Under resourced, overworked business owner unable to step back and focus on the bigger picture. At the same time, the owner wished to develop a personal project and did not have the time or head-space in which to do that.
When I first started in 2015, the owner of a specialist people consultancy required coaching as the business was struggling with several critical pain points that were causing the business not to fulfill its potential. The business owner was too involved in the daily grind of growing a successful and potentially profitable business, not seeing the wood for the trees, instead of working on the business.
I was brought in to provide both experience as a Growth Coach and Finance Director harnessing my many years’ experience working in and with small businesses and their owners to provide strategic growth advice and coaching. I continue to work alongside the owner, acting as a confidante, handling unexpected challenges and sharing problems and providing ideas for solving them.
The challenge was twofold. The owner was fully engaged in many of the detailed operational processes of his business, which meant that he was unable to step back and see clearly where the different problems lay and how to resolve them. As a Growth Partner with many years’ experience working with SMEs, I was able to help the owner view more objectively the good and the bad of his current business.
Additionally, the owner was passionate about developing a personal project not related to the business and likely to provide an alternative exciting career in the future at the same time as trying to manage his current business. Resources were tight and he did not have the right staff in key positions, the premises were inadequate and some of his external advisors and suppliers served him poorly.
What’s the target?
The ultimate business objective was to keep on growing and evolving whilst preparing the business for a future sale, acquisition or merger with a suitable partner within the sector over the next 24 months. In order to achieve this, there were several critical steps that needed to be addressed. Engaging and incentivising key staff for this relationship dependent business was the critical first step. So much of the business is based on personal relationships and having the right staff, properly trained and incentivised was essential.
At the same time, the company had to understand and manage its cashflows and improve its management information so that business critical decisions could be made based on facts rather than guesswork. The company needed to define a clear strategy with relevant objectives to determine how to build an accurate business forecast, develop its product range, understand its margins and future funding requirements.
The owner also had a personal objective which was to be in a position where the business would be able to continue its trajectory without continuous input so that he could build the first stages of his personal objective.
Initially, we agreed that it was important to build a motivated and focussed team that would help the business grow which in turn would allow the owner the space and time he required to undertake work on his personal project. This included defining job roles and responsibilities and engaging the team directly to create harmony of purpose and introduce relevant training and transparency between all members of the team.
Additionally, he had to improve business processes so that he could step back from his day to day involvement and reflect on the bigger picture. At the same time, I brought in an EFM Financial Controller whose expertise ensured reliable and meaningful financial data. I brought in a sales trainer, Jackie Wade, to conduct sales training which has immensely improved staff morale, confidence and skill for the sales cycle.
We installed an online HR system and helped train a new Office Accountant to better control daily accounting processes. We changed software vendors, moved office premises, analysed historic client data to better understand our margins and client profiles. At the same time, there were several regulatory challenges in the industry with significant financial costs. I was able to act as a counsellor to the owner when reviewing these issues and give him confidence on his planned strategy and the financial consequences of decision-making.
I scheduled monthly meetings challenging and pushing the owner through the various stages of the solutions, providing action points from each meeting to support the advice. In between times, I was always available to deal with issues as they arose, following our coaching sessions. Where additional external technical advice was needed, the EFM network was always available such as our sales training specialist.
What did we achieve?
The owner now works on the business, he is now able to focus more clearly on the broader issues for the company and regulatory matters affecting the industry itself and he is regarded as a leader in his field. He has a workforce that are motivated and able to manage all aspects of their daily work regimen. Their hard work has been rewarded both in the financial sense and in their unity as a team. Importantly, the owner has also completed the initial stages of his personal project and has a clear plan for the next two stages. He is able to separate himself from the daily operational issues which hampered his ability to achieve his personal objectives.
What was the impact in the business?
Having spent a couple of years optimising the staffing compliment in terms of personnel and training, creating a clear business strategy, the past 12 months has shown revenue growth of 30% compared to the previous year. The company is cash positive and has built strong cash balances. Furthermore, the company has become attractive to potential suitors in the marketplace.
The business owner also recommended me to another company where the owner also required similar coaching support. I am now working alongside him, providing the same effective and high–quality coaching.
Ronny has been our growth coach for several years and has delivered a highly valuable, consistent and reliable service. My position as Founder and MD of an SME is often solitary and having someone with Ronny’s experience and wide-ranging skillset is invaluable both for the day to day and also the more urgent challenges and opportunities that arise.
Ronny always provides a subtly elevated viewpoint to help me make better decisions. He also provides a much-needed emotional support (sounding board) as my team and I deploy them. Ronny is particularly adept at strategising. Additionally, we have benefited from his experience with R&D and other tax incentives which have saved us considerable sums.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Ronny.