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What Do High Growth Businesses Do Differently?

Over the past 5 years the importance of the “High Growth Business” and how this relatively small group of businesses disproportionally impa...

Monday 23 September 2013

Death by Social Media?

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Help I'm going round in circles! I cant stand it. Every week there is a new must have social media platform which claims to: increase my lead generation or destroy the opposition or dominate my niche or explode my sales. (I like this one as in my mind its a bomb going off in my sales sending bit of sales shrapnel everywhere). I'm on so many platforms now that I don't have time to sleep and I'm reduced to a dribbling wreck, so i've had to stop uploading selfies on Flickr, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram...... see what I mean. I just want some LEADS!!! I'm a failure, whats wrong with me?!

Death by Social Media?
Different Ways To Engage Social Media
Not content with the new must haves, there is the recycling of the existing must haves. This month its blogging. A recent Hubspot e-book indicated the following, but it doesn't make sense; they say I can get 67 % more leads to my website if I blog than if I don't. But I don't get any and 67% of nothing is still pathetic. Even better they say if I blog 16-20 times a month I'll get twice the amount of traffic to my website than if  I blog 4 times a month or less. Am I bonkers or are they really recommending that I increase my output by 4 times to get 2 times the reward. (Sorry Hubspot I couldn't resist that, but then I'm just jealous that you got over $65 million in VC funding and I cant get 65 quid)

Before that it was LinkedIn "the business network". I've joined 50 groups started my own, involved myself in hundreds of discussions and I still haven't got a descent lead or even the offer of a cup of coffee. Am I the new elephant man? I hope not I've had nice comments about my picture but mostly from women with strange names and even stranger addresses.

Then before that..... you get the picture...

I feel another panic attack coming on I've missed 30 minutes of my twitter stream.
Time to calm down, take some deep breathes and apply a bit on common sense to this.
After all to most of us over 35 social networking is a parallel universe, like I cant understand why my sons text one another or their girl friends whilst they're in he same room. Why cant they just say it?  Why would you want to make public intimate details of your  life I'm embarrassed just thinking about it let alone sharing it with my followers.

More seriously social media is in danger of taking over our lives, and in parallels with the dot com boom of the 2000's we seem to be failing to apply basic business principles to our activities. As a business user its a marketing channel and has to deliver results. All that "it improves your profile and helps you compete" is just baloney if it doesn't deliver results. Nothing is still nothing how ever fashionable the route.

At its core social media is a conversation it is also a slow burn, just because you have a lot of followers doesn't mean people are reading what you put out. A recent survey on twitter suggested that only 4% of your followers are likely to see a tweet at any one time. So if you have 1000 followers only 40 will read it. This suggests that you need to repeat and vary the same message a number of times across a day to expose it to a significant proportion of your community.

From a marketing perspective you should only use what you are comfortable with. I struggle with Facebook so I don't use it much. I'm happier blogging but I limit myself to 1 to 2 posts a month. More importantly I realise that you don't get instant results. There are always anecdotal stories of people who "won the lottery" and got that big deal almost as soon as they started but for the vast bulk of us it requires persistence and diligence to get results. But lets be sensible if other routes to market are more successful for you, then use them.

So don't be a victim of death by social media. Take control and do what delivers the best results for you. If you don't know what that is just contact me and I'll help you find the best way for you to market your company to the outside world.

Exigent Consulting provides specialist services to the Small and Medium Business including Managing High GrowthBusiness Turnaround, and Mentoring. We help business owners improve the profit performance of their business. 

Friday 6 September 2013

Good Culture and Return On Investment

There has been a lot in the press and blogosphere recently about how its people that matter in providing a competitive advantage to a business. In a recent discussion with a number of  high growth companies, whilst there was a general acceptance that people and more specifically Culture mattered; there was a mixture of both skepticism and confusion about how one might quantify the benefits. 
Good Cuture
Buddhist Flags Tibet

I went away to think about how I could use simple recognisable examples to demonstrate the economic value of "good" culture over a "bad" culture. 

Lets take two examples. The first is a company which might be described as having a bad culture or perhaps a culture where the employees don't feel engaged or committed to the business. I expect we can all recognise similar companies.

In this business employees turn up for work between 8 and 9 am but do not voluntarily start their work and continue to read their newspapers or use their smartphones until 9am. During the working day they stick religiously to the rules having 15 mins break in the morning and having their 1 hour lunch break. At the end of the day to make sure they can leave at 5pm exactly, consequently work winds down around 4:45 and everything is put away, necessary ablutions done in time for a mass exit at 5pm.

In the second business where they have a "good" culture staff arrive between 8 and 9am and mostly start their working day when they arrive, whilst everyone takes a lunch break many can be found back at their desks working resulting in them having substantially less than the mandatory hour. When 5pm arrives most of the staff are still working and they gradually drift away from work over the next  hour.

So its easy to see that on average people in the company with a "good" culture or where they are engaged with the organisation work longer. For the sake of this example lets assume that on average the "good" culture business get 30 minutes more per day per employee than the business with a "bad" culture. Based on my everyday example I don't think that's an unreasonable estimate to make.

Over a week that's 2.5 hours per employee on the basis that an employee works 46 weeks a year, excluding holiday entitlement and public holidays, that equates to 115 hours per employee per year or if you prefer about 16.5 days.   

For a company with 10 employees that's 165 extra free days work or 33 man weeks. That about 3/4 of a full time employee every year for a 50 man company that's 3.5 man years of effort extra.

So what does that mean in financial terms. That's a bit more difficult to quantify because were are going to have to make some assumptions about average pay across the business. Using composite rate of £10 an hour, which I suspect is a little conservative but makes the maths easier, we get an economic benefit of about £1150 per employee per year. For our 10 man company that £11500 per year. For our 50 man company that's £57500 comfortably more than a couple of employees. If we assume the businesses are in aerospace, IT or other high skilled industries the financial benefit increases dramatically because the average hourly rate is probably closer to £25 than £10.

So what have we discovered? Firstly I would say small differences matter 30 minutes a day isn't much spread across employees but it adds up to a significant extra saving and competitive edge. Secondly, in keeping this example as simple as possible we have ignored a number of other benefits including the fact that people work harder and more effectively when they are happy at work. They don't "clock watch", they operate better as a team. All these additional factors increase productivity and performance. They are however very difficult to quantify and certainly not without an organised an scientific study which is way beyond my capabilities. 

Nevertheless I think it has been possible to demonstrate clearly that there is a quantifiable benefit to having a "good" culture and even on this anecdotal basis its financial benefits are not to be ignored.