Monday, 30 December 2013

The Entrepreneur's MBA - Robert Craven

A small collection of my MBA/Business School related articles and blogs

MBA: The Devil's Work For Those Starting in Business and the similar MBA: The devil's work for those starting a business in Business Zone

The Relevance of the MBA for Start-Ups and Anyone Else in a Recession!

Why Marketing is a load of B****cks The penny has finally dropped. Marketing is a load of b*****cks. Here's why.

The Surfers' Guide to Management- Moving beyond the textbook theories

And on video at Warwick Business School:

Monday, 23 December 2013

Accountants, Monty Python and Lion Tamers

For the season of goodwill I could not resist sharing this video...

Monty Python - and the accountant who wants to become a lion tamer..

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Robert Craven Christmas Message

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As we head towards Christmas festivities and the end of the calendar year, it seems appropriate to write a short message.

2013 seems to be the year that divided business in more ways than one.
Yes, it sorted the vulnerable from the strong.
For some, 2013 has been very tough. Maybe too tough.
For others, 2013 has been a great year. They've never had it so good.

For all of us it has been a year when we have experienced and learnt a lot. A lot more than usual.

This is because of the ever-increasing rate of change coming from the always-open, internet-obsessed world that most of us now live in. People want more, more, more and faster, faster, faster while also wanting to improve the quality of their lives. A series of contradictions indeed.

And 2014, I believe, will be more of the same!

Have a brilliant break. Have a brilliant end of the year.

Here's to a great 2014.

Robert Craven
The Directors' Centre
01225 851044

PS. It would be great to have a catch up in the New Year.

I am in the office on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th January if you would like to book a call with me. Call
01225 851044 or email

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Business Club Update - #accountants and #worksheets

December 2013
Dear Robert,Accountants Don't Understand Marketing 

One of my pet-hates is professional companies that just don't understand how to do marketing properly.

In my article Accountants Don't Understand Marketing I talk about an article I wrote that made its way into the Daily Telegraph business pages and caused quite a stir.

In this new reflective piece I highlight the comments from a number of accountants who agree with me and celebrate their competitive advantage over accountants who don't take marketing seriously.  

Top Business Club Worksheets Of 2013Top 5 Business Club Worksheets Of 2013 
I recently took a look through the Business Club's website visitor statistics and found that these five worksheets were the most popular with our subscribers.

The worksheets cover pricing, marketing, selling and customer research and are quick actions and exercises you can do to see how your business is performing and to identify areas where you can make quick improvements.


Robert Craven
01225 851044
PS  One-Minute Intro Competition 
Following on from the Killer One-Minute Intro article, we have already received a number of entries for best One-Minute Intro.
If you would like to submit yours and have it published on the Business Club, email it to

Accountants Don't Understand Marketing

In a debate on the Daily Telegraph Business Club forum, members recounted experiences of accountants’ lack of understanding about marketing and business development.

James Hurley wrote a great article entitled:

Accountants Don't Understand Marketing

Maybe the title should have read 'most accountants' or 'some accountants', but obvious not 'all accountants'.

Re-reading the article, it is really rather good. Yes, I precipitated the debate but after that I am innocent. This is not about me but about the opportunities that are available to some/most accountants if they could become more customer-focused and think a little bit more about how they present themselves and what they offer their clients (their marketing).

A couple of key points:
  • a poor understanding of marketing and business development could be leading to overly negative advice being given to clients
  • a general lack of proactivity in the industry provides an opportunity
  • many excellent professional-services organisations have no idea of what they don’t know.
  • time-sellers should wake up and smell the coffee and start to sell results

Here are some quotes and highlights from the article.

Accountants Don't Understand Marketing

  • 'Poor grasp' of marketing and business development could lead to poor advice for small companies, entrepreneurs fear.
  • Accountants have a poor understanding of marketing and business development, which could be leading to overly negative advice being given to their clients.
  • Robert Craven: “The majority [of accountants I speak to] are only interested in battening down the hatches and hoping that they can survive without too much pain.”
  • Robert Craven: many accountancy firms have cut or frozen their marketing budgets in response to the recession, but haven’t switched to more cost-effective forms of lead generation now. He said many firms were showing “no interest” in winning new business. 
  • Robert Craven: “One accountant said, ‘I can tell you that marketing doesn’t work for us so we try not to do any’.”
  • Peter Lashmar: “We are delighted that the majority of the accountancy profession does not know about or bother with effective marketing as it enables us to grow significantly each year without any real effort or cost.”
  • Jeremy Thorn: “I am consistently fascinated how so many excellent professional-services organisations see marketing, management development and organisational development, or even wider business strategy and business development, as being so readily within their undoubted intellectual grasp that they have no idea of what they don’t know.”
  • Julian Rowe: “These accountants are no doubt currently acting as advisers to many clients who count on them for advice”.
  • Some members suggested the attitude of accountants towards their own sales and marketing budgets had led to unnecessarily aggressive cost-cutting advice being given to business owners in some cases.
  • Professional services companies often try to position themselves as proactive business advisers, but business owners said this didn’t sit well with the reactive, “time-selling” approach they take to winning new business.
  • Mr Craven said: “It is time that many of these time-sellers wake up and smell the coffee and start to sell results.”

