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Business

The Sunday Morning Media Show with Ashraf Garda + Spillly

By Books Business Freelance Mentoring Public Speaking No Comments

Last Sunday morning, I was given the pleasure of speaking to Ashraf on SAFM on his freelance career and the challenges he faced and often still faces as an independent professional.

The conversation covered aspects of the current economic situation is SA and how the education system is letting people down in the entrepreneurial space.

For more info on our topic and the WTF Freelance MBA that is being run at Vega School click here. 

The WTF Freelance MBA in Partnership with Vega Schools and Digitlab

By Books Business Freelance No Comments

After 2 and a half years of development – its official, the What The Freelance Mini-MBA coursework will be lectured by Vega Schools in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria.

The course is run over 12 weeks and by the end of the course, you will know what your freelance business does and what makes it unique, how to find new and retain old clients, how to manage all the numbers in your business and have a clear road to growth that you have personally defined.

The course is run in partnership with Digitlab Academy and will be available early in 2018.

For information contact Vega or apply here to enrol in 2018.

Freelance is the future. What does your future hold?

Are you becoming a Betterman?

By Business Coaching Lifestyle Mentoring Public Speaking No Comments

About a year ago I was fortunate enough to coach Erik Kruger from Betterman and have remained in contact over the past few months, watching his business grow and define its position in the market.

Betterman is a website dedicated to the thinking man. The man who lives with intention. The man who takes action. It’s a gathering place for those who seek influence and those who seek to make an impact in the world.

Under the Betterman umbrella is the Apex Club, an event that happens for dapper men who want to learn about life, entrepreneurship and leaving an impact. Last week I was asked by Erik to tell my story and share knowledge and learnings about my businesses and experiences. It was a pleasure to have 35 men who genuinely cared about the organisation engage with me and each other at the Maxim Lounge in Sandton.

Here are some pics taken during the event, where I was seen in a jacket [a rare thing indeed!]

 

Email Is Ruining Your Relationships

By Business Coaching Mentoring Motivation No Comments

I started working in my business in 1995. I had an “old fashioned” telephone with push buttons by my side and next-door in my bookkeepers office, stood two facsimile machines. I say ‘facsimile’ because I know what that is and I’m proving a point… more of that to follow.

 

Lets be clear. No Internet to be heard of. No Facebook. No email. No cell phones. We had the yellow pages and written CRM lists. Our invoicing and accounting package ran off a Pentium processor with a dot matrix printer attached via cable. It was slow but reliable.

 

Life and business was actually way simpler and way slower. As tech caught up with our need for speed and the Internet moved into our communication reach, our once heavily focused cold calling and telephonic relationship-based business started moving to the written word and my first email address [for the whole company] was set up. This in my opinion was the beginning of the end. Everyone from customers, suppliers and staff now started building a culture of “covering my tracks” and putting every last word in 11 point Calibri. Again, it worked for the most part very well. Productivity did improve and information flowed exponentially faster. But this was at the cost of relationships. Here is my visual estimation of how that looked:

 

So, as we started typing away, we stopped calling people and then the Hiroshima of communication was dropped – cell phones. As soon as short message system [SMS] became a ‘thing’ the written word became more powerful than our voice. We lost tone. We lost pace. We lost the sound of LOL and we started losing eye contact. Internet 2.0 brought us social media and along with mobile domination and Wi-Fi proliferation the problem was escalated.

 

We stopped making calls. We stopped taking calls. We huff when our mothers call and cant understand why they just don’t text us. We aim for the impossible Inbox Zero and are suffering from email fatigue. Add to that Slack fatigue, Whatsapp fatigue, Skype fatigue, Text fatigue, Social media fatigue, messenger fatigue and now Story fatigue.

