It’s always great to have someone to talk to – ideally someone you trust and respect. Running an SME company can be a lonely business. I know many businesses where, even though there are 20 or more employees, they are still owner managed. Ultimate decisions on the direction the business is taking rest with the one or two people who started the company. As early success tends to drive growth the head count grows and there are ever more people looking for leadership. A business that originally relied on the technical or entrepreneurial skills of its founder(s) increasingly demands effective people management skills. While it may have been OK to fly by the seat of your pants in the early days, an effective business must be a joined-up operation with a motivated team. This team must have a clear understanding of, is fully engaged with, the business plans and goals. Without this progression from what is essentially a ‘one man band’ with employees to a sustainably growing business lead by an effective management team, businesses can stall, struggle, or even fail. Where a business is started by 2 or even 3 people, as things develop and grow, the goals and needs of different people vary. I have come across numerous cases where people who start a business work closely together for many years reach a point where they have remarkably different viewpoints – which are never discussed! – things just carry on. The danger is that this situation can end up undermining an otherwise successful company. Don’t get me wrong, many thousands of people are happily and successfully self-employed with no intention of taking on staff or growing the business and many others like working with a small team that they get on with. Business growth is not for everyone but often it can creep up on a business owner!
Success breeds Success
You start a business you are passionate about and you deliver great products and services. You engage with your customers and markets and guess what, word of your capability spreads and you get more customers! For a while this is OK and you can ride the wave of success but sooner or later you will need more staff or you will start letting customers down. Before you know it’s not just you. You have a successful business and a team of 10 or more who need leadership and management – not what you signed up for! How can you make sure you manage this step to ‘The next level’?
An expert on your side
As I said at the start of this article having someone to talk to can be immensely valuable. While many people rely on family or friends, someone who really understands business and the processes you are faced with, but who remains objective, can be a real asset to both you and the future of your business. Even if you started your business with others, a professional third-party who understands the needs of SME businesses and encourages dialogue between the owners, can be immensely valuable. Over the years (and even now!) business consultants can sometimes get a bad press. However, in the past decade or so there has been a growth in highly experienced individuals setting up as independent business coaches specifically to work with SME businesses. At BSA we have several clients where we work very successfully in 3-way partnership with our client and a business coach. Coaching can deliver in many ways including:
- Business Advice
- 1 to 1 Coaching & Mentoring
- Team Coaching
- Training Workshops
- Non-Executive Director roles
Whatever your needs, if you decide to work with a coach, it is vital you find someone you relate to. A good coach should always be ready to challenge your norms and ideas. But equally, you should look forward to your coaching sessions! Working with the right coach can help develop the effective, joined-up operation that is a key element of a ‘Good‘ business. If you’d like to read our overview of what a good business looks like, check this out My thanks to Tim Iles of timl.co.uk for his help and insight on this post