Bikes, bad buys & business lessons

Bikes, bad buys & business lessons

Have you ever had to watch from the side-lines as your children ignored your advice and took their own path? It’s can be very frustrating because we know best, right?

Well my son Harrison is no different.  A combination of determined, stubborn, single minded and head strong.  For those of you that know me well, you will know where he gets these character traits from.

For months before his 16th Birthday, there was talk of him buying a scooter.  Scooters are not my thing and never have been and, like many parents, I was mortified and tried every trick in the book to convince him it was a bad idea.

His Birthday came and it was time to purchase.  Many of his friends were already mobile and he didn’t want to miss out.  He’d worked hard at his part-time job (another of my character traits) and saved the money himself, but chose to listen to his friends rather than me when making his purchasing decision.

Unfortunately his dream scooter, which looked great value on paper, started to display technical issues after only a few days.  It has turned out to be a money pit, with the garage advising he’ll have to spend more to repair it than it’s worth. It is now sat in the garage collecting dust, he’s currently saving again to replace it with a brand new one and Dad’s Taxi is once again fully booked.

Why am I telling you this? Well, there are a myriad of business lessons we can take from this all-too-familiar scenario.

You’ll have heard the adage buy cheap, buy twice and that certainly applies in this scenario. My son made a number of fundamental mistakes that I see repeated by business owners time and again.

Business lessons: Here’s where he went wrong:

  • He took the wrong advice. He made the wrong decision because the opinions of his friends were more important to him than mine
  • He didn’t know what he didn’t know – and given he also chose the wrong advisors, he had no one to point out his blind spots
  • He valued the short-term (i.e. the purchase price and the scooter’s apparent good looks) over the long-term (i.e. whether or not he’d have to spend further money on it and whether it would work in six months time)

So what can you do about it?

A couple of years ago I was pitching for some business and the potential client was also in discussions with another advisor. We had both been referred, so had passed the first quality check, but the cost to use my services was 50% higher.

In conversations with the potential client I pointed out that if it took my competitor three days to do something I can complete in two, we’re the same price. But the temptation of a short-term cash win was bigger for that client at the time and I didn’t get the business.

Fast forward two years and the same potential client was back in touch. They hadn’t received adequate value from the advisor they chose and wanted to engage with me to help them focus and grow.

Like Harrison, they are seeing the value of looking longer term.

How does this translate in business?

Last week, I was giving a keynote in London and had a conversation afterwards with a new start-up looking to grow her architecture business.  Her business card was printed on the thinnest card, was poorly printed and the artwork didn’t do her justice.  She had bought the design advice and printing on price rather than quality and it didn’t leave a great impression.

There are over 550,000 businesses starting each year in the UK, and only 50% are making it to the five year mark. Recent research provided by Sage Europe showed that 85% of SMEs don’t have a mentor and 70% of SMEs with a mentor survive past the five year mark. A 20% increase in success rate!

Getting the right advice

There are 45,000 coaches, advisors and mentors in the UK.   How will you know you have found the right one for your business? The one that will help you deliver the results you demand?  The one that will ensure a return on your investment?

Has your mentor ever run and grown a business and therefore learnt many business lessons? Have they ever failed in business?  Do they have real life experience of your challenges to help you with the tough decisions?  Are they accredited by an industry body?

At Tendo we have over 25 years of experience running and growing businesses and have a track record of delivering high results.  We have a unique business model and guarantee that ensures clients receive immediate value and are a member of the Association of Business Mentors, ensuring the latest thinking is adopted and high quality standards are delivered.

Whether you are in the market for business cards, motorbikes or mentoring, choose wisely.  If you buy cheap, you may well buy twice.

Having the right team around you will prevent you from making bad decisions that cost you valuable time or money.  Sometimes it may feel like you can’t afford the right team but, can you afford not to?

Developing a dream team is one of the essential building blocks to running a successful business. If you are working too many hours or are frustrated about any element of your team, it’s time to take action.

Access our tool here to get started: