These unprecedented times have forced business owners to re-invent their business in one way or another. You’ve probably seen how some food shops have started delivery services or created lockdown products – packages of specific products to help us get through the lockdown. I live in Ossett, near Wakefield and two local examples stand out for me:
- Ossett Brewery is doing an online ordering and home delivery service;
- Sandrea’s Cabbage Patch (our local fruit and veg shop) has put together a standard lockdown fruit and veg box that lasts about a week. Standard contents, fixed price, delivered once a week,
I have also done some re-inventing in my business. Switching my peer group from a monthly half-day meeting with breakfast butties to bi-weekly 2 hour virtual meetings supplemented by a tea, coffee and biscuit gift pack sent in the post! I have also set up a Free Virtual Peer group to support business owners for the period during lockdown. Check it out for a taster session.
How Will You Re-Invent Your Business?
This article is number two in a series that I’m writing over the coming weeks to suggest different ways of re-inventing your business if Covid-19 is forcing you to have a re-think. In each article I will refer to businesses I personally know plus I will refer to the ultimate outcome of a business re-invention: a successful sale of the business.
The story of those business sales will be told by John Warrillow, the founder of the Value Builder System, through his podcast series, Built to Sell Radio. John has consolidated 8 of his ‘re-inventing’ podcasts into an eBook, 8 Ways To Re-Invent Yourself In A Crisis, available to download here.
So, what is the second way of re-inventing yourself?
This re-invention reads as a personal roller coaster. Sunny Vanderbeck went through business start-up, dramatic growth, potential success, impending disaster, successful business sale, near bankruptcy, more growth and a successful business sale. Whilst the re-invention message is about buying a business at the bottom of the business cycle, there is a strong theme of personal strength and resilience.
So the second way of re-inventing yourself is…
Look for opportunities when all around you are panicking.
In the previous article I referred to Warren Buffet. No surprise that he is a regular source of business advice. Here’s another relevant quote of his:
‘Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful’. Time and again, the value investor has used this philosophy to pounce on opportunities.
Warren Buffet has a reputation of being a contrary investor – going the opposite direction from the crowd.
Sunny Vanderbeck saw the impending 2008 crash and sold his business in 2007. Unfortunately, the acquirer eventually went bust and Sunny faced bankruptcy as he took shares in the acquirer when he sold out. So, at the bottom of the post 2008 recession, Sunny bought back his business at a bargain price of $30million when he almost sold it for $1billion a few years earlier.
You will be thinking, ‘that sort of story is a world away from me. All that millions and billions.’ Yet Sunny showed that success can come from adversity and opportunities are available, even when the economy all around you looks a nightmare.
A great example much closer to home is Lee Campion, a serial entrepreneur, who like Sunny has ridden the rollercoaster of business start-ups and some close downs. Yet, today Lee is looking for investment opportunities especially in the telecoms / tech sectors. Lee is working with me and Paul Simpson to create a pipeline of small, high potential businesses that need investment and the advice of an experienced MD, like Lee. We have already opened discussions with 2 businesses in the last month.
So there are opportunities out there and we know the banks have cash to invest!
Listen to Sunny Vanderbeck talk about his investment in buying back his business. But, also listen to his advice to every business owner:
When everything around you is bad, take action: ‘waiting it out and hoping it’s going to get better, it’s usually not a good plan. It’s literally, you’re just betting on hope and things that have nothing to do with you or your ability to influence the world.’
Avoid the Hub and Spoke business model: No matter what you think is going to happen, every business someday will be run by somebody else. It’s one of the inevitabilities, even if you were like, “Well, I’m going to give it to my kids.” Okay, somebody else is going to run it and somebody else is going to own it. And so thinking about how to make your business run better and thinking about how to make your business run without you ultimately makes it more valuable.
The value of your business is more than money: ‘who do I care about? The customers and suppliers and the community I’m in , and so on and so forth, and you write that down. And then you write down what you want for each of those, and what you want for yourself, and what you want for your family. And the process of doing that, you’ll get clear on what matters to you as it relates to your employees.’
Sunny was interviewed by John Warrillow, author of Built to Sell: Creating a business that can thrive without you. John is also the host of Built to Sell Radio, a regular podcast revealing the stories and advice of business owners who have sold their businesses. Listen to the full interview with Sunny.
In my next article I will be introducing Joshua Dick, who followed some of Stephanie Breedlove’s advice by focusing on what you are good at and avoiding peripheral products.
In the meantime if you want to see what our peer group is all about register here.