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Don’t be Different for the Sake of it

– By Andrew B Morris

It’s all very well wanting to do things differently. But it’s important to identify WHY you want to be different rather than trying to be different just for the sake of it.

Stand-up comedians love the challenge of improvisation, but few can really pull it off. When it works it can be mesmerising, but even the most talented tend to give into the safety of preparation and rehearsal.

As we hone our skills and our confidence grows, we can become lazy at preparation and opt instead for the high-wire adrenaline rush of spontaneity. We like winging it, responding off the cuff, using our wits and our senses. Spontaneous action is fun. Continue reading →

Are you Thinking in 3D?

– By Andy Hanselman

It has become a mantra of mine that the best businesses think in 3D. They’re ‘Dramatically and Demonstrably Different‘ from their competitors. They do things that their competitors don’t do. Even better, they do things they can’t do.

Gary Hamel encapsulated this in his book, ‘Leading the Revolution’ when he said: “Better, faster, cheaper is not enough. Others will always get there first or quickly catch you up. You need to be profoundly different, with a radically different customer-centred offer.” Continue reading →

Shake up your Thinking

– By Jurgen Wolff

Shaking up your thinking and being open to new ideas can be hard, particularly if know too much about a topic or have been doing something a certain way for a long time. So how can you forget what you know?

1: Assume the opposite is true
Write down the half dozen or so core assumptions you make about a challenge you’re facing. Then write their opposites. Brainstorm what you could do if the opposites were true. Your logical mind may resist, but treat it as a game.

Example: The usual assumption is that the way to make money from books, whether traditionally or self- published, is from royalties. The opposite: You are not allowed to make money from royalties.

The brainstorm: What alternatives could there be? Attach the books to another product as a bonus. Provide them on a rental basis. Get people to fund them before you write them. Find a patron who will give you a flat rate for writing the book. Charge for giving talks and include the books in the price. Continue reading →

Case Study: Silence is Golden

Glenn Watkins is Chair of Academy 88 and Academy 08 which cover North and West Central London, Watford and Harrow. In May, he sat on the panel of London’s first ever Mindfulness Summit for business leaders in London.

Last autumn Glenn decided to sign up for an intensive meditation retreat in early June as one of his personal goals for 2015. The programme took place in a 22-acre property in deepest Herefordshire, set in beautiful wooded grounds.

The meditation technique used is called Vipassana and dates back 2,500 years ago. It is agnostic, non-religious and non-dogmatic, a pure form of meditation. And there was no talking for the 10-day duration of the course. We had to find out more. Continue reading →

If Only they’d Seen Things Differently…

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” (Charles H Duell, Commissioner, US Patent Office, 1899.)

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” (HM Warner, Warner Bros, 1927.)

“We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.” (Decca Recording Company rejecting the Beatles, 1962.)

“You ain’t goin’ nowhere son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” (Nashville club owner, Jim Denny, firing Elvis Presley after his first performance.)

“So we went to Atari and said, ‘We’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ They said ‘No’. Then we went to Hewlett-Packard; they said, ‘We don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet’.” (Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs on how he tried to get Atari and HP interested in the personal computer he and Steve Wozniak had devised).



Lift off for the Academy for Chief Executives Scotland

The Academy for Chief Executives, the UK’s leading executive coaching and mentoring organisation, reaches an important milestone today with the launch of a new group in Scotland.

At the helm of this new group is Academy for Chief Executives Scotland Chair Justin Grace, a former MD who brings with him 20 years of international board level experience, a passion for developing people and transforming businesses, and a strong track record in growing individuals as well as the bottom line.

Academy for Chief Executives Scotland Chair Justin Grace says: “The launch of an Academy group in Scotland heralds an exciting opportunity to contribute to the economy of the country by growing and developing people and businesses.”

He adds: “There is a seam of talent and entrepreneurship in Scotland and I’m very much looking forward to working with the best business leaders in the country to mine and develop this untapped potential.”

Justin will hold his very first discovery event in Glasgow on 28 July. World class speaker Roger Harrop will talk on the subject of “Staying in the Helicopter® – the key to profitable growth in good times or in bad” and this event will give business leaders the opportunity to meet Justin and explore how The Academy can help to transform their business.

The Academy for Chief Executives approaches its 21st birthday next year and has forged a strong, diverse community of over 400 dynamic UK business leaders who together promote business excellence and shared learning. To find out more about the Academy for Chief Executives Scotland contact

Chair Justin Grace

Chair Justin Grace

A Question of Timing?

Timing is critical to exiting a business. As John Paul Getty famously answered when asked how he became so wealthy, “by selling too early”.

I’m a great believer in Getty’s approach: if the price is reasonable, accept it. Don’t be too greedy. Sell and move on. Don’t obsess about market conditions or the wider economic cycle or wait until the grass is greener. That might never happen. Choose the time that is right for you.

To get to this point takes preparation. Ideally, you should plan an exit a couple of years out: due diligence alone can take up to a year, and the more time you allow, the more smoothly the process will go. Several key factors will influence your timing: Continue reading →

What’s it Worth?

If you’re thinking about selling your business, it might seem obvious to start by establishing how much it is worth. But ‘value’ is a concept not unlike beauty: it can be perceived quite differently by different people.

So when thinking about value, let’s start by eliminating an urban myth. The valuation of your business isn’t what it is worth. A business valuation is not unlike having your house valued; it provides you with some parameters, but no buyer may come along. And even if one does appear and they offer you the sum the house is being marketed at (and it’s very likely they will want to negotiate), it’s quite likely that they will still need to raise the money to pay for it. Continue reading →

Making your Earn-Out Work

Over two thirds of deals involving owner-managers include earn-outs. In a transaction with an earn-out, the buyer will usually pay most of the consideration on completion for 100% of the shares of the business. The rest of the consideration will be earned in a period after legal completion depending on whether or not certain financial targets are achieved. This is different from “deferred consideration”, where the sellers are guaranteed payment at a future point in time regardless of the performance of business being sold. Continue reading →

Getting Relief

If you’re thinking of selling your business, you obviously want to maximise your return from all your hard work and minimise the amount you have to give the taxman.

Entrepreneurs’ relief can potentially reduce the capital gains tax on the sale of a business from a rate of 28% to 10%. That can represent a significant sum. But the relief is only available as long as the qualifying conditions are met. Because the conditions generally need to be met for 12 months prior to the disposal or the cessation of the business, it is essential to plan ahead for the sale to maximise the aid you are able to receive. Continue reading →