Everybody starts in business to fulfil their personal objectives – in fact everybody who has a job is there to fulfil their personal objectives; certainly not corporate ones. Yet over time, as the business grows, it can become more demanding and people can feel that the business is running them instead of the other way round. They know the business has to grow, but to them growth means more hours spent away from the family, more stress, more investment and they wonder why they should bother. It’s a dilemma, and the dilemma only gets more acute as time passes and the owner thinks about how to manage to exit the business and achieve a good price when it is so dependent upon him or her.
It needs rebalancing, but most business people don’t know how. They want to get their life back, they want other people taking responsibility, not just them, and they want to work better, not simply harder.
As part of our strategy planning, (see your strategy journey) we start with rebalancing personal and business objectives. Only then can our clients discover what they want as agreed objectives, and get the mechanics of the business (markets, customers, location, management and processes) to fit them. Most people deal with the mechanics first but then don’t get the results that they want.
We’ve very successfully worked with about 30 clients recently, and the single thing which creates the most benefit is realigning their personal and business objectives. It is the cornerstone of the whole planning process. It’s also fascinating hearing what clients have as personal objectives – as whilst they may be expressed initially in money terms, it generally is something deeper. Some owners have said they would like a holiday as they haven’t had one for eight years, one would like to spend three months a year boating, one needs the wherewithal to provide a new family home, some would like to retire but would like to keep an interest – one person even said that he would like to become a better son as he didn’t have time for his parents. This is thought provoking, and we make sure that our clients have a clear route to achieve the things that are important to them.
Our methods work with start-ups, established businesses, those who are looking to sell, right up to large corporations. They are, after all, all run by people.
Generally there are some quick results which provides reassurance that the methods work and from then on momentum builds. Our client who hadn’t had a holiday has had four in the last year (and her sales and profits grew significantly), our client who likes boating spent last summer in the Mediterranean, one that needs to retire has a plan for succession where she and her husband still keep an interest. Another client thinks he’s in the wrong job as he wants to do sales and product development, not run the business – after making sure adequate controls are in place, we are interviewing for a general manager in a fortnight. For some clients the change has meant that they have changed their management processes so that life is just that bit easier. When it becomes easier, it frees up some time resources so that the business can grow.
It’s not necessary to run a whole strategy plan for every client, but we do think that our experience has shown that it is useful to run the objectives element, and so we will be offering discovery sessions for all our business clients included in their normal fees over the next year.
We have proved to ourselves that this system works every time it is implemented properly. We want our clients to be happy – and that doesn’t simply mean happy with us – it just means happy. This helps make them happy.