Category Archives for "Business"

Why You’re Struggling To Grow Your Product-Based Business (and How To Fix It)

Did you start your product-based business as a hobby?

You’ve always been creative; you have a knack for making beautiful things with your hands.

You come up with concepts that are incredibly artistic; that’s your talent.

You set up a website to sell your products recently, and the feeling you had when you made that first sale to someone who wasn’t a supportive friend or family member?

Unmitigated joy. Not to mention relief!

You have run your product-based business since then, but you’re at a point where you’re stuck. (It’s a good problem, I might add!)

Customers love your product, you’re gaining loyal advocates and followers online and may even have won an award or two.

However deep down, you know you want more.

Not only that; you know that the current state of play isn’t sustainable is you’re to take this business to the next level…

…so here’s why you’re struggling to to grow your product-based business (and how to fix it).

You Don’t Have a Vision or a Plan

It’s one thing to make the decision to monetise your creativity or idea.

Having a vision of where you want your new business to be in 2, 5 or 10 years is quite another.

“Calm down”, I hear you say. “I’ve only just started!”

That may be true, but having a picture of where you want to be gives you a clear purpose, and sets the scene when it comes to your goals and planning for the future.

There Is a Lack of Clear Goals & Objectives

While vision is a broad statement of where you want to be, your goals and objectives are more specific and go into detail about what you want to achieve, and when.

I’ll give you an example.

If you produce mugs which you customise with quirky quotes and are based in Edinburgh, your vision might be: “To be the go-to provider of branded gift mugs to corporate organisations in Scotland”.

The goals and objectives to achieve that could include: “To sign up 50 new corporate clients by the end of Q2 (in anticipation of the Christmas season in Q4)”.

That level of details is what’s needed so you and your team (if you have one) can focus on what needs to be done.

There Is No Mechanism To Measure or Track Progress

 

There’s a popular saying: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.

To begin with, you need to track and measure to know what the current state of play is in your business, where you really stand.

For example, how much do you make from sales every month? Is it usually quite consistent, within a certain range, or does it fluctuate wildly from one month to the next?

Once you understand that you can use the current status as a benchmark going forward, as it will be clear whether your performance in different areas and metrics is improving or deteriorating.

To continue with the sales example, you can track your sales monthly, quarterly and so on. And from that, you will begin to track trends and maybe even some seasonal factors that have a positive or negative impact on your performance.

All of which only become clear when you track and measure.

There Are Too Many Distractions

In our social media age, it’s almost impossible not to be bombarded with distractions.

You see what your peers and competitors are up to, and before you know it?

Comparison-itis.

It’s so easy to get distracted by following this trend or that, and it’s not uncommon for several of these kinds of distractions to occur.

Before long, you’re spending your time, energy and maybe even money on tasks and initiatives that are irrelevant and completely immaterial to your goals.

It’s a tough one, but it pays to stay in your lane.

Just because something is right for that other business, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for yours. And even if it is, this may not be the right time for it.

There Is No Focus on Income and Expenses

This is one I see happen often:

You love what you do, and you have a loyal and enthusiastic following on social media.

You get caught up in creating your product, responding to comments and queries online, selling, doing giveaways, offering discounts to family and friends…

……there’s always so much activity. But you haven’t stopped to assess how much you make and spend in any given month.

Is your income at least the same as your expenses?

Because if it’s not, you’re running at a loss, and you aren’t even breaking even.

Now, sometimes it’s acceptable for a new business to run at a loss in the initial stages, but by focusing on income, expenses and the financials as a whole you’ll know what your monthly run rate is, and can plan to get to a position which is more sustainable.

There Is No Foundation For a Grown-Up Conversation About Funding

Following on from the last point about income, expenses and financials. Without those in place, how can you even begin to look for investment and funding?

There are standard questions you must be prepared to answer when looking to scale with external funding, and having the answers ensures you can have a grown-up conversation about raising funds.

And even you intend to fund your growth plans yourself? I would suggest treating your bank account with the same respect and seriousness you would an external investor.

What’s Next?

You’re struggling because you haven’t got a vision or a Plan, you haven’t set your goals and objectives, you aren’t measuring or tracking your progress, there are too many distractions, you aren’t focused on your income and expenses, and you aren’t prepared to have a grown-up conversation about funding and scaling.

In short, the reason why you’re struggling to grow your product-based business is because you don’t have a Business Plan.

A Business Plan that is well-written and goes into the right amount of detail will cover your vision, explain how those translate into bite-size goals and objectives, help focus your mind and efforts on tasks and activities that deliver a return, and force you to look into the nitty-gritty of your business finances.

A Business Plan is what you need to fix these struggles.

How I Can Help

Not sure where to start?

If you need help with your Business Planning, I have designed some tools to help.

The first is a One Page Business Plan Template.

It’s short and concise, while containing all the essential elements you need in a Business Plan.

