Real business lessons learned
Let me tell you a story…
This story is about a specific women’s journey in business. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Personnel Management and started her career as a personnel officer at Iscor HQ, Pretoria.
Half a decade later, disillusioned about losing ‘self’ in endless, mindless meetings, challenges with filing paperwork on deadlines for payroll and the ‘joys’ of climbing the corporate ladder, she made an instant decision to resign and leave it all behind.
Joining the family business was the obvious next step. The family business, a service-based welding machine workshop, with the owner, her dad. Revenue was generated by servicing and repairing all makes of welding machine equipment as well as selling spares, welding machine components, welding equipment and welding consumables.
Coming from a corporate environment, what did she know and understand about this world?
With a natural ability to ‘get on with things’, she set out to type a quote for welding equipment on an old-school typewriter (the age before PCs), confirm the address of her very first client to call on and with a Map Studio Road Atlas she was on her way! She literally was not sure what to expect. She braved an introduction to Mr. Berman at TFM! Convinced him about her company’s ability and known reputation for after-sales service, a product sold with a guarantee and sold 6 units! Pure joy and exhilaration…this is not ‘that difficult’!
All the while fearing the ONE question, ‘So tell me, how long have you been doing this?’
Lesson #1: Always act with sincere intend, it is always rewarded.
Marketing and sales became her ‘thing’. Calling on new clients, building relationships with existing clients, shaking countless working-man hands, climbing through and over steel objects in various stages of being manufactured, smiling at trade shows, having conversations about welding processes and ‘the right equipment for the right job’.
Double digit revenue growth year on year…the real way, face to face…no internet, cell phones which were only a new ‘gadget’ at that point, no emails or digital media campaigns into a faceless market.
An announcement by her father that he will soon be retiring, brought on a partnership with a fellow business partner, an apparent ‘match made in heaven’!
The amalgamation of two business entities, the one established and the other not that established, was never over analyzed or negotiated… it just happened.
Double resources, double energy, double focus, double intend… the partnership lasted for a couple of years.
Lesson #2: Ownership should be earned or bought. Never give it away under an assumption of ‘value gained’.
Looking back, valuable lessons were learned in being part of a partnership. These lessons include the importance of clearly defined roles and responsibilities, strategic leadership, quarterly and annual review of business results as well as an exit strategy.
An exit strategy in business should always be supported by a carefully negotiated process with all parties’ interests in mind. An objective mentor or business could have added a valuable outsider’s perspective in the decision making process.
Lesson #3: Prepare, investigate, understand the real value of your business – never make an emotional decision
New beginnings… with a clear vision of the future, she started her own new business. A guest house, offering a comfortable stay for corporate travellers less than 10km’s from OR Tambo Airport.
It is fair to say that not many of her close friends believed in her business venture. Finding a suitable property, planning and designing the layout together with the construction, took the best of a year… FINALLY opening for business with 7 rooms and a conference facility.
Building a brand new business from scratch was a real test for passion, purpose and perseverance.
It took 24/7 dedication and commitment around ‘the clock’. Within 2 years and an opportunity to extend to a neighbouring property and they were ready for the Football Word Cup 2010!
The guest house business has grown to provide her and her household with a remarkable investment, a source of recurring income and a real personal sense of success.
Lesson #4: To succeed in business, it takes equal measures of inspiration, consistency in execution and a bit of luck!
A move across country, the guest house under management and time to start another business… a business broking company. The aim was to assist business owners in valuing, marketing and the selling of their businesses.
A tough journey as many businesses proof not to be ready to be sold. Some reasons for this was lack of or unreliable financial record, marginal profitability and or the business being depended on the owner.
Lesson #5: Build a business with real value… right from the start!
This is my story before I decided just more than 3 years ago, to join ActionCOACH, the #1 business coaching global family!
And what a journey this has been!
In the last 3 years, I have coached almost 100 business owners to understand the underlying dynamics of their businesses as well as the drivers that determines the real value to their businesses.
I have come to define my life’s purpose to inspire, lead and coach business owners to build real businesses and a life of significance and purpose.
My personal journey in business has taught me to respect all business owners, understand the courage it takes to believe in one’s self and have the courage to keep going, to persevere and persist. Sometime being and feeling completely alone in this journey.
I understand the importance to build a business with purpose and real value… with a clear, defined end result in mind as this will always be rewarded.
I have also come to understand that real success at business also requires a tenacious mindset, knowledge of business, discipline and control.
In the words of Keith Cunningham in his latest best seller… ’The Road Less Stupid’:
“There is no such thing as a natural business owner. Successful business owners and entrepreneurs are not born with an innate set of skills that produces business excellence and success. Great business owners work hard, practice, study, test, think, correct and practice some more.”
It is no longer a question whether a business coach can add value to a business owner, the real question to ask is rather ‘which business coach’ will be a great fit for you and your business?