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Five Gold Rings (of success)

John Willcox-Jones
11th December 2020

Starting, running and growing any business can require a massive mental physical and financial commitment. Many new skills have to be developed outside the owner’s core area of competence – with mistakes along the way being part of the learning process.

In the lead up to Christmas I want to share Five Gold Rings related to practical issues that Oasis Europe has encountered in the course of completing over 450 business sales. While I would hope that most of these will at least ring bells with you it is often good to be reminded of them.

These are intended to influence the way you think rather than create more ‘things to do’.

1 The brown envelope

When you get up in the morning think what the worst piece of news that could be in an envelope on your desk when you get to work.  Then think through how you and your colleagues can plan to avoid it happening.  It may be the loss of a major customer or supplier or a production breakdown etc.  Planning will have the twin benefit of reducing the chance of it happening and also minimising its impact if it does.

It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark

2 The past is no guide to the future

If it was successful stock market investment would be easy rather than the reality that it is more akin to watching a drunk in the middle of a field and guessing in which direction he will take his next step.  This principle is particularly relevant today with everyone having to work out what ‘The New Economy’ means for their business.

Never let yesterday use up too much of today – Will Rogers

3 Make yourself redundant

Successful businesses are run by people who are good at their own jobs and have the ability to work as a team.  Unfortunately, some owners continue to make all decisions as they do not believe that others would take the right options. This often results in the best managers leaving in frustration and those that remain having titles and remuneration packages that assume they are responsible for major decisions when in fact they have become overpaid clerks / supervisors. Spend time finding and developing those that will push you and then allow them enough rope to make decisions for which they are accountable.

Those with torches hand them on – Plato

4 Focus

There are often a number of areas in which a business can grow – maybe geographically, extension to the product/service range, new legs to be added to the business etc.  These should be analysed and concentration should be placed on the strategy believed most likely to be successful with a time line and achievement goals set.  Many organisations try to expand in too many ways at the same time with the dilution in resources and efforts leading to an overall lack of success.

Diamonds are only lumps of coal that stuck to their job

5 Where is the value?

In the current economic climate it is particularly important that owners ask themselves the basic question – why do people buy our product or service? Is it price, technical spec, quality, speed of production, comprehensive range, stock availability, geographic location etc etc.  Then you need to be quite clear about what value you add to the process and ensure that you are justifying an acceptable margin in sales to each customer.  Now is the time to weed out those customers who have low volumes, constant special requests but insist on the cheapest price.  With many businesses having severely trimmed staffing and overheads in 2020, it is the ideal time to reset in terms of customer relationships and trading terms.

It is not the price that matters but what you get for that price 

To end with our own philosophy when it comes to achieving success I quote US President Calvin Coolidge –

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not, nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not – the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.


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