Category Archives: Business Value

Taking a break …… a message from Richard Cooper!

As the sunnier weather finally arrives, many of us start to look to our summer breaks and holidays.  One of the big reasons I became self employed was to  be able to take holiday and time off as and when I wanted without the restrictions of a boss or having to ask permission.

As many of you will undoubtedly know, in practice this isn’t necessarily as easy.  If you are the sole owner of the business its not always easy to take a break. When you live breathe and love your business its very difficult to leave it.  So how DO you take a break without breaking your business?

Here are my top tips:

1)      Plan a break – it sounds obvious but make sure you plan some of your holiday time at the beginning of your year.  New to business?  Plan some time now.  It will allow you to communicate to your clients if you will be away.

2)      Use a virtual assistant – even if you are on a beach, your client calls will be answered.  DIVERT your mobile to them – it will save you money when they call and reassure your clients that your business can be contacted when you are away.

3)      Be contactable by your VA (virtual assistant) / Friends and family on a LOCAL sim number.  By using such a service you can save money, be contactable and keep in touch without having to spend all of your break IN your business

4)      Screen your emails.  Some of the most efficient business owners I know screen their emails but don’t respond unless it’s a dire emergency.  Set your email out of office to reflect that you will be picking up emails but only periodically.

Our company provide overseas phone facilities and they are proving extremely popular to our clients.  One of the biggest benefits is the low cost way to keep in touch.

The biggest thing is not to feel bad taking a break.  This is part of the reason many of us started our own ventures, and its really important to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

If your clients don’t like it?  Then maybe you need to review the type of client that you have. Remember that YOU run your business NOT  your clients.

So go on…. Book that break today or at the very minimum write time in the diary to be away fro your business. Some of my best ideas come when I take a break.  I still keep in touch, but not at the cost of my family/home time.

Until next time….

Richard Cooper – Virtual office visionary
Follow us @holdeverything1

I’m too busy – a message from Richard Cooper

virtual office visionary

If you are too busy to read this then please scroll to the last paragraph of this blog:

Have you ever been on the end of a conversation where the other person is just constantly “too busy”?  Are you constantly chasing a client who is too busy to email, speak or contact you?

In business we are taught specifically not to say “business is quiet”.  It is perceived we are not successful as a business and have too much time on our hands.   So surely then we have to be perceived as being “busy busy busy” all of the time?    A busy company is a successful company isn’t it?

Well not always it seems.  Being busy to the extent that your company looks effective and maybe has to call a client back or book a few days in advance is great, however here are three warning signs that your company MAY be portraying a “too busy” image that could be doing more harm than good.


1)      Refusing meetings with a client because they are not worth the time:  On the face of it you may be shocked that a company would do this?   However many companies use email/phone or another medium to avoid having to see a client because they are just TOO busy or at least want to give that perception.

How does the client see it? Many clients will feel that they are not valuable and that if you are too busy for their business then maybe you don’t need it. There’s a difference between a small client who genuinely needs help and “energy vampires” who would have you in their office on tap if they could.  I’m not saying spend all of your time going out and meeting every client but do be careful how it looks.

What to do?   Can someone from your office meet the client on your behalf – especially if it’s a smaller client who needs reassurance? It doesn’t always have to be YOU.   Can they come to your office?  Can you Skype?  There is always an answer and you never know when that small client will suddenly hit the big time!


2)      I’m too busy to go networking:  Many businesses say this all of the time.   “I have enough business” is another line which I hear often.  The thing is that we all use word of mouth as a way to gain new business.  Not being part of your community will isolate you in the long term.  There are groups for every budget but you must be involved.

How does the client see it?   Whilst they may feel that you are concentrating on them, how about your OTHER clients – your suppliers, connections and contractors – remember these people are ALL customers to you.   They may see it that you are happy to take business but not make the effort to go out and build relationships on your doorstep.

What to do? Can you send someone from your business?  Can you go to one close to your business which isn’t commitment based.   Look at your calendar and MAKE an hour a month at least to meet others local to you.  Don’t judge a group by what others say, go and make your own decisions.


3)      I’m JUST TOO Busy!  Full stop:  Really??  You seriously are too busy to be in business?  Where are you spending most of your time?  Is it with the people who pay you the most?  Or is it on the small day to day stuff.

How does the client see it?  That you are too busy for them, that you are ineffective and have poor time management skills.  They may also see that you will place quantity over quality.  That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but DO be sure that this is your business goal and that you have a very clear strategy on it if this is your vision.

What to do?  STOP…… NOW….. Look around at where you should be growing your business.  Hint:  It’s not from doing everything yourself.  You don’t need a big budget to outsource calls to a virtual answer service or to hire someone part time / commission based or even an apprentice.  If you are too busy full stop then you must take action.  Source someone to take the pressure off and seek a life coach ……..  but if you feel like you cannot continue then it will eventually destroy you and your business.


Think about it.  If you have taken the time to read this blog, you have already committed to changing your business.  Even if you have scrolled down from the top, it has been enough to interest you.    SO what action can you take NOW….. so that you DO have more time to grow your business successfully?


Until next time
Richard Cooper – Virtual office visionary
Follow me @holdeverything1

How do you manage? A message from Richard Cooper


How do you manage your teams as a business owner or leader?

I will guess that you are in your current position because you are efficient, good at what you do and have a degree of success in your industry?

Do you manage people the same way?  Is that the right way?  Where am I going with this?  Well, I have had an increasing number of conversations from people starting up in business who have left “jobs” because of overbearing and “stuff based” management.

What I mean by “stuff based” is that we seem to be going back to the era of the Yuppies in the 80’ ( who remembers that term? ) – sharp, money motivated managers who have a background in how to manage property, buildings and items, but don’t really have the people skills to manage a diverse range of people.

