‘Who can help me?’

So, you have set up your own business.

You have a great product or service.

You have completed a Start Your Own Business course.

Now what?

It is a common complaint/worry that I see and hear about from Irish Entrepreneurs on an almost daily basis. Just look at the various SME groups on social media. You will see numerous questions from people who have set up their own business, have hit an obstacle and have nowhere to go to find an answer. While these social media groups are extremely useful and can answer many questions, I can’t help but feel that something is missing for small and micro-enterprises which would help them drive their businesses forward.

You see one issue that I am conscious of when I see people offering advice is that, while they have the absolute best intentions to help the person asking the question, they are offering advice from their own perspective not that of the person with the issue. This hits two problems:

  1. The advisor is generally not in the advisee’s business so the dynamic might be different, the problem might be slightly different. This means that the advice given has to be broad in scope to ‘hit all possibilities’ in the hope that there is a nugget of information that will help. I call this the Scatter-gun Approach. From the advisees perspective, they can run into further trouble if they blindly try to apply the advice received which can further drop them into despair and frustration in their business. I have no doubt that many businesses have folded, because the advice they received was wrong for their situation and, rather than resolve the issue, it drove them deeper into trouble.
  2. From a Neuroscience perspective, the advice might be offered in a format that doesn’t reach the advisee, for example “what’s your gut telling you?” will be harder to react to for a person who is driven more by their heart than their gut. It might sound silly, but it has been proven that we communicate differently and consequently the advice we offer will be based on our own primary drivers rather than those of the advisee.

So how can you, in your small or micro business get the help you want?

In short, I believe business owners of today need access to Coaches, Consultants or Mentors who can help them with issues that are individual to their organisations. The problem is finance. Most cannot afford to hire the services of a fully qualified and experienced Coach, Consultant or Mentor and even if they can afford it, the market in Ireland is so crowded with ‘professionals’ that there is a huge fear of the quality of service that will be received. Many of the ‘professionals’ out there today, do not provide a professional service. They have not been trained, are not insured and effectively have zero background, experience or qualifications to help.

Some time ago I wrote an article which offered advice on what you should look out for when considering the services of a Coach, Consultant, or Mentor. You can find the article here. But all that will give you is a guide to hiring a professional who ACTUALLY IS a professional.

So let’s assume you get access to the services of a professional Coach, Consultant or Mentor, what can they do for you?

As a one-person operation myself, I know how hard it can be to drive your business forward on your own. There are little or no back ups to your decision making process. Everything stops with you. You have to deal with the ups and downs on your own. Social media groups such as #IrishBizParty offer great support and a certain amount of help, but I believe a Coach, Consultant or Mentor would offer you so much more.

To begin with, a Coach will not tell you what to do; it’s not their job. Immediately, this accepts the fact that your business is YOUR BUSINESS. The coach is not a staff member. They do not work for you or in your organisation. They do not know the dynamic of you or your organisation, but they know one very important point; YOU DO!!

The role of a Coach is to question, challenge and help YOU to come up with resolutions to the issues YOUR business has encountered. Assuming they have business experience, a Coach (with your permission) can become your Mentor and point you in a direction to help you overcome the obstacles you face. The ultimate goal is to help YOU identify and overcome YOUR business issues in a way that is relevant to YOU and YOUR business, i.e. a tailored service to you.

Let’s look at the second issue highlighted above; communication. A properly trained Coach, Consultant or Mentor will already understand the importance of communicating with a client in the client’s preferential way. Applying the new Coaching process of mBIT (multiple Brain Integration Techniques) helps the client to access all of their body’s Intelligences/Brains to help them tap into the different abilities of each. You can find out more about mBIT Coaching here. (Remember, InnoChan Solutions is the ONLY company in Ireland currently qualified to offer mBIT as part of it’s Coaching, Consultancy and Mentoring services).

So what does all this mean to you, sitting in your office (or at the kitchen table), trying to overcome a business problem (or even a personal issue of motivation)?

Social Media groups are a great first step to getting an answer or support. However, if you find you are still ‘stuck’ or you don’t want to publicise your issue through Social Media, but you want to continue with your business, then you need to seek support. You need to contact a suitably qualified Coach, Consultant or Mentor. Just remember to check their credentials and ability first. Your business success depends on it!!!

For my part, InnoChan Solutions is teaming up with #IrishBizParty to offer its members the very facilities discussed above at extremely reduced rates to help SMEs and Micro-enterprises deal with the issues that they have encountered so that they can drive their businesses to success. Just to deal with an issue raised above in relation to being suitably qualified, you can check out my qualifications, experience and other credentials here.

