How do I engage and motivate employees and keep them? It’s pretty simple really, we regard our staff and contractors as part of our ‘family’, looking after them and treating them with respect. If we all succeed, we all have a bigger share of the pie.
How do I maintain and enhance margins? By giving clients a value for money experience you can build an outstanding reputation over a sustained period. Clients want our help to solve their problems and I still believe people will pay for an excellent service that is also value for money.
How do I raise money for my business? This reminds me of the question Sir Steve Redgrave asked when offered a ‘deal’, “Will it make my boat go any faster?” Over the years we have only spent money on the things that we believe will improve our business.
Do you know anyone with money who’s looking to invest? Me! If the opportunity is a good one and the figures stack up.
How can I put my prices up and keep my customers? I’ll probably revert to my previous answer above which relates to a quality service and a value for money offering. We won’t put our prices up for the sake of it. Don’t be greedy is another one of my mantras.
I’ve got this great idea – what do I do with it? Talk to me! And don’t let the first ‘No’ put you off.
How do I manage distributors and sales agents? Our contractors and suppliers are our lifeblood. Without them we have no business. Pay them on time, treat them with respect and understand that they also have to make a profit to be able to provide you with the quality service that you expect.
What can I do about competitors who have an unfair advantage? Try to re-evaluate your offering and evolve where you can. Accept that you won’t win every project or opportunity; sometimes you just have to walk away and work on clients and projects where you will make a profit.
How to network to my advantage? We all network in our own way, and sometimes without even realising it, such as on the school run, at the pub or in the supermarket. I think the word can sometimes put people off if I’m honest. Be yourself, be open, genuine, listen and take an interest. One thing that annoys me is people looking over my shoulder to see if there’s anyone else they should be talking to rather than concentrating on our conversation.
How can I manage the work / life balance more effectively? It’s very hard in the early days and sometimes continues to be hard to make that balance work. You need to take time to reflect, sit back, think and take stock and try to spend time on you.
How can I shut off from the business? Again, very hard. I am lucky that I now have the chance to go to a lot of events. Those opportunities have come from the many years of networking so it all really mixes into one big pot. For me, the events are a chance to do that. Meeting new people and interacting help me to do that. However, I’m always ‘on duty’!
How do I cut my overheads and outgoings without negatively impacting my business? Small differences and savings can make the world of difference. Have a ‘sweep’ of your costs once a year and see if you can make savings in the ‘fixed’ costs you pay out regularly. Things like insurance, services like machinery and utilities can make a small but relevant impact. But don’t cut back on advertising/marketing and your social channels!
Patrick Lewis is Chairman of commercial and office interiors company Source One Consulting, Joint Owner of Like Electrical Ltd, commercial power and data contractors and MD of Source One Associates Ltd, a sports and talent management company. Contact Pat via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Patrick Lewis LinkedIn