Category Archives: Business Skills

When in Rome!

It’s often said that when in Rome we should do as the Romans do. This translates to – if you want to fit in then change your behaviour to match that of the inhabitants of the country you are living in.

This definitely applies should you wish to open an office in a new country.!

There are a number of things that you need to be aware of when starting up a new office in a foreign country. Using that good ‘change management’ standby referring to the six triggers ‘PESTLE’ the MAPP Academy came up with a list of areas that you might need to research:

  • Political – we are living in a world that changes politically like the shifting sands of a desert. Take a look, look away then back and is the view the same? But political risk can be researched at – go to the International Property Tights Index for a risk assessment on the country you have chosen.
  • Economical – We are going through a world-wide financial upheaval at the moment. Avoid countries that are economically inactive and – whilst it may seem difficult in this day and age – look for a country where people are spending and unemployment is on the way down. But most of all look for a low debt-to-GDP ratio!
  • Social – language and culture – the people you are going to deal with – The Romans – will have their own culture. Even if the language is shared (and that is doubtful sometimes – USA and UK are often referred to as two countries separated by the same language) the culture may be radically different. Consider using a trusted businessman from the destination country. They will have networks, obviously speak the language and have a handle on culture. We might know our home-grown ‘body language’ signals but will we know those of the country we are investing in. Remember all of those television adverts for a well known international bank?
  • Technological – Do they have the ‘platform’ or infrastructure for you to communicate easily? Is there good web-access? You don’t want a business that can’t communicate with you at home or can’t communicate internally in the country you have chosen for your new office. Who are the most technological innovative countries? Look here for some advice from Bloomberg – Most Innovative Countries Index.
  • Legal – Whilst some countries are great – stable – and supportive of business run by foreigners others are not. For example, look for countries where there is not a history of ‘confiscation’ of property or business. As above the same excellent research tool can be used International Property Rights Index. Research the country of your choice.
  • Environmental – There is a whole raft of differences between countries when it comes to the environment. There are countries that are green and others that have no green credentials at all. Take a look here for the green credentials of your country of choice – The Green Index

But it doesn’t end there; add to the above PESTLE triggers your personal knowledge of your industry sector and – most definitely – a great deal of market research in the country of your choice (just as you would if opening a business in a new town within your home country) and your chances of success just got better.

One final link worth a look is Starting a Business Abroad. Aimed at businesses of a certain size (10-50 employees) this can provide you with a number of insights and may save you making a big, costly mistake.

The MAPP has produced a comprehensive, on-line decision-making tool that can be used to plan an exciting project such as this. For product information follow the link:


Want to Export? Don’t just Survive When You Can Grow

UKTI Front CoverUK Trade and Industry, in their excellent publication, ‘Bringing home the benefits: How to grow through exporting,’ explain how exporting can lead to growth, further exports and consequently greater growth.

Exporting can also lead to improvements in efficiency, new products and services. Top that off with an increase in confidence, ambition and momentum for greater growth and the idea of exporting your product or service becomes quite exciting.

In the above publication the UKTI reports that a survey of their clients:

  • 85 per cent said exporting led to a ‘level of growth not otherwise possible’
  • 87 per cent said exporting had significantly improved their profile or credibility
  • 78 per cent said exporting had given them exposure to new ideas
  • 73 per cent said exporting had increased the commercial lifespan of products or services
  • 70 per cent said they had developed or modified a product or service due to doing business abroad

Many potential exporters are put off by the task that lies ahead of them the planning seems to raise more questions than answers and the whole thing project appears too complicated.

The Export MAPPs

But help is at hand, The MAPP Academy – working with the UKTI and experts from within the MAPP Academy – has developed two on-line, decision-making tools to help you plan for your exporting. And being on-line means you can invite your mentor or team members to work with you from anywhere in the world.

