‘Directors’ of growing businesses are not the same as ‘owner-managers’. They have different profiles, different leadership styles, different needs, different experiences, different resources and very different ambitions. However, the banks and much of the business support industry often like to lump all independent businesses together.
CEOs and MDs of growing businesses regularly report the underwhelming and disappointing experiences they have had at the hands of their so-called business advisers, consultants and gurus. Hard-earned money is handed over in good faith but they don't seem to reap the results.
In a nutshell, the recipients of client monies are excellent at marketing (identifying customer hurts and selling the solution). Websites, brochures, videos and testimonials show how past clients had seen their businesses totally transformed. Inspirational stuff. Well, inspirational to the less well-informed.
If you are naïve enough to be looking for the universal antidote, the quick fix, the ultimate solution and the unique insider secrets, then you could buy into some form of intervention. However, your complaints will be varied and many, especially if you are beyond the start-up/young business stage: organisations led by (noticeably absent) celebrity entrepreneurs, free workshops with unsophisticated and fairly aggressive back-of-the-room upsells, programmes that lack structure and substance or the individual attention required, sets of CDs/MP3s that had ‘unique’ content that was not actually that unique but had been particularly well-packaged.
The reality is that most of these ‘solutions’ are not aimed at the more mature (experienced) director or CEO. In fact, the business owner that has been around the block knows that the silver bullet just does not exist. The idea that a revolutionary and transformational intervention can fundamentally transform your business is plain and simply imaginary.
Most of these so-called ‘programmes’ are aimed at the small owner-manager. With fewer resources and less experience, many are looking for the quick win and are eager to believe that some revelation can turbo-charge their business. They are looking for the magic key that will unlock success. And in some cases the programmes are simply selling hope to the needy!
I have found that few of the relatively inexperienced entrepreneurs actually have the skills to listen, read, understand and translate the great words of wisdom into a relevant and suitable strategy that they are able to roll out effectively. By definition, people buy into such programmes because they feel vulnerable or inexperienced or insufficiently wise. They are scared of making the wrong decisions.
So, where does this leave the CEO and director of the growing business?
The reality is that the successful business owner is in a lonely place. Plenty of people will happily take their money but who can command their respect and trust? Who can help them in an unbiased way to really grow their own leadership skills, and increase their capabilities.
With a couple of successful years in business behind you, you will not throw it away on some half-baked advice. Despite all the talk of entrepreneurial character, success also nurtures a sense of self-defence. Having accrued the car, house, holidays and business that many might envy, a sense of maintaining the status quo develops.
Revolution and fast-track transformation makes great sales copy but they are too scary unless you are in dire straits and are willing to bet the farm!
In reality, in our heart of hearts, most directors can see that increasing focus, being more decisive, making tweaks, refining and developing the business can and will create a more sustainable profit machine.
You just need a safe, reliable pair of been-there-done-it, experienced hands to do it with… With several years of steady incremental improvements, and with the benefits of cumulative growth, most directors can achieve significant rates of sustainable profit growth. Fact.
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