Being your own boss, need not be a lonely journey. Many CEOs of the biggest companies in the world use the services of a Coach to help them with their decision making as well as business and personal issues so that they can stay focused and at the top of their game. Why can’t you?

CEOs have hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of people driving their businesses for them. You have YOU. Surely you need the support of a Coach in your corner more than they do.

So here are some questions;

  • do you want your business to succeed?
  • do you want support to overcome issues specific to your business?
  • do you feel lost after completing the SYOB programme?

Then, as they say in the Ghostbusters movie; “Who you gonna call?”

Are you afraid of Success?

Question: Do you REALLY want your business to be successful?

Or are you just telling yourself that you do?

If you believe that you REALLY want to be successful, but are not as successful as you would like to be, then it is very likely that the reason for your lack of success is YOU!

I have met many people (myself included) who have blamed their lack of success on external factors such as government, competition, economy, etc., etc.

In reality the reason for your lack of success lies in how you react to the circumstances you find yourself in with your business and, I believe that for many entrepreneurs this lack of success stems from the entrepreneur, not the environment.


  • How are you reacting to your competition?

Believe it or not, many small business owners become so engrossed on what the competition is doing that they forget to actually do something with their products which their competition hasn’t thought of, something that would give them the edge, but they can’t see it. We become so focused on ‘the competition’ that we don’t see our market.

Here’s a cold hard fact; the reason your competition is successful is not because they are better than you, it’s because they aren’t focused on you! They are focused on their customers and meeting their customer’s requirements. I remember many years ago watching a documentary on training captains for Nuclear submarines. At one point while on exercise, the trainee became too focused on a trawler that was innocently fishing in the exercise area that he neglected to spot the whopping great battle cruiser which was bearing down on him. Needless to say, he was removed from the test. It’s the very same for business people; if you focus on the competition, you are not focussing on your customers. So how can you possibly attract customers let alone meet their requirements (or know what they want)?


  • Do you really have the passion and determination to succeed?

Some business owners believe they have the passion to succeed, yet fail to take any action to drive their business forward. Instead they continue to look for the ‘magic formula’ that will make them “the next big thing”.

Big shock!…There is no secret formula!

Someone once said “there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” Success takes hard work. No short cuts allowed. So let’s think about this. mBIT (multiple Brain Integration Techniques) notes that, in order to be successful and effective, we must align our three intelligences; Gut, Heart and Head.

I believe we establish our businesses through our Heart Intelligence (the seat of values, beliefs and passion). However, we find it hard to align the other intelligences of the Head (logic, thought, creativity, etc.) and Gut (drive, action, etc.)

The result? We think we have the passion and determination to succeed, but fail to engage completely in our business. When things don’t work out, we blame out products, the economy, our family, etc. etc. In fact, we rationalise the lack of success on external factors instead of ourselves.

Have you ever wondered how some businesses in your sector are performing well (or at least, seem to be), while your business is struggling? Believe me when I tell you, that it IS NOT because you are bad and they are good. It’s more likely to be because they have managed to align their passion with creativity and action AND focus all of that on the customer rather than anything else, including you.


  • Do you have a fear of success?

Hard to believe but some business owners like playing ‘the victim’. They are empowered by negativity. They like to complain about all of the things that are affecting their success. Of course they never complain about the real cause for the lack of their success; themselves.

Boil it all down, many business owners are afraid of being successful. They don’t know what they would do if their business became successful. In fact, they don’t know how they will recognise when they have achieved success.

Being successful would mean that their business has attracted clients. It means that the business owner will have to raise their game and actually deliver their promise to customers while their competitors try to challenge them. It may mean the business will have to expand and, what was once a one-person operation will now need to hire staff. In reality, being successful is a very exposed position to be in. It can be a terrifying experience. Realising your success and taking your business to a new level means, in many cases, that you are leaving the one-person control environment and really stepping into the business world. At least that’s the perception. Can you handle it?

What does success mean to you? Specifically!

Have you ever written it down? Why not?

If you don’t know what success means to you, how can you possibly know when you have achieved it?

Maybe you are already successful but because you haven’t worked out what success is for you, you haven’t realised it. So you continue to stress and worry while dreaming of the success you already have.

So here’s my challenge to you;

  • Get a sheet of paper and a pen
  • Write down these questions:
    • “What does Success mean to ME?
    • How will I know when I have achieved it?
  • Now write down your answers to these questions.
  • Pin the sheet to a wall where you work and refer to them regularly.

If you cannot achieve success, consider some coaching to align your three intelligences through mBIT Coaching (contact info@innochansol.com for more information).