The discussion is on the Business Club's forum, hosted on LinkedIn.

Image source:

Monday, 16 December 2013

Accountant Christmas Videos

Having received several Christmas Greeting videos from various accountants I thought they should be shared with the world (along with a few others I have found).  I know which is the best (and the worst) but what do you think? 

Is it time for a competition?

Some are simply dreadful (according to certain members of the team here). And some are great. Can you figure out which is which?

There is a serious point. 

  • What is the message behind these videos??? 
  • What do they tell us about the sort of practice that decides to make them and send them out? 
  • What message did they think they were sending out? 
  • Who is the audience? 
  • What message do they receive?

They can all be seen at Accountants Christmas Videos (a youtube playlist) or see the individual links below...

"Cassons Heroes"

"Merry Christmas from Adrians Chartered Accountants"
This won't load up to this blog post but you can see it here via YouTube

"Accountant's 12 Day of Christmas"

"AVN Christmas Message 2013!"

This won't load up to this blog post but it can be seen here 

"Merry Christmas From The Griffith CPA Firm 662-470-4132"

"Christmas Message from Anderson Accountancy Accountant"

"MAS Accountants animation" is quite fun (but won't load up to this blog post)

"London Chartered Accountants Arram Berlyn Gardner Charity..."

"Proactive Accounting Christmas Greeting"

"What Do You Get An Accountant For Christmas?"

A late entry from
Withum Bells - Happy Holidays from WithumSmith+Brown

An even later entry (although I had simply misplaced it if the truth be told!)
The GreenStones Team present 12 Days of Christmas

And another even later entry

A Christmas Carol from your Accountants.

Liverpool Accountant - MJF xmas video 2013

And yet another 

Merry Christmas from Insight!

That's all folks - - happy to be sent more that I will add to this list... just post the links to

How You Can Have It All - Stop P*****g About

We seem to have got it all wrong.

I spent last week in the company of an exclusive set of MDs of growing businesses. While the agenda was specifically around growth, profit and sales, the real issue was around prioritising, decision-making and quality of life.

In the words of one of this group of highly successful entrepreneurs, “If I am brutally honest with myself then I have to confess that business success and wealth doesn’t really seem to have made me happier.” An honest man. And after a rather expensive meal with rather expensive wine everyone opened up and confessed that things weren’t as rosy as they appeared.

In the cold light of day, hangover and all, the group were up for confronting these issues head on.

A no-nonsense approach was required. If they can design, set up and grow these great businesses then shouldn’t it be possible to do the same for their personal lives?

How complicated can it be? Be clear about what you want… Where are you now?

Where are you going? Where do you want to be? How are you going to get there?  Stop p***ing about! Take massive bloody action. End of.

A Shock To The System: Your Funeral

 “If you were to die right now what would people say about you at your funeral?”  What they say (good, bad, indifferent) is simply a consequence of how you have been living your life. So, to figure out how you would really like to live your life, write down what it is that you would want people (your partner, children, friends, work colleagues) to say about you… at your funeral.

A Simple Exercise

Write down where you would like to be in three years’ time. Take a blank A4 sheet of paper and create a three-by-three matrix where the columns represent ‘your business’, ‘your career’ and ‘your private life’.  The rows are titled “In three years”, “In one year” and “Right now”. In each of the nine boxes, write down, say, five clearly defined and measurable goals for where you want to be in your business/career/private life (in three years, one year and right now).  

Making It Happen

Most of us ‘get away with murder’ in our business and private lives; we aren’t accountable to anyone. We can choose goals and ignore them at will.

So, take an hour out of your busy (fool) schedule. Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and do the hard work. Sort out what is really important in your life. As I say, the principle is simple: look at where you are now and make the tough decisions (= trade-offs). Decide your goals and be prepared to pay the price.

Next, take massive action. You will be measured by your actions. Be clear about what is most important to you. Focus on it. What is your over-arching goal for the next week? And for the next month?

Look for the most appropriate way to make this happen. Depending on your preference, you can go for the DIY option or get yourself a coach/mentor or sign up to a mastermind group. 

Whatever you go for make sure that you are accountable for your actions to someone; this will help you take the necessary steps.