 

We don’t LOL anymore ‘cause it’s lame. FFS. We have stopped laughing in text – never mind in real life. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s called the telephone. It’s a place where you can address an issue in 2 minutes rather than bouncing a string mail back and forth 20 times to resolve something simple. It’s a place where you are not cc’d, Bcc’d or even forwarded useless, untimely information. There is no spam *gasp* in your conversation and you can in worst-case follow up with a simple bullet point email to “cover your ass!” [If need be.]

 

The phone is your friend. It’s the place you spent hours chatting to girlfriends, boyfriends and family in your youth. A place where you can laugh and even entertain the quiet moments, between words and thoughts. It’s the place you can enjoy people ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ to your voice. The phone gives you instant satisfaction and recognition.

 

This is a call for action. It’s a call to return to the decades before Snapchat and pick up the phone. Cut through the bullshit. Take a chance. Can you hear that ringing?? Answer the call.

 

 

Recent Update: It has become clear that more and more of my clients now are responding to mail with a call and making more calls in order to re-establish a missing feeling and ACTUALLY speed up the pace of their business. Voice is and always will be, quicker than your fingers.

Innovation and disruption labs exposed.

By Business Business Management Coaching Innovation

At first Google ruined our perception of culture and set standards so ridiculously high that most business in South Africa doesn’t even attempt to fix their culture because the bar has been set so high. Now with their skunkwork’s “Solve for X” and the acquisition of Idealab Google have outsourced the smart thinking and can afford to hire the best minds in the world to help solve problems most of us don’t even know are problems yet. This should not stop even the smallest business from being innovative and disruptive in their immediate space. But what is Innovation and disruption besides the trendy terms that are thrown around and leadership conferences?

 

Its important to get your head around that fact that all disruptors are innovators, but not all innovators are disruptors. A disruptive technology or idea literraly changes the way we think, behave and buy and can influence countless people to experience something new in their lives. Innovation can do the same thing but more often than not, is incremental and has a smaller impact on the general populus but does simplify, speed up and improve something to justify the change.

 

The next imporant fact is that you are more than likely not going to be the ground breaking innovator in your industry and your opposition will be first to market. And thats perfectly okay. In Adam Grant’s book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” he beautifully explains how marketing researchers Peter Golder and Gerard Tellis compared the success of companies that were either pioneers or settlers.

 

The pioneers were first to market: the initial company to develop or sell a product. The settlers were slower to launch and waited until the pioneers had created a market before entering it. When Golder and Tellis analyzed hundreds of brands in three dozen different product categories, they found a staggering difference in failure rates: 47 percent for pioneers, compared with just 8 percent for settlers. Pioneers were about six times more likely to fail than settlers. Even when the pioneers did survive, they only captured an average of 10 percent of the market, compared with 28 percent for settlers. Feel better?

 

When you see disruptive innovations coming from outside your organization you have 3 options:

1.     Option 1: Chase the market

2.     Option 2: Find new markets based on your expertise

3.     Option 3: A non-productive approach, to deny that the disruptive innovation will affect you market at all and continue business as usual. Lets all bury our heads in the sand, shall we?

 

When you learn of a radical new invention that threatens to disrupt your business and market, do not ignore it and don’t “insulate” against these disruptive threats and try preserving your current business model. Don’t be afraid to educate the market if the move is happening especially if you are leading the charge.

 

So how should you bake innovation into your company?

 

At the pharmaceutical giant Merck, CEO Kenneth Frazier decided to motivate his executives to take a more active role in leading innovation and change. He asked them to do something radical: generate ideas that would put Merck out of business. His executives worked in groups, pretending to be one of Merck’s top competitors. His team developed ideas for drugs that would crush theirs and key markets they had missed. Then, their challenge was to reverse their roles and figure out how to defend against these threats as Merck.

