6 reasons why business is like golf

golfTalking to a client today about how tiring her month had been with a roller coaster of ups and downs and good and bad, I found myself talking to her about my golf recently and how I was enjoying the ups and downs of it all.  It occurred to me that business and golf are similar in many ways. Here are just six reasons why owning your own business is like playing golf:

1.  You have to be passionate about it and it takes up a lot of your time.

2.  You can just get started anytime you like with no professional help, but you quickly discover that a bit of guidance is a really good idea

3. You won’t get any better at it if you don’t keep playing the game – practice, practice, practice!

4. One day everything will be brilliant and you’ll know exactly why you love it

5.  The next day it will all turn to s**t and you’ll want to give it up forever

6.  You can aim for the hole in one, but small consistent steps can win the game

And here’s one major difference:

With golf you need little balls. With business you need….

Enjoy the game!

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From the desk of Liber8me. Business mentors and author of Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free

 

 

Some frightening statistics about small business…

lemonade standI’m about to share some frightening statistics taken from 2013 census :
  • Out of 469,118 businesses, 439,920 had less than 10 employees
  • That’s 94%! 
  • 74% of these are deemed uninterested in or unsuitable for expansion
  • 55% self employed people are age 40 – 59
  • Average wage small business owners pay themselves is $40,000
  • What does this picture say to you?  To me is says we have an economy largely made up of small business owners, who are not paying themselves enough and have no plan for growth.  Many of these will hit retirement in the next 10 years, having worked hard in their business their entire life, and will not be able to sell it (no one will buy a business which is unsuitable for expansion).  This is a bleak picture for the business owner and for the economy.  I think it’s time things changed.
  • The two statistics I’d like to see change first are the % of business owners deemed uninterested or unsuitable for expansion, and the average small business owner wage being $40k.  Both can be changed with education and inspiration.  Firstly, there needs to be a movement to change attitudes.  From a small business being more like a low paying job, to a belief that your business is an asset – there to feed you long term wealth.  With some careful planning, a lot of drive and some expert guidance – many businesses can be re-engineered to enable growth.  But it does take a willing owner.  There needs to be a mind shift.
  • Secondly, there needs to be inspirational education and a support network that gives business owners practical steps to follow once they decide they are willing to go for it.My book Liber8 your Business, together with it’s companion workbook, have been designed more as an at home small business course than a book.  The goal is to change attitudes and provide tools to enable change.  I’d now like to see facilitated study groups all over the country, to help take the lessons out of the pages in and into practice in small businesses everywhere.
  • If you’d like to be part of this movement in any way, as a participant, as a facilitator or supporter contact me laura@liber8me.com

Have you created a business or a job? 5 tips for turning your small business into a big asset

looking for a jobMy mantra for small business owners is simple:  Don’t create a job, build yourself an asset.  When you own a business you have the opportunity right there in your hands to build something that can create financial security for you in the future.  You are going to work hard anyway, why waste this valuable time just paying yourself to do a job when you could be setting yourself up forever?

If you are serious (as I believe you should be) about building a saleable business, here are 5 success factors you can be thinking about right now:

1.  Set your end goal. Decide how much you want to sell it for and by when, and work backwards. In my book Liber8 your Business, I show a simple formula for working out your potential end value, with a link to the online calculator.

2. Name your buyer. It’s important to have a good idea who might want to buy your business in your early planning. Imagine spending ten years building a business you intend to sell only to realize you have created something nobody wants to buy. If you build a business with a buyer in mind, you have a much better chance of building something they really want.

A potential buyer could be a larger player in your industry looking to grow through acquisition. This growth might be regional – they want a presence in your city or town and it’s easier to buy you than start from scratch. It might be strategic – you have a smart product or service they could add to their existing infrastructure to create additional revenue streams. An example of this might be a large accounting firm buying a small book-keeping firm to add value to their client base. Your service or product could become a ‘nuisance’ to a competitor (read more on a strategy called ‘kicking sand in the gorilla’s face’ in my book, Liber8 your Business) and they buy your company to prevent it competing or to regain lost revenues. It could be a management buy-out, when senior employees raise the funds to buy you out. It could be a competitor of a similar size wanting to grow and willing to invest to gain rapid growth through acquisition. I’ve sold businesses to two types of buyer. A multinational bought my advertising agency and a local competitor bought my pet care company. My father’s photocopier business sold to his senior management team. A good friend has built three recruitment agencies. The first sold to one of the original partners, who bought out the other partners. The second sold to a multinational looking for regional representation in her city. The third is in its early days of growth and I’ll watch with interest who buys it (I have no doubt it will sell because I know the founders expect this and will build with this in mind). Another type of buyer could be a private equity group or even an individual who sees great potential in what you’ve built.

