Your daily routine is the key to your personal productivity and effectiveness. It should be crammed full of habits that will maximise your focus and efficiency, and move you closer to achieving your big vision. If you’ve already sorted your to do list into, ‘ditch delegate or do’ then you’ll be focussing on those tasks which only you can do as a business owner. Now it’s a case of maximising your time.
I like the habit of planning my day the evening before (and my week on a Sunday evening). At the end of the day you’re usually very clear about what still needs to done, what the priorities are, what tomorrow’s priority will be. Advanced planning like this makes sure that you hit the ground running. It can also make for a better night’s sleep as you put tasks to bed!
Chunk your tasks
I recommend chunking your work into ninety-minute segments. This is a good timeframe for focus, and focus is the key word; don’t multi-task – if you’re going to work on a sales letter, work on it for the full ninety minutes, or until it’s done, if you can do it quicker.
Work out which part of the day you’re at your peak; for me it’s first thing in the morning, and use that ninety minutes to ‘eat your frog’ – i.e. do the thing that you don’t necessarily want to do, but that’s weighing you down mentally, because you know you really need to get it done. Just get focused and eat the damn frog….gulp! It’s a really good success habit to get into.
Set yourself mini deadlines, always good for those of us who like a bit of ‘last minute pressure’; make them ‘drop-dead’ lines too! Absolute must delivers!
Breaks are always a good deadline. Holidays are also excellent. Ever noticed how much more you get done in the days leading up to a holiday, or the minutes leading up to any deadline. Both breaks and holidays are essential for your long-term productivity too – refreshing and re-energising your mind and body. The most successful businessmen and women really get this and have made breaks, long and short, a habit they will always keep.
Other daily routines and success habits that are good for your mind and body include taking at least thirty minutes exercise a day even if it’s just a walk down the road and back and drinking plenty of water – two litres is the recommended amount, isn’t it? I’m no scientist, but I can testify to the power of a lunchtime walk for clearing your head and re-charging you up for a productive afternoon.
Do one thing: take a look at your existing routines and decide if they need a tweak.
Thanks for reading :)
Any business that wants to anticipate changing circumstances and act with agility needs high-performing, multi-skilled teams. If you consider that, ‘the only constant is change’ then seamless adaptability is key if you’re going to meet challenges head on and continue to give customers the consistency they crave.
Any training that takes place in an organisation has one purpose and that is to take the business forward. Training will mainly be needed:
The question then is ‘how should this training be delivered?’ Should it be focussed on individual team members or on the team as a whole? In my view the nature of the training need will determine the choice of training vehicle. It will usually be a blend of both.
Training the individual
If you have ‘one right way’ to do every task in your business and that one right way is written down (or videoed) as a step by step guide, it provides a solid platform where people can be trained on a variety of tasks. This ability to quickly change between tasks means the business continues without hitch when hit by the unexpected. It runs in a spirit of co-operation to get the job done.
This sort of training will usually be carried out in the workplace on a one-to one-basis and has several benefits:
Training the whole team including their manager has many benefits. As well as the direct benefit of the subject matter (which should be relevant to all and business focussed) there are many indirect benefits:
This is equally important if not more-so for the management team. Training the management team as one unit:
Cross team training is not always used by those larger organisations who like healthy competition between their teams. Keeping small teams in tight units and training them together can build really strong bonds which can have advantages. But personally I prefer co-operation. The downside of the tight knit team comes if it loses sight of being first and foremost part of the business.
If everyone wants what’s best for the business and everyone’s job is customer service then working together in a spirit of co-operation is the way forward. If you want flexible teams with people switching to where they’re needed then you cannot have people protecting their kingdoms. Training as a team, as one business can benefit that culture of learning and co-operation and lead to success.
Do one thing: re-visit your training plan and check:
(Don’t have a training plan? Then take a look at your team and routine tasks; do you have enough people with the skills for an agile business?)
Thanks for reading :)
An effective Customer Journey Map gives you a clear and detailed picture of how your customer uses your product or services, and how customers and potential customers go through the buying process. It gives you and your team an overview of your customers’ experience and shows how they move through your sales funnel, which in turn helps you to identify opportunities to improve their experience.
