Are you making lots of money but begrudge paying taxes?

Would you welcome a cash injection back into the business?

 

Business Glu have been passionate about R&D (Research & Development) for quite some time now.  Getting so frustrated that many businesses don’t think they are eligible or see it as such a huge task that they don’t bother.

If you think R&D is hard work - think again

It isn’t a catch or a trick, it is something that most businesses are able to claim and reduce their tax bill.  I for one didn’t choose to join the membership of HMRC and any business with any sense will approach the journey of R&D tax credits with full force if they want to avoid giving their hard-earned money to Mr Tax Man.  It isn’t a tax avoidance scheme, nor will it get you in trouble, its there if you are a limited company with less than 500 staff and a turnover of under 100 million euros.

For the claim in a nutshell, If your business has improved or implemented new services, products or processes in the last 2 years there is a likely claim.  

In the current climate there are many businesses suffering the effects of Covid-19.  Losses, expenditure they could ill afford and having to introduce changes the business has been forced into because of the situation of the world pandemic. All things they hadn’t budgeted for perhaps.

Sound too good to be true? 

A company we recently worked with were facing such difficulties and a bleak future.  They became fearful their only option would be insolvency.  After investigating all rescue plans we advised they had a strong eligibility for R&D tax credit.

Ironically they didn’t believe they carried out any ‘out the box’ thinking or innovation.  They hadn’t considered any challenges they had met and overcome being anything other than business as usual, or time spent facing uncertainty of a project faced, with which they worked their way around through using their experience and in-house knowledge.  So many companies are like this client.

After discussing the potential and introducing them to the fabulous company we work alongside (who carry out the reports and do the number crunching), they realised that they had nothing to lose.

It's much easier than you think 

The result was a substantial claim, a tax refund from HMRC.  This cash injection, enabled the company to pull itself around and stay in business.   That business we are delighted to say now have a good understanding of R&D.  Fully R&D educated, it’s empowered them to introduce future R&D projects that are eligible to be funded by tax credits, supporting the future of the business, not that of the Tax Man.

The most beneficial areas for them, gaining maximum R&D advantage being their new R&D facility, appointment of a postgraduate that was key to help run R&D projects.  Investing in a website upgrade that facilitated multi-device access, an e-commerce platform, client portal and end to end traceability.  This company has become R&D savvy and now in a much more secure position.

Many businesses undertake projects oblivious that they are carrying out R&D.  Implementation of a CRM, MRP/ERP System, online web/cloud-based initiatives, or new mobile/smart working practices introduced or digital stock management systems……the list goes on.

What would a tax credit cash injection do for your business?

Keep the wolf from the door?  Give the business the recovery it is entitled after all the blood sweat and tears put into it? Pleased that you haven’t given your money to the Tax Man?

Have you got failed projects?

Claim a tax credit if the company is loss making, worth up to 14.5% of the surrender able loss.  Prototype materials, time and external advice all qualify. 

As a rule of thumb, any progressive, process driven company irrespective of sector should consider whether they have a claim. Welcome a cash injection into your business.

De-risk business decisions and make cash work for you.

If you think R&D is hard, think again.

The way Business Glu have assisted businesses gain the confidence in processing a claim is by taking any uncertainty and headache away from the work involved in making that claim.

Many businesses shy away from the opportunity as they feel they a) don’t have the knowledge and will be caught out, b) they don’t have the resources or time and c) they feel a bit daunted by it all. 

Business Glu and the R&D Tax specialists we work with try to make the process as comfortable as possible.  After the initial technical meeting we simply draw out any possibilities available for the company by spending time with the business and the people in it.  Together we look at what projects the business has undertaken over the previous two years, and what they are looking at moving forward; past, present, and future. 

Our aim is to cause as little disruption to the business as possible. 

Sound too good to be true?

If this sounds like the perfect answer for you and you would love to receive a refund from HMRC and/or a reduction in your corporation tax, then now is the time for you to make serious decisions about actioning a claim.

Business Glu’s passion for educating and supporting businesses is to enable them to get their fair share of the R&D pot of money HMRC hold.

…….it isn’t a catch, it’s real and available.  

 You decide; Tax man or your cashflow.


Importance of Company Reviews - How Crucial is it?

HOW CRUCIAL IS IT?

Company Ratings and Reviews - Good and Bad

'Reviews aren't important I was told last week'.  How wrong that statement is and I hope it doesn't come back and bite those that think this way.

In a world full of opinions at your fingertips, company reviews are a shop window for others to decide at the click of a button, who or what you are as a company, on show to the big wide world.

 

Potential employees, customers and suppliers are becoming much savvier at checking people out before they make the leap.

Whilst they can all check public financial records it is the honest reviews of others in-house knowledge becoming more of a consideration above all.  Why wouldn’t you listen to those that have been there and had the experience?

Are they good, bad, or indifferent payers?  Do they keep to their word and deliver on their promise?  Is their product/service as good as they shout from the rooftops?

Anyone can have an all singing, all dancing website, or post regularly on social media ‘telling’ everyone how good they are.  Its individuals that deal with the companies and the people within them with an honest opinion that is now more important and credible.

How often do you go to the reviews before buying a product? Or even search on the number of stars it has been rated?  We've all done this on Amazon.

 

 

Google Ratings

Everyone knows Google nowadays, my word I know some who wing their way through life by it.  Google is the leading search engine that much of the world depends upon as their bible of information.  Should your company have a less than average rating on google could be the crunch of you getting that new client, customer, project, funding or addition to your workforce.    It’s there in black and white……. or gold stars usually on a review as we know it.

With Google it is extremely difficult for businesses to hide or delete a bad rating……should they act in this way we all know the trick of getting all and sundry in the company; the director’s wife, mum, dad, kids, and their dog to write a good review to get the rating back up (Names tend to give that away).   Fluffing the ratings determines that the company is probably not the honest, transparent company that you would want to do business with or work for.

You may go along the lines that it's an ex-employee with sour grapes or a grudge, a competitor trying to do damage.   This may be true, however the reader is thinking ‘Aahhh that old chestnut’.  The question is then; why do those writing the review feel the need to write this down in the first place, going to the trouble of saying anything at all?  There’s no smoke without fire as the saying goes.