And in addition, it contains helpful prompts which will guide you along the process.

You can buy and download your copy of the One Page Business Plan Template here.

The second is a comprehensive Business Plan Template, which contains all the sections and details you would find in a typical Business Plan such as the Product & Service Range, Target Audience, Market Analysis, Milestones & Metrics, and Financials.

Similar to the first template above, it also has helpful prompts to guide you as you complete it and produce your Business Plan. You can buy and download your copy of the Business Plan Template here.

And finally, I provide a Business Planning Service.

If you would like to produce your Business Plan but can’t commit the time to do it yourself, you don’t have to worry! Contact me about my Business Planning Service, and we can arrange to get started on yours as soon as possible.

Should I Start a Business During the Pandemic?

When the coronavirus pandemic first broke out and initial restrictions on movement, business and social interactions were imposed back in March 2020, the hope was that it would all be over within a few months, at the most.

When such expectations were shown to be fanciful at best, the impact on the economy became clear as business after business – and sector after sector – started to feel the effect on sales and revenue as they haemorrhaged customers.

For some staff the effect was almost immediate, with record numbers losing their main source of livelihood.

Various schemes were announced by the government and while the support has been lauded as one of the most generous and wide-ranging in the world, it hasn’t enough to stem the tide of closures and job losses.

It’s not all bad news though. As unemployment figures increased there has been a trend which, while fascinating, is just as surprising:

A record number of new businesses were incorporated in 2020. (Incorporation is the process by which a new or existing business registers as a legal entity such as a limited liability company, that is separate from the people who own or run it. This is a good guide to incorporating a company).

When you consider that this does not take into account micro-businesses such as the myriad of new creative ventures on platforms such as Etsy and Shopify, and sole entrepreneurships in areas as varied as consulting, coaching and wellness, it’s safe to say that an unprecedented (sorry, that word again!) number of people have taken the decision to launch out into the deep.

Do you have a brilliant idea, but are discouraged by all the bad news?

Have you spotted a gap in the market, for which demand could be met by an idea that keeps you awake at night?

Perhaps you’ve been put off by the gloomy economic outlook?

Don’t be deterred. I know it doesn’t look like it, but this is a brilliant time to get going with your idea and start a business. Here’s why: 

There is a Wealth of Opportunities:

Without question this is a difficult time, the most challenging of our lifetime. Finances, relationships and even our health is being tested.

But in the midst of it all, there are opportunities to meet customer needs.

An example is the rise in food delivery businesses. With restrictions putting a halt to our culture of dining out and children at home round the clock, takeaways are a saviour for parents who are exhausted with homeschooling during the day, who need some respite at the end of the day.

There are stories of companies that have started or pivoted manufacturing items we previously never gave a second thought, but which are now essential such as personal protective equipment, masks and hand sanitiser.

The drive to provide goods and services online is also a huge opportunity for niches such as web design and development, copywriting, software sales and cybersecurity.

What opportunities could you harness and turn into a going concern? 

There are Significant Gaps in the Market:

Such gaps may have existed before the pandemic, or could have been created as a consequence of it.

Either way, it’s worth taking note and assessing how you could fill one of more of those gaps.

One example is that with the explosion in home working, many have realised they don’t have the best set-up when it comes to furniture. There has been huge demand for items like desks and ergonomic chairs, not to mention devices such as laptops, tablets and monitors which are needed for families to work and do their schoolwork at the same time.

Another is that because we are all more sedentary there has been an increase in demand for the services of professionals such as osteopaths and physiotherapists.

Perhaps you’re mourning the loss of a permanent job in a large healthcare practice or are on furlough. Could this be the best time to set up on your own?

Best Time to Innovate:

Historically, many businesses were borne in the midst of economic adversity.

Household names such as Microsoft, Airbnb, Groupon, WhatsApp and Uber all started when others thought they should have waited till the environment was more favourable.

But their founders knew they had something new and different to offer; something innovative which would make a dent in the marketplace, be of use, and make a positive contribution to communities.

Are you holding back on releasing your very good idea to the world?

It might be big or small, helpful in the fight against the virus or something that provides entertainment and light relief.

Whatever it is, don’t sit on it. Now, more than ever, is the best time to start a business.

What You Need To Start a Business:

One of the first things you need to kickstart your idea and bring it to life is a Business Plan.

It clarifies your intentions and prompts you to carefully consider what your customers need, and that’s just the beginning. Here are the reasons why you need a Business Plan, which I strongly recommend you start off with.

And your size or sector doesn’t matter; a Business Plan is a crucial part of your success.

Some tend to think they don’t need one if they are a sole entrepreneur running a micro-business, for example.

But nothing could be further from the truth! Here are 4 myths about Business Planning and why they are not true.

And finally, I have produced some Business Plan Templates which will make the process of writing yours so much easier.

They are available to purchase; find out everything you need to know about my Business Plan Templates here.