To make it effective, you need to rethink what you believe you know, and fully understand every touch point a customer has with your business. There’s no one template that fits all businesses when it comes to mapping your customer journey, but there is a system, what a surprise! So here it is.
If this is your first attempt at mapping, then the most important thing is to keep it as simple as possible, but make sure it gives you all the vital information that you need. Remember that to make it effective you need to step out of your own shoes, and into your customers’ shoes. Take off those rose-tinted specs and see your operation as the customer sees it… as it is, not as you want it to be, or as it should be.
When you have your mindset right, follow these 6 steps…
Make sure that you know your customers intimately
You may have been told about the importance of building your customer avatars (a picture of your ideal customer). For customer journey mapping, these avatars are essential, giving you insights into your customers’ motivations, their buying habits, what they think, how they make buying decisions, what they want to achieve and so on. To get the best possible results, you’ll create a customer journey map for each avatar.
Work out the phases in your customer journey
How do potential customers hear about you? What are their first interactions with you?
What is their step by step experience with you? Your customer phases may include things like: Research, Purchase, Discovery, Recommend, Choice. For your first map, keep it simple and don’t over-think things.
Know what your customers want to achieve
In customer journey mapping, it’s crucial to keep in mind that this is not about you, it’s all about your customers. It’s all about what they need, what they want, their pain, their goals.
Go through each phase of your map and think about what your customer wants and needs when they’re in this phase, so that you can give them what they are looking for.
For example, if they are looking to put a toe in the water and try your products out before they commit to a purchase, but you don’t have any free resources, then you are not helping them to accomplish their goal. Or if they are trying to find you online, but your website is not ranked on Google, then again you have stopped them from accomplishing their goal. You have put an insurmountable hurdle in their way.
List your customers’ goals clearly under each of the phases in the journey map, because you can only accomplish your goals if your customers accomplish theirs.
Identify the touch-points and Moments of Truth on your customer journey.
For each phase, identify the interaction points between you and your customer, and the opportunities you have to connect and engage with your them as they try to reach their goals. These will include interactions that you have off site and onsite, through marketing, in person, and over the phone.
Some of these touch-points are more critical than others, e.g. when they try to call you does someone answer the phone, and how do they answer the phone?
These are your Moments of Truth. Map them out too as you will need to pay particular attention to them when you come to take action.
Understand your time-frames
Work out the time it takes for a customer to move through each phase of their journey with you. Is there more that you could do to help your customer achieve their goal for that phase, or speed up their journey?
Assess the team members/external support involved in each interaction
Look at who you have involved in supporting the customer journey. Do you have ‘aces in their places’? Are your best people looking after and monitoring the Moments of Truth? Do they have the support they need?
Are they following simple, logical and repeatable systems to get the job done? Have they had enough training? The right training?
For your customers to accomplish their goals in each phase of their journey through your business, there must be effective systems in place, and well-trained people owning and running those systems.
Walk through every step of the customer journey with your team, and at each step ask ‘Why? Why do we have this step, do we really need it, does it add value for our customers? Why do we do it this way, could we make it easier?’
As it sounds, the customer journey is the route your customer takes through your business from first deciding that they want what you have, to choosing to buy what they want from you, through every step of your sales process, to receiving and paying for their goods or services, and hopefully leaving you good feedback. It’s well worth the investment.
Do one thing: Our Business Efficiency Test will give you an insight into how each of the key systems in your business is operating - including your customer experience system - and will give you strategies for improving them in a pdf report. Take the test now, to see how you measure up: https://scorecard.mariannepage.co.uk
Like many business owners, I used to make the mistake of thinking that what was crystal clear and obvious to me would be crystal clear to my ideal client. That they would take the time to jump through my hoops, understand my jargon or click more than once, to find out more about me and my products.
Like many business owners, I’d over-complicated my very simple business.
I’d made myself difficult to do business with, forgetting the key lessons I’d learned at McDonald’s:
Visibility – make sure that you’re somewhere that your ideal clients can see you. Then have great branding – your equivalent of the Golden Arches sky sign.
Accessibility – be available when and where they need you to be, easy to reach and easy to understand.
Simplicity – be easy to do business with; straightforward; no hoops, no added complications, no unnecessary steps in your process.