 

 

Online Jobsites

Reviews are fairly new to online jobsites; an employee’s opportunity to cast an opinion or insight of the company as an employer.  The added information available also includes being open and honest regarding salaries.   This can be 'death by jobsite'.  In days gone by people were worried about having an opinion and maybe even upsetting others.  Salaries were a secret or a taboo awkward subject.  Nowadays with the freedom to say from afar, employees are opening up and writing down their true thoughts about their employers.  Potential employees want to know what the post and salary is on offer, in a bid to eliminate those awkward conversations and enables them to realise their value and own potential.   Goal setting and having a vision to better yourself would be wasted on a company that offers a reduced salary or not the level you are hoping to achieve.

Previously the salary situation has been a bit of a game; the employee twisting the truth of what they are currently paid and the employer hedging their bets of how they can ‘save’ money.

This can be such a problem for businesses trying to recruit.  Not being honest or clear with job descriptions, pay or how they perform as an employer can become clear in the reviews.  Once companies and management teams have gained a reputation as a poor employer this tends to stick……we all know bad news travels fast.

 

 

There are benefits to reviews too

Reviews can be good and bad, it's like a governance from within and in that respect it doesn’t let the bad companies and employers hide behind anything.  On the other side of the coin, it can be a good tool to demonstrate to the outside world those businesses that are good, fair, and kind employers.   It can give companies and potential employees peace of mind that they are a good company to work with, honest, pay on time or that their services or products are worth recommending.

People only go to the trouble of writing a review if something has touched them personally and they feel it is worthy of doing so.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that aren’t great at commending others, quicker to criticise and pull someone or something down, causing irreparable damage which maybe wasn’t even the intention.    As a business, it is crucial to maintain high standards, fair trading, be who you say you are and just as importantly be a good, kind, considerate employer.

Gone are the days businesses can be flippant and think they can replace a customer or employee; times aren’t so easy and having a bad reputation can make or break a company.

 

 

It is more expensive to replace a customer than to retain one and the same consideration for losing your skilled workforce.

 

It takes roughly 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single negative review. The ratio is derived from a combination of human behaviour, math, and logic.

 

 

If a single bad review can undo the value of 40 good experiences, then the best solution is to focus on customer satisfaction and an excellent management model. If it isn't already, customer and employee happiness should be just as important to your business as the product or service itself.

All businesses should have good clear values engrained throughout the company.  If you're confident you are a good employer, a good company, then you should be proud of the excellent ratings and reviews you deserve.

So are company ratings and reviews good and bad, crucial to a business?..........Absolutely.

A good habit to get into is also responding to those reviews.  This shows you care what people think of you and how you are perceived.


Looking with a Fresh Perspective

TJ was asked to write for East Midlands Chamber magazine, Business News

Here's what she had to say;

TJ Duncan-Moir, a former director at a family run manufacturer, now acts as an improvement and growth consultant to other companies as owner of Business Glu.  She explains why it pays to have a different set of eyes viewing a business from outside.

 

During my 30 years gathering the experience I have, by working my way through a business from bottom to most senior, I started to understand that while 'in' the business, you're so busy firefighting you can only ever see and know what's exactly in front of you.

Business leaders often get the year off to a positive start with all the things you're going to accomplish throughout the year. Two weeks in, you're back with your nose to the grind doing what you've always done, the way you've always done it.

Its so easy to become operationally blind.  Getting a new pair of eyes, which don't get distracted by other urgent tasks, to help is a real gamechanger - and a skilful way of becoming unstuck while bringing new excitement to your team.

Understanding this position has made me passionate about helping others to achieve results they didn't think possible and creating awareness of how beneficial outside help can be to a company.

 

HOW EXTERNAL SUPPORT CAN BE BENEFICIAL

Businesses rarely recognise when change is necessary because getting the work out the door is a challenge in itself.  Engaging with an external specialist, with their own set of skills, knowledge and experience, can open new doors - while bringing new an innovative ideas to the table that internal members probably wouldn't have been able to see on their own.

Many challenges faced are often put off for another day.  But having someone plan with you - prompting you to achieve your objections, using the correct tools in a controlled way and working with you to keep everything on track - quickly realises a return on your investment.

Clients eyes are opened to new plans, opportunities, products, markets and processes, all while the business continues.  Nobody is taken away from their  day job, morale is boosted and the change that worries leaders will not be rejected.  It becomes the norm as the team feels part of the improvements and a sense of achievement is enjoyed across the organisation.

 

BOTTOM LINE IMPACT

Reviewing departments, processes and areas of the business that don't usually get considered can be rewarded with huge cost savings.  Clients benefit from an objective, unbiased evaluation that drives them forward and has a positive impact on their bottom line.

This is driven without involvement in office politics or making savings on employees costs, and the only objective for the external specialist is the continuity plans of the business and its success.

The management team is relieved of the pains faced with running a company.  It has the confidence that someone has their back and has learned new skills it can continue to use long after the external involvement has left the building.

 


Is the tail wagging the dog in your business?

They don't listen and just do what they want

How many times do I hear a business leader say this?

They get so frustrated at their employee's not doing as they're asked.  My thoughts on this; are they being asked in a clear and concise way, or is it an assumption they know what you want?

As leaders it is all too common to think you are communicating to the employees correctly, when in all fairness it all seems a little confusing on the side of the employees.  Repeatedly I listen to the frustrations of leaders telling me that 'when they did that job nobody had to tell them what to do', or that they  'told them'.

I get this however,  a) not everyone thinks the same, we all have different beliefs, values and understanding, was this considered? and b) was the individual advised of the end goal but more importantly the plan of how to get to the end point of what was being asked?.....I fear not.

Every plan has a beginning, middle and end and this is exactly the same when communicating something to your employees.  Tell them not only 'what' you want doing but also 'why' and 'how' you would like them to achieve this.  It's always a good plan to advise of the consequences too, so the understand the full picture.

For instance; Leader tells the factory workers that 2000 products need to be out the factory by the end of the month.  Employees perceive that as; 'work as fast and hard as you can'.  Using a suitable line of communication this could be advised as; 'We've received an order in for 2000 items which is great, that means the orders are increasing and this then, if we are smart and think about how we achieve it, can be a good result for us all.

