Rachel never considered herself a business woman, despite the fact that she’d grown up in her Mum’s business, had been in business with her husband for twenty years, and started her own copywriting business. Joining business development group Rachel soon realised she was a bit of a veteran and did in fact have valuable business experience to share with the group.
Running Aerial Master in Palmerston North for twenty years hadn’t filled Rachel’s bucket, so she’d recently branched out, following her passion for words and starting her copywriting business: You Have My Word. With fresh excitement towards her work Rachel wanted to make sure she had all the tools she could to not only make sure You Have My Word was the best business it could be, but to also make sure that Aerial Master received a spruce up too. While she was concerned that the content could be very profit focused and pompous, Rachel actually found a group of people struggling with a lot of similar issues as herself, such as trying to juggle many different roles in their business at the same time. The course was structured foundationally on values with profit focused on near the end of the year. These values which aligned with her values and the personal focus that shone through the course were refreshing. The well structured course over a ten month period made it easy to look at the key learning’s in an organised format, away from the hustle and bustle of daily business stresses. Rachel realised the importance of taking time to ‘work on her business and not in it’ (all the time) and gained inspiration from other group members’ business practices and stories.
The BDG course has helped to raise some self-awareness for Rachel around her strengths including that she has a good deal of business experience but can always learn new and useful skills. Furthermore preparing a board report each month was a valuable exercise to not only focus on issues and information for the month but also to take the time to reflect on what she’d achieved. Because of her writing strengths Rachel always had her board report nicely written and in on time.
James from Village Valley Automotive recently celebrated ten years in business in his successful workshop in Ashhurst. Excellent skills on the tools and diverse knowledge in both mechanics and business is what has kept James’ mechanical business growing and thriving over the years but that wasn’t going to result in James taking his eye off the road ahead.
James joined the Business Development Group to get experience working with a board, and found he fitted in really well. Committing to attending the BDG (Business Development Group) allowed James an escape from the demanding environment and busy schedule of the day to day running of his mechanical workshop.
Board members quickly identified his strengths and weaknesses; James is a real entrepreneur with a strong work ethic and lots of great ideas. He realised that he’d achieved some things really well such as implementing systems and processes, making plans and setting goals, whereas other areas of his management suffered from his tendency to be too kind-hearted.
Being held accountable by board (group) members meant that James couldn’t put off attending to problems that he’d identified, and this was all the encouragement he needed to push ahead and make some necessary changes to the way he ran his business.
Building relationships with other business people and offering helpful advice and insights from his own experiences helped James to feel valued and helped allay feelings of isolation shared by many business owners. Watching other board members grow and implement changes they have learned from the course has been really satisfying for James; even though everyone’s businesses are different he’s found the basics of running a business are the same.
Malcolm Frost has been a successful insurance advisor for over nineteen years making the leap to being his own boss two years ago. Malcolm’s most enjoyed part of the job is talking to people, finding out what they need, and helping to protect them, their businesses and their families from unplanned, negative impacts on their livelihood. Joining the BDG (Business Development Group) was a way for Malcolm to enhance his business skills and make sure that the wheels kept turning so he could focus on the part of the job he enjoys the most – a cuppa and a chat.
The commitment to trust group members was initially confronting for Malcolm as discretion is crucial in the sensitive and cut-throat industry that he works in. Group members were reminded at the beginning of each session that everything they discussed was to remain in the boardroom, and eventually Malcolm relaxed and shared his business insights with the group. He found the group support to be valuable and noted with interest the similarities and differences between businesses. This offered him new perspectives and ideas.
Identifying that a weakness was having time to work ‘on’ his business Malcolm’s commitment to the material in the BDG allowed him to implement a lot of new systems and processes which contribute to a seamless, smooth-running operation in the background allowing him to focus on doing what he does best. Putting the time into making change was hard, but improving his business operation and increasing its value as a result has been worth it.
With over twenty years experience in a corporate environment Scott Bennett knows everything there is to know about logistics management. He’d learnt his trade from the ground up starting in the air force before moving on to the commercial industry. After many years in a corporate environment Scott was lured by the love of woodwork and the idea of being his own boss and made the life changing decision to purchase a joinery business in 2014. The logistics industry was not ready to let Scott’s skills go and not long after purchasing his joinery business Scott found himself driving his own logistics company too. Having achieved great success in everything he did, Scott found the diverse nature of running a business, and then two businesses a challenge.
Scott attended the Business Development Group (BDG) hoping to learn some new skills and find some answers to problems he was encountering. BDG was a relief. Scott found like-minded people who had encountered similar problems in business and was able to discuss solutions openly and honestly. Looking at his business processes from a different perspective was an affirming experience. Scott was able to identify which things he was doing well and which he needed to improve. The obligation to present a board report each month held Scott accountable for his actions and this was very motivating. Scott’s strengths in management were valuable to BDG members who were able to gain from his long experience in people management. The most enjoyable part of the group was the opportunity to connect with other business people in an authentic way. Scott found himself energised and de-stressed after every session and made some solid relationships with group members.
Session 9 – Profit Strategies
As usual the Business Development Group shared their board reports to open their meeting. As the group has come to know each other and gain insight into each others’ businesses, it has become an interesting time to touch base and hear about progress being made as a result of the development course.
This month the BDG explored profit strategies. It was interesting to find that most of the group didn’t have an excellent grasp on this important part of their businesses. This section promised to be very valuable for the group as they used their new skills and strategies to make sure that their business is producing the profits they both want and need. Maintaining good profit levels is crucial to the health of business, as well as stakeholders and must be achieved with the goals of the business owner’s values in mind.
The group learned the ONLY 5 WAYS to increase profit and the strategies associated with achieving them. Guest speaker Mike Clark from Think Right delivered a useful session on how to make sure sales and profit strategies were getting the results a business needs. Comparing different levels of pricing and profit margins allowed group members to see the significant difference that well analysed pricing choices can make to profit, especially when combined with good sales strategies.
The BDG group explored the ways that costs can be reduced as another way of increasing profits. Keeping an eye on expenses and the ways that they could be reduced are an important part of running a profitable business.
There was plenty for the group to take away from this meeting and huge potential for implementing strategies to ensure the strength and longevity of their businesses into the future.
Session Eight – Financial Health Strategies
While for many people financial material might be the most boring part of running a business, it is often the most neglected and yet the most crucial element to success. Maintaining good financial health strategies is a massive cog in the well-oiled running of a business machine.
The BDG went through a series of strategies to ensure their businesses were on the right track to being financially healthy and meeting the needs of their stakeholders. Group members revealed their strategies for taking care of financial wellbeing, and were able to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Focusing on weak areas allowed group members to target financial strategies which would have the most impact for their business. All BDG members found they had areas to work on and were eager to put new strategies to work.
With new strategies to manage Cashflow, Assets, Finance and Growth all the BDG members assessed their businesses through a new lens and went away with a sharper focus.