Are you a Rock Star or a Musician?

The below diagram shows the transformation lifecycle

I spend a lot of time with people who are either in business or trying start their own business and I can quickly separate these into three categories that will determine whether they will be successful or not. These are:

  1. Rock Stars
  2. Musicians
  3. Both

The Rock Stars tend to spend a lot of time in Online forums such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and at the centre of these forums is normally someone acting like the Pied Piper selling the dream. I’m not dissing the forums because they provide a valuable service for people to commune. I think self-awareness is a great business skill and if you are aware of your need to commune and you get that need met, I welcome it.

Then there are the Musicians who really know how to make music. These are the people who are in love with the activities of running their business and spend more time with their customers solving customers problems and continually adapting their business to suit the customer

Finally, there are those small number of people who can do both.

Ask yourself the following question.

Do I spend more of my time thinking about myself being successful or do I spend more of my time about make my prospects or customers more successful?

Musicians think about their music. They know the intricacies such as which chords go well together, how to emphasize certain notes and about phrasing etc.

Rock Stars spend most of their time thinking about the size of the crowd and how much adulation they are getting.

The most successful Rock Stars are also musicians. Listen to Ronnie Wood – he can certainly play, and Liam Gallagher can certainly sing.

I say this because in the harsh world of business you do need to be both a Rock Star and a Musician.

You need to be the person that knows his customers but also add a little chutzpah and project success.

At Rubiks Cube, we can certainly help you with the music and we can do this in a structured way where you can see the value.

Feel free to complete our free business-model-assessment if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business

Brian Hill is the principal partner at Rubiks Cube Management services and can be contacted by clicking on the link here >>>>

London Music Business MeetUp Group

Just a quick update that we have started a new meetup group for Music Venue owners, managers, promoters and artists in and around the London area.

The meetup group is designed to share ideas on how to promote live music and support the community. Link below

London Music Business Business Meetup

Transforming London Grass Roots Music

Rubiks Cube Management services is committed to community service and via this series of posts, will be helping and supporting the Grass Roots Music Scene in London

The below diagram shows the transformation lifecycle, which will be used as a framework for topics relating to the London Grass Roots Music scene

Links to articles and resources for each phase

Stage 1 – Vision Development

The links below are the sources of information that can be used to analyse

  • Macro Environment (PESTLE Analysis which includes Political influencers, Environmental, Social, Technological, Legal and Economic),
  • Industry Scan (Competitive Analysis / Market Segmentation)
  • SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats)
  • Performance Benchmarking

Macro Environment

UK Music Census Contains information to help measure live music’s cultural and economic value, discover what challenges the sector is facing and inform policy to help it flourish. The census covers all genres and takes a broad definition of live music to include events featuring DJs
musicvenuetrust.com Music Venue Trust is a UK Registered Charity which acts to protect, secure and improve UK Grassroots Music Venues for the benefit of venues, communities and upcoming artists
Live Music  Exchange A research hub for anyone interested in live music research
Pestle Analysis Template Document The PESTLE analysis is undertaken to understand the wider environment that a company is operating in and which forces within the environment as business leader should focus when determining strategy

Industry Scan

The below is a map of the 93 music venues listed as Grass Roots Music Venues in London

Stage 3 – Blueprints

Stage 4 – Roadmaps

Stage 5 – Governance

Strategy and a visit to the barbers

The below diagram shows the transformation lifecycle and today I’d like to discuss the 1st element around developing a business vision using a visit to a local barber in Enfield

Business Vision

Last week I went to a barber in my local borough of Enfield and as I sat, the inevitable conversation was struck up by the barber. This barber also happened to be the owner and had taken over the previous year. I was keen to understand how things were going and so I gently turned the conversation into more of a mini interview.

I asked him how he had found his first year in business. “A lot more difficult than I ever imagined and a lot of long hours”; “The main problem”, he said, “….is that I can’t get the staff. The industry isn’t regulated and where there used to be one or two hairdressers in this area, there are now 7 or 8 within 500 yards of me. Because the industry isn’t regulated you can get away with hiring people that just aren’t skilled enough. I’m shocked when I listen to some hairdressers giving clearly wrong advice but what can I do?”

I then went on to ask him more about himself and I soon discovered his passion. He was skilled to Level 3. He also had the best equipment available and could tell me minor details such as the tensile strength of his scissors and how the handle was crafted in such a way as to ensure the correct positioning of his hand when he made the cut. He challenged me when in another barbers “ask the barber what type of scissors they use”.