4 Reasons To Buy My Business Plan Templates

Since I launched my Business Plan Templates, I’ve had lots of amazing feedback.

However, I’ve also had a few people question why they should pay for them, when a simple internet search will produce countless results of free templates which can easily be downloaded.

This may have crossed your mind, and it’s a valid question. Here are 4 reasons to buy my Business Plan Templates.

1. My Business Plan Templates Save You Time

As someone who has worked with Leaders and Entrepreneurs for close to two decades, I know exactly what you do, what you need and what your constraints are.

And one of your biggest constraints? Time.

There aren’t enough hours in the day to complete everything on your To-Do list.

2. My Business Plan Templates Are Designed For Your Convenience

With my Business Templates, sitting down to write your Business Plan isn’t the onerous task you’ve undertaken in the past.

They are laid out for you in such a way that you can get going quickly, and are never at a loss when it comes to what you need to fill in.

The prompts act as a helpful guide; it’s like having your hand held through each stage of the process.

3. My Business Plan Templates Cater For Your Needs

They really do. 

If you’re a Small Business Owner who either doesn’t have much time to devote to planning, or is writing a Business Plan for the very first time, the One Page Business Plan Template is a great place to start.

With it, you’ll get a basic plan covering the essentials you need to run a Small Business, in a concise format.

For medium-sized businesses and start-ups, your very size and the nature of your activities dictates that you delve into more details when planning.

For both, I recommend the Full Business Plan Template. As it covers all the areas relevant to achieving ambitious goals, especially if raising funds in on the horizon in the short to medium-term.

 

4. My Business Plan Templates Are Tried and Tested

Don’t just take my word for it!

Hear what Fay Wallis of Bright Sky Career Coaching had to say:

“When I first set up my business I was confident in my ability to provide a good service to my clients but I knew absolutely nothing about running a business.”

“After muddling through my first year, I realised I needed a proper business plan. Having researched business plan templates for weeks, Adanna’s One Page Business Plan was the perfect solution. It enabled me to properly consider how to move my business forward, with helpful prompts to get me thinking. I’m happy to say that I’m no longer muddling through, due to having a clear plan of action via my Business Plan.”

So what are you waiting for?

How I can Help

Here is everything you need to know about my Business Templates and I’ve included a summary below, and details of how to purchase.

The One Page Business Plan Template

It’s short and concise, while containing all the essential elements you need in a Business Plan.

And in addition, it contains helpful prompts which will guide you along the process.

You can buy and download your copy of the One Page Business Plan Template here.

The Full Business Plan Template

This is a comprehensive template which contains all the sections and details you would find in a typical Business Plan such as the Product & Service Range, Target Audience, Market Analysis, Milestones & Metrics, and Financials.

Similar to the first template, it also has helpful prompts to guide you as you complete it and produce your Business Plan.

You can buy and download your copy of the Full Business Plan Template here.

And If You Need Even More Than The Templates Offer…

My Business Planning Service is designed to support:

  • People who want a Business Plan, but prefer to have a solution that is even more customised than the Templates
  • Departments or organisations that are unable to commit the time or resources to do the planning themselves.

Contact me to discuss, so we can arrange to get started on yours.

Why You Should Re-visit Your Business Plan

You understand why you need a Business Plan.

Not only did you have plans in your departments and organisation as a whole, they were used to track what the Senior Leadership Team wanted to achieve up until the end of Q1 2020…

…then the pandemic happened, and life as we knew it changed significantly.

Many businesses suffered, with some driven to the brink. For others the shutdown and restrictions on movement meant they could not keep up under the strain and unfortunately, they had to close their doors for good.

Still, other businesses found they have either had to pivot or quickly adapt their operating models and offerings to survive. Perhaps your organisation is in this category?

And as 2021 kicks off in earnest, it seems restrictions are set to continue in one form or another for the next few months at least.

With so much change that is fast-moving and new government policies announced at very short notice, it’s easy to wonder if it’s worth bothering to spend any time planning.

And while I sympathise with the sentiment, the truth is that planning ahead is now more crucial than ever. Here are 3 reasons why you should re-visit your Business Plan.

1. Re-visit Your Business Plan to Take Stock

The Number One reason why you should re-visit your Business Plan is to review how your organisation performed during the last year. (Note that this could also be the last quarter or half-year, but a year tends to be the most common time period captured in Business Plans).

The first step to hitting your targets in 2021 is having a clear understanding of:

  • Current status
  • What worked well in the last time period
  • What can be improved on (and how).

Don’t worry if your organisation abandoned its Business Plan amidst the melee of the pandemic. I can confirm yours wasn’t an isolated case! Countless others were thrown off-course by the sudden shock of dealing with and reacting to such unique circumstances, but the point of this review is to take stock and re-group.

