What business challenges can I bring to Retreat to Advance?

On a Retreat to Advance retreat you guide the agenda. Once you book you’ll be sent a questionnaire to tell us about you, your business and your requirements. Upon receipt of the completed questionnaire your requirements are evaluated alongside those of your fellow participants and then mapped out across a series of one-to-one and group sessions as well as dinner round-table discussions.

You might be wondering what are the sort of business challenges that get explored on a Retreat to Advance retreat? While every business is unique the following are some of the hot topics that tend to come up time and again.

  • Exit planning and exit strategy – building a business takes dedication, blood, sweat and tears. Know how and when to exit the business to ensure a good outcome for you, your family and for the people within the business is a major challenge faced by owners of SMEs. We will work with you to explore how to plan for a profitable and timely exit; when is the right time and why; what are the signs to look for; how to value your business; the key steps to increasing business valuation; the barriers to a profitable exit.
  • Raising capital – you know there is a growth opportunity in the market; you know you have a unique offer, that you’re well placed and that the time is right. But readying your business to exploit the opportunity is going to require capital that you don’t have. What are the risks/rewards of capital raising; what are the various way to attract additional funding and what cost do they come with; how to structure a deal; how to retain control and what happens if you don’t!
  • Mergers and acquisitions – many businesses operate in markets alongside others with competing or complementary offers, making mergers or acquisitions an enticing way in which for businesses to gain size and strength rapidly. Gaining scale through M&A can bring big benefits, broadening or deepening customer bases, improving efficiency, strengthening competitiveness. Discover how to know whether a merger is right for your business; how to seek a partner; how to structure a partnership; and the ramifications of share dilution.
  • Staffing for success – employing the right people is one of the biggest challenges facing all businesses large and small, but for small- to medium-size businesses it is even harder because often costs constraints make it difficult to get right people on board. Explore how to overcome this hurdle; how to retain, incentivise, motivate and develop your best people; how you can get them to share the risks and rewards without giving everything away; how to balance your team with your own skills/weaknesses.
  • Culture – It has been said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Explore how to build a high performance culture that’s right for your business, your clients and your market. Evaluate whether your values/ethics/belief systems are working for you or against you. What do you want your clients to say about you? Or your team? Or your suppliers? And do they? Vision and culture are derived from the feelings and beliefs we have about the business; they are built on the true values of the business owner, which for most remain buried, as very few people are aware of what their defining values are. Vision and culture are so much more than pleasant-sounding statements put into a picture frame and hung up in reception. There’s a science to discovering the deeply buried and transformative values and beliefs that really underpin successful communication inside and outside the business.
  • Skills and ability – do you have what it takes to make your business a success? This is a difficult subject which often requires much soul searching. You know your industry, you know your products – but are you really a CEO? Perhaps you feel your company is not where it should be. Are you capable of taking it the next stage, are you ready and prepared for that next stage, if not why not? Explore the key attributes of a CEO, and how you rate against these. Plus what to do if you’re not. How can you acquire the skills yourself; or how to hire a CEO and still remain relevant in your own business.
  • Teamwork is about understanding what makes us different as individuals in our thinking and our behaviour. Developing personal emotional intelligence as a leader and learning to understand our individual team members at a deeper level will transform our ability to get the best out of them and so transform the management of the business.
  • Leadership and communication – are you a good leader? Do you have a clear vision for your business? Do you lead with self esteem and authenticity? When leaders have a clear vision that allows them to lead with self esteem and authenticity, staff find it easy to follow in the leader’s footsteps and less time needs to be taken up with management activity. True self esteem and authenticity are difficult unless we have true self awareness; all three of which are very rare commodities in today’s world.
  • Personal wellbeing and performance – do you create the right conditions to get the most out of your business’s most important asset? Running a successful business in today’s frantic, competitive world requires real clarity of thought; unfortunately most of us succumb to stress and even anxiety. It is scientifically proven that our efficiency drops easily by as much as 40% when we are stressed, and creative thinking (essential in order to stand above the rest!) gets completely stifled. We therefore need to understand what is causing our stress and anxiety and learn how to deal with it. In addition, we need to learn the ability to change our thinking, so that we can easily move to calm, clarity and creativity.

 

With a small staff and a large and diverse client list, close attention to our business at every stage is critical. Eddie has helped us to understand our growth strategy, key hires and introduced us to critical steps that have helped us to shape our business strategy going forward. He’s also a great guy, approachable, friendly and an excellent mentor for our personal growth. Eddie’s helped us enormously to advance towards our goals, and set ourselves goals for the future.

