these always involve peer work because your peers rarely let you down.

Working with business experts and your peers

Experts are useful, like personal trainers they can get you over a particular problem and motivate you in their session.  If the business wants to keep on track it finds fellow businesses who are doing well to talk to.  Our last year in the Guild in Carlisle has shown the absolute value of sharing space with fellow businesses of all sizes who just want to improve their businesses.  Business peer support here is as good as you get with regular gym goers.

So the choice is yours.  If you need to fix a specific issue then talk to the right expert.  Then, if you want to get in the habit of planning your business and building your future lifestyle then look to work with  a group of your peers. Finally, if you want to make a start on the next part of your business journey give us a shout.

 

 


What are you going to do to support businesses in your place?

First published in revive and Thrive 

Future Support for Business

It’s the time of year we all tend to reflect on what’s just happened and plan for what we do differently. So, we thought we would share part of our thinking for an interview schedule we are using to identify the future support businesses may require.

All problems have a degree of impact on business from just plain annoying to ‘business killers’ that threaten the future of the business. Good businesses find solutions to these problems themselves or look to support from outside.

Business Problems

For these businesses there are two types of problems to focus on. These are the problems that stop them getting things done on a day to day basis and the problems that stop them from moving their business forward.

Good businesses have to be really good at problem solving and tend to have solutions for the day to day ‘business killer problems’ quickly (things like cash flow). They then manage those ‘day to day’ problems that have a higher degree of impact with dedicated internal resources or with trusted external expertise. These problems tend to revolve around market competition, regulations and skilled personnel. The problems that tend to need new solutions are those that are getting in the way of them taking up opportunities that could drive their business forward.
So, for part of our research we are asking our businesses to identify the opportunities that would have the greatest impact on their business. Then we are asking them if they can take advantage of this opportunity without support, if they can that’s great and the business can move forward. If they need support and they can identify where to get it from that is also good and shows that there is a network of support available for that business sector.

Short term and long term impacts

What will be concerning is if our businesses interviewed can see an opportunity that they can’t take advantage of because they don’t have either internal systems or external resources to support it. If our place cannot find a solution for these businesses then they will not take advantage of the opportunity they can see. This is not a problem in the short term but if we as a place continue to not offer relevant solutions then eventually our businesses will move to a place that can find these solutions. This is because the problems stopping businesses taking opportunities in the future eventually become the problems stopping businesses function on a day to day basis. For example, thirty years ago a problem with IT was not a ‘business killer’ now not linking your sales directly with your stock ordering could be.

Looking to 2019

So, looking back over 2018, what really got in the way of businesses based in your place? Then looking forward to 2019 what could stop them take advantage of those opportunities they see?
Could you have better helped them in 2018 and what are you planning to do to help them in 2019?

We at Thomas Jardine & Co are helping our place answer these questions, are you doing the same for your place?