Ready, Set…..Meh !! The £1m + false start

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The Turkey is done with, you are back at your desk and looking at your brand new wall-planner imagining just how much more you are going to enjoy growing and running your company this year. Your bristling with excitement as you have finally committed to creating that shift. By the time you are visiting the farm shop for your next Turkey you will have more time to think, be more relaxed, with higher profits, reserves in the bank and a sense of stability and certainty about the results you are able to produce.


You’ve never felt so certain that this is the time to breakout of the holding pattern you are finding yourself in. It feels just like it did this time last year!!!


Stay with me as, in this article, I’ll show you, how to make sure that the new year wave of enthusiasm gets translated into something real and tangible, rather than becoming another year on the hamster wheel.


The elusive freedom goal


Over the last ten years I’ve held growth conversations with in excess of a thousand small businesses and have had the privilege of engaging in detailed work with around a hundred.


The businesses that ended up paying me some money had three demographics in common;

  • turnover was between £1-10m
  • they had a decent customer base with a degree of loyalty
  • an embryonic management structure was in place.


Beyond that, each of them had similar challenges but their unique personalities, their teams and the markets they served, created completely unique contexts.


There was one thing they all had in common. Whilst they defined their challenges and opportunities in terms of financial outcomes (we need more customers, more sales or need to become more profitable), just making money was not the owners deep underlying motive.


What they sought was freedom; freedom to pursue exciting ideas and things they were passionate about.


Of course money plays a role in creating freedom. It’s a useful resource to have access to as it can remove limitations and accelerate your journey, but its the freedom to spend your time doing what you want to do that is the glittering prize for the business owner.


For some the ‘doing’ of aspects of the business itself was an expression of freedom. They needed my help to be able to organise the business so they got to do more of the stuff that fired their engines.  For others the business was a means to creating freedom in their lives.


Either way one thing was for sure. Spending their time doing anything they didn’t enjoy or that wasn’t moving them in the direction of freedom, was time wasted.


The beautiful Hamster Wheel


Small business research and my own conversational observations repeatedly show that most business owners, fall short of reaching their full freedom goals.


That’s not to say they end up in a bad place. Its just they are left with a nagging sense that their business has not stretched to its fullest potential and for some it can become a little frustrating and boring.


It’s the classic trap. The business grows and you get busy. The hamster wheel accelerates and you’re busy servicing customers, holding your team together and firefighting. Far too busy to attend to the decisions and actions that will create the level of freedom you seek.


At this point you begin to think freedom is a number. The logic becomes that if only you can grow the turnover you’ll be able to bring in some more people. But that means more work in an already packed schedule. I have clients turning over eight figures who came to me to get them out of this trap. The unique sequence of decisions and actions that you need to take to liberate yourself never gets priority or traction. Instead you fall victim to three levels of procrastination:


‘Someday I’ll’ – The mystical holiday destination ‘Someday Isle’ is the idea you have that, at some point, the conditions will be right and you’ll take the steps needed to free yourself, just not today. Let me tell you now, that day is not coming.


‘Its the way it is’This level of thinking occurs when you begin to think of your current situation as the only reality available to you and to anyone running a business. If you find yourself saying or thinking “its like this for every business owner” you’ll recognise this pattern of denial.


‘Been there, tried that’ – This thinking emerges when you have tried to do something (engage a coach / consultant, make a key recruit or embark on a new marketing strategy) and it didn’t work. You then use this to create a generalisation that it won’t work in your company or for your market place.


It is really, really important to recognise that freedom is not a number or a nirvana like aspiration. Freedom is a choice; a consciously made decision to break out of the way things are at the moment and begin to march purposefully towards the business and the life you really want.


Freedom as a choice


So the starting point is to recognise where you are and to consciously choose to break out. This starts with acknowledging that you have done a brilliant job, just to get to where you are. The business failure statistics show that companies that reach £1-10m have defied stupefying odds to get to this place. Along the way you must have proven yourself more than capable of making good decisions and of seeing things through. Taking the next step is not about competence or ability. It is about choice and commitment.


Breaking out


First of all you need to move yourself in to a position where you are able to commit to a decision to break out. This is about shifting your perspective so that you can begin to see what is truly possible for you. Without this personal transformation it is too easy to give up when the first bump in the road appears. Without a clear roadmap and a deeply held belief in what we are doing us humans are susceptible to the attraction of what feels comfortable and familiar.


Once you can access a useful state of mind around breaking out you need to plan and execute a sequence of actions that enable you to


  1. understand what is working now and the opportunities that exist within the company and its market
  2. get crystal clear about the destination you are heading in
  3. create a prioritised plan of key actions that move you quickly and effortlessly (yes I did use that word) forward
  4. execute the plan with your team and track your progress towards the destination you have set.


You may be thinking at this point that, even if you decided to go for it, you wouldn’t know where to start with this work. Well, I’ve created a structure, adaptable for the unique context of your business, for getting this done. It provides absolute certainty of outcome if you are prepared to follow the sequence (I believe in it so strongly that I only get the second half of my fees when my clients sign off that their outcomes have been reached). Working through this structure together means that in just three months, the planning is done and in just twelve months you will have created a big shift in your results and in the role you are required to play in the company.


Not only that, but it will make the process of transformation the most enjoyable and rewarding thing you have ever done in your business life.


Curiosity is the starting point


At this point I am looking for people who are curious about this approach and who want to explore whether this would be a good fit for them.


If this article has aroused your curiosity, I invite you to book a free discovery session with me. During this session I will help you get clear on what is possible from where you are now and I’ll also set out my roadmap and how it would work when applied to your situation. If you decide from that point to work with me then that will be awesome but if you don’t then you will have a clear roadmap of what you need to do, to start moving forward.


I believe that small businesses need to step up and become the driving force of the UK economy as we move forward in a changing world.  It is my plan to have this conversation with three hundred business owners this year and to take sixty on this journey with me.


Seven of the twelve places on the January intake are already taken so I am looking for five more. If its right for you I would love it to be you.


You can book your discovery conversation today and I’d also be really grateful if you would share this with your fellow business owners and entrepreneurs.




This is not going to be for every business owner. Your company must meet the three criteria I mentioned above (turnover >£1m, a decent customer base and some form of management layer in place). But, more importantly you must be open to the idea that there is something more to shoot for in terms of your business results and that you would want to achieve a new level of freedom if you knew how.


The approach I take in this work with you is not coaching, training or consulting in the sense you may have come across them. This work achieves transformation of your commercial and personal results through a blended set of approaches and is designed to leave you fully equipped with everything you need to carry on your journey when the twelve months is up. It’s a fun, exciting and engaging journey that you’ll never forget.


Take some time to explore what is possible for you by booking you discovery conversation today.