2 September 2012

That was week ending 31st August 2012

Paralympics beats all

During the Olympics I wrote about Peter Wilson, our gold medallist in the double trap shooting. When his funding was withdrawn following the Beijing games Wilson persuaded a member of the ruling family of Dubai, a 2004 Summer Olympics gold medallist to coach him for nothing. I cited this as an outstanding example of “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.
Well the Paralympics is a world class demonstration of “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. I think we have all been completely gobsmacked by what we have seen. Swimmers with no arms racing through the water like torpedoes were just one example of events that had me open mouthed in both astonishment and admiration for the athletes involved. It had not even occurred to me that it would be possible to swim without arms, never mind put in the performance these fantastic people achieve.
Apart from the massive determination and commitment required what has also impressed me is the level of innovation in thinking, process and application of technology. It really does demonstrate that there is no problem that cannot be solved, no challenge that cannot be overcome.There are lessons these people can teach us all, starting with ...

Insurance companies

It’s that time of the year for me when car and house insurance comes up for renewal and I am once again reminded of the strange way insurance companies deal with their customers.
It starts with the run up to the renewal dates when I get cold calls from insurance companies offering to quote for my business. They seem to think I have been waiting by the phone with all the information they will need ready for them to call. When I say it is not convenient the attitude is that it’s convenient for them so what’s my problem.
Then I received the renewal quote from my existing insurer which they always claim is lower than last year’s when usually it is not. This prompts me to get some other quotes and I found one that was over 40% lower. However when I proceeded to attempt to take this insurer up on the offer I was offered a host of extras that would have more than doubled the premium. I had to opt out of each of them to avoid paying for them.
I decided I did not want to do business with a company that played these sorts of games with its customers. I contacted my existing insurer and told them I had a much more competitive quote and they immediately dropped their price to a £1 under the competition’s quote, a reduction of more than 40%!
They can clearly afford to do this so why quote such a ridiculously high premium in the first place? I can only think that the strategy is to quote a high premium knowing that many existing customers will just accept it and unknowingly pay over the odds. I have the same experience every year. Everyone I talk to about this has the same experience and cannot understand why insurance companies all seem to treat their customers with such contempt. This has to be an expensive and frankly daft way of doing business, but they nearly all do it. They all think the same and they all behave the same and the only performance criteria they have is what other insurance companies are doing.
A disabled person cannot copy what able bodied people do to achieve the things they want in life. What the Paralympians have demonstrated for me is that determination and commitment coupled with innovative, “different” thinking will find a way that works. Is there an insurance company out there who is brave enough to think differently and start treating its customers fairly and honestly? If there is then they are likely to put in the level of business performance equivalent to that being achieved by the Paralympians.Another area we need some different thinking on is …

Employment for young people

We all know that there is a problem with youth unemployment both for graduates and non-graduates. However it should be no surprise that in a low growth or no growth economy the conventional work hard at school/college/university, get your qualifications approach is not working the way it used to for young people. Overall their employment prospects have been hit hardest by the recession.
One of the biggest obstacles is lack of practical experience which almost by definition is what most young people coming on to the jobs market will suffer from. However I was reading last week about a national initiative called Entrepreneur First. Basically it means instead of looking for a job in the conventional way, why not try starting your own business first. The programme provides support and advice as well as inspiration from successful entrepreneurs to help plug the experience gap.
Personally I think more young people should be encouraged and supported to start their own business and bypass the conventional jobs market. This is where lack of experience can be turned to advantage. You don’t know what can’t be done, whereas those of us with loads of experience know all there is to know about what can’t be done.
As with the Paralympians doing things the conventional way may not work for many of our young people struggling to find jobs in the current climate. Creating their own job by starting their own business is different but it could work for many of them.

So that was some of the week before this week. We hope you found some of the above thought provoking and useful for you and your business. We trust you had a good weekend and hope you have a great week this week.

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