2. Re-visit Your Business Plan to Focus on New Priorities

Considering the year we had in 2020, it’s a given that the state of play in your organisation has changed.

From the sudden move to 100% remote work for your teams to decisions about resourcing and headcount, it’s impossible to have reached year-end without being impacted significantly.

And with that impact, your priorities must have changed.

Re-visiting your Business Plan will give you the opportunity to identify new priorities and re-focus. Not just on priorities deemed important, but on those that are truly relevant for your people, processes, technology and customer base in the current climate.

3. Re-visit Your Business Plan to Allow for Contingencies

It has taken us 10 months to get our heads round what can only be described as once-in-a-lifetime events.

So by now you must have some level of experience, and a good grasp of the areas in your organisation where you need to build in more slack.

Re-visiting your Business Plan is crucial to update your contingency plans. And as you now know, this isn’t simply to cover the usual areas as you’ve done in previous years.

Examples of things to consider are:

  • If yet another lockdown is announced – or if the current one lasts longer than expected – what are the logistics for delivering your products and services to your customers? And do you have a backup?
  • Your remote teams find themselves unable to log on to the VPN on a Monday morning. In spite of rigorous efforts to resolve, the problem persists for more than a day! What contingency can be developed around such issues?
  • Are there alternative or additional income streams to research and develop, to ensure your bottom line is not negatively impacted in the event of another protracted lockdown?

How I Can Help

If you need help with Business Planning in your department or organisation, I provide a Business Planning Service.

It’s designed to support organisations that for some reason, are unable to commit the time or resources to do the planning they know they need.

Contact me about my Business Planning Service, and we can arrange to get started on yours as soon as possible.

4 Myths About Business Planning

There are several myths out there in the general consciousness about the relevance and importance of Business Planning. They range from debates about business size, to questions about the amount of time it takes (and whether it is worth it).

The aim of this blog post is to debunk some of these, so here are 4 myths about Business Planning:

1. Business Planning Isn’t Necessary For Solo Entrepreneurs

One of these thoughts may have crossed your mind:

“I run a small business. Do I really need to bother with a Business Plan?”

Or,

“There’s only me! I’m a one-(wo)man band, so I don’t really need one.”

But you’d be wrong.

A Business Plan applies to businesses of all sizes and sectors.

While it’s true that smaller operations may not need to go into the same level of detail as their larger counterparts, the concept of planning, researching the market, ensuring your offering is what your target audience wants and needs, and working through the various strategies for pricing, marketing and sales are universally required, and are essential regardless of whether you’re running a multinational organisation, a medium-sized business, or a solo enterprise.

2. Business Planning Takes Too Much Time

In many businesses the thinking is that, because Business Planning requires a time commitment, it is an optional extra that can be dropped off the To-Do List in favour of powering ahead with other tasks which are deemed more important…

…but nothing could be further from the truth.

A Business Plan is a crucial part of your activities, and carries a higher priority than most. How else will you clarify your intentions, as well as your mission, objectives and success measures?

You do need to invest some time on it upfront, but a suggestion is to consider that investment as saving you time and money in future. Failing to plan can have serious consequences, and you save yourself all sorts of hassle by planning ahead.

Besides, remember that if you are really struggling to find the time to do it yourself, you can always outsource it.

For example, I provide a Business Plan writing service which is for people who know it’s crucial for their business success but for whatever reason, can’t get round to doing it themselves. Contact me here to find out more about my Business Planning service.

3. Things Always Change, so Business Planning Isn’t Worth It

It’s true that things change.

As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change.

At certain times more than others, it can seem like the economic realities and state of the market are evolving faster than ever, and your products and services need to adapt at a similar speed (case in point: 2020).

But the fact that things change doesn’t negate the benefits of planning ahead.

Where a lot sits outside your control – such as a global pandemic, public health emergency and unprecedented lockdown restrictions – there is so much you still have the ability to anticipate, plan for and implement.

And don’t forget: A Business Plan is not set in stone. It is a “living” document which is meant to be reviewed at regular intervals so yes, you need to keep updating it to reflect changing realities both internally and externally to your business.

Needing to review and update your Business Plan doesn’t make it irrelevant or unnecessary. If you’re still unsure, the reasons why you need a Business Plan are explained here.

4. Business Planning Only Works If You Are Good With Numbers

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a mathematical genius, or whether you hated maths at school!

None of that precludes you from having a successful business, and doing the necessary planning to get you there.

There’s no sugarcoating it: If you don’t keep an eye on the numbers in your business, what you’re doing is more of a hobby. Plus, you may not even have that in a few months’ time!

While terminology such as “Sales Forecast” and “Projected Cash Flow” may be discouraging, it is helpful to stop and think what the words mean.

For example, “Projected Cash Flow” is simply a summary of how much cash you need to run your business from day to day. In other words, it’s the amount of cash you need to have readily available each month to cover your expenses such as payments to yourself, staff and suppliers, as well as costs for software, rent, utilities, transport and so on.

