Are you prepared for the new world of work?

So many people are rethinking their lives and particularly work since the lockdown. Some people I know have already started supplementing their income working online after they lost their jobs or their jobs were cut down to half-day positions.

The lockdown has changed the way people think about work. It’s accelerated the long-term trend of how companies and organizations are evolving.

A futuristic forecast of what organisations would look like in the year 2050 done some time back was revealing. It showed that companies would basically have a tiny head office where the licensing and branding were kept and the rest of the organization would be outsourced. Some farsighted companies have already done this. I can think of one surf clothing company that outsources everything including manufacturing.

If you want to start working online you would need to either come up with your own product or service or bid for work. The interesting thing about bidding for work is that you are no longer sitting in a company with the higher-ups dishing out work to you but now will be in the open, competitive market place where the person who is the most experienced, knowledgeable and has the skills will stand a good chance of securing the work. And it’s not just the grunt work such as administration that can be found online but also projects and work that requires a higher skills level.

In fact, have probably seen how corporations are reducing their support functions. In others because of forced hiring the quality of work is deteriorating and most of the high-level work where expertise is required is being outsourced anyway.

Leading experts in the employment field began predicting the changing world of work already 25 years ago. But diffusion of innovation takes time. Yet we have seen how large corporations who proclaimed a few years ago that they were global and local, are outsourcing jobs to lower cost countries and local people are losing out.

Functions that were better left outside the corporation but were brought in-house with the seeming belief that costs could be lower by hiring full-time staff are delivering what could be politely termed as mediocre results.

Of course, not all jobs are going to go online. Think of firefighters, health workers and retail personnel. Operational staff will still need to be situated at a physical place of work.

For those who have seen what’s happening in the world of worker as jobs are being destroyed or being replaced with forced employment and wondering what to do, the first steps begin with determining your personal strengths and your skills. Then you need to match what you are strong at with new opportunities.

Whatever skills you possess, and those you wish to still acquire, one of them that will be crucial is business writing skills. The present level of business writing skills will not be adequate for working online as a freelancer, contractor or part time worker.When you work online your writing skills will need to be strong to communicate effectively, prospect for work and communicate with your new customers and suppliers.

Some of the changes that are yet to come we haven’t even fully grasped. The world of work is changing at a rapid pace. But if you use the metaphor of a kaleidoscope, each turn of the kaleidoscope will help you to see new opportunities and how you can pursue them.

Why most businesses remain average

Unexpected events are increasing at an unprecedented rate in a complex world yet the average company or mid-size business is not planning for business disruption.

Surveys1 repeatedly come up with appalling low percentages of companies that have a business continuity plan in place.

What could be the reason for this?

One reason could be that companies are so focused on operational issues that they don’t get around to developing a business continuity plan. Another reason could be that companies are not aware of business continuity management. A further reason could be that companies believe that in the event of a disruptive incident they have IT experts, disaster recovery and crisis plans or simply that their insurance will pay (which is a mistaken belief). If you are interested in other reasons go to this InformationWeek article­2.

In psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect3is a cognitive bias in which people overestimate their ability. In simple language what this means is that people are not objective about their lack of competence or are not even aware that they lack competence.

If we look at companies that don’t have business continuity plans in place, we could infer that they overestimate their abilities to deal with a disruptive incident that can affect their business operations.

Companies who want to rise above the average should relook at the sigmoid curve4. What the sigmoid curve showshow every growth curve will eventually plateau unless the cycle is interrupted. In a similar way, companies don’t realise the frequency of disruptive events given the volatility in their operating environment and that they can recover from a disruptive incident (faster and with far less loss) if they planned for the event beforehand.

In these times with an avalanche of pressure points and potential business disruptors, companies shouldn’t settle for average but should rather take action and ensure that they have business continuity plans in place. Shareholders are counting on businesses for dividends and capital growth and customers want surety they are equipped to supply them with goods and services despite disruptions in their business or supply chains.

