A Problem Shared … and Other Platitudes

Decide what to do

As a business owner or Director, you know what it means when somebody says “It’s lonely at the top”.  To some it may seem to be a hackneyed phrase, almost an obvious one, but does that make it any less pertinent?

In three separate conversations with business owners/Directors recently, in three very different market sectors, these words came out.  Interestingly, I thought, it was for three very different reasons.

An MD in a profession spanning International business markets and central government regulatory compliance was ‘lonely’ because she needed to make decisions about the direction in which to take the business, how to set a strategy and then implementing it to ensure it happens.

The Group Managing Director of a product based business, whilst highly profitable, understood there was a great deal of wastage in the marketing and linked sales functions and didn’t know where to begin in order to rectify things and maximise profitability with a view to preparing to sell.

The MD of another established business, an SME of some 20 years standing, was struggling because he understood that changes were needed and understood in what areas, but his expertise was elsewhere.  He felt like he was being pulled from pillar to post, changing hats and not being effective enough in any area.

Well, it’s tough to take your own council and heed your own advice.  Am I right, what if I’m not?  You may already know some of the answers, and there are others you may not even have considered, it’s deciding what to do that’s often the toughest part.  It can be a maze, particularly if it’s not your key strength.

So who do you talk to?

You may have someone in the business whom you trust implicitly – but do they wear similar blinkers to you?  Are they also too close to see the wood too?  Are they able to discuss the possibilities and opportunities without the emotions getting in the way?  It’s a big concern of many heads of business both large and small.

When beginning a working relationship with any business, I emphasise the need to have enough of the owner or Director’s time to be able to dig, delve, create, argue the toss, give different perspectives, validate thinking, ask the tough questions and ultimately help them to arrive at decisions that are qualified.  A plan can then be devised to give them the confidence to move forward into taking the actions necessary to achieve the outcome.  All too often lacking the confidence to decide means that no decision is made, resulting in a lack of action, or worse a knee jerk reaction that isn’t based upon understanding.

So – and I know I’m biased – I advise you find somebody that you can discuss your business with regularly.  Someone with knowledge, experience and a proven record of delivering whatever it is you need, be that marketing, sales, finance, leadership – whatever it is you and your business need to move forward positively, knowing that you’re striding in the right direction.

One final thing. I was told this by a very successful business person whom I admired and respected greatly.  He said “Don’t ever take advice from someone who has nothing to lose by giving you bad advice.”  You’re not daft, you know exactly what that means.

Yes, it’s can be lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be.  You don’t have to do it all by yourself and, in my humble, but entirely accurate (😄) opinion, you shouldn’t.

All the best.

Chris Billington Hughes. Sig1