A gentle puzzle for you!

A woman had built a successful service business from scratch and enjoyed the lifestyle that went with it – nice house, top of the range car, holidays abroad, dining out, classy clothes, trips to the theatre – she’d earned it all.

She had a permanent workforce of fifteen people and about thirty-five part time outworkers who all relied on her for their income.

Then the bottom fell out of the market and the only way for her and the company to survive was to change direction. The car, her pride and joy, was the first to go along with the dining out and theatre.

She had enough good clothes to still ‘look the part’ and they’d last a while. But, as time went on, employees became disaffected, morale was low and she was losing confidence in her own abilities to successfully ride the storm.

Could she do it?

The answer at this stage was: Possibly. Yet she was smart enough to realise she’d reached a point where she was ‘too close to the wood to see the trees’ and couldn’t do it on her own.

She didn’t wheel in a business coach with a track record running companies; she approached someone who would help her think differently. And, together they got results within weeks:

  • After a get together of the core workforce fourteen were totally ‘onside’ and the remaining one, who clearly wasn’t, left the company.
  • She was made to follow up a potential contract that had gone suddenly quiet: She discovered there’d been a misunderstanding that was about to scupper the deal. She was able to clear it up and get an order that immediately put £25,000 into her company’s funds and not only considerably eased the financial pressure but also boosted her personal confidence.
  • She was made to ‘go play’ with those who still owned the make of car she’d had and found they automatically regarded her as one of them – whether she happened to actually own one at the moment or not.

She and her company did ride the storm; she got another dream car, a second home in Europe, where she now spends much of her time…

The ‘moral of the tale’ is in the story – what’s your view on what it is? Post your thoughts in the comments here :-)

Linda Mattacks - Small Business Training

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5 Responses to “A gentle puzzle for you!”

  1. Jane Hatton says:

    Asking the right person is crucial. Often we tend to ask people who think the same as we do, whereas as maybe what is needed is to see things from a completely different angle. For this reason I pick fellow directors who have very different skill sets and experience to mine. Some of the inevitable arguments can lead to some quite creative ideas seeing the light of day!

  2. It always surprises me how some people find it really difficult to ask for help – it’s almost as if some business owners think they have to have ALL the answers, and I’m pretty sure that’s not true!

    Well done to this lady for asking for help – and the right sort of help at that, and turning things around.

  3. Ann Godridge says:

    It is difficult to keep faith when circumstances change, and when morale is low all round, and yet that’s when you most need the confidence to make a change of direction.

    Realising she needed to find someone more objective – who would help her cut to the chase – was the real turning point. Actually following through and acting on it, with support – that’s what makes the difference.

    Good story, Linda :)

  4. Speaking as an author and editor, I am trained to stand back and look at both my own work and that of others very objectively indeed. But sorting out wood and trees isn’t so hard when you’re working with the two-dimensional world of the written word.

    Even with that training behind me, when it comes to running my little business (and it IS little … just me!) I find it almost impossible to make myself be objective. It is so, so easy to get stuck in a groove and believe that this is the right way forward when, for all you know, it isn’t.

    A third party with the right set of skills and experience who can make you a) see where you’re going wrong / not maximising your resources and b) show you how to think in a productive way is, well, worth their weight in gold. Linda’s parable illustrates that point perfectly.

  5. Sarah Arrow says:

    Bet the one that left is kicking themselves now 😉

    So who did she invite in to help her sort it out?

    Ps like the new look btw

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"I was very impressed by Linda's determination to help and the constructive, but persistent, manner in which she identified issues and then tried to resolve them. After recent progress I was again reaching a stage where I seemed to be spinning my wheels, and she has given me fresh impetus to start moving forward again."