Delighted to be the “Coffee with…” Feature in Business Success Magazine

Not only was I delighted to be the “Coffee with…” feature in the latest edition of Business Success Magazine, I am also on the cover!

When someone asks you how did you get where you are today, it really makes you realise that all the achievements and skills, the highs, the lows and everything you have done to date makes you who you are today.

Each and every job, skill, knock back and celebration along your journey is valuable experience in the role you do now. Just think back to what you have learned in the past, the wealth of knowledge you have acquired over the years and the transferable skills that brings.

That’s what I have gained from this experience. I already draw from the past and bring that knowledge into the work I do with my clients now. However, actually answering the questions for the “Coffee with…” feature has rewarded me in other ways too. I have recalled skills I had long forgotten and it has inspired me to develop the #90DayBusinessMentor Programme. After all, every business and project I have ever started, I have launched within 90 Days, so it’s a proven concept!

Here is an extract of some of the tips I shared in the feature:

Tip #1:  Write down a business goal. Make it a SMART one and give it a 30-day timescale. Now break it down into small chunks ie manageable tasks you can work on each day. Tick them off as you complete them and feel that sense of achievement once you have achieved the end result.

Tip #2: Think about what you have achieved in your business to date. See if you can write down 30 things you have achieved, one per day. It’s difficult at first, but as you get started the achievements will flow and you may even exceed 30.

Tip #3: Enter yourself or your business for an Award. It could be national or local. The process itself makes you sit down and really think about your achievements to date, where you are now and where you’re going.

To read the full article and business tips, you can subscribe to Business Success Magazine here

Knowing how to negotiate and when to stop! My Dragons’ Den Review of Episode 3 for Enterprise Nation

Here is my review of the third episode in the current series of Dragons’ Den for Enterprise Nation, which highlights some key business lessons.

1. Be a great negotiator, but know when to stop

Negotiation skills are vital in business. However, when pitching for work, you need to be clear about how far you are willing to push the boundaries and avoid the risk losing the deal altogether.

A great tactic is to plan your best, worst and likely scenarios in advance and know how you are prepared to go.

Bucharest born Alex Busianu had a great accent, according to Deborah Meaden, but it would take more than that to win over the Dragons.

His business, Temporary Forevers, a name which didn’t impress Peter Jones, sells luxury leather travel, laptop and camera bags.

It would have been very easy to forget the product entirely after Jenny Campbell and Peter Jones both offered to invest and Alex’s hard negotiation that followed.

It soon became evident that Alex was an aggressive negotiator, knowing exactly what he was prepared to give.

Initially though, Alex lost a Dragon in Jenny Campbell after she withdrew on the basis it was clear that Alex wanted to work with Peter.

Peter could have very easily withdrawn at that point but admired Alex’s negotiation style. A risky tactic which paid off in this instance.

In contrast, Claire Gelder of Wool Couture was offered investment by Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani.

She gave 30% equity for £50,000, more than the 10% she was originally wishing to give.

She chose to accept on the basis that the input from two Dragons with experience was more valuable to her than the risk losing that investment via negotiation.

2. Know your route to market

Large brands pay significant sums for product placement on supermarket shelves. This is key to driving customer sales. If a supermarket doesn’t know where to place your product the customer won’t know where to find it either.

Having a clear sales strategy, knowing who your customer is and where they are, are all essential for future sales for your product or service.

Having a great product and being a great person is clearly not enough.

Deborah Meaden loved ex-police woman Rayeesa Asghar-Sandys’ passion for Indian food, coupled with a great tasting natural and healthy frozen product from her business, Rayeesa’s Indian Kitchen.

The other Dragons were equally impressed but sadly her stand alone freezer concept for supermarkets clearly wasn’t viable.

Rayeesa had sold in farmers’ markets and hadn’t really explored fully her next route to market, demonstrating that you need to identify where you are going to sell your product.

Rayeesa received some great advice from Tej Lalvani who suggested that she built her brand and sells online therefore avoiding the refrigeration problem.