Heather Catchpole & Karen Taylor
Co-Founders, Refraction Media

 

Eddie has all the qualities of the perfect mentor. He is honest, discrete, self reflective, wise, inquisitive and he has a generous spirit. I discuss all my biggest business issues with Eddie and his guidance and support has sustained me through some tough challenges.

He brings a depth of wisdom to any situation, and he doesn’t just share his experience with you, he tells you why he did it and his understanding of why his approach worked or didn’t work. He makes the complex simple and breaks problems down to help focus on the real issues.

He’s helped me feel more in control and I’m putting things in place to be proactive rather than reactive and to work ‘on the business’ not ‘in the business’. Eddie inspires me to work smarter, and I feel positive and optimistic about the future direction of Brains.

Rachel Courtright
Managing Director, Brains

 

Eddie’s business and general experience has helped me in many ways. As a young executive and CEO, I have used Eddie as a sounding board for many issues and decisions. His calm broad level of knowledge across international boundaries has assisted me to deal with some very difficult situations. Eddie understands the needs of business and the balance required to maintain financial stability and customers satisfaction. I credit Eddie et al with assisting my development and helping me to rebuild the NSCA.

Adam Baldock
CEO & Managing Director, National Safety Council of Australia

 

 

How does retreat to Advance work?

Our retreats give every business owner the one thing they need to make their business a success: themselves. Turn off the noise and distraction and give the future of your business your full attention. Surrounded by inspiring, like-minded people and the support of experienced mentors to guide you through and keep you on track, you will solve the challenges that need to be surmounted to take your business to the next stage. Of course any process like this isn’t linear but the retreats are structured around seven progressions to create the optimal circumstances for innovative and actionable thinking that will change the future of your business.

  1. Outline: pre-arrival you’ll be sent a detailed questionnaire that will enable us to shape your retreat to your needs. Whether it’s growth, exit or resurrection, put into words if you’ve not already, the overall goal for the next stage of your business.
  2. Identify: perhaps you already know where it is you need to focus your energies to achieve your goal, perhaps not. Completing our identify framework during the first working session on arrival will allow you to spell out your thinking and clearly see where your attention is needed. The resulting document will give you a working plan for the retreat.
  3. Validate: dissect your goal and working plan with your mentor, and allow a critical eye to challenge you and ensure your thinking is sound. At this and any time during the retreat, that insight and advice is available to you on any area of your business maybe you feel less strong.
  4. Think: take this gift of time, with no distractions, no to-do lists, no meetings, to do the thinking that you never get to do, to see your business afresh and to plan out and begin working on what you need to do to meet your objective.
  5. Review: each day the mentors are available for review sessions to discuss what you’ve been working on, provide further insights, advice and to challenge you where necessary.
  6. Conclude: as the end of the retreat draws near so will your conclusions on your next steps. To ensure you capture all the work you’ve done during the retreat you’ll finalise a fully stated plan encapsulating what actions you need to take back to the ‘real world’.
  7. Implement: we all know we leave opportunities like this full of positivity and intention only to fall back into the same pressures of running the business every damn day. We really don’t want you to lose all your hard work – it actually kind of upsets us – so before you leave we’ll be scheduling follow-up sessions to keep you honest, and give you the support you may lack back home.

Throughout the retreat, we invite you to take advantage of the opportunity to discuss your challenges and be inspired. Enjoy the stimulating conversation and alternative perspectives around your business challenges and those of your peers. Healthy and hearty Tuscan cuisine provides the “brain-food” and backdrop for stimulating discussions over meal times. These discussions will be both free, guided (on pre-determined topics, as elected pre-retreat) and driven by you, for example presenting ideas to solicit feedback.

And if you think processes aren’t your thing, feel free to simply enjoy the peace, good company and mentoring opportunities to work on whatever aspect of your business you like. Or simply relax. We firmly believe that this will do your business a world of good too!

For more information and to discover what to expect visit the program outline for our next Retreat to Advance this coming October 2017.

Video: Retreat to Advance, October 2017

Why you need a rainmaker in your business

In an article on LinkedIn Pulse I explored the concept of what I call a ‘rainmaker’. The article received lots of views and some really interesting comments. Here you can find a summarised version with the key points or you can head over to LinkedIn to read the article and comments in full.

