Posts Tagged ‘business fitness trainer’

7 Life Savers Every Business Can Adopt Tomorrow

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016










Endlessly overwhelmed by the demands of profitably growing your business? Want to find quick ways to increase the valuable use of your time and reduce your labour intensity? Here is 7 instant improvements that will give you an 5 extra working days every quarter this year and more impressive results:

  1. XpenseTracker – an all inclusive expense tracking and reporting app for business or personal use
  2. Refresh Letters and Templates – every step of your organisation’s client acquisition process, methodology/technology and delivery process to your clients, can reasonably be broken down into a toolkit. Many people waste endless time unclear in their own mind what to write and how to rapidly elicit the response they really want. Stop it. Whether it is a cold call letter, follow up meeting response, response to a media enquiry, meeting agendas, proposal template, chasing overdue invoices, presenting findings and so forth don’t reinvent the wheel. Constantly replenish your toolkit and use technology (intranet, cloud servers etc) to leverage it.
  3. Reciprocal Promotion: find 5 publications and reporters your ideal buyers read and are quoted in. Follow those reporters on Twitter, Google+ and other social media platforms. Respond to stories they post with thoughtful and provocative responses. Look out for their presence at industry events and introduce yourself in person. From time to time, suggest article or interview ideas or names of others that might be particularly of interest. You’ll find yourself, increasingly short cutting the process of becoming an object of interest to your ideal buyers, irrespective of your firm’s brand, geographic proximity or other credentials.
  4. Hootsuite – so you want to build a social media presence but don’t know how to accomplish that with minimal time. The Hootsuite app is your lifesaver, allowing you to access, schedule and generate fresh and valuable content.
  5. Citymapper – so you are meeting a new client or exploring a new city with the family, yet unsure how to get from where you are standing to your destination, what the alternatives are and your expected time of arrival. Arguably one of the impressive travel apps ever created provides all those answers and more in real time on your smart phone.
  6. – your frustration with junk email and subscriptions that you never knew you had has reached epidemic proportions. Two bright people, Josh Rosenwald and Jojo Hedaya have transformed the way you view email. Allowing you to instantly and permanently unsubscribe, roll up daily emails into a single email for quick scanning and storage of those most pertinent to your life. How good does that feel? Try it now.
  7. Tiny Scanner – you need to quickly scan, save and send a receipt, a meeting handout or tracked changes for a presentation while working away from the office or home. Here is the simple, fast and highly reliable answer, a brilliant app with free and modestly priced paid options for the iPhone.

Pick any of the above and you will conservatively save yourself a minimum 1 hour a day, 5 hours in a normal working week, 65 hours in a quarter. Think about that, I am suggesting every three months, you can create an additional 5 working days, at zero cost to you!

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Resilient Growth

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Why do annual budget discussions reveal so little about the growth prospects of the business and so much about the fears of those running the business?

I have come to observe that more energy is exercised in the haggle and obfuscation between line managers and their direct reports than the value derived from the process.

Should we have objectives and goals? Absolutely.

Should we place greater emphasis on a set of tactical targets that in of itself are arbitrary (based on a “best guess”) or a set of broader strategic outcomes that more profoundly describe what we want the business to look like in 12 months time?

In many high growth, mid sized businesses, where the overriding imperative for the owners is to build equity or transition the business (divestment, IPO and so on) I think there is a compelling case for the latter. Yet that is very rarely the case. The business may have doubled or quadrupled in size but the management focus and discipline and rewards system is largely unchanged (tactical targets).

I come across a lot of strong and dynamic businesses who are in self-congratulatory mode.

Senior Manager: “We have met or exceeded our budget for the last 8 quarters.”

Me: “Great, what SHOULD you have achieved in the prevailing conditions?”

I am met typically by quiet silence or a “what do you mean” response.

My point here is are you really focused on what really matters to the Owners (building equity or preparing a transition)?

Here is a quick set of strategic outcomes, my best clients use to drive their business:

1. Sustained Sales and Profit Growth (over past 3 years).
2. Market-leading Sales & Marketing Processes (array of rainmakers, leverage high tech, increasing market gravity, abundant mindset, room to accelerate growth)
3. Compelling value proposition and market position. (impressive clarity internally and externally about how the firm’s ideal clients are better off or better supported after using the firm’s products and services)
4. High Quality Management & Employees (high level of familiarity, clarity and implementation skills, behaviour and expertise supporting these strategic outcomes)
5. Breakthrough Client Relationship Approaches (acquisition, innovation, retention, profitable growth)
6. Market-Dominating Fees & Value (zero aged debt, 50%+ fees “banked” next 6/12 months, balanced growth, low working capital needs)
7. Intellectual Property Institutionalised (proprietary IP copyrighted, constant creation, internal R&D “laboratory”, systematic approaches)
8. Tremendous Loyalty (seductive rapport with key people, impressive career growth, diverse and dynamic environment, aligned rewards and value creation)

Go back to your 2016 business plans and accountabilities for key managers.

Producing Results Are each of the requisite improvements in each area set in stone? Are there influential exemplars lined up to reinforce this behaviour daily (mid-management)? Is the frequency and quality of performance assessments appropriate?

Rewarding Results Does the rewards system appropriately support or hinder your future health and well-being (bonus, long term incentives, recognition, promotions and so forth)?