So who might want to buy your business? What are you building that could add huge value to someone’s offering? Now is the time to start thinking about these things.

3. Remove the dependence on you. To make your business attractive to your future buyer, it cannot be dependent on you. That’s a key message I want you to learn from this article:

No one will outright buy a business that’s dependent on its owner.

If the buyer takes you out of the picture and no business remains, they will either insist you stay in the business or they will walk away. So whatever your strategy is, whatever your end goal, whatever your vision for the future … it needs to not have you in it. I did that at my agency by making sure the clients loved the business but weren’t dependent on me. In the last few years, I hired two senior guys and put them in charge of our biggest clients, so my buyer could see the clients were not reliant on me.

4. Start building a team as soon as you can. I couldn’t afford to bring in those big guns until later in my business growth. I started by hiring people I could afford, with a couple of youngsters straight from college. I trained them to do things exactly the way I wanted. I call it ‘training your clones’ – teaching people to follow your example and do things your way. I kept building my team that way until we could afford to hire more senior people. And then we had to make sure we had a really strong culture to manage senior people.

5. Secure future earnings. Getting all our key clients on fixed-term contracts was another critical strategy that worked. They all had two or three year contracts so when the buyer looked at my business they saw a high level of spend committed for the next three years. This was an important lesson I learned from my businessman father. Remember I told you about his photocopier business and how he sold it and retired soon after his fiftieth birthday? One of the best secrets to success he shared with me was, ‘you’ve got to have a back end.’ To explain, he gave the example of his own business. While the sale or lease of each copier was worth a lot of money (especially in the 1970s when these huge machines were a relatively new addition to business productivity) the real value came from the additional contract that went with each machine. This locked the customer into buying all their ink, toner and paper for the life of the machine, as well as regular paid servicing – which meant that, for every machine sold, my father had income guaranteed for the next 10 years, enabling him to predict with complete accuracy his future income. You can see why this made by father’s business attractive for a buyer. They could see a guaranteed return on their investment. It made sense to me when I started my own business, and I hope it does to you too. It will get you a higher price when you come to sell!

   A business with committed future revenue that is not dependent on its owner to deliver that revenue is a business worth investing in.

 

You’ll find these 5 factors, and a whole lot of other ideas, tips, stories and exercises about creating freedom from business in my book – Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free.

 

 

What causes customers to leave you?

leavingWhy do customers leave?

Guest blog by Mike Brunel.

I am continually asked why my advertisers leave me after a few campaigns. I do not think for one moment that has not happened to you. It has me, several times, and every time it does I learn something.

As a business owner why do your clients leave you? Do you know?

It actually stings quite a bit; you are just getting to know them when they stop returning your calls, completely ignoring you.

Here is a typical scenario that often happens. You work on a client for a few months and finally they toss you a little order or money. If you have done your job well, you might get some more.

No one returns your calls

Over time you get to sell them more products and services. Things seem to be going along swimmingly. Then all of a sudden, they do not return your calls. You try to call them a few times. SILENCE.

What have you done? They liked you; they seemed to be getting results from your product.

So, what have you done wrong? What did you do?

It’s not what you think; Here are some tips you might find useful if this happens to you.

Solve the problem before it starts.

  1. These days customers like to be advised. If you start giving them everything they want, they will not take you seriously.
  2. Don’t be like all the others companies who sell similar products. If you really want to partner with them, do crazy things once in a while. Don’t be boring. Push them a little. Be a marketer.
  3. Find out early in the relationship what their interests are outside of work and do all the research you can about the topic. This gives you something else to talk about, and helps build trust.

Finally, if you get the “vibe” that this might not work, be up front with them and say “Hey, I do not think this is working.”

It just might be the tonic to get them thinking a little about your relationship.

“They will spend one day, I promise.”

That is like saying, “That girl will go out with me one day.” Sometimes it can be painful, but you are better off working with the customers that you know will be of benefit to you, and not go after clients that you have no show of getting.

Mike Brunel is partner in NRS Media, the world’s leading provider of Revenue Growth Solutions and Customer Acquisition programs to media companies.  The company has offices in London, Atlanta, Toronto and Sydney and employs more than 175 staff.  Mike teaches people how to sell… he loves it with a passion!

