Andrew HorderHi, I’m Andrew Horder!


Welcome to the 2nd newsletter from “The Busy Fool” – that’s what I used to be before I discovered the tools and techniques I’ll be sharing with you in this newsletter.

A Busy Fool, running about like a headless chicken, desperately trying to please everyone who asked me to do anything.

A Busy Fool, petrified to turn down any work that came my way, regardless of whether I’d enjoy it – in case nothing else came along.

A Busy Fool trying to grasp every single opportunity that passed through my radar, and never quite having the time to do any of them well.

A Busy Fool, spinning my wheels and wondering why I could never seem to get any traction.

That’s all changed for me now – read on to see how it can change for you too

The Busy Fool Newsletter
October 2009

This newsletter is all about Opportunity Management, making the most of your best opportunities.

This month, I’ll be talking about focusing on what people want, and what kind of KAM is needed for different Key Accounts. In Entrepreneurs, I’ll be looking at the importance of niching, and in time management I’ll be challenging the wisdom of multi-tasking.

The newsletters come out each month, and each newsletter contains articles, tips and tools to help you to get focussed on the opportunities, ideas or customers that will best get you where you want to go. That will range from prioritisation tools to articles on how to maintain focus in a world that is constantly changing and rapidly becoming unfamiliar. And they will contain recommendations for things you can personally use to stay ahead of the game. If you come across any ideas you find useful, I’d be delighted to include them – just submit the details to newsletter@thebusyfool.com – anything I use will get a free 3-month subscription to the Opportunity Matrix online prioritisation tool.

In this Newsletter:

Reader Offer

FOCUS:

Where’s the Demand?
Are you giving them what they want?

ENTREPRENEURS:
Niche, Niche, Niche!
Are you targetted enough?

KEY ACCOUNT MGMT:
Different Strokes
What kind of KAM for each account?

TIME MANAGEMENT TIP:
Is Multi-Tasking Killing Your Business?
How much is context-switching costing you?

I caught the Financial Controller in a good mood!

If you’re struggling to decide which of all your great opportunities you should be focusing on (yes, you should be focusing, you really cannot do them all!), or if you’re spinning your wheels because you’re trying to do too much all at once, and yet you’re scared you’re going to miss that one big opportunity, then you really need to take advantage of her good mood.

I’ll be honest, I’ve only just decided to do this offer – I was talking to the financial controller about the best offer I could make, and I told her about the seminar I was at last week, where Harv Eker and Alex Mandossian told us to create an irresistible offer, something really crazy, and incredibly I got her to agree to this one.  Frankly, I was so surprised, I thought I’d get it out there before she changes her mind!

So for the next seven days, Busy Fool readers can get to do an Opportunity Matrix online programme, including 1-to-1 sessions with your own personal consultant, for less than half the normal price! All I ask in return for this great opportunity to get yourself focused on really getting the most from your best opportunities is that you write me a great testimonial of how Opportunity Matrix has propelled you forward in your career, your business or your life.

Oh yes, the price! Only for the next seven days, you can get the online programme, like I say complete, with 1-to-1 sessions for  the incredible price of just £127 (that’s about $197 for my international readers).

This is so new, I haven’t even had time to set up the sign-up page yet, and as I say, I really wanted to get it out to you all straight away so you don’t miss out.  So to take me up on it, just e-mail me now at Offers@TheBusyFool.com with a phone number and good time to call – and hurry!  Do it now before the financial controller reads this!

FOCUS:
Where’s the Demand? Are you giving them what they want?

It was a warm June evening, as I remember, some years ago. I was at a networking event near Guildford in Surrey – a “netwalk” actually, where an amiable bunch of business owners, coaches, and assorted micropreneurs spent a pleasant evening strolling up Pitch Hill and back down to the Hurtwood Inn in the village of Peaslake. I was waxing lyrical about my latest business theory (I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was) and how I could create demand for the service I was creating around it, when I was stopped dead in my tracks by the inimitable Dr Alan Rae, serial entrepreneur and founder of HowToDoBusiness.com:

“Well, of course, old boy,” he uttered, with a chuckle and a knowing grin, “we’ve always built our businesses around something people actually want.”

It was then I realised that what I had was a solution looking for a problem. And that I needed to do something else!

