22/09/2011

Bouncing off the energy of others

By Gerard Burke, Founder and MD, Your Business Your Future

We strongly believe that not only is it possible for owner managers to develop themselves and their businesses in mixed-industry groups, it's preferable! That's why every cohort of our flagship Better Business Programme includes owner managers from many different industries.

Every owner manager who participates in a programme like the Better Business Programme is ambitious for a better future for their business and for themselves. Of course, better also means different. So, if you want a different future for your business and for you, then you need to think and plan differently.

Original thoughts and candid views are more likely to come from someone outside your industry. So, by engaging with owner managers from other industries, participants gain fresh perspectives and insights and discover new ways of thinking and approaching problems. This doesn’t happen to the same extent when people from the same industry come together, as there is a tendency for ‘group think’.

To get the most out of an in-depth development experience like the Better Business Programme, you need to be able to open up and share your hopes, fears and challenges with others. The more open and honest you can be, the more likely it is that the programme leaders, and other participants, will be able to help you see new ways forward and get to where you want to be.

For many participants, being able to share, in confidence, opportunities, plans and, sometimes, doubts that they can’t discuss easily with people from their own industry, has been one of the most valuable aspects of the programme. This open, trusting environment is far easier to achieve in a mixed-industry group since, in a group of people running similar businesses, no-one wants to reveal too much about their situation as there may be a competitor in the room.
Our programmes are also designed to challenge your thinking, as by having it challenged, you will think things through more deeply. It is more likely that you will be challenged by people who see the world differently than you. As a result, your decisions will be more robust and your plans more confident.

Some people we talk to are concerned that some industries are just too far removed from one another for their business owners to share anything in common.

The Better Business Programme is structured around seven principles, which we call the ‘Seven Pillars of a Better Business’. These pillars are universally applicable to any type of business in any industry and are based on the characteristics that set successful owner-managed businesses apart from those that don’t do quite so well.

Once you start working with people from different industries, you begin to realise that actually you share many of the same concerns and face many of the same challenges. This can be both reassuring and inspiring.

As an example, two businesses who recently participated in our programme were Pillinger Controls (a building energy management solutions provider) and Aspect (an events company). You could say they are poles apart in what they do. At the same time, both businesses were facing similar issues – they kept being tempted by low margin, run-of-the-mill work from customers who didn’t really make use of their expertise. As a result of participating in the programme, and recognising that they share common challenges, they are both far more confident about what makes their business special and focus on working with customers who value that distinctiveness. They are also learning to say "no thanks" to work which does not make use of their distinctive expertise. In this way, their businesses are growing in more profitable ways.
To find out more about the Seven Pillars of a Better Business and how the Better Business Programme can help you build more of them in your business, come along to one of our Better Business Briefing Events. You can book your complementary place at www.yourbusinessyourfuture.co.uk/briefings.


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