Stop messing about. You never know when the funeral speeches will be required.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

2014 Predictions and Trends: the year everything and nothing changes!

2014 will be the year that everything and nothing changes. It will be a year of contradictions… of opposites:
  • Everything will be the same but nothing will be the same
  • We will be even more closely connected yet less connected at the same time
  • We will become even closer but even more lonely
  • It may even be the year that social media gets exhausted
  • Everything will go faster but slower
  • We will want everything faster but we will want things slower.
That's what I think and that's what some of the top lists on the internet suggest...

Top trends for 2014 will include:

1 The Digital Stuff

Your digital footprint will be your most valuable asset
Customers talk and now they talk more than ever – what others say about you will be more important than what you say (advertising is dying). Natives naturally check out who says what about you and compare it with what you say and how you say it.

More, more, more 
Customers will want/demand/expect more of a 360 degree experience – more of everything… an immersive experience. 3D is better than 2D, 4HD is better than HD… we will be expecting smell, taste, sound. Not just products.

Faster, faster, hyper-fast. 
Living in what Mack calls “the age of impatience”, customers expect more, faster and more conveniently than ever before. The consequence of this is that we become more impulsive – the logical extension of going faster.

Shoot ‘n’ Go
Pictures will replace 1,000 words.
Still and moving pictures will become their own currency. Everyone can shoot/edit/publish/distribute their own experiences, friends… in fact, anything that can stand in front of a smartphone will be shot. Everything will become increasingly visual: websites, adverts, communication.

Mobile technology changes everything 
Especially in emerging economies – it gives you access to health care, education, finance. It knows no boundaries. In the first world, nothing will be safe: everything can be (and probably will be) disrupted. Nothing is sacred. There will be an app for everything!

2 The ANTI-DIGITAL STUFF (in a kind of digital way)

Customer is King
The customer experience will become the new competitive battlefield
We will get one step closer to the idea that the customer is king. Companies that offer the basics (courtesy, speed, warmth, friendliness) and provide legendary service will be the winners in the long run.

Revenge of the Luddites
As a reaction to too many people literally living through their smartphone we might find the emergence of smartphone-free zones both socially and at work. It is time to get back to old-fashioned ways of communicating and connecting, like sharing a nice cup of tea or a walk in the countryside.

A Campaign for Real
There will be an increased sensitivity that will seek to differentiate between the authentic and genuine as opposed to the manufactured, synthetic, superficial and fake: food, TV, music, people, etc.

Being Mindful 
As a backlash to the hyper-fast world we now live in there will be a growing interest (probably an obsession) with all things peaceful, quiet and reflective.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

What I Am Doing

Time zaps by. Another year.

Meantime we miss catch-ups and casual meetings and lose touch. Suddenly you realise some people still know you for what you were doing a few years ago. But some things have changed. 

So it seems like a great time to tell you what's going on here and what I am doing.

In brief, common sense, uncommon business experience and unique business building credentials combine to help our clients grow their businesses.

A brilliant 14-part learning programme, Videos, workbooks and worksheets to help you increase sales, customer numbers and profitability.

Our subscription-based online learning centre gives you monthly updates, articles and videos to help you grow your business.

You can work with our team of expert business to grow your business.Free of waffle and focusing and what needs to be done to improve your business. Where experience meets analytical skills to produce results

With six books 'in the can', this year has seen a focus on the latest two:

I’ve been a professional speaker for over 10 years I love it; it gives me the opportunity to really connect, help and work with audiences. It is always fresh. 

I have recently come back from a mini-tour in Iran to discover that I am now flattered to be a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association on top of being UK's #1 Business Speaker of 2013 (SpeakerMix).

I post comments and latest thoughts weekly. The subject is always about how to run better and more effective businesses.

No shortage of activity but always the same basic formula:

  • a free of nonsense approach to growing your business
  • a unique blend of academic/author credentials, common sense, uncommon business experience and analytical skills.
I'd love to know what you are up to. Contact me direct on

Picture source:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Get Your Point Across in One Minute - and a competition

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Get Your Point Across In One Minute 
Dear Robert, Only One-Minute Left 
There are few things that you can achieve in one- minute. One of the things you can do is tell somebody about your business.

In the article
How To Develop A Killer One-Minute Intro - Accountants And Professional Services, Chris Thomas shows you how he used my 'One-Minute Intro' blueprint to create a killer introduction that starts conversations and tells people exactly what he does in 60 seconds or less.

This way people then know exactly what you do and, by the time you finish, are already thinking of businesses that may need your help.

Competition Time
Email us your one-minute intro and we will pick our favourites and publish them on The winner will also receive a free copy of my book Grow Your Service Firm. Just hit the reply button and write down your one-minute intro!     


PS. If haven't seen then yet, take a look at my Top 5 Business Worksheets From 2013.

Robert Craven
The Directors' Centre
01225 851044

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