Don’t get married to your business or ideas

Business and career advice with Neil Franklin

You two are married to your business and selling to yourselves

These were harsh words to us at the time, but we were in a harsh situation.

Our business had run out of cash, and we needed investment to keep going and follow our dreams – we found three investors willing to look at our now revised business plan and this was the first of the meetings.

He further explained that it’s easy to fall in love with your ideas, start a business and convince yourself that what you are doing is one hundred per cent right and that is what he termed by being “married to our business.”

The “selling to ourselves part,” was simply a re-enforcement and he went on to say that it happens to the best, including him and when I agreed with him, he seemed to relax a little and we went through the process that you do, when you are in these situations and left the meeting to go for lunch.

I liked the guy because of his brutal honesty, and I would have loved to work with him, but this was not to be – my business partner didn’t, and was extremely annoyed over how the meeting went and not even a double helping of chick-en soup could soothe his anger and due to the fact, he had more shares than me, the decision was a flat “no.”

But this investor had exposed our weaknesses and pressure tested us about them – it was totally understandable as he was going to put in a large sum of money and take a risk.

Like many entrepreneurs we were extremely passionate about our business, devoted long hours into turning that passion into revenue and we both had a “never quit” attitude.

But we were inexperienced in running a business and we didn’t take advice.

Just a year before this situation, we produced a business plan to raise money for expansion, because we obsessed with growing our business to sell it, rather than focus on our clients and providing the best service in our industry.

We became fixated on the goal and there was absolutely no chance of anyone persuading us otherwise…although many tried.

We were oblivious to what was really going on in our sector and clients simply got in the way of our goal, which was to make as much profit before tax as possible, in order to gain the highest sale value, which would be a multiple of that figure, in line with industry averages.

Our strategy was to use the money, recruit a huge sales team and create an image of success, which involved a car fleet of Porsches and BMWs that would be handed out to each salesperson who made the grade.

A few experienced businesspeople told us to slow down and build a strong foundation…to build stronger client relationships and take our time by recruiting the right people…we ignored them.

We ran out of money of course, and then we had to focus our sales ability to get us out of the situation and that required new investors and a lot of cash!

Today, many years later, I see the same with a lot of the businesses I coach and mentor. Some people listen and appreciate the advice, while others ignore it, which is hard for me to accept because of my passion for business and the fact that I can literally see them make the same mistakes that I did…but that’s something I have taught myself to live with and it’s part of the coaching and mentoring industry!

As a coach, the one advantage I have is that I do not own the business, so I can look at it impartially and with no attachment and this is exactly what I recommend to business owners and CEOs – detach yourself from your business, take a deep and detailed look at each component part and pressure test it to see where it will break down.

But what if you don’t have a coach or mentor that can help guide you through the process?

You must get creative.

Read, watch videos, and become a research addict…dig deep for information and inspiration.

Get outside of your industry — look at how others have overcome obstacles and challenges to inspire you.

And don’t ignore the advice of others.

As I brought food into it earlier, I will finish by giving you another analogy relating to top-class chefs.

I love to watch their YouTube channels (and before online video, read their books) to see how they constantly strive to attain perfection.

The best chefs are not married to their recipes… they are constantly striving to make them better and will look at changing the smallest of ingredients to improve the taste of the dish.

They know that perfection will never be attained, but that won’t ever stop them from trying to attain it. They are not selling to themselves because they know that the number of returning customers is the measure of their success and profits.

The proof is literally in the pudding and the best chefs are constantly tasting their dishes from the start of the process to the final product…but the final test is with the customer.

So be your own top-class chef and look at the ingredients you have at your disposal, or what you might need to buy to get the best results.

And don’t be afraid to abandon the dish, or the entire menu…sometimes it’s the best thing for you to do.

Don’t get married to any business you operate, or any of the component parts and certainly not to your ideas – pressure test everything, find the break points and then change or strengthen them accordingly.




















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