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About Me

Unlike many business coaches, I love working with business owners who are feeling stuck and are eager to do better. My business is designed to help and to make my services affordable I believe in working on a “no win, no fee” basis so that you, as my client, get paid before I do. I also guarantee you a 500% return on your investment in my fees.

It’s never made sense to me how business coaches can deliberately set out to make their clients worse off by demanding a large payment upfront before trying to make them more successful. It’s justified to make sure the client is committed but I believe you do want to do better.

I get more satisfaction from helping a business owner (and his or her family) move from surviving to thriving than helping a successful business owner (who may already be a millionaire) increase his or her wealth many times over. It reduces my income but it means that I’m doing work that I truly believe in.

The best way to find out how I can help you and your business is to take my “try before you buy” offer – I’m offering a 60 minute “Second Opinion” on the telephone or Skype focused on a business issue you are keen to fix. We talk and focus on either finding more options for you or helping you to decide which is the best option. >>> Ask For A Second Opinion

Below I tell you my story and how I got to where I am today. You may also be interested in reading Why It’s Worth Talking To Me where I explain my “heart of a marketer, mind of a finance director” way of thinking to help identify and solve problems.

About Me

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I’ve been an independent consultant and coach since 1995 so you can be reassured that I’m not one of those “here today, gone tomorrow” people who you can’t rely on.

I trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant, joined a proper business as soon as I could and worked with both manufacturing and distribution businesses. I was good at what I did and had a special knack of creating improvement so my responsibilities grew from finance and IT to include strategic planning, sales, purchasing, transport, production planning and stock control. This gave me a general management perspective and, of course, meant I had to make things happen rather than just report whether they were going right or wrong. Marketing and strategy became ongoing passions, with strategy providing the bridge between finance and marketing.

As an accountant, it was easy to manage a finance department but when I was given responsibilities outside of my core knowledge, I developed an interest in process improvement. I believe that most people want to do a good job at work and like receiving praise but things go wrong because of the systems and procedures which have often stood still as the business needs have changed.

Since I’ve been self employed, I’ve worked in various roles that require finance, strategic planning, marketing and IT/process improvement skills for businesses ranging from PLC head offices to big subsidiaries to owner-managed businesses all the way down to one-man-bands.

My business qualifications are:

  • Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (FCA). Please note that I don’t provide any of the typical accountancy or tax based services and no longer hold a practising certificate to do so.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with distinction from the Manchester Business School.
  • Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach (CGMC)

I combine these skills into an approach I call The Mind Of A Finance Director, The Heart Of A Marketer And Strategist

My Passion For Helping Small Businesses That Aren’t Doing As Well As They’d Like

When I was at university doing an Economics and Accounting degree, those studying accountancy knew they wanted to join a firm of accountants while those doing economics were often aiming at a a career in marketing. I was more drawn to marketing but I didn’t get the understanding of the “language of business” I wanted from studying accountancy so I felt I needed to know more.

When I looked for a job as a trainee accountant, what appealed to me most was learning how to turn around a business. My interviewers were very surprised when I expressed an interest in receiverships and turnaround situations.

I joined my firm of accountants in September 1981, in the middle of a recession. I remember one particular client in my first year who owned a struggling transport company. I used to get to the client earlier than my boss (a trainee two years ahead of me) and I started to talk to John, the owner about his business issues. He was worried and I think his house was used as security for the bank loan. I liked him but I couldn’t really help give him the advice he needed because I was still fresh out of university. About eight months later, as the client planning cycle came around, I asked the manager if I could go back to that client but I was told that the business had gone into liquidation and I felt sad for John.

I saw more businesses get into trouble and, in my third year with the accountancy firm, I was made the assistant to the partner who helped turnaround companies. It was an interesting experience and I started to expand my knowledge into marketing. I knew how to plan cash flow, monitor profitability and cut costs but I didn’t know how to generate revenue.

At that stage, I wanted to be more involved in the cut-and-thrust action and I left to join a real business and made a number of moves. Whilst working for a small quoted company, I had a cradle to the grave experience with a consumer products business selling cutlery, crystal and giftware. I was asked to help two entrepreneurs start a company but we discovered the underlying strategy was flawed because the costs were too high. It was this business that sparked my enthusiasm for marketing, partly because we spent a lot of money and I wanted to know how to get a return and partly because I could go into shops and compare our product with the competitors and “think like a customer”.

