How to Manage your Business during a Power Cut

Power cut

A power cut is a temporary loss of power, either planned or unplanned. There are a few things that cause power cuts, like extreme weather conditions or a fault that stops your supply without warning. With planned power cuts, you will be notified in advance so that the energy company can do maintenance or repairs. However, power cuts can cost businesses valuable time and money, for example, retail outlets rely on electric till systems so they won’t be able to function, and constant refrigeration is important for some food businesses and restaurants. If you have a business which relies on a steady supply of electricity for day to day running, how do you prepare and manage during a power cut – planner and unplanned? Plan for Power Cuts

Having a plan for power cuts shows a course of action for employees to follow, which will help to protect equipment and assets during an outage. It could mean securing the building from thieves because security cameras and alarms might not be working. Other ideas might be to inform customers of the power cut so that they can place orders later.

Stay prepared for a power cut by making sure mobile phones are fully charged should you need to phone customers or local services

The plan will differ depending on the industry, but the principles are the same to minimise the negative effect a power cut has on a business.

 

Backup Power

Having a backup power supply such as a generator will mean that you can still run the electronic systems you need to function. A generator works by burning fuel such as diesel into electric energy, so in theory, providing you have enough fuel, you can continue to run a generator for some time. A 20 kVA diesel generator is at the forefront of technology, and is ideal for a range of commercial applications, from powering servers to heavy equipment. Do your research and make sure you have the right 20 kVA diesel generator for the job.

 

Compensation for Power Cuts

Just a single hour of downtime can cost a small business around £800, but you might be entitled to compensation for loss of earnings during a power cut, and your energy supplier should be able to help you if you want to claim on your business insurance. Your entitlement will depend on how long the power cut lasted for and the reason for it. You could also contact Ofgem for advice on claiming compensation for a power cut.

 

Thankfully, power cuts do not tend to last long in the UK, but it is important to be prepared if you want your business to manage. Power cuts can have a significant effect on the profitability of a business, so make it a priority to get a plan in place if you haven’t done so. Being prepared for a power cut can help you to lessen the financial damage, and help you get back up and running once the power supply is on again.

3 Things I’ve Learned From Best Self Co.’s Self Journal

Best Self Co. Self Journal

It’s hard to consistently remain productive. Running a business has its peaks and troughs. You win, you lose, there are the times where things feel slow and others when it feels as though you’re moving at a million miles an hour.

Better people than me have mentioned it’s about perseverance through the dips. They also mentioned some of the ways to maintain your focus and momentum. Effectively, how to elongate the good times and navigate the down times.

One of the ways that works for me is using a Self Journal from the Best Self Co. It helps me plan out the macro-goals and break them down into achievable SMART micro-goals.

This allows me to plan each day with a focus on our wider business goals. At the end of each day, there’s a section for reflection. In this section is the opportunity to write your lessons learned.

Six months after starting the process, I flicked back through my book and thought I would share three of the best things I noted.

They’re not revolutionary. In fact, they’re just pure common sense. But every business owner will know how hard it is to action these points.

Drop your best productivity hacks in the comments and let me know!   

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  1. “Be More Militant With Your Time”

 

This was written after a day I spent traipsing around London from meeting to meeting. Being more militant with my time is something I’ve been working hard on.

The Self Journal is useful for showing me when I’ve planned my week/day/morning or afternoon badly. The result of this poor planning is a serious drop in productivity.

The lesson is to meticulously plan your time and stick to it. I have a default diary and this outlines when I can take meetings, when I exercise and when I have periods of deep work. I now stick rigidly to it and my productivity has shot through the roof.

I also ‘eat the frog’ first thing every morning. This means I take on the hardest task first every morning, once you’ve accomplished this you feel on top of everything for the rest of the day.   

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  1. “Allow For Downtime”

 

HOLD UP I hear ya shout.

You’re chatting all big about being uber productive and you’re telling us to relax?!

Damn straight.

Running a business can be exhausting and sometimes you’re better off flicking on Netflix and recharging the batteries than staring at the laptop for hours.

Burnout’s a real danger and sometimes the drive for productivity can actually hinder your productivity.