This could include what time is physically needed, if so how do they achieve this with the staff they have? Is overtime needed? Could anyone take on a little more? Are the materials readily available? Plan, Plan, Plan.....with employees involved.

Communication is more often than not the biggest downfall within a business.  People 'think' they are communicating but in reality it can be a bit of a guessing game to the recipient.  This then results in individuals doing things the way 'they think' it should be done, or they assume to do the things the way they are doing it is ok.

Lack of accountability is the frustration that rises as a result of this, or what is perceived.  Quickly this creates an 'us and them' between you, and that gap will only widen if you don't get to the root of the cause........swiftly you've got a situation of 'the tail wagging the dog'.....or so it seems.

 

Your thoughts, ideas, instructions can quite quickly become dismissed because your employees have switched off from you.  This is not acceptable,  it isn't conducive to the business and you are in danger of all respect lost by both parties. To spin it on it's head and get yourself back in control it's all about communication, communication, communication.

Begin by involving your staff in the planning within the business.  Together make goals, align them to the wants and needs, letting them contribute with their ideas and opinions.  Assign them responsibility, share it around rather than 'doing it yourself because it's easier', how will they learn?   Your most annoying, trouble causer being given a voice, and extra responsibility, can transform them into your shining star.

Once changes become clear to the team with communication consistent, they don't feel dictated to or suspicious.  Let's face it our first thought when someone announces change is 'Why'?

The human mind is resistant  to change if they don't understand its true motive, they will always fear the worst.  Humans have an emotional behaviour process to change starting with the feelings of; Loss, Doubt, Discomfort, to Discovery, Understanding and ending in Integration.  Alongside those feelings are displays of behaviour: Shock, Denial, Anger, Blame, Bargain, Apathy, and then Acceptance, Explore.  All these feeling are emotional and rational responses, as leaders reinforcing what you want, how you want it and why, is satisfying those emotions and behaviours until acceptance is reached.

Soon after the acceptance of change begins it is time to introduce another change. Now I have been frowned upon many times at this suggestion but, once change is introduced, reinforced and accepted so many times it becomes normal behaviour and change doesn't pose a problem.

Your tail wagging the dog is a distant memory.  Working together, accountable as a team is  exactly where you will be.


Carrot and Stick ...... Family vs Business

Over 70% of family businesses fail and more often the 2nd generation aren’t to blame

Having experienced  a failed family business I have now found myself placed within the niche of helping others.

Of course my position is impartial with Business Glu, however I still have the same passion for success, and regularly I see the same traits happening over and over again which prevent family businesses success materialising.

All too often I am observing the founders, first generation, not moving away from the business organically to allow the second generation to achieve.  This may be due to feeling the business cant manage without them, or that if they were honest its that they can’t manage without the business.  The latter is usually the true scenario, they don’t know anything else, they started it and it is regarded one of their offspring, in fact it is sadly MORE important than their actual offspring.

The second generation commonly don’t know anything other than the business, they were born into it and it has always been in their life.  They didn’t get a choice and it was just assumed they were ok that the business always came first.  They struggle with their own personal development due to the business demanding the parents attention and lack of parenting, they are just a bolt on (often a nuisance) to the business.  School appointments, parents evenings, sports days, family time was overlooked as children.  School holidays usually meant either digging in as a spare pair of hands or sitting at a desk with some ‘activity’ to amuse them at the office whilst parents worked.    Family holidays were not as regular as the other kids because work came first, excuses were; other staff were off, too busy, or they just ‘didn’t have time’ (translated as didn’t want to be away from the business).

The childhood they remember are being dropped off places, never saw their parents on the side-lines cheering them on or at the stables watching the lesson.  Their parents were always 'busy' but felt they'd played their part by being the taxi, or maybe they'd got one of the employee's to drop them off? whilst they were 'at work'.  This was accepted but they knew deep down their parents weren't interested in anything other than the business.  Being a part of the business was their only way of spending time with them.

Growing up it is assumed they would work in the business like it was a gift, they should be grateful and sadly this is how most second generations of the family business end up there.   Nobody asked them if they really ‘want’ to do it, or even if they enjoy it.  If they were ok not having the same annual leave as everyone else because it meant them being away from the business or that they were given the jobs no-one else wanted (or they could ask) to do, they just do it as they feel that is what is expected of them, want to please and they are loyal. Sadly the loyalty is rarely repaid.

The second generation go through their life continually proving themselves. Either to the parents who don’t even notice what a good job they’re doing, no recognition for their skills, flexibility and experience.  They may say now and again that 'they're doing a great job' but those are just words.  Also proving to the  rest of the staff who have the opinion that they only have the job because of who they are, and  waiting to point out any mistakes they make, or for them to fail, through to the outside world watching, pressurising, to see if they are as successful as their predecessor.  Those that knew them as a child often belittling them that they can remember when they were sat in the delivery van or in the office in the school holidays and weekends whilst the parents did business, condescending and regardless.

The knowledge gained and being in and around the business with all those contacts as a child carries through.  Its engrained that the business is the most important thing, to be recognised in your parents eyes you have to be involved in the business giving your time and efforts on demand, usually the only attention received.

In return the parents believe the second generation are being rewarded, when in fact their wants and needs are being put to the bottom of the pile, not considered or ignored.  The reward in the first generations eyes is that ONE day the next generation will get it all!  This is rarely true.

Circumstances that don’t allow it to happen;

  1. The first generation are so engrossed in the business the second generation see that no matter how hard they try to prove themselves, how hard they work they cannot make them proud and this is so important to them.  They spend their whole lives being loyal, supportive, giving up any free time, endeavouring to follow in the footsteps of their parents in a bid to carry the family legacy on – making the same mistakes with their own families putting the business first (or possibly don’t even have a family of their own due to not ever having a social life to meet someone) but try as they might never are good enough or be seen to be capable.
  2. Poor and unclear succession planning with nothing set in place and the second generation remains purely as another member of staff (just with a better title) until they can’t take any more and leave the business.
  3. The marriage of the parents break down due to strains of the ‘obsession’ of the business and new members marry into the business taking control.
  4. The first generation continues with the carrot and stick method, the second generation loses the passion and the business suffers.