 

This is referred to as a “Kill the company” exercise. Its super powerful as it reframes a gain-framed activity in terms of losses. When deliberating about innovation opportunities, the leaders weren’t inclined to take risks. When they considered how their competitors could put them out of business, they realized that it was a risk not to innovate. The urgency of innovation was apparent

Running an innovation lab or disruption session in your business is a great starting point. Start with some hard-hitting questions that address what actions might your competitors take tomorrow that would keep you awake at night. Other questions you can pose your team are as follows:

 

 

a.     What new technology could potentially destroy our business model?

b.    What new legislation/law could potentially destroy our business model?

c.     What’s happening in another part of the world that you could adopt and adapt in your environment?

d.    What are some of the disruptive changes in your industry that might serve as the source of innovation for you and your company?

e.    What are the key emerging technologies, and how are they being used inside and outside your industry, company, and region to create proprietary advantage?

f.      Is there new business models emerging that you can adopt or adapt to deliver radical improvements in the way you and others do business?

g.     Can you expand not just your “share of market” but also your “share of wallet” by adding new business models—for example, if you currently have a product business, can you add information, services, or solutions?

h.    Can you expand into adjacent businesses by either taking over activities that used to be done by someone else in your industry, expanding into new markets, or adding new products?

i.      Are there fragmented industries where significant value can be delivered through consolidation?

j.      Are there shifts in power with an entry or exit of a key player or consolidation of several players, which threaten your existing position or create opportunities to partner in your existing business or enter a new one?

k.     Are new markets or businesses emerging in other parts of the world that create opportunities or threats?

l.      Are there opportunities to create value by outsourcing or offshoring activities that you currently perform inside your organization?

m.   Is there activities that you currently source from outside that you should be doing inside to create proprietary advantage?

n.    Is there impending or shifts in regulation, political power, or society that threaten to disrupt entrenched power bases and provide opportunities for new entrants?

o.    Where is the greatest complexity now?

p.    What are the most “emotion-generating/engaging” service attributes you can offer that you could never satisfy?

 

It is never a bad idea to throw in a PEST or SWOT analysis into the mix to thicken out the risk elements. Always think of worst-case scenario first and work your way towards a winning strategy. Successful entrepreneurs are able to recognize patterns before an opportunity takes shape and search for ideas at the intersection of markets, industries, and emerging technologies. Look for business models that work well in one market and can be adapted and applied in another.

 

An innovation workshop is never the only step to creating disruption in your business or market place. The stages you should try including are:

 

a.    Problem identification (customer journeys for anywhere between 1 month and 1 year)

a.    Clarify and challenge the biases and business models in your firm and in your industry

b.    Analysis and research; always have facts and figures as the basis for decision-making.

a.    Listen to—and learn from—the market: Identify sources of significant problems that cannot be solved using today’s product and service offerings. Focus first on the problem—not the solution. Be sure that you don’t just listen to your current customers.

c.     Design thinking stages (internal and collaborative); this helps you discover new product ideas.

d.    Unpacking the designs into options, road maps and feasibility.

e.    The decision making process.

f.      Assessment of capability and resource gap analysis.

a.    Identify important global and local trends that signal potential revolutionary shifts in customer behaviour

g.     The case for a business plan with revenue and value potential.

h.    The narrative for staff and the market.

i.      Design and implementation (includes assigning all your required resources)

j.      Testing the ecosystem.

k.     Launch and iteration.

 

Labs like these should take place on a set agreed frequency and adding external people for a unique POV adds a rich layer of brains that doesn’t have the same industry bias’ that your people do and broaden your perspective.

 

Here are a few tips on Innovation ideas and disruption workshops that spark original ideas:

 

·      Run an innovation tournament.

o   Welcoming suggestions on any topic at any time, doesn’t capture the attention of busy people.

o   Innovation tournaments are highly efficient for collecting a large number of novel ideas and identifying the best ones.

o   Instead of a suggestion box, send a focused call for ideas to solve a particular problem or meet an untapped need.

o   Give employees three weeks to develop proposals, and then have them evaluate one another’s ideas, advancing the most original submissions to the next round.

o   The winners receive a budget, a team, and the relevant mentoring and sponsorship to make their ideas a reality.