3. Ensure that you, and your business, are investor ready

Being ‘investor ready’ means having a realistic valuation and knowing your figures inside out (including the difference between turnover, gross profit and net profit).

You should also have full knowledge of every aspect of your business and have the capacity to do a deal.

You need to back your valuation up with hard figures, have a detailed business plan and three year cash flow forecast.

Getting a Dragon on board is only the first step and a detailed due diligence process will follow any offer of investment.

Although Claire Gelder initially forgot to factor in her labour cost when quoting her profit figures, she soon recovered under gentle prompting from Deborah Meaden and secured an investment offer.

Not so fortunate was ex-Army inventor Michael Gormley of Go Bubble. Whilst he had a credible invention at first sight, to keep champagne fizzy, following further probing it soon became apparent that the invention was a prototype.

Michael was unsure where he was in the patent application process, admitted there had already been a £2m investment and had no sales.

Clever questioning from Peter Jones clarified that Michael only owned 10% equity in the business.

There was clearly no room for movement and his request for investment was destined to fail as he didn’t have the capacity to make decisions on behalf of the company.

Previous reviews:

Enterprise Nation member Sandra Garlick, a former employment and business law solicitor, works with businesses via her consultancy SG Business Consulting and will deliver one-on-one advice in the Adviser Zone at Enterprise Nation’s Festival of Female Entrepreneurs in October.

What is a business mentor?

When I started out in business I was fortunate enough to have a business mentor.  However, this was only for the first 3 months of trading as I believed that I had all the tools I needed to run a business.  After all, how difficult could it be?

I didn’t understand that mentoring should continue beyond startup.  I wasn’t aware that some of the top business people in the country…in the world, have business mentors.

A business mentor is someone who works with you on a one to one basis as you work on your business.  It’s not coaching, although coaching skills do come into play. A mentor listens to you, guides you, challenges you, puts you in touch with their business contacts, helps you with strategy, business growth, and all those things that crop up in the life span of a business.  Most of all, a business mentor should understand your business, be a sounding board and work with you to achieve your business goals.

When I had cash flow difficulties, my mentor helped me plan and work through it.  At the point where I needed external finance, I had someone to help me find the best finance available. As my team grew, my mentor worked with me to get the best out of my employees.

After working through the whole business cycle, myself, from start up through to exit (several times), I now work with business owners as a mentor. I help businesses with their growth strategy, business planning, marketing strategy, access to finance and people management.

What I didn’t realise at the outset of my business journey was that I needed to work on my business, as much as I need to work in it! Working with a mentor ensures that you take that time away from your business to work on it.

The following points may be of use in considering a mentor to work with you:

How do I find a business mentor to work with? Most business mentors are found through existing contacts, recommendation and word of mouth.

What skills should my mentor have?  Your mentor should have been self-employed at some point and have knowledge of running a small business.  Very often people with a corporate background set themselves up as business mentors.  This is great if you are working with corporate clients and need to understand the workings of a corporate entity.  However, does the mentor have the requisite skills of managing a small business? Ask your mentor to see their CV or what practical business experience they have. You may decide to have multiple mentors who have specific skill sets for each area of your business.

How often should I meet or speak to my mentor? That is largely down to you, your mentor and what support you need. However, it’s important to have an agenda and to come away from each session with action points. Generally, mentoring is a monthly commitment depending upon what issues arise within your business. Some businesses need a more hands on approach and this may be where the relationship deepens into a Non-Exec role. Find out if the sessions are face to face, by telephone, Skype or similar. Face to face is best wherever possible with phone, email and Skype support.

What type of things can a mentor help me with? Business mentors can help you with anything. However, rather than offering general advice or support, it should be specific to your business. Mentors can support you with any aspect of your business growth, work with you and guide you.