In reality the second generation are aware through their own experience, of the neglect felt as a child of a business owner.   Their own goal is to create a stronger family and business structure, a professional approach, they see the need for separate relationships and the importance of having a family connection out of work more than most.   They’ve had a lifetime of weekends, evenings, family gatherings having the conversation shift to talk shop, they are a commodity that is an extension of the business.  Their feelings and opinions not heard, suggestions overlooked or not taken seriously that many times it either creates conflict if they stand by their opinions or they back down to keep peace. They still have ambition and aspirations for the business even so, the first generation need to see that their ways are not necessarily the best for the business.

The respect shown to the first generation by the second isn’t appreciated or even recognised.  Others voices are heard and all the yes people in the business get supported, the second generation don’t furnish them the truth that others in the business aren’t true performers, maybe even dishonest, for two reasons; 1. They wouldn’t be listened to and, 2. They don’t want their parents upset and hurt.

Even after all the ‘abuse’, disappointment and neglect they feel, the second generation remain fiercely loyal.  They shield their parents from hurt, the truth and even pressures of the business, they are their parents after all.  Maybe the parents don’t have that boundary but their offspring do and as crazy as it is they also have that same love for the business.

Ultimately the second generation may get a promoted title however that’s exactly just all it is.  Being a Director relieves the first generation of the lack of morality they may feel others around them may see if they don’t promote one of their own.  It seems its got them off the hook and being seen to be doing the right thing.  Very rarely do they make them sole director or relinquish their own title, this would make them lose the control and maybe make them look insignificant.   Having non-family member’s alongside their brood keeps themselves in charge, not challenged, at the top and enable them to have their yes people around them whilst keeping their offspring ‘in their box’.

The second generation are fundamental to the future of the business.  They have the knowledge, the history, the passion, they’ve earned the staff’s respect, their stripes as a qualified member of the team by doing all tasks thrown at them.  In addition to all of this they are forward thinking, innovative, have the drive to continue what their ‘hero’ started, have a bucket full of contacts and should be allowed to demonstrate their flexibility, new strategies and ideas.  They would never harm the business and they will always have the business and their ‘families’ best interest at heart……after all the business has always been the only family they have ever known.

Other non-family members , even those married or born into the business at a later date, truly don’t feel what the second generation feel.  Those 'outsiders' all have their own agendas whether that be for financial gain or their own grandeur.  They didn’t miss out on a childhood, on the family holidays as children, their parents attended school meetings and nativity plays and the family get togethers they have had throughout their lives haven’t been over shadowed by discussions, conflict or stress about the business.

What they do have though is no threat to the big chiefs at the top that can’t let go.  They aren’t questioned about requested days off, they are given salary increases and promotions when tempted and able to fob people off with their workload demands or whereabouts.  They don’t receive calls when they call in sick checking that they genuinely are ill, just compassion.  Second generations follow the low opinion of themselves and feel they owe all of this to the business as the business is their family.

The family businesses that succeed are those that treat it as a professional relationship.  They show the next generation the respect they’ve earned and have confidence in them, with gratitude for their input, efforts and knowledge.  Clear succession planning that is conducive to the business is put in place at a sensible time in everyone’s lives to ensure not only the business is looked after, the passion is still driven through by those taking over and the first generation take a back seat that is there when support is needed.

Predecessors should be allowed to have full knowledge of the business they founded, they are the entrepreneurial ones that started the company, but as a business arrangement. For a real chance of survival as a successful business reporting should be in a professionally prepared way with respect for those in the businesses time and commitments.  For a business to strive, the younger generation have fresh new ideas and using their inbred skills will demonstrate the continued strength of the business their parents started.  However having the originators jumping in and out of the business gives the wrong message, doesn’t allow the second generation to flourish, it can damage and set the business to fail at a significant speed.

Having the second generation take the business to the next level is a testament to its family and all those that have passed through.  Family businesses have the greatest respect should it be seen to be moving forward and its successors parachuting it into the next century with their new ways, additional qualifications, knowledge and their desire to make their parents proud.   They have the same hunger for the sustainability as everyone else just more important to them to prove that they didn’t get the job because they are family, they’ve earned their stripes and that they can and will continue to make the business as successful as it possibly can.

First Generation, step back, enjoy the fruits of your labour, be proud of your family that even though they may have been damaged by the treatment the business has presented them, they are the most loyal and committed ‘partners’ of the business you will ever meet.   Enjoy hearing of their success, don’t take that away from them, they are the most capable and watch from afar what they do, supporting them, giving advice when asked.

They are your family, think back to why you started that family business.  To support your family, put food on the table and give them a good life.  Not to see it fail, not to give away to others that eventually pose a threat to the business, not to cause conflict and tear the family apart.

 

No more carrot and stick behaviour.

Second generation shouldn’t be considered second best …………….They’ve earned their place now watch them grow.


You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink

You can also lead a human to knowledge but you can't make them think.

Time and time again I see businesses making the most foolish mistakes.  I watch from afar, with an impartial view and often shake my head.  It makes me want to scream with frustration and I question how some of these people have become leaders.

Working with companies who embrace an external, birds eye view of the company, allows me to demonstrate quite quickly  what a true ROI it becomes.  The leaders and owners are 'in' the business, up to their ears in it and too busy fire fighting to recognise anything happening around them or identifying the need for something as simple as a second opinion on something.  A business needs to thrive, particularly in this day and age, and to survive by doing things the way you've always done it will leave you exactly where you are.

My frustrations have been hi-lighted by leaders actions, the lack of thought, the arrogance, often I believe lack of intelligence.  To be a successful, well respected, leader you don't have the luxury of being self-centred, not having time, or being egotistical, you have a whole host of people watching, criticising and taking everything you do or say quite precisely because it's your job to guide them.

  The biggest jaw droppers have been recently whilst we are all encapsulated in this world pandemic, an unknown territory where staff are furloughed, wages reduced, lost their job and little light at the end of the tunnel.  I  have witnesses leaders demonstrating their own personal wealth and lavish lifestyles whether it be on social media, or within the business spending money on launching frivolous support to others.  This is a true smack in the face for the workers of the business, struggling to make ends meet.  It makes me question if they seriously know what they are doing?

Employees need structure, guidance, nurturing, support.  They take things so literally and whilst  you may feel they are 'just there to do a job and paid for it' morale amongst the staff can drop at a faster rate than it can be built up, this in turn has a dramatic effect on the business and could get you in a whole heap of trouble.   Where does this leave the lavish lifestyles and the gratuitous spending then?

