Audeo Fortis | Business Advisors and Management Team Support with a Difference
Where difference is a good thing
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Articles + Insight

News, useful information and best practice

Giving back to LGBT+ a summary of our progress this financial year

Since 1 April 2018 we’ve been passionately giving back to the LGBT community by providing access to our skills and expertise completely free of charge. The LGBT community are still significantly under represented in larger organisations and we want to ensure that creative LGBT entrepreneurs aren’t left behind either.

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Legalo to offer discounted templates to Audeo Fortis Clients and Followers

As a small business owner ourselves we know how difficult it can be to balance compliance and risk with cost.

Particularly when it comes to supply agreements, GDPR, and protecting yourself under employment law, it can be a tricky thing to balance the cost of doing things 'bells and whistles' with also drafting some of these things yourself.

We always recommend seeking the advice of an expert and solicitor but we recognise that for many business owners this is not an option, and you might take on a higher level of risk in return for templates that you can use as a starting point.

We're very pleased therefore to be able to provide discounted access to Legalo who provide "Expertly-drafted, legal templates for your business."

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When is a re-brand not a re-brand?

Dawn Goddard has been at the epicenter of PR and management for many years so we were thrilled when she asked us to help her explore a re-brand for Deus Management..

What started as a simple request for help understanding where and how to go about refreshing an old logo, quickly unearthed a different set of needs.

Deus Management was previously the brand name of Dave Goddard's business. He'd previously used the brand for his football agency and crisis management work, and over time the husband and wife team had brought both businesses together under the same name.

Audeo Fortis instead proposed that Deus Management should first have a strategy workshop to analyse the market position and service offering under the co-joined brand.

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Strategy As A Solution - what you can learn from the Roman military

I help my clients do one thing: save time and make more money.

Sounds simple enough? But the reality is that businesses, however small, are a complex ecosystem of competing priorities. The real skill in running a business comes from understanding how to balance all those nuances to maximum effect.

I call that Strategy As A Solution

The word strategy actually takes its roots from Roman military; the plans of war and battles designed to achieve a long-term aim of world domination.

Perhaps your business isn’t trying to take over the world, but it probably is trying to compete with others to find a space it can occupy. So the roots still hold true that it’s about the smaller battles you succeed in to achieve your overall long term aim.

The problem I often encounter in SMEs is that this planning (the how we will achieve domination?) is the starting point for them. But to me, there are two steps before the strategy is formed that if not well defined will undoubtedly result in wasted time and reduced profit.

How can I be so sure? Because the conflict between competing priorities paralyses decision making, which causes wasted time, that in turn costs more money or loses opportunity for sales.

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The Art of the Beautiful Game

Building on the success achieved by Thomas Wolski at previous events and exhibitions (#ArtofBentley and #Tribe17), Tom once again turned to us for help in project managing his showcase at Manchester City Football Club.

At first glance you might think it an odd collaboration, but MCFC commissioned Tom to create a unique artwork for the 2017/18 football season and agreed a license to gift prints to all the visiting UEFA teams.

This bank holiday weekend saw the trophy being lifted by champions MCFC at the Etihad Stadium and the original artwork (now available for a collector to buy) along with other key pieces were showcased in the award winning Tunnel Club.

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WOW HOW gets ready to disrupt

The world of make-up might be highly competitive, but that isn't stopping serial entrepreneur Gaynor Matthews from challenging the way things are done.

Make-up can be complex and confusing for many. Although YouTube and blogs have made make-up more accessible, it's not easy to find (and copy) good quality tutorials, nor is the user specifying the content.

Equally people are often too intimidated to visit the beauty counter, and forget what they've been shown as soon as they've left. Feeling a huge gap between the customer experience and the available technology, Gaynor set out to investigate.

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Why are we so afraid of the 'C' word?

Last week I read with interest an article from the Evening Standard on a social media outburst by Holly Willoughby after the BAFTA's. She was rightly pointing out the hypocrisy of paparazzi taking photographs of female celebrities to get 'upskirt' style shots - having photographed them only a few hours earlier with white roses to promote calling #timesup on sexual harassment and gender inequality in the entertainment industry.

She said "...times apparently up on #timesup", but the problem for me is that I don't think #timesup or any of the other similar campaigns have really yet begun.

In this particular arena there have been numerous (and unsettling) rising trends of late. Gender pay gap reporting highlights that women are doing lower paid work, the now defunct President's Club fundraiser is revealed to be a cesspit of sexual harassment that's more befitting of the Victorian era than the 21st century, equal pay disputes are now reaching class action proportions...and I haven't even touched on the historic and current sexual harassment claims emerging across multiple industries - something akin to Operation Yewtree whereby this behaviour is now known to be endemic, and has been for years.

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We've moved...! Hello Manchester #WeLoveMCR

We all know how stressful a house move can be, but have you ever moved house AND office at the same time?

We have...

We're now proudly based at the Regus offices in Spinningfields, Manchester. Taking in the beautiful 10th floor views across the northern skyline (and the plethora of eating and drinking establishments nearby)!

Although we're definitely cosy in our new gaff, we're still operating across the UK and internationally as before - 'Wherever, Whenever'.

So please do pop in for a coffee, or send us a note to our new address:

Audeo Fortis

10th Floor

3 Hardman Street

Manchester

M3 3HF

We'd love to see you!

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Audeo Fortis kicks off charity fundraiser

As part of our commitment to give back we've launched our charity challenge for 17/18 and we invite you to join us..!

