Business is a tough game. Continually we need to operate in three areas to ensure we produce consistent outcomes. The businesses we work with are challenged to:
- Tend to the business. We operate our business daily, tend to the issues and the pressing needs as they arise.
- Prune the business. At times we all need to prune. Whether it is a process, a product or a person, this is a needed part of ensuring that you obtain the best result and investment is made in what is best in your business.
- Grow the business. We continually need to look for ways to grow our business. This can be growing your core business or sowing new seeds.
To work these areas, our owners progress through a process to reflect and review. We take them “out of their business” to work on their business. We acknowledge that we all need to be in the business, but we need to have time ongoing to work on the business.
All businesses are unique, however, we find a few things in common. We find most businesses have anchors and nooses. Let me explain.
Anchors hold businesses (and people) back. They are wide and varied but the common ones are listed here.
- A business relationship that takes too much resources relative to the level of business.
- A product line that the business has emotional investment in, but is now not providing the return for it’s current level of investment.
- A team that is failing to see the link between sustainable business and their positions.
These are the main three, although we do see more. On every occasion we create a strategy to release the anchor and start the business moving again.
The biggest part is to be able to identify the anchor and work through a process to cut the chain.
Nooses are, similarly, an impediment to business growth, but this time the business is impacted by a tightening pressure. Often this is due to the following:
- Unreasonable supplier or customer terms creating unnecessary pressure on cash flow.
- Inadequate planning, be it business, financial or marketing which pressure ongoing investment in these areas.
- Constant complaints from customers on service or product quality.
- Pro-bono or special consideration business taking resources away from your best customers.
The key, again, is to identify it, and then work to achieve a strategy to reduce the pressure and then eliminate.
We work with clients to build strategy to help them gain control and bring growth back to their business. Once awareness is gained from the business owner, the strategy starts to form. Having a fresh set of eyes helping you through this maze.
Some businesses simply don’t ask for help. Often it’s a lack of awareness of the situation and of a feeling of normality, as they have become comfortable with the situation.
It is important to gauge the situation, once you have become aware of it, with a set of fresh eyes. In the words of Einstein:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We do see pride get in the way with some businesses. Don’t be the proudest person in the morgue.