As a business leader you are taken at your word and accountable for every decision or action you make, don't make promises that aren't fulfilled, don't 'fob' them off, communicate!, something I recognise constantly, lack of true, honest, thorough communication.   If you say you are going to get back to them do it regardless of how busy you are, give yourself a reminder, at whatever cost you have to bet true to your word.

Some mistakes I have witnesses of late and caused me to put my head in my hands, make me just wish those 'committing the crimes' could sit back where I am and see what they are doing.  Not too often thankfully, but I have been in positions where the higher management have contacted me questioning what I can do for them, we start with a discussion of how they reached a decision  to contact me, where the business is currently and where they would like to be going forward.

From that first call I feel the enthusiasm, the excitement of having a light at the end of a tunnel and we set about the journey of making improvements, changes and bridging those gaps. Things that need to happen start to happen.  Here we begin involving the staff and the whole business changes, positivity is injected and embraced in abundance, those rebels quickly become your shining stars and you have an amount of willing helpers you didn't even know had it in them, there is a spark in their eyes eager to get this show on the road, relieved they've got someone doing what they have yearned for.  THEN a bit of the usual work lands, the business get a few extra orders in on the back of changes made and the higher management revert to kind.  'We're too busy', I'm told.

 At this point I explain the importance of being proactive in a business, change has to be consistent and that they will lose the allegiance from the staff and their trust account, we worked so hard to build will once again become empty.  Employees lose faith in you, they see that things will never change, never improve, never grow, no progression, all just for those at the top. 

I have engaged in conversations with employees at this stage and it makes me wonder if an employee can see what is needed, why cant those that are at the front leading not see this? The excitement, positivity and loyalty that supported the business in its potential future journey has gone immediately, everyone just return to their grindstone and its back to 'the way we've always done it because that's what we're told to do'.    No more excitement of being proud to show their families and friends newspaper articles about the company they work for or posts they can comment on with the companies social media presence they feel a part of.

The danger of this situation is that it can be irreversible, your staff are lost, maybe even looking for new employers that will show progression and involve their employees. Your customers and the outside world start to wonder what's happened, they've recognised the business starting to evolve and been on the side-lines waiting to eagerly see what's next.  When you stop this is when others start to take an interest,  your competitors see an opening, they can get in front, they can continue with their plans of moving forward because yet again you aren't a threat.  You will revert back to being the company they can send work to that others are too busy to complete, second or even third choice but how long that will last nobody knows. In the meantime all the best laid plans have been forgotten and everyone's lost interest.

To return to the title; "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink"   It is so important to keep moving forward in a business, leaders barely have time to see the wood for trees and this is how mindless mistakes can be made.  As a leader you are to do the best for the business, understand the beliefs, values, and opinions of everyone within it and lead by example.  I advise constantly on key areas of the importance of communication, leadership, values, progression, perception of others and where you are placed in this big wide world of business.  I am at your beckon call constantly pushing the business forward......but I can only make it happen if everyone is onboard.  

"Success occurs when your dreams are bigger than your excuses"

"Don't try and build a team that fuels your ego, build a team that has the skills, desire and passion to help you create your vision"

Mistakes are made by humans but when the responsibility is on the leaders shoulders they must exhibit the ability of taking the role on and the awareness of the enormity of the job in hand.  


Change a negative situation into a positive

Whilst the government announcement of putting the UK into another lockdown isn't something we all wanted to hear, let us not be defeated and allow it to be a time when we can use the time constructively.

Business Glu are experienced working remotely with our clients as well as a hands on approach, whichever you are happy with.

An external overview of your business is a crucial part of moving forward, identifying the changes needed and allow the improvements to be made to create growth and success.

Working remotely or socially distanced, together we can make 2021 the year you create your plans and achieve everything on your to do list and more.

Should you not address your concerns you will always have them. As the saying goes;  “If you do things the same way you’ve always done them, you’ll get the same outcomes you’ve always gotten".  Being 'in' the business doesn't allow you to see the things an external specialist sees, you will always revert back to doing things only the way you know how.

Be kind to yourself and to your business.  It is crucial in these difficult times to ensure your business thrives to survive.

Charles Darwin: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."

Business Glu is here to help.


Industry Leaders Interview

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TJ Duncan-Moir is the Director of Business Glu, a company specialising in creating positive change within businesses. She talks to The Industry Leaders about her time in construction, her journey from a family manufacturing business, and why she makes a point of wearing a pink hard hat when she's on-site!

 

How did you end up sitting where you are today?

Thirty years in the family business; I started at the bottom and worked my way through every department to become Director. During this time, I oversaw growth diversification, steered the company to become a multiple award-winning business, and substantiated it as the market leader in the industry. Having had regular magazine articles, BBC and ITV News involvement and BBC Breakfast TV, I needed a fresh challenge.

My passion is working with and understanding people to create success. I get great pleasure helping others, guiding them through the journey needed for positive change, with the determination and drive I feel.

Creating Business Glu was obvious; I could help others do all the things I have done over the years. I could fulfil my goals while helping others and enjoying what I do.

 

What kind of work does your role involve?

Launching Business Glu - an Improvement Consultancy which creates the bond between you and your business – during a global pandemic was risky. But the risk has paid off because it has highlighted just how much businesses need support with consolidation, pivoting and growth.

I did this at a time when businesses needed the key to unlock new ideas, strategies or innovations that drive positive change to sales performance, productivity, diversification and the company's culture. An external analysis of a business defines the gaps that need bridging.

 

What gets you excited about your industry?

The industry has many big players. Having contacts in this section of the business world, and working alongside them is an honour. Innovation within the industry is extremely rewarding, and it creates a whole feeling of "a kid in a sweetie shop" for me. I still get that feeling of 'wow' on so many occasions even after all these years.

The manufacturing and construction industry is evolving continually. So many iconic buildings are planned, and there's so 

much innovation required; manufacturing is shifting the future of construction. The industry opens so many exciting doors, and the biggest challenge is deciding which is best. The world is a career playground.

 

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

The best advice received was from an employee I worked with throughout my career until he retired. It was later in my career, but I listened and acted upon his advice.

