5 Tips on Winning Bids

July 21, 2016


Taking a strategic approach is not just for your business plans.  We all have limited time and resources, so knowing what outcomes you want, and how to focus your resources to achieve them WILL create better results. Read more

June 2016 – A window into our world

June 20, 2016

Trust and credibility are two of the most important buying factors for our clients.  A third is our ability to connect at a personal level.  All three factors are hard to fake – which is great for us, because they’re based around a core of integrity.   Read more

Future-proofing Businesses through our People

June 20, 2016

by Paul Kinvig – Business Coach & Facilitator with Aspirin Business Solutions


In a recent Business Leaders survey on key issues facing business in 2016, by Mindshop (one of the world’s leading online learning platforms) future-proofing the business was one of the Top 10. In general, the term ‘future-proof’ refers to the ability of something to continue to be of value in the future through anticipating needs & events and developing methods & strategies to ensure the business/product remains of value.

Future-proofing has become a real buzz word of late, especially given the relentless pace of technology which often runs faster than our ability to adapt to its potential and the effect it has on customer requirements & expectations. The disappearance of famous names from ‘High St UK’ makes one wonder if ‘future-proofing’ ever came up at BHS board meetings or at Austin Reed strategy days?

For us as business owners & leaders future-proofing stretches way beyond our systems, products, services etc….it reaches to our people!!!

At a time when often it’s the quality, skill & commitment of our teams that give us the competitive edge, ensuring that we are both

a) developing our people who’ll develop and deliver our future work not just the work right now and

b) identifying the next set of leaders in the organisation (including the role we fulfil)

is vital if we are to future-proof our businesses

Why? Well for those with a high ‘Searcher’ or ‘Defender’ motivator it would be about feeling a sense of responsibility to employees, customers & suppliers. For those with a high ‘Builder’ motivator it would be about ensuring a continued income, whilst those with a high ‘Director’ motivator would focus on the need to control the process rather than have it happen to them (take a look at Motivational Maps for further info).

However, at its core level it’s about business survival – losing key employees for whatever reason, from retirement to tragedy – can & does have significant effect on the business in terms of relationships, performance & bottom line!

Not having a plan in place puts us at the mercy of events and therefore on the defensive. In sporting terms, part of the function of a great team manager is to always be questioning, “If we lose our star/ key player, who will step up to make sure we continue to be successful?”

You see, at a base level, we start with the question “Were we to lose an individual who performs a specific critical function in the firm, would this undermine our business performance?” — if the answer is ‘yes’ then succession planning/ future-proofing is required.

At the next level we ask the question “Given what we anticipate, what will be the needs of the business going forward and do we have the skill sets/ core competencies/ cultural values we need in the people we have to ensure our continued growth?” – if the answer is ‘yes’ OR ‘no’ then succession planning/ future-proofing is required. It can be sobering to consider how vulnerable we would be if our key people were to go……

Then, in terms of choosing the right person, we should always think beyond getting a carbon copy of ourselves. We always have to have in our minds “What are the business needs of the team/organisation?” rather than going for our own mirror image. Yes, personality is important, especially in smaller teams, however it’s business needs first! Remember, future-proofing is about what is required going forward, not about preserving the past. Prof Otis Baskin of the Family Business Consulting Group got it absolutely right when he observed:

“It is critical to realise that your successor cannot lead the business just like you.  Look for the right person to build upon what you have done and take it to new heights, not preserve your memory.”

Finally, something that has to be considered is the team that the ‘successor’ will lead. We need to be cultivating the team to be prepared for a new leader should it happen and to know that the culture is to support them in the transition. Succession planning isn’t just about developing the individual but about preparing the team they will inherit so they’ll be open & ready. Without getting the team buy in we risk undermining the whole process and putting performance at risk…….

So where are you with future-proofing your business in respect of your people? Do you know what is going to be required for your business going forward? Have you identified key people who if they left would cause you real performance damage? Have you a plan in place to attract & develop your people into key roles? Have you developed a culture within your teams to expect and welcome succession planning? Who should be the right person to be your successor and not necessarily just a carbon copy?

Lesley Dashew puts it brilliantly when she says:

“You don’t hire a successor for where you are, you hire a successor for where you want to be in the future,”


Here at Aspirin Business Solutions, many of our clients make succession planning an integral part of their business.  Indeed, they see it as responsible business leadership.  They find we add value in three primary ways:

  • Clarifying and agreeing the short and long-term future of the organisation
  • Stepping back from the personalities, to identify potential successors for all key roles
  • Developing a succession plan including identifying development needs, knowledge transfer, process development and timescales


Helping leaders and their teams adapt to change and develop successfully, is critical in achieving their wider goals – such as succession planning, increasing profitable growth and in ensuring organisations will survive and thrive in a changing marketplace.

