BookClub: How to be a 6 Star Business

BookClub: How to be a 6 Star Business

The January Agency Local BookClub is How to be a Six Star Business. 

This is a book with 22 authors contributing their collective wisdom to create a knowledge bank and a guide to some of the best practices when running and growing a business. This is not specific to creative and marketing agencies, however the principles discussed are as relevant to agencies as they are to other businesses. 

6 Star Concept
The concept of striving to be a 6 Star Business is a great one. Why settle for 5 stars as per the normal ratings? When 6 Stars will put you above the rest – make you stand out and be distinctive. This is how your business will grow and take off.

It is this idea that attracted me to the 6 Star community. I loved this aspiration. 

My contribution

I was extremely honoured when asked to contribute a chapter to the book, and of course I jumped at the chance.

My passion is helping people – as is the objective of this book. So being able to contribute a part was amazing. Being in the company of some extraordinary people was humbling. 

The book covers so many different areas including:
Culture, purpose, love, profitability, legacy, community, collaboration, self worth, story telling to name a few.


Agency Local Book Club

It would have been very remiss of me not to name this book – How to be a 6 Star Business – as the book of the month for January!

The purpose of the book club is to promote continual learning as I outlined in this post here.

As a Christmas gift and to provide some inspiration for the new Year every member of the Agency Local Community received a copy of the book. 

6 Star Business books ready to be sent out This was partly to provide inspiration to improve an aspect of their business but it also came with an invitation to the BookClub meeting on 1st February. No excuses now!

Note: As I keep saying – you don’t have to have read the book to attend the BookClub meeting as the value is totally in the conversation around the key messages in the book.

BookClub meeting with a difference. 

A couple of times last year we had BookClub meetings with the Authors and these were brilliant. 

So this month I am getting as many of the Authors that contributed to the 6 Star Business book to join us. At the time of writing we have 11 authors joining us including: Aveline Clarke, Our very own Remeny Armitage, Endre Hoffmann, Gorgie Hope, Rob Drummond, Cristina Castro, Alan Wick, David hubbard, Chris Thornhill.

Some of the authors are based in Australia and they are taking the time to join us late in their evening. This will be a great session.

Join Us – Put the date in your diary

Everyone is welcome to join us at the BookClub meeting – enjoy the discussion around the key topics in the book – quiz the authors to go deeper – there are some wonderful minds coming to the meeting – this is your opportunity to tap in, learn something that will improve your business in 2022. 

See you there!
(Booking details on the events page) 

Know your numbers

Know your numbers

What is the most important thing you should know when running a business?
(No this is not a joke.) 

Note: This applies to ALL agency owners – even if you are freelancer; believe it or not you are running a business.

Is it how to sell? Is it how to deliver your service? Is it about communication? Granted all these things are important and all contribute to the health and overall success of the business – however a business will live or die by whether it can bring in as much money (paid invoices) as it spends (expenditure).

If these two are equal then you are ‘breaking even’ – you have a business but a precarious one.
If it brings in more money than it spends then we are into the territory of profit (yeah!!) and the opportunity to grow and make money.  

The most important thing you should know when running an agency business is – YOUR NUMBERS.

You need to know key financial figures – what they are and how to calculate them. These will be the barometer of your business. These are figures you need to measure regularly to know how your business is doing.

Understand them and what they mean. There is no point in calculating the figures if they mean nothing to you. You need to be able to understand them, what is good, what is bad; what is a warning; what means you need to take action.

Analyse monitor and measure  By analysing certain figures you can see trends and warning signs as well as opportunities. 

Doesnt my accountant do this?
Your accountant can calculate the figures for sure. Many businesses use accountants to report their annual accounts. So once a year. By the time you have this information I would bet that it is too late to do much about it if the figures are bad.

Sure, get your accountant to report the figures to you – you still have to make the judgement on what they mean and the impact on your business. For key financial data I would recommend a minimum of quarterly figures, ideally monthly reporting is the optimum.

Accountant figures are historical – they report on what has happened. They are indications of what could happen in the future but not necessarily.

There is some analysis your accountant won’t do. Profitability of a client or of a job, utilisation rates etc. These are all figures you need to be able to look at and understand to evaluate how well your business is doing. We are now into the realms of Financial Director role who will help you look forward and make strategic decision based on a different set of figures.

Where is your ship heading?
Running a business is like steering a ship – If you do this right – you will end up running a good business in the right direction and get to where you want to go. Do it wrong or not at all then you are likely to run aground or sink completely.

So as an agency owner – you have an obligation to yourself to know and understand the key figures in your business. If you don’t know what they should be then find out very quickly or else be prepared to be in charge of a sinking ship.

We see it on Dragons Den regular where the Dragons ask the ‘numbers’ questions – if the pitchers don’t know they very rarely receive the investment however good their product is.

So if you don’t already – I would urge you get to know your numbers for your business and steer your business on a safe course to success.

Book Club the secret to Continuous Learning?

Book Club the secret to Continuous Learning?

A central part of being an agency owner should be on a journey of continuous learning and development.

