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Be a mastermind of your business

Yee Group Limited

Have you ever considered what would be your specialist subject if you were a contestant on BBC2's Mastermind?

How would you go about choosing your subject?

Maybe, discuss it with your 'family team' to get their input.

After all, they will know you very well.

They could help you to pinpoint a subject.

You could look back over your interests and agree with them that you've been a long standing Quo fan.

You may be already asking yourselves what has this got to do with business? Well, I can see some immediate connections.

In my experience in business, you are constantly searching for a distinctive proposition that gives you a competitive advantage.

You may have set out with the intention of being that oft quoted ‘Jack of All Trades’.

Didn’t that vision effectively flounder in the first few months?

I would however agree that it is a good starting point from where to discover what could be your niche.

In common with the quiz, you are looking to become a specialist.

Speaking with other Chamber members, I was delighted to hear that some held the view that targeting a sector (read ‘dedicated subject’ for the quiz) is the key proposition that they follow.

I agree that one size doesn't fit all. Other businesses may be looking to attract a wider range of customers.

Every business is looking to boost their sales; and, as a consequence their bottom-line.

For profits read points, not passes, in the context of the Mastermind Quiz.

Detailed knowledge and understanding of a small portfolio of products or services, has in my book, got to be more potent in delivering profitable sales.

This offers the business the opportunity to provide bespoke solutions.

Then, from my experience with Yee Group, you will make it more difficult for new entrants to effectively compete with you.

However, I am not for a moment forgetting that you will have existing competitors.

But as in the quiz, where your goal is to score more points, in real business-life your aim is to grow and score more successes, using financial measurements to confirm your results.

That way you'll avoid being a busy fool juggling too many plates in your search of turnover, whilst losing sight of margins and bottom-line profit.

There may be opportunities that you will decide not to pursue. 

For example, when the returns do not fit in with your strategy.

Then, it’s a real case of staying focussed using the experience that you will have already gained to avoid deviation from your plan.

In quiz parlance, give an answer rather than a pass which can weigh heavily against you in the latter stages of the competition.

It is becoming increasingly clear that smaller businesses have quid pro quo more potential to remain market or sector focused, than their larger corporate cousins.

I recall a mentor telling me to remain niche focused to keep most, if not all, of the big companies away from directly competing.

And, it is true that smaller businesses, or SMEs, are generally faster at reacting.

That is like your quiz appearance.

You will be making an immediate decision to give your answer, preferably correctly.

There are decisions to be made in business; as in the quiz. Your specialist business approach should pay dividends in terms of the product excellence, value and the complete service that you can and will deliver.

Fashions will, of course, change; but, the fundamentals will still apply.

In this context, seasonal trends will need to be factored into the decisions you make as a specialist.

Resourcing for busy periods in your annual business cycle will remain critical.

In the quiz context, that equates to finding the time to practice quiz questions, memorising answers and being prepared for the general knowledge round.

Learning those facts and detail is on a par with research and knowledge of your competitors.

You may be able to call on previous experience or knowledge to answer a business issue, but the more you are informed, the more likely you are to deliver a suitable solution. Niche products are by definition less liable to price competition.

Importantly, you will have the ability to add value.

Specialists can only remain true to that definition, if they are constantly innovating; making new introductions to their existing customers; and in order to win new customers, who select them ahead of other potential suppliers.

With a balanced portfolio, there are opportunities to reduce risk and discover new potential business streams.

Those that are unlikely without excessive allocation of costly resources can quickly be dropped from your 'catalogue'.

In the quiz analogy, you will need a good cross-section of general knowledge.

In my experience, there are pipelines of new products that can be quickly evaluated and future markets analysed.

If you are unable to locate a demand stream, then it probably doesn't exist for you, or your business.

Then, I urge you to resist the challenge; leave that to others.

You will avoid being diverted from your focus.

In terms of the quiz analogy, it is about knowing the key, critical and most unusual facts about your subject; and playing the percentage game.

Managing your specialism will remain a critical task within your strategy.

Chamber members have confided in me that developing their employees’ knowledge and skills is a 'must'.

Developing and harnessing their skills and capabilities should become a constituent part of achieving your business goal.

This process will enable you to avoid being too dependent on a particular sector.

Having taken part in the quiz your knowledge will no doubt be extended.

Your employees will help you to gain the required additional knowledge and expertise.

New niches can be developed from within the business itself.

This offers the critical advantage of a full, complete understanding right across your business which will act as a barrier to any new entrants.

So, when you next walk across to your desk, you can also imagine that you are making your way across the stage to face John Humphries.

As you tackle managing your business that day, you can also consider how you would set about answering the questions he would be asking you.

There are indeed many similarities between your business; and the long-running quiz. Simon Chapman is President of the Burton and District Chamber of Commerce and Managing Director of Yee Group Ltd a leading multi discipline contractor serving the whole of the Midlands region.

Yee Group Ltd celebrated 30 years of engineering excellence in 2015 - a significant milestone for this award winning contractor headquartered in Burton upon Trent.

The company is a multi-discipline contractor offering the services required by the managers of industrial, commercial educational and public premises.

Yee Group Ltd offer a range of specialised services in three broad business streams: SAFETY, SPACE & TAILORED SOLUTIONS.