As a Restaurant Manager at McDonald’s, I was tasked with walking my customer journey (or doing a ‘Travel Path’ as it was called), every hour. This meant walking about 100 yards (old school) up the street and back, looking for what my customers might see and notice, - litter, cleanliness, etc. And on my return what about first impressions seen from the Customers’ eyes, - tables and floor clean, team smart and busy, no queues - you get the idea.
Of course, we don’t all have bricks and mortar businesses. For many of us that first impression is online, and very often will begin with a Google search, followed by our website, maybe followed by a phone call, and so on. Very different businesses but they all have one thing in common: every customer goes on a journey through them.
To give Customers the best possible experience, we need to understand the key phases of that journey, the ‘Moments of Truth’ along the way, and any opportunities for improvement. It’s vital that we view it through our customers’ eyes; through their very real experience; not what the experience should be, or what you want it to be, but what it actually is, day-to-day. Ask those in your team who work with the journey every day, how simple and straightforward it is; how many hoops you’re making your customers jump through; how much unnecessary information you’re asking your customer to provide.
An effective Customer Journey Map gives you a clear and detailed picture of how your customer uses your product or services, and how customers and potential customers go through the buying process.
It gives you and your team an overview of your customers’ experience and shows how they move through your sales funnel, which in turn helps you to identify opportunities to improve their experience.
To make it effective, you need to rethink what you believe you know, and fully understand every touch point a customer has with your business.
There’s no one template that fits all businesses when it comes to mapping your customer journey, but there is a system, what a surprise!
Look out for next week’s blog where I’ll share our customer journey mapping system with you.
So, you have a big Vision that gives you goosebumps and it’s plastered on your wall in huge letters. You’ve started to plan with your team about how together you’ll make that Vision a reality. And you’re all buzzing about the future and cracking on. Great stuff! I can feel the energy from here.
Now, all that’s missing is an effective Personal Management System. Not the sexiest title I’ve come across but even the most inspiring vision, and the smartest of plans will be wasted if you don't have the means to keep yourself on track.
A Personal Management System
Your daily routine is the cornerstone of your personal management system, and should be crammed full of habits that will maximise your productivity, and move you closer to your Vision.
1. Get into the habit of planning your day the evening before (and your week on a Sunday evening). At the end of the day, you’re usually very clear about what still needs to done, what the priorities are, what tomorrow’s frog* will be. Advanced planning like this makes sure that you hit the ground running.
2. Chunk your work into 90 minute segments. This is a good timeframe for focus, and FOCUS is the key word - don’t multi-task - if you’re going to work on a sales letter, work on it for the full 90 minutes, or until it’s done, if you can do it within the 90.
3. Peak Practice - Work out which part of the day you’re at your peak - for me it’s first thing in the morning - and use that 90 minutes to ‘eat your frog’ - *do the thing that you don't necessarily want to do, but that’s weighing you down mentally, because you know you really need to get it done.
Just get focused and eat the damn frog! It’s a really good success habit to get into.
4. Set yourself mini deadlines - always good for those of us who like a bit of last minute pressure - make them ‘drop-dead’-lines too! Absolute must delivers! Breaks are always a good deadline. Holidays are also excellent. Ever noticed how much more you get done in the days leading up to a holiday, or the minutes leading up to any deadline.
5. Switch Off. Both breaks and holidays are essential for your long-term productivity too - refreshing and re-energising your mind and body. The most successful businessmen and women really get this, and have made breaks long and short, a habit they will always keep.
6. Daily Exercise. Other daily routines and success habits that are good for your mind and body, include taking at least 30 minutes exercise a day - even if it’s just a walk down the road and back - and drinking plenty of water - two litres is the recommended amount isn’t it? I’m no scientist, but I can testify to the power of a lunchtime walk for clearing your head and setting you up for a productive afternoon.
For budding entrepreneurs, there are three other personal management essentials:
A Personal Management System takes discipline and time to develop, but when you learn to manage yourself, the business will be a piece of cake!
Do one thing: look back over today/yesterday. Did your work take you towards your Vision? Did you have frog for breakfast? If not, look to adopt these good habits and improve your routines.
For more information on how MPL can help you, contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve refrained from mentioning the B word in my posts. Like many of you I’m heartily sick of the dreaded ‘Brexit’ word. It’s not that I’ve been burying my head in the sand or anything, just rather like many people I’ve not felt qualified to give advice. But there is one thing I would recommend, and that is to plan.
