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I will try my best to update this webpage with  thought provoking and interesting content, as often as I can.  Please feel free to leave comments as  there is much that can be learnt from the sharing of ideas.

By pa360, May 30 2016 11:57AM

For any new enterprise, the requirement to 'start small' is more likely to be a necessity than a preference. This is because the resource base, competitiveness and market reach, that are so characteristic of larger organisations, take time to develop.


But it is easy to forget that starting small actually offers many important strategic advantages and benefits, which are denied to organisations of greater size and with more plentiful resources. Harnessing these opportunities is crucial, because it helps to ensure that an organisation that starts small, in the short term, will be better able to grow sustainably in the longer term. Set out below are six strategic advantages of starting small.


1. maximises the value of limited resources - if you have little to work with, then you will always look to make the most of what you have. Resourcefulness is so much easier when every penny counts and when every second of productive time must be accounted for. Starting small is therefore the ideal place to learn good habits, apply good principles and model good practice. It is also worth noting that resourcefulness is scalable. As such, the practices that you apply when you are small, can also be applied as you grow.


2. builds character - to truly appreciate what it means to have much, you must first appreciate what it means to have little. Character is what you develop when you are under pressure, face tough challenges and keep going long after others have given up. If you are a small fish in a big pond you are perfectly placed to develop the resilience to survive, the courage to compete and the determination to succeed. But even more than being well placed to achieve success, those who start small are equally well placed to sustain it.


3. enables intimate relationships to develop with staff and customers - big organisations are more likely to know their stakeholders by number, whilst smaller organisations are more likely to know their stakeholders by name. To build loyalty you need to establish relationships and the most effective way to establish relationships is to get to know people and develop intimacy. This is where size offers distinct advantages to smaller organisations who are more naturally suited to developing one-to-one relationships and are therefore more likely to be rewarded with loyalty for doing so.


4. innovation is much easier - as organisations grow, structures fall into place which, over time, can become rigid and unwieldy. Needless to say, inflexible structures are often the most difficult environments within which to develop fresh thinking and implement new ideas. By contrast, one of the greatest advantages of starting small is the freedom it provides to innovate and do things differently. The more you experiment, the more you learn and the more you learn the more confident you can be about what works and what doesn't.


5. decision-making is much quicker - if you do not have to delegate or escalate, then decision-making can be much quicker. If you cannot make a quick decision, it doesn't matter whether or not you know the right answer. Speedier decision-making not only positions you to take advantage of opportunities as and when they arise, it also creates a perception of agility and organisational competence. This is crucial in building confidence amongst employees, customers and potential investors.


6. responsiveness and flexibility - one of the most valuable assets of any organisation is its capacity for responsiveness. Being responsive is more than the ability to reassess priorities and refocus effort in light of changing needs and demands; it is the ability to do so in a timely fashion. By virtue of size, smaller organisations are much better able to surf the curve of change and respond quickly as and when required.


The overarching message of this blog is that there are many distinct advantages of starting small. However, though a business might start small, the longer term aim is usually to become bigger. This is just the natural order of things because growth is an important indicator of progress and progress is an important indicator of success.


By pa360, Dec 26 2015 02:40PM

Like it or not, what we believe is key to what we achieve. Look at it this way, to be successful you must first believe that you can achieve success in the first place. People who believe that they can be successful, organise themselves towards their chosen objective and pursue it until they achieve success. Meanwhile, those who doubt, choose not to organise their effort towards an objective and therefore succeed in achieving nothing. Isn't it sobering to think that doubt is indeed its own belief system, albeit one that traps people in mediocrity and limits their access to opportunity?


So how do you re-model and recharge your belief system? Well here are my six steps to turn belief into opportunity.


1. aim for something that you don’t have – if you have nothing to aim for you have nothing to believe for and if you have nothing to believe for you have nothing to reach for. Whether you have a big vision or a smaller personal target, having something to aim for means that your belief can provide a bridge to get you from where you are to where-ever you want to be.


2. start with reasons why you should, not the reasons why you shouldn’t – if you are going to change your belief system your pre-disposition must be geared towards the reasons why you ‘should’ do things as opposed to the reasons why you ‘should not’. A can do attitude opens up your thought pathways to fresh ideas, new possibilities and innovative solutions that take you closer to your success. By contrast, a can’t do attitude crowds out solutions and makes it easier for you to do nothing.


3. be comfortable with being outside your comfort-zone – everyone knows their comfort zone. It is a place where we feel least threat, least risk and are most assured. However, it is also the place where we are least likely to be tested and least likely to experience dynamic growth and progression. As a rule of thumb, anything that doesn’t require investment will invariably deliver a nil return.


