How do you tell when it’s the right time to close a business?

English: This is my picture of a closed sign. ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the hardest thing to do. To make a decision to close a business, a new small business, or project, when it is ailing or failing. But sometimes it just has to be done.

I remember the sense of failure I felt when I had to close down one of my small businesses. I had been very excited in getting it off the ground, finding the necessary legal structure, obtaining an import and VAT license and starting to trade through retail outlets. But after trying for about two years to get that business up and running I was faced with a tough decision. I did my reflection. I did my calculations. I defined the problem. I diagnosed the underlying causes. And you know what, I had no choice but to close the business. Continue reading “How do you tell when it’s the right time to close a business?”

Where do you get your best small business advice?

Good Advice
Good Advice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a moment and think back to when you needed advice for an important decision. Who did you turn to? Where did you find that advice? Did you eventually end up making your own decision?

You may have received well-meaning advice from a family member or close friend. Perhaps an outsider was able to give you advice that allowed you to look at things from a different perspective. You may have taken a number of different opinions and then drawn your own conclusion.

Advice for small business owners comes from many quarters. Business advisers, coaches and mentors. Lawyers, accountants and investors. Books written by previously successful small business owners. Reality TV programmes like Shark Tank and Dragons Den. The celebrity business person who has achieved greatness in business and has now condensed their business philosophy into pearls of small business wisdom. Continue reading “Where do you get your best small business advice?”

Hard times, hard decisions

(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

I recently met with someone I know and asked him how do you handle making tough decisions. He said he’s had to make hard decisions often and it’s never easy. One time he had to do an organisation and methods study while working for an organisation. The conclusion or recommendations in his report required that about hundred and 25 employees had to be retrenched. It wasn’t easy for him. So he decided to tear up the report, throw it in the waste paper bin and handed in his resignation. Continue reading “Hard times, hard decisions”

How much money have you lost delaying a decision?

(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

One time when making the decision to start a new business I decided much quicker than when things went awry and I had to decide to shut it down. In the beginning you are pumped up with enthusiasm. You feel unstoppable. But when things don’t work out and you know you have to decide to close your start-up it can take long to make up your mind.

How quick are you to make decisions that are critical to your business? Continue reading “How much money have you lost delaying a decision?”

The power behind decisive decision-making

IMG00406-20111014-0959I was faced with making a decision but put it off for several months until circumstances became such that I had to decide quickly. It’s a strange phenomenon but once I had made that decision, things seem to miraculously fall into place. A solution appeared from out of the blue, support came from an unexpected source and the whole process moved so fast that I was astounded.

Have you experienced this phenomenon where when you decide on something things fall into place quickly? Do you find that it takes a long time to make a decision – I’m talking here about big decisions involving possible risk – but there seems to be a right time to make your decision? What is behind the power of decisive decision-making? Continue reading “The power behind decisive decision-making”

How do small business owners make better decisions?

Photo: Chesney Bradshaw
Photo: Chesney Bradshaw

Small business owners are faced with many decisions that determine the success or poor performance of their business. Each day small business and start-up owners make decisions that will improve or increase business or lead to loss. Routine decisions such as what stock to buy and which products to discount may not sink a business but ones that are more strategic such as introducing a new product or entering a new market could have severe consequences.

Business owners need to decide on many issues. These include what sort of business model to develop, development of a new product or service, how to go about commercialising a new product, what market research to carry out to test and market and what marketing plan they need to introduce.

An online publishing start-up Liquid State developed their product for a year but soon realised that they needed to rebuild their product. They built a new version of the product which wasn’t flawed but was not suitable for the customers they wanted to pursue. The new product has grown rapidly and the business has been awarded accolades for high-growth start-ups. The customer base has grown 30 times since their start up.

What do you think about the decisions that you are making in your business? How many of them do you feel have worked and how many have not? Have you thought about ways to improve your decisions?

A lot of research has gone into finding how decisions in business can be improved. Researchers have looked at decisions that happen routinely and repetitively. What they found out is that deliberate practice involving action, feedback, modification and action again helps to improve decision-making.

Think about it. Almost everyone knows that the more you practice, the better you become at what you do. Yet in many areas you will find that just spending lots of time practising won’t necessarily make you better at what you are doing. What is needed is feedback so that you can take corrective action.

For routine decisions such as selling products to customers you would quickly adjust your selling approach if your initial attempts failed to close the sale. Feedback from your customers enables you to revise your approach and come up with more effective ways of selling your product or service. The same might happen in a retail store where you are deciding on products to sell in your store. Some might be dogs yet others may fly off your shelves.

Yet what about more strategic decisions such as coming up with a brand-new product or service and needing to decide on what customer segment or niche market you are going to sell to? This is not a routine, repeatable decision but a strategic one that if not successful can have a major impact on your future viability.

In these areas where strategic decisions need to be made for a small business or start up such as developing a new product, testing selected markets and introducing a marketing plan, it may be necessary to involve someone with prior experience and knowledge that can help you to make better decisions.

This is why many small business owners and start-ups rely on mentors, coaches and business adviser to assist them with non-routine decisions. With insight into products and markets business advisers can help correct and adjust decisions through detailed preparation, analysis and planning.

Tough conversations about how you are going to develop a good start-up idea and test it in the market or even reposition your existing business against a new and strong competitor, won’t only help prevent you from making blunders but will assist you to make decisions that are more viable for your business.

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What stands in the way of our deal in negotiations?

Istanbul Archaeological Museum – Oriental pavilion. The tablet containing the Qadesh treaty between the Hittites and the Egyptians (1269 BC.) – Picture by: Giovanni Dall’Orto, May 28 2006.

Small business owners often don’t reach deals, deadlock in their negotiations or, worst of all, reach an agreement that isn’t viable and won’t be implemented.

The average or untrained small business negotiator may tend to achieve similar results from a negotiation time and time again but not know where they are going wrong. Yet many small business owners, solopreneurs and professional consultants who possess above-average negotiation skills conclude more favourable deals.

People have been negotiating since early times. One of the earliest negotiations I could find was a peace treaty reached between the Hittite and Egyptian empires after the ca. 1274 BC Battle of Kadesh. Although it is a treaty, it has elements of negotiation such as a mutual assistance pact against attacking third parties and repatriation of refugees.

Fast forward 3000 or so years and you will find the entrepreneurial financiers such as JP Morgan in the US and financier and industrialist George von Siemens in Europe who was one of the founders of the Deutsche Bank using negotiation to build industrial empires.

As modern management developed in large businesses as well as the smaller entrepreneurial firm, you’ll find many agreements were reached and decisions made through the use of multilateral decision-making – negotiation which is the fair exchange between two parties. Continue reading “What stands in the way of our deal in negotiations?”