 

From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary planning technique that will set every small business owner free

What’s the number one thing to consider if you ever want to sell your business?

soldIf you are serious about selling your business one day, it’s important to have a good idea who might want to buy it. Imagine spending 10 years building a business you intend to sell only to realise you have created something nobody wants to buy. If you build a business with a buyer in mind, you have a much better chance of building something they really want.

A potential buyer could be a larger player in your industry looking to grow through acquisition. This growth might be regional – they want a presence in your city or town and it’s easier to buy you than start from scratch. It might be strategic – you have a smart product or service they could add to their existing infrastructure – for example, a large accounting firm buying a small book-keeping firm to add value to their client base. Your service or product could become a ‘nuisance’ to a competitor and they buy your company to prevent it competing or to regain lost revenues. It could be a management buy-out, when senior employees raise the funds to buy you out. It could be a competitor of a similar size wanting to grow and willing to invest to gain rapid growth through acquisition. Another type of buyer could be a private equity group or even an individual who sees great potential in what you’ve built.

I’ve sold businesses to two types of buyer. A multinational bought my advertising agency and a local competitor bought my pet care company. My father’s photocopier business sold to his senior management team.

So who might want to buy your business? What are you building that could add huge value to someone’s offering? Now is the time to start thinking about these things.

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From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business:  The revolutionary planning technique that will set every business owner free

 

 

There are only two reasons to be in business. Do you know what they are?

world arrowAccording to Dun & Bradstreet* reports, “Businesses with fewer than 20 employees have a 37% chance of surviving four years and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years.” 

I believe that the primary cause of these staggering statistics is that too many people go into business for the wrong reasons.

For me, there are only two reasons why you would start a business: firstly to make money and secondly to make a difference.

Making Money

Business is a financial game.  People who are very good at business understand that business is all about delivering returns to the shareholders.  As the Director and CEO of your own business you have a fiduciary duty to yourself as a shareholder to build a business that delivers maximum returns to you.  To look at it any other way is letting emotions get ahead of business.

Making a difference

And yet a business that cares only about money is a business without a soul. Your business is also there to fulfil a purpose, to add value and make a difference to the lives it touches, whether those people are customers, employees or beneficiaries of the higher purpose your business serves.

There is a fun irony to this concept if you can really grasp it.  If your business is truly focused on making a real difference to as many people as possible, you will attract more people to you.  The more people you attract, the more successful you become and the more people you make a difference to.  It’s a wonderful win/win concept.

Combine the concepts of making money and making a difference and you will build a business that will not only make you rich, but make you feel like a million dollars too!

Are you in business for the right reasons?

I hope so!

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*Dun & Bradstreet is a public company that licenses information on businesses and corporations for use in credit decisions, business-to-business marketing and supply chain management. D & B maintains information on more than 205 million companies worldwide. 

 

From the desk of Liber8me.  Small business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary planning technique that will set every small business owner free

 

If you want to succeed as a small business, start thinking like a big dog

think like a big dogIt’s that time of year when you should be working on your business plan for the next financial year.  Please, please, please tell me you do a plan each year?  You simply cannot succeed in business unless you take it seriously and understand the game of business itself.

I encourage my clients and readers to observe and learn from successful big businesses.  Having been on the Board of an organisation with close to $1 billion turnover, I learned first hand how disciplined larger companies are.  They do not fly by the seat of their pants, nor stumble hopefully from one year to the next.  They set clear growth targets every year, put clear strategies in place and hold individuals and teams accountable for the delivery of those targets.  The CEO must inspire, motivate and direct his people towards this delivery and has overall accountability.  His/her senior management team must set targets for their own department and are held accountable for the delivery of these.  Within the teams, team leaders have responsibility for the successful (on time, to budget) delivery of their projects.

All of this is made possible by two things – a business plan and a team to deliver on it.  This is the game of business at its most basic.  As a small business owner operator, you may feel that you don’t need a business plan.  You may not yet have a team big enough to deliver on it even if you did.  Yes?

No!

No matter what your size, even if it is just you, if you are serious about growing a business (rather than creating a low-paying, high stress job for yourself), you must have a plan.  And part of this plan must be to grow a team to help you.

