Friday 19 August 2016

Watch my 'Glitter' Lips

We were delighted that one of our business development clients was recently featured in the latest BBC series of Dragons Den.

Our Managing Director and experienced Business Coach, Paula Finch, has been providing business development coaching to Lincoln-based Beauty Boulevard since 2014, helping to launch and grow sales for an exciting new beauty product, Glitter Lips, which was launched in spring 2013. She describes the opportunity to appear on Dragons Den as ”a fantastic marketing experience, one that will give amazing exposure to the Glitter Lips get in front of five well-connected and successful business people.”

Beauty Boulevard founders, Paula Short and Rachel de Caux, were contacted by the BBC and invited to take part in the latest series. While they didn’t secure the Dragons’ investment, despite Dragon Peter Jones liking the product so much he couldn’t resist trying it on, the pair believe it could be “the best thing that could have happened to us”. Other products that weren’t successful on Dragons Den include Tangle Tweezer, which is now worth £200m.

The glittery lip product is claimed to stay on for 8 hours and is “kiss-proof, drink-proof and party-proof”, is now sold by 550 stockists, from the UK and Australia to the Czech Republic and Bosnia. It can be found on shelves and online at Superdrug, and inside in-flight magazines for airlines Thomas Cook and Thomson.

Dragons Den featuring the Glitter Lips Girls aired on BBC 2 at 9pm on Sunday 14th August and is available to view on BBC iplayer.

For more information on how business coaching can lead to greater business success, contact NBM Business Growth visit

Tuesday 1 March 2016

The Red Rose Turning Over a New Leaf

change management
When choosing new team members, one of the leading considerations is, without a doubt, the alignment of the individual to the core beliefs and values of your organisation. Whether the role is for a junior or senior position, this is relevant and becomes increasingly so as the person progresses through the organisation, responding to new demands and taking on more responsibilities.

Sometimes though, bringing in new blood creates an opportunity to consolidate and realign an organisation’s brand values, where simply singing from the same hymn sheet and following the accepted way in which the company must progress just won’t cut it. Take the example of a manager who is recruited to work under an MD who wishes to bring about a change or realignment in the organisation and therefore selects a second-in-command which many may view as controversial. A new manager with explicitly alternative methods can, in this case, provide a breath of fresh air, reinvigorating and reinventing what the company stands for.

The case of England Rugby Union’s new captain is a perfect example of such rebranding. Dogged by poor performances which were preventing the team from achieving the success which their potential suggested they should, the coach and his staff made a controversial decision to elect Dylan Hartley – a man with a year’s worth of suspensions due to a raft of disciplinary offences – as the captain and the leader of the team in practice on the field. In so doing, the coaching team (SMT) has ‘screamed from the rooftops’ that England will now look to play through a specific style of rugby that the hard-nosed Hartley epitomises. Such decisions are never easy ones, embroiled in risk as many criticise the unorthodoxy of following a new course, yet for success to be achieved, Eddie Jones et al feel there is a necessity for a change to the perception of English Rugby, which Hartley represents.

It is a shift in brand values that many will disagree with and find uncomfortable; a captain and therefore a team who are praised by the very fact that they have been selected, despite poor discipline. One consequence of such a change is that, whether it breeds success for the team or not, this new England Rugby brand could be perceived as advocating foul play and ill discipline and may lose many supporters in the process. Perhaps for Eddie Jones, this is a necessary evil in order to achieve his objectives, but nevertheless the change of brand values will have a profound effect on the reputation and popularity of the team. This begs the question what is the ultimate goal for English rugby? To win, or to establish role models for young people to aspire towards?

The recruitment of an individual outside of the company’s core beliefs and values can change the brand perception drastically, particularly when that person occupies a significant role. It is the job of the employer to establish their priorities, and weigh up whether the company’s new path for success is worth the change in perception which may come with it.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Why Practice in Leadership makes Perfect

If you watch any sports training session, you will see a lot of repetition. The players or athletes involved will be practising basic manoeuvres, over and over. Winning rests on absolute mastery of the basics, honing skills until they become second nature.
Building expertise in anything takes thousands of hours and it is only by practising continuously and learning from the experience that we achieve the level of skill we want and need.