Our Seven Factors to Faster Growth model fuses people and processes to release the potential in individuals, teams and organisations.  It allows our clients to scope out the intended future through vision, strategy and mission and identify how to implement and deliver that through values, objectives and team performance – and then to define and increase the capability of leaders, managers and teams accordingly.

seven steps

If this article resonates with you, we’d love to explore how we could help you achieve your organisation’s goals.  Please get in touch and let’s talk.

E: paul@aspirinbusiness.com

T: 01202 801187

or sign up to our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bSJCaz


6 Top Tips: Cyber Security

May 24, 2016

Cyber SecurityLooking outwards for opportunities and risks is a critical role for leaders.

So we asked our clients at IT Support Business (ITSB) to share their Top 6 Tips for Cyber Security:

Keep your IT updated – With new system exploits and viruses being discovered every day its critical your company IT is kept up to date. With operating system, software and antivirus updates it can be hard to ensure that every device on your company network hasn’t fallen behind, especially when it can be easy for your staff to cancel or ignore the updates. Whether you entrust it to your staff, your IT team / company or you’re going around checking everyone’s machine before they leave on a Friday, make sure someone is responsible for keeping your business IT up to date.

Who are your threats? 

Of course there is a whole world of cyber criminals outside your business trying to get in but there are recent reports that claim around 70% of the breaches reported last year were from disgruntled employee’s. It’s just as important to protect yourself from threats inside the business as it is from the outside. By making sure that your employee’s have the correct user privileges and are only able to access the information they need to complete their jobs you can minimise any potential breach.

Be careful in public

With just a few simple items it’s easy for a cyber-criminal to set up a spoofed wireless network and they can be very difficult to spot. Be extra cautious when you are connected to any public wireless especially ones you don’t know. Certainly avoid using online banking or making payment transactions.  Having good antivirus and web protection software on your laptops, tablets and mobiles is a great way to protect yourself from the unknown, while I’d also consider data encryption to protect your company data if you or your staff are generally working on the go.

Keep it secret, keep it safe – Passwords, we all have them and if they aren’t strong enough it can be very easy for attackers to steal identities and gain access to your data. But passwords can be a real pain for you and your staff, they can be so complex that no one can remember them and a sticky note in your top draw (or on you monitor) is not the place to keep it. Have a clear password policy for your staff to follow and if you or your team a have a lot of passwords to remember then consider a password management tool like Lastpass (www.lastpass.com).

Cover your risk – Consider taking cyber insurance for your business. As new laws have come in over the responsibilities of a business that have suffered a data breach, if the worse does happen you can be left facing a hefty clean up bill (not to mention a fine from the ICO).

Stay safe – together – No matter what systems you put in place, if your staff aren’t kept up to date about your security procedures and about current threats, then they can easily fall into the traps set out by cunning cyber criminals. Bring cyber security procedures into your staff induction and training processes.


About ITSB: At last… An IT company with a straightforward approach to delivering technical support with one single purpose:­ to serve our clients with Incredible Support! We focus on you, our client to ensure you really get the value you deserve from your IT partner to help your organisation develop and grow. We are the “Go To” people who can offer solid advice that comes from putting ‘what you need’ before our own sales targets.


Engaging our clients – 5 Top Tips for PR

May 10, 2016


As you probably know by now, we’re could be accused of ‘banging on’ a bit about engagement, but there’s good news!  Engagement is not just for our teams.  We also need to think about engaging our clients.  In fact, we probably put more effort into exactly this because without engagement, we can struggle to attain clients who buy for quality of service, and we certainly won’t retain them.

In our minds, engaging clients starts with a clear understanding of who we are, the value we offer – and then, how do we best convey that to our prospects?

So we asked our clients at Darren Northeast PR to share their Top 5 Tips for PR with our lovely newsletter subscribers.  Here’s what they said:

  1. Develop a clearly defined goal

All PR campaigns should start with clearly defined goals. Do you want to strengthen brand awareness or launch a new product or service? The answers will dictate the appropriate media coverage, the target audience, and the message that you are trying to convey.

  1. Harness the power of Social Media

Social Media is an excellent form of communication, allowing businesses to engage, listen, share and exchange information with a huge audience. Free to use, it’s important to remember to give it as much time as you can with regular updates, content, and shares!

  1. Network – and follow up

From local meetings and groups to specific industry events there are always opportunities to grow your list of business contacts. To build successful relationships good networkers should be friendly and attentive, avoid hard selling, and always arrange follow chats over coffee.

  1. Develop a story that is interesting

To share your business with the public you will need to develop a story that is interesting and compelling. Be informative, entertaining and stay clear of blatant advertisements. Research which publications your target audience reads, or pitch your story to relevant industry publications.

  1. Update your Website

Regular articles and blogs on your website are a great way to attract people to your site. It will increase your SEO so that your website features higher-up in search results, attracting more people to your website and establish a long-term presence online.


As one of the South leading and award-winning PR agencies, Darren Northeast PR have vast experience helping businesses to gain a competitive edge. They know businesses who choose to follow their top tips have the best chances on the road to success.

T:    01202 676762

W:  www.darrennortheast.co.uk