What Is STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP Anyway?

If you’ve heard people talking about ‘becoming more strategic’ or even telling you that you need to become more strategic, but have no idea where to start – this guide is for you!

If you’ve worked your way up the ranks, you’re very likely to have been told what to do… a lot! You’ll have had good bosses and bad bosses. Some you’ve enjoyed working for and some less so. And if you’ve been lucky, you’ll have worked for one or two who’ve stood out above all the others.

These bosses have made you feel empowered, positive and motivated. Who have given you ownership of a target and who have trusted you to deliver using your own style. Who have had an ability to see the bigger picture and who have helped you understand how you fit in. In all likelihood, this person was a very strategic thinker and used a strategic leadership approach.

Operational leaders tend to give step by step instructions to their teams, telling you exactly what you need to do to get that job done, and the focus is often inwards on the organisation. This can be an important part of the organisation as sometimes things have to just be done. But this doesn’t give people to use their own creativity to carry out their role, and it can create quite a repetitive, boring working environment – no-one benefits from having bored teams!

Strategic leaders think about how to create your own future, your organisation’s future and your team’s future. The focus is much more outwards on customers, competitors and trends. This makes it easier to spot new opportunities and identify how to bring them into your business. You share your vision for your end goals with your team and then give them responsibility for their part. Trusting your team will create a much more fun, creative, exciting environment for them and you to work in.

Being a strategic leader means needing to focus on multiple facets of the business, instead of just a single area, and are often involved in driving significant organisational change. A strong strategic leader also needs to be able to make those difficult decisions that affect the business well into the future – as well as meeting current demands.

A PRACTICAL Framework For Becoming More strategic

Step 1: Define the vision for your business

  • Current vision / goals / targets?
  • How will your customers change?
  • What do your customers need? (Interview business leaders to find out how they would like to see the chamber develop, what are their barriers / targets / strategies)
  • How will your services change?
  • What are other businesses doing?
  • What are the trends in your industry?
  • What are your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses and what does your organisation want to develop?

Step 2: Understand what you do today: Document your current operational role

  • Identify your current responsibilities

Step 3: Understand where you want to get to: Define your strategic leadership role

  • What will you do to help your business reach this vision?
  • How are you going to innovate?

Step 4: Make your vision a reality: Develop a personal plan

  • What will you need to stop doing / continue doing / start doing?
  • What skills and tools will you need to do this?
  • What will you need to communicate to your team and to your customers?

 

There are many benefits of becoming a strategic leader. If you would like some help with this journey, contact us at projects@veriteam.co.uk or 01273 232 934

Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The new GDPR regulations will come into force from the 25th May 2018. This short guide will walk you through how to prepare.

It is essential to start planning your approach to GDPR compliance as early as you can to stay ahead of the inevitable changes. You may need, for example, to put new processes in place to deal with the GDPR’s new rules which could have implications for your budgets, systems, and teams. Based on our experience, the broad challenges are often the same so we have developed this quick 3 phase guide to help you through.

  1. Prepare: Start increasing awareness now of the main differences between the current law and the GDPR across your business by tapping into and sharing the support resources out there. The Information Commissioners Office is producing regular helpful guides to what you need to do. Your current compliance approach will be a good foundation however there are a number of changes so you are likely to have to do some things differently. You will start to develop an assessment of the GDPR’s applicability and likely impact. We recommend you take legal advice at this phase.
  2. Implement: Once you’ve established what you’re going to have to do, you’ll need to make sure you have the budget, people and skills to effectively deliver the necessary changes. This can be difficult when you have other priorities which need to happen within your business however it is essential in order to be compliant. You’ll need to do a detailed gap analysis to identify the exact changes you’ll need to make, and then use these to create an action plan which you’ll then follow.
  3. Review: At the end of the implementation you’ll need to validate that the changes you have made meet the regulatory requirements of the GDPR. This may involve independent assurance testing and steps to transfer activities over to business-as-usual. You’ll also need to check your policies have been updated correctly and that your team have been trained so that they fully understand how they contribute to compliance with the new regulations.

To maximise your chances of success, we also recommend:

  • Introducing robust regulatory monitoring processes to help identify future changes so you can respond rapidly and appropriately.
  • Clearly communicating throughout so your team have a good understanding of expectations from 25th May 2018.
  • Setting up consistent processes with defined roles and responsibilities will simplify future audits, increase employee engagement and reduce unnecessary duplication of effort.

Good luck and let us know what your questions are about the GDPR.

Small Business Concerns About Brexit

The day has arrived and Theresa May has triggered Article 50, meaning the UK will start the negotiation process for leaving the EU. Some of our customers have already seen a slow down in orders, for others this presents a new opportunity. The pound has plummeted and regained ground, and numerous surveys have measured growing and declining business and consumer confidence.

