Owners need to get in touch with ‘business feelings’

| 27/05/2011

(CNS): Businesses progress through time in various and quite obvious set stages and understanding which stage your own business is at is crucial if you want to remove the barriers to its growth, master business coach, Glyn Heald said this week. Speaking at a special seminar, the former Global CEO of business coaching firm Shirlaws explained that getting in touch with feelings about a business is just as important as strategies and planning. Drawing out a time line for any business, Heald detailed the various stages that business owners could expect to face during the life of their business and the corresponding emotions the owner could anticipate experiencing.

Heald was brought to Cayman this week by business consultant Tom McCallum, who has himself recently joined the firm to establish a practice in the Cayman Islands. 
The business coach said that day one for business owners brings excitement which moves into a more frantic stage of being as the business owner realises they have to do everything themselves.

The first brick wall for the business owner may occur at any time in the life cycle of the business, but, Heald assured the audience, it would come. Getting through that brick wall (such as making a decision to expand or take on more staff) usually brings on a period of inward investment which should move the business on to what Heald described as “the good times”.

Using a seminar attendee’s personal experience of developing his own pharmacy business as a real example of this onward movement, Heald encouraged the pharmacist to talk through his own experience. 

Mimicking Heald’s charting of a business almost to the letter, the pharmacist concurred that his business had started the same way.

Following the good times period comes what Heald termed “payback”, generally a short period of time when the business suddenly grows exponentially, i.e. payback for all the hard work and investment ploughed into the business in earlier times.

“It’s at this time that you might consider selling the business,” Heald said.

At this point the business suddenly takes off, the business owner’s standard of living usually increases, as do their costs.

“This is a time when marriages feel the strain as the business owner might feel that as they increase their standard of living they might also want to upgrade their partner!” Heald quipped; although the serious point was made that strain starts to become apparent on the business owner at this point in a business’s cycle.

Once finished its steep upward curve, the business will most likely then hit another brick wall, but this time it’s much larger and harder to break through. “It’s at this point that the business owner maybe feeling considerable pain,” he confirmed.

The pharmacist concurred and said that he had experienced growth and took on a new business partner, which initially aided growth but then a parting of the waysoccurred, which was his own major brick wall.

Business owners usually feel pain and frustration during these difficult times because they have moved away from doing what they are best at and have to become more focussed on management and staffing issues.

“You go into business because you’re either good at selling or making something,” Heald said. “Now you become frustrated because you might not be giving the same service you originally promised your customers.”

The business owner was generally the first person to experience such feelings, with the business as a whole lagging behind. It was usually at this crisis point that business coaches such as Shirlaws were brought in to assist in turning around the business.
“But we would be far happier seeing a business at the good times stage,” Heald confirmed, “then we can hopefully get the business through the major brick wall at a much quicker rate, turning that stage into really just a period of transformation,” he explained. 

All businesses would follow the same model, Heald said, including hitting the major brick wall, but business coaches could provide business owners with the skills they needed to get them through it unscathed. Such skills included understanding the positioning of the business, i.e. why they were in business in the first place, as well as appreciating how the business could attract new channels to the market.

Having clearly defined roles within the business were key, as were ensuring staff were skilled enough to handle this second brick wall. Succession planning was also a key to getting the business through this major brick wall to the next level of expansion, which Heald termed advanced growth.

“If you get to that stage the general feeling of a business owner is pride,” he said, confirming that this was another good time to sell the business.

The only alternatives to advanced growth were bankruptcy or a plateau, neither were desirable outcomes. Heald said that business owners could not let their business plateau: “It’s a fallacy that you can retain a business on a plateau just to keep the lifestyle; you have to work at it,” he said.

The hardest part for any business owner was positioning the business for sale, because to do that they had to make themselves redundant.

“People shy away from this,” he said. “They treat the business like a member of the family. They liken the feeling to having to sell a child. But it’s a fact that if a business owner is integral to a business that they want to sell, they will lower its value.”

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  1. ebanks says:

    Sounds very interesting.

  2. Anonymous says:


    what special seminar?  Good info, but can't he give a public talk too?