On another day, my lesson was listed as the fact I packed too much into one day. My first meeting started at 8am, my last one ended at 7.30pm. To workaholics this might not seem like a lot but for me personally it was too many meetings in one day, having a balance is also important and I could have spread the meetings out across two days and felt more on top of my other work as a result.   

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  1. “Focus on working ON the business”

 

The difference between a freelancer and a business owner is vast. A freelancer is still an employee in many ways; they are measured by how many billable hours they can fit in.

A business owner can easily fall into this trap, feeling like they have to do everything themselves. The thing is, it’s important to spend time planning and working on the business.

If you spend all your time doing the actual work, you have a job not a business.

You have got to remember the high value activities that are truly going to make a difference. When you’re spending too much time on projects, it’s probably time to employ someone.

It’s a difficult thing to achieve but I now dedicate Friday’s to planning and spend much more time on High Value Activities.   Got something to add? Drop me a line in the comments and let’s talk productivity and how to improve it.

With thanks to Minimography.com for the featured image.  

Four ways to speed up access to finance for SMEs

In this guest post, Growth Street CEO Greg Carter looks at sources of alternative funding for SMEs. A must-read for any business owner seeking funding.

Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy. Indeed, the FSB has said that SMEs could make up as much as 99.9 per cent of the private sector.

SMEs are strong drivers of British economic growth and employment. However, poor cash flow – whether down to late payments from customers, supply chain pressures, or access to capital – is often cited as a stumbling block for SMEs.

Accessing funds quickly can be crucial for a business’s survival. But a recent Growth Street survey of more than 1,000 UK businesses found that 70% of respondents had never gone anywhere other than their bank for funding.

Banks are known to have restricted SMEs’ access to finance products like overdrafts in recent years. But even so, a majority of respondents to Growth Street’s survey haven’t looked elsewhere for funding.

To make matters worse, the SMEs that do manage to find loans through banks often find the terms inflexible and expensive. So how can business owners find out about other channels for funding?

Here, we list just a few ways for SMEs to go beyond the banks in seeking finance.

Growth Street Founder, Greg CarterGrowth Street Founder, Greg Carter

Peer-to-peer platforms

Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks operate platforms that match investors’ capital with individuals and businesses. There are a growing number of P2P lenders specialising in business finance – including Growth Street!

One of the main pulls of these platforms is that they can offer loans to borrowers more quickly than traditional banks. And the facilities on offer can be similar to the conventional bank overdraft, too: Once a facility limit has been approved, Growth Street’s GrowthLine allows businesses to draw down funds and make repayments as often as they like within their limits.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding allows a business to raise money from a large number of people, in order to launch products or secure funding for growth in exchange for an equity stake.

People often invest through crowdfunding by giving to businesses that they believe in on a personal level. Usually in P2P lending, borrowers and investors are anonymously connected, but crowdfunding can rely on personal connections and networks to build a groundswell of interest in a business, product or service.

Angel / seed / venture investment

Angel investors specialise in providing finance to early-stage businesses. They are commonly individuals, although there are firms which specialise in early-stage funding too. As businesses get bigger and begin to scale, institutional funding from seed or venture capital firms can help to accelerate growth.

Regional funding and grants

There is a significant number of regional funding options that can be available to SMEs. A good option could be to speak to your local Chamber of Commerce, as they often have existing connections with finance providers.

A national example of this is the British Business Bank, which is a development bank set up by the government. Its purpose is to increase the supply of credit to startups and SMEs, while also providing advice and support about running a business.

Although banks are still a vital part of the financial landscape, we continue to urge SMEs to look beyond their traditional bank. Our survey shows there is a lot for alternative finance providers still to do: SMEs shouldn’t have to struggle due to a lack of access to capital.

Greg Carter, CEO, Growth Street

(Head to our site to learn more about Growth Street and our GrowthLine product!)

Growth Street Exchange Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 739318). Growth Street Exchange Limited is registered in England & Wales (company number 09495712) and our registered office is 5 Young Street, London W8 5EH.

Tips For Web Design Students

Tips for choosing a website hosting provider

“It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.”