Success has to start with the self! There is nothing to stop you.


Responding to Typhoon Haiyan a Logistics Fiasco…or Am I missing something??

I have been involved in Supply Chain Management at every level for almost 30 years. Most of this time has been spent in the FMCG sector and I have had experience at all levels of the Supply Chain (most in a Management capacity). I now lecture and consult with businesses on various aspects of SCM.

When I lecture students (would be Supply Chain Managers of the future) I continually encourage them to look outside their industries at the other things going on in the world. I suggest that they continually survey the global horizon to see what’s going on and to pay particular attention to anything that might affect their ability to meet their customer’s needs.

In my instructing on this concept, I highlight many examples ranging from 9/11 to hurricanes to wars, in fact ANYTHING that will potentially affect the efficiency of their supply chains. My point is to get them to build and develop flexible and adaptive supply chains. The importance of a flexible supply cannot be overestimated when many in business today are seeking to develop Lean processes and World Class businesses.

My experience in the FMCG sector has proven the need for flexibility and adaptability. The very nature of the industry; Fast Moving, highlights the need to be able to overcome ‘blips’ in the supply chain and maintain service levels.

With the importance of flexibility and adaptability a focus of many in the commercial world, it has mystified me that the world’s reaction to the Humanitarian crisis caused by Typhoon Haiyan appears to have been so inefficient.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I cannot understand how it took almost a week to get aid to affected areas especially when the world knew the Typhoon was coming AND that it would be one of the biggest ever experienced.

Satellites were tracking the typhoon from it’s birth. As a global community, we knew the path it was taking and, knowing how strong it would be and the conditions where it was due to hit land, it was not a stretch of the imagination to speculate on the amount of damage that would be caused.

Yet, apart from trying to evacuate people from its path, very little appears to have been done to organise the aid supply chain. In fact, after the event, I saw an interview with a member of the International Red Cross who explained the delay in getting aid to affected areas by saying that after the disaster, the IRC would send in inspectors to audit the area and only after these people reported back would aid be organised. I find this incredible if true.

Surely, the global relief supply chain should have being moving aid into staging points outside the path of the Typhoon (or even follow the path of the storm). That way, relief materials would have been closer to the affected areas and on the ground much earlier than almost a week after the event. I saw one news report on the BBC where an RAF transporter left the UK on Friday 15th bound for the Philippines. The reporter said that the supplies wouldn’t arrive in the Philippines until Saturday 16th; a full 8 days AFTER the devastation.

I know that some will argue that what aid is required cannot be identified until after the investigators have gone into the affected areas and conducted their surveys. To this argument, I say that the relief needed in any disaster of this magnitude is always the same; Food, Water, Medical Supplies and Shelter. Surely even organising these supplies would be of benefit.

Typhoon Haiyan is not unique in this failure of relief supply chains. I recall similar complaints from those affected by Hurricane Katrina in the US and more from those affected by Superstorm Sandy.

So how do we get it so wrong?

Why does it take so long for supplies (aid) to get to the customer (victims of a natural disaster). I appreciate that earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. happen without warning. However, Hurricanes, Typhoons and Superstorms are known about and seen as they grow and strengthen. While the focus, correctly, of many is the evacuation of people from the path of such storms, I believe the knowledge of such storms and their paths should also trigger the global relief supply chain.

When the strength and direction of a storm is known and, when damage, death and despair is a certainty, surely materials should start moving. Key relief materials should be moved to staging posts close to, but outside the path of storm areas. Alternatively, materials should be routed to follow the path of a storm (storms rarely go into reverse!).

Supply Chain Management teaches the need to manage a supply chain to ensure products are available for the customer as and when the customer needs them. In a disaster scenario as seen in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, the products in question are the basics needed for survival; food, water and medical supplies. The customers are the people affected by the storm. Those whose houses and villages were levelled. Those left without aid for almost a week.

Why were basic SCM processes not implemented?

In my mind, there is no logical answer…Or am I missing something??

Can a QR code benefit your business?

(This article first appeared in the Small Business Owner Magazine)




“So what do you know about them QR code things?” This is a question I have been asked on a number of occasions. The question is usually followed by “they’re only a gimmick, aren’t they?” Personally, I don’t think these clever barcodes are a gimmick. In fact, they can be a huge benefit to your business. Read on to find out how.


The ‘Quick Response’ (QR) code started in Japan in 1994 having been developed by Denso Wave. Unlike the more traditional barcodes you see on retail products (which are licenced by GS1) the QR code is an open source code in the sense that the developers have not exercised their patent rights over the code spec. So what are QR codes? (here’s the science bit).


