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Business Advice – I Wish I’d Known Then What I Know Now

5th February 2019

I got a note sent to me last week from an author who asked if I would like to contribute to his new book on business owners and their ‘pearls of wisdom’. The classic of wishing you’d known then what you know now. Stephen, the author made one stipulation, it can only be a single learning.

I thought this will be really tricky and so it has proved. But I thought I could get my top 6 down and then expand on/whittle them down via a blog, by inviting you the reader to add, critique or help me find the best one. Shared learning, eh?

Original thinking

I love to look at bit clever, yes really. I told my wife recently that I have decided that I have never had an original thought in my life and wondered if she felt the same way. She said;

“I agree, you have never had an original thought in your life, David”

I really meant if she thought the same about herself. But, hey-ho, you live and learn and that’s the crux of this blog. We all do live and learn

Someone (very wise) said to me a while back that I wasn’t intellectually curious, which was quite a body blow but I know what they meant. I had left education and stopped learning. This is fatal. Fortunately, I worked for a firm that had recently been awarded Investors in People (IIP) so for the next period, learning came thick and fast and got me back in the swing of investing in myself. I may have been born yesterday but it wasn’t last night….

That said, I am the greatest ever magpie, I don’t think much of what I utter (insightful or not) is coming from a spark of genius but more an amalgam of working with fantastic people, reading a lot and experiences that I have accumulated, no more, no less.

I think what I have added in the past few years, is a clear realisation of where I really can contribute and where I just add white noise.

Pearls of wisdom

So here we are my top 6 pearls of wisdom to make your business rock & roll…

  1. Define cost in your business between sales cost ie  winning & keeping customers (investment) & cost – cost such as Opex.  I worked with someone who only travelled to customers after 10am because it was cheaper. That seemed penny-pinching and limiting not prudent.
  2. Assume best intent’ – I borrowed this recently. If you work on the basis people want to work honestly and in an appropriate way, you get better outcomes. Start with question marks and you don’t.
  3. You can never spend enough time with your customers. That’s it. I work on a meet – call – email basis not the other way round.
  4. Worry problems away – something pending drives me up the wall. If you perform a pre-mortem and predict issues rather than fingers-crossed or “I’ll get to it”
  5. Success leaves clues – often I meet people who don’t know how or why they win and keep customers. Look at brilliantly delivered projects and it’s there, under your nose. Put a critical eye and find out.
  6. Tinkering is not business transformation, change or improvement. It’s really meddling and doesn’t help if you are nudging left or right all the time. Be clear on the difference.

Those are some of mine… let me have one of yours and we’ll write our own book!