Not knowing which way we’re going to go, let alone what’s going to happen then, can perhaps make people think what’s the point of planning when your crystal ball has totally clouded over.
Any time you work on a business plan you are faced with two things.
Now at anytime those ‘unknowables’ take an amount of guesswork based on things like the starting point of your business, the economy, strength of the pound, forecasts etc. So you plan using what you know and your best guesswork based on your current knowledge.
With Brexit/no Brexit looming those ‘unknowables’ are worse than usual since they can be a totally different set of unknowables depending on a hard Brexit or even no Brexit at all! Suddenly your best guesswork is built on very little knowledge and two possible outcomes at extremes of each other.
I usually say that planning is fun but I imagine planning for many businesses at the moment is a nightmare. So many factors are outside individual businesses’ control it can feel like you’re going to hit sheet ice and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
But I still believe in planning. Plan based on what you know and then plan based on what you can imagine. Planning in the current climate is going to need some creativity. Brainstorming how a hard Brexit or no Brexit might affect your business; get your team, your suppliers, your Customers involved, perhaps a third party unconnected with you who can add a ‘naive’ or independent view.
This is about planning for the worst case scenario but it can also be about recognising opportunities for example the effects of a weakened pound on exports, tourism, staycations etc.
McDonald’s taught me a lot about the importance of planning, and how to be smart about it. I learned that planning is a team sport; most effective when it involves the people it affects as well as those who will deliver on it. Add someone with no bias or axe to grind into the mix, and you will develop a truly effective plan.
I learned that you listen to those with the skills and experience, but you also consider the new and the different; that it’s ok to re-visit what might once have been considered crazy or just plain wrong for the business, as things change, and the ‘right time’ comes along.
I learned that you have a system for planning that makes it routine, regular, consistent; that keeps you focused on the end goal, even when you need to adapt, or change your route.
A plan for me isn’t something to be made then stuck in a drawer it needs to be dynamic; reviewed and adapted to changing circumstances. And 2019 may prove the most fluid yet.
Do one thing: Review your business plans. Do they include worst case scenarios or potential opportunities?
For more information on how MPL can help you, contact us here: email@example.com
Imagine you have a boat. It’s the start of a new year and you’ve just set sail, headed out to sea - full of optimism and excitement. Captain of your destiny. Owner of your fate.
But where are you headed? Wherever the current takes you? Slave to the tide and the prevailing wind? Or have you plotted a course to take you to your dream destination?
Now imagine that boat is your business.
Business navigation is no easier than navigating the ocean, but just like sailing the high seas, you’ll always be better off with robust preparation and planning, so give some thought to the following:
What’s the name of your boat?
This will say a lot about how you see yourself right now.
If you had to name it today what would it be: ‘Victory’, Endurance’?
Or might it be ‘All at Sea’?
Have you set your course?
What are your goals and milestones for 2019; for the next 90 days?
And what about practical action plans to achieve them?
How will you recognise that storms are coming before they hit?
What have you put in place to pick up on problems - to anticipate and overcome them?
How will you fill the gaps in your knowledge and experience?
Who or what are your anchors that will keep you from going under?
These are often the people who keep you grounded, keep you going, maybe develop and inspire you. A family member or a trusted mentor.
Perhaps they are words from a loved one that you carry with you.
Or perhaps it’s a faith, a belief in something greater than yourself.
How have you selected your crew?
Did you recruit to your values and passion? And how have you developed their skills to help them fulfill their promise? Can they take over happily if you get seasick or need to sleep?
What are the Values, the compass points that will keep you on a true course?
Those things that make you and your business tick, that show the world what you stand for. That you hold true too, day in and day out.
Do one thing: Think about where you're headed in 2019, and ask these questions to check that you’re prepared for whatever comes - good or otherwise.
Wishing you a safe and splendid passage through the year.
For more information on how MPL can help you visit www.mariannepage.co.uk or contact us at
Life is awash with rhythms. The sun rises and sets, the tides ebb and flow, the seasons come and go, even if not as consistently of late! My business now enjoys a lovely rhythm too and the beat is set by 90 day cycles. I read a great blog the other day on a site called Asian Efficiency (all about time management and productivity) where they were talking about the 90 day timeframe as ‘the range where ambition and planning actually fall reasonably close together’. I like that.
