Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

Is there a magic formula to guarantee that when you start a business enterprise, it will be a success?

No! Absolutely not! There a billion factors involved, most of which are not in your control; an unexpected government initiative, a surprising competitor with the same concept, an international credit squeeze, and even a virus emerging from bats in an unknown province in China with an unpronounceable name.

And so the list rumbles on. Moreover, rules that apply to a specific industry may be less relevant to another.

However, none of these issues negate the responsibility that you, the intrepid entrepreneur and executive, should have for seeking to do your level best.

I have helped countless numbers open their business. Time and again, three over-used phrases come up. People use them all the time, but frequently misunderstand their true significance. It is time for me to share this trade secret with a wider audience.

FIRST, before you lay out a single penny, cent or shekel, you need to know where you are going. That means you need a “vision statement”.

Imagine you are the captain of a large ship. You are told to set sail. The vessel leaves port, but then what? Without a target, the captain will not know how much petrol to take on, provisions, crew, etc. And his mighty boat will go around in circles, because it has not been assigned a clear destination.

That will be the same disastrous outcome for your business. To translate a Hebrew colloquium, you will be hitting the accelerator on the full yet going nowhere slowly.

SECOND is the function of a “business model”. Look up this phrase on the internet, you will discover a billion versions to describe this phrase. Allow me to cut through the red tape and deliver a practical explanation.

Whether you have created a product or service, before launching to the market, you need to know who is going to buy it, where, how, when, at what price and why. When you think you know the answers to those questions, validate them.

Proof to yourself that you are not talking goobledeegook! Otherwise, as you formalise your findings in a business plan, the document will be incoherent.

THIRD, and by no means least, there is the little matter of “fixed costs”. Let me immediately clarify that these are expenses that exist almost every day and remain very static in level throughout the year. In other words, these costs hang around, even if you do not sell even one item.

A typical example could be office rental or back office staff. Another example, when it comes to smaller operations, could be the monthly budget of your household. If you cannot cover these items through sales, you are on the wrong track! No room for discussion.

I have spent nearly 15 years as business coach and mentor. It concerns me how often I have seen SMEs trying to ignore this rule, usually ending up dipping heavily and ineffectively into their savings.

If you have read up to here, you may be saying “well, I know all that, but I still don’t seem to get it right. Help!”

What is stopping you both reaching out and then accepting guidance? The answer is not procrastination. That is the symptom. Compare your position to my clients in the year of corona. They have opened businesses, taken operations overseas, secured loans, increased sales.

My work is to act as your guide, coach and mentor. I use my experience as a strategic economist, with an ability to see all sides of an enterprise. I offer you the clarity you desire to make vital decisions on your path to success.

To find out more – to learn how to create a solid vision statement and business model, and then to ensure you get things done – do not hesitate to call me.

You are looking for a new commercial path for yourself and your company. What makes you so sure that you have the required skills to find the next gig by yourself?

Unfortunately, you have led your company into a mess. Does it not take somebody with an outside perspective to help guide you through the next set of challenges?

In my experience, there are reasons galore why people seek out a business coach or mentor. What is intriguing for me is why so many choose the wrong person for the job. Worse still, they only come to realise the mistake once even more havoc has been created.

There are three core questions people should be asking themselves

  1. Why use a business coach? What’s in it for me?

You could benefit from the experience. You may stay focused. You will hear a different opinion.

All of this and more is very valid. Now consider this related question. Why do top sport’s professionals – for all their brilliant abilities – still use a coach?

Because the coach is able to get that bit extra out of a player. It is the ‘delta’ that makes the difference between average and trophies, between nice prize money and mega advertising deals.

As Dale Carnegie courses teach, the difference in shots played by the best golfers is not that great. Somehow, those like Woods and McIlroy hit 0.1 less shots than the chasing pack.

  • Who is a good business coach?

You could learn from their knowledge of your industry. But this is a classic mistake. Nobody says you have to choose somebody who is an expert and / or who is from your own field of commerce.

There is a well-known story of how one day, the golf coaches did not turn up at a sports club. Replacements were found from the tennis group. The following day, the golf coaches were stunned at the improvements in their pupils’ swing and driving.

The person you are looking person requires the ability to sit back and to analyse what you are (and are not) saying or doing. They also need to be able to resist your pushback. Taking on somebody with your own mindset means there are now two of you in the room agreeing with each other. This does not foster change.

