Kirsty Parris on the Red Sofa
Interviewer: Hello, Kirsty. Thank you for joining us for our first red sofa interview online. Would you like to begin by telling us a little bit about your business, Andromeda Business Consulting?
Yes certainly. Thanks very much for having me today. Andromeda Business Consulting, I set up coming up for nearly eleven years ago. So I’ve been doing it for a fair old while. I became a business coach through chance, rather than it was ever a career aim. I spent many years working in different businesses, doing different kinds of roles, different kinds of functions. I’ve been a business owner myself before, when I had a project management training company; also did business systems analysis and design. So I know what it is to be a business owner. Then spent seven years working with an accountancy practice, funnily enough, and working with them on helping them build and grow and develop the practice. I’m not an accountant. While we were doing that, they had a business coach who specialized on working purely with accountants. And while I was doing the work with him, I thought this has kinda got legs for something for every business.
So I kinda developed my own program, and started working with the accountant’s clients, in-house. And I became a business coach… And that’s how I started my journey. But then after a few years of doing this, I thought this is ALL I want to do and so Andromeda was born
Interviewer: Fantastic! So you help businesses with continuity planning. As we’re currently riding through the waves of a global pandemic, hopefully on the way out with the vaccine coming through. But can you tell us a little bit more about how you can help businesses prepare, manage, and recover through these sorts of times?
Kirsty: Yes, absolutely. I know when I’ve been talking to some people they say, well isn’t it like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, thinking about planning? I think now, more than ever, is the time to be looking really closely at what you’re doing. The idea of business continuity planning – most people just don’t do this… but should do this – is looking at all the various roles and functions of their business. So from their personnel, their communications, how they communicate with their clients, with their staff. Any technology issues which they could possibly have. And now we’re predominantly doing so much online, now more than ever this has become a big issue. Your payment systems, your banking, all your finance disbursements. You know, all your manual operations. Everything that’s around that. You need to look at each of them and then looking as if to say as a contingency plan, what do we do in a given scenario?
When I did business continuity planning with a group of my clients last summer, we didn’t envisage a pandemic; that wasn’t part of the reckoning. That kind of came out of nowhere for us. However, they had put in place various safety nets and precautions. And each one of those clients is still going today. And, even though it was a terrifying time when lockdown happened, they were very much with the mind set of “we know what we need to do; we know the things we need to look at”, and they revised that. And as the time’s developing, we’re kind of looking at this as being a new way of being. People talk about me… can’t wait to get back to normal… but I think this is a degree of our new normal for some time to come. So we need to plan for that.
On this note, because there is a rise in the use of digital technology, and people working from home, the way we market and communicate our products and services to existing and potential clients has changed dramatically. People who once had shops on the high street are now turning to online solutions for their marketplace.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah, one hundred percent agree with that. You also help businesses market for growth. What’s your approach to that? And how do businesses know that they’re in the correct position to be able to grow?
Kirsty: Every business is different; every single one. But basically there are four ways to grow a business; whatever your level. That’s about getting more of your ideal customers. Getting them to come back to you more often. Increasing the added value of each of your sales. And getting more effective with the business processes, therefore increasing your profitability. The approach that I have is the same across the board, no matter the size of the business or the industry sector. It is first of all to analyse and understand what it is they are currently doing. I would say eight out of ten businesses don’t really understand who they are truly targeting or who their market really is. They have an idea of what they think it is but the reality is something very very different. I work very much on the foundations marketing. So it’s about understanding who your competition is; understanding what you’re really in the business for; what outcomes your clients are looking to receive. And I take it from there. But it’s part of and tied in with my GAP Program, that I have.
Interviewer: As business owners, we can get caught up in the day to day grind, so to speak, and underestimate the value of taking time out to work on the business, and not in it. So as you’ve just mentioned, you have a service there called your GAP Service. Are you able to give us a little insight into the benefits of building and growing the business through that method?
Kirsty: Yes, absolutely. It’s absolutely critical for every business, or business owner, to take their time out to really look and understand what it is they’re doing. If you can share your screen with me, I will bring up a slide, and I can talk you through the GAP Program.