While we can’t realistically forecast what the impact will actually be, we can confidently say there will be an impact! So we’ve rounded up some of the best business blog articles out there, many observing the impact so far and a few forecasting what they think the future impact might be.

The Impact So Far

Industry Sector Impact

Productivity impact

Trade Impact

Rising Prices Impact

Skills Impact

Economic Growth Impact

 

The Deloitte Q1 Chief Finance Officers survey is due out next week and we’re sure it’ll make for some interesting reading. We’re slowly moving towards a new version of normal. What impacts do you anticipate?

Want to know how to save money / speed up / grow faster / be more strategic?

Grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable and read our new case stories to find out how!

 

Can you really grow your business without spending more money?

If all your cash flow is tied up in day-to-day operations, growing your business by spending more on hiring new staff, creating new products or services, or investing in marketing to attract more customers, can feel far beyond your reach. At the same time, you want to develop the business. You have products or services your customers love, but you know you can achieve more. What are your options?

Yes, you could always speak to your friendly bank manager and increase your financing. But there is a different way which doesn’t involve getting into debt! Read on …

How some businesses did it:

Consider the events company which doubled the speed of its events planning process. Or the removals company that saved £17,000 a year on their operations. Or the customer services team that reduced their overheads by 20%. These savings meant they had more time for growing their businesses without investing in extra people, marketing or product development.

They took a forensic look at their businesses and identified how they could do things better.

microscope

Any type of business can do this. Ikea are famous for their continuous improvement approach. They make small, incremental improvements which all add up to deliver big benefits. After redesigning their best-selling Bang mug over the years, they eventually doubled the number they can fit on a single pallet – halving their shipping and storage costs.

The events planning company mentioned above reviewed how they plan their many events each year. By getting things right at the beginning and streamlining systems, they reduced the need for retrospective quality checking and approvals. By integrating their CRM system with Trello and Eventbrite, information can flow and tasks are automatically triggered; removing errors, speeding things up and improving communications so everyone can see the status of each event in real time.

The removals company focused on how they respond to customer quote requests. They were able to speed this up, reducing the number of lost enquiries and improving the accuracy of their pricing. This eliminated errors, made things run more smoothly and improved customer satisfaction ratings. These small changes all added up to a significant saving over the year – likely the equivalent of a new full-time member of staff. They are using this extra capacity to create new sales channels, and have set a new plan to achieve growth targets of 30% for the year!

So yes, you really can grow your business without spending more money .

Making small improvements to how you run your business can add up to big savings and new growth.

Veriteam works with you to rationalise, streamline and improve your processes and project management. By having an independent, external expert looking afresh at your systems, we can identify areas for improvement – where the business can work smarter, quicker, cheaper, and ultimately, more profitably.

Call us now on 01273 232 934 and let’s talk about how we can help your business be even better than it already is.

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Tips For Choosing A CRM Tool – Part 3 Installing Your System

Welcome to our series on choosing a CRM tool. Follow these steps to choose a new CRM tool which will help you grow your business faster.

 

Now you’ve made your choice, how do you prepare for using your new system? And how do you ensure your team continue to use it longer term?

 

Simplify

 

This is an ideal to take a fresh look at your processes to see if there are any steps that haven’t evolved with your business or that can be simplified. Map out how things work today and then work out how they will work with your new CRM tool. Look out for duplication and opportunities to streamline.

 

Agree Responsibilities

 

For your shiny new system to be used, it needs to be very clear who is responsible for what. It’s easy for people to lack clarity over who owns a part of the process or assume someone else is doing something. Mapping out how your processes will work gives you the opportunity to confirm ownership.

 

Training

 

Make sure you pay attention to training your team on the new system. You’re likely to be very familiar with it by now as you evaluated it and then chose it. Remember each person has a different comfort level when it comes to technology so increase your chances of success by training your team and leaving them with process manuals that clearly describe exactly how they should use the system, step by step. This will help people to continue using the system longer term.

 

Tracking Progress

 

Your CRM tool will have some great reports which should become a core part of your daily toolbox. They will give you a live snapshot of how your business is performing and your progress towards your goals.

 

Finally, don’t forget security. CRM software will easily become the core of your operations. Don’t forget that your CRM software should have stringent security measures to prevent cyberattacks and data loss, as well as provide a means to access your data in the event of an outage or cyberattack.

 

Good luck with your selection process, let us know how you get on. Which CRM systems do you use?

Tips For Choosing A CRM Tool – Part 2 Usability & Systems Integrations

Welcome to our series on choosing a CRM tool. Follow these steps to choose a new CRM tool which will help you grow your business faster.