A big business will typically be divided into ‘departments’ with each responsible for delivery of objectives for the different areas of the business.  These would typically be:

  • Product development
  • Sales & marketing
  • Team/HR
  • Operations
  • Finance

I recommend to my clients and readers that no matter how small your business right now, that you begin to implement the disciplines of a larger business.  Imagine your business when it is fully grown – what departments does it have?  Write them down and set objectives for each department.  Then develop strategies for the delivery of these objectives.  What developments need to happen and what resources are required? Tie your targets and any expenditure required into your annual budget (you do manage using a budget right?  If not check out this article on preparing an annual budget) and start your financial year with a road map of monthly objectives and actions to make it happen.

Have you ever noticed how a small dog will take on a big dog, regardless of it’s size?  It doesn’t know it’s small, it behaves as though it is big enough to tackle the world.  This is the attitude you need to adopt with your business too.  By all means, be nimble, be smart and take advantage of the benefits of being small.  But learn the lessons from those companies who also started out small once (Apple, Virgin, The Body Shop to name but a few) and install some planning discipline into your business – sooner rather than later.

Remember – think like a big dog.

Grrrr!

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From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and publisher of the book Liber8 your Business:  The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free

 

 

 

 

Your business is like a shed! A lesson in successful business planning …

shed picHere’s something I tell business owners all the time… “your business is like a shed”.

Whaaaat??!!

Read on for the explanation…

If I asked you to build a shed, what would you do?  You would do what you do with any project, right?  You’d get a picture of what the shed is supposed to look like. You’d look at the plans and follow the instructions.  You’d get the right tools ready and you might even find someone else to help you build it, someone with better expertise in this type of construction.

The key distinction here is when you’re building a shed you know what it looks like, it’s a project.  And a business is a project too, albeit a fairly long one. It’s not something that’s going to go on forever. It’s going to have an end.  Just like any project, if you know what the end looks like you can devise the plan to get there.  It’s a simple concept really but so many people don’t start a business that way.  The majority start a business with no idea where it’s going.   As a result a lot of valuable time is lost following strategies and tactics that are not leading to the ultimate goal… to build a business that works without YOU.

So get your picture clear.  What does your shed look like?  When your business fulfils all of your dreams for it, what makes it so amazing?  Who are your customers?  What is your team like?  What does your office look like?  What’s so special about it?  Why do people love working there?  What makes it irresistible to clients and team members alike?  What makes your business a head and shoulders above the rest?

The clearer the picture of your future business you have, the better your chance of building it just like that.  

Liber8ing Exercise for today:  Spend 15 minutes with a blank sheet of paper and draw a picture (with words or diagrams) of what your business might look like in 5 or 1o years time.  Then think about the tools you might need to get on board today to help get there.

Have fun!

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PS.  For more guidance on creating a clear end picture for your business, my book Liber8 your Business offers a step by step guide

 

From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and publisher of the book Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free

 

 

5 critical success factors for a future business sale… what every small business owner should be thinking about right now

soldBusinesses do not typically sell by accident.  The owners that end up selling their business for a significant amount of money have usually been preparing for that day for some time.  You don’t have to be thinking about selling your business any time soon to start planning now for the day when you might want to.  If you consider the following five things, you will be in good shape when the big day finally arrives…

1. Set your end goal. Decide how much you want to sell it for and by when, and work backwards. You’ll find a tool to help you work this out at www.liber8yourbusiness.com/tools.

2. Name your buyer. It’s important to have a good idea who might want to buy your business in your early planning. Imagine spending 10 years building a business you intend to sell only to realize you have created something nobody wants to buy. If you build a business with a buyer in mind, you have a much better chance of building something they really want.

A potential buyer could be a larger player in your industry looking to grow through acquisition. This growth might be regional – they want a presence in your city or town and it’s easier to buy you than start from scratch. It might be strategic – you have a smart product or service they could add to their existing infrastructure to create additional revenue streams. An example of this might be a large accounting firm buying a small book-keeping firm to add value to their client base. Your service or product could become a ‘nuisance’ to a competitor (read more on a strategy called ‘kicking sand in the gorilla’s face’ in my book, Liber8 your Business) and they buy your company to prevent it competing or to regain lost revenues. It could be a management buy-out, when senior employees raise the funds to buy you out. It could be a competitor of a similar size wanting to grow and willing to invest to gain rapid growth through acquisition. I’ve sold businesses to two types of buyer. A multinational bought my advertising agency and a local competitor bought my pet care company. My father’s photocopier business sold to his senior management team. A good friend has built three recruitment agencies. The first sold to one of the original partners, who bought out the other partners. The second sold to a multinational looking for regional representation in her city. The third is in its early days of growth and I’ll watch with interest who buys it (I have no doubt it will sell because I know the founders expect this and will build with this in mind). Another type of buyer could be a private equity group or even an individual who sees great potential in what you’ve built.

