When to Call in an Expert (our 4 helpful tips and advice)
All companies come into being to fulfil one purpose, generate the maximum amount of profit in the most efficient way possible. The majority of business owners are not born with fantastic business acumen but initially achieve success through utilising a particular skill, knowledge or area of expertise they personally have and grow organically. What owners tend to find is that with this growth comes a complex network of suppliers, legislation, services, taxes, costs, import/export opportunities, contracts, utilities and staff that all need to be managed, paid, appeased, adhered to, chased and be fit for purpose in order to function and prosper. Every single aspect has an impact on the company's bottom line in some way or another either directly or indirectly and every single aspect needs to be understood, leading to many long days and sleepless nights.
Often owners find they reach a point where these demands detract from the core operation and running of the business. This can result in the owner's time and efforts being reactive and led by the business (often into areas where they have little or no experience or expertise) as opposed to proactively leading it in the direction they originally intended. Other consequences can be long hours, costly mistakes and a reduction in the product or service that made your business successful in the first place.
A recent survey suggested that the majority of business owners would turn to social media for advice before seeking professional help, mainly due to the perception of the costs involved, mistrust or that the business is not large enough to warrant engagement. This need not be the case as there is a wealth of no or low cost expertise available to businesses of all sizes and sectors. People who have been through the experiences already or have already built up areas of knowledge and expertise in market areas that are not essential knowledge to the core element of your industry.
Many of you will already empathise with some of the issues raised above but how you know when your business needs external support?
- You are working all the hours of the day. It's good to be passionate about your business; every business owner should, but think of the quality of the time you spend within the business. Is it productive? Do you feel you are in control? Time is one of the most precious commodities you have within your business, but more often than not people do not put a value on their own time. We often find ourselves cramming extra hours into the day to focus on various areas that we often term "paperwork" or "stuff that needs doing" - things we come to resent and tell ourselves this is what running a business is about. We all have tasks we hate doing or are not great at which stop us concentrating on the core element of the business. You may believe you are keeping costs down by doing them yourself, but are you really costing yourself more in the long term? Ask the question, is it stopping you making money?
- You are too busy working IN your business to work ON your business. All owners should have a robust business plan which they consistently revisit and review the performance of the business and refocus accordingly. Sounds great but if you don't have any time to sit down and think about the day to day how can you even begin to contemplate the future? Time taken to work ON your business is vital not just for the future but also could make a meaningful impact on how you perform now. Free up the space within your schedule from non-essential activities and plan for success.
- Despite your best efforts you feel you are still not getting the results or value you want or need. It could be escalating running costs, knowing the foreign exchange market, understanding how technology or telecoms can enhance your business. All the things that you feel should be improved can hold a business back and stop you having a competitive edge if they are not how you want them. Sometimes we all have to recognise and accept our own strengths and weaknesses and that others may have a great depth of knowledge or experience in fields that can enhance the performance of our business.
- You feel your business model needs a shakeup. Businesses need to respond to ever changing market forces and recognising when your business needs to evolve is key to success. Knowing when to act and what to implement is imperative and many business leaders need an outside source to reconcile nagging doubts and act as a catalyst to developmental changes to the business. This could be to act as a sounding board for new ideas or to offer real practical help and advice, either way if you've had the constant thought in the back of your mind that there is something you should be doing it could be time to make that call.
There are multiple obstacles to a business succeeding and as high as 50% of business start-ups fail within the first couple of years. It is rarely one specific thing, but a common theme is not sourcing much needed assistance until it is too late. It is far easier to achieve success when you are running a robust business than firefighting when times are bad. The majority of quality advisors will act in a supportive role leaving the owner fully in charge and in control, guiding with impartial, no obligation help and advice that aids clarity and offers expertise that will work in tandem with the businesses goals.
"We all have tasks we hate doing or are not great at which stop us concentrating on the core element of the business. You may believe you are keep costs down by doing them yourself, but are you really costing yourself more in the long term? Ask the question, is it stopping you making money?"