For your Sales Forecast, start by working out the minimum amount of sales you need to make to cover your costs. So how much revenue do you need to generate to break even, how many units do you need to sell to cover your costs, overheads and expenses?

It is also useful to anticipate how much sales you will make. I like to use a two-scenario approach:

A best-case scenario, where you make the maximum amount of sales if everything goes according to plan.

A worst-case scenario where you consider various factors which may come into play to stop you achieving your targets, but are still positioned to generate sufficient revenue.

That way you will be prepared, even when life’s obstacles come your way.

How I Can Help

If you need help with your Business Planning, I have designed some tools that can help:

The first is a One Page Business Plan Template.

It’s short and concise, while containing all the essential elements you need in a Business Plan.

And in addition, it contains helpful prompts which will guide you along the process.

You can buy and download your copy of the One Page Business Plan Template here.

The second is a comprehensive Business Plan Template, which contains all the sections and details you would find in a typical Business Plan such as the Product & Service Range, Target Audience, Market Analysis, Milestones & Metrics, and Financials.

Similar to the first template above, it also has helpful prompts to guide you as you complete it and produce your Business Plan. You can buy and download your copy of the Business Plan Template here.

And finally, I provide a Business Planning Service. If you would like to produce your Business Plan but can’t commit the time to do it yourself, you don’t have to worry! Contact me about my Business Planning Service, and we can arrange to get started on yours as soon as possible.

5 Reasons To Sign Your Project Managers Up For Remote Mentoring

You haven’t heard otherwise, so you assume everything is going well with your Project Managers and their assigned projects.

They – and all their stakeholders – have worked from home continuously since the pandemic began in March.

You’ve assumed that they are happy working remotely, and that they have adapted seamlessly to this new model where they only get to see their stakeholders on Zoom…

…and that’s if their cameras are enabled!

Surely you’d know if things were operating at a level that was less than optimal.

Right?

Maybe you need to take a closer look. Because if you do, you might see some tell-tale signs which initially seem insignificant.

But if you put them all together? You have to admit that your projects and delivery timelines are suffering, and your allocated budget risks spiralling out of control as a result.

The truth is that Project Managers are struggling in this pandemic for a number of different reasons, through no fault of their own. What used to be simple tasks such as running meetings and workshops have had to take on completely different formats now that they are conducted virtually.

And along with different formats come different considerations.

While we are fortunate to have access to innovative technology and tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom as we try to make our way through this pandemic, the truth is that they cannot replace face-to-face interaction. A completely different skill set is required to navigate projects and the world of work in general, which is now predominantly virtual.

Specifically, your Project Managers need more than their existing technical knowledge and experience to bridge the gap created when they and their teams started working remotely.

Given that this is to be the case for the foreseeable future, it’s best to equip them with the support they need to deliver the results you’ve planned for in your business forecasts.

Tackling the unintended and unforeseen consequences of the rapid changes to how we work is why I created a Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers.

There are more details of how it works here, but it’s also worth highlighting the 5 reasons to sign your Project Managers up for Remote Mentoring:

It Gives Them the Best Chance of Working Effectively Amid the Chaos of Lockdown:

It’s not clear when the pandemic and what has tirelessly been referred to as “the new normal” will be over.

However if your business is in the fortunate position of being able to operate and implement various projects in this season, it’ll be obvious that the dynamics have changed. They are easy to underestimate, but these changes will invariably have an impact on teams and stakeholders, as well as your Project Managers and the way they work.

Signing them up for Remote Mentoring will give them the best chance to adapt their working practices in such a way that they are effective, and remain productive.

An Objective Sounding Board:

With Remote Mentoring, your Project Managers will gain access to an objective sounding board.

While my goal is to ensure they hit their targets and deliverables, the nature of my role means I am detached and objective enough to have an unbiased perspective, and provide input accordingly.

It Boosts Morale:

One of the most common pieces of feedback I have heard from Project Managers this year is that they feel unsupported, and have been left in the lurch as far as coming to terms with the current situation resulting from the pandemic is concerned.

This has led to a deterioration in morale, which the last thing you want right now is to have the people in charge of critical deliverables to be demotivated!

Signing your Project Managers up for Remote Mentoring will ensure they get the support that’s been lacking, and ensure their morale remains high.

Opportunity To Work With Someone Who Can Relate:

When you sign your Project Managers up for Remote Mentoring, they will gain access to someone who is very familiar with the concept of working and delivering under pressure.

And not only that, I have previously done so in circumstances when every member of my team was based in a different location!

And in the course of doing so over a number of years, I learned how to make up for the absence of face-to-face communication. It is this experience I will use to guide your Project Managers through this season.

Protect Your Timelines & Bottom Line:

Ultimately, the 4 reasons above lead to this one: you need to protect your timelines and bottom line.