Discovering new ideas, understanding the latest thinking, getting other people’s perspectives; these often lead to bringing new ideas and developments that will improve your agency. 

The perennial push back is that “we don’t have time for this”. My view is you don’t have a reason not to! As a business owner you have an obligation to improve your business and yourself as a ‘leader’.

Yes, you are a leader – a leader of yourself and your business. 

Learn through the Book Club

One great way to achieve this is by reading. There are some astounding business books out there. This is why we have a book club as part of Agency Local. Open to all members this is a wonderful way to expand your knowledge. 

I always struggled to read – well actually to find the time to read to be more precise. But if I am really honest it was not about time, it was more about motivation.

Over the last year I have read some truly brilliant business books and learnt so much from them. The Book Club has really provided me with the motivation to read the books and to learn. 

But it is not just me – here are some comments from a couple of the Book Club regulars

“I absolutely love the Agency Local Book Club. It’s got me reading business books – something I would have previously avoided. We have great discussions about the books in our group that lead onto all sorts of other topics. I’ve learnt so much from the books and my wonderful friends at Agency Local.”

Helen Kirkby – HK Graphics

This was my first experience of a Book Club and to turn up pushed me out of my comfort zone as a ‘creative visual person and not a wordsmith’ but how valuable it has been and inclusive.The books open your eyes to points of views and ways of working that really help in creative businesses. The books have led to ACTION! 

Paula Allibone – The Way Forward 

Looking back to 2021

I thought it would be a good time to look back over the books that we have featured in the Book Club this year. 

We have had a variety – from those focusing on ‘Leadership’ through to some really useful ‘marketing’ books  

Paula has summarised as: 

“From Hitting The Wall – to our Dec book Dare to Lead the books open your eyes to points of views and ways of working that really help in creative businesses.

The books have led to ACTION! Creating a Vision Board for life, to understand how to create meaningful content for social media, how to recognise how we limit ourselves so we do not achieve our Genius and how to change this and finally in our last book to think about choosing courage over comfort and aim for progress not perfection!”

The Power is in the discussion

We review the book of the month at the Book Club meeting. Everyone is welcome to these whether they have read the book or not. If you have not read the book you will got so much out of the discussion around the topics, theories and views expressed in the book. The power really is in the discussion. 

Local Authors 

The stand out for me was being able to feature two books by local authors – Ash Taylor and Martin Knowles (with the help of Lynne Kennedy).

Not only did we read their books – we had the authors of guests at the Book Club giving members the opportunity to ask questions and pass comments directly to the authors themselves. A wonderful experience all round. 

Here is a summary of the books of 2021 – with brief key points from each book. 

January – Hitting the Wall – Ash Taylor – Ask the Author session 

  • Create a clear vision 
  • Dealing with the downs in life – come out stronger 
  • Leveraging strengths and weaknesses 
  • Learn from failure and keep the numbers 
  • Experiment and expand

February – Rebel Ideas – Matthew Syed 

  • Think outside the box
  • Inclusive culture generates better creativity – Cognitive Diversity 
  • Be more collaborative – collective intelligence 
  • Get rid of ‘echo chambers’

March – They Ask You Answer – Marcus Sheridan 

  • Complete guide to inbound sales and content marketing 
  • Focus on the questions your customers ask and …. write about it
  • Put your website at the center of everything you do 
  • Leverage different content types especially video

April – The Infinite Game – Simon Sinek 

  • Provides a view on the bigger picture
  • Better to play the long game
  • Lessons applicable to life not just business
  • Having a purpose (Just Cause) is key for your business
  • Create a culture of Psychological safety to form effective teams
  • No more competitors just ‘worthy rival’
  • Have the courage to lead

May – Untangle your Sales – Lynne Kennedy & Martin Knowles (Ask the Author session) 

  • Modern view of sales – all aspects of sales and sales management
  • Sales myth busting – loads of them! 
  • Practical advice around planning people and implementation

June – Who Not How – Dan Sullivan 

  • Focus on achieving results – not effort
  • Ask the right question – Who not How 
  • Define and delegate the vision 
  • Collaboration is critical for business – better quality relationships 
  • “Alone we can do so little – together we can do so much” – Helen Keller 
  • Transformational leadership

July – Contagious – Jonah Berger

  • Build word of mouth in a digital age 
  • Develop ‘Social Currency’
  • Social incentives – desirability 
  • Social Talk – develop triggers to spread the word 
  • Leverage emotion to drive action

Aug – Holiday Season

September – Radical Candor –  Kim Scott

  • A new management philosophy 
  • Relationships not power 
  • Open Communication 
  • Blend between care and challenge 
  • Growth management mindset 
  • 360 Candid feedback

October – The big Leap – Gay Hendricks 

  • We operate in one of 4 Zones 
  • Most people operate in ZOne of Excellence 
  • We need to operate in our Zone of Genius 
  • There is an upper limit problem – fueled by limiting beliefs and self sabotage 
  • How to discover your zone of genius and stay there 
  • Einstein time

November – Dare to Lead – Brené Brown 

  • Modern leadership handbook. 
  • Vulnerability does not equal weakness
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable 
  • Be courageous and learn how to fail – courage is contagious 
  • Know your core values and live them 
  • Be Trustworthy 
  • Strive for progress not perfection

December – break 

We will be reading more books in 2022, more learning, more discussion and more development. Please join us!