The two product pages giving you more detailed information about each product can be accessed by these links:

But if you want go directly to the two MAPPs in the MAPP Store please use these links:

Use the Grid To Plan Organisational Training Needs

It was key to Labour’s successful handling of public relations and the press and it infuriated many newspapers by appearing to pre-empt many stories that would have called for a swift reactive response from No10. And, coincidentally, it was the departure of a second Mr Brown from No. 10 Downing Street in 2011 that saw the end of ‘The Grid.’

As an author on the subject of Needs Analysis (Successful Training Needs Analysis in a Week, Hodder and Stoughton) it became instantly apparent that there was a parallel use that could change the reactive management of staff development into proactive management. This blog is an edited extract from ‘Development Needs Analysis’ an eBook coming out in 2015.

If we start with something that is embedded into change management we get a glimpse of the power of the grid – PESTLE. Most manager know that this refers to the change ‘triggers’ political, economical, social, technological, legal and environmental. The PESTLE headings now provide focal points for pre-empting training needs.

The Grid would list in a calendar format the events that directly and indirectly affect the then government so – equally – it could be used to list the events that will directly or indirectly affect the organisation.

Here’s a small example of a grid structured around one week of political activity in the House of Commons:

01-07 Dec Mon  Tue  Wed  Thu  Fri  Sat/Sun
House of Commons  Road Investment and NHS  Counter Terrorism Chancellor’sAutumn Statement  Pensions  International Development and Economic Growth in London
Other News
 Organisation Events

Board meeting with accountant to discuss AS

[See Point 6]

 Other Events (sports, music, etc.) FA Cup [See Point 5]
Training Need?  [See Point 1]  [See Point 2]  [See Point 3]  [See Point 4]

Here’s just a quick set of thoughts that could be addressed before the events listed take place:

  1. If the organisation is involved in the construction or planning of roads then this might lead to a need for more tradesmen or planners. On the other hand it might mean laying off workers in the future and a need to train someone internally to take over a planning activity. The same applies if the organisation is the NHS or a supplier to the NHS.
  2. Is the organisation involved with counter-terrorism? Will this lead to new opportunities in sales with a consequent need to train more sales staff on particular equipment?
  3. Does HR need to change pension policy? It might not need training – just an adjustment in the way that a pension is calculated.
  4. International development might need speakers with a foreign language. Economic growth in London might require more staff to meet new demands.
  5. The FA Cup could lead to an involvement ranging from sponsorship through to hosting in a hospitality suite. Does the organisation need to engage and train ‘hosts’ to ensure that all networking opportunities are identified?
  6. Is there a need to train a minute taker?

If these ‘grids’ can be projected into the future then it is possible to predict organisational training need. The above example only mentions a response to political and economical change triggers but what about the other triggers such as:

  • Social – There is always a social impact with a budget. There will be a social impact with regards to many of the items listed in the grid above from changes in the NHS (changes in best practice to deal with increase in patients for example). Even down to training staff to run a ‘food bank’ (food management, people management, empathy issues, etc. are just a few)
  • Technological – New growth brings new technology and money to buy it with. But if growth means recruitment then training will be required.
  • Legal – New laws dealing with counter terrorism will lead to training needs (how to recognise terrorist activity, how to use electronic equipment, etc.).
  • Environmental – Investment in roads will lead to environmental issues. Some of those issues will be difficult to deal with. Training may be required for PR when presenting new roadways to the local community. There may be a need to train volunteers to help create new habitats and then move endangered species of wildlife.

Just by looking at one week’s programme for the House of Commons we can see that a multitude of organisations might be affected and all of the change triggers are felt.

There are some many more events that might or might not affect an organisation. But by using a grid there is much more control and proactivity when addressing training needs.

Interestingly, the same grid would still allow you to plan for press releases just as it did for Alistair Campbell (to whom this post owes so much – thanks). But there may be another training issue there e.g. do you need to develop an internal PR team or do you need to develop someone to handle an external PR company?

Further to that do you need someone who understands the social media streams that your organisation uses – Twitter, Facebook, and/or Pinterest?

