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A Fresh Coat of Paint

So, I have recently been doing some painting and decorating around the house. This was part of a  plan to move the home office downstairs in a swap with my daughter’s bedroom which would move upstairs. The main benefits being that my daughter would be less disturbed in the evening (my son works late, and she is also currently studying for her