You can GROW your business in 90 minutes a day! At The Business Show 2015 I attended a presentation that claimed just that. So what is it all about?
An enthusiastic Nigel Botterill, in a loud coloured shirt, stood up and introduced himself by giving a brief career history. He highlighted the fact that he had had a successful career in the corporate world, where he was more than happy with his six figure salary; however, the time came when he felt he should give a start up a go. He carefully planned the meeting he was going to have with his boss, approached the subject of giving his notice and was quite surprised when he was very supportive.
That said, it wasn’t all sweet smelling roses, the one thing which he didn’t expect was losing the planned 7 months’ notice period. It was agreed there and then that Nigel would leave, as his boss felt he would not be fully focused on his current job over the coming months. Nigel explained the feeling that “the start-up business was thrust upon him, no seven months’ notice period and pay, which was what he was expecting”. No time to get his head around the task he was about to embark on. Looking back Nigel didn’t feel that this was a bad thing really.
He then continued to explain the conversation he had with his nearest and dearest about creating a start-up. In that, they came to an agreement. He explained that due to the lifestyle they had his wife was concerned that the holidays to Disneyland, nice cars etc. would disappear. So a deal was brokered. Nigel agreed with his wife that if he did not earn £100,000 profit in his first year then he would return to a salaried job. So I guess this was Nigel’s first formal contract.
Nigel’s first business was formed in 2003, 13years later, almost to the day and he has not looked back. He has created eight £1 million plus companies in this time, quite an achievement. Nigel did explain why he thought his business’s had been successful and he only attributed part to the £100k commitment. He explained the second driver was that he was scared of the shame that would come with not making a success of his business.
During the early planning stages, when Nigel was trying to get to grips with his business model, he explained that whilst talking to a friend he stumbled over a point of clarity that has stayed with him throughout all his ventures. His friend asked him “What is the most important thing you need to do to make your business a success?” Nigel responded without hesitation “Gain and keep customers.” His friend then asked the simple question “So what have you done to address this today?”
It was then that Nigel explained ‘He was doing the things he liked to do, not what he had to do’. This moment of clarity was his real breakthrough, in that ‘the things you don’t want to do are the most important to the success of the business’. So, how do you manage this? Nigel explained it is by committing to deliver upon your objectives; then focus on the delivery. This could be your next holiday? Your business growth target? Whatever your driver is. In Nigel’s case it was achieving the £100k net profit target and the fear of failure that were clear driving forces; but the question still remained, how was he going to achieve this?
This is where the 90 minutes bit comes in, Nigel referred to the well-known concept of ‘Working ON the Business, Not IN it’ and it was from here that he had developed his 90 minutes a day to do all the things necessary to gain and keep customers. He explained that he arrives at work at 07:30 most days and that he would disappear into his office, but only after putting a sign on the door stating ‘do not disturb’. Nigel explained that his employees understand this isn’t a request, he will not see anyone during this time, answer the phone or emails.
This is his time to focus on his customer objectives.
He then went onto explain that he spends 90 minutes a day considering his business and its customer’s needs. He appreciates that there are always important things to do, but that these important things have a tendency to take up all your time. He continued that it is critical that you focus on – how you are going to get and keep customers. The company needs fuel, the customers’ spending money is that fuel; without it you don’t have a business. Nigel feels that just 90 minutes concerted effort will deliver exceptional results.
All things considered it makes sense. So if it makes sense “why don’t we do it?” Well he understands that we are all busy, that our staff need our time, that you might not like sales, that it sounds like a huge task, but he insists that you must focus on the customer. Without this commitment you are missing business opportunities.
‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’; so how did Nigel go about converting the audience into sales?
At the end of Nigel’s talk he promised that 40 lucky individuals would get their own Marketing Plan and Business Growth Blueprint FREE. All they had to do was send a text to 88802 containing ‘nige_Your EMAIL’ and one of his team would be in contact. At which point the entire room removed their phone and sent a text to the number. I did so as well, only to see what would happen. I had no intention of wasting Nigel or his team’s time, but I was intrigued as to how this would work. Nigel went to great lengths to explain that this was how he secured business. He hoped that people would be so happy with their free plan that they would subscribe to his Entrepreneurs Circle. A nice touch.
The following Monday I received another text with a link to a website. The web page once again explained the sales pitch, but this time had the costs. To proceed with your Free plan, the website required a £100 refundable deposit before proceeding to the call. Not very fair I felt as this was a prerequisite of getting the plan and should have been advised at the time of the Free offer, but none the less it is refundable. Then, if you choose to join, a monthly membership of £199 was payable to be a member of the Entrepreneurs Circle.
Back to the 90 minutes Theory…
So, back to the 90 minutes a day. Will it work? In my opinion a resounding ‘Yes!’ anything which makes you take time to look and work on your own business, without distractions of clients, employees and the like is absolutely worthwhile.
The next question is ‘Is it practical?’ could every member of that room take, or be disciplined enough to, set aside 90 minutes a day?
I was visiting the show with a Danish colleague called Claus who went straight back to his business and committed to spending two to three days a week working 90 minutes on his core customer objectives. If he follows through on this and is disciplined enough to continue this route then I have no doubt that it will help him focus ‘ON’ the business, as his day to day business duties are just immense.
One interesting critique of the 90 minutes approach that Claus suggested was ‘I wonder if this would be a good thing for my team to do as well?’ My opinion is that if adopted team-wide, it will aid them in working more strategically and not just operationally. This will lead to a greater understanding of the business and the identification of new ideas and opportunities, not massively dissimilar to the employee empowerment encouraged at 3M. I will look to update you further as to whether this approach has gained momentum or encountered friction in the future.
So, to answer the question ‘is it practical?’ Probably not for everyone, every day of the week, but an investment of say two days a week (180 minutes) could improve how you manage and gain customers. One point I would like to add is that sometimes we all need some simple direction, a sign to say, this way. To this end, a period of concentrated time considering the business’s needs is absolutely essential to its growth. I love the simplicity of this idea. Why wouldn’t you give it a go, what do you have to lose?
Also, ‘Build Your Business in 90 Minutes a Day’ book by Nigel Botterill is available from book shops.
Nigel stone has, over the last fifteen years, started, led, consulted and nurtured both UK and European businesses to achieve quite outstanding results.