Paula Scher

Good website design is crucial to the success of businesses in the modern era.

Becoming good at website design isn’t easy, however, and even the experts we have here at Ri Web will tell you that they’re still learning.

Starting out as an amateur can be difficult; there is so much to learn. Also, the trends and theory behind good website design is constantly changing as we discover more about how people actually use websites.

To help out any aspiring website designers we thought we would create a little list of tips.

Practise on friends

There are some things textbooks and tutors just can’t teach you.

There’s nothing like ‘on the job’ experience to really catalyse your learning.

You might struggle to get paid assignments before you’ve built up a portfolio, so you’re going to have to work for very little or free to begin with.

This will allow you to build up a log of work to show to potential clients, who will pay you based on the strength of your prior work.

You don’t need to tout your services across the internet, think of friends who would benefit from your skills. Maybe the ones who want to or are starting a business or are looking to promote something – you might get a few drinks in return!

Get A Mentor

Your Mum, Dad and pet cat might think you’re the best website designer in the world but they would still think that if you were producing absolute rubbish.

To improve you need to source and take constructive criticism from people who understand what it takes to succeed.

Find a mentor, who can help you with this.

It might start as them simply checking out your work quickly in return for a drink or two, but it could blossom into a fruitful relationship.

They might even pass you down the work that’s too small for them!

Get Hands-On Support

Another way you can get support is online. There are so many different websites you can visit that provide great support for students of loads of different subjects. One of these is custom writing service PapersOwl, if you go on there you can detail to them exactly what you are struggling, whether it’s an essay or a design. They will assign you a partner that will be able to help you out with your work and steer your work in a positive direction. You will pay them a small fee, but it’s nothing in exchange for having an amazing piece of work you can call your own.

Web design is such an integral part of so many different aspects of cultural, social and economic-based companies and businesses. If you are training to be a web designer you’ve definitely made the right decision. The point is that you need to capitalise on the opportunities that you have, reach out to people that are going to help you improve your brand and your style, and look for support where you can get it.

The Bryan Shetsky Interview

Bryan Shetsky is the CEO of Lamark Media Group, a leading digital marketing agency based in Florida.

Lamark Media Group is a full-service agency which specialises in creating both online and offline marketing campaigns in order to generate brand and product awareness, consumer engagement and accelerated customer acquisition.

Lamark’s clientele spans Fortune 500 companies, global advertising agencies, major retailers and many more. The company’s in-house software allows it to bring a unique approach to each campaign and deliver extraordinary results.

Marketers and small business owners alike could learn a lot from Bryan. In this article, we delve into the secrets behind his success, the campaigns he is most proud of, the business challenges he currently faces and how he plans to overcome them.

Bryan Shetsky

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Bryan and I am a father of a 17-month old baby boy, a husband of a beautiful wife and the CEO of Lamark Media, a full-service integrated digital marketing company based in South Florida.   You have a pretty unique philosophy in regard to treating marketing clients like a financial portfolio. Can you explain how and why this works?

While studying finance in college, I learned about portfolio theory as an intelligent strategy to maximize returns while managing risk. When I started working in the marketing industry, I was surprised to learn how segmented the channels were and that most companies use multiple agencies to perform different core competencies.

The problem, however, is that these unaffiliated service providers rarely communicate, nor do they share strategy or data to help other parties due to competition. To solve this issue, the idea of leveraging portfolio strategy for digital media was born. To truly be agnostic, we would need to have all the integrated practices in one place, separate in skillset but unified in strategy. This way, we can adjust budget allocation ongoing based on return, not supply. It wasn’t overnight, but now at 9 years old, we can deliver incredibly powerful results for clients who properly leverage our platform.

Tell us about one Lamark campaign you are particularly proud of.

One campaign that really stands out was a drive to retail campaign for a wellness product at a major retailer. This client came to us looking for help as their product was in jeopardy of losing its shelf space in over 7,000 locations across the country. With a limited budget, we had to build a highly efficient program that only reached prospects with the highest propensity to purchase. By leveraging a highly focused geo-targeted multi-channel strategy, we were able to increase store level sales systemwide by over 76% over a 16-week test program. The best part is that the brand is still carried in those same stores today.