Recently two owners of a young start-up approached me for help. They were struggling; seriously struggling. These guys had tried to think of every eventuality with regard to their business, but the one thing they had not given sufficient thought was how they would sell this new service they were offering to the marketplace. Or rather, indeed, who would sell it.

For the record, this isn’t a problem that only applies to start-ups. I have seen many the mature business struggle for exactly the same reason.

These business owners who approached me had fallen into the trap, like so many others, of assuming that the service would sell itself. As such, they assumed that they could manage this aspect of the business themselves. And here in my opinion was their main mistake. Their skillsets were not that aligned with the traits of what I call a “rainmaker”. A rainmaker is someone who is uniquely skilled at driving new business/sales. So, here we had a business that was set up correctly, where the owners had done almost everything right, but there was just this one problem: there were no sales coming in. They did not have their rainmaker.

Those of you reading this who have been fortunate enough to work with a great rainmaker will understand when I say they are very rare. My great mentor Lionel told me that in fact when you come across a rainmaker often in fact you will not actually like them, because their characters can be very challenging. But if/when you do find one you need to hold onto them as they are most likely to make a significant difference to the success of your company.

Be aware, they may well not be able to undertake any other role in the company, they are often the type who don’t like to follow processes, they may make awful managers, they will most likely drive you crazy; but they do this one thing – and one thing better than anyone else – and that is drive new business.

In terms of seeking to hire a rainmaker it is challenging to define the traits to look for because they are so rare, but what follows are some characteristics that you might recognise, or want to look out for:

  1. They are individuals who do not respond well to being confined to the office – they like being out and about meeting new prospects.
  2. They don’t like being restricted by company protocol.
  3. Highly competitive is an understatement – they want to out-sell anyone else not just within the team, not just within the business, but within the industry.
  4. Coming second is not an option.
  5. Very little is off-limits in their quest to win a sale.
  6. While they can be difficult to work with, and may drive you crazy, they have a charisma that makes people like them.
  7. This is one of the main differences from your ordinary salesperson – prospects genuinely take to them and want to do business with them.
  8. They are extremely perceptive, particularly at reading their prospective customers – and once they’ve seen a ‘want-to-buy’ signal they seldom let go.
  9. Don’t expect them to manage the administration of their sales well – they just want to get onto the next prospect (unsurprisingly other colleagues, especially admin staff, can find them frustrating).
  10. They don’t like negativity or negative people around them – it sucks the energy from them, and they will avoid negativity wherever they can.
  11. They are typically very well connected – friends become prospects and prospects become friends in their expansive network.
  12. They like to do business at lunches, dinners and events – don’t be surprised if they run over your client entertainment budget.
  13. They tend to be able to talk their way out of any situation/have an answer for everything.
  14. While they are usually highly intelligent they can make total nonsense sound like the truth if needs must.
  15. They are loyal, but only to a degree – ultimately they know who the number one priority is.

I’ve been exceedingly fortunate to work with three great rainmakers during my time in business. One of them almost singularly kept a newspaper going against overwhelming competition. We were a small paper in the territory of a large (now huge) competitor, and wow did that annoy them. The battle went on for three plus years and the larger publisher simply could not fathom how each week we would come out with more sales than them. But really, at the bottom of it was this one person. Sure we had better product, but that wouldn’t really have mattered much against their might. However, what they did not have was a rainmaker. Whereas we did. And one of the best. Moreover, not only was he one the very best, he had built a team of other great sales people. Ultimately the competitor ended up closing their paper. They never did understand why we beat them every week. They believed money and size was sufficient to win, but they were wrong.

Not in all companies will it be as easy to see the impact of a rainmaker as in the example above, and every enterprise is different obviously. But when you consider your company’s needs, I believe you’ll be able to see where this role is – or is lacking – in your business. Then you can ask yourself: Are you in need of this person? Or if you have someone in this role, how are they performing? And if your company is struggling, or even just underperforming, could this be a key factor?

If they answer is yes then you need to find your rainmaker. Now not to be disheartening, I do have to let you know that this will not be easy. As I mentioned before I have only found three rainmakers in 40 years. But find one you must, and when you do you won’t believe the difference it will make to your business.

So whether you are a start-up, or heading up a mature business, give some thought to your rainmaker. Occasionally a product/service can sell itself, but particularly if you are competing in a tough market place then the rainmaker will most likely make all the difference.

If you could use some help getting the most out of your staff and developing your company why not contact me for a free discovery session to see if I’m a good fit to help you and your business.