Because you cannot afford to let inefficiencies – unintentional they may be – lack of objectivity, poor morale, and lack of experience impact the quality of your project delivery.

Not at a time like this!

Though challenging, now more than ever you need your Project Managers to focus on every crucial detail. You cannot afford for them to be derailed by the circumstances and changing tide that is this pandemic.

How To Sign Up For Remote Mentoring:

Contact me to book your Project Managers in as soon as possible.

Why I Created a Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers

Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve had a lot of feedback from Project Managers along these lines:

“I’m in over my head.”
“I’ve had no support since lockdown started. None. At. All.”
“I’m managing a massive project that’s due to be delivered soon. My milestones are critical, and I can’t afford to get this wrong in any way.”
“Everything feels chaotic, and my success in managing stakeholders has deteriorated overnight.”

Working from home 5 days a week for an extended period of time has taken its toll on all involved and ultimately, on the end results. This means that the quality of projects is missing the mark, and achieving completion on time and within budget is becoming a rarity as opposed to a certainty.

Reading between the lines, what Project Managers have really struggled with these past few months is the lack of support.

Granted, no one foresaw the pandemic, and there is no rulebook.

But the Project Managers I’ve spoken to feel they’ve been left in the lurch in what are unprecedented circumstances, to come to terms with everything on their own.

It’s not that they are inexperienced; quite the opposite. They are seasoned professionals who have managed and delivered more than their fair share of projects and programmes in various industries in the past.

What’s different is that where previously, they and their stakeholders worked from home one or two days a week, doing so has been a constant feature since lockdown restrictions were announced in March.

And until the coronavirus is under control, it looks like movement will remain restricted in one form or another. One thing is for sure, there will not be a return to offices en masse for quite some time. How long that is? Nobody knows…

…so while Project Managers and all the people they need to provide input and contributions to projects work from home for the foreseeable future, it’s important to acknowledge that:

The shift to working remotely for the foreseeable future has had – and will have – an impact on their working dynamic and ultimately, how they perform.

This previous blog post examines why your Project Managers are struggling during this pandemic, and goes into more detail about exactly how that shows up and the effect it has on project outcomes and results.

Essentially, some of the signs include tension in the Project team that didn’t exist before, communication just doesn’t seem to run smoothly.

And crucially? Delivery timelines and milestones have been missed.

These observations and the feedback I’ve had from Project Managers are why I created a Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers.

What Is My Remote Mentoring Service?

My Remote Mentoring Service is a one-to-one, individualised service that helps Project Managers address the complexities that arise from the fact that they, their Project Team and stakeholders are working from home for the foreseeable future.

Those unintended consequences of working remotely take their toll on team morale and their ability to deliver. The Remote Mentoring Service provides crucial support and the opportunity for such consequences to be addressed in real-time.

Who is the Remote Mentoring Service For?

The Remote Mentoring Service is for experienced Project Managers who are busier than ever!

However as they navigate the murky world of remote work, they need support to ensure they continue to work effectively and efficiently.

How Will You Benefit From My Remote Mentoring Service?

You’ll get 5 things from my Remote Mentoring Service:

  • Crucial support.
  • An experienced and objective sounding board.
  • A place to seek counsel.
  • A safe space to discuss the issues you are experiencing while managing your project(s).
  • Recommendations on how to resolve these issues and tackle roadblocks.

What Support Will You Get?

Each week we’ll review specific issues and challenges you highlight in detail.

As well as being a safe place to discuss them I’ll work with you to address each one, so you can feel better equipped to do what you do.

How Does My Remote Mentoring Service Work?

This blog post explains how my Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers works but essentially, there are 4 weekly sessions.

Each one lasts between 60 and 90 minutes.

How Much Does It Cost?

The service costs £2,500 + VAT for 4 weeks.

Can You Have More Than 4 Sessions?

If you wish to continue getting support after the initial period, you can!

Each additional session costs £500.

How Can You Sign Up For Remote Mentoring?

Send me a message with your details and I’ll book you in!

Why Black History Month Matters

(Source: getstencil)

This month of October is Black History Month in the United Kingdom (different to the United States, where it is marked in February instead).

Perhaps you have read about it in the media or seen it pop up in your feed online, and are baffled as to why a Black History Month is necessary in the first place?

This blog summarises what Black History Month is and explains why it’s important to commemorate it in the twenty-first century.

What Is Black History Month?

Black History Month is a time to remember, acknowledge and celebrate the
contributions Black women and men have made to the life and fibre of the
country. Consciously and intentionally.

Not that one month out of twelve is sufficient to do this by any means, but
it’s certainly a time to focus on issues relating to race and race relations.

What has become an annual celebration began in the United States to
celebrate the role Black people played in the country’s history.

Historian Carter G. Woodson and clergyman Jesse E. Moorland started a group which researched and promoted the achievements of Black people, and the group sponsored what was referred to as the first National Negro Week in 1926.

