We entered into a learning partnership with InterCHANGE and Philip Barnes in July 2011. We felt there were gaps in our management skill sets and it would be beneficial to speak to someone independent to identify and help bridge those gaps. We purposely spread our sessions with Philip over a long period so we could try to learn, apply and then assess how we were progressing.
More specifically we felt we lacked expertise and experience in the area of finance. This in terms of how our financial and management information would be assessed by lenders and potential investors with the aim of raising investment capital and ultimately valuing our company.
We did address these areas to a certain degree and received some valuable advice in terms of what performance indicators were important and where our focus should be. In addition we spoke a lot about our operation and how we as managers were allocating our time on a day to day basis. The purpose of this to bring a focus and a degree of discipline to achieving the goals set out in our formal business plan. Because our time and sessions were limited overall, we actually were frustrated at one point because it seemed we spent time discussing issues we knew existed and had experience addressing rather than the other issues where we felt we needed more advice. However we knew in retrospect that we ended up discussing these issues because they were barriers to us in moving the company forward. So in sense, he held a mirror up to us and made us take a look at the obvious so we work on those things first. We think Philip’s primary expertise is process management and gaining efficiencies.
An area where we gained insight we had not planned on, was in how our customer might view our service and product. He has many of the attributes that are customers do and he gave us honest feedback in how he, and by association our customers, would view our company. This was ultimately valuable to us. In the latter sessions we were actually drafting a long term business plan and he critiqued this document for us and gave recommendations on what should be included and why. This was probably the most valuable and productive process we went through with Philip. Parties that had a reason to read and review the business plan were complimentary about the logic, content and overall clear outline that had been developed for future planning of the business.
All that is good, but Philip left us with a clear message that you must execute your plans and manage your business with ‘rigor’. That last message has stuck with us.
Peter Stearn, Director, Wellbeing Escapes Ltd.