Avoid Business Growing Pains

We all know people who’ve lost or nearly lost their business.

We hear how they’ve been “stitched up” by rogues or, at the very least, let down by incompetents whom they’ve charged with responsibility for sales, marketing, financial, legal or IT issues and it’s all gone horribly wrong.

So how did they allow this to happen? Well, in hindsight they’ve obviously made the wrong choice(s). Brilliant. We know that in hindsight we all have 20:20 vision. So how do we get the 20:20 before we get to the potential disaster?

The two obvious ways are:

  • You buy in the expertise you need from somebody proven to actually be able to do the job well (outsourced or employed)
  • You learn how to do it yourself from a reputable source

Yet there are two potential flaws in this (somewhat flippant) answer.

The first assumes that you know at the very least what questions to ask and what answers to expect in order to ascertain whether an individual claiming expertise in any of the essential areas is actually any good at what he/ she does and whether you would be getting value for money in the service you’re paying for.

The second presumes you know where to go, whom to go to, have the time and can make the commitment to learn how to perform these functions to the best of your ability and to the credit and success of your company.

Once again good old common sense has an often sadly ignored role in this. What about a middle ground where you could pool teaching and learning skills, gradually building mutual trust and without anybody spending huge amounts of money :)?

Networking groups abound yet they seem to be set up with the prime reason (if not sole purpose) to introduce and refer business rather than trading skills and services.

You may have tried networking and love or hate your experiences of it. It doesn’t really matter for our purposes here because, regardless, you will know at least some people whom you trust and who can either help you directly or put you in contact with someone who can.

  • Start inviting people who are each as good in their field as you are in yours to come and talk to each other
  • Ask how willing they are to help each other
  • Find out what additional help they in turn need and build a group that ultimately can fulfil all, or at least most of your collective business skills needs

It’s a good idea to agree a unit value for each function – an hourly, daily or part-day rate is usually favourite. Then barter time where possible either to perform the function for each other or use that time (where practical) to teach/ show how to do it. I prefer the latter for reasons I’ll go into further down the line.

Introduce members gradually and monitor the value of their contributions. Some may turn out to be mainly “takers”: They’ll pay for the services on offer that they need rather than really enter into the spirit of the group. And that may be perfectly acceptable until somebody else comes along and wants to join who does what they do but wants to give, too. You just have to decide as you go along what’s in the best interests of the group.

Try it out and let me know how you get on :).

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One Response to “Avoid Business Growing Pains”

  1. […] We all know people who’ve lost or nearly lost their business. […]

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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."