 

Now you’ve identified what it needs to do any how much you want to spend, it’s time to determine how usable it is and what systems it needs to integrate with.

 

How Usable Is It?

 

Will you use it from a desktop PC or out on the road from a mobile device? We recommend selecting a cloud based solution so that it is accessible from any location at any time. How clear and intuitive is the user interface? This will impact how long it will take to train your team and how well it gets used in the future. Complicated systems may not be worth the effort in training costs and may end up being under used by your team. It’s important to test a few to see whether their claims of ease of use stand up with your working style. There is no one-size-fits-all CRM solution for small businesses so either choose an option that can be easily customised to fit your way of working for free, or choose an option that lets you select only the features your business requires (this can make it cheaper too).

 

What Systems Does It Need To Integrate With?

 

Integrating your CRM software with your other business software means data can flow through the different parts of your business. A good example is integrating your CRM with your accounting solution. You won’t have to copy and paste, export and import spreadsheets, or type data from one system into another. This removes the chance of making data errors and dramatically speeds up your processes. Check the CRM solution providers website to see which systems they can integrate with before you make your choice.

 

Understanding what you need your CRM tool to do, how much your budget is, checking for usability and system integrations means you are ready to select the best tool for your needs.

 

Check back for part 3 of choosing a CRM tool.

Tips For Choosing A CRM Tool – Part 1 What Do You Need It To Do?

Choosing A CRM Tool

 

A good CRM tool can save you time and give you an immediate picture of how all your sales opportunities are progressing. It can automate repetitive tasks, save you money by grouping the functions of a range of tools into a single system, and help you reach your sales targets by ensuring you’re following up with customers at the right time and in the right way. With the huge amount of options out there, how do you find the right system for you?

 

Welcome to our series on choosing a CRM tool. Follow these steps to choose a new CRM tool which will help you grow your business faster.

 

Before you begin looking at systems, work out what it needs to do, how much you want to spend, how usable it is and what existing systems it needs to integrate with.

 

What does it need to do?

 

Decide what you want it to do, before you go out to vendors. Do you want it to offer lead generation, prospect nurturing, email marketing, sales quotes and invoicing, order tracking, sales forecasting, performance tracking and competitor tracking or just some of these? What processes does it need to support? The more precise you can be, the easier it will be to establish whether a product does (or doesn’t!) meet your needs. Being specific upfront means you’ll end up with a better fitting solution down the line. These details will form your business requirements which will then help you evaluate different CRM options. Some solutions have been designed for specific industries so it’s worth finding out if there are any CRM software options designed specifically for your type of business. For example, some are designed for the finance industry and comply with transparency and financial regulations. Others are designed specifically for restaurants, retailers and estate agents.

 

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

 

CRM solutions are very cost effective and can start from as low at £7 per user. More complex, bespoke and customised solutions can become very expensive so always consider how much value the solution brings versus how much it costs. If it’s looking like you’re going to need a highly customised solution it might be worth taking another look at your processes to see if you can simplify them. The more customised your solution is, the more expensive it will be to buy upfront and to maintain longer term. Industry specific solutions can be cost effective as they have already been tailored for your industry as they understand how you work.

 

Check back next week for the second part in our choosing a CRM tool series.

Using Targets For Your Best Year Yet!

There are many benefits of setting annual targets, it helps your team to pull together to deliver a common goal and gives you a measure of how well you are performing.

 

Creating measurable targets will help you to deliver outstanding growth in 2017. The leadership team will know how well the business is performing, be confident they are not missing opportunities and team members have a clear understanding of how they each contribute to the business success.

 

  1. Vision: Ensure your company vision is in place. Everything starts with this as your vision defines what you want to achieve and so sets the focus for your targets and therefore your measures.
  2. Strengths & Opportunities: Start by reviewing how well the business is currently performing. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business and analyse it so you know which parts of the business contribute to your vision.
  3. Overall Target: Set a high level, ambitious, and exciting target for your company. Use this as a common goal to work towards as a team.
  4. Team Targets: For each part of your business that contributes to your vision plus for each strength and weakness, set small achievable targets and goals for each team. This helps each individual employee to understand how their role fits into the bigger picture. These will add up to your overall target.
  5. Embed Every Day: Next build these targets into your day to day processes. This way every action you take moves you towards your vision and overall target.
  6. Measure: Regularly review how well you are performing against each target and share this with your team. If you do this on a weekly or monthly basis you can take corrective action during the year if it looks like you aren’t going to meet your targets, avoiding a nasty surprise at year end!

 

Follow these steps to create a strong focused goal to work towards in 2017.

What tips do you have for setting your annual targets? We’d love to hear about how you approach this! Add your comments below.

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