The grid is a vital decision card in the MAPP Development Needs Analysis set. But in 2015 it will become a MAPP card set in its own right. In the meantime, there are product details for the MAPP DNA product page and in our MAPP Store – just follow the links below:






Negotiation – Get What You Want By Giving the Client What They Want!

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘negotiation’ as:

noun: a formal discussion between people who are trying to reach an agreement : an act of negotiating.

If negotiation is a give and take process between two or more parties then you need to be aware of your ideal outcome, what you will accept as a minimum and what you will not accept (causing you to walk away from the table). And you need to have a firm grasp of these three outcomes before starting the process.

However, in order to participate in a ‘give and take process’ you also need to find out quickly what the other party sees as their ideal, minimum or unacceptable outcome.

This means you must:

  • Have a strategy
  • Develop tactics
  • Ensure that the right team/individual is handling the negotiations
  • That the ‘relationship’ with the other party is handled professionally

All 4

Some Tips from the MAPP Academy


  • Start by researching – identify who you will be negotiating with. It might give you an idea as to what they will see as an ideal outcome for them.
  • You must – ‘know your numbers’ – see the three outcomes suggested above, especially what will be your ‘deal breaker’.

Develop Tactics

  • Look to find common ground.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – sometimes a client will give you more than you though they would. They can only say no!
  • Stick to your numbers! Never be afraid to walk away – but do so professionally. Thank the other party for their time but no thanks for their offer. A polite refusal can lead to future negotiations; a ‘flounce’ leads to nothing!

Ensure that you have the right team/individual handling the negotiations

  • Someone who asks for what you want in a confident way.
  • Someone who also knows how to listen and pick up on the signs – body language, tone of voice will communicate over 90% of the message from the other party.
    Sometimes silence on your part can act as pressure on the other party.

Handle the negotiations in a professional manner

  • Ensure that you are negotiating with someone who can make decisions.
  • Don’t forget to listen – give the other party respect
  • Make concessions on a ‘tit for tat’ basis. Give back to the other party if they give to you. Never make concessions if none have been offered.
  • Don’t be afraid to change your offer if you need to – but never change your own offer downwards. Never negotiate against yourself and don’t agree to something if it feels wrong. If it feels wrong it probably is – for you!
  • Be creative – together. Use new information to adjust your offer.
  • Don’t use the ‘walk away’ as a negotiating tactic.
  • Finally, once the negotiations have come to a conclusion and both parties recognise that it is fair – put it into writing!

The Negotiation MAPP was created by members of the MAPP Academy along with Spoken Word Limited, a MAPP Partner company. It provides you with a framework for your negotiations. Have a look at the product description by following the link below:

Or to get directly to the Negotiation MAPP follow the product links below to the MAPP Store:

Selling Your Business – Need an Elevator Pitch?

Remember all of those networking events where people asked you, “What do you do?” We all had that ‘elevator pitch’ handy for those occasions.

We all asked ourselves the same question, devised and rehearsed an answer so that we appeared to be confident about our products and services.

Well equally, before selling your business up for sale you must ask yourself, “Why?”

Then you must devise and rehearse your answer to the question which will undoubtedly be asked by interested purchasers and time wasters alike.

You might question the objectives of selling from the points of view of owner, manager. You might want to consider why you are selling in terms of the business itself. You might have a workforce to take into consideration. Oh and don’t forget shareholders, stakeholders and any other interested parties!

Answers to these questions might include a need for investment in the company or in your own future. Your business might be your pension plan or a step to greater investment in future plans.

Basically, if you can’t answer the question ‘why’ then you haven’t thought it through. You haven’t planned properly, you will not look professional and customers will question your motives in selling.

shaking handsAnswer it and you will have a successful sale!

Better still you could use a tool such as MAPP Business Sale. Designed specifically for owners and managers it is based upon research with individuals and managers who have been there. Follow the link below to the MAPP Store and a successful, professional sale!