I am overwhelmed. 

Rennie Grove Hospice Care has been Agency Local Charity of the year for the last two years now. A wonderful charity that allows people at the end of life to be cared for where we would all like to be at that stage of our lives … at home. 

Like most charities they have been hit by covid – the retail income form the many shops has completely dried up as they have not been open. From a personal standpoint, this is why taking on the TeamForge Cycle Challenge over the last few days to raise much needed funds for Rennie Grove was a must do for me.

We did it!! 


35 cyclists (two on a tandem) completed the 350 mile round trip over four days with 17,000 feet of climbing.


I can’t deny it was hard – as many people that know me know I love cycling but I’ll usually ride 40 to 50 miles at the weekend if the weather’s good! I wouldn’t usually choose to cycle an average of 85 miles a day over four consecutive days, whatever the weather, but I’m really proud to have been a part of it.

 

The routes were as follows:

Day 1 – St Albans to Southampton 101 miles – through a lot of rain
Day 2 – Round the Isle of Wight – 66 miles but very hilly!
Day 3 – Southampton to Swindon – 95 miles – Beautiful route through the New Forest and Salisbury Plain
Day 4 – Swindon back to St Albans – Final leg 81 miles through the Cotswolds and Chilterns

Agency Local Involvement

I am very proud to say that Agency Local were Silver sponsors – with our logo on the shirts. In fact the logo was often in my face as I followed other cyclists! We were part of the organising committee helping and advising on the Marketing of the event. We built and managed the website, established the social media presence and advised on communications activity. 

Proud proud proud 

What we have achieved I am so proud of. The camaraderie and support from every rider towards each other was amazing.

I am sure other riders will not mind me highlighting two individuals. Firstly, Brian Robson who completed the challenge aged 74!  

Secondly David Clarke who is blind, completed the challenge on the back of a tandem with the help of the ‘team’ who took it in turns to go ahead and check crossings, making sure the tandem could cross safely without losing too much momentum.

TeamForge – was really a team and one that I am proud to say I am part of.

Fundraising – that’s what it is all about. 

The response has been astronomical. At present we stand to have raised £145,000. We are hoping that the final tally will be nearer the £150,000. This is a massive achievement and will fund two nurses for a whole year!

This has been the biggest ever single fundraising event in the history of Rennie Grove!

THANK YOU

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the Agency Local community, Foals and friends that have made a contribution. The support from our community has been immense and I thank every one of you for supporting me and most of all for supporting Rennie Grove. You are superb!

 For the video of us arriving back at the end of day 4 – head over to the LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6843160086211387392

 

Events Update – Autumn 2021

Events Update – Autumn 2021

As many of you know we have taken stock of our events activity whilst we have all had a break in August. We are now coming back bigger and better and wanted to let you know of some of the changes that we have made. 

If you remember we did an events survey in July, thanks to all who contributed once again. So, based on this feedback, conversations we have had and our own ideas the Agency Local events team have decided on a few changes. 

What will stay? 

All our events are aimed at making your agency a better business and you, as the owner, a better leader. We strive to be thought provoking, ideas giving and opportunity generating – this ethos remains in all we do. 

Why make changes? 

We are constantly seeking improvement and the feedback is that running so many events some people found it hard to find the time to attend. Yes members can watch on the recording however it is not quite the same as being there and being able to ask your questions.

The changes are not radical, just some tweaking. 

What is changing?


Insight Event – remains the same – every second month on the third Thursday of the month in the evening starting at 6.30pm. (Apart from this month which will be on the 23rd Sept). It is our intention to get back to running these as in person events. For now September will be virtual and we are looking for November to be face to face. 

Ask the Expert

We have made the decision to run one AtE event a month instead of two. These will run on the second Thursday of the month from November with Septembers being on the 8th. 

We will now be running these first thing in the morning starting at 9.30 am.

Huddles

We will run one Huddle a month on the first Friday of the month. A great way to kick off a new month. These will remain at 2pm in the afternoon. 

We will be encouraging you to ‘bring a friend’ and to encourage a wider audience to attend these. New members will also have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the community.

90 Day Planning workshops 

Until now these have been held at random times and dates. We will be running these on a bi monthly basis – these will be open to members and non members alike. The next one will be on September 16th at 9.30 am. Then on the fourth Thursday of alternate months, so November and then January

Marketing Showcase – Member to Member

We are excited to announce a new series of events. We are a community of marketing professionals however our own businesses marketing always seems to fall down the priority list! 

We want to provide members with the opportunity to educate and help other members on aspects of their own marketing activity and at the same time showcase your expertise.  

These will be running bi-monthly in months where we do not have an Insight event – so the third Thursday of the month and will be run at 9.30 am. 

Watch this space for more news on these events 

The Agency Local events team hope that these changes will meet with your approval and we look forward to seeing you at as many events as possible. Remember – we run these events for you – to help you build better agency businesses.

All forthcoming events are featured on the Events Page