Chesney Bradshaw is an experienced internationally certified ISO 22301 business continuity implementer and auditor. His PECB (certification body for persons, management systems, and products) certifications):

ISO 22301 Lead Implementer 

ISO 22301 Lead Auditor 

If you would like, I can take you through the requirements of ISO 22301 at no charge.

References

1. 51% of companies globally don’t have a business continuity plan.

2.Reasons Your Employees Don’t Care About Business Continuity

3.Dunning–Kruger effect 

4.https://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/bus/public/ADG_showcase/manage_change/content/sigmoid_curve.htm

Undressed (or is that under-dressed?) for Zoom

With so many meetings on Zoom I’m beginning to worry about my shaggy appearance. One morning after a Zoom meeting I was red-faced when I realised I hadn’t shaved and was still in my running T-shirt and short pants. Luckily my hair didn’t need combing mainly because I have hardly any of it left.

Such was my consternation that I took up the subject with my loving half who always guides me with her feminine and feline (a Leo of course) intuition.

“Well, what’s the problem?” she asked.

I told her my story. “I forgot to switch the camera off and probably 200 attendees saw me in my disheveled state,” I confided.

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “What are you so worried about? The real you is coming out.”

“Maybe I should have a dresser stand next to my desk, hidden from the camera, of course, where I can keep a fresh shirt, jacket and tie,” I offered desperate for her advice.

“All you need is a cutout of a man in a jacket and tie that you can slide your head into.” She laughed and I wasn’t sure if she was being serious or trying to pull the Mickey out of me.

“I’ll try dress more sensibly next time,” I said. Trying to turn the subject away from me, I said, “It’s fascinating how relaxed people are in their homes and with their appearance on these virtual meetings. One famous woman on a webinar, with studio shots of her younger self on her website, appeared on Zoom revealing her years dressed in something that she must have worn a hundred times around the house.”

“Don’t be so hard on her,” my dearly beloved chided me. “She’s just trying to be herself. You know how hard this lock-down has been for everyone.”

“I agree with you,” I said not wishing to be disagreeable.

“But you’ve got me thinking,” she said. “You’re worried about being under-dressed but I can see a whole Zoom fashion happening. Imagine the Zoom catwalk fashion shows in Milan. Men in shirts and ties and short pants. Makes me think of the time when my dad wore short safari suits. With a cravat, I might add. Think of the fashion mags with features on how to dress for Zoom. It will be a Zoom boom in fashion.”

“Call it what you want,” I said, “I’d glad I don’t have to dress up every morning for the office. I must be more careful in future to wear something decent.”

“Just make sure you’re wearing deodorant,” she said making sure that she had the last word on the subject.”

Zoom has changed the way we meet with each other whether for business, learning or catching up with friends. It has catapulted us all into the digital world making us smarter with the use of Internet technology (and I’m not only referring to how to mute and unmute Zoom). My loving partner could be right and Zoom may have started a new fashion trend the likes of what we could have only dreamed about six or seven months ago.

Indecision can be your worst enemy

In these troubled times it’s not uncommon to find yourself awake in the early hours of the morning restless and turning over decisions. In the daytime you have a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that nothing you do will give you relief. All the things you’ve learned, relaxed breathing, exercise, drinking water, talking to others, guided imagery and even laughter, don’t seem to work.

Does talking about indecision make you uncomfortable?

What then is the solution?

  • You’ve lost your job.
  • Retirement is around the corner and you have many decisions to make.
  • You may have been mulling over an investment decision and suddenly the opportunity is lost.
  • An item you wanted to purchase on an online store was selling at a big discount and you didn’t react fast enough.
  • You may have had the money to enroll in an online course about a specialised skill you need and suddenly you are unable to pay for it.

Indecision can become much more personal than the few examples mentioned here.

Some would say that you need to be more decisive.