He told me to go out there and look after myself. He knew my skills, and also that my progression had barriers, and I wouldn't advance any further.

My success was down to me. You are whatever you want to be with effort, hard work and determination.

The contacts I've made during my career encouraged me to take the leap and share my skills with the industry; allowing others to benefit from a hands-on approach.

What, or who inspires you?

My children inspire me to be the best I can be. If I am not seen as a superhero to them, then I've failed.

The world is forever evolving and, if we have contributed to making that world a better place, then we've been paving the way for our children to adopt the same attitude.

Travelling the UK being able to tell stories of the many iconic buildings you have been involved with, the contribution to the industry you have been rewarded for, and the inspiration you get from the people you connect with is satisfying beyond recognition.

 

How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?

I'm afraid I am a bit of a nerd with the whole business news world. I sign up to all construction, manufacturing, fabrication, HR, law forums and newsfeeds. I get as excited about these mediums as other people do about social media!

Since going it alone, I have gained some fantastic connections and an exceptional support network. Networking is invaluable as things change constantly and knowledge shared by other people in the industry is much more informative than constantly researching individually.

It is so important to understand what is happening, particularly whilst we are experiencing this 'unknown

 world' right now.

What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?

My most challenging assignment was juggling motherhood with a career AND in a male-dominated industry. I had two young children, constantly battling to be everything to everyone whilst trying to prove to that being a woman in a man's world, whilst having children, was possible.

 

I grew up in a man's world and never wanted to be cut any slack "just because I'm a woman". Going on site having assumed I was my male colleague's PA, being around a table with project managers and QS's challenged me at times. But it also made me all the more determined to show them I could do it, and do it well.

If you could start your life again, what would you do differently?

Having experienced the disappointment of not being able to fulfil my goals within the family business, if I could start my life again I would definitely have worked independently, taken maternity leave to spend time with my children, and furthered my education at a younger age and to a higher level.

Starting a business at my age has enabled me to realise my value, enjoy what I do and believe in myself. I now work with amazing clients, have a group of people who are my "work family" and just wish I had done this sooner!

You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?

I get so much enjoyment in my job now that money is not a priority. To win $10 million wouldn't stop that, I may only work a few weeks of the year, but no way would it stop me doing what I love.

I would look after those that have looked after me the last few years as, without them, I wouldn't be where I am and how I feel today. I've learned from others that money doesn't make you happy; what you do and feel

 

makes you happy.

A little luxury to myself with all that money would be to have my own groom for my horses so that I don't have to be up for 6 am feeds.

 

How do you switch off after a day at work?

My animals allow me to switch off. I am a little bit of a Dr Doolittle with my horses, sheep, duck and dog. Since moving to our house in the sticks, I enjoy being outside, appreciating the countryside and at last learning how to switch off.

 

If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?

Being a woman in what many believe to be a man's world, I would like to see more women in higher management positions. Women have proved they can undertake these roles yet, still, there is not enough recognition of equality. Time has not moved on unfortunately in this area.

 

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Women are strong, methodical, practical and disciplined. They are also open-minded, determined and tenacious when needed; a credit to the industry if they are allowed to be. I purposely choose to wear a pink safety helmet to have a laugh and keep it light-hearted but also to prove that I, and other women, can do this.

 


#YESSHECAN

In July 2020 TJ was asked to write for #YesSheCan ~ A group that believe in making the working world a better place for women

TJ Duncan-Moir – “Life’s too short to be miserable!”

#YesSheCan is lucky to give you a blog written by TJ Duncan-Moir, here she tells you about how her initial dream of being a hairdresser turned into something different entirely!

 

My early career

In reality, my 30-year career actually goes on a little longer than that! My dad started a company when I was 18 months old, so the industry and what I do has been my whole life, not just that of the 30 years whilst officially employed.

Ironically I had no interest in doing anything other than hairdressing all the way through school. I didn’t want to be the person that only had the job because it was the family business.  However, whilst I have always considered myself sensible, I did chose Business Studies whilst at school so maybe there was something more than just being sensible in that choice?

As it was a family business it was very much hands on deck whenever needed, in my experience family businesses rarely stop.  Many evenings, weekends or school holidays were spent visiting customers, delivering goods or site visits with my dad.  My business studies came in useful for technology coming into the business as the very word processor I had learned to type on was the first one the business bought.

Regardless of my early involvement in the business, I had promised myself, that when I left school I would do a YTS in hairdressing.  On my days off I would still help at the family business, giving word processor tutorials, collating catalogues, answering phone calls. When a subsidiary business of manufacturing and running go karts was created I also helped there.  Very often travelling over to Trentham Gardens in Stoke on Trent after work to help with the kart club.

After a couple of years of hairdressing I was asked if I’d ‘stopped messing around now and was going to start working properly’, that meant stop messing around playing at it and get a proper job!

I gave in and that was the start of my journey which brings me to where I am now.

 

My motivation – “I had more to prove than others” 

My first day in the office I assumed would be typing, phone calls, admin……wrong! I was told that I had to learn the business, I had my stripes to earn.

This was something I have always felt strongly about, I wanted to prove I had earned my role, not been given it because of who I was, the bosses daughter, or leniency because I was a girl.  Others are always watching and waiting for you to make the mistakes as the bosses’ daughter and in my experience you are often perceived as weaker as a female, so I had more to prove than others.

I started in the estimating department, reading drawings, creating bills of quantities, understanding flue routes, boiler room requirements and creating a quotation.  My first day meant I had homework to do, a drawing was laid out on the dining room table and my journey started demonstrating my understanding to my dad, the boss.

It wasn’t only the fact I was the boss’s daughter I felt I had more to prove, I was also in a male dominated industry.  Whilst I knew all the other employees as I had grown up with them, the outer circle of the working world wasn’t quite as accepting of a woman carrying out what was usually a man’s role.

 

 

Continuing my development

My education continued whilst working in the estimating department, I attended college on a Business Law and Finance course, as well as numerous Sage software courses, which was used for accounts and payroll.

As the company grew so did my responsibilities and experiences, I joined engineers on site visits, met with customers, had more of an understanding of the manufacturing side of the business and had full responsibility of the payroll.