What challenges do you currently face business-wise?

Process improvements as we continue to grow. With a business in an ever-evolving industry, there are a lot of factors that need to be balanced between hiring, leadership, client growth, company culture and many other important focal points that deserve attention, it has become more important than ever to continually invest time and resources into process-level improvements and continued refinement.

How are you going to overcome them?

Make improving process and maintaining efficiency a priority. Every new project is a learning experience and “auditing” performance as an ongoing practice has been a key part of our ability to adapt. Things that are working, solidify them. For the areas that need improvement, work with leadership to make changes that will best achieve results.

What’s the one hack you use that most are unaware of?

I live by my calendar. Staying on schedule and setting routines for productivity can be extremely helpful in achieving higher output without extending your hours. One major change was the addition of overflow and working time holds on my calendar; this allows me to immediately knock out follow up or stay on time in the case that a meeting runs over.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

There are several areas where I look for inspiration. First my family. Spending time with my wife and son reminds me of why I work so hard. Also, my mother is quite inspiring, as she is as 29-year brain cancer survivor who has dedicated her life to advocacy. From a business perspective, staying current with content from industry-specific and other innovation leaders in general. Also, I try to learn from my team as some of my specialists are more knowledgeable in micro-strategy and frequent interaction allows me to absorb like a sponge, continuing to feed my knowledge overall.

What do you see as the next big trend within digital marketing?

Multi-path integrated strategy. People are consuming media on more screens and more frequently than ever, so adapting your marketing strategy to account for the customer journey will be even more integral in generating results online. Consumers are becoming empowered with more choices, so delivering high-quality content that presents true value proposition to consumers with properly frequency will be key.

Three Ways To Keep Your Data Secure Online

how to protect your data

Hardly a day goes by without another report of a major data breach hitting the headlines. For those companies that become victims of such attacks, the damage suffered to their future reputation is often almost as devastating as the financial losses caused by the breach itself.

Upcoming changes in EU law mean it will soon be more important than ever for a company to maintain absolute control over its online data. If you want your enterprise to stay one step ahead of the criminals, here are a few tips to get you started.   

  1. Keep your software up to date

If your company uses bespoke software on top of an existing operating system, having such systems update automatically risks causing issues as a result of conflicts. As a result, many companies turn off automatic updates and end up with a large backlog of patches that may take some time to implement. Ensure your IT department treats such updates as a top priority.

Keeping your software up to date is an essential part of maintaining a good level of online security. The WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017 was especially devastating on many of the computers used within the NHS because certain trusts had failed to act on warnings provided by the Department of Health to add patches to or migrate away from vulnerable older software.   

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   2. Know your enemy

Hacking attacks can be especially frustrating for those corporate executives who don’t quite understand how cybercrime works. This lack of knowledge can be extremely dangerous as it means the head of the company is not in a position to properly assess the measures that need to be taken to keep things safe. In recent years an increasing number of companies have begun hiring Chief Security Officers who sit on the board and ensure that every decision made by a company incorporates the necessary security measures. If the senior team at your corporation don’t fully understand the threat they are up against, hire someone who does as a matter of urgency.

Maintaining data integrity will become of even greater importance for businesses throughout the EU following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018, which brings with it significant changes in the way businesses handle both their own data and that of their customers. For many enterprises, the cost of failing to comply could be high enough to put them out of business. Under GDPR, breaches of security can be punished by a fine of 20 million Euros or 4% of a company’s global turnover.

If you’re a business who is unsure on how the GDPR is going to impact your business, Sage has compiled all the useful information into an informative infographic on the GDPR and how your business can prepare itself for the impending changes.   

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   3. Train your staff

No matter how much security you put in place to protect your business, your staff themselves will remain a weak point. Many of the most sophisticated cybercriminals around know they stand a far better chance of getting the information they require through a social engineering attack than a more traditional hack. Unless they are trained to look out for the warnings signs, employees can easily act on emails that purport to come from other members of staff within the same company, leading to breaches of data or damage to systems. To eliminate such weaknesses, you could provide the following:

  • Provide training.
  • Improve their knowledge through lectures and seminar groups.
  • Focus on improving security awareness within your workplace.
  • Reward those who have proper security measures in place.