I asked him about his goals, and he told me that as a young man he’d be doing this for the next 30 years until he retired. He had to make this work for his pension and had a few ideas that could help him differentiate himself (although he wouldn’t discuss this)

“Another major problem” he said, “was that rates are so high that they are eating away at my profits”

We then talked about some of the things that other barbers and hairdressers were doing which included things like online scheduling

Now, let’s look at what we know within our lifecycle in the Vision Phase.

  • Motivation
    • Mission (purpose) – to dress men’s hair in the Enfield area
    • Vision – to transform the business so that it supports his passion, recruiting staff of high experience
    • Goals – grow the business so that it can provide a pension in the future
  • Macro Environment
    • High Rates – the government announced in the 2018 budget that business rates for hair/beauty salons and barbershops with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will be cut by a third for two years (2019-2021). Explained in this article.
  • Competition
    • 7 – 8 within 500 yards employing younger lower qualified barbers and hair-dressers
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats)
    • Strengths – he and his staff are qualified to Level 3 and he has top of the range equipment. His shop is also located in a prime location in the high St
    • Weaknesses – The shop is tired and run down and the wall space is blank with no promotion
    • Opportunities – The shop attracts mostly middle-aged men. With his youth and passion, he could be targeting a younger set of men and women who may pay for premium experience. Online scheduling would likely bring in a new demographic and help manage costs
    • Threats – A lack of regulation could mean more opening up in close- proximity. In business strategy we call this a low barrier to entry

During the final trimming of my hair we managed to discuss some of my own thoughts. As his shop was a little tired, it needed a make-up, which could attract younger mixed sex demographics. There was nothing on the walls that promoted his strengths such as his experience and qualifications. I suggested also that he could put some things on the wall that showed the benefits of a regular visit i.e. ongoing hair management and health. He could also start to sell products.

The conversation lasted the duration of the cut, but I think you can start to see from this how you can developing a business vision based around a transformation lifecycle such as ours above.

Note: I checked afterwards and was surprised to find that this was correct. There are no qualifications required – see link to the Direct Line website.

Feel free to complete our free business-model-assessment if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business strategy

Brian Hill is the principal partner at Rubiks Cube Management services and can be contacted by clicking on the link here >>>>

Competitive Intelligence – A Short Note

The below diagram shows the lifecycle of business transformation. It’s within the Industry Scan we consider Competitive Intelligence

Today is just a short reflection on my views on strategy and the importance of competitive intelligence. It came about as a result of a conversation with a local business director as we were talking about transformation of his organisation. We were talking about the 2020 goals for his organisation and he was planning to take out a very sizeable loan to support his ambitious plans. As we were talking I took a moment to ask him about how his businesses products and services where doing in comparison to his rivals. He took a moment to reflect and I noticed him struggle with the thoughts of who his rivals actually were. It was interesting how little thought he’d given to who the competition was, what they were offering and whether they were doing it well or badly.

My own thoughts on strategy and competitive intelligence are akin to managing a football team or going into battle. Would you go into a football match with just the thought that we will put out 11 players, let them play and that will be it? Jose Mourinho or Jurgen Klopp wouldn’t. They spend countless hours before a match assessing the team they are coming up against. They assess each opposition players strengths and weaknesses, they review formations played, they look at key moments and decisions made in previous matches. This information informs the training and preparation leading up to the match.

Remember that the aim of a football match is to win by scoring more goals than the opposition and there is the key phrase i.e. “than the opposition”. In order to win you must look at the opposition and consider where their strengths and weaknesses as well as your own. The idea is to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses and mitigate the effects of their strengths. Strategy involves making most use of your own strengths and organising them in a way to exploit the weaknesses of the opposition.

In business, we call this Competitive Intelligence.

Here’s an interesting article by CBS News on how politicians do opposition research

Feel free to complete our free business-model-assessment if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business strategy

Brian Hill is the principal partner at Rubiks Cube Management services and can be contacted via our Contact Us page

Understanding the business macro environment – Part 3

Today, we will continue are research to further our understanding of the macro environment using Enfield as the target area. In case you missed the beginning, a link to Part 1 is shown below.

Understanding the Business Macro Environment – Part 1

Note: By understanding of the business macro environment, we mean understanding the wider business context within which you operate

Recall the diagram below showing the macro environment within the transformation lifecycle

Today, we’re going to continue our research into our target area of the Enfield Borough of North London using the data we collated so far in our spreadsheet.