The chosen challenge is a Tough Mudder Half around Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire on Saturday 8 September 2018.

Tough Mudder isn't a race, it's a team effort. Everyone will help others to get through the whole course and over the obstacles. We're doing the Half sized race so there's no ice or electricity!

We encourage everyone to raise funds for charity if they join the team, but it's not mandatory :)

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Red flags quiz - how do you know when it's time to get help?

Recently I've been out and about attending seminars, meeting businesses and talking with other professional advisers about trends in the market.

One of the overriding themes that has really struck me is the number of SME owners that have struggled to overcome their internal barriers to accessing help and progressing their business.

Issues range from the classic "I saw the signs, but I just didn't want them to be true" along to "I had no idea things were going wrong, it was just outside my expertise so how could I have known?"

It got me thinking that it really is incumbent on professional advisers to help SMEs spot the signs but that also every business is different, so owners need guidance and principles, not rules to live by...

So take our quick quiz below and see how healthy your red flags are!

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The Pitfalls of Using KPIs #2minutetips

The very first in our series of two-minute tips is on KPIs and how the get the best out of them in your organisation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VomL-Ub6Lc&t=2s

Our top tips:

1. Cut down your KPIs to the most essential for running your business

  • Link them to your strategy to measure the long term business direction

  • Move short term KPIs down the organisation for the day-to-day management

2. Think hard about what your measures are really telling you

  • What do the indicators actually show?

  • What are the drivers of financial data?

3. Instil positive impact in your KPIs to you don't end up chasing the number

  • Kep an eye on whether your KPIs are driving bad behaviours

  • Use KPIs to identify trends over time and avoid them becoming targets

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Toys ‘R’ Us and how NOT to manage your management consultant

Today established retail giant Toys ‘R’ Us filed for bankruptcy protection in the US.

So you can understand why every time I speak to a business owner that says, “we don’t need help” it breaks my heart just a little bit more (and it’s not because they’re not hiring me!)

I sincerely believe that businesses large and small are missing out on opportunity, and at worst potentially damaging their organisations by failing to identify risk. Personally, I think there are two issues (a) we don’t like to admit weakness/ask for help and (b) because of our relationship with management consultants and other professional advisers.

And I get it, management consultants are *the worst* - they’re just pushy, aren’t they?

Particularly if you're a smaller business management consultants can make you feel like the business equivalent of a hit-and-run victim. They come out of nowhere, hit you fast, tell you how to run your business, deposit an unintelligible report, and dump one heck of an invoice. You’re left injured, feeling dazed and confused.

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Monzo: Lessons for a start up

If you haven’t heard of Monzo, they’re a high profile fintech start up – a challenger bank – rising to consumer fame by offering a fee-free pre-paid card service.

Like most start ups in this category, they’ve experienced massive growth in a short time. At the beginning of July this year it hit 240,000 customers, they are projecting between 500,000 and 800,000 accounts by the end of the year, and their business model is as old as time:

  1. Begin as a loss leader: buy the market to build a massive customer base as an innovative new thing, pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap

  2. Bring new products online: grow the portfolio of products with profitable revenue streams

  3. Sell, sell, sell: trade on your unique and different brand to convert customers to these new products.

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Diversity and other buzz-words - a small business guide

*content warning - this article contains gross generalisations throughout!*

This weekend our fair capital city will host the Pride in London parade - and it got me thinking about 'diversity' and why it's so important for smaller enterprises in particular not to overlook this important aspect of doing business.

A common theme from pride parades all over the country is that often smaller businesses don't participate. They simply don't have the critical mass of a large corporate - they often don't have employee groups (such as LGBT, gender equality, ethnic minority, disability), and they can sometimes be, dare I say it, not very diverse.

But that doesn't mean as a small enterprise you shouldn't feel the need to embrace the concept. Indeed you only have to look as far as McKinsey's research to see that 'diverse' companies significantly outperform their non-diverse counterparts. So if diversity isn't on your agenda, then perhaps surviving the next generation isn't either...

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When not to measure - why business performance management can fail

Today we've been reading up on the views of Dr Chris Ford FCA, fellow of the ICAEW and academic advisory member to the Finance and Management Faculty Committee.

Some great insight into why sometimes the measurement systems we use don't always result in the behaviours our businesses need, but also what you might do about it.

Download a copy here: When not to measure

 

In summary the key headings were:

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My career story - an interview with James McMillan

It’s a completely different way of thinking – you have to balance your own rich experience with the experience of others in order to make decisions. Distinguishing your own professional judgement with what other people know is exciting and gives you a great opportunity to learn from others. There is also a fine line between developing a leadership style and sticking to yours. There will always be feedback of how you could do better or approach something differently but there comes a time in everyone’s career where you actually want to make a conscious choice to say “I like the way I do this” or “this is the way I want to work” and stick by it. That’s tough to do at first!

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Is governance a dirty word?

Having recently been involved in a project to change a governance model, as well as the fortune to attend a seminar hosted by OutStanding on unlocking board potential, I was interested to discover that governance is regularly perceived as being ‘bad’ or ineffective. It struck me that whether it’s a management/leadership team, a transformation programme, or a corporate board, in times of increased risk there can be a temptation to turn to governance as some sort of silver bullet to address a multitude of corporate sins.

For me, there is enormous danger that it isn’t just this old fashioned way of thinking, but a more fundamental and misguided understanding of both why things are the way they are, and how we might get things to be the way we want them to be.

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