I enrolled on a HND for Business and Finance in 1994, at the time I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and my role in the business had moved onto purchasing manager. I was  buying in the raw material, fixtures, fittings, all the requirements for the company.  My confidence grew in this role as I was meeting suppliers, negotiating best prices on supplies and having to toughen up against the male world who doubted my ability in their universe.  I had many testing times; asking me to purchase sky hooks, lead for the pencils, all the usual but they forgot that I could see through things like this and I survived.

The business continued to grow, employing more people and legislation became more challenging forcing a need for a Human Resources department.  As I had now been doing the payroll for years it was a natural choice I would take on this role.

I again furthered my education.  Once a month I took myself off to either London or Manchester to DLA piper to learn what there was to know in employment law.

 

How I worked flexibly whilst having children

Whilst in this role I became pregnant with my second daughter.  The accountant for the company asked if I would consider enrolling on some accountancy courses as there wasn’t anyone within the business trained financially, soon after I enrolled on the AAT courses.  I continued working during the pregnancy and one day a week for the course.  I was already 10 days overdue when my dad was leaving on a Friday evening, tapped me on the shoulder and said that they could do with me having this baby over the weekend so it didn’t interrupt with work.  Three hours later I was on my way to hospital and had the baby at 5am the next day.  Monday I was back at work……. payroll had to be done and I was the only one that could do it.  Melody, my youngest came to work with me in her car seat from then on, whilst Autumn my eldest was at primary school.  When Melody started moving around I had a playpen in my office and many a meeting was carried on around her being in the middle.

My position of being the bosses’ daughter would never change so I was always on trial and more was always expected of me.  Through the years it was good that those customers who I had attended site visits or delivered goods to on a Saturday morning with my dad were now my contacts who I worked with on a day to day basis, my daughters starting to follow the same pattern as I did and became known to those people too. At fourteen years old Autumn was helping out in the estimating department in the school holidays!

 

 

Thrown into leadership at the deep end

I was catapulted into the running of the business when in 2010 my dad was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer and had to start treatment straight away.  This threw me into the role of Senior Manager alongside three other male colleagues.

Whilst a senior manager, effectively running the business, I wanted to be assured that I was doing the best for the business so I undertook a Director Development course which then continued on to a University course for leadership and management.

Two of the senior managers left the business and I was then stepped up to Director.

The role of Director didn’t allow me to relinquish any of my responsibilities it gave me more.  Running the business whilst doing my ‘day job’, I began creating our marketing strategy as we had never showcased ourselves. A re-brand and new website was the first step, introduction of business awards was an amazing move both promoting the company and also introducing many more contacts which benefitted the company and taught me so much more. The company became popular and very successful with Business Awards and built a great reputation on the back of them.

 

The variety inspired and challenged me

My involvement in all areas of the business has strengthened my knowledge, Research and Development, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with the University, Funding, Financing, a whole hands on approach whilst still being that employee doing payroll, HR, accounts and whatever else needed doing…..cleaning the toilets, delivering a missing piece to a customer, an awards ceremony, site visit.

Being the Director of a manufacturing company in construction finally gave me some recognition of a truly being a woman in a mans world.  As I have been in all aspects of the business I can speak from experience and a true understanding.  The industry started to take an interest in me, I was asked to do TV appearances and interviews, as well as radio and magazine articles.  I am proud of the fact that I have worked to be where I am, I don’t consider myself anything special as a woman and maybe that’s why I’ve succeeded.  I am as passionate going onto the factory floor speaking about some Research and Development as I am talking to a room full of ladies who want to hear of my experiences in this so called man’s world.

I haven’t been given a job because of who I am and I am passionate about helping other women getting into business, particular top tier management, even more so within male dominated industries.

 

Proving people wrong

I have often been asked if I am an engineer’s PA when I’ve attended a site visit and this just amuses me.  At that point I get out my pink site helmet, kit myself out with PPE and go into a riser shaft and take measurements of the boiler room.

I’m very lucky, that no two days are the same in my world and my moto is that ‘every day’s a school day’.

As I started at the bottom and worked my way through the company (literally) my calling is in so many different areas of the business.  One day I may get up thinking I am going to finalize some accounts and then when I get there someone will walk in the office with a problem and I have to put my HR hat on.

I thrive on having so many areas of the business to contend with and I get so much satisfaction from creating solutions to challenges.  These challenges may be financial, manufacturing or people related, but I love nothing more than to see something that needs doing and getting it done.

 

Team work is critical

I love teamwork and feel it is critical in a business.  Just because you have a Director title, (or even a woman), you aren’t on a pedestal, you are there for a purpose.

Organizing a sales conference needing facts and figures would be another day, arranging the lunch or coffee, dealing with a customer who doesn’t want to pay their bill…..or even worse, a retention they think you’ve forgotten about!  It is all in a days’ work and the more variety the better.

I work hard to ensure everyone is happy in their job, there is nothing worse for a company than unhappy staff and teamwork is key contributor to this.  You will not gain productivity or respect from your staff by making them work under duress or pressure. Communication is key, if they stop talking to you, you have a problem.   I would never ask anyone to do anything I’m not prepared to do myself.

I like to make myself available 24/7 as I feel this is how you earn the respect and attention of the those around you.  It doesn’t mean they see you as always available for them to take advantage of but I would hate someone to think they can’t contact me if they have a problem because it is out of office hours. A problem shared is a problem halved.

My sleep is short and sweet as there is always something to do.

 

The working world is changing…. slowly

My career chose me to some extent and I now wouldn’t have it any other way.  I think the world is embracing equality and more and more women are doing a role such as I am.  There isn’t any reason why women can’t do a good job at anything they set their minds to.  I was once told that without being sexist; women are much more organized and methodical than men because they have to be when running a home, children, pets and life so to bring them into the workplace is a positive move!

I do not consider myself to be any different from a man, I enjoy what I do, I love the industry, I find it fascinating and always has something new to offer.

With all this in mind that is the reason I have chosen to spread my wings even further and offer myself as a consultant doing all the things I did whilst working for a business but for others.  I get no greater pleasure than seeing success.  If I can make that happen for others, job satisfaction is achieved.

 

It wasn’t all easy, but there have been some great achievements

I’ve worked tremendously hard to get to where I am now. I have been hugely determined to not let challenges stop me.