One of the primary questions I have in my mind when looking at other businesses is “how long have they been around?” This gives me an understanding as to whether they are stable and successful over the long term or whether they are a fledgling business. The table below, extracted from our spreadsheet, shows the dates of incorporation for businesses totalled and grouped by period

Interestingly, 11% of businesses where incorporated before the start of the millennium. This makes sense since our earlier research showed that 92% of businesses have less than 10 employees.

Out of interest we have shown the top 10 oldest businesses in the Enfield borough and well done to Beale’s Ltd for surviving since 1895

Ok, slight diversion but it does beg the question as to what these companies have done well to survive for so long. I would hazard a guess that part of the question is answered by it being in a stable industry but we’d have to look in more detail to really find out.

So, what else can we glean from our spreadsheet? Lets look back at table 1, we can see 76% of businesses in the Enfield Borough have existed only in the last 8 years

The chart below shows dates of incorporation each year since 2000

As you can see there is an explosion of new businesses since the start of the decade.

The comparative chart below is from the Governments own website, which shows overall UK volumes of incorporation.

In the next part we’ll break the list down further and start to look at some of the sectors

Feel free to complete our free business model assessment Check if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business strategy

Brian Hill is the principal partner at Rubiks Cube Management services and can be contacted here

Understanding the Business Macro Environment – Part 2

Today, we will continue our research into the macro environment using Enfield as the target area. In case you missed part 1, here is a link below

Understanding the Business Macro Environment – Part 1

Recall the diagram below showing the macro environment within the transformation lifecycle

Transformation Lifecycle

Below, is a post code map of the Enfield Borough, which will help us with a visual analysis of the target area

Enfield Post Code Map

The below table also helps us with a more thorough listing of all post codes.

We can use government data to drill down. For this blog I’ve provided a link below. Note: We have our own database with a much richer data set.

Director of London Businesses

Although the file is over 300Mb in size it can be opened in Excel and analysed thoroughly

For this exercise, we have taken the Post Codes above and filtered out all unnecessary information. This brings the file size down to a more manageable 3.7Mb.

What we find are the following:

  • Total number of businesses Registered           =          16,943
  • Total number of active businesses                   =          15,952
  • Total number of inactive businesses                =          991

Of the 991 inactive businesses, the following table gives a breakdown

For this exercise, the companies we are interested in are the active ones and so lets look at a decomposition of those companies by SIC code (SIC stands for Standard Industrial Classification)

So, lets look at the top 10 SIC codes in the table below

Once we have identified a SIC code of interest, we can do several things including drill down further to the business level or go wider, including industry level information such as revenue per SIC

Feel free to complete our free business model assessment if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business strategy

Brian Hill is the principal partner at Rubiks Cube Management services and can be contacted here

Understanding the Business Macro Environment – Part 1

The below diagram shows understanding the macro environment within the transformation life cycle

The business macro environment

For the purposes of this discussion we will analyse the demographics of my own local business area of Southgate, North London

Enfield Borough

Whenever thinking about demographics our own local government can provide some very useful information. Below are some links to some very interesting documents

Enfield Borough Profile – this is a pdf document that provides key facts and statistics relating to the borough including population size and density, age and sex profiles, ethnic and cultural diversity, language, religion, sexual orientation

London Borough Profiles – this is an excel spreadsheet that provides statistics which compare Enfield to Outer London, London and Nationally in relation to demographics, labour market, Economy, Housing, Environment, Transport etc

Let’s look at some of the details held within each document that maybe of interest.

Enfield Borough Profile

The population of Enfield in mid-2018 was 333,869. The biggest regeneration programme was a £6 billion, 20-year project that took place next to Lee Valley Regional Park. The programme generated thousands of jobs and built over 10,000 new homes.

The top 5 languages spoken outside of English where Turkish, Somali, Polish, Bengali and Albanian

In 2018 there were 12,875 businesses registered with 92% employing less than 10 people.

92% of businesses survive the first year. It would be very useful to see what the statistics say about what happens after the 1st year and which types businesses are failing and why

A little bit of background reading shows that Enfield is 12 miles from the centre of London.

As a businessman you would automatically be asking questions relating to how the government would be spending £6 billion or what opportunities there would be when 10,000 new homes are being built. Remember that wherever there are large developments like this, the surrounding infrastructure and services will change also.

Enfield Borough Profile

What I like about the Enfield Borough Profile is the Chart-Map tab, which allows you to filter on a variety of elements. For instance, the filter called Employment Rate % shows that Enfield had a 69% employment rate compared to the national average of 72.2%.

