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What’s Wellbeing got to do with business?

Writing a business plan at the start of each year is highly advisable. The simple act of putting your ambitions for the 12 months ahead in black and white adds considerably to the extent to which they become embedded in your thinking. 

Such a plan also acts as a useful reference point as you check it regularly while the weeks and months roll by. It’s hugely encouraging to be aware when you pass a particular target, and valuable when you are reminded how far there is to go to reach others. 

However, a business plan should include more than visions, values, goals and specific financial milestones to be attained in the coming year. 

Few business owners who had to navigate the choppy commercial waters of 2020 will ever forget the experience. 

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the measures taken to combat its spread, ensured that the year was exceptionally challenging. 

It is only fair to point out that when you run a business, every single year represents an examination of your agility, resilience and self-esteem, as well as the viability of your organisation.

Rarely, though, have entrepreneurs been subjected to such a stiff set of questions as in 2020. The difficult economic circumstances, and the heroic efforts to combat them, meant that the passing months took a serious toll on the mental wellbeing of UK business owners. 

This phenomenon highlighted, among many other things, the advisability of including wellbeing considerations among your business planning. 

To put it simply, ensuring you are in the best of health will make a significant contribution to the overall wellbeing of your company. 

If you are stressed to your limit, so anxious that you have trouble sleeping, and physically exhausted beyond what you believed were the limits of your endurance, your commercial performance is likely to suffer. 

So take control. Write into your business plan some health-related strategies that you know will make you feel better - and perform better as a business leader. 

These could include:

● Establishing a time when you finish work each day. Working late into the evening may be an occasional necessity, but burning the midnight oil every evening will take its toll. 

● Carving out days when you take a complete break from work. Ideally, this should be the whole weekend. If you really are too busy to walk away on both Saturday and Sunday, at least make sure one of those days is yours and yours alone.

● Setting your bedtime early enough so that you get the hours of sleep you need. Few things are more demoralising than getting up in the morning feeling shattered.

● Building time into your schedule to take regular exercise. Even if it’s just a 30-minute walk to the shops and back, you will feel the benefit. 

● Take breaks during your working day. Stretch your legs, have a cup of tea or a snack and come back to your work with a refreshed mind.

● Read. Whether it’s business books or subject matters completely unrelated to work, it’s always good to broaden your mind. And every now and then you might learn something useful. 

● Ensure you eat and drink healthily. 

Every business owner will have different priorities as a result of being more stressed in one area or another. But if you take care of yourself and feel better as a person, you will perform better as a business leader. 

Writing your wellbeing priorities into your business plan at the start of each year is a way of ensuring they resonate with you as you settle into the rhythm of a new, healthier working life.

Written by Martin Booth - LEBOO MEDIA

Rollercoasters and Spider Boxes 

…Courage – noun – the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery. (Oxford dictionary) 

Are you a rollercoaster person? Or would you put your hand in a box of spiders? I personally would do one but haven’t the courage to do the other – yet.

As an entrepreneur, or indeed anyone who is doing something different which is out of their comfort zone, you need courage. From the very first moment you entertain the idea of starting a business or pursuing an idea, you need courage. Courage to think seriously about your idea, courage to put pen to paper, the courage to tell your family and friends, maybe courage to quit your job, and even courage to put something out there into the world, to be judged. 

But it doesn’t stop there; every day as an entrepreneur you need the courage to do something. It might be reaching out to someone you’ve never spoken to before, doing a presentation, sharing your financial plan, approaching an investor, posting something on social media, submitting your taxes(!), the list goes on… All of which feels like you are putting your head above the parapet, drawing attention to yourself, making yourself a target, and potentially getting it wrong. Exposed. And, on occasion, you may know that you’re never likely to have the courage unless you get external help and support, for example with the help of a coach or a mentor, and that’s fine. 