The dangers are even greater today due to the vast amount of information that is constantly being shared through social media. With a few details gleaned from a Facebook account, it becomes relatively easy for a savvy crook to craft an email which appears to come from a genuine friend or a colleague. By subjecting your staff to regular training – some of which may include the sending of fake emails to see whether they are spotted – you will dramatically reduce the chances of your company becoming a victim of cybercrime.   

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How we made our business more innovative

Innovative measures we took to make our business more innovative

In the digital world, innovation is incredibly important.

In the past, we’ve prided ourselves on staying at the forefront of the latest developments.

We do so by creating our annual trends report, which brings together the top digital minds from across the world. They give their thoughts on an array of potential developments in digital, many of which come to fruition.

This allows us to react quickly to changing trends.

But it doesn’t make us innovative.

Because it is those suggesting the new trends who are the innovators and we are simply reacting to them.

One thing we have come to realise is that to offer a world-class service you must innovate and act upon your innovation.

So we set ourselves a challenge.

How could we become innovators?

In this article, I explore the steps we’ve implemented in our office to help catalyse more innovation.

Read it and be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below!   

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   The Thought Process

At first we thought about measuring our innovative practices.

For example, each time we brought a new product or service to clients that had been developed in-house would count as an innovation.

Also, when we optimised a current offering, we would count that as an innovation.

This is all well and good, but this approach had two problems.

First of all we realised we were simply measuring an outcome.

We would also only be measuring how naturally innovative we. Such measures wouldn’t help us become more innovative.

So how were we arriving at these innovations and how could we stimulate more of them?   

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   Stimulating Innovation

From there we realised that all of our innovation came about from learning and training.

We were taking the innovative concepts of others from training courses, books and blogs and developing them to suit our client’s individual needs.

Through this process we were often improving on the original ideas by bringing together two separate concepts from different sources.

So we made Learning and Training one of every employees main KPIs to measure. We wanted them to put in a certain amount of time each month into learning and training in the hope it would stimulate innovation.

But it’s not fair to expect people to add this to their workload.

So we instituted the idea that everyone got Friday afternoons on the 2nd and 4th weeks of the month to spend on learning and training.

It hasn’t got in the way of our work.

Instead, someone struggling with their workload might spend the time learning to streamline their processes or working out how to be more productive and efficient.

This has resulted in automating certain aspects of the job and even hiring a new employee to pick up the slack.

It led to Ryan and I utilising a Best Self Journal, which we both now swear by as a way to exponentially increase your productivity.

And it’s not just us who benefit.

Our clients are now experiencing a far better service.   

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   Change Your Culture To Allow Innovation

The problem with innovation, especially in a British culture, is the fact you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

What I mean to say is, you will fail more than you succeed whilst trialling new ideas.

And us Brits don’t like failure.

We don’t like to talk about it either.

So we realised we needed a cultural change.

It wasn’t enough to simply push people into training courses and expect them to suddenly become innovative, we had to actively create an environment where they would be happy to push the boundaries and fail in order to innovate.

This catalysed a change in our cultural values.

We instituted a blame-free culture and one in which failures should be shared.

It’s not that we were all blaming each other or chastising each other for every failure.

It’s simply that we needed employees to know that they could share failures without fear of reprisals.

The fact is that you learn from failures, and if you share those failures nobody else will make the same mistake you did.

So keep it blame-free and make your team share their failures.   

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   An Open-Forum

You could, like us, share your biggest failures and how you will counteract them in your weekly team meetings.

You could also use learning and training as a main KPI.

You could give your team the time to meet their KPIs.

This is all great but we wanted to go one step further.

The weekly meetings were being used to share developments and failures but these were fragmented, there wasn’t enough time in an hour to understand the mechanics behind the progress.

So we decided to create a quarterly innovation day.

Where everyone could present on their failures and propose new innovations. It allows us to share our progress and learn from each other.

In future, we might open this out to guests and expert guest speakers.   

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   The Results

The result of these changes?