·      Picture yourself as the enemy.

o   People often fail to generate new ideas due to a lack of urgency.

o   You can create urgency by implementing the “kill the company” exercise [Stolen from Lisa Bodell, CEO of Futurethink.]

o   Gather a group together and invite them to spend an hour brainstorming about how to put the organization out of business—or decimate its most popular product, service, or technology.

o   Then, hold a discussion about the most serious threats and how to convert them into opportunities to transition from defence to offense.

·      The Pitch:

o   Invite employees from different functions and levels to pitch ideas.

o   At DreamWorks Animation, even accountants and lawyers are encouraged and trained to present movie ideas.

o   This kind of creative engagement can add skill variety to work, making it more interesting for employees while increasing the organization’s access to new ideas.

o   Involving employees in pitching has another benefit: When they participate in generating ideas, they adopt a creative mind-set that leaves them less prone to false negatives, making them better judges of their colleagues’ ideas.

·      Hold an opposite day.

o   Since it’s often hard to find the time for people to consider original viewpoints, one of the smart practices is to have “opposite day” in the boardroom and at conferences.

o   Executives and staff divide into groups, and each chooses an assumption, belief, or area of knowledge that is widely taken for granted.

o   Each group asks, “When is the opposite true?” and then delivers a presentation on their ideas.

·      Word Banishment

o   Ban the words like, love, and hate.

o   At the non-profit DoSomething.org, CEO Nancy Lublin forbade employees from using the words like, love, and hate, because they make it too easy to give a visceral response without analysing it.

o   Employees aren’t allowed to say they prefer one Web page over another; they have to explain their reasoning with statements like “This page is stronger because the title is more readable than the other options.”

o   This motivates people to contribute new ideas rather than just rejecting existing ones.”

·      Welcome criticism.

o   It’s hard to encourage dissent if you don’t practice what you preach.

o   When you receive an email criticizing your performance in an important meeting, copying it to the entire company sends a clear message you welcome negative feedback.

o   By inviting employees to criticize you publicly, you can set the tone for people to communicate more openly even when their ideas are unpopular.

·      Shift from exit interviews to entry interviews.

o   Instead of waiting to ask for ideas until employees are on their way out the door, start seeking their insights when they first arrive.

o   By sitting down with new hires during onboarding, you can help them feel valued and gather novel suggestions along the way.

o   Ask what brought them in the door and what would keep them at the firm, and challenge them to think like culture detectives.

o   They can use their insider-outsider perspectives to investigate which practices belong in a museum and which should be kept, as well as potential inconsistencies between espoused and enacted values.

 

In summary, throwing innovation and disruption workshops may be seen as a cool new thing but they stand for ground zero in change for big business and can be leveraged to unlock creativity for youur business and for customers and their wider community. Build an innovation lab to make sure you do not underestimate the value it can deliver.

The Law of Three: You should know this!

By Business Coaching Interviews Skills

When you start the process of interviewing for new staff members, you should always refer back to the Law of 3:

  • Interview at least three candidates for a job, comparing and contrasting their qualities and characteristics. Check their suitability against your stated requirements. You would be amazed at how often people forget to do this.

  • Interview the candidate you like three different times: the true person is revealed once you get beyond the initial interview.

  • Interview the person you like in three different places. Brian Tracy of the American Management Association says that people have a “chameleon complex.” They appear a certain way in your office in the first interview and then seem to act and react differently when you move them to different environments.

  • Have any candidate that impresses you interviewed by at least three other people on your team.

  • Check at least three references from the candidate. Ask specific questions around their strengths and weaknesses and whether the referee can tell you anything to help you make a better hiring decision. Ask them whether they would hire the person back. If the answer is not an unequivocal “yes,” be cautious.

  • Check references three deep. Ask the given reference for the names of other people the candidate has worked with and talk to those people, too. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Interviews are the start of the most important function in almost every business and should be taken seriously and never rushed.

Should you want more info on building a successful interview process, please contact me here

What Do Your Agency Staff REALLY Want?