But indecision can be positive in that your intuition is telling you that you aren’t ready to make a decision because you don’t have enough information.

A decision doesn’t always need to be affirmative. You can say yes or no to whatever you are faced with.

Andrew Carnegie, the famous industrialist told Napoleon Hill, self-help author, “It has been my experience that a man who cannot reach a decision promptly cannot be depended upon to carry through any decision he may make. I have also discovered that men who reach decisions promptly usually have the capacity to move with definiteness of purpose in other circumstances.”

In his book Black Box Thinking, Matthew Syed gives us the pre-mortem method of decision making. With this method you are told that “the patient is dead”, the project has failed; the objectives have not been met; the plans have bombed. A pre-mortem starts with asking you to imagine that the project has gone horribly wrong and to write down the reasons why on a piece of paper.” The purpose of the pre-mortem is not to kill off plans, but to strengthen them. Celebrated psychologist, Gary Klein, says “prospective hindsight” increases the ability of people to correctly identify reasons for future outcomes by 30 percent.

This is why in everything that I teach including business writing, business idea generation, business leader coaching and business continuity, I gently probe to find what’s holding you back. Often we find ourselves at the crossroads and need to decide to move forward on a different path or stagnate. I subscribe to what best selling author Matt Furey teaches, “I teach you to make no conscious effort to change your beliefs. Most of your beliefs took hold in your mind unconsciously and effortlessly, therefore, attempts to upgrade them should also be effortless and spontaneous, not forced or rehearsed.”

Another way to look at decision making is to consider what Robert Fritz author, filmmaker, composer and management consultant and developer of structural dynamics, suggests: “Know what you want, know where you are. Hold the image in your mind of the outcome you want while being aware of the current reality that exists in relationship to that outcome. Your actions will become more strategic, more effective, and easier to take than usual.”

Should you require more information to make an important decision on business writing, business idea generation, business leader coaching and business continuity, then let me know and we can send you more information or even have a zoom meeting to answer any queries.

Let me leave you with this inspiring quote from Jim Rohn, “Indecision is the greatest thief of opportunity.”

It’s up to us to make sure that we are in control of our lives and our decisions.

Making your own breaks

I grew up in a coastal village where the people borrowed cups of sugar and flour when money had run out. I got so hungry that I would buy a slice of bread and a small packet of crisps from the corner cafe, stuff the corn chips in the bread and eat it to keep the hunger down. The church helped us and our neighbours when our fathers squandered the household money on liquor.

I caught fish off the harbour wall, learned to survive among the street kids and made it through school on the money I made from catching and selling fish from the commercial fishing boats.

After school I joined the navy where I became a diver and later diving instructor. Before I was discharged from the navy I had two serious work choices: to go into fishing full-time or become a newspaper reporter. I chose journalism. A few years as a business writer opened the world of entrepreneurial business to me. I studied at night for a degree to get into the business world. I got my first job with a bank and then a food manufacturer, which was about the most exciting business I could work in at the time.

One day my boss called our team together to tell us he had been fired by the recently appointed CEO. All of us were to be retrenched. Along with almost 100 others we were all to go. It was a terrible shock and betrayal. I worked then like I had never worked before. I came up with new ideas, set up three sideline businesses, identified myself as a lecturer and took a small business skills course not once but twice until I could run a business in my sleep.

I became hungry for answers. I studied creativity, idea generation, product development, learned from mentors and graduated with an MBA. I helped other entrepreneurs start something of their own from scratch.

Soon I realised that there was a need for guidance on turning ideas into a business. I interviewed entrepreneurs, dug into startup research, read a mountain of business success and failure stories. I discovered tried and tested idea generation methods and worked out a sensible approach to developing and implementing products and services.

Many people want to start their own business but are too afraid. We’ve all heard how small businesses fail, how risky it is and what can go wrong. Yet we see many thousands of business people succeed.