An example would be our LinkedIn service.

We are able to generate our clients 2-10 leads a week, depending on their requirements through LinkedIn alone.

The service came about as a result of learning and training, we took one growth hacker’s concept and we improved upon each aspect in turn, until we were generating more leads at a lower work-rate than he was.

This is now one of our most popular services, which wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t instituted innovative measures.   

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   Early Stages

We’re a small company and it’s very early to claim we’re highly innovative.

But by focusing on innovation we’re have seen incredibly positive results for the company, our employees and clients.

We would love to hear from you. How do you innovate? Do you have any suggestions to improve on our practices?

Or maybe you have a question! Either way, fire away and we’ll get back to you ASAP!   

Key Elements of Start-Up Success

How to start a startup

Starting a business can be an exciting and rewarding challenge, but it can also be stressful if you are not prepared for each stage of its development.

Even if you are starting small, there are vital factors you need to consider. If these aren’t adequately monitored and addressed at the right time, there can be detrimental effects on your growth.

From getting your idea off the ground to bring it to fruition, there is a range of processes that start-ups need to consider to ensure they have a sustainable and manageable goal for the future. If you’re in the process of starting a new business and want some handy tips on creating a successful strategy, check out the points below:

 

Identifying your target market and value

 

Before you bring your idea to the market, getting a feel for how customers will react to it is vital to gauge initial interest. If you don’t know the value of your idea or what it might be worth to people, then how will you know if they will buy into it?

Identifying your market opportunities and benefits of the approach compared to competitors will help you plan for your launch into the market. If you fail to implement the initial planning stage of your product or service, then you could fall at the first hurdle before the business has had a chance to get going.

 

Distribution of your idea

 

How you will get your idea to your customers is another essential feature that needs to be developed efficiently. If you have a tangible product, will you use both storefront and online avenues to distribute your goods or for service-based companies, will you be focusing on building a web presence to get your message across? Each line has to be looked at and integrated efficiently into the delivery and logistics of your strategy.

 

Building relationships

 

As part of the business plan, researching and finding key partners and suppliers is vital to ensure you can deliver your product and service to the market efficiently. This is where high communication skills come into play, as developing these relationships will require an efficient and collaborative approach from both parties. Having these critical allies in your developing business can be beneficial for you in the early stages, as it provides you with significant resources and respected industry specialists who can assist you in reaching your goals.

 

Maintaining customer relations

 

Once you’ve got your idea on the market, growing and maintaining the customer base is vital in keeping the business alive. There are many ways in which start-ups can achieve constant feedback and valued custom, and that is to give your brand a voice and persona that people respond to. This face of the company will help to build a relationship with everyone it encounters, and it will immerse them into your brand’s culture on a deeper level. Marketing and active customer service can assist in this area, and it also offers a chance to understand consumer needs on a larger scale.

 

Legends & Losers – The Christopher Lochhead Interview

Christopher Lochhead helps people create legendary businesses to give them the life of their dreams.

If anyone’s in a position to succeed with this mission it’s Christopher. After all, his experience includes 30 years as a Silicon Valley CMO, advisor, coach and Board Director to over 50 venture-backed startups.

These included Mercury, a company Christopher helped grow from a $1 billion valuation to its eventual $4.5 billion sale to Hewlett Packard. So when Christopher says legendary, he means it.

In this interview, we get to grips with Christopher’s biggest success, his biggest failure, his inspirations, what makes the Legends & Losers podcast so unique and what the future holds for this maverick businessman.   

Tell us about yourself.

I’m on a mission to help people design a legendary business and a legendary life while having a very good time.

I host the popular Legends & Losers, one of the few real, raw, “authentic dialogue” podcasts and I coAuthored for Harper Collins the “instant classic” – “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets.”

For 30 years I worked as Silicon Valley public company CMO & advisor/coach/board director to over 50 Silicon Valley venture-backed startups, and I’m a former “small e entrepreneur”.    

Why did you start Legends and Losers?

I want to make a difference in the world.

Readers of my book “Play Bigger” were asking for more about category design, entrepreneurship and life lessons. So Legends & Losers is, in part a response to that.