The Profiles tab shows that 64.4% of the population are of working age and that 35% of the population was born abroad.

Interestingly, the Profiles tab gives us the success rate of businesses after 2 years at 74%.

So, we now have 8% business failures in year 1 and 26% in year two and inline with the rest of the country

So, as a businessman, would you like to know more about whose succeeding and whose failing in your geography.

Well, let’s visit the Office of National Statistics and get a breakdown.

Office of National Statistics The below graph shows the survival rates for businesses between 2013 and 2017.

Five Year Business Survival Rates

As you can see from the trends above survival rates have been dropping over those 5 years and this looks consistent for each year after start-up.

What’s also interesting is that by year 5 in 2013 only 46% of businesses have survived.

As a Businessman this is where you want to focus. Do you want to be in the 46% survival area of the 54% failure area?

Feel free to complete our free business model assessment if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business strategy

Brian Hill is the principal partner at Rubiks Cube Management services and can be contacted here

Understanding the business macro environment – Part 2

Strategy Maps

Today we are going to discuss the Strategy Map, which is a tool that allows you to understand the multi-tier nature of strategy and its impacts on other parts of the business

Strategy Maps where developed by Kaplan and Norton and set perspective’s for business including:

  • Financial
  • Customer
  • Process and
  • Development (Learning & Growth)

The beauty of this approach is that it allows you to understand the impacts and trade-offs required to implement an optimum strategy. 

Using the example in the Strategy Map tool in our store we start with restating our vision. This allows us to continually check alignment between our goals and our aims.

In this example we start with the main goal being profit. Profit doesn’t always have to be the main goal. There are times when your main goal maybe to increase value, improve quality or increase market share.

So, for this organisation, the overall goal is to generate £100,000 profit in the current forecast year. The business model here isn’t straight forward because this organisation subsidises members benefits by holding events for the public and from leasing out its flats.

So, an overall strategic goal has been broken down into a set of revenue goals and cost management goals. The revenue goals have been agreed across each of its lines of business.

Once these primary goals have been discussed, the next step is to look at the other perspectives. You can start with any other perspective; For this example, we have opted to choose the Customer Perspective next. So, to generate £15k of revenue we have agreed to lease out the flat, to generate £30k we have agreed to improve the attendance of existing members who haven’t visited in a long time and to generate circa £60k we will put on 36 new events.

The next question we ask for each business line is “what customer goals we need to support the financial strategy”. For instance, to generate 10% increased revenue from members we have decided to focus on the 300 members that haven’t attended in the last year and will need a strategy to put on new events to attract them in.

Once we have agreed a customer strategy, we can look at the process perspective. So, to put on new activities for non-attending members, we will first need to complete a survey to see which activities they want and then source the events. The survey is a process which fits under marketing and promotion processes and the sourcing of the activities is a process that fits under the sourcing of products and entertainment processes.

Finally, we look at people and tools / technology. The identification of processes allows us to understand which people are impacted by change and what tools they need to support the strategy. In our example here we need to recruit more staff to support new events and we will need a marketing tool to promote through the channels that will attract the public to the new events.

Feel free to complete our free business model assessment if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business strategy

Competitive Positioning

Today we are going to discuss competitive positioning within are Industry Scan using an example of a local business we completed some work for in Southgate, Enfield.

This local business wanted to introduce food into the establishment after reading a breadth of market reports on the state of the pubs industry. The overall view was that pubs and clubs where diversifying more into food due to the loss of wet sales and closure of 1000’s pubs and clubs over time.

And so, we undertook a review of the sort of food that could be provided, where the trends where going and what the competition looked like.

The thing about strategy is that it doesn’t just operate in isolation of the market place. We often use two terms to talk about strategy and these are:

  • Doing the right thing –           obtaining the optimum market position
  • Doing things right      –           executing the strategy in order to deliver the chosen product or service

In order to review the competition, you need to know what the critical success factors are for your industry and demographic. We wrote about this in a previous blog critical success factors.

And so, for our product we determined that our demographic where both food quality conscious and price conscious. Based on that information we undertook some research of all the cafes and restaurants on Chase Side, Southgate where all the competition was.

Above is a simple perceptual map that was built up which showed that the majority of food outlets where under the category of fast food of reasonable quality and so the choice to enter the higher end of quality at a reasonable price was a good fit for the market

Feel free to complete our free business model assessment if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business strategy