So who might want to buy your business? What are you building that could add huge value to someone’s offering? Now is the time to start thinking about these things.

3. Remove the dependence on you. To make your business attractive to your future buyer, it cannot be dependent on you. That’s a key message I want you to learn:

No one will outright buy a business that’s dependent on its owner.

If the buyer takes you out of the picture and no business remains, they will either insist you stay in the business or they will walk away. So whatever your strategy is, whatever your end goal, whatever that picture is of your shed or your man on the moon … it needs to not have you in it. I did that at my agency by making sure the clients loved the business but weren’t dependent on me. In the last few years, I hired two senior guys and put them in charge of our biggest clients, so my buyer could see the clients were not reliant on me.

4. Start building a team as soon as you can. I couldn’t afford to bring in those big guns until later in my business growth. I started by hiring people I could afford, with a couple of youngsters straight from college. I trained them to do things exactly the way I wanted. I call it ‘training your clones’. I kept building my team that way until we could afford to hire more senior people. And then we had to make sure we had a really strong culture to manage senior people.

5. Secure future earnings. Getting all our key clients on fixed-term contracts was another critical strategy that worked. They all had two or three year contracts so when the buyer looked at my business they saw a high level of spend committed for the next three years. This was an important lesson I learned from my businessman father. Remember I told you about his photocopier business and how he sold it and retired soon after his fiftieth birthday? One of the best secrets to success he shared with me was, ‘you’ve got to have a back end.’ To explain, he gave the example of his own business. While the sale or lease of each copier was worth a lot of money (especially in the 1970s when these huge machines were a relatively new addition to business productivity) the real value came from the additional contract that went with each machine. This locked the customer into buying all their ink, toner and paper for the life of the machine, as well as regular paid servicing – which meant that, for every machine sold, my father had income guaranteed for the next 10 years, enabling him to predict with complete accuracy his future income. You can see why this made by father’s business attractive for a buyer. They could see a guaranteed return on their investment. It made sense to me when I started my own business, and I hope it does to you too. It will get you a higher price when you come to sell!

A business with committed future revenue that is not dependent on its owner to deliver that revenue is a business worth investing in.

Hope these five things have given you something to think about.  Good luck!

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 The above is an extract from my book, Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free.  Available now on Amazon.

My 5 biggest business blunders and what you can learn from them

oopsI’ve noticed when I’m working with clients that my greatest wisdom and biggest ‘aha’ moments come when I’m sharing a story about something really dumb that I did.  I think it was Winston Churchill who said ‘life is too short to learn from all your own mistakes’.  In business, I’ve made plenty and one of my jobs as a mentor is to help my clients to avoid making the same mistakes as me (they will have enough of their own to learn from, I can at least save them a little pain!).

So here are five of my doozies.  Read, weep and learn!

1.    I wrote my own employment contract

My first business was an advertising agency.  I’d prepared a business plan whilst at a business school in Hawaii.  I’d started my career as a secretary and then became an advertising copywriter.  I was a creative person with zero business skills.   When it came to employing my first staff member it never occurred to me that I needed a proper legal document written in accordance with the employment laws.  No, I just thought I should write down what I expected and get us both to sign it.  This actually worked fine with my first employee who was a young student fresh out of university and even more naïve than I was.  He just wanted a job in advertising and was willing to work his butt off to make it.  He was also very talented and happy to do whatever it took to make the place successful.  Lucky me!

My second employee proved not so lucky.  A young designer on his second job -not quite so talented, not willing to work so hard and with a huge drama hook waiting to explode.  I worked him very hard, demanded a lot of him, was fairly intolerant of his mood swings and plunked my high expectations fairly on his resentful shoulders.  One day (after using the f word many times in a shrieking voice) he walked out and didn’t come back.  Instead a personal grievance claim arrived from his lawyer.  In the letter his lawyer called my employment contract ‘a joke’.  He was right.  It was… but I wasn’t laughing!

Lesson:  Do not do your own HR.  Get your employment contracts approved by an employment lawyer.  Get help recruiting people and be sure to be clear on your expectations from the outset.  Make sure you hire people for their cultural fit as well as their technical skills.

