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1,825 days of learning what not to do

 In Business decisions, Decision-making, Realizer Blog, Start up

Today, Phil is saving me from myself.

Phil is my DIY guy. He comes round and fixes up the things that I’ve tried to do myself and f***ed up. I am not talented at DIY, so often a simple task requires several hours of work, three trips to Bunnings, and many screams of frustration. A few months later – once the frustration has faded, but the crooked repair is still visible – I call Phil and get him to re-do it. Like today.

I sit here working on my business (and blogging) while he does a great job, in half the time, for a fraction of the real opportunity cost of having me do DIY (let’s just say I can earn more as a trainer than a handyman).

I’m sharing this because it’s one of the lessons I’ve learnt in the 5 years, or 1,825 days, since I came up with a business idea: to build a training company to help people make better decisions.

(Lesson #1) Pay a professional to do it right first time. That applies to building websites, doing marketing, BAS statements. I’ve had to re-do most of them after I tried doing it myself.

I’m even outsourcing my strategy…. I’ve realized that – despite many years working as a strategist – (Lesson #2) I am not the best person to write the strategy for my business. I’m too close to it, the strategy ends up being about me, not the business. Likewise, I wish I had more external coaching to help me make decisions over the first 5 years. I know that making decisions solo can be a fool’s errand. I tell other people that the best thing they can do is to have a decision buddy to ask them the tough questions.

I’ve learnt something about the value of money too. There is short term money and long term money. Some of the things I do might earn me a few thousand dollars this month or next month. But they won’t be helping me build for the long term, they aren’t helping me build a sustainable company. So these days, (Lesson #3) I like to think about the quality of the money: is this opportunity helping me build for the long term? It’s an important insight to stop you getting scope creep, which is a problem for consultancy and training businesses.

Pressing this home further, money (revenue) even has a cost. Saying YES to opportunities which don’t build your business actually STOPS you from building the business you want. This can be a significant threat. You might wake up 5 years in and realize you have been too busy being busy to build the business you wanted!

When you connect all the lessons above what emerges?

You need advisors, coachers and doers to help you stay true to your strategy, to make great (sometimes tough) decisions. And to get stuff done.

So, go on, get yourself a Phil BEFORE you do it yourself.

And get yourself some mentors who can ask you the pointy questions and offer useful advice.

One last tip. I’ve found that having one business coach is not enough. S/he won’t be expert in everything you need, from strategy to accounting to marketing. Better to have a range of advisors who you can leverage for specific expertise.

If you think about it, building a business mainly consists of (1) making decisions and (2) deciding what to do to action those decisions. Which is why I’m still passionate about the role of decision-making, 1,825 and a half days later.