There are many reasons you might want to learn and develop a skill, but for those who have been in business for some years, you’ll know that the fast-pace of change means that the ability to learn new skills is key to continued growth and success. The challenge is that continuous improvement requires us to stretch ourselves, and as I know from personal and professional experience, that isn’t always comfortable.

So whether you are seeking to acquire a new skill yourself or looking to develop others within your team, here’s what you need to ask yourself:

1. Are you ready?
In two ways – firstly do you have the basic competency to attain the skill? Secondly, how much time and energy are you able and willing to give to learning and developing the skill? It is a common misconception to think that if you have to work hard at learning a new skill it means there is a lack of ability. This is a limiting belief – being ready and committed to working hard is a choice. As Apple founder, Steve Jobs said, “I’m convinced about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

2. Is it needed and what’s the return?
Gaining a new skill is an investment and you need to know what the return for learning it will be. Simply improving an existing skill can make a big difference to an individual, team or organisation’s performance, provided it’s the right skill for the business.

3. What help can you get?
Help and support from other will keep you motivated to continue learning and practicing. Just like the football coach who maintains the discipline of practice drills to build competency as well and introduces new techniques to learn, a qualified business coach, trainer or mentor will encourage and support you. Recruit colleagues, friends and anyone who’ll let you practice your skills – people you trust to say the things you need to hear, to give you honest and constructive feedback in a way that keeps you accountable and helps you to cement the change.

4. Do you need to pace yourself?
Be realistic about how much you can take on. In the same way that so many people join a gym with the best intentions of going several times a week but gradually, over time, lose motivation, so learning a new skill can fall by the wayside unless you see specific results along the way. Be selective, choose the key skills that are going to make the biggest difference in the shortest space of time. Once you start seeing and experiencing the positive difference they make, you’ll be inspired to keep going.

5. How do you know when you’re ready to put in practice what you’ve learned?
The only way to know the answer to this question is to do it. The only way to become a great presenter is to present. The only way to become the runner who has just finished a marathon is to go running. You might dread the presenting or the running, but it’s the doing that takes you down the road to becoming.

If you need help to see where the leadership and management skills gaps are in your business, or want to hear more about how we can help you embed and use new skills with confidence, or would like to get a handle on how skills training could help your organisation, then get in touch. If perfection is the goal then practice is what you need and we’d love to help.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

England Rugby and the reality of failure

As most of you will probably already know, either from reading my posts or knowing me personally, I am a huge rugby fan. Therefore, it goes without saying that the last couple of weeks have been incredibly tough to digest. Feedback of this magnitude for any England team is embarrassing, but to lose at Twickenham twice as a team that many touted as potential winners of the competition, is a hard pill to swallow. (For those of you unaware, England bowed out of a home World Cup in the group rounds, the first host nation ever not to reach the quarter finals.)

Even when a long term plan is established, with intimate detail applied to the strategy of achieving the long term goal, no matter how much achieving that target means to you, your team or your company, sometimes your best just isn’t good enough. It’s the harsh reality of life, sport and business, which unfortunately we must all accept as part of what we do, and do our best to learn from the experience so that it does not rear its’ ugly head again. In this instance, the RFU will have time following the competition to absorb the consequences of this result, and make rational decisions about the best way to move forward.

With this being said, the reality is that there is a strong likelihood that members of the squad and the coaching staff will be dropped. When a result as drastic as this occurs, sometimes the only option is to overhaul the staff and start afresh, with a new long term plan in mind. My prediction is that Ian Ritchie (Chief Executive of the RFU) will not act so strongly. There will be changes and certainly some will lose their jobs as a consequence, but on the whole I am of the opinion that the team we see in four years time at the next World Cup will not be a million miles from what we have seen at this one. This is because despite a clear need for improvement, a team needs consistency and familiarity. Ritchie will be aware of this, and will make the necessary changes while causing minimum disruption.

If a company fails to achieve growth from one year to the next, perhaps they even regress in some way, tough decisions have to be made. But the time to make these decisions is not in the immediate aftermath. Don’t be tempted to pull the trigger and act irrationally, allow the dust to settle and assess with a clear mind the good and the bad, undisturbed by emotion, as Ian Ritchie should do.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Escape the Bubble

In a few days’ time the Rugby World Cup will be hosted for the first time in England, bringing with it the eyes of the world and a rare chance for those at the top of their game to achieve the ultimate success in their field. What better place to mount a challenge for the Webb Ellis trophy than on home soil. It is easy to assume that home crowds mean a guaranteed advantage for England – familiar surroundings, thousands of passionate supporters and the pride of hosting should make the likes of Chris Robshaw, Ben Youngs and George Ford stand that little bit taller.