2.    I got creative with my book keeping

A copywriter with no business experience… yup… that was me!  I realized I needed to keep track of the money stuff so I bought an MYOB accounting package.  I then merrily set about inputting all the data myself.  And when I was too busy I got my young copywriter apprentice to do it.  Two creative copywriters doing the books – brilliant!  Before long we realized we didn’t know what we were doing (really?) so I put an ad on Student Job Search and got an accounting student to do it for me.  Turns out he didn’t know what he was doing either.  By the end of two years in I had no way of knowing how we were going financially, no way of reporting.  It was more like BFM (Big Fat Mess) than MYOB.  Thankfully at this point I hired the most amazing person who not only tidied up my books, she became my right hand person and taught me how to run a business the right way – with an annual budget and monthly reporting.

 Lesson:  Do not do your own books.  Even if you do know what you are doing, as the business owner you should be spending your time on income generating activities… not on book keeping!  Learn how to manage your business using an annual budget, sit down every month with someone (ideally outside your business) and explain your results to them.

3.    I hired someone to do my selling

In year 3 things were gunning along famously.  We’d trebled in size and moved offices three times to keep up with growth.  We’d won our first major contracts with blue chip clients and put our name on the map.  I thought it would be good not to be the one to go out there doing all the selling.  So I hired a business development manager.  He was very expensive and impressed me hugely in his interview with his sales stories.  Within six months it was obvious he couldn’t sell advertising, even if he could sell other stuff.  Rumors came back that potential clients were not impressed with him… he didn’t know the industry well enough to think on his feet or wax lyrical about why our agency was better than any of the others.  He was damaging our reputation and I had to get rid of him.  It wasn’t his fault.  It was mine.  It was too soon to hire someone to do my job for me…. I was still the best person to sell our agency.  I had the experience and the passion.  I went back to hiring other internal roles to free up more of my time elsewhere and threw myself 100% into business growth.

Lesson:  In the early years of business, the owner is the best person to do the selling. No one else will have quite your domain knowledge, experience or passion.  Even if you don’t think you are very good at sales – find a way to make it enjoyable, get some training and focus on being passionate about what you do. 

4.    I burnt myself to a frazzle

In about year 4 I was the queen of burning the candle at both ends.  The business was getting bigger and bigger and with every stage of growth my worry seem to grow to meet it.  I was working long hours and not sleeping well.  I developed what a dear friend called ‘my purple people eaters’ – the imaginary monsters that were going to bring my business down – the employees who were not performing, the clients who were not happy and about to leave, the bills we wouldn’t be able to pay, the suppliers who were bound to let us down – I was living in the world of imaginary enemies and it began to play havoc with my health.  I began to have panic attacks to the point where I feared giving presentations (not good for the head of a leading advertising agency).  I would burst into tears for no real reason.  I was picking fights with my husband and neglecting my friends.  My life was seriously out of balance.  I felt so bad I wanted out.  I wanted to leave my business and go get a job where someone else would take all the stress.  But even that didn’t seem a viable option with a new overdraft and a growing team of people depending on me for their livelihoods.  Something had to change.  Some regular visits to a hypnotist showed that I was suffering from severe stress and I needed a break.  I had no choice but to take a month off and go to Europe.  With a clear head I realized it was time to trust my team and hand over some of the worry.  My life was more important than my business.

Lesson:  You cannot do it alone.  As soon as you start growing your team you need to find a way to share the load.  Focus your energy early on the processes and systems that will enable others to take over big chunks of the work. Share your problems with your team, encourage them to step up and find solutions to these problems.  Reward those who shine for you.  Introduce bonus schemes for clearly met objectives and teach your team to enjoy the game of business alongside you.

5.    I tried to control the big guns

When my business had grown big enough to afford the really senior people, I came face to face with my own ego.  And she wasn’t pretty, I can tell you!  Instead of trusting them to get on with their jobs, I tried to control them the same way I had more junior folk.  I stamped my foot when they wouldn’t do it my way, I threw my toys out and then apologized many times before I finally got the lesson.

Lesson:  When you are ready to hire senior people, make sure your culture and processes are firmly in place.  Have a very clear induction programme that shows how things are to be done in your company.  Get their agreement to your values and vision.  Hire for their cultural fit as much as their talent. And then… let go.  Once you have given them the context, let them do things their way.

So there you have it.  Five of my blunders… many more where they came from!  I hope you enjoyed hearing about my downs.  As I’ve said many times, business is a roller coaster and for every great high there’s a screaming low waiting to snaffle you up.  The trick is to become resilient and build a well systemized business with a great team to help your ride out the storms.  Easier said than done huh?

If you’d like to share your journey with other like minded business owners you might love our Acceler8me Programme.  Click here to apply for more information.

 

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