By Business Coaching Culture Entrepreneur Motivation

When a digital agency head, asked his team what they wanted the most from him and the business, he was surprised to find out it wasn’t money.

This survey was sent out anonymously and the donut clearly shows that Training and Development is what millennial’s in the agency space really want.

Are you brave enough to ask your staff? Are you paying your team well enough to get these results?

Maybe you need us to help with the hard stuff.

Relationships are reality for Influencers

By Business Coaching Mentoring Social Media Twitter No Comments

spillly influencer marketing

Before web 2.0 and the rise of social media, influence was exclusive to a privileged few who held unrivalled sway over public opinion. Today, individuals on social media get to pick and choose who and what they listen to and those who once had little chance of being heard can now broadcast their messages across the world.

Influencers are now niche promoters and brand advocates that are active on social media sites and blogs and brands are now naturally hungry to take advantage of this phenomenon. Brands will seek to turn that influence into a marketing opportunity but aren’t always sure how best to go about this.

An influencer is the mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. For influence to take place, the influencer needs to behave authentically and when communicating about or on behalf of a brand. The balance between being seen as an online billboard and someone that is being paid to recommend a product in a credible way is often misunderstood and the value in using influence marketing lost.

There are five key understandings that allow you to define what the right influencer looks like for your brand:

  1. Context:

An influencer differs for every brand because, first and foremost, they are a contextual fit. This is the most important characteristic when targeting the right influencers for your brand. The example I always use is that Justin Bieber can’t sell insurance without looking like a fraud to his followers because they are teenager girls who aren’t interested in that.

  1. Reach:

Defined as the size of the audience or the number of followers the influencer has on a particular platform. Influence describes the ability to affect action from within that audience. When Reach and Context work together, you have success.

  1. Actionability:

This is the influencer’s ability to cause action by their audience. This characteristic comes naturally when you target individuals that are in contextual alignment with your brand and have a far enough reach.

  1. An “opt-in” network:

Influencers don’t force themselves upon an audience as their followers choose to follow them on particular channels like Twitter or a blog. Thus, their audience is engaged and is there to hear about the topic being discussed. This is why the need for a contextual fit is so important.

  1. Engagement:

Positive engagement is a great indicator that the content is interesting to their audience. This means that something about their content is evoking a reaction and that there is the potential for an action to occur.

Once you understand these, the next step is giving your influencer an image you can best match real influnecers to. Decide on what type of personality you require and if you need an activist, an informer or an authority to best promote your campaign or product. Next pick a genre. Examples include technology, fashion, travel and marketing. Niche this genre further into LSM, geographical position and age group.

Pick a topic that your ideal influencer sometimes talks about on social media or their blog and decide what type of reach and actions you will require from the influencer. Do you want likes, follows, engagement or visual content creation? Always ensure that the influencer is aware of your primary audience and your campaign objectives from the start, giving you the best chance of success.

Always remember that reach is vanity, engagement is sanity and relationships are reality.

 

<This post was originally written for Digitlab and can be viewed here>

What is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)?

By Business Coaching Mentoring No Comments

Spillly coaching

 

 

An SOP is a procedure specific to your operation that describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with industry regulations, provincial laws or even just your own standards for running your business.

 

Any document that is a “how to” falls into the category of procedures. In a manufacturing environment, the most obvious example of an SOP is the step-by-step production line procedures used to make products as well train staff. An SOP, in fact, defines expected practices in all businesses where quality standards exist.

 

SOPs play an important role in your small business. SOPs are policies, procedures and standards you need in the operations, marketing and administration disciplines within your business to ensure success.

 

These can create:

  • Efficiencies, and therefore profitability
  • Consistency and reliability in production and service
  • Fewer errors in all areas
  • A way to resolve conflicts between partners and staff
  • A healthy and safe environment
  • Protection of employers in areas of potential liability and personnel matters
  • A roadmap for how to resolve issues – and the removal of emotion from troubleshooting – allowing needed focus on solving the problem
  • A first line of defence in any inspection, whether it be by a regulatory body, a partner or potential partner, a client, or a firm conducting due diligence for a possible purchase
  • Value added to your business should you ever wish to sell it

 

Developing an SOP is about systemizing all of your processes and documenting them. Every business has a unique market, every entrepreneur has his/her own leadership style, and every industry has its own best practices. No two businesses will have an identical collection of SOPs.