These days, I spend less time theorising, and more time seeking out problems that my business can solve better than anyone else. I developed our Key Account Management services around the problems people were having finding the time to look after all their big customers effectively. And Opportunity Matrix was created to solve a specific problem – too many ideas and projects, and not enough time to do all of them.

If you’re going to focus on a small number of opportunities, it’s important that they can generate enough revenue and business value to provide your business with a stable and profitable base. Two of the criteria we frequently use on the viability dimension of Opportunity Matrix are “market size” and “market acceptance”. In other words, you need to be able to answer these two questions: will people pay for what is on offer, and are there enough buyers to support a business? Or to paraphrase Dr Rae: build your business around something people actually want.

KEY ACCOUNT MGMT:
Different Strokes
What kind of KAM for each account?

Following up on last month’s article on types of Key Account, this month I thought I’d look at how to deal with each type.  Last month we looked at how much account management resource to allocate; this month we look at what kind of resource is needed.

Strategic Partnership Accounts (attractive to us, and we’re strong with them) have the potential to become mini (or even major) businesses in their own right.  Every aspect of how we deal with them can be brought into play to make the partnership mutually satisfying and effective.  So they really need a full-blown strategic business manager, who can see the opportunities for synergy and marshal the resources to make then happen.  As the business grows, the account manager will probably assemble around them a team with complementary skills, and help their counterpart at the Key Account to do the same.

Development Accounts (attractive to us, but we’re not great at doing what they want) really need someone who can drive through the changes that need to be made in our own business – a change manager.  There may well be internal changes required to fix the issued that mean that we’re not as strong with the Key Account as we’d like to be, so they need someone who can create changes without messing up the rest of the business.  All too often I’ve seen business make changes to appease a large ‘development’ account, and weaken their position with other Key Accounts.

Maintenance Accounts (we’re strong with them, and they’re not massively attractive for us) are a great place to try out new account managers – it’s relatively easy ( they need us more than we need them) and it’s not the end of the world if things go a little awry.  They’re also accounts where we can be a bit firmer about our margin requirements, so we may elect to use our tougher negotiators on them, to get the most from them.  However, these are often the cash cows of the operation, so we’ll still need to create a balance, and not upset them too much.

Opportunity Accounts (they’re not enormously attractive to us, and we’re not that great at what they value) really need more of a typical ‘hunter’ type as their account manager – someone who can ferret out all the opportunities there are going in the account, and put together a compelling argument to them.  They’re still Key Accounts, so we’re not talking about an out-and-out “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” hard selling salesman, we still need them to be building long term relationships – in the “Key Account Management for Profit” club, top Sandler trainer Marcus Cauchi used the phrase ‘infecting’ the account to describe how this kind of account manager gets into every possible opportunity in the account.

Of course, for many smaller businesses, there isn’t the luxury of having lots of different KAMs for the different account types.  And the boundaries between the account types aren’t sharp and clear – they all have elements of the others in them.  So every KAM will need to have elements of all the archetypes in them, and know which aspects to play up with which account.  That way, they’ll be able to get the very most from them.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP:
Niche, Niche, Niche! How much is context-switching costing you?

In these times of the “long tail” of internet buyers accessible to all, we’re constantly being told to niche, niche, niche.  And it is essential that we do – because it works.  People are more likely to trust (and buy from) an expert or a specialist.  They need to be able to identify immediately with who your product or service is for, to be able to say, “That’s me!”

Top communications coach Joel D. Roberts (who I saw teach at Harv Eker’s Guerrilla Business Intensive last week) has a great phrase for it: “Abstraction is the enemy” – all that pseudo-intelligent business jargon that’s just trying to make it sound professional when you’re really saying “I’m desperate, I’ll do anything you’ll pay me to do”.  Far better to be saying “I can fix your problem – I’m damn good at it, because I’m the specialist”.

That was really brought home to me during the exercise at the end of Harv’s seminar.  We all had to present our new marketing plans to two other businesses.  The two guys who went first in our group, Rory and Paul, had their market, their niche down pat: web-savvy learner guitar players on a budget.  Then it was my turn, and even though I thought I’d tuned it in pretty tight: owners of small businesses within a turnover band of £250k to £10m, I quickly realised quite how wide a “niche” that is.

