The question was about assessing business progress and performance. Having worked with so many businesses all over the world in a career spanning 40 years, how did I review what I do?
The answer is that around every 10 years I write a book. The process of researching and writing reminds you of lessons learned and also inspires new ideas.
What makes my new book special is that it’s the first since we launched For Entrepreneurs Only. Many of the lessons and much of the inspiration has come from working with member businesses – at a rough calculation about 70 of them, and they’ve created an average of about four jobs each. That adds up to a big SME, if that’s not a contradiction in terms.
The entrepreneur will understand that consultancy is a two-way process. I go in, talk to people, look around and get under the skin of a business before suggesting ways in which it can be changed for the better.
But I also take away ideas that will make me better at what I do and I often return to a previous client or contact to use them as a case study or exemplar for a new project in a completely different sector. Hugh Rice jewellers learned from spending time with Keepmoat. Matt Dass at Eon Visual Media improved his business procedures after learning from Gosschalks.
You learn from success and failure. I’m delighted to confirm that the FEO members are great examples of projects that went well. That shouldn’t surprise anybody because they wouldn’t be members if they weren’t receptive to ideas and activities which can improve their organisations.
The failures have occurred elsewhere and are usually the result of a reluctance or outright refusal to acknowledge shortcomings and anticipate challenges.
You also learn from what people say about you and it’s humbling to read some of the testimonials from heavyweights in our regional business community and from some of the emerging rock stars, as I like to think of them.
Thomas Martin, Chairman of Arco, said: “In a world where France has no word for entrepreneur, Yorkshire has two: David Hall. You simply cannot read only one of the ‘stories’ at a time, they are compelling, educational and very entertaining.”
David Kilburn, Executive Chairman of MKM, said: “David delivered his step change programme to all of our branch directors and when the penny dropped the results were staggering with improved sales and profitability. I hope our story in Telling Tales will inspire others to develop their business.”
Paul Sewell, Chairman of The Sewell Group, said: “Over the years I have heard David recount many tales from his vast experience and have always found them inspiring and informative. This has always left me wanting more, so I am delighted he has decided to commit his tales to a book that I can visit and revisit. It is a cracking read.”
Sally Wray, owner of Go Hire, said: “David’s experience of business growth combined with the practical tools he offers business owners in Telling Tales is invaluable for any entrepreneur looking to grow their business.”
Finally you learn from what other people can do for you, from bringing in experts to handle the tasks which enable you to maximise the benefits of your own efforts.
When lockdown inspired me to turn a series of blogs into a book which might help businesses survive and thrive after Covid-19 it became clear I would need help. Andrew Crozier took some great photographs at the appropriate social distance. Vicky O’Grady devised a social media campaign with real impact.
I’m grateful to them, to Thomas, David, Paul and Sally and to all at FEO who have shared their experience and insight whether as clients or colleagues.
When circumstances permit we’ll see if we can organise a proper book launch when I’ll take the opportunity to thank you all personally and we can all learn from each other.
“Telling Tales – Lessons from a lifetime helping businesses succeed”, written by David Hall and published by Management Books 2000 Ltd, is available now from Amazon.