Why I Ate A Caterpillar....

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When travelling for work, even in a country very different from your own, it can be relatively easy to live within normal boundaries and not step far outside your comfort zone. For example, I always try to book accommodation with an en suite bathroom and WiFi, and with extra security if needed. In these hotels familiar food and drink is usually available too. By doing this I can continue to function as normal with few major surprises, and deliver the results that I had focused on at the beginning of my work day.

Of course the risk of behaving in this way is that, by insulating yourself from your surroundings and focusing only the familiar, you miss a special experience or unique opportunity.

Have you ever tried staring at something until that is all you can see? Everything around the thing you are staring at goes blurry, or even disappears. Or have you ever been so focused on a computer game or film that you didn't even hear your partner call you from another room? That is because being focused is a powerful thing and has an important role in your success - but it can also mean that you miss other things going on around you.

So, when travelling, I started to open up to doing things that were a bit more out of my comfort zone. Nothing too rash you understand! The first time I ate caterpillars was an example of that - piping hot and crispy from a griddle on an open fire in Zambia. Actually they were very tasty, and left me with a willingness to embrace the idea of eating insects as a source of protein in the future.

My point is this: if you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got. If you focus too intently on the business plan you made last year, and don't make sure that you are open and ready for market changes you will find it very difficult to take advantage of new opportunities when they arise - indeed you might not even see them!

Strategic Marketing helps you to identify what is important for your business's growth so that you can make a focused plan, but also that you can see, select and take advantage of the right new opportunities faster than your competitors. Just stop for a second and think - if a fantastic new opportunity arose today for your business, would you be ready to decide if it was right for your business to divert resources to take advantage of it?

Find Your Business's Top Gear

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Everyday we get news of economic change, news of technology innovations, news of market changes – but what impact do you think these events will have on yourbusiness and how quickly? Do they bring risk or opportunity? Many successful small and medium sized businesses are engaging specialist Strategic Marketing support to help them find answers and their business's Top Gear.

Drawing the connecting line between these major market developments and your daily business priorities can be a challenge. Forecasting how and when your business may be impacted, let alone what to do about it, takes time out of your (already packed) schedule.

You know that early identification of factors most relevant to your business - the ones that will bring risk, opportunity, or both - is essential for your business's future sustainability and growth. You may feel that you’d do it yourself, if you only had a spare few weeks, or you may recognise that it’s not your strong point. Either way, the problem is how to get it done?

In the past (when the world moved more slowly) strategic reviews were the purview of corporate management teams with internal specialist resource. Now, many successful SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) are seeking external support to undertake Strategic Marketing work to stay ahead of competitors and punch above their weight.

Research by Oxford Economics reported that:

“Around the world and across industries, [SMEs] are making major changes to their business models, products, and go-to-market strategies, and using technology to level the playing field with bigger companies. Many SMEs believe they not only are equipped to compete with larger firms, but actually have some advantages over them.”

SME leaders use external specialist support to help them grow their businesses, make necessary changes and take advantage of new market opportunities. When a business reaches a certain size a greater range of skills and experience is needed, which makes an injection of external support a cost-effective way to boost business capacity in the short term.

If you run an SME business and are trying to juggle both the important and the urgent every day, good Strategic Marketing support can help you find your Top Gear.

Even Snowy Had Tintin.....

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Are you running your own business alone? If you are able to take some time to reflect this weekend, consider this……

To get your business going you will have battled against the odds, battled against the naysayers and battled against the non-supporters – not to mention that you will have battled against your own 3am episodes of the heebie-jeebies! Self-reliance and self-belief can become a matter of survival.

But there comes a point when the smart thing to do may be to trust others more. Working in partnership to get your product demonstrated, contracting specialist support services, taking on employees – these can be the steps that enable you to grow your business faster and better.

Sure, there are risks, and you will need to invest time and money that you may feel you don’t have. But if you don’t work with others then your business may be limited by how much you can realistically do in the 24 hours that are in (only) your day. Not to mention that the longer a project takes – the more it costs.

Take a moment to imagine the ideal team that would propel your business into the next phase – and then take one small step towards making that happen today. Have a good weekend!