The business I can’t help

I see a lot of businesses of all different shapes and sizes.

Some businesses I can help, and some I can’t, and I’ve been thinking about the ones which I can’t help, and why not. Sometimes, someone comes to see me and their business is a tiny little thing.  Now, that doesn’t mean I can’t help them – after all, everyone’s business starts from a little shoot, but not everyone can or wants to grow into a powerful oak tree.  The people I can’t help are the ones who only want to earn 20k a year from their business and are happy with that.

If your desire is only to run a little business (and there’s nothing wrong with that, little businesses often suit someone who has other priorities such as raising children or sitting in the sunshine) it’s just not worth paying me money to help you.  And I’ll tell people that, and I’ll tell people whether they have a business which could be expanded beyond that lifestyle business level.

Sometimes I see people who have the potential to grow their business, but they are incapable of giving up doing the work on a day to day basis. If you are dead set against outsourcing, or employing people, or if you already employ people but end up doing the work yourself because you don’t trust them, then this might be you.  I can often cure people of these ideas, but sometimes this is so firmly set in that I can’t do anything.

I once went along to a meeting with a client, and when I got to the office he couldn’t see me because he was peeling potatoes. I thought that the important thing was to talk about setting up a new part of the business which was worth about 100k per year, but he thought the important thing was peeling potatoes. He couldn’t free himself to think that he could phone someone else to help with the spuds, and he missed out on a great opportunity.

You have to want to develop what you’re doing – otherwise all of my bright ideas are wasted. The other group of people I can’t help are the ones who just have a rubbish idea.  Often, I’m the first person who’s been brave enough to tell someone that their business is a pile of poo (although I phrase it more tactfully than that, of course.)  Sometimes people just need help to see their business in a different way, so that the idea becomes a good one, so I can help with this, but for someone who is so in love with the idea of a gorgeous shop selling lovely things to all of 4 people a week, or a blog which is covered in google ads which no one ever clicks on, there is sometimes no hope for them.

This also goes for the people who think that they’ll get investment for their business, and that their wages will be paid by the investment, with no thought of how the business might ever make a profit.  Sometimes investment becomes the end in itself, and the idea of actually selling some stuff and making money on it is completely lost.  For entrepreneurs like this, a reality check from Julia can make all the difference.