You started your business, it’s been growing well, but now it’s starting to take you into areas that are stretching your abilities.
So where do you go for help?
Who do you turn to for advice?
How do you handle the changes?
Changes in your management responsibilities
Changes in the areas of knowledge you need to manage or be able to tap into so you know what to do!
Your role as the Owner/Founder of the business changes over the period the business grows.
You started off doing the basic hands on, but as you acquire staff you need to move to managing others, leadership and setting strategy. Not easy disciplines to master on your own.
As the saying goes “Start to work on the business not in the business”
The range and diversity of knowledge that you need to have in the secondary phase of a business can be quite daunting.
In this phase where your business has been established but is now starting or wanting to grow you have to know a little bit about everything so that when you have a problem you know where to go to get an answer, one that you can trust and have faith in.
In a large business this is not an issue as you simply hire a marketing manager, sales manager, finance director etc. But as a small business you just cannot afford these individual specialists
You need to develop a group of tried & tested individuals whose advice you respect and believe in.
Great idea – but where do you find these people?
There are a range of places but in a nutshell they can be grouped into the key 5 areas;
1. People you know personally - your immediate partner, friends and family
2. Current business suppliers – Accountants, solicitors etc
3. Ex employees of the industry – retired CEO of larger player etc, sometimes can be taken on as a non-exec Director
4. Peers working in similar businesses
5. Business advisers or mentors
Each of these has their merit and demerit but the key elements of what you need to look for are;
Honesty in advice - above all else, you want to hear it warts and all! If it is too good to be true – it is too good to be true!
Understanding of your or your business limitations – no point getting advice you just cannot implement.
Knowledgeable person who has done it before – not necessarily in the same line of business, but one who can help you avoid the pitfalls & provide short cuts.
A person you have respect & belief in.
Partners/Friends and family
Issues faced here are;
1. Usually the cheapest of the options!
2. Quite often will not be honest, will tend to say what you want to hear, don’t want to upset you.
3. Also not good, as business can then get in the way of your social life and you do need downtime from the job!
4. Rarely a long-term solution as generally starts as an ad-hoc activity but can develop to be intensive, which is when it falls over!
Current Business Suppliers
1. Good at offering advice in their own sectors, but not in others
2. Will tend to offer it, but have clear caveats, that if it does not work, then sorry they cannot help!
3. Limited help, but good for their own area.
Ex employee of the industry
1. Can be very good if you find the right one, quite often a retired person who wants part time activity
2. Good at providing contacts in the industry
3. Does not need to learn the industry
4. Danger is if they come from a significantly larger company, not all their ideas will translate to a smaller company!
5. Not really committed to the role – can decide to drop it at any time as not their full time job.
6. Taking them on as a non-exec Director can help as formalises the role. But needs clear guideline and contract specifying the areas of involvement
1. Probably biggest issue is there can be a conflict of interest.
2. Airing your issues with other peers might lead to confidentiality issues. Do you really want others in your industry to know how much you’re struggling?
3. Also, could be a case of ‘the blind leading the blind.’
1. The most common form of business advice.
2. As it is a business transaction, then much easier to manage
You give me good advice – I pay you money. You don’t – I fire you!
3. However, you need to have a belief in the individual & have a degree of being sympatico. If you do not trust the adviser – stop straight away.
4. The adviser does not always have to completely understand the industry, as you are employing them for business advice, not as experts on your product!
As a business making the next steps, the ones who go on to succeed identify the skills gap that needs to be filled. Then the business owners will look for external advisers/mentors to help develop the strategies, plan the growth and manage the issues. All sorts of businesses do it, in all sort of industries, essentially they hire in the missing skills for the management team.
In entrepreneurial businesses the mantra – It takes twice as long as you think it will, and equally costs twice as much as you thought - proves to be true, more often than not!
We are at “The Business of Drinks” of course biased towards people employing “Business Advisers” - it is our business. It is what we do!
Running a business requires you to be professional and accepting you cannot do, or know everything. If you have identified a skills gap, ask around, see who is out there, there are many organisations who offer business advice – It should not cost a fortune!
But it might make the difference between going under or surviving!
You can of course solicit help from a range of people, but be careful you do not ask too many as it lead to confusion and decision making issues. Choose someone and work with them to make it successful.
It might make the difference between going under and surviving!
The Business of Drinks works with business owners, helping them to focus on the business issues and thus achieve more sustained long-term growth and a clearer road map for growth.