However, the relentless attention and high expectations that this also brings adds unparalleled pressure, to an already career-defining event. As Dan Cole said recently in an interview, it is crucial in terms of mental preparation, to escape the ‘World Cup bubble’. For the England rugby team, taking part in regular relaxation periods is as crucial to success as the physical delivery of performance.

With the Rugby World Cup looming ever closer, perhaps there is a message here to apply in the workplace. The World Cup squad will find themselves swamped with attention, expectation and added responsibility from not only the management team, but from the millions of fans willing them to glory. They have to achieve an incredibly difficult objective, made all the more challenging by external pressure. This is no different to a scenario that most of us find ourselves in at some point in our working lives. We all have deadlines and objectives, which should always be there to push you (if they don’t then you need a tougher target) with the added pressure of expectation from your employer or Senior Management Team.

If we allow ourselves to become entangled in the pursuit of these objectives, they will become overwhelming, stressful and all-consuming to your lifestyle; to the point where our performance levels and ability to achieve the outlined objective is compromised. It’s a negative spiral and an inevitable road to failure, so how can this be avoided? Your target and the process of achieving it is your own personal ‘world cup’, and the ability to walk away from it and mentally switch off is vital to success.

Set yourself smaller targets and implement time constraints for each one, so that you feel justified in walking away from the desk and enjoying some recreational time with your family and friends. The next time you sit at that desk, your frame of mind will be positive and relaxed, two imperatives of working productively.

Escape the bubble of pressure and expectation once in a while, and perhaps you too could be a world champion in your field.

Monday 20 July 2015

Know When to Leave the Room

Have you ever heard the phrase coined by Michael Dell, ‘never be the smartest person in the room’? All of us should aspire to be a better parent, role model, leader, employer on a continual basis, no matter what success we achieve. But if you’re looking around that room and thinking “how am I benefitting from being in this environment?” Then you cannot hope to be a better person tomorrow. In short, get out. The environments in which you choose to live your life must be filled with people that challenge you, push you out of your comfort zone, that actually scare you a little in a way that forces you to be better, whether that new challenge requires patience, team work, communication skills, creativity, or any skill that you improve as a result.

The ‘room’ can refer to any element of your life in which other people have an influence, whether it is in the workplace or on a sports field, or within your friendship group. The whole concept is to continue to improve by surrounding yourself with the right people. One of the keys to self-improvement is knowing when you have outgrown a role or become stifled by negative people, in your professional or private life. (This does not mean that you should march into your boss’ office and demand a promotion, nor does it mean you are therefore entitled to one.) But gaining the realisation that you are ready for a new challenge is a positive step that should not be ignored. It is not about competition with the people in the room, it is about competition with your former self, so that day by day you improve and continue to experience success thanks to your exposure to new experiences.

Making that transition, though, can be a daunting prospect to face. The thought of going from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in an ocean of very smart fish, can be enough to turn anyone against the idea. It is important to realise that instead of feeling scared, intimidated and a little stupid, all you need to do is change your attitude towards the task. When you instead focus on positives, there are two key considerations to make; firstly the knowledge and experience gap that there may be between you will diminish rapidly as you learn from those who are better than you. Secondly, simply by standing in that room, you are already passively associated with these people, you are part of the same brand and therefore the perception is that you are on the same level as them.

Putting yourself into rooms full of people smarter than you, wiser than you, better than you in some form, will force you to be smarter, wiser and better than you were yesterday. Know when to leave one room, and walk into a scarier one.

Monday 13 July 2015

Star Wars: the Decision to Reboot

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… the movie franchise that has captured the love of men and boys combined, will once again come to the big screen. Excitement and enthusiasm will surely continue to increase from now until the premier in December this year. Apparently, in the language of Hollywood, this is what is known as a ‘reboot’, and Star Wars is certainly not the first to be remade in this way. Movies that achieved success the first time round are always likely candidates to be reinvented, revived and revamped.

