Business Consultants, Coaches & Mentors
Successful Business Owners have always recognised the importance of developing the knowledge and expertise of their employees, recognising that the return on investment can be significant. However, a large proportion of Business Owners have been guilty of not developing themselves.
I recall from personal experience that it is all too easy to justify why as the person at the top of the company is not a priority. Do any of the following resonate?
- I haven’t got time, I am far too busy dealing with more important and pressing issues with my business.
- Going to events invariably results in me being sold to by the various networkers.
- I employ any expertise I am lacking.
- The cost of any decent executive training is significant.
- Training takes me hours, even days out of my business. I cannot do that. It doesn’t fit around me.
So what is the likely impact of this issue and at what cost to the company?
A couple of years ago, I bumped into an old friend and in catching up, I asked if she still worked at the printing firm she used to work at. She indicated she did not after it all ended rather badly. I enquired as to why because she had worked there for many years.
She explained that the long-standing print and stationery firm, which had been around for many decades, had been taken over in a Management Buy-Out (MBO) by the then General Manager from the previous owners. The firm had been founded by the father of the vendors and it had grown into a substantial and solid firm making good profits. The two sons of the founder then became involved, finally took over and carried on with the same formula that had seen the company become a successful and respected local brand.
One day in 2006 the General Manager was advised that the brothers had decided to sell the business, taking early retirement. Recognising the profits it had made in the past (albeit these had fallen back in recent years), the solid reputation and customer base it had got and having seen the growth in the company since he had joined the firm after leaving school (nearly 30 years before), he sought backing for an MBO. Within a few months the deal was complete.
The General Manager took the view that he would run it as he always had, with established and loyal staff that knew what they were doing. Within a matter of a few years the business started to decline. Some redundancies were necessary, although my friend was retained. Some of the younger staff suggested to the new owner that the firm should look to embrace new digital technology. The business owner said this was not the reason for the decline and blamed market conditions, the credit crunch and anything but the firm’s lack of development in terms of new print technology. He said he knew how to run such a firm having done so successfully for many years. The firm went into liquidation less than seven years after being taken over.
I imagine the reason why the former owners took early retirement in 2006 was because they possibly recognised the changing face of their industry and may be had not got the appetite or inclination to take the business into it’s next phase. The new owner failed to recognise the business world has changed dramatically since the turn of the new century, and essentially saw his firm unable to compete with other more efficient and technically more advanced (often younger) firms. He had clearly been reluctant to educate himself or even keep abreast of what was happening in his market. Long-standing customers left and he failed to address (or possibly even ask) why.
The reality of business today is that unlike in days gone by when changes in approaches and technology occurred slowly over many years, business nowadays is constantly developing and shifting. The embracing of new ideas and self development must start at the top, because it is no longer going to serve companies well by just doing what they have always done.
If you stand still, as in the case above your company will die.
It is possibly for this reason that executive coaching for the last couple of years has been in vogue, and this trend is set to continue according to many informed parties within the sector.
Studies carried out by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Henley Business School were reported in 2015 as suggesting that 78% and 83% respectively of organisations intended on undertaking leadership development within the following 12 months. The focus was on executive and senior management development, with external coaches preferred.
So any Business Owner that has not completed any similar training during 2016 has fallen behind much of their competition recently, and should address this immediately
So, let’s look at the solutions to those Business Owner challenges we identified above:
- Why not delegate some of your tasks recognising the importance of self development.
- You are a business owner and therefore a commercial person, right? So you understand that selling is what other businesses do, but you can always say ‘I am not interested’. That said, sometimes you might be surprised to find a really useful future service provider.
- You can employ expertise, but (a) how do you know if you have employed the right people if you are not fully aware of where your business needs to be heading and, even if you do, (b) they may not have your business acumen and drive to really understand what is needed to succeed against other companies run by intelligent and commercial self-developers.
- You can pay a fortune for training, but this is not necessary, and does not always provide value for money. Many excellent coaches and consultants offer services that are great value for money. Just talk to them.
- There is excellent training available to anyone that wants it and at a time suited to you. Online development is available from some excellent mentors, coaches and consultants, that means you can fit it around your busy schedule. For example, you can play MP3 recordings or even listen to MP4 (video) in the car.
It goes without saying that you need to select your mentor, coach and/or consultant carefully. My own experience has told me to steer away from ‘career’ coaches, instead working with those that have ‘walked the walk’ as a business owner before becoming an adviser to others. The sector they are from is not so important.
One thing is clear. Business Owners must recognise that their development is equally important (if not more so) as that of any employee.
Make it a constant ‘top of the agenda’ issue moving forward.