The QR code is a form of 2-Dimensional bar code (not to be confused with the GS1 Datamatrix 2-D code). The easiest way to tell these codes apart lies in the fact that the QR code (on the right below) contains three black squares in boxes on three corners of the code, while the GS1 Datamatrix (on the left) has a solid black right-angled line on the left side and base.


A QR code has the capacity to hold large amounts of data in a very small space. In general 2-D codes are more risilient to damage than traditional barcodes on retail products and come with inbuilt error correction.



The science is fine, but why should you consider one for your business?


Because QR codes are effectively an open source product, they are very cheap to optain, very flexible in their uses and can be scanned by your customers using an App on a standard smartphone. Remember, it is not whether you like them or not, the important point is whether your customers would benefit from using them.


According to a 2012 article by businessinsider.com almost 700 million smartphones were bought in 2012 and that number is expected to exceed 1.5 Billion by 2016 (three years time). The simple fact is that more and more people (including your customers) are buying and using smartphones. People like having immediate access to information through their smart phones and, I believe, by not providing them with access to information about you through QR codes, you will be increasing the risk of lost business. Remember, customers do not want to waste time trying to key in URL addresses on their phone. People love the convenience of a ‘point and shoot’ technology that allows them access to the information they want. QR codes will do this.


In order to scan a QR code, your customer will need to download an APP to their smartphone. Both the IOS and Android systems provide hundreds of QR Scanner Apps, the majority of which are free.


So what uses can QR codes have?


  • Probably the most basic use for QR codes is where they have been used to drive traffic from adverts, products, flyers, brochures and business cards to the company website or other relevant information.
  • DIY stores, use QR codes in their promotional materials to take users to instructional videos to help select equipment and materials
  • Restaurants use QR codes to give clients access to menus
  • Funeral directors add QR codes to Headstones at cemetaries to give visitors access to memorial web pages for the deceased
  • Retailers use QR codes to provide offers and discounts for customers
  • QR codes can be used in museums, galleries and tourist attractions to provide visitors access to information, saving money in developing audio or pre-printed guide materials
  • Foods producers and retailers use QR codes to provide customers with recipes to use their produce.
  • One retailer in Japan has a virtual supermarket set up on the platform of a station where customers can shop by scanning the QR codes on the virtual shelves and get their groceries delivered to their home.



In fact the possible uses for QR codes are only limited by the imagination of the businesses that use them.


Do I use QR codes?


Yes, I have two on my business cards to provide access to my websites.


Would I recommend them for business owners?


Yes. QR codes are a fun way to interact with your customers. If Smartphone sales are increasing, then more and more of your customers will have the equipment.


Can you afford ignore it?


No. QR codes are very cost effective. Sometimes free and there are no licence fees to be paid. Once you generate your code, it’s yours. Just point it at the URL you want and you are done. One point of caution though; if you are looking for QR codes, make sure you get High Resolution codes. They tend to offer better reproduction and scanning rates.

The Small Business Owner magazine is a free publication available through the SBO App available from the iTunes App store. Click here to access it.

Pushing Through

When work or life get difficult for you, what do you do?

When things are going against you, how do you react?

Do you quit? or Do you work harder?

If you quit, you will never know what opportunities lay just around the corner. You will never know how close you were to success. You will start asking yourself “What if?”

If, when things get difficult, you work even harder, you will find what lies beyond the current difficulty. You will realise the reward of your endeavours. You might even open many new opportunities.

If you want to add a window to your house to let in more light, you first have to break through the wall. This requires effort, strength and perseverance (walls are tough!!). You will encounter dust, mess, bruised hands, abrasions, etc. What would happen if you stopped when you hit a stubborn brick? You would be left with a mess, pain (possibly), broken tools, but no additional light in your house.

However, if you persevere. If you pick up another tool and continue to chip at the wall, you will eventually break through and the light and fresh air from outside will soon engulf you and the room and the task will have been worth it.

Someone once said “hard work is never easy”. Dr Kelso in Scrubs said “Nothing in this world that’s worth having comes easy”.

So if we know the work will be hard and we know it won’t come easy, why so we stop when it gets difficult and then blame everything and anything for not achieving our dreams.

The next time ‘the going gets tough’, instead of turning back, put your foot on the gas and push harder. Know that no matter what obstacles lie in your way you can drive through them, climb over them or go around them. All you have to do is work out which is the best route for you and DO IT!!

Coaches/Behaviourists on Interview Panels

I was recently asked to join an interview panel and assist in the recruiting of a staff member for a local company. It was a full day spent interviewing a number of applicants for a full time role. Of the three members of the panel, I was the only ‘outsider’ and Coach/Behavioural Analysis qualified person.