Over time, what began as local events spread around the country and became a month-long affair, and Gerald Ford was the first president to officially recognise Black History Month in 1976.

In the United Kingdom, the month was first celebrated in 1987.

And it’s never been more relevant. Following the events of this summer
around the world, Black History Month in 2020 is more significant than ever.

Can I Confess Something?

(Source: getstencil)

I’ve never really paid attention to Black History Month before.

Yes, even as a Black woman I didn’t quite understand why it was needed, and what the big deal was.

Perhaps I’ve developed a greater appreciation over the years. That, coupled
with the murder of George Floyd this May and the subsequent protests and
awakenings in many individuals, groups and organisations, have meant that I’m looking at Black History Month through a new lens.

So, if you’ve been wondering why it needs to be marked at all, here’s why
Black History Month matters:

To re-focus on racial inequality.

It’s crucial that the awareness raised earlier in the year at all levels in
business and society is not left as a moment in time, reduced to a hashtag. As difficult as it is, this is a conversation that must continue, accompanied by lasting change.

Black History Month is a time to take stock.

(Source: getstencil)

Black History Month is an opportune moment to evaluate where your
organisation is in terms of hitting its diversity and inclusion targets.

What statements and declarations did you make just a few short months ago?

It’s easy for things to slip – we all know that life happens.

But what happened on the back of those promises your organisation made? Was an action plan put together to implement those noble intentions you announced?

Who owns that plan, and who is responsible at a senior level for making it
happen?

If your organisation is serious about addressing racial inequality, Black History Month is a good time to reflect on these questions and ensure that action is being taken.

Black History Month is an opportunity to track progress.

Especially as many organisations publicly announced steps they would take to address racial inequality, Black History Month is an opportunity for their
customers, target audience and external stakeholders to be reminded and gently prod, challenge and ask what progress has been made.

Back in June I wrote this article on how to support Black professionals, and it gained a lot of support. While it was good that many people read
and agreed with it, there is so much more that must happen over and above
showing solidarity online!

None of the specific tips I laid out is a quick fix. It’s important to hold organisations in both the private and public sectors, charities, law enforcement agencies, and politicians accountable for moving the needle forward when it comes to eradicating the scourge of racial inequality.

A call to move beyond the performative

(Source: getstencil)

I’m hoping that Black History Month is a prompt – another reminder – for organisations and allies to move beyond performative allyship and online activism, which is hardly altruistic in nature.

There are stories of companies that sell facial recognition technology known to contain biases against Black subjects to police forces.

Businesses which don’t offer their staff sick pay – a particularly dangerous practice during a pandemic, and striking when the majority of those who desperately need it are low income earners who belong to Black and other ethnic minority groups.

Businesses who do not pay their casual staff minimum wage, again many of whom are Black.

Organisations need to move beyond mere rhetoric and ensure that their policies and actions match those carefully worded press releases and social media posts. It is my hope that Black History Month provides an opportunity for such considerations to again come to the fore.

How My Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers Works

(Source: getstencil)

In my last post I explained why your Project Managers are struggling in the pandemic.

I also wrote about how my Remote Mentoring Service will help them overcome the added complexities that arise as a result of them working with teams and stakeholders who now have to work remotely for the foreseeable future.

Here, I go into more detail about how my Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers works:

What Is It?

My Remote Mentoring Service gives Project Managers the support they need to deliver crucial pieces of work in this climate.

Since the start of lockdown, I have noticed that:

Project Managers are finding it a real challenge to deliver their projects as normal in this climate.

Since restrictions started in March forcing everyone to work from home, the assumption was that a switch would be flipped, and projects would be automatically continue being managed, run and implemented as usual. Only remotely. But unfortunately, this has not happened.

Company bottom lines have been affected.

You wouldn’t have thought working remotely would have such a significant impact, but it has. Key milestones and timelines are routinely missed, causing costs to overrun. Which, even if your business is doing well in the middle of this pandemic, you cannot afford.

Key stakeholders have raised complaints about several things that are not going well on projects they are involved in.

And rightly so!

These complaints have cannot be ignored any longer, and the growing feeling of dissatisfaction and discontent needs to be addressed.

In response to these issues and many more, I created the service to help Project Managers overcome these obstacles and deliver their projects efficiently.

I’ll help you address the added complexities arising purely from the fact that you, your team and stakeholders have to work remotely for the foreseeable future, so you can deliver your projects successfully.

Who Is It For?

(Source: getstemcil)

You’re an Experienced Project Manager.

You already have the “hard” skills, so this isn’t about teaching you how core Project Management.

You’ve coped with managing your projects and meeting those deliverables in the months after the pandemic broke out back in March 2020.

But the truth is that it’s been anything but smooth sailing. And now with a second wave afoot, your business has announced that everyone should work from home until 2021 at least. Maybe even indefinitely…

…and you are busier than ever!

