Friday, 26 August 2011

What help should you get for your business?

In an earlier article article, I asked:

“Is it better to work with more businesses (in a relatively shallow way) or is it better to work with fewer but in a more intense way (and therefore more long-term benefit)?”

(The original question arose out of two sessions working out in Africa (Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Mauritius). My preference (in terms of giving the biggest benefit to the individual clients and to the group) was to work longer and deeper with fewer people.)

Applied to your own business (and specifically to your marketing) I wondered if it is better to narrow your focus and look for deep knowledge in a narrow field (niche) or is it better to go broader and shallower?

As I reflect on my own activities with business owners and directors (spread between keynote speaking through seminars to mastermind groups and one-to-ones) I have been following the progress and successes of clients and delegates.

All the research points to one blindingly obvious fact.

Yes, the choice of intervention is varied from free workshops, seminars and ebooks through paid-for CDs, videos, events and workshops through to mastermind groups, strategy awaydays, coaching and consultancy support. And yes, business owners should choose the style of intervention that suits them best. However, the medium selected is just that, simply a means to an end. And the end is to significantly improve business performance. So, the question that should be asked is, “which medium gives the biggest and best improvement for my business?”

What is emerging is that the simpler, shorter interventions, especially what can be called ‘one-to-many’ activities (one speaker to 150 delegates, one speaker to 150 people on the end of the phone, one person making a CD and selling 150 copies…) is not necessarily the best catalyst to get the business owner to

  1. Recognise the business’s key issues
  2. Understand the cause and best possible solutions
  3. Understand what decision needs to be made
  4. Take the decision and put in place a plan to roll-out the necessary actions
  5. Make the plan happen
  6. Know how to monitor/evaluate/improve on the plan (and do it).

‘One-size-fits-all’ solutions rarely do fit all. If (as a director) you don’t know what you don’t know then how do you know if you are actually doing the right thing…?

Because business owners need to understand what is wrong with their businesses (and because they probably don’t have the diagnostic skills to identify them) so it can be seen that smaller groups working for longer time-periods (not just one-offs) and actually inter-relating in discussions about the specific business should be more effective.

To that end, we find that mastermind groups, strategy awaydays, coaching and consultancy support are the most effective interventions.

In general terms you can see a continuum going from low price/low result through to high price/high result.

However, a high price-point does not guarantee high results. The key seem to be whether the intervention (at whatever price-point and by whatever medium) actually gets the business owners/directors to take the necessary actions to grow their business.

Regrettably too few of the business interventions actually help the owner to do this.

So, as an owner-director what do you do? I think you have to choose the intervention that you think will best help you to make the decisions and take the actions. Making decisions and drawing up plans is good but actually it is the implementation of the right plan that you are looking to accomplish.

So, is the best intervention (from the point of view of giving the individual client, you, the best result) to work with more clients
(but in a shallow way) or to work with fewer clients (but more intensively)? If you are talking about the future of your business then the shallow solution (a book, CD or workshop) simply cannot be sufficient. You need the intense solution that gets you to take action.


Guy said...

What you offer is a clear explanation of a continuum of effectiveness.
This does need to be run long a more subtle continuum of effectiveness in terms
of cash spend.

Can see that the essay is full of generalisations, that is how it has to be.
However it all starts to look a lot more interesting when you try to evaluate
the cost-benefit of each type of intervention.

Nick Haynes said...

Perhaps there is a third way. Something similar to the coaching model where the business puts in most of the hours but the consultant gives it a short periodic kick up  the backside. I think an hour a month from someone who knows where to kick may be the most cost effective option. 
This approach also stops the consultant getting lazy.

Robert Craven said...


I would include your one-hour-a-month kick-up-the-backside in the consultancy/coaching model. I am often employed to do just that!.


Robert Craven said...

The phrase 'horses for courses' springs to mind. You must choose what suits you best.


Andy said...

I was a member of vistage but found it all a bit too gereal and not enough related to my business. Something between a consultant or coach goading you and a group would be the ideal for me.You need most of the attention to be on you to deliver results. No more nice cups of tea for me

Jim said...

Actions (and results) speak louder than words.