It can all begin with a new idea. But a new idea alone can’t generate income or revenue. The myth is that all that separates you from a million is one good idea. Creativity is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for success. It takes guts, daring and detailed planning to materialise your idea from concept to cash flow.

I believe anyone with the desire, passion and love for what they do can come up with an idea of their own for a product or service to form a new business. If you have reached the crossroads where you want or need to start something for yourself, then let “Breakthrough Ideas” be your mentor and guide.

You can find the contents here:

If you want to place an order for a printed copy couried to you, please contact me via email or Facebook.

Chesney Bradshaw

Knocking on the wrong doors in this ruined economy

In this economy after retrenchments by the score and thousands of businesses closing down many people are finding themselves knocking on doors.

But are they knocking on the right doors?

Many of the doors you have to knock on when your business closes down or when you are retrenched are new, unfamiliar doors.

There are doors that are now permanently closed for certain people. These doors will be shut in your face without regard to what kind of person you are.

Where do you look for open doors?

With so many doors been shut it doesn’t mean that you have to go down the backstreets?

At times like this we all have to open up our thinking to new possibilities and knock on doors that we haven’t knocked on before.

Before people will let you in, they need to know if you are there to offer value and you will work hard for them.

One door that might be worth knocking on is the door of learning as it often comes before the door of opportunity.

We assure you that our door is always open if you need assistance with business writing, business opportunity search, turning ideas into income or businesses as well as risk management such as business continuity.

Remember that a door shut in your face can inspire you to find new doors. You may find a new door that you’ve never thought of before and reach your goal through a different door where you and your experience, skills and talent are valued.

Is free advice always valuable?

So much free information and advice is available these days especially on the internet that it makes you wonder how much of it is really valuable. Yes, of course, some information whether it is free or not is valuable depending what you are looking for.

I subscribe to newsletters, download free ebooks and attend webinars all offering free advice. Few of these resources offer information that is practical or relevant to my life or business.

For the rest of it, the information is interesting but it really doesn’t make a difference.

It’s not always that I’m seeking out valuable information. I search the internet and read emails that I subscribe to for curiosity. To see what others are up to. To see how others have tackled similar problems. Sometimes these sources can be valuable.

The other thing that you need to watch out for is who is providing the information or advice. What are their qualifications? What is their experience? Are they still current in their field? Someone may have the qualifications and experience but they are not up-to-date with the latest trends.

If you’re not sure, perhaps the best thing is to contact the person and find out from them the necessary information that you require to establish their credentials.

If they don’t want to supply it, then perhaps it’s best to leave them alone.

Also watch out for people with vested interests. If you want to obtain information, for example on medical insurance, a broker who is attached to one company will be unable to give you a range of options to choose from.

Family, friends and your professional network can be trusted sources of information and advice. How many times have you taken a problem to a good friend and what they tell you cuts through the clutter and comes right to the point?

The services we offer on this website come with an offer to try them out and if you don’t find them helpful, then no hard feelings. For example, if you want advice on business continuity management or planning, we can arrange Zoom meetings (as many as you want) to better understand your needs. If we can’t assist, we’ll be happy to refer you to someone in our network who can.

In the end it pays to be wary of where information or advice is coming, check the source and compare with other sources of information.

One-minute sales message – prospecting in hard times

Are you finding it difficult to get people interested in your product or service in this stressed economic environment?

Many businesses have closed down because of the harsh and illogical restrictions placed on them during the hard lockdown. People who were once good contacts have lost their jobs. Existing businesses are facing rough times and are being extra cautious about new expenditures.

Yet it is puzzling to see how many sales people are continuing to send out the same old emails as if things haven’t changed in the marketplace. The same applies to selling messages on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As I write this, I hear the sound of the familiar tune from the ice cream van across the street. We used to only hear the ice cream van on weekends but during the lockdown the owner started coming out more often, combing even the side streets to prospect for businesses. It’s a tiny businesses but the owner has to support himself and his family.

