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Edition 41 – Wake up Calls

In July of this year, I visited the doctor after experiencing some abdominal discomfort. I felt it was worth checking out, just in case. I was sent for a raft of tests. Bloods, ultrasounds, CT scans. It was time consuming and inconvenient. However, I wanted to find the cause of the problem and do something about it.

When the results were through, I was not happy. My doctor told me I was overweight, had high cholesterol and was in the early stages of a fatty liver problem. I was unhappy, but at least there was nothing sinister in his findings!

Consequently, the doctor read me the riot act. No animal fats, one egg per week, no cakes or biscuits and no alcohol for at least six months. Oh! and by the way, some exercise wouldn’t go astray either.

Three months later and I’ve lost 10kg. I’m the lowest weight I’ve been in over 20 years. Each week I’ve been challenging myself to lose a little. I’ve stuck to the plan, the discipline has worked and I’m feeling in great shape. Shortly, I’m heading out to buy a new wardrobe, if only to stop looking like Snoop Dogg when I put my trousers on (unintentionally, of course).

I’m telling you this as I find its wake up calls that make us act. The same thing happens in family businesses constantly. Yet, rather than head towards pleasure, we run away from pain when we’re dealing with problems in our businesses.

In the past few months, I’ve had conversations with the owners and managers of family businesses who:

  1. Haven’t chased for new business until a long standing client leaves.

    Rather than embracing the pleasure of “let’s be better off than before” they’ve run from the pain of “we could be worse off than before” to spark them into action.

  2. Have continued to put up with poor paying customers on the basis that some business, paid some day, is better than no business at all.

    Rather than say let’s negotiate a better price for our business for extended trading terms, or offer our customers a deal for 30 day settlement.

  3. Have endured the grief of passive aggressive staff who sit in their own patch and do their own thing.

    Rather than challenge those individuals to work with others towards the common goals of the business or find alternate employment.

  4. Have not reviewed their internal systems until something major falls over.

    Rather than undertake a process of gradual improvement which is far more effective than radical change.

  5. Have given away intellectual property for free to help their clients win a major proposal, only for their client to turn around and go elsewhere on price.

    Rather than challenge the status quo of the industry, tell them your work is ground breaking and you’re prepared to share it, for a price and a commitment.

  6. Have pushed their banks close to the limit in terms of overdrafts or reporting covenants.

    Rather than speak early to the bank, let them know the road is likely to be bumpy for a short period and give the bank certainty the journey will soon return to normal.

So, what’s the wake-up call you’ve had in your family business in recent months, and, in hindsight, how would you have approached it differently leading up to that event?

This Week’s Tip

Moving towards pleasure is far less stressful, much more productive and creates better results than running from pain.