Personally, I couldn’t care less about the lightsaber-wielding Jedi and the return of an ageing (yet still rather pulchritudinous) Harrison Ford, nevertheless there is certainly a message to be derived from the ‘Return of the Jedi’, ‘the force’, ‘the one ring to rule them all?’ ‘The goblet of fire?’ etc.

By ‘rebooting’ a franchise, there is an injection of excitement and renewed enthusiasm that wouldn’t have been felt otherwise. Perhaps this, then, could be a message to take forward in business – a reboot or reinvention of what you offer, your processes and people.

There comes a time every once in a while, when you may feel that your vision and direction of the company has become wayward, or perhaps employees don’t feel as valued as they once did. In such circumstances, it is important to come back to the reasons why you began the journey of starting your own business in the first place, and what your core beliefs and values established from the outset. This is, in a sense, a reboot. If there are elements of your company that do not fit the model you initially had in mind, this referral back to your former self may allow both you and your business to understand how best to move forward again. This does not always mean, however, that changes or adaptations that are made along the way are always negative, nor does it mean your business should maintain rigid systems that cannot be adapted to meet fresh challenges. What the ‘rebooting’ process allows is the opportunity to reflect on these changes, and assess whether they have benefitted or hindered progress.

This look back at your default settings will aid you in refocusing your business in the holistic sense, allowing clarity of thought and a renewed passion for the road ahead.

Sometimes it is best to look back at where you came from, in order to progress forwards.

Monday 6 July 2015

Why Even the Best Leaders Need a Coach

Even the world’s best can’t do it all on their own. Athletes such as tennis No.1 Novak Djokovic, the worlds best footballer Lionel Messi, and Rugby World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson all reached the pinnacle of their craft, yet each has coaches and advisors around them to guide them further down the path of success. Likewise can be said of the sharpest minds in business; Caan, Robbins, Branson etc and political leaders like Obama and Cameron have a back room of staff offering direction. Just because they have achieved success does not mean they presume to be the finished article. They continue to employ leading thinkers and experts in specific fields around them, regardless of the success they enjoy.

So the question is, if the best in the world in every field recruits a bit of help – why dont you?

With the help of our clients, weve come up with…..
5 Ways that a Coach can make a Difference:

1.    Offers a different perspective - It is always rewarding in some form to receive alternative ideas on the processes, values, people, products etc that make up your business. Often when an owner or MD spends a lengthy period involved with the intricacies of running a business, they lose the ability to identify areas of weakness that may have gradually increased over years, subtle enough to be overlooked by the SMT. The fresh approach of a coach entering such an environment with a clear head and no preconceptions benefits even the most affluent of organisations, as there is always something to be improved upon.

2.    Can’t afford to have a coach? More like can’t afford NOT TO – of course no coach would offer their services for free, so yes unfortunately they come at a price. But it can’t be stressed enough that this short-term expense would see a return on your investment swiftly, and in more ways than one. Cost saving short cuts can be taken and increased productivity means that from a financial perspective, the benefits will become apparent quite quickly. The removal of a negative or unproductive employee or a slight change in processes and procedures can have a profound effect on the overall cost effectiveness of your business. However what I would argue is the most striking benefit to cost effectiveness is the time that is saved. Time is the most valuable currency that any of us hold, so to spend that time listening to someone who has been through the process of running a successful business may end up saving you from time wasting initiatives and rash ventures further down the road.

3.    Focuses concentration on the right areas – as alluded to earlier, it is very easy for members of senior management to get bogged down in the detail of the day to day running of the company, particularly in SME’s when staff numbers are low. This can lead to a loss of direction as the team has lost its’ captain at the helm. Growth and expansion become difficult, as those required to facilitate this are focused elsewhere. A business coach can, then, coach you and your team to focus ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ the business.

4.    Accountability – procrastination is the barrier to growth. When you are a law unto yourself, as owners of business usually are, things get stuck on the back burner. Jobs that may require something that makes you uncomfortable or might be out of your comfort zone can get forgotten about. When you only have yourself to answer to, simply put, you’ll probably get lazy. The presence of a business coach positively alters this dynamic, giving you someone who can scrutinise your decisions and force you to question the judgements you make. In short, business owners become accountable to the coach, therefore can no longer put off the jobs which otherwise would be left undone.

