Advice should never be an end in itself. As a business owner you face multiple decisions every day – some routine, some forced upon you and some because you want to change or improve an aspect of your business. Sometimes alone, sometimes with your team and sometimes with external advice you make many decisions to improve your business performance. And that, of course, is what you want: improved results.
For many the idea of ‘more advice’ isn’t appealing plus you may have to pay for it!
How do we at Henchards convince you that you need our advice? In short, we don’t. We can talk with you, ask you some questions and refer you to others who have benefited from working with us but ultimately the only person who will decide is yourself.
Broadly speaking there are five areas where our clients have ‘convinced’ themselves:
- They are facing a new challenge that either seems different or more intractable than anything they have experienced before. For example, the resignation of a key member of the team or a significant client opportunity that is outside their usual service offering. We have recently supported three clients through a period of significant change in their ‘top team’. Losing or having to remove a key senior member of the team is a traumatic event with consequences that can run on for a considerable time. There can be periods of self-doubt where support is essential, “Am I doing the right thing?”, “Are they leaving because of me?”, “Can I be bothered going through the process of hiring and working with someone new?” Going through these challenges alone can be tough.
- A situation has gone on for longer than is desired or is healthy and finally ‘something has to be done’ such as working too many hours or continued cash flow challenges. There will always be times when things get tight. Business does not run in predictable straight lines and if you are ambitious to grow your company you have to make changes: do more, do better, do different. With all of our clients we place importance on financial controls and cash flow management. Even so, that doesn’t mean there won’t be squeezes on finances – whether planned or unplanned. Having good controls in place helps minimise risk and enables good decision making.
- The business is becalmed with the route towards renewed growth seeming unclear, particularly when the sales and marketing activities that previously worked no longer seem to be effective. For small to medium sized businesses the natural way to grow is through good sales and marketing activity – whether traditional, online or a blend of the two. Growth doesn’t have to be limited to these activities as smaller companies can be very successful by using acquisition as a growth path. One of our clients is in the process of completing their third acquisition in 14 months. With good targeting, a structured approach, finances to support and a clear plan for integration during the post-acquisition period they have made a success in each case.
- When the existential question of, ‘What am I here for?’ doesn’t have a clear answer – this is often the case during a challenging period in the business or in a quiet time of reflection. There has to be a purpose to owning and running a business. It may be that personal satisfaction and doing something for those around you are important. For many, even if they have these, it isn’t sufficient. They are looking to build the business to create personal wealth for their family. We have worked with a number of clients who were more of less successfully running their business but had either forgotten or had never planned for what happens ‘at the end of the story’. We have helped write the script and set the plan for numerous business owners so that the daily activity builds to a successful conclusion.
- The business owner is on their own running a business, often successfully, but without a close peer level individual with whom to share experiences and generate ideas. It is perhaps overstated that it is ‘lonely at the top’ and that business owners miss someone to talk with. Of course there are always people to talk with when you run a business be they your team, suppliers, clients, partners or local business contacts. Perhaps ‘loneliness’ is the wrong description, the gap is often more about a trusted / trusting relationship where concerns, issues, ideas, inspirations and reflections can be shared. This quote from one of our clients Alan James & Co is typical:
“I was initially not interested in using Ian’s services because I felt comfortable using my own judgements and trusting my own experiences to ‘see me through’ major business decisions. Having met and discussed things with Ian, I realised the depth of his experience and the tremendous benefits that brings. I have undergone many business developments in the last 18 months and have felt very happy with the changes made – which I made in consultation with Ian at all stages.”
The only reason to seek advice is to improve results – whether business performance, a better future or your own experience of owning and running your business. To start a conversation please contact us.