Written by: John Pomeroy
Who is John Pomeroy?
Just an ordinary guy, really. I fell in love with Cornwall as a teenager, having come here with a bunch of friends for a two week surfing holiday in Hayle, loving the place and staying for 6 weeks, finding any way we could to fund the next week’s camping fee and subsistence.
From that experience on, I knew I wanted to make Cornwall my home and have subsequently spent a significant part of my life trying to work out how I could achieve that!
Following an apprenticeship in engineering and industrial management, I have been fortunate to work both for, and alongside, some formidable business leaders; predominantly initialising, building, growing and running the European, Middle East & African region for American software companies.
Growth wasn’t just an option; it was the job, constantly exploring where, when & how the best expansion potential was. Hiring great people to share in both the burden of work and the satisfaction of success, while building business relationships with partner organisations to compound growth potential.
Having retired from corporate life and finally made my home here, I took up the Cornwall franchise with Business Doctors following a meeting with the founders. We shared a common philosophy – not only on business and how you grow it, but more importantly, that the object of the exercise is to support the owner(s) aspirations.
Business Doctors are a group of businesspeople who have experience of running and growing businesses, and who now provide support and guidance to entrepreneurs and business owners, helping them to do the same. The doctor’s analogy comes from the fact that whilst many businesses may appear to be suffering from similar symptoms, it is only through consultation and a comprehensive understanding of how to optimise a business, that the root cause and best treatment pathway can be prescribed.
What type of businesses are you working with and what are you doing for them?
The variety of business types is huge, from service providers to manufacturers, artists to retailers, hospitality providers to charities & not for profit organisations. The size of businesses spans from sole traders, to those with around 50 employees. However, despite this diversity, there are some common themes emerging on the type of issues business owners need help with.
A few of these include:
Turning a new idea, product or service into a business
This is always a challenge, no matter whether it is done as an addition to an existing business, or as the seed to a new one. Generally, the issue is not that the entrepreneur doesn’t know what to do; in fact they tend to have a multitude of ideas about what they could do – the question is usually one of focus, and the order in which to do things.
Getting out of the owner’s trap
Businesses that are successful can often overwhelm a business owner, consuming every available minute of their time. Once their time is exhausted, they will often bring in friends or family members until they too are slaves to the business.
All this is a far cry from their original aspiration of being their own boss and having a better work life balance!
The solution here typically involves understanding a business owner’s true passion, looking at the various functions performed by the business, and defining the optimum organisation in terms of roles and responsibilities. Depending on the trajectory of the business, this doesn’t necessarily mean employing more people – often roles can be outsourced or contracted, which frees up the business owner to concentrate on their passion!
Revitalising an established business
Businesses that have been going for some time, even if they are successful and profitable, often reach a certain point and then plateau. This may well be fine if its aligned with the business owner’s aspirations, however I have experienced several situations where this is a cause of frustration, either because the business owner is looking to exit the business at some point and wants to realise a greater value, or alternatively, because a new owner is now at the helm.
What many owners fail to grasp in relation to their business, is that the world, the environment, people’s social attitudes and more, are evolving at an ever increasing rate, and businesses need to evolve not only in recognition of this, but to look for the potential opportunities or threats that this evolution presents.
Given that in Cornwall alone, there are around 1,300 new limited companies formed every year, bringing fresh insights and no baggage, any company that simply continues to do what they have always done, is almost certainly going to stagnate at best, and decline substantially at worst.
Preparing for an exit
A significant number of business owners I work with, like myself, are of the ‘baby boomer’ generation and have built some great and interesting businesses. A recent survey has identified that a staggering 76% of them are looking to exit their business within the next 10 years! What few of them are fully conversant with, is that there are 8 key metrics that drive the value of a business, and when given enough time, owners can significantly increase the value of their business by focusing on increasing their ratings in these areas.
How would you characterise your approach?
Many business consultants start by looking at the way a business promotes themselves, i.e. through sales, the financials of the business, the organisational structure etc.
Whilst all relevant, I am a passionate believer that most people build their business to achieve a lifestyle they aspire to, yet far too often they end up compromising their lifestyle to support their business. So, my starting point is always to understand the owner; what their aspirations are (both short and long term) in terms of financial renumeration and the amount of time they’ll spend working.
Second, is to understand their core values and what’s important to them; be it timeliness, tidiness, cleanliness, ethics, eco-friendliness, or supporting local businesses.
This may sound trivial to some, but vetting employees, suppliers, partners and customers against these core values to ensure alignment, will make sure the business thrives.
With these fully understood, you can then start to explore the vision of the business, building both a quantitative plan that delivers against the owner’s financial aspirations, but also a qualitative plan that delivers for both the owner’s work/life balance and core values.
There is obviously a lot of work that goes into building a detailed plan which includes key performance metrics and measurements, but to be honest, if you don’t spend time getting the first bit right, you could create a great plan that builds a successful business, but ruins the owner!
Personally, the only measure I use for success, is having a positive impact on the business owners who engage with me.