29 March 2006

A force of nature ...

Last year I met the MD of a business selling speciality papers and craft items to B2B and B2C buyers. The MD spoke at 400 wpm and was easily distracted. The business was under pressure and cash was tight.

The market fundamentals were good and the business seemed to be well-positioned to take advantage of a rapidly growing segment. Our role was to provide a breathing space - some headroom - so that the MD could get on with the key task of developing the product range further.

We identified a source of trade finance to help the business trade out of its cash squeeze and worked with the staff to strengthen the sales performance on outbound and inbound calls.

What became clear after working in the business for a couple of days, was that nearly everything that we had been told in the initial meeting was wrong. There was insufficient analysis of what was happening and causes for some of the problems had been ascribed on the basis of intuition.

Forces of nature are enormously valuable to a business, providing that they can be properly harnessed. Their force of personality and enthusiasm to strike out for the big strategic objective makes them a pleasure to work with. In a smaller business though, there is a risk that they lack people around them who can challenge them effectively.


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