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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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’d rather be a pirate than join the Navy.” — Steve Jobs
What did he mean by this?
Steve Jobs saw the Navy as representing the ‘establishment’ and the established way of operating – run by an elite few, often to further their own interests. He said this in 1984 at an Apple leadership meeting. When we think of Apple we can understand this. His business did things differently, taking a different approach.
How well do you REALLY know the financial situation of your agency (or any business). I am not talking Profit and Loss as this only shows historic performance.
I am talking about the real figures that indicate the financial health of your business NOW and most importantly in the future.
Run your business as if you are going to sell it tomorrow, even if that is not your end game.
Why? Because people only buy well run businesses. We can get a huge insight into how we should be running our businesses from what people look for when buying a business.