So, I work with business owners, we talk about the elephant in the room. And that’s the things they’re not really comfortable revealing to other people. And sometimes admitting to themselves. We look at what is holding them back from their own success. We look at what their fears and concerns are. We look at what they need to do to get their business to the next level. And there’s a whole range of things that we go through. But we start off looking at what their personal goals are. By having personal goals listed out, and they are listed out as individual goals and they are all what I call SMART defined, which means there’s a number against it and it’s not just an airy fairy dream. We put how much this goal is going to cost them, and when they want to achieve it by. So there’s a time number against it as well. And then we look at, for each of the goals, the individual steps that they need to take to achieve them.
We then do the same with the business. And this helps me identify what the gaps are in the business as well, as we go through this. Then we do a situation analysis. And that is by looking at where the business is at in its current state, here and now. And by doing that we understand what it needs to do help you achieve both personal and the business goals.
Then this is the big section. We dive deep into the sales and marketing, because as I mentioned earlier, without it, without having customers you don’t have a business. And that goes for everybody; there’s no business without having a customer at the end of it. And we need to let people know what we do.
And then we work on looking at you and your tribe. So this can be anything from even if you’re a one man band you will have other people who are an instrumental part of your business. Whether that’s your accountant or a bookkeeper, or if you’ve got somebody doing your marketing for you, or answering your telephones. Or anything. It’s understanding who you’ve got doing what, are they the right people? Or, if you haven’t got anyone doing stuff, who do you need? Because there are functions in your business you shouldn’t be doing. Because you should be out there fronting up your business. You should be out there bringing in the customers for yourself.
Then we look at the systems and processes, making sure that you’ve got things structured in the most efficient way possible. It’s not just about IT systems, it really is about business processes.
And then this all links into On the Money. This is where I work with clients’ accountants, at times. And this is to ensure that they are making their businesses as efficient as they possibly can. And look at things like cashflow forecasting, management accounting, all of those kinds of elements.
And all of this builds into an action plan. And then my job is to help people and keep them accountable for all the actions, and stuff, that we set out. Now each of these areas, I have done as individual systems. But together they work at really driving a business forward.
Interviewer: Brilliant. That sounds like a really good all-round action plan there, Kirsty. With lockdown this year, we’ve obviously seen a massive surge in people working from home, and a massive fast-forward in technology developments; with teams, zoom, like we’re doing now. Many businesses draw their success from building an unstoppable team, as you’ve just called it – you and your tribe – is imperative to the success of the business. How has this affected the way that people understand business needs? And how can businesses give this ownership and empowerment to their staff while working remotely and effectively isolated?
Kirsty: I think this whole situation… there’s definitely been a plus to it. I think it has made a lot of business owners really take a good look at their team. Who have they really got? And this has been the time that many staff members have really shone through, and have shown their worth. It’s also uncovered those who are not pulling their weight, as they should be.
But managing remotely is incredibly difficult. The way that I see it, and this is a personal thing, when I have had staff before I would only employ people that I trust. Trust is a huge thing. And obviously there are no guarantees, and you hope that your instincts are right, and if you’ve done your interviewing process right, that you’ve actually got the right person doing the right thing… then to manage them shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do. I have worked with clients that have had management issues and communication issues. And quite often those, when you start looking at it, it comes back to that they haven’t done the interviewing process right from the get go. As part of what I do when I work with clients and I’m looking at them, I always go to business owners, “I’m going to speak to each one of your team members, and I’m going to look and see what it is each one of them does, to understand what they do. And every single business owner says, “Well, I can tell you that.” And I reply, “No, I can guarantee you that they will be doing things that you don’t know that they do. And the chances are that they are probably doing more for you than you realise they’re doing. And, at times, it can be duplicating and can be causing a blockage somewhere down the line. So as well as looking for gaps, I look for blockages. So by actually spending time talking to the team members to understand what is really driving them, what’s frustrating them, it helps to motivate and get the best out of them. And then when you have a team that have bought into what they are doing and what they’re about, then they are far easier to manage.
Interviewer: That all sounds great, Kirsty. Thank you. Is there anything else you’d like to add whilst you’re on our virtual red sofa today?
Kirsty: No, other than to say to people I know this is a really big scary time. I know this is stressful and it all feels just so uncertain. But the on thing you must not stop doing if you want to stay in business… don’t stop marketing your business. Do not stop! Now, more than ever, this is the time to really push forward and start thinking outside the box. And if that’s not something you can do, then that’s when you can talk to people… like you… like me… get the experts in; the people who know this stuff. And help them to help you.
Interviewer: Fantastic. Thank you so much, Kirsty. Really appreciate your time today. That’s Kirsty from Andromeda Business Consulting.
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