4. beware the path of least resistance – someone once said that ‘you should never second guess your first instinct’, well I beg to differ. Remember, when we face challenges or crises our first instinct is often to travel the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, the path of least resistance often delays and defers until tomorrow what we ought to do today. Things that are easy may be attractive, but ultimately they offer little reward. By contrast, real recognition and a true sense of accomplishment is to be found, when we do the awkward and difficult thing.


5. be inspired by yourself and others – there is nothing more inspiring than the experience of getting something done or seeing others do it. When you have experience of succeeding it inspires you to go again and to reach further and higher than before. Likewise, the achievements of others can blaze a trail and open up opportunities that you might not have thought possible. Yes it is possible that you may believe and still fail, but for sure if you do nothing you will achieve nothing.


6. do not make or accept excuses – few things are more self destructive than the excuse. Those who make excuses only serve to disempower themselves and justify their mediocrity. People who get in the habit of making excuses quickly become complacent and those that believe their excuses end up in a state of denial. By all means assess evidence, appraise options and reflect soberly, but never make excuses.


Belief is an incredibly powerful tool that, once harnessed, can have a transformational impact on our lives and on the lives of those around us. However, in order for this to happen, we need to make sure that our belief system is working for us and not against us.


By pa360, Nov 27 2015 07:53PM

I don't know what your favourite dish is, but mine is curry. After years of practical experience I have learnt that if I use the same ingredients and repeat the same basic steps, it will always produce the same mouth-watering results. The point I am making here is that there is a certain predictability about success. This predictability implies that if you adhere to a particular thought pattern, adopt a specific posture and dutifully repeat a set of behaviours, you will produce consistent results.


To experience a lifestyle of success, as opposed to a casual relationship with it, you need to understand the arithmetics and building blocks of successful outcomes. Set out below are my take on the five A's of success.


1. Ambition - our thoughts paint the landscape for our future success. An ambition is a thought, which gives expression to a deep-seated desire. Success is impossible without first having the desire to experience it. I remember reading a great quote by the legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali who said: "I am the greatest; I said it before I knew I was". Your ambitions set out where you want to be, but to be successful, you must first believe that you can get there.


2. Aptitude - a person's aptitude reflects their capacity to learn. Capacity to learn is crucial because those able to absorb and process new knowledge and information are better able to adapt to new and emerging challenges. Adaptability therefore is key to survival and survival is key to success. Without aptitude you cannot learn and if you cannot learn, you cannot mature and if you cannot mature you will struggle to succeed.


3. Ability - people often confuse ability with experience, but they are not the same. Your ability is what you can do, whilst your experience is what you have done. If success depended purely on experience, no-one would ever be successful. However, success favours the inexperienced, the determined and those willing and able to raise their game, learn new things and try new things.


4. Attitude - I have always thought of attitude as the fuel of success. Look at it this way, if you have fuel in your car, you can drive almost anywhere at anytime and in almost any conditions. Attitude operates in much the same way; it inspires, motivates and empowers you to keep going even in the most adverse of conditions. With the right attitude you can bounce back from failure, confound your critics and exceed expectations.


5. Application - success does not meet you half way. If you want it you need to do more than start the journey, you must complete the journey. The point about application is that you can have all the aspiration in the world, the best ideas and the strongest networks, but if you are unwilling to apply yourself, little or nothing will change.


The five A's of success must work together. If you have ambition, aptitude and ability but no application and the wrong attitude, it won't work. Likewise, there is no point having the ambition, aptitude, attitude and application without ability, because that won't work either. Success is a series of inter-connected and inter-dependent components that together are more than the sum of their parts.


By pa360, Aug 16 2015 11:56AM

In the market-place of opportunity, you need to stand out to compete and you need to compete effectively to succeed. For start-ups, the key to sustainable success is the ability to turn all things to do with ‘size’ to your advantage. By doing so you effectively re-define the market-place in a way that makes ‘scale’ work in your favour irrespective of what larger competitors are doing. So how do you do that? Well here are eight top tips for successful start-ups.


1. Just because you can’t compare doesn’t mean you can’t compete – successful competition is not necessarily about doing the same things better than others, it is about disrupting the market-place with a unique and distinctive offering. Study your market, don’t just look at what others are doing, look at what they are not doing. These gaps could provide the next big growth opportunity.


2. Better to get your strategy right than to get it written – a clear and coherent strategy is the price of admission for success. If you do not know where you are trying to get to, you will not know how to get there or know when you arrive. A strategy that is written to please your bank manager is neither use nor ornament. Invest the time needed to get it right and then use the strategy as a road map to get from where you are to where you need to be.


3. Being small and agile has distinct advantages – one of the greatest advantages of small enterprises is their ability to respond quickly to changing demands and the emergence of new opportunities. Use this distinctive trait to best effect by networking with like-minded others to build economies of scale when you need to grow and to spread risk when you need to diversify. The ability to assemble and disassemble as necessary will enhance your operational effectiveness and your strategic capabilities.