I strongly suspect many people will be shocked how loosely the wheels are bolted onto their bus and how susceptible their best laid growth plans are to unforeseen events. Waste no time, take action now if you want to increase your resilience.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Unproductive Tasks In A Productive Day

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

150826 Polzeath


Daily two middle aged men walk the beach for hours in Polzeath, Cornwall with their metal detectors. A routine they do without fail starting at 10am oblivious to distractions such as a holidaying David Cameron being harangued by desperate photographers while he bodyboards in the surf. A highly labour intense pursuit dependent on exceptional fortune and in all probability, a very modest return.

It strikes me in many businesses today that there are knowledge workers equally deployed by managers on  questionable tasks and activities. The blame doesn’t lie with the employees. It lies with their managers who consciously ignore the productivity loss (knowledge and time). Look around your business or your business partners and ask three important questions:

1. What existing tasks and activities could we do more of to aid our employees’ and our firm’s productivity?

2. What tasks and activities should we stop doing or modify to aid our employees’ and our firm’s productivity?

3. What new tasks and activities should we embrace to aid our employees’ and our firm’s productivity?

If you are thinking this is the trigger for technology replacing human resource or trite statements such as “let’s create a paperless office”, you may find you are not increasing productivity at all. Chances are you are grasping at an alternative without regard to the end-result (an increase in employee’s productive use of time).

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

A Conversation with James Berkeley

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014


Join Chad Barr in a conversation with James Berkeley on how his firm, Ellice Consulting, is helping executives and organizations dramatically improve their operating performance. James talks about his “past”, his passion and his ability to apply that rapidly to transform his clients’ futures (increasing revenues, improving image, happier clients, faster growth, reduced risk and so on). Over a near 25 year career, James has sat in almost every seat in the “house”. An adviser to multinational businesses, an entrepreneur, a corporate executive, an investor and a Board member, he brings a unique perspective of someone, who has successfully tested his powerful approaches in the real world, not just on white boards in a sterile executive’s office. He also brings a “blast of fresh air” (success practices from other industries and geographies) to industry sectors that are awash with corporate executives and so called “experts” swimming in endless industry data and information.

Artificial Barriers

Monday, October 20th, 2014

In my conversations with successful entrepreneurs and executives charged with profitably growing their businesses to the next level, I am struck by the frequency “artificial barriers” to growth crop up. By artificial barriers, I am referring to those “beliefs” that are expressed as gospel about obstacles on the firm’s “journey”, which partially or fully prevents the business accomplishing its’ desired goals. For example, access to capital, access to human or physical resources, customers’ perception of the firm’s brand in the market today and so on. Dependent upon the internal politics, those beliefs then take hold of executive decision-making and gain an absolute or immovable  status (“no-no”) when determining strategic alternatives. Small and family businesses are the worst offenders.  For example,

Acquisition-Driven Growth: “We are doing well with mid-market customers but when we compete for the next tier, we lose out to our competitors because we lack the physical global presence or resources to serve those clients. Those clients are very attracted to the largest advisory firms. If we want to acquire those types of clients, we need to look at selling ourselves into a larger firm.”  

Organic-Driven Growth: “For us to attract top producers, we need to pay way above our competitors. Top producers aren’t going to take a risk with us, in a way that they might with top firms. I struggle with that kind of investment as opposed to hiring more of the same type of producers we have in the firm today, who do a fine job making us and them money with our mid-market clients.”

Collaboration-Driven Growth: “Those types of buyers (large national and international companies) wouldn’t consider our firm. We are way too small for them and if we were to try and create some form of alliance, the complexity of doing so wouldn’t be worth it. I have been down that road beforehand.” 

When  you hear views expressed around the Boardroom, which category can you be sure they fall into? (accurate, largely untested or invalid). Those are the only three possible answers.

Confronting those beliefs requires a rational determination that is best accomplished by considering the following questions:

1. Is the belief relevant to us? Ask your colleagues where is the hard evidence or strong anecdotal facts. (Forces an objective assessment of the facts, the changes required and the environmental conditions which must exist for the business to grow and expand successfully.)

2. Is the belief relevant now? Ask, is there a reason for the speaker to introduce this belief now? For example, they want to preserve precious time and cut off exploring an avenue they believe will result in a lost opportunity or an event has occurred dramatically increasing the urgency (a key shareholder has told top management, to “get on with it!”)

3. Is the belief relevant in these special circumstances? Have they tried this course of action in the past and failed? Is the speaker trying to retain control of the discussion or a favoured alternative?

The point here is that executives in a strong and dynamic business should challenge each other, where it is reasonable and appropriate to do so. Decision-making needs to be based on facts, not fiction. It is each executive or manager’s duty to make sure that the beliefs system that governs the future direction of the business is accurate, to the best of their ability.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.


Why Rely on Outside Consultants

Monday, January 13th, 2014


“Consultants” are an ugly word in many businesses. Armed with their methodologies and matrices they paint a perfect picture of a profitable growth, yet the results are more often than not disappointing. In the real world, successful strategy implementation is more about maintaining top management’s focus and discipline than simply knowing what to do and how to do it. James explains where managers can gain real benefit and huge value from a consultant, and the role of a “business” fitness trainer.