When we were around the break even point after changing the strategy, there was a big argument with the group executives, first one and then the other entrepreneur left and I was asked to manage the business while I closed it and sold the stock.

I moved to another group and initially profit increased rapidly but the 1990/91 recession eventually saw profits fall from over £100k per month to a loss of £90k (before redundancies) in the worst month over a six month period. I’d never seen profit drain from a business so quickly as volumes shrank, prices were slashed in a price war with our competitors and our manufacturing costs shot up as employees on a two or three day week slowed down their productivity.

With drastic action, we got the business back into profitability in that financial year but we never came close to the profitability levels we’d seen before the recession. The price war had changed the trade permanently, the product was standardised so we had to compete on service. I was given responsibility for production planning and stock control where we had too much stock but often suffered from shortages, even of our best selling “A lines”. I managed to boost our first time deliveries to 98% as well as reducing stock levels. Later I was given responsibility for export sales, which we took to record levels and the UK sales office. I knew my time with the company was limited because I didn’t want to be the MD. I wasn’t keen on the trade and I resented the intrusions by the group.

In 1995 I started my own consultancy / training/ coaching business. Whilst I also worked with profitable businesses, I was still attracted to turnaround situations and found myself working on long assignments with two groups that had made poor acquisitions financed by tens of millions bank loans. These companies were handicapped by unsustainably large debts that should never have been made. One group was broken up and sold to the management teams of the subsidiaries and I worked with one of those for several years. The other group went through an insolvency procedure to convert some of its debt into equity. My health problems caused that relationship to end.

In the late 1990s I started to study for my Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree to help broaden my knowledge in a structured way. My dissertation was titled The Role Of The Business Advisor In Promoting A Rescue Culture For UK SMEs In Financial Difficulty. It received a distinction and has been added to the academic library at the Manchester Business School.

In amongst working with these larger companies, I used worked with some small, privately owned businesses and had much more fun and satisfaction. For one thing, there was less politics or fewer referred decisions and for another, it was easier to see what difference the improvements made to the owners and their lives.

Helping small business owners that are stuck or struggling is more than work to me, it is a calling. Even after suffering serious health problems that have caused me to retreat into a semi-retired state, I’m motivated to help a small, select group of business owners.

My Coaching Services

I have reduced the scope of my coaching in recent years and decided to play much more to my strengths and interests:

Treating the symptoms of business problems:

Cash Flow Coach – teaching clients how to monitor and improve their cash flows.

Quick Profits Coach – finding ways to increase margins and to cut costs.

Treating common underlying causes:

KPI Coach – helping businesses to target and monitor performance improvements so that they can focus management attention where it is most needed.

USP Coach – helping clients to differentiate themselves away from their competitors because me-too businesses mean continual price pressures as customers can switch easily between one business and its competitors.

Whilst these look like four different issues, often they merge together.

Remember you can try before you buy with my Second Opinion Consultation and there’s no obligation to move further.

Business Training Products I Recommend

I am an addict about training products and business books.

The best Internet based training products I know about are:

Karl Bryan and Adrian Ulsh Income Before You Buy (affiliate link)

This is a very flexible approach to business growth training where you can either follow the scheduled programme over the 12 months or use their road-map process to create your own customised priority of learning and implementing new ideas. After deciding how you’re going to work through the wide variety of videos, audio recordings and reading materials, you’ll discover that it is packed with sensible ideas. This training website is offered to business coaches and accountants to white label as their own but this is Adrian’s own website.

Rich Schefren’s Business Growth System (affiliate link)

If you’re serious about building an Internet business, then this gives you the high level strategic approach.

You have to go through a presentation to get the invite to join. The contents is excellent but you also get the chance to ask a big name guru like Rich Schefren questions in a near weekly Q&A. This helps you to take the ideas and tailor them to your situation as well as picking his brain on issues that are not covered in the training.

Get To Know Me Better On Social Media

If you’d like to learn more about my ideas, you can connect with me on various social media websites:

Follow me on Twitter

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Join with me on Google Plus

I don’t understand the attraction of Facebook at all. I think I’m toooooo old.

Contacting Me

I am based in Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom and I can be contacted by:

Email: paul@plancs.co.uk

Telephone: 44 (0) 121 554 4057

My other main blogs are the Business Coaching Blog and Differentiate Your Business

Legal Details

I work through Planning & Control Solutions Ltd, a company registered in England No 3897173

Registered office, 17 Beachburn Way, Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, B20 2AU, United Kingdom