In my line of work, I come across many young businesses with great potential who find themselves in need of some good, solid business advice, often as a result of having tried to follow a ’business programme’ of one description or other.
In my experience, and having advised well over 200 businesses to date, every business is as unique as the people within it. They’re individual, different, with distinctly differing needs and requirements.
So what makes so many great, especially young businesses get tempted to follow these mass-market ‘growth programmes’, or ‘business builders’? The businesses are not ‘clones’ after all, yet they often sign-up to a ‘system’ that is only designed to create clones.
Therein lies the paradox – a system approach, especially for those who don’t have the knowledge, skills and experience to run a business, especially a growing business, feels like a ‘safe’, comfortable place to be where so much is done for you and all you have to do is ‘follow’. It’s just easier, and usually sounds like a ‘good deal’. But they also know they need to deliver the unique requirements of their business. These two things, in simple terms, just don’t go together.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some basic processes that are more or less the same in every business, accounting records for example, but these are just a tiny part of the full business activity.
If you want to create what I call a ‘plastic box’ business (where every business is churned out exactly the same) then, by all means, surround yourself with clones and ‘plastic boxes’ where you will all be treated exactly the same as all the others there, given exactly the same ‘tools’ and all the same processes. But I have only ever met one business owner who does – who actually owned a business that made plastic boxes!
You and your business are not clones, so don’t risk being treated like one!
I readily understand that leading and running a business is difficult. I’ve been doing it for over 27 years and I am still constantly learning. But around 80% of UK business closures are fundamentally caused by poor leadership and business management (source: ONS).
If you think about it, most people create a business either because they have had a great idea, or they are really good at something. Not because they are good at running a business.
Developing the knowledge, skills and experience to build and run a successful, growing business can, and frequently does seem daunting to say the least. These ‘programmes’ do not, and cannot suddenly create the ability and understanding to meet the unique requirements of the business when they are repetitively dishing out the same thing to everyone ‘parrot-fashion’.
Firstly, do some research as to what type of help you need – coaching or mentoring (yes, there is a big difference), training, consulting, and so on. These are all different and meet different needs. Set aside a proper budget too!
Secondly, clearly establish the proven credibility of any adviser you consider – ask for recommendations, checkout their LinkedIn profile, especially look at their experience and its relevance to what you need, double-check their qualifications and credentials (I cannot emphasise how important it is for any bona fide coach to be properly qualified – ideally they are qualified through a UK university or one of the more respected UK professional institutes). Remember, lots of experience does not mean they make a good mentor!
Thirdly, get to know them. Any business adviser worth their ‘salt’ will happily put in the effort to clearly establish whether and how you can work together. It’s as important for them as it is for you. After all, you may well be working together for some time so it’s vital you have that strong relationship.
Finally, remember that the very best business advisers, no matter what ‘badge’ they are wearing, will provide you with exactly and exclusively what you need for your business – including the things you may not want to hear! But, trust me, this dedicated approach is the only genuine way to move your business forward successfully and enduringly.
To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:
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© Adrian Malpass 2014-2017. All rights reserved.