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According to an old Irish joke, a footsore traveller approaches a country bumpkin relaxing on a style and enjoying the afternoon sun, to ask directions. “Can you tell me the way to Tipperary?” asks the weary traveller. “I can indeed” came the reply; “but I wouldn’t start from here!”
But to grow your business, you need to sort out the problems of poor cashflow, low margins, or whatever is holding back the development of your business – starting from where you are!
Business Growth: Starting from here
The problem is that business growth and development has to start from here. And the difficulty for business owners and managers is that often the current situation, the here and now, becomes an excuse for inertia – a trap. If this were different we’d do this; if that were different…
Situations and circumstances become self-fulfilling; the debtors book is consistently too high, too many of the wrong sort of customers – the low margin sort; not enough money to buy vital equipment, or to hire the right people. Growth is fitful, and harder still to increase profits. The things that would make a difference seem out of reach; and the things that can be done, don’t seem to make any difference.
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re in good company. Business owners and managers of many businesses struggle to break free from the quagmire of slow or profitless growth; or else lack the resources to do what’s needed for the business. Fortunately that’s what management consultants are for.
The problem is often one of perspective. Have you ever walked into someone’s home and found yourself straightening a picture on the wall? You see it’s out of line immediately. Likewise our own mistakes in figures or writing; one can look at the same thing a hundred times – and yet not see an entirely obvious and frequently serious mistake (if you want to instantly see a copy error, try printing a thousand copies without getting someone else to proof read a document first, and you’ll probably notice a completely obvious error as you pick up the first expensively bound copy).
The point is that a fresh eye spots an error – often instantly.
I hasten to add that I don’t offer instant solutions, but in approaching your business, I have the benefit of a fresh perspective, and can often see problems quickly for what they are – and not just the symptoms.
That said, I help business owners and managers gain a fresh perspective too. And I do this by spending enough time in the business to understand the key issues, and then asking the back-to-basics questions that are often, for all sorts of reasons, holding the business back; and then raising and discussing these issues in a manner which allows owners and managers alike to gain a fresh look at their business.
My objective is to give business owners and managers the opportunity to make a fresh start from ‘here’; rather than from the idealised place they’d like to be. The process that I sometimes follow is to conduct focused market research – to test the water and see what key clients are saying about the business. And I bring this back to the company; warts and all. This isn’t necessarily for the faint hearted – it’s not always what you’d like to hear. In fact, you’d probably be amazed at the issues that can be unearthed with long-standing clients, which for one reason or another are never voiced. Such problem issues not only continue as a barrier to growth with a single client, but more often than not, affect the growth of your business across the board.
The next stage in my process might be a workshop where I take the opportunity to work through research findings with the owners and management team; where workable solutions are discussed and made actionable. Again the process is not for those with a delicate disposition. Often initial research and internal work-shopping will unearth core issues which can give rise to very strong feelings; for example business founders who trade on past glories, and consequently hold back the progress or ideas of younger or more energetic management or employees.
Handled constructively, many deep-seated business issues can be resolved. But nothing comes of nothing, and left unresolved, the business will continue within its self-imposed constraints. Which is where someone with a fresh perspective, and armed with the right background and tools – in my case more than two decades of management and business consulting experience and an MBA – can assist in discovering new paths for growth.
Perhaps more importantly I have an ability to spot and help develop hidden solutions and opportunities. And I help management teams develop and implement a new strategic plan to break free from the constraints which hold the business back.
If your business is struggling with growth, why not contact me and see how to make a fresh start; from here.