Door-to-door sales have become costly now days because of transport costs and putting a representative on the road is expensive. Try knocking on a company’s door whether a commercial or manufacturing business theses days – you won’t get past the security.

So a lot of people are using the Internet to prospect. But it’s so crowded and full of messages that are sent out to prospects who are not the least interested in what the salesperson is offering and in many cases sent to the wrong person. It’s a basic requirement in sales, to contact the person who has the power to make the decision to buy (or at least an influencer lower down the ranks).

Over the past few months I’ve had to increase my prospecting activities. I’ve looked at a lot of so-called great prospecting systems from Internet marketers, consultants and other business experts. When you dig a bit deeper, you find that these are hardly such promising prospecting models and processes.

I’ve found that the best responses come when you prospect with quick to-the-point messages, are totally honest and have a clear value promise to your prospect. So have the people I’ve trained to write effective one-messages for prospecting and other communication.

The way I go about this is not for everyone but if you are having problems with prospecting for sales, you might be interested in the One-minute Messages for Short Attention Spans training that I’m offering to help business people. My email contacts are available on the website, if you want to contact me.

Kind regards
Chesney

A surety – walking around like a zombie in this economy

Taking out bank loans for a businesses, property development or other ventures, can make you feel like a zombie in this economy when you realise how much control you have given to your bank to seize your assets if something goes wrong.

A business person told me recently that with the negative economic news and forecasts he felt even more afraid about his bank loans where he has given surety on his family house.

It must be terrible. Sales declining, projects lost, scratching for business. And you’ve got bank loans hanging over your head. No wonder he’s afraid.

But many people buy into the notion that entrepreneurs are fearless risk takers and can tolerate high levels of uncertainty. Yes, maybe there are some like this but most “normal” business people have their feet firmly placed on the ground.

What do you do about avoiding bank sureties? What other forms of finance are there are there for the entrepreneur or small business owner? The business advisors are short on giving a clear and specific answer. I’m not going to venture to say where to look for capital except to point out that today there are many alternative forms of financing available – just take a look on the Internet if you are interested.

Remember one of the largest supermarket chain stores in South Africa began when the owner needed to expand and went cap in hand to friends who provided loans to take a share in the business that got it up and running.

In today’s ruined economy, high tax regime and choking bureaucracy, it pays to think critically about sources of finance, which essentially translate into accumulated debt, that possess the risk of asset confiscation.

Big opportunity for those who deliver great service

When last did you experience good customer service?

It’s hard to remember, isn’t it?

It’s strange, very strange, that in today’s networked world with many online tools, customer service is so pathetic.

Let me give you an idea of what I have experienced in recent months – and I won’t bore you with the details.

It took me three months to get one of the big four banks to stop my home insurance with them. Can you believe it? I had to be patient and endure because the new insurance I got cost one third of the price of what the bank was charging me. By the way, over a 12-year period, the bank’s insurance company allowed me only once to claim from the insurance policy.

I know this is another financial services example but I made some enquiries about medical insurance and after listening to a so-called insurance broker rattling on about various policy options, all I got was several attachments (amounting to about 100 pages) emailed to me. I was still confused even when I had scanned through the documents sent. Is this customer service?

I can go on but the point is service is often so bad that there must be an opportunity for smart people to provide better service. If you are small business owner or an independent consultant or service provider, the field is wide open.

Service is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, the person who experiences the service. Potential customers might be looking for a low-level quick fix solution but when it comes to complex products they would want a service representative to explain to them the various options clearly and in a simple but not simplistic way to help them make a good decision.


Being warm and friendly, is not enough. You’ve got to offer value, which means meeting the customer’s needs for a particular product or service.

But just as important as having knowledgeable, well-trained service people, you also need to have a feeling that the person you are dealing with is someone you can trust. But often this is not the case because you are shoved onto a call centre where staff posses the bare minimum training or an online contact form with a reply that makes you feel stupid.

Do better than this and opportunity awaits.