The key challenges I have faced were; being a woman in a male dominated industry, continually being overlooked for my achievements, sometimes a little ridiculed, stalled for progression and then the issue of being the daughter of the owner of a business.  It will always be an assumption that you got the job just because of who you are, not your achievements or capabilities.

I have created my own consultancy to show that I can do things for myself, I am not the bosses daughter but yes I am a woman in a ‘so called’ man’s world but knowledgeable and quite capable of working in the industry.

I was once invited onto Breakfast TV with Steph McGovernn for a live interview. At the time I didn’t quite realize the enormity of it.  It was only when I came off set and my worry of being shown on the outside screens was overcome that I was told that I had just been in front of 12 million viewers…..being interviewed about what a subject a man would usually talk about!

A key challenge for me was that as a younger girl B.M.I (Before Male Industry) I was a meek and mild character, hated being centre stage, even talking to people.  Doing the jobs I have done and the career path I’ve taken has pushed me out of my comfort zone so many times I have had to overcome all of this.

My most recent challenge was being pushed back in my career, not getting the recognition that I had worked and was qualified for. I was side stepped for promotion with the successful candidate being, less qualified, less capable, man!  Apparently you can only go to a contracts meeting and talk technical if you’re a man? Luckily, these instances are becoming less and less but they are still there.

However, I have a few achievements I would consider quite big.  Having my children has to be the top of the list of course!  Beyond that throughout my career I have been used, looked down on, ridiculed and taken for granted at times.  So as my career grew and I started to get recognized for my achievements, I attained awards such as Director of the Year, Top 100 Manufacturer progressing to a 20 exemplar. They are all very important to me but my biggest personal achievement was winning Business Woman of the Year, twice in one year with different award ceremonies!

 

I hope that doing this as me is appealing to businesses and my successes are allowed to be used to help others grow, become more profitable and maybe even award winning.

 

Bouncing back from setbacks

I’ve had to bounce back from setbacks by using my strength and determination.  Stubbornness some would call it, I chose; ambitious, determined and resilient!

All my life I have enjoyed what I have done, it is important that I show my daughters that we are all capable of doing whatever we want to do, regardless of sex, colour, age or any other protected characteristic.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone every now and again is good, each time it becomes a little easier and the next time you take a bigger jump.  Before long those challenges are no longer challenges but something you enjoy.

 

What keeps inspiring you?

I’m passionate that more women should do as I have done.  They are more than capable, I feel I have got to where I am because I haven’t regarding myself as special, I have got on and done what needed doing.  This in turn has taught me skills, gained me knowledge and supported me in any weaknesses.

Upper management miss the positioning of women and tend to head hunt men.  Gone are the days that women are at home to look after the men, they are capable of running a home, caring for children and having a career….for them.    I believe women are more focused as a result of this and whilst it’s an old joke, women are better at multi-tasking and seeing a job to the end!

Women have the ability to do the job, at times, not get as stressed (or appear to) and look better whilst doing it.  Being confident that I am capable of the tasks in hand and enjoying what I do, when historically it would only ever be a man doing it gives you a warm feeling of achieving what is perceived to be unachievable.

 

Lessons learnt and my advice

 

If you believe you can do it, you work hard, don’t believe the doubters, you can do it.

 

The male industry I have been in all my career has on one hand been very accepting but on the other very cruel and destructive.

I believe being a woman has been taken advantage at times. I had a baby and was back at work less than two days later, I fell off my horse and broke my pelvis in four places but returned to work 4 days later (including a bank holiday weekend), juggling children and school holidays, sports days or parent’s evenings.  All this wasn’t considered, it was assumed I would just do it, not recognized that I had even done it, just being a determined woman, not wanting to show any weakness or wanting any special treatment so put myself on the block and carried on.

 

Don’t let anyone tell you can’t, because you can and the comeback is always stronger than the setback.

 

My career advice

Don’t see being a female as a setback.  Whatever you want just go for it.  Prove you can and you will.

During the Director Development course I learned a lot about people and their values and beliefs.   I learned that everyone has their own belief or value in life, it doesn’t mean you are right and they are wrong it is just our own individuality. Try and understand others values and beliefs and don’t get frustrated they aren’t the same as your own. Listen don’t just speak.

Creating the right team is vital.  Working together and being happy in your work is important. To lead you have to remain strong, but need a team with you.

 

Was there an inspirational woman in your life? A role model?

My husband’s grandma.  Bessie worked all her life and had 3 children with her husband Arthur whilst doing so. Arthur was a despatch rider in the army so long periods of time working and bringing her children up alone.

In later years she was to bring up her grandchildren too as their mother (her daughter) died suddenly whilst they were young.

She loved having her grandchildren, great grandchildren and dogs with her, making them all what they wanted to eat and took them wherever they wanted to go, a proper grandma.  She made a mean apple pie and remained a strong independent woman until she ‘chose’ to turn over in bed saying she had ‘had enough’ passing away the way she wanted at 94 years old.

 

Is enough being done to help women achieve?

More could be done but it isn’t as bad as it used to be.  More and more women are gaining recognition for their achievements and the world has much more acceptance of the balance between the genders.   Home and work life is becoming more balanced and men are helping women as well as women helping men. More respect is given by both sides.

I don’t believe women have anything more to prove, they can do the jobs in hand.  The strategy I have always believed in is that you shouldn’t play the “female” card if you want to be treated equally.  Don’t show a weakness just to shy away from doing something you either don’t want to do or from something that is difficult and easier to let someone else do it.

 

What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given and what would you say to your 16-year-old self?

A lovely guy who worked for the company for 38 years (so I have known him from being a young girl) had many ‘ism’s’.  My favourite was ‘life’s too short to be miserable’.   He also told me to ‘look after number one and those that are number one to you’.

To my 16-year-old self, I would say “Stick to hairdressing!!”

No Seriously…. never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.  Ask lots of questions along the way and enjoy what you do.   Education is key to keep your brain active, no matter how old you are.

 

And finally….

 

Whilst I have spent 30 years in my career employed by a company, working my way from the bottom, I am now working as a management consultant helping others mend, repair, create, innovate, improve, fund, upskill businesses.  My passion is creating success and whilst this is a new chapter I am passionate and positive about the future of helping others.  If I am able to encourage others, particularly women, this would be my ultimate goal achieved.

My business is Business Glu…..creating the strong bond between you and your business.