5.    Life and Business experience - we never stop learning. However long you have run a business for, there’s always a lesson to learn from every new experience, if you are open-minded enough to see it. It is this open-mindedness that makes the acquisition of a coach especially rewarding. Surely it makes sense to take the advice of someone who has been in your position, and has seen it through to achieve success. The road to success is never a straightforward one, indeed it is more likely a maze in which you are presented with multiple options at every turn, making it incredibly difficult to reach your targets. A business coach stands at your shoulder, helping you to identify the right route to take, having walked the maze before and having made mistakes that they can now help you to avoid.

The worlds best across all industries have coaches, so why wouldnt you?

Tuesday 30 June 2015

A Manager's Greatest Compliment

As a leader in the boardroom or in sport, there will inevitably be times when someone just doesn’t quite fit the team. Such scenarios often become obvious quite quickly, in which case the decision to let the individual leave is a simple one. But what if it isn’t so clear cut? Such decision making becomes far more ambiguous once one or more of the following factors come into play:

* Perhaps the company went out of their way to recruit this individual
* Their experience provided the perfect background for the role with you
* There may be a personal relationship that has been built up over time

Such cases often lead to procrastination on the part of the leader, as no decision is perhaps seen as a better way to avert criticism than a wrong decision. The final choice, in such situations, should always include what is best for the employee themselves. For certain, as business managers and owners, our first priority will always be the success of the company, yet if a member of the team is unhappy in your environment, regardless of their ability, they are less likely to achieve their potential, and as managers, surely unlocking that potential is the fundamental goal. Using a sport analogy, a player at a smaller club may have the ability to achieve greater things, but to do this they must transfer to a larger club. Gareth Bale, the ‘Welsh Wizard’, epitomised this with a transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid, a club at which he now thrives. Those of you with any level of interest in sport could list dozens of similar examples. It is not necessarily the case that the employee is any better than anyone else within the company, just that a change of environment is required for them, and for the rest of your team.

It goes without saying that letting an employee go should be seen only ever as a last resort. Before taking such a decision, all alternatives should be exhausted to see if you can reach an understanding of why there is an issue, and if it can be resolved. However if the issue is beyond repair, perhaps cutting across beliefs and values of the organisation or your management style, it is probably time to part company.

Such decisions are hardly easy, but they allow the individual to excel personally even if that requires leaving your team, providing them with the platform to move onto better things. It also relieves the rest of your team of any tension or stress that having the individual on board may have caused, allowing them to deliver an improved performance. Fundamentally, when we look beyond our selfish interests, is this not a manager’s greatest accolade - the encouragement and facilitation of success for employees in whatever way possible, even if that means letting them go?

Their failure to thrive in your environment may present the opportunity for them to succeed in someone else’s.

Friday 26 June 2015

7 Reasons to Consider a Coach

The world of sport is used to the concept of a coach and trainer as someone who motivates, challenges and inspires the athlete to better performance and greater achievements. Even those who excel in a sport rely on a coach. Andy Murray’s tennis improved under Ivan Lendl’s coaching expertise, finally achieving that Wimbledon win we all celebrated.

Similarly, business owners, leaders and managers can benefit from having a mentor or coach. I work with several who came looking for help and support because they were experiencing one or more of the following seven symptoms.

1.     You believe that the business will suffer if you are not there all the time; taking a holiday is out of the question
2.     You feel you are married to your business and that it demands working all hours
3.     Your business does not generate enough profit to justify your efforts
4.     You have fallen out of love with your business
5.     You have a lot of business experience, however you haven’t invested in yourself in years
6.     You have lost sight of where the business is going and why
7.     Because you are already good and recognise that it’s going to take that bit extra to become OUTSTANDING

So what makes a good coach and what results can you expect from working with one?

Faye, the Managing Director of Running Imp in Lincoln who I coach said this,
“From the first time I heard Paula Finch speaking at a business seminar, I knew I wanted to work with her, by chance or rather fate she became our business coach at Running Imp on the Growth Accelerator. Paula has transformed my thought process and techniques allowing me to spend more time on high value areas in the business by giving some control to the Senior Management Team. We now have a clear direction of where we are going and have implanted the tools required to ensure success. If you want impressive high end business mentoring I recommend Paula to any serious business looking to get results and have a clear plan of the future ahead."

So if you want results for you, your team and your business, with funding options available, call Paula on 01778 424640 today – it could be the one change that makes the biggest difference.