So I fine-tuned it, adding: distribution bias, thriving and looking to grow.  Still a bit abstract, but getting there at least.  Maybe if you fit into that description, you could spare some time to help me narrow it further – by either confirming my stuff could help you, or confirming it couldn’t.

Niching works.  Just this week, I’ve spent over £100 with a businessman I’d never dealt with before, and committed to another couple of hundred next week.  Why?  Because he’d positioned himself as an expert: “J.W. Rawlinson, Automobile Technician – Jaguar specialist” it said on the card his marketers stuck under my wiper several weeks ago.  Normally, I just throw that sort of thing away, but this one I kept – as a Jaguar driver, it spoke directly to me.  And when I remembered on Monday that I needed to renew the MOT roadworthiness test on my Jaguar, guess who I called?  And he’ll do my brakes next week, and all my servicing from now on, and I’ll refer other Jaguar owners to him.

All because he niched.

TIME MANAGEMENT TIP:
Is Multi-Tasking Killing Your Business? How much is context-switching costing you?

“Context-switching.  That’s the biggest cost in my business, by far.”  That’s what one of my clients told me this week.  He works on big complex projects, and when his people have to stop what they’re doing to look at a different project, it eats up their time.

First they have to finish off the current task.  Then open the files and references for the other project, then find the information they need.  Then answer the query, or make the “just a quick fix”.  Then close down all the files for the intruder project, and find where they were.

Then curse, because their concentration’s gone.  Then go get a coffee before settling back down.  All told, between 15-20 minutes for a 2-3 minute interruption, or ‘context switch’.

While you may not work on big or complex projects, context-switching is still a big threat to your time-effectiveness.  How often have you found yourself distracted from the task at hand by “a quick question” from a colleague?  Or by the ‘you have mail’ box winking away in the corner of your screen – Oh, I’ll just see what that is, it might be important?  Or by Skype making it’s odd little noise telling you there’s something urgent you have to look at?  Oh, well, it might have been important, not just one of your friends asking about the pub tonight (yes, I know that’s important, but you really can leave it until lunchtime to sort it out – we always did before Skype).

There is no solution to context-switching, other than don’t do it.  In these days of customer service is king, and responsiveness is the new must-have, it’s too tempting to believe that we have to be available at the drop of a hat.  No we don’t – not if we train our colleagues and clients to think ahead, so they really can wait a couple of hours (dare I even suggest until the next day?).  I covered this point on the first newsletter (see here), and what I now want you to do is to stop interrupting yourself.

If you have a big block of work to do, set time aside for it, and be firm about it.  If you work in an office with other people and you can remove yourself to a different location, do it.  Switch off the phone, close your e-mail client, shut down Skype or IM.  And concentrate on the work in hand.  You’ll find it so much easier to complete it – and faster – if you only have to get into the flow of it once.

And finally …

This week saw the launch of the Opportunity Management for Profit group on Ecademy, the first of several social media groups where we’ll be discussing what opportunity management really is, and how people are using it in the real world.  To join, just click on the link above – we’d be delighted to see you there.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of The Busy Fool newsletter, and also found some of the tips useful. As not all readers will have seen all the various free items – you each came here from a number of different places – below are links from which you can download any of them. Each will ask you for your details – don’t worry, I won’t send you duplicate e-mails, I just need to know which items people find most useful (so any feedback would be great, too). I hope you find them useful.  Maybe it’s time for me to create some more – what would you like to see as a free item to help with your opportunity management?

In the meantime, any comments or suggestions about the newsletter you have will be most welcome.

Free resources:

Time Allocator Header

Time Allocator™ is a free tool from the providers of OPPORTUNITY MATRIX

Most of us are faced each day with decisions about what to spend our time on – there just aren’t enough days in the month to do everything we want to do. But how do we decide how much time to dedicate to each thing we could do?

Just by entering a few details, Time Allocator™ can show you how many days each activity should get. Click on the image above to get your own copy.

Opportunity Matrix.

IDEA ASSESSOR: to assess which of your ideas is best for you using our unique Idea Assessor™, click on the image above. A few simple entries will give you your answer.

Values Audio panel

VALUES ELICITATION: click on the image to get an mp3 version of the Values exercise described above.

ACE Spreadsheet

ACCOUNT CATEGORY EVALUATION (ACE): click on the image to get trial version of the ACE spreadsheet mentionned in the Key Accounts article above.