Low interest rates are inticing many to grow their business, but don’t forget to invest time in people, writes Tony Evans
Well, you have done the budget, the bank has agreed the investment loan and all you have to do is deliver the result. In some businesses this approach can lead straight to success or failure – why?
In my experience, great communication or lack of it is the main difference.
It is critical everyone involved in achieving a successful business plan is included in both the preparation and then the delivery.
Head of business consultancy
The Andersons Centre
Most businesses now will have at least two people involved in the business. This could be a husband and wife partnership, established for complementary skills and contribution, not just because the accountant can save tax.
It could be a mother and father and son or daughter together, or it could be an employer and employee, or two businesses in a joint venture. Whichever permutation, there are three common goals for success:
1. Sufficient profit or potential to deliver an adequate return to all those involved.
2. Respect (in business) for each other.
3. Enjoyment and desire to deliver success.
All three goals are vital – without them there is a strong risk of business failure.
Managing labour resources and communication on UK farms is an area that has not received enough focus, and as businesses grow so does the reliance on others to deliver as well as the facilitator of the business plan.
Investing capital in business growth currently is relatively straightforward, with the low cost of funds, but investing in and listening to people is an absolute necessity for business success and lifestyle.
The people involved in all businesses are the real assets and can either be of massive value, or if under-valued, can be the weakness in the successfulness of any business plan being achieved.
People have a finite life, but also huge potential to make contributions far greater than their cost if managed well.
Having established the business plan, the role of the farmer is to ensure his team are aligned with him to deliver, know what their role is and what they have to achieve.
This can be the first challenge – to share and discuss with all involved. It is also imperative to listen to those who are needed to deliver.
Often, they have a better grasp of the day job than the business owner, provided they are not stuck in their ways.
When one thinks about who to involve do not forget the third parties, for example, the vet, the nutritionist and the accountant.
There is no point in you having one business plan and them neither being aware of it or involved in it. However, the third party should be a contributor – not the main focus.
Regular communication with all involved needs to be structured.
I suggest three levels of communicating/meeting as follows:
1. Daily – to deal with the issues that are very current – this normally takes place in the parlour or tank room.
2. Weekly – Monday (but not too early) to plan the week ahead – using a whiteboard – this helps give everyone a vision.
3. Monthly/Quarterly – Strategic meeting and business progress/feedback – in the farm office (phones switched off and with a previously prepared agenda).
At each meeting the farmer needs to include all those that are relevant to the discussion, rather than requiring another meeting to ask or tell someone who could have made a good contribution “if only you had asked me.”
Every team requires a mixture of skills and aptitudes to deliver a great business – you need those with vision, those who look at the detail, and those who focus on the day job and delivery.
The skill is for all involved and in particular the business leader to manage the inputs and inter-relationship to get the best results. People at all levels need to see the results, and understand why they are doing what they do and that it makes a difference and that their involvement counts.
With low interest rates at present, investing capital into a business is relatively straight forward, but investing in and listening to the business operators can be harder, but is an absolute necessity for success and a lifestyle.