Secondly, I was sick of listening to the traditional bullshit on formulaic “interview shows”.

On a traditional TV or radio show and even podcast, what we experience as listeners is a professional host/journalist, with a pre-fabricated narrative, questioning a highly accomplished person who has been media trained, who comes to the interview with their key “talking points”.

Then we as listeners experience a collision of guest talking points and journalist narrative. Not anything that resembles a real conversation.

So Legends & Losers in a very real way, is the podcast I wanted to listen to.   

What makes the show unique?

We believe that one real conversation can change your life. Our goal is to have authentic dialogues with amazing people about what it really takes to design a legendary business and a legendary life, while having a lot of fun.
People have said we’re like eavesdropping on a business conversation in a dive bar.    

What was the most important lesson you learnt during your time as a Silicon Valley CMO?

Legendary entrepreneurs and leaders do more than build a great product and company.

They are unique. They are original.

They design a new category AND product or service that introduces the world to a new way of thinking about a problem and solution.

And when category design works, you become known for a niche that you own. This is what the greatest companies do. And it turns out, people who have legendary careers do the same thing.   

Was Mercury’s acquisition by HP for $4.5 billion your biggest career win?

In some ways, yes. Because we designed and dominated a giant new category and became a category king.

In my opinion that is the greatest achievement in business.

But, on another dimension, the success of Legends & Losers and Play Bigger are my biggest “wins”.  Reason being, both the podcast and book are making a difference at a much bigger scale.

The success of Mercury made a difference to our approximately 3,500 employees, to HP, our customers, partners and investors. Which is very cool.

The popularity of Legends & Losers and Play Bigger means that I have a chance to make a contribution to people on a much more massive scale.    

What’s been your biggest failure?

I’ve been involved with more failed businesses that I can count.

I’ve been fired more times than I can count.

And I’ve lost a lot more money than I’ve made.

The two losses that made the biggest difference in my life where the failure of my first business and the failure of CRM company Vantive (my 1st silicon valley CMO gig).

Failing in my first business hurt the most and was financially terrifying. When we crashed, I was 21, unemployed, newly married, in debt, with no education and almost no job prospects.

Vantive hurt because Siebel Systems beat the shit out of us to become the original category king in sales automation/Customer Relationship Management. It felt like a long horrible beating in public. Like a mis-matched boxing match that wouldn’t end.

The whole time they we’re smashing us, I kept thinking, “I’m not the guy who gets beaten, I’m the guy who does the beating!”

The loss to Siebel taught me how fast you can have your ass-kicked. And that I never wanted to be on the losing end of a high-stakes category battle again.   

How did you bounce back?

I got right back into the ring and became the founding CMO of a tech startup.

 

If you had to give us one episode to listen to which would it be?

This question is kind of like asking a parent who their favourite child is. That said, this episode with Bix Bickson will alter your mind, life and business.    

What advice would you give to someone starting their small business?

Categories make companies. The most legendary businesses and individuals become known for a niche they own. Do not make the mistake of just building a great product and company.

 

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Other people who made a huge difference in the world. We live in a world that tries to drag us down.

I love the people who slay the cynicism of our times with their dreams.  I love the pirates, dreamers and innovators who have the courage to be legendary.

 

Finally, what does the future hold for Christopher Lochhead?

My big dream is that one day most people focus on the exponential value of what makes them different vs. the incremental value of what makes them better.

I work every day on how to make the biggest difference I can, while having a very good time.

We’re working to make legends & losers one of the most popular podcasts in the world and with my dear friend Heather Clancy I have a new book coming out later in 2018 called, Niche Down: How to become legendary by being different” that we hope people love.

   With thanks to Christopher Lochhead. To discover more about the legendary Legends and Losers podcast visit the website.   

Facebook Has Changed – Here’s What You Need To Know

Facebook's latest changes

It’s no secret that Facebook is constantly evolving. Compare the bare bones of what it was when it first burst into our digital world to what it is now and you’ve essentially got two social media platforms that are worlds apart. Perhaps it’s this endless endeavour of Mark Zuckerberg to improve his brainchild that keeps it so popular today, both for normal users and businesses.