I’m a big fan of 90 day planning. I do appreciate not everyone is keen on planning particularly when it’s something that takes time to do then is filed away and forgotten about. I get that, even if you don’t create an action plan for each goal and work your plan, there is a huge amount of power in thinking about what you want, where you want to get to, and getting the outcome you want down on paper.
I think planning too much detail too far ahead can be a waste of time. Have a great vision, of course, but three years of fine detail is too much since so much can change in that time. Planning too far ahead can result in overestimating what can be done too. That’s why I love the 90 day planning cycle. Starting with the end of that period in mind you can work back till you have a week’s action plan. It’s amazing how the closer you get to the actions needed, the greater the reality check! Of course you should be pushing the boundaries but too much, as it can become a demoralising wish-list. And no one in your team will buy into that. It reminds me of a great cartoon showing a line of productivity on a board with a gap in the middle. ‘What happens here’ says the boss. ‘Ah, that’s where a small miracle happens!’ comes the reply.
We all have a really good feel for what we can get done in 90 days – how far we can move towards a big goal, and plan the steps that we need to take to get there. Our longer term plans, even though it’s valuable to have them, can’t be planned right down to concrete steps; the goals are too big, there’s too much to get done, and if we try to plan the detail we just get overwhelmed, which in turn leads to inaction.
Working with 90 day goals:
Do one thing: Resolve to try out the 90 day planning cycle. I’d love to hear how you get on.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!
When I was starting out on my own I had a dream of what I wanted to achieve, but like many dreams, it was hazy and unfocused, and I could never tell anyone what it was all about with any clarity. It was like seeing a shape at the end of a foggy road but never getting any nearer to it. I wasn’t clear where I was going, and we all know what happens when you’re not sure where you’re going...you get lost!
And I did.
I ventured down so many rabbit holes, wandered into so many blind alleys, found myself in so many cul-de-sacs, desperately trying to get to...where?
You could say it was all part of my vertical learning curve, but looking back it feels like 18 months of wasted time, effort, and money!
Knowing your destination is crucial. It keeps you focused. It inspires your team. It gives purpose and meaning to your planning.
What is Your Vision?
When you’re thinking about your Vision, think about your ‘Why’ the impact you want to make, the problems you want to solve, the influence you want to have, the legacy you want to leave.
Look at Richard Branson, he has built a brand that inspires. His ‘Why’ - ‘because UK consumers deserve better.’
He created a movement with a 'Why' that was all about challenging the status quo and empowering people.
My ‘Why’? - ‘because business could be so much easier for so many business owners out there.’
But when I started out I was all back to front. I was thinking ‘what are my skills and knowledge?’ I should have been thinking, ‘what are the problems facing business owners and their customers, what are they struggling with, how could things be better?’ And then seeing where my experience would solve their problems. I started out thinking it started with me; I know now it should have started out all about others.
Your Vision should give you goosebumps every time you look at it, and connect with the hearts and minds not only of your team, but also of your ideal clients. Think ‘the best we can be’. Think ‘making a real difference’. Think BIG!
This is about the future you see for yourself and your business, your destination, so you can write it in terms of the future, but we prefer to write in in the more tangible present tense, so that it feels more real, obtainable:
At MPL (Marianne Page Ltd)
‘We are more influential than Gerber! The go-to mentors for business owners with a growth and scale mindset who want to work on their business not in it; giving every entrepreneur across the globe, the freedom to scale, sell or franchise their business… or run it from a beach somewhere if that’s what they want.’
It’s not about where you are now, it’s where you’re headed - your destination.
What’s the time frame?
People often talk about their 10 year Vision for their business, and it’s a great timeframe for the majority of us. But if your personal plan is to sell up and move to Bali in 4 years’ time, then the 10 year Vision doesn’t really work for you.
Whatever timeframe you choose, be clear about it. Write it in a journal or pin it on your noticeboard as the date you’re working towards. You’ll need it for your Planning.
Who is the Vision for?