4. Customers don’t want to know who did it first, they want to know who does it best – if you are going to build on the successes of others don’t imitate - innovate. In 1984 the first commercially available handheld mobile phone was unveiled by Motorola. Today, Motorola controls less than 6 per cent of the global smart-phone market, well below that of its two main competitors. Modern consumers are not interested in history or tradition; they are interested in personalisation, convenience and choice.


5. Value is better than volume – establish a reputation for designing products and delivering services that people value. The time taken to ensure that you do not just get the right product, but that you get your product right is an investment in success. Products built on value breed confidence and confidence builds trust. When customers trust you they will follow you and they will bring others. Remember, it is better to do a few things well than to do many things badly


6. Slow growth is better than no growth – incremental growth and consolidation is much better than rapid and unsustainable expansion. By all means have high ambitions, but these must be underpinned by realistic targets. As part of your growth journey you need to know what success looks like in the short, medium and longer term.


7. In the market place for ideas, speed of thought levels the playing field – good ideas are not the preserve of blue chip multi-nationals or those with the biggest market share. A good idea can come from anywhere, anyone and at anytime. Keep your mind fertile, be open to new opportunities and constantly assess & reassess consumer and market behaviour.


8. Be fluent in the language of data – the data mine as the new ‘Klondike’ of product innovation and business growth. With a better understanding of data you can close the gap in performance between yourself and your competitors, better manage risk and expand into new markets. The importance of understanding data is crucial to sustainable success.


In summary, the most valuable asset available to a start-up is the ability to dominate economies where size gives you an advantage or where size makes no difference. Tactically, this will enable your start-up to compete and win on its own terms.


By pa360, Jul 31 2015 09:18AM

The latest published results for the third quarter of 2015 (Q3 of 2015) reveal that Apple achieved gross revenue of $49.6bn. Apparently this is up some $12.2bn on quarter 3 of 2014. Put in some sort of context, Apple’s gross revenue for Q3 of 2015 alone is (according to the World Bank) the same as the Gross Domestic Product of Tunisia for the whole of 2014.


So what is the secret of Apple’s extraordinary success? Well for this blog I have compiled seven of the least publicised secrets, which in my view give Apple a unique edge over its competitors.


1. Turning product into cultural experience – back in 1998 I doubt whether the higher ups at Apple imagined how far their brand would develop over the next 15 years. However, whether as part of a concerted strategy or through slick marketing and customer engagement, Apple is now much less a consumer brand and much more a cultural phenomenon. When a brand goes cultural and transcends the market place, you are no longer buying a product, you are buying into an experience.


2. Anticipating consumer need – probably the most unique thing about Apple’s product development strategy is that it appears to provide what the customer needs before the customer even realises it. In such a situation, the supplier only needs to correctly anticipate customer need once, before a dependent relationship is established. As the dependency increases, the supplier is able to heighten anticipation so much so, that the consumer doesn’t just want the product, they clamour for it.


3. Connecting smart products to other smart products – did you ever hear that quote about the American gold rush? It goes something like this: “the ones who got rich during the American gold rush were not the people who found the gold, it was the guy who sold them the shovels”. In the same way, Apple have cleverly situated their products as a kind of market-place doorway, enabling direct or indirect access to a wider range of products, services and opportunities.


4. Spawning the growth of new markets – it is amazing how Apple’s success has not only re-awakened an industry, it has also created an industry in its wake. Not only have other providers had to catch up, new supply chains of start-ups have emerged with data miners and app developers devising magnificent new tools to increase customer personalisation and convenience.


5. Moving from lifestyle accessory to life necessity – I can think of many products that are lifestyle accessories. Such products offer a high degree of personalisation, convenience, customisation and choice. But other than food, water, heat, light and shelter I cannot think of too many products or services that I would describe as necessities. Part of the success of Apple, is the triumph of market psychology whereby the consumer believes that they do not need the product to make their life comfortable, they need it to make their life possible.


6. Taking up a unique strategic vantage point – if you stand where others stand you will invariably see exactly what they see. The challenge is to secure a slightly different vantage point which will enable you to see what they cannot. From Apple’s perspective they have been able to take up multiple unique vantage points from the perspective of the supplier, the supply chain and the customer. This market triangulation approach is entirely unique.


7. Adding to the popular vocabulary – iPhone; iPad; iTunes and iMac are now part of the modern pop-culture lexicon. There is a lesson to learn here for product makers which is that if you are going to create a good product, make sure that it’s a good product worth remembering and one that is easy to remember.


Cutting-edge product design and high quality development are undoubtedly the core of Apple’s phenomenal success. But around that core, the tech giants have deployed sophisticated and innovative techniques in customer relationship management and market psychology to make their offer not just attractive, but compelling.


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