I know all of this because I’ve experienced it. Having started my own business from an idea in my head through to its design, development, and launch, I have had to, and still do, draw courage regularly to take the next step forward. Just one example for me is sending emails and pitches out to investors. It must be done. I do it in bursts, and also detach myself from the process. 

So where does my courage come from? 

I have acknowledged and accepted that courage isn’t a constant. It comes and goes. Influenced by my mood, level of risk and priority, and of course what else is going on in my world. By acknowledging this, I know when I simply need to focus on things that don’t leave me exposed, and other times I know when I should make the most of it. I know the things that require a bit of extra grit, extra courage, and I trust that it will come. And in those moments when I know I have the courage I go for it, I do those things, without a second thought. 

Do not mistake this for procrastination, it’s not; procrastination is something that drives me crazy – just get on with it! It’s about knowing yourself, the self-awareness and self-trust to know that the courage will come, but sometimes only when it’s ready. 

That’s not to say that there aren’t things you can do to prompt courage, because you can. It could be: 

- some fresh air or exercise, 

- a couple of power poses (thanks Amy Cuddy!), 

- a podcast, putting some perspective on it (not as many people are paying attention as you might think), and, 

- being pragmatic about the worst that might happen (your house isn’t going to fall down – most of the time!). 

Also know, that in most cases getting it wrong is better than not trying at all, you will be able to do it better next time, and try not to have regrets, what’s done is done. All of these things can help you be more objective and help you take a step forward. 

So, going back to rollercoasters and spiders…I love rollercoasters but still need a bit of courage for the first time on a new one, but it then gets easier and I love it. However, putting my hand in a box of spiders, this is not something I’m ever going to do under my own steam or courage, if this is something I absolutely need or want to do, I will definitely be looking for external support. 

To finish, don’t feel like you have to have a constant supply of courage, and don’t beat yourself up when you don’t; despite what you might think (and people might say) no one else has a constant supply. Please understand that courage is like a muscle, the more you exercise it the bigger it is when you need it; but it comes and goes like waves on a shore. Keep exercising that courage muscle, and when those waves come in you have to surf them, get the most from them, and most importantly, enjoy them. 

Written by Sonya Kimpton de Ville - grapvyn

delegation

Delegation

Delegation is both an art and a science. There are definitely better and worse ways to do it but judging exactly what to delegate and to who, takes a bit of trial and judgement.

In this article we will look at what to delegate, when and how. We will also look at why this can be difficult to do in practice.

So what should you delegate?

The simple answer is anything that you can. As your business expands and your team grows, you will find that your workload also increases. You have a limited amount of work that you can do so when choosing what to focus on, you need to make sure you spend your time on the activities that add the most value to your business. This will vary depending on your skills and situation, but it will probably not include organizational or admin tasks. Operational issues are likely to be ripe for delegation, but your situation will vary. But in general, if you can delegate it to someone, you should.

But why should I delegate?

You are the vision and driving force behind the business and it is important that you spend your time on what will bring the most benefit to you and your team. Another reason to try to “over-delegate” is to familiarize yourself to delegation, get used to trusting others and also get used to giving instructions well, so that the delegation is actually effective. If you learn to do that with admin tasks, then the number of mistakes generated when you delegate more business-critical issues will be lower.

Minimizing mistakes in delegation is usually a matter of how you communicate what it is that you want to be done. Typically, we will give someone a set of instructions, or a set of tasks to carry out. This is natural, but there are some problems:

1)      It teaches your people to think in terms of activity, instead of outcomes and results.

2)      If your method doesn’t work, they will stop after carrying out the delegated tasks, whether or not it actually achieved what you wanted.

3)      It feels like being micro-managed, not delegated to.

So, what should good delegation look like?

Give someone responsibility for a particular part of a business, or the output of a process. Explain very clearly what result you are trying to achieve, and then let them come up with the methods and processes to use to achieve that result. If it works, then you have an opportunity to praise them for a job well done. If it fails, then they will try some other method without you asking them to. Why? Because you delegated the outcome you wanted, not the task to perform.