Don’t keep your Vision to yourself. Once you’re happy with it, share it with the team, get their input, get them excited about it, and then get it out there on your website, your marketing materials, your training resources.
This is a big deal. Putting it out there is the first step towards achievement, so take it now.
Do one thing: Write down your vision and pin it up on the wall. Ask yourself, 'Does this give me goose-bumps?' and if it doesn't, take it back down, and work on it until it does. This is your future we're talking about!
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!
I’m a big film fan and one of my favourite clips from ‘The Untouchables’ is Sean Connery chasing a baddie, then gasping ‘Enough of this running sh*t!’ And I’ve read a few articles recently denigrating business plans which put me in mind of that line. So I was intrigued to know why people held this view.
I found some common themes:
And I suppose that there’s the rub. It’s not business plans that are useless, it’s more a question of how good your planning process is. If your plan is just a wish list, too complicated, if it hasn’t involved the team and it’s merely been done to tick a box then I would wholeheartedly agree. But when used well, I believe it’s a powerful tool to give focus and energy to your business.
Planning is the platform on which your innovation and creativity can blossom and shine. And that’s just one of my top ten:
The benefits of Planning:
1. Helps you to spot opportunities
A consistent planning system, and planning calendar, forces you to step off the hamster wheel once in a while and get your head up. To go from being a hamster to being a meerkat, if you like. It gets you to review your progress to date – what’s worked well, what hasn’t, what lessons can be learned. It provides space and time to think – about what you want to happen, what might get in the way, how you can get round any obstacles. It opens you up to opportunities, that you might otherwise miss.
2. Brings individuals and teams together and breaks down silos
All too often, specialist teams, or individuals within a business, even a small one like yours, can get lost in their own little world, and not be able to see the value that others bring to the business, or the challenges others face to get things done.
Regular planning creates the opportunity to bring people together from different areas of the business to review the way work is done from the customer’s perspective and make plans based on what is best for the whole business.
3. Creates a safe environment for new and creative ideas
Meet ‘that’s not the way we do things round here’ – first cousin to, ‘we tried that before, and it didn’t work’
It’s this type of statement that will prevent the flow of ideas in your business, and even your best people will not put their creative heads above the parapet if they know they’ll be shot down in flames.
Your planning system offers a structured way to talk openly about the challenges facing your business, and ask for new and creative solutions to overcome them.
4. Gives everyone the chance to contribute
How motivating and exciting to be part of something that is growing and achieving success, thanks in part, to your contribution.
Involve your team in your planning, and you involve them in your Vision for the future – you give them the opportunity to create it.
How much more engaged do you think they will be? How much more ownership do you think they will take?
5. Exposes your blind spots
We all have them. We can all be blind to our own strengths and weaknesses, to our innate prejudices, to other people’s talents and the value they add; and often we need others to shine a light on our blind spots.
It’s the same in business – we all see things from our own view point, and benefit enormously from understanding how others see things. Planning gives us a framework for this.
6. Puts the customer first
Life planning puts you first. Business planning puts the customer first, and ensures that the focus is on what’s best for the customer, building trust and ensuring that everyone is focused on what really matters.
7. Keeps your products relevant
It’s your customers who decide whether your products are relevant to them or not, and it’s your planning system that will ensure that you check in with them - that you look for more innovative and effective ways to meet their needs and satisfy their wants.
8. Builds a stronger management team
Regular planning, focused on the business as a whole, brings the management team closer, and helps them to see the value – skills, experience and expertise – that they each bring. It’s also a great way of developing them, teaching them to focus on the end goal, and the strategies and tactics that will get you there.
9. Determines priorities
Your planning system is a key element in your continuous improvement cycle: plan – implement – review – plan. You start the exercise looking at what’s possible, and by the end it’s all about results.
You understand your long term goal and you’ve plotted your course to get there. Together you’ve agreed your priorities, you’ve decided on your 90 day goals, you have your action plan, you know your first step. It’s simple and it’s logical, and it’s all about getting the right things done.
10. Builds ownership and accountability
Any effective plan assigns the who as well as the what, where, how and when. It gives everyone ownership for their own little piece of the business – their role, their goal, their action plan.
Ownership and accountability are the key differentiators between a regular team, and a high performing team. Your plan will drive this.
Do one thing: Start planning this week for a successful 2019
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)