How much should it cost? Mentors either charge a fixed daily/session rate or a monthly support fee. Ensure that you are clear about how much it’s going to cost at the outset and what you will be getting for your money. Be aware that expenses are usually charged in addition. Be careful not to tie yourself into lengthy contracts and the mentoring relationship should have quarterly reviews. Typically, mentoring can cost anything between £250-£1,000 per month.

If you would like to find out more about business mentoring please contact me:

Sandra Garlick is a former business and employment law solicitor and is now a business growth consultant, mentor, trainer and public speaker. Sandra works with business owners and senior management teams and has a particular expertise in the legal and sports sectors. 

Follow @SandraGarlick @SGBusConsulting

Sandra Garlick appointed to FSB Women In Enterprise Taskforce

LOCAL businesswoman Sandra Garlick has been appointed to a national taskforce which aims to promote women in enterprise.

Sandra Web 1The taskforce has been set up by business organisation Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to champion the needs of UK’s female SME owners.
Ms Garlick will join 14 other small business leaders from across the UK to set out the recommendations of FSB’s Women in Enterprise report released earlier this year.

Ms Garlick started her own law firm and grew the business to be one of the leading Legal 500 firms in Coventry & Warwickshire for Employment Law until she merged the business in 2014.

She also founded the Woman Who…Awards in early 2016, created to inspire women in business to celebrate their achievements, to gain confidence and to recognise their own abilities.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to join FSB’s Women in Enterprise Taskforce as I am keen to continue to influence the women in the business agenda. I am looking forward to representing businesses from Coventry, Warwickshire & Solihull to ensure that local women have a voice. Through my work as a business growth consultant, in delivering the Woman Who….Awards and now in my role on FSB’s Women in Enterprise Taskforce, I am sure I can help women feel confident and to succeed in business.”

Source:  The Business Desk West Midlands

Secretarial Trainee to No 10….and a pair of shoes

My mother told me that I didn’t walk until I was nearly two.  I like to think that it was because I was soaking up all the knowledge around me before I took my first steps…rather than being a little lazy.  In fact, it was the sight of my first pair of very shiny black patent shoes that drove me to take those first steps, and I have never looked back. I had achieved my first goal…to walk, or rather to wear those shiny black shoes.

In my early childhood I was shy, always watching, but never joining in.  Something always held me back.  It was confidence.  I hesitated to take those steps forward.  As I grew older, my confidence grew and I put myself forward more often and realised that I wasn’t going to get anywhere by sitting and watching others all the time.  I needed to take action to achieve my goals! No-one was going to do it for me.

I set my sights on a grammar school place and I achieved that.  I probably set out not to get many qualifications, and I achieved that too!  Life was for living when I was 16, and there was no way I was staying on at school.  I wanted to earn money to buy my first pair of work shoes!  They walked into Land Rover in Solihull and, although I had never typed anything in my life…I became a Secretarial Trainee. I set myself a goal to learn to type and passed my exams within a matter of weeks.

However, I was always looking at other people’s shoes, and who was wearing them, and set myself a goal to work my way up and into that role.  From secretarial trainee, I became a PA. From PA to bank clerk.  From bank clerk into sales, and so on.  I even went back to school to get those qualifications and qualified as a solicitor, but that’s another story.

Last December I was invited to visit No 10 Downing Street, to represent  the Warwickshire & Coventry branch of the FSB, as a woman in business, to meet with the Government’s advisers to talk about diversity and to encourage more women entrepreneurs to start up their own business.  Standing in my shoes, outside the door of No 10, I savoured the moment, reflecting about the time I stepped into my first job as the secretarial trainee who couldn’t type. I thought about all of the goals I had set along my journey and just how many I had achieved.

I truly believe that goals are a journey to a destination.  Personal or business,  you set out your goal and a route map on how you’re going to get there.  In my case, in a pair of shoes…one step at a time.

Sandra Garlick is a Business Growth Consultant, Mentor and Public Speaker.  Sandra speaks throughout the UK on a number of business growth topics and inspires women to start up and grow their businesses.

Follow @SandraGarlick on Twitter and #Periscope