How do you identify someone like this?   In my experience, they usually manage buildings, telecommunications, ordering and facilities, with the graze and ease of a true professional.  Their conversations with people will start with  “I know” , and they may be dismissive of staff feelings, interrupt with their “position”.   In short great managers of “stuff” but dismissive of people.

Considering the alternative may be scary to some bosses and companies however. Someone who doesn’t have great technical skill in running their business but who works on an intuitive level?  Gets involved with staff issues, and is much more of a people person.  Surely this would be a nightmare, as nothing would get done effectively and there would be so much to train and teach?

I personally believe that if you need someone in your business with people skills, you can have the best “stuff manager” in the world but you will struggle to develop their tact and diplomacy skills.  They won’t see emotion how their staff do and most likely wont care either!   However if you have someone with the right “people skills” you can show them how “stuff” works.  There are manuals for that.

In my businesses there I times when I have to “tell” my team “stuff”.  It isn’t negotiable and has to be done – such as legal compliance.  However where I can I am learning that the people are the most important asset to my business.  Fobbing them off, being fake and trying to be their best friend will never work if it’s not genuine and meant.  It’s the most dangerous form of management and one thing is for sure, it WILL end in a mess.

So my message this week is:   If you have the right people person, they will pick up the facts as they learn.  Remember people are not facilities, they have feelings which whilst you don’t HAVE to account for, a good manager will always consider.   And finally, never ever try to take someone’s dignity, it means nothing to you but will mean everything to them.

Until next time

Richard Cooper – Virtual Office Visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1

Who you gonna call? A message from Richard Cooper

Who you gonna call?

No not Ghostbusters, but seriously, who do you, call when you need support?

In business there is a perception that you need to be tough, and persevere alone in order to be successful.  Just reading autobiographies from successful business owners who have made it big, (think Richard Branson, Duncan Bannatyne etc.) there are times when they went out on a limb and took a risk to make it big.

To an extent, owning and operating any business takes risk, determination and many leaps of faith. However you don’t have to do this alone.  In the course of my businesses I meet many start-up businesses who believe that if they aren’t alone and “doing it for themselves”, that they won’t be successful.

Over time this belief starts to evolve and some business owners will take on the services of a business coach, or attend networking events, or business “clubs”.   Many of my clients have told me very excitedly about what they are doing.

My answer to this question is simple.  You know WHAT you are doing, but who are you doing it with?  What I mean by this is, that it’s all fine and well to be attending certain events and business activities, but it means nothing if you don’t have quality people around you.

I strongly believe that every business owner should have at least two business mentors.  Who do you aspire to be like?  Who do you currently go to when you need advice on finance, business dilemmas, people issues and so on?

Put the right people around you.  One of my clients has a “life board”.  She hasn’t had an official conversation with these people – but has identified seven or eight business people who she knows and trusts.  Each person has invaluable support and information that she can draw upon.  Whatever the issue, be it people, finance – she goes to the person who she knows has the most experience in this area.

So my question to you this week is, who do you go to when you need advice?  Who CAN you go to and how can they help you to accelerate your business growth?

You don’t have to be alone in business and you most certainly don’t have to know it all.  You just need the right people around you.  Network and build your activity around this goal.    And in the words of Will Smith, people can’t expect to be part of your success if they can’t be there during your struggles.

Until next week

Richard Cooper – virtual office visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1

Deal or no deal? A message from Richard Cooper

I don’t often stop to watch TV, but in the background the other evening the TV show “deal or no deal” caught my eye.

For those of you not familiar with the show – a contestant picks a box from random.  There are 14 other contestants who have boxes too. One by one the contestant chooses a box to open. They range in value from 1p to £250k – the jackpot.

The aim of the game is to open 3 boxes at a time and eliminate the smaller amounts of money. There is a banker who will make offers along the way to stop the game and at this point the contestant can choose to “Deal or no deal!”   The contestant’s box is the last one to be opened.   If they have “dealt” with an amount offered by the banker during the show, the ideal result is that the contestant’s box is worth a lot less than they dealt at.

However they can continue all the way through and take their chances that their box has the bigger sum in it.  It’s a game of chance. 

The contestant this evening was a lady who just wanted a new car. She played the first round.  Her offer from the banker was £3000.  She declined the offer. The next round went well too, and she had some very high amounts left.  She was offered £7500.  She carried on and again the next offer was £14000 from the banker.   By this time although there were a couple of large cash sums she could win, there were many many smaller amounts of £50, £750 etc.

This lady was on a mission.  She was focused, and even the “banker” commented on her calculation.  She knew exactly what she was doing.  She kept saying, I have a big sum of money in here.  She believed it!

She was offered £24000 in the fourth round.   She took the deal and then carried on playing to see where the game went.   She was left in the final round with £750 and £100k – one of those was in her box.

It was the £100k!  She said she had a large sum in her box yet stopped at £24k!   Who else would have done this?  It’s very easy in hindsight to say that I would have carried on, but when REAL money is on the table, would I have done?  REALLY?  I really don’t know.

In business however, it’s this that sets aside the successful from those who don’t quite ever make it.  They play the game, take the risks, won’t be distracted and go to the very end of a project.  Sometimes they win, and sometimes they lose.

How determined are you?  If your instincts tell you that something is worth it, no matter how crazy, would you follow them even if a better offer came along?   Would you sell out for a £24k job and some short term security or will you stick it out.  It’s not for you to answer to me, but ultimately to yourself.

What’s YOUR call? Are you in business?  Deal or no deal?

Until next time

Richard Cooper, virtual office visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1