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Edition 425 – TREMORS

The numbers aren’t sitting where they need to be. Revenue is too low and a shocker month this month means that cashflow will be horrendous in 60 days time.

In this client meeting, I ask some questions. Answers are forthcoming.

We talk about various jobs on the books, the issues that have arisen, such as defective work on site or cost overruns, and we can identify some of the cause.

However, something’s not right. Something else is not making sense. After three plus decades of doing this, you get a gut feel for a situation, irrespective of how long you’ve been working with a family business and their ownership and management team.

So, history tells me to listen out for words or phrases that are in use. Perhaps it’s the tone in which they’re used. Maybe it’s the way that a voice is emotionally inflected when a particular topic, or an individual’s name is raised. Maybe it’s a sixth sense?

It turns out, I was right. There is something else at play. And it’s why the business is going through a bumpy patch.

The personal relationship between the owners of this family business has fractured. They’re not getting on and, for the moment, they’re not living under the same roof. For all intents and purposes, when you wander into the office at the start of proceedings, you’d think it was all tickety-boo. Until, the little tell tale signs start to show.

Often, when we try to work through a business problem, we’re looking at completely the wrong thing. In my experience, it can be something personal that’s impacting a key individual in the business, be they the owner or a non-family member of the management team. The family business is so tightly woven with the family that, whenever something happens personally, the business takes a hit. That’s exactly what’s happening in this situation.

Sometimes, that impact can be minor. Other times, it’s disruptive. At the other end of the scale, it can be catastrophic.

The death of a close family member, or even the family pet, can impact the business.

The fracturing of a personal relationship, whether it’s an intimate one, or a long standing friendship, can throw the owner or a key member of the business off course, to the point where they’re distracted in their day to day work.

Fatigue and overwork are major contributors to a bumpy road in business. When things feel like they’re out of control, and you have the sense that your efforts aren’t appreciated by those closest to you, it can turns the bumps into potholes….or crevasses.

Self care is very much understated, and indeed underdone, in most family businesses.

I’ve long been an advocate for counselling and myself have taken part in it for eight years. It’s helped me through some difficult patches and is both a valuable sounding board and, occasionally, a reality check. Even when it’s not a difficult patch, it’s incredibly powerful as a method of growing to be the best version of yourself.

So, next time you’re taking a moment to look at your business to figure out what’s happening, or why it’s not performing, take a step back – adopt a wider view and ask yourself, what else is going on, elsewhere in life, that could be impacting our business

This Week’s Tip

“What happens outside of the business can dramatically impact what’s happening inside the business”.