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Recently, I had a catch up session with a business owner who was a delegate on the Cambridge Business Guidance Business Growth Programme last year. Before he began the programme he said that he would have described his business as ‘successful yet stressful and stuck’.
He owns a structural engineering company that was experiencing growing pains. Before he came on the CBG Business Growth Programme, he was making plenty of sales. Most business owners would envy the rate at which he was taking on new clients and new projects. His company had a reputation for doing quality work and he was getting an enormous amount of word-of-mouth business. His website was also drawing in plenty of enquiries.
So, what was the problem? Well the rest of the business, and his own work/life balance, were suffering. He was a victim of his own success.
His cash-flow was in a terrible state and he had sleepless nights wondering how he was going to pay the salaries of his team members. He was easily working 70-80 hours per week trying to develop the business and, as he was the most qualified member of his team, complete the professional work. He couldn’t afford to recruit more professionals onto his team.
His family was getting frustrated by the demands of the business on his spare time. His wife knew that he could probably earn more money and work half the hours as an employee, given his skills and experience. But, he felt a great loyalty to his team members and couldn’t face the idea of making his team redundant.
He had a difficult business decision looming. One of his competitors wanted to retire. Should he buy out the business? It would give him more professionals and a big ready-made client base. On the other hand, the move seemed risky. It required more investment and winning round a sceptical family to the whole idea. He was also daunted by the extra management and leadership responsibilities and challenges it would bring. At the same time, he wasn’t experienced in negotiating these deals.
In addition, what made him good at his job – attention to detail, analytical personality etc. – meant that he struggled with taking a step back to get perspective, fast decision making and managing people. He often suffered analysis paralysis.
…and, how did the CBG Business Growth Programme help?
We started off by meeting him for free Business Growth Strategy session. This gave him, and us, the confidence that the programme would help him. Over the next 12 months, we helped him make planned improvements to every aspect of his business at a pace that he could manage. Once we understood the situation his business was in, we guided him move fast to identify priorities and take action. We give him some strategies he could implement immediately. These quickly improved his cash-flow and profits, and brought him peace of mind.
We assisted him to understand people better and built up his ability to manage difficult conversations and negotiate win-win outcomes. With improved cash-flow and communication skills he was able to win the confidence of his family over the issue of taking on another business. He also felt better equipped to negotiate a better deal and to manage the merging of two teams. Then we turned to the issue of time management and spotted areas where he could usefully delegate work, eliminate certain activities, outsource and systemise the work flow so that he could regain his work/life balance and make his team more productive.
We made his marketing more effective and targeted so that he attracted more of the right clients. The programme helped him to improve, and streamline, his sales process. This enable him to make more money, more quickly and turn down less profitable work.
How did he and his business benefit from the CBG Business Growth Programme?
He found that working with a group of other business owners, facilitated by the coaches, provided an encouraging, positive and thought provoking environment. He learned from the other delegates as well as the business coaches. He formed useful referral partnerships with those delegates who were in the property trades too.
He says that he feels more in control of his business – he’s driving it rather than it driving him. He enjoys running his business now that he truly feels he has graduated from being a professional who happened to own a business to being a business leader and manager.
He still gets to do some of the more complex structural engineering projects that he loves now that he’s managing his time better and he knows he’s not stealing time from business development or managing emergencies.
Now that his work/life balance has improved he has time to go back to the cycling and other sporting activities he enjoys. His family is happy because he has more quality time for them too. He doesn’t spend precious time worrying about his business now that it’s on a sound financial footing.
Would You Benefit from Working With a Business Coach?
If you would like to discover if working with a business coach would benefit you and your business, we’d like to offer you a free Business Growth Strategy Session. This is 60 minutes where we’ll focus on what’s working in your business and what you’d like to work better. We’ll talk about what’s important to you and how you’d like your business to be. Then we’ll share with you some tailor-made tips that will help you take your business to the next level.
If you find the session has been useful, you might want to continue working with us.
Interested? Just complete the form on the contact page of this website and we’ll do the rest.
CAMBRIDGE Business Guidance Programme Leader