by Dr Greg Chapman, MBA
When someone starts a business, it’s typically doing something for which they have the knowledge and training and enjoy. They may be a tradie with a trade qualification or professional with a relevant degree. When starting their business, they focus on that skill and delivering to their clients the best service they know how based on their training and previous experience working for others.
As the business grows, however, they find there are other issues for which their professional or technical qualification left them unprepared. Often the business stagnates as it hits a glass ceiling. Even though they may be doing well, they find there are just not enough hours in the day. Much of the time is spent firefighting and following up staff. This distracts them from stepping back from the coalface to work on their business rather than just being trapped within it, like running in a hamster-wheel.
At the same time they know it shouldn’t be like this. They see other entrepreneurs able to ‘live the dream’ of an independent lifestyle and be away from their business for long stretches of time without it collapsing. So they know this is possible but they don’t understand how they could make this happen for themselves. It’s at this point, although they are well qualified to perform the technical functions of their business, they see the gaps in their education.
Running a business is not the same as working for someone else, even for senior managers. While good owners recognise the importance of training their employees, they often have a blind spot about their own education, although at some level they recognise the known unknowns with which they grapple every day. But what they should do about it?
Owners face two obstacles in gaining the knowledge they need, time and money. If they are already busy every waking hour, how can they take time out to learn what they need to improve their situation? At some point, they realise the truth of Albert Einstein’s quote: “The definition of insanity is going the same thing over and over again, and expecting something different to happen” Once this becomes clear, the question turns to cost. However there a numerous options they have to obtain the knowledge they seek. The cheapest is probably reading books, and many do this, but of course it’s rare to have access to authors to receive more detailed advice. At the other end of the scale is engaging an advisor or coach. This would provide them specific advice about their business, but one-one advice will always be the highest cost option.
A third, middle of the road option would be to undertake a business course where they will still be able to have their questions answered by highly knowledgeable professionals covering a much wider range of disciplines than any individual advisor.
There is always a cost to knowledge, but as Abraham Lincoln once said:
“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!”
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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and is Australia's Lea ding Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.
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