While that’s a good thing and you’re grateful to be busy when so many have lost their sources of income, you’ve found that working remotely involves a lot more than having a good WiFi connection, finding a pretty backdrop, and running your meetings on Zoom.

You’re finding it increasingly difficult to complete standard tasks such as running workshops, getting feedback and approvals on essential elements, and managing stakeholders to your usual standard.

Since the plan – inasmuch as you have one – is for you and your delivery teams to work remotely for the foreseeable future, you’ve to this conclusion and are having to admit the inevitable:

You can’t do it without support.

Whereas the pattern was for people to work from home mainly on Fridays or for a couple of days during the week, your working world is now fully remote and virtual. And you need guidance on how to translate what you used to do into that world.

You need a sounding board that is experienced and objective. A place to seek counsel when you feel like pulling your hair out!

How Long Does It Take?

(Source: getstencil)

The Remote Mentoring Service takes place over 4 weeks and over that period, we’ll meet at an agreed day and time every week.

The sessions will take place on Zoom.

What Sort Of Support Will I Get?

Each week we’ll review specific issues and challenges you highlight in detail.

As well as being a safe place to discuss them I’ll work with you to address each one, so you can feel better equipped to do what you do.

How Long Are The Weekly Sessions?

(Source: getstencil)

Each session in the Remote Mentoring Service lasts between 60 and 90 minutes.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Remote Mentoring Service costs £2,500 + VAT for 4 weeks.

Can I Have More Than 4 Sessions?

If you wish to continue getting support after the initial period, you can!

Each additional session costs £500.

What Should I Do Now?

My advice?

You can’t afford to drop any more balls, miss any more crucial deadlines or overshoot your budget. There just isn’t the bandwidth to do that in this current climate…

so book your place on my Remote Mentoring Service now.

And if there are any more questions you’d still like to ask before you sign up, send them through to me here.

Are Your Project Managers Struggling In The Pandemic?

(Source: getstencil)

You head up the Delivery function in your organisation, and one of your responsibilities includes managing a number of Project Managers.

They are a team of experienced women and men who have previously delivered various initiatives successfully.

Whether those projects were to deliver commercial outcomes for the Senior Leadership team, or implementing systems in the IT space, you were secure in the knowledge that your team was capable, dependable, and reliable.

Every Project Manager in the team was a safe pair of hands…

…but along came 2020!

(Source: getstencil)

And with it a global pandemic of epic proportions; the kind we have never seen or experienced before.

The lockdown and restrictions on movement followed in March, and that meant working from home was no longer a perk or optional extra available to those privileged enough to have it.

Or, those who had the choice of working flexibly to improve their work-life balance.

Because of the pandemic working remotely – from home – became the enforced status quo.

The “new normal”, if you will.

So, working from home became the norm for your Project Managers, and they had to adapt quickly to the change.

At first, the switch to long-term home working appeared to be smooth.

All the team needed were tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and access to wi-fi.

Right?

You thought your Project Managers would get by easily.

But as the weeks and months rolled by, you started to notice a few things:

Delivery timelines and critical milestones were being missed.

And this happened more often than you’d like or can afford to tolerate.

There was tension in the team that hadn’t existed before.

This surprised you, as the core team know each other well and had a good rapport pre-COVID.

Communication was a major sticking point.

In the sense that in spite of all the technology and tools, it’s been obvious that it’s not working smoothly. Which is having a detrimental impact on efficiency.

In summary, things haven’t been the same since your Project Managers started working from home earlier in the year.

And with the latest set of restrictions announced by the Prime Minister, it’s anybody’s guess how long it will be before the team can go back into their offices.

Can I tell you what the problem is?

It is not about your Project Managers needing more training to hone their core project management skills. They are seasoned professionals who know their stuff, so the current disruption you’ve noticed isn’t down to a lack of having those skills.

The problem has to do with the shift to working remotely indefinitely.

(Source: getstencil)

We may not want to acknowledge it but human beings are made for social interaction, and even the best apps and technology cannot act as a substitute.

While such disconnection is fine for a few days or weeks, dealing with it consistently over a long period – or even indefinitely – introduces a different dynamic to working relationships.

Which subsequently has a negative effect on productivity and project outcomes.

So, how can you tackle this problem?

How can you get your critical projects delivered successfully – so, on time and on budget – when your Project Managers have stakeholders who are all remote?

I have something that can help.

Introducing my Remote Mentoring service for Project Managers.

Over a 4-week period, I will work with them to:

Develop the skills they need for successful project delivery in the current climate.

Implement that project that’s been dragging on which you urgently need to get over the line right now.

Tackle the specific challenges they are facing when it comes to delivering the outcomes your business needs on time and within the set budget.

Because now more than ever, you can’t afford for either of those to slip!

There’s more detail on how my Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers works here; contact me to book your spot.

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