One of the most common things I come across is SME business owners at the coalface, under continuous pressure resulting in stress, poor health and less time for family and loved ones. What makes it so sad is that there is another way, a better way but it takes a leap of faith to make it happen. Those who make that leap of faith quickly discover a reduction in stress, a new way of doing things more efficiently and more importantly a better quality of life.
So what is this leap of faith? To reach out and ask for help, to seek out a mentor, someone who has travelled that road you are on and who knows the shortcuts. Your business life is a personal journey to your destination ‘Success’ whatever that looks like for you. It could be financial independence, peer respect, or more time for loved ones but whatever it is it needs to be planned. Ask yourself a question – have you seriously thought about where you will be in 3 years’ time or have you a vague idea? Most people I meet have a vague idea and when the goal is so vague the journey has a tendency to go off course, and it does. Of course, the obvious question is why do more business owners not embrace the concept of a guide to help them on their journey and typically the answers are as follows.
It is an expense I cannot afford. I fully understand the argument but unfortunately, it is flawed. If someone can show you how to get to your destination more quickly, with less stress and with more family time, then it is an investment and not a cost. Unfortunately, people get too focussed on the outlay and not the benefits which is summed up in the old adage ‘penny wise and pound foolish’.
I am too busy dealing with important issues daily to take time out to investigate this new way of running my business. This argument reminds me of the old story of the woodcutter who lived in the forest with his family and every day he worked from sunrise to sunset just to keep his head above water. One day a stranger called and said that he had something important that might help him. The woodcutter kept working and said that he was too busy and refused to give any time to the stranger. Eventually, in exasperation the stranger left saying under his breath ‘So you have no use for a chainsaw’. No more needs to be said.
And finally, there are those who are happy to keep doing what they are doing but are at the same time wondering why their business is not growing. What they are failing to realise is that those businesses that are growing around them are doing so because their owners have made the investment of bringing in expertise to augment their skill sets. We cannot be good at everything so it is important to identify the areas that need support and then invest in the best people you can afford to support you while you focus on your core strengths.
Let me explore this a bit further with a story that may resonate with you but first I want to give you my ‘take’ on business. Every business is broken down into two areas, the core skills that you and your team bring and secondly, the business of running a business. In other words, we all sell knowledge and it is how we package it that makes us different. For example, a shop owner learns the skills required to run a shop, stock it with products and make it attractive enough to entice sufficient customers to make a profit. However, the business of running a business requires him or her to employ people, train them and try to retain them (HR). It requires that everybody who is on the premises is safe at all times (Health and Safety). It requires making tax returns at regular intervals (Accountant) etc.
If you are running a professional services firm you have exactly the same challenges. In both cases, it is usually the owner who has the core skills to run the business and then buys in the other skills to make it run efficiently. However, it is not uncommon for the owner of the business to have the skills necessary to run a business and then to employ the talent with the specialised knowledge to deliver the service or products. This works extremely well as those who have specialised knowledge can focus on that part of the business knowing that the business of running a business is in capable hands.
So let me get to the story that typifies what I have seen over more than 40 years in business. Business owners who love delivering on their expertise but hate running the other side of the business, the accounts, the office work and all of the other mundane tasks. I was talking with a friend of mine who was telling me that he was going to hire a salesperson for the important role of growing the business. He calculated that the cost would be circa €150k per year for the right person. Knowing him well I asked the following question, why.
I said “I know you and you are the best salesperson this company could have. You hate the day-to-day chores so why not hire an office manager at €50k per annum to deal with all of this freeing you up to do what you love and are good at and as a bonus you save €100k per annum into the bargain?”.
When you look at it in this light it makes perfect sense but this story is a good illustration of the impact of an experienced outsider having the ability to look into the business and spot not just the obvious but where the real money and profits are.
So let me ask you a question – are you the right person to run your business and is it holding you back from your true potential? If the answer is yes, could you benefit from the assistance of an experienced guide?
Let’s have a chat in confidence and without obligation and perhaps 2023/2024 may prove to be a significant year in your development and growth.