It shouldn’t, therefore, come as a surprise that once again Facebook is going through some changes, and this time it’s the businesses using the platform that should be listening.

If you use Facebook as a place to promote and/or advertise your company, which is without a doubt a good idea, Zuckerberg’s new plans may just affect the method of your marketing. We’ve collected all the main changes that you should be aware of to make your life that little bit simpler. Get ready to take notes!   

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User Experience is the Focus

 

At the root of all these changes is Zuckerberg’s desire for a better user experience on Facebook. Instead of being swamped with pointless videos that we’re really not interested in, Zuckerberg wants to hone in what we do want to see by pushing pages with better engagement, obvious niches and valuable content to the forefront of our feeds.

This means that your Facebook page needs to be targeted. You should be using all the tools available to pad out your profile with the information that Facebook wants. It also means you need to be posting content that people actually want to see. (We’ll talk more about this next).

To boost engagement and get your page noticed, it might be time to start playing around with paid ads or boosted posts. Because Facebook’s algorithm is now severely limiting businesses organic reach.

This means that when you post as little as 2% of the people who like your page who are online at the time of posting will see it. The only way to get more views is through that tiny percentage engaging, so its slim pickings unless you’re prepared to pay to reach your audience!

If you do boost your posts it will help get the views that help generate more likes, comments and shares, which in turn makes your page more valuable in Facebook’s eyes.   

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Ditch Engagement/Click Bait

 

Zuckerberg wants to hit content that uses ‘engagement bait’, which makes sense as it probably doesn’t make for a great user experience on Facebook.

When we talk about engagement bait, we mean posts that actively encourage people to like or comment – for example, a page may put two products up and get users to vote for their favourite by choosing a certain ‘reaction’. These posts often get marked as spam and, unsurprisingly, won’t be a priority when it comes to Facebook news feeds.

Instead of using engagement bait, create content that you as a user would actually want to share and interact with. It takes more thought but the pay-off is longer lasting and it’s a great way to create meaningful interactions with your audience.   Perhaps an unfair example, as Brendan creates good engagement and highly engaging content but this form of post is quickly becoming redundant. The question is, should Facebook introduce a better Poll feature for users?

 

   

Funnel Rather that Direct Response

 

When it comes to your business marketing goals on Facebook, you shouldn’t be thinking of it as a platform for direct response. Facebook isn’t going to help you if all you’re doing is pushing your brand and promoting products or services.

Instead, the social media platform wants you to be creating relationships with your audience and connecting with them through valuable content.

This is where the funnel marketing system comes in. It’s a longer process than direct response but it will gain you better long-term results and give you more of a standing on Facebook.   

Community Importance

 

Facebook groups and communities are becoming more important within Facebook. As a way to separate the trash from the treasure, communities let Facebook know what users are interested in and let users create what are essentially newsfeeds full of content and interactions they actively want to engage with. You can see how they can be important to your business.

So if there’s a community relevant to your product or service start trying to engage with it. But remember the golden rules:

 

-Read the group rules before posting

-Only add value don’t be promotional: post insight, advice, help but never try to sell

 

There’s also the idea that advertising will be heavily incorporated within communities, allowing for easy targeting and better pay-offs.

If you’re ignoring the wealth of groups and communities on Facebook then you’re going to fall behind in Facebook marketing.   

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Final Thoughts

 

So, what can we take from all this information? The main points to focus on are…

 

  • Creating content that improves organic engagement with your audience and working to create real, lasting connections.
  • Avoiding engagement bait and direct response marketing methods.
  • If Facebook is pivotal to your marketing you will have to start paying your way.
  • Focusing on communities and groups within Facebook that are relevant to your business.

 

More than anything, remember that Facebook is a platform that aims to connect people around the world and provide valuable content, so your business marketing needs to fit within these ideals to keep you relevant.

Something that’s also worth noting is that Facebook owns Instagram. Based on the recent changes to Instagram, it will follow a similar path to Facebook to increase its advertising revenue and give users a better experience – start preparing now.

If you’ve got any thoughts or questions on this topic, leave a comment to let us know and we’ll get back to you!