When it comes to who to delegate to, unless the task itself obviously belongs to one person or function, it never hurts to ask for a volunteer. Offer them support, make sure they understand what you are after. Get them to re-phrase it back to you if necessary, as a double-check. Then give a realistic deadline and check up to offer help periodically.

Sounds simple, so why do we often find ourselves overwhelmed with tasks and activities that we should have delegated months if not years ago?

I think it can all be summed up in the saying “if you want something done well, do it yourself”. There is some truth in this saying; you, the founding entrepreneur, are likely to be more capable and motivated than many of your other team members. But not by much. The main issue is one of communication. We don’t often find it difficult to know what we want, but if you don’t let someone know very carefully and precisely what you are after, they are likely to not quite get it right when you delegate to them.

Have some patience, explain again, offer support and guidance and plenty of scope to choose whatever method they want to get the job done.

Your staff will thank you for not micro-managing, they will grow in skills and confidence and you will be able to focus on what really matters.

Written by Louis Rooney - Empirical Training Solutions

Mindset

Our inherent qualities of mind and character, our moods and set of attitudes can be summed up by the word 'mindset'. Our mindset influences absolutely everything, from our relationships to business. It is our biggest asset and most powerful tool to get to where we want to be, but it can hinder our progress if it isn't right. 

Switching from being an employee to a business owner required a huge mindset shift.

When I started my own business after 10 years of being an employee, things weren't going well and I couldn't figure out why. I had always been hard-working and I was used to getting good results when I applied myself to something. I was having business coaching sessions, doing online marketing, networking and still, things didn't really pick up. Only when I stumbled upon a business mentorship programme that focused on mindset, did things start to change. 

Adjusting my mindset meant changing some of my core beliefs and the ways I was viewing and interacting with the world around me. The main areas of growth have been money and leadership. In the first year of my business journey, I found it hard to talk about money and ask for money. I knew that I had to charge a decent amount if I wanted to run a business, yet, I couldn't help feeling uncomfortable about it, which reflected on my interactions with clients. Consciously thinking differently about money wasn't enough, I had to start feeling differently about it. If this resonates with you and you feel icky about money conversations with your clients, start by digging up your core beliefs about money! What sayings did you use to hear as a child? Was "Money doesn't grow on trees" one of them?

Some people are natural leaders if you are one of them, good for you! If you are not that type, I hear you! I used to cringe at the mention of the word 'leadership' until I realised that to really serve my clients, I have to lead them. When a potential client books their first consultation and then they don't show up, nor bother to cancel, it is my fault for not having led them properly and not having connected them with the value of the consultation in the first place. Since I see leadership as a way of serving my clients, I feel inspired to be a leader and seek opportunities to step up. The results: better rapport with my clients, better results for my clients and more referrals.

If you've ever read a bit about mindset, you probably came across scarcity and abundance. The scarcity mindset is when you view the world from the perspective of 'not having enough' while having an abundance mindset means having something to give. I personally found that giving works better, especially in the context of networking. When I shift my focus from 'what can I get out of this?' to 'how can I contribute to this?' I end up having much better interactions and build better relationships.

Setting intentions has been a very useful tool to focus my actions and keep me in the mindset I want to be in. I set intentions at the beginning of the day. What do I want to achieve today? What is the most important task to complete? Setting intentions before conversations help to keep them on track: Why am I going to have a conversation with this person? What do they want to get out of it? How would I like the conversation to go? How long do I have for this conversation? Setting intentions before networking events is a great way of making the most of them. If it is available, I look through the attendee list beforehand and always set three intentions, along the lines of who would I like to meet, who would I like to catch up with, how many new people I'd like to talk to. The last time, I really wanted to catch up with two of the attendees. Guess who were the first two people to log on to my table? 

Our mind is our most powerful tool! Experiment with your mindset, have fun, set intentions!

Written by Anna Tarjan-TarjanAcu - TarjanAcu

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