 

Below is a listing of just a few typical SOPs, which you will want to consider writing for your own small business.

 

  • Production/Operations
  • Production line steps
  • Equipment maintenance, inspection procedures
  • New employee training
  • Finance and Administration
  • Accounts receivable – billing and collections process
  • Accounts payable process – maximizing cash flow while meeting all payment deadlines
  • Marketing, Sales and Customer Service
  • Approval of external communications: press releases, social media, advert, etc.
  • Preparation of sales quotes
  • Service delivery process, including response times
  • Warranty, guarantee, refund/exchange policies
  • Acknowledgment/resolution of complaints, customer comments and suggestions • Employing Staff
  • Job descriptions
  • Employee orientation and training
  • Corrective action and discipline
  • Performance reviews
  • Use of Internet and social media for business purposes Legal
  • Privacy

 

 

Tips

  • Establish prior to opening; review at least annually
  • Develop procedures in the language style and format best for the establishment (your industry/operations knowledge is crucial here)
  • Write SOPs in clear, concise language so that processes and activities occur as they are suppose to
  • The level of detail in SOPs should provide adequate information to keep performance consistent while keeping the procedures from becoming impractical
  • Keep written SOPs on-site and in the cloud so that supervisors and employees can use them
  • Drafts should be made and tested before an SOP is released for implementation
  • The more decision makers, employees and complexity in the business, the more SOPs are required
  • SOP’s should be developed in existing businesses by all the stakeholders in each process.

 

In my experience, companies with well built, managed and maintained SOP’s are far less likely to make the same mistake twice and are often more resilient internally. An SOP can often be the difference between getting new work and not as clients can see the value of a well-run organisation.

 

Should you need help with your SOP or other business processes please contact us.

Thank you @CaseyNeistat.

By Business Coaching Motivation Photography No Comments

spillly beme

Dear @CaseyNeistat

For 3 months I religiously watched your YouTube channel, eager to see your daily Vlog and the beautifully curated time-lapse scenes of New York. I spent my days preaching to my clients that they have to watch your show and see how smart your marketing was.

We spoke about you on Whatsapp and debated what the product your business was going to launch and I swore that I would buy whatever it was and convert everyone I knew to do the same. I was your brand ambassador and I believed in your message.

You are entertaining and your opinions are aligned to my own. The life you portrayed was one that I aspired to and even though I knew you were building up to sell something to me, I didn’t care. It was honest. It was insightful. It was entertaining.

Then you launched Beme, your piece-of-shit mobile social media application.

It’s not even average. It’s sad and useless and not even pretty to look at. It serves no purpose and is not even doing a better job of any other app. I am still horrified and shocked that this was a result of a $2 million investment

I received my Beme code with joy and excitement and in one moment you destroyed all the value you built up in me, turning me from an advocate into a hater.

Some may say that my expectations were too high and that I was doomed to be disappointed and in hindsight and this is partly true, but Beme solves no problem, is not even remotely good and is the opposite of useful. It’s taken up space on my phone that can be better used to see my background image better.

Casey, your marketing was sheer brilliance. You had a captive opt-in audience that would spend hard earned money with you and then you released a product that was bad. I’ve unfollowed you on all social platforms and am telling this story as you have proved a valuable yet simple business lesson I will share going forward:

All the marketing in the world, as smart and innovative as it may be, is utterly useless if your product is not good, useful or solving a problem.

Casey, after writing this post I realise that you have added value to my life. Thank you. You have reminded me how important a great product or service really is.

I hope you release something that is meaningful into the world one day.

Thanks,

@Spillly.