So how did the day go?


To begin with, I got a real sense from the others on the panel that they were happy to have an ‘expert’ in their company. One even commented how it was great to have someone who knew how to talk to people on the panel.


I knew nothing about the company apart from what I researched before the interview day. However, this freed me up to focus on the interviewee. I was able to use my skills to build rapport, tune into the non-verbal communication from each candidate and ask questions that allowed the others on the panel to see a different side of the candidate. That’s not to say that I tried to ‘catch’ the interviewee out, but my non-involvement in the organisation allowed me to focus on the person beinging interviewed rather than the more traditional focus of interviewers on what they know; the job and the company.


I believe that such ‘freedom’ allowed us as an interview panel to access additional information about the candidate. I noticed that after each interview, during our discussion, the others on the panel sought my views on the interviewee as a person from a behavioural perspective before discussing their views in relation to the candidate’s ‘fit’ for the job. In many cases, I believe I was able to highlight things I had noticed from a Coach/Behaviourist perspective. I was able to better pick up on specific things that were said (or not said) during the interview. I was able to challenge the interviewee on these things in order to get a better picture of the person and how they might be a fit (or not) for the role.


Some companies outsource their recruitment process so that there is little or no involvement in the selection process (particularly at the early stages of the interview process). However, in general, when a candidate gets to the final rounds of interview for a position they very often find themselves in a ‘trial’ situation where the interviewers are all company people, often with little or no interview skills (or questioning skills). I believe that this can result in a poor interview and the wrong person being selected.


Having an outsider (and specificaly a person who has qualifications in working closely with people) provides additional valuable information to aid in the recruitment of the right person.


Here are some reasons why I believe a suitably qualified external coach/behavioural analyst should be on an interview panel:


  1. Impartiality/independant (ensures fairness in the process)
  2. Ability to ask more challenging general questions
  3. Ability to pick up on specific issues within the interviewee’s answers
  4. Ability to monitor Non-verbals accurately
  5. Frees up in-house resources
  6. Advisors to the others on the panel on aspects of Human Behaviour
  7. Coach to the others on the panel in terms of approach or questionning
  8. Valued support to managers of small businesses who may not be able to form an Interview panel
  9. Ability to put interviewees at ease through effective rapport building
  10. More cost effective than many other recruitment formats.


I believe that many of the techniques used in the Coaching session environment are just as easily used in an interview environment. In the Coaching session the Coach should:


  • Build rapport
  • Be present for the client
  • Listen to what is being said (and not being said)
  • Ask searching questions
  • Allow the client the space to express his/herself
  • Mirror and reframe what has been said
  • etc. etc


For an interview to be effective, I believe that the exact same techniques should be used:


  • Building rapport with the interviewee will put the person at ease and enable clearer communication
  • Being present for the client will ensure that the interviewer will pick up on any issues, nerves, hesitancy, etc. and be able to take the necessary action to deal effectively with it (rather than have the situation become emotionally charged)
  • Listening to what is being said (and not being said) will enable the interviewer to challenge effectively in order to elicit a fuller picture of the candidate.
  • Asking searching questions is always a goal in interviews because (let’s face it) there is a limited time to capture as much information as possible. However, very often interviewers don’t know what questions to ask and consequently can miss out on a valuable opportunity with the interviewee.
  • Allow the client the space to express his/herself. Coaches understand the value of silence. Allowing the candidate the opportunity to express themselves rather than face a barrage of questions as the panel focuses on getting through their list in the alloted time frame can very often bring forth skills and abilities that would otherwise have been missed.
  • Mirror and reframe what has been said. This is the ‘sanity’ check tool for any interviewer. If you don’t reframe what you have heard, you cannot be sure you heard it correctly. Some may argue that it is up to the interviewee to express themselves clearly and make sure that they are understood, which is true. However, communication is a two way system and I cannot be sure that you fully understood me if you haven’t communicated your understanding to me. This simple practice would allow me to clarify/correct any misunderstanding as well as improve my chances for employment.


Having gone through the process (and using my experience to reflect on occasions where I was interviewed in the past) I firmly believe that having a suitably qualified behaviourist on any interview panel has enormous benefits to the interview and recruitment process for both the interviewee and the company.


The next time you are thinking of interviewing for a role within your organisation, why not give it a try. The results might surprise you.


If you would like InnoChan Solutions to bring its expertise to one of your interview panels, please contact us on info@innochansol.com to arrange a no obligation conversation where we can discuss your requirements.