A thought for July

It is July. Henley and Wimbledon but also the women’s football world cup. Exciting times whatever your sporting tastes might be. Children out on visits enjoying all sorts of quasi educational activities before the term finally stumbles to its end and the holidays begin. So it is excitement all round. Here in Bedford we are looking forward to Taste: Music and Food Festival on Mill Meadows on 13 July. There will be all sorts of interesting things to see, to hear and to savour.

It isn’t quite the silly season yet but a couple of weeks ago I wondered. I had had a vague contact with someone but not met them. We had a discussion fixed for a couple of weeks ahead. Suddenly at 7.30am I had a text saying “things are really bad in my business and please could I see you today to see if you can do anything. Otherwise I am going to be forced to shut it.”

Now let’s take this at face value: here is someone in the worst kind of trouble.

My reaction was complex – poor you, why did you not come before it reached this stage, why does the decision have to be made today and a million other things.  I had a full day of client meetings and I never bounce existing clients. The request was from someone I had not been working with. Otherwise would I have seen the frenzied texter? I do not know but probably not. I may occasionally wield my magic wand and come up with quick results but at the final stage in the game doubt I have a powerful enough spell.

It all got me thinking at about the point at which my clients come to me. There are typically 3.

  1. People come when they are starting out doing something for themselves that they have done for others. They know the business but need to think about how they run it for themselves and need encouragement and support as they get going.
  2. People come when they are at some sort of decision point. It might be about taking on extra help, premises, need to pivot or are deciding on a new stream of business. It might be when the current structure is no longer working or there are problems within the team.
  3. People come when they have a single knotty problem which could be with themselves or their customers.

I am happy to help at any of these stages, but which do I think is best?

I know that any top performer only stays at the top if they practice, review and refine to improve. We need to work at our skills and always be checking that our performance is of the best. If we do not do this our skills and performance will start to slide. It might be just by a fraction but if you don’t stop the trend immediately it can only get worse.

I love people who understand this about themselves and come to me to help them review.

We usually start with an aspect of the business that is causing concern (there is always one) and then work our way through the business results and processes. Once we have done this it usually turns into a quarterly review. One of my favourite mantras is Plan – Do – Review.
Review can mean:

  • I keep doing it well so let’s identify why and do more of it.
  • I am not doing this very well and need to find a different way. Let’s deconstruct it and learn whether I need to find a better way or just lots more practice.
  • I am pretty average at this. Does it matter? If so what needs to be done?

HOWEVER much more important are what are the results of coming to me?

  1. It means you have someone on your side who will support you but is objective about you. Sometimes it means tough love. I might have to say “that is not good enough” or “you are letting yourself down”; but this will always be from the viewpoint of willing you on to do your best. I am particularly good at saying “well done” and “that was good”!
  2. You achieve what you want. This varies from person to person and we always start with what someone wants. Examples might be:
  • I want to achieve an income of £X per month.
  • I want to ready my business for the next phase i.e. becoming limited, going for bigger customers, getting ready for sale.
  • I need to sharpen up my personal, management or business skills.
  • I need to prepare myself for the next phase in my life i.e. scaling up (kids are off my hands); scaling down (I want more time for myself) or perhaps moving from one job to another.

Working with a mentor is like having a personal non-executive director. Someone who is on your side, recognises your skills but can observe and feedback. One thing is certain if you work like this you will not suddenly come to a day when your only option is to close the business!

At the moment I am offering free 30 minute taster sessions so you could try the process. If you want to book one just give me a call on 07968 822275.

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Life is good; let’s live it to the full, enjoy it and be the best we can be.