Are all business coaches the same?
I like to summarise what makes me different my saying that I’ve got the mind of a finance director and the heart of a marketer and strategist.
Why That Matters To You
Financial skills helps you to:
- Know what to do in your business to improve sales, profit and cash flow:
- Whether it’s better to increase prices or to reduce them.
- Whether it’s better to have more customers or to be more selective about the customers you work with. Initially it’s strange to think that businesses are better off with fewer customers but some cause more trouble and costs than they are worth. A common strategy in business turnarounds is to cut the business back to the core and to focus on the most important 20% of customers who generate 80% of the profit, losing the 80% of customers who cause most of the service costs.
- Whether it’s better to spend more on a particular type of marketing or whether it should be stopped altogether.
- Whether the business should invest more in its staff or whether it’s time to reduce the headcount.
- Plus many more vital questions that rely on understanding how the business model generates sales, costs, profit and cash flow.
- Know whether you are implementing the plans and whether they are working in the way that you expected.
Marketing and strategy skills helps you to know how to:
- Select the most appropriate market and target customers
- Develop the way your business will be different from competitors in ways that matter to customers.
- Design your offers to potential customers.
- Select the best marketing media to use.
- Design your internal processes in ways that deliver your customer promise, exceed customers expectations but also keep costs down.
- Encourage your customers to buy more and to keep buying.
- Turn your customers into advocates who recommend your business to more prospective customers.
- My key ideas on marketing and strategy are covered in my report, the Six Steps Profit Formula which you can download for free.
Can you see how these two sides fit together and work in harmony?
How It Developed
I’m a qualified Chartered Accountant and I worked as a finance director back in the early 1990s. I can’t help but think about the implications of ideas and decisions on margins, costs, profit and cash flow. It’s ingrained deeply in me and I love knowing how the business model all fits together.
It seems that you can take the man out of finance but you can’t take the finance out of the man.
However marketing and strategy are my passions.
As soon as I qualified as an accountant in the mid 1980s, I knew that I wanted to know more about how to generate sales revenue and margin and how to get and keep more customers. I started study marketing as part of my commitment to my compulsory continuing professional education.
I went on courses and I read marketing books. I watched what my sales and marketing colleagues did for the companies I worked in and made sure that my ideas were heard. I was seen as an unusual accountant because I had such a commercial outlook. In the late 1980s, I remember my managing director at the time telling me that “I think like a general manager”.
Then, around 1990 I became fascinated by strategic planning and management.
Finance emphasises the importance of making a profit for the shareholders and generating enough cash flow to pay everyone. It gives an all-round understanding of how the different levers impact on the sales, profit and cash flow of the business.
Marketing emphasises understanding, creating and delivering value for money to customers so that are interested in the business, eager to become customers and then to stay customers over the long term.
Strategy joins the two together and taught me how the twin demands on any successful business didn’t have to be a trade-off through the prices charged to customers although they could be depending on the objectives of the business to grow market share or to maximise short term profit and cash flow.
As this learning happened at the same time as the early 1990s recession, it also taught me that you have to pay careful attention to the external environment because the situation can change from benign/supportive to very nasty. Worse those changes can happen very quickly when market pressures caused competitors to cut prices sharply in a vain attempt to maintain volumes.
I also kept gaining additional commercial responsibilities in successive management shake-ups because I had a knack for improving the performance of people and processes. This included taking line responsibility for export sales, the UK sales office, purchasing of goods for resale, production planning and stock control for a 200+ employee manufacturing and distribution business.
When I decided to follow a career of self employment in 1995, I knew my skills created a diamond:
- Strategy and the importance of pulling everything together in a consistent way
- Finance and performance measurement
- Process improvement
Since then, my work has continued within that diamond, sometimes with more focus on one element than the others.
In summarising what makes me different, I think it’s because…
I have the mind of a finance director (always thinking about profit and cash flow) but the heart of a marketer, aiming to improve the value the business creates for the customers and capturing a fair share of it.