  • Is a business mentor worth the investment?

Many experienced mentors will request a lot of money, as an hourly rate or retainer. Most will not work for a success fee. Surely that seems unfair? At the risk of being seen to want to protect my own income, I argue that there is an alternative and more informative perspective.

Assume you are charged US$100 per hour by your mentor. How many hours will it take, before you obtain your first extra client? And many hours are required before you break even, capturing a return on your investment? Don’t be cheap! As the old phrase goes, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Yup – all good questions? But here is the one people forget to ask before all else. What is the difference between a coach, a mentor and a consultant, and which is the most suitable for you?

All through this blog, I have intermixed the three phrases, deliberately. While there are similarities, there are intricate and significant differences. Briefly: –

  • A coach develops core skills and strengthens weaker abilities.
  • A mentor provides insights, guiding like a teacher. (Look up the origin of the word!)
  • A consultant is usually very hands-on, often doing some of the work.

Where do I come in?

Peter Fisk has written about the corona era:

57% of today’s largest companies were created in a downturn. A crisis accelerates change, it disrupts the old codes of business, it forges new ideas and loyalties. Consumer priorities change and new behaviours emerge. Now is not just the time to survive, but to thrive.

Corona or otherwise, my years of experience enable me to create that spark and to drive the changes that executives seek.

In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power .

21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari

This powerful statement was written at least two years before corona broke out. Surprisingly, it is the very first line of his book. And while most of us believe that the pandemic will eventually come to an end, have you begun to think what your business will look like afterwards?

As I write this, many of us are emerging from lockdown, while some are facing its threat for a second time. Small business, the heart of all economies, are hurting bad. Civil servants, who have never run a commercial set up, are launching policies suited for a previous era. Who can think straight in this time of distress and uncertainty?

I have spent much of the 2020 summer talking to decision makers of corporates, service providers, retailers and more. And my starting premise is a blog written back in March 2019.

When it comes to disruption on the modern business landscape, company size is no safeguard. 88% of Fortune 500 companies in the 1955 -2017 period have either gone bankrupt, merged with other firms, or dropped off the list for other reasons. What’s more, it’s estimated that digital disruption will wipe out 40% of today’s Fortune 500 companies in the coming decade.

Titans of Transformation – Samul Medley

The takeaway? Even in the good times, you cannot afford to stand still. Corona is merely forcing you to lead and manage your company as you should have been doing in the first place.

So, what can you do? I commend you to three exciting and doable challenges, all employed successfully by my clients.

First, let’s rephrase the question: What is going to make the difference that places you ahead of the rest of the pack?

Corona allows us all a one-time opportunity to press the ‘reset button’. All those horrendous health and financial stress factors are actually pointing you towards a wonderful ‘exit strategy’. Put all the pervious restrictions to one side and go for it!

Just consider: You are in the clear to do what you want – to activate your dream.

How? Your first step should be to place yourself in an environment that allows for a growth mindset. Gravitate and reach out towards those people who can make that difference. After all, many will have started out from a similar place to you.

Challenge number 2: Look at your business and divide it (figuratively) into two sections; your market and your support structure.

Regarding the market, take your guidance from The Great Depression of the 1930s, when America’s farm lands turned into dustbowls. These were the same years when companies like Boeing, Proctor and Gamble, 3M et al changed direction. They did not hang around for a Roosevelt to save them. As others cut back, they pivoted and also invested in advertising.

That lesson still holds true nearly 90 years on. Early on in the pandemic, MacDonalds had a rethink.  Many of the stores that remained open received a new menu. My clients have adopted a similar assertive approach. They have identified what their core clientele want, shouted loud about it, and seen the rewards in increased sales.

Third, consider your ‘back office’ departments. You will already have discovered which positions are needed or not. While working from home, which of your ‘comfort zones’ have you honestly missed? I bet the answer is not what you would have predicted initially!

Installing focus – That is my profession, as a skilled business coach and mentor. Over the years, I have facilitated countless entrepreneurs in establishing their new business. I have formulated strategy creation with service providers, manufacturers and techies. I have created soft landings for clients setting up overseas’ operations.

Corona is a reminder that we cannot take our position for granted. My role is to show leaders how to initiate their own changes. And because of Corona, that job of providing lucid, practical steps towards growth is more pertinent than ever before.

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