Business gym cracker

Business on the treadmill?

Recently I have been getting back into the routine of going to the gym. I am quite an “old hand” at the gym, but having been “injured” a while back I got out of the habit. Still, I am going well now and I am pleased how my fitness has returned quite rapidly.

What has this got to do with business? Well, it has a bit in that it got me thinking.

There is this guy I see quite often and you get to chat to familiar faces. He is pleasant and because he has coached me helpfully with the odd suggestion I am even prepared to overlook the Tottenham Hotspur shirt he quite often wears.

The other day he said to me after staggering off the treadmill “it never gets any easier does it?” Well, I suppose it doesn’t in terms of getting maximum fitness because for the hour or so we are in the gym we need to push ourselves. Otherwise either we never get as fit as we should be or we lose the best level of fitness we can attain.

A lot of people running small businesses work themselves full-tilt 100% all the time. I am all for commitment, but it strikes me that we train in the gym so that we can cope with any activity we have to do and we want to feel better. Maybe we want to stay lean or get lean. It is not because we live life at a constant high speed when we are not in the gym. We need time to ourselves to take stock and plan.

In business, if we work our fingers to the bone and it never gets any easier, we are not doing it right. We need to train ourselves to be more efficient and to delegate. Or we need to ask someone to train us so that we get better results without working so hard.

It’s not difficult. It just needs a bit of commitment to help ourselves and to put aside a little time to be better. Just like going to the gym.

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Why we need to take an outside view in business

I am in a reflective mood. I am coming to the end of an engagement helping a client; an engagement which should not be ending. This is not just because obviously an income stream will stop; I have other clients. It is that there is so much more I could do for them which they just cannot see, being such an introspective inward-looking business.

I started with this client when their firm was experiencing extreme pain due to loss of (mainly) staff but also internal disputes. My few months there have alleviated the pain and now they feel much better. However, they do not seem to realise that so far we have just dealt with the symptom and we need to cure the illness so that we do not have another bout of sickness in six or nine months time. Treatment would not be difficult if they allowed me to help. I could cut my time with them by 50 to 75%. It would not be a costly experience for the client and my work would pay for itself many times over.

I have the advantage of being an outsider able to look at the whole business rather than being an inside navel-gazer, not able to look very far, and certainly not able to look even at what competitors are doing. I can see a lot more; I have the perspective of distance and height to see the whole picture, and I wish I could persuade them as to what they need to do. I do not need to do it for them; they need a corporate exercise regime, which is why I would only need to see them occasionally in the role of a “personal trainer”; just a visit to keep them on track.

All this has made me think that I too need an outside perspective on my own business. Maybe I cannot see my wood for the trees. In the next month or so I will be having a check up from a outsider on all my marketing and probably on the whole way I approach my business.

What will you be doing that is different to help your business be better, and do you agree that asking a suitable outsider to look at your business may be what you need?

© Jon Stow 2010

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