I’ve been a business mentor for many years.

Shaun invited me to add some of my thoughts to the Thompson Balch website and I am delighted to do so and meet you all.  So who is this woman with the funny name and what is her take on the world? I trade as Elizabeth Toogood Insightful Business Mentor but what does that mean?

I am a businesswoman of mature years – well old really! I have been working for over 50 years having started at 12 with my mother in her wine shop. My career proper began in road transport and has spanned retail, motor retailing and consulting in both big limited companies, privately owned businesses and my own businesses. If you want to know more then get in touch and I will tell you some of the stories of crises, chutzpah, strikes and serendipitous events. I am now a business mentor helping people develop their enterprises effectively to deliver whatever outcomes they aim for.

My shorthand is this “ Helping you and your business grow. Together we find your focus and craft the plan to build your success. Together we’ll create your legend, we’ll make it a reality”.

Of course, this is different depending on the circumstances but let’s unpick this.

01234 273644 / 07968 822275

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How we recognise Sucess

It is August. It follows a very strange July. All that heat and the main topic being the exchange of tips about how to have a good night’s sleep or any sleep on those tropical nights. At the same time, we are all thinking about energy costs and wondering how we will afford to stay warm in the winter. A very strange dichotomy.

Then there is the political situation. The UK has dreadful problems in all areas of life that government is responsible for and the answer, however you arrive at it is economic growth. I am not an economist but do not see a country that is good at this and certainly no politicians with real vision as to how to unleash it. Then there is the industrial action that is ratcheting up day but day. Who can blame people who have not had a real increase in income pushing for one when the supermarket shop costs more each week, and they have to budget to fuel their vehicle?

Thank goodness for the Lionesses and the Commonwealth Games to lift our spirits – more of both later.

This month my clients’ emphasis has been on how we recognise success. It sounds so simple and is anything but.

As I write this the Lionesses are celebrating, women are celebrating, and the country is celebrating. What a huge success for the players on the field; 2 goals to 1 and no need for penalties. The FA’s stupidity in banning the women’s game is finally acknowledged and seen for its prejudice. But what a huge success for every woman footballer and the difficulties she has overcome to play a game she loves and lead the way; what a massive success for female coaching and all the support team members (Mothers are the best coaches of all and we overlook them every day) and most of all success will be seen in the future as we get to play in proper stadia and on prime time TV. Success at all levels but do not let’s forget Tess singing, getting excited and always talking about the game and the players. There are thousands of girls and boys inspired by the result but mainly by the manner of it and the possibilities it brings.

At the Commonwealth Games, some only tot up the podium wins to measure success. However, there are so many other measures. Here are just a few:

  •  Did someone get to the Games beyond all the odds?
  • Did someone perform out of their socks and turn in a Personal Best which brought them in 8th in the final?
  • Did someone represent a sport in its first appearance at the Games?
  • Have athletes taught us about a country we knew nothing about?
  • Or a sport we did not know before?
  • Are we accepting and therefore expecting para-athletes to take their part in the same programme as the usual athletes? I am addicted to the swimming and just love seeing everyone participating together.
  • Then there is the inclusivity of all our LGBTQ+ friends and relatives and the freedom they can enjoy here that they might not have at home. Hopefully, this strengthens their hand to create change.
  • Then there is the Commonwealth Collective. There ate 14,000 of them making it happen. A friend of mine is in it. He was a Games Maker in 2012 and had the time of his life. This time he finds himself a Team Leader in the Results Technology Services section delivering the scores used by athletes, officials, team officials TV, media, spectators et al. As he says no pressure. I had a message on the first night to say the first shift had gone well: the technology worked, and the team members did themselves proud. Now they can all enjoy it.

All this is success. It is all very visible if we just look in the right direction and shine lights into the corners.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to present prizes to some youngsters who had entered an art competition. My category was the 4 to 6-year-olds. My job was to make the presentation and get the winners to speak about what inspired their artwork. No pressure there either. It was a joy; they were so pleased to be involved and mostly I was able to get them to talk and enjoy their success. I went home happy because I could reflect on a job well done; success.

All this is exactly the same in business. We need to look for signs that our business is a success. Ask a group of entrepreneurs how they recognise success and within thirty seconds someone is talking about net profit. Fair enough but there is so much more.

This month one of my clients whose business is very young hit £10,000 per month net profit. It was the first time and needed celebration; it was a milestone for a one-woman business. What did we do? We rang the bell! I have a very noisy handbell. She needed to stop, recognise how far she had come in a short time and enjoy it. Then we can analyse it and work out how to use what she has learnt to do so it becomes normal.

Ask again how business people know their business is successful and delve. You get more eclectic answers rather like the Commonwealth Games examples. Here are just a few that make huge sense to the people who mention them:

  • “When I review the week there are at least 5 messages thanking us for great customer service and no complaints”.
  • Our largest customer has doubled their order “Because you have proved yourselves.”
  • “Someone approached us for a job because they like the sound of our values”.
  • “I can take a dividend which means I can fulfil a lifetime ambition and go to the Maldives”.
  • “I can go back to the shop to buy the work clothes that I went to when someone else employed me”.

I often need to delve further. These are the things that motivate people.

We need to look at an organisation’s overall success. Much of it is about the values that differentiate it. Do you know what your business stands for? And, importantly how do you know if everyone in your team understands those values? What does successfully living your values look like?

I could go on and on. Why is it important? I say it again because these are the things that motivate us, maybe even more than the money. My team leader friend is a retired MD and CEO of substantial businesses. He is a man with considerable talent and many successes to his name. I would guess the success he had on the first day of the Games gave him just as much pleasure.

All of this stuff is important in my role as a mentor. I help you shine that light into the dark corners of your business. If as you read this, it resonates with you or someone you might know; if you like my ideas and values, especially my passion; if you would like to speak about your business issues and about how to enjoy and develop your business life, then perhaps we should talk. Please give me a call. I love speaking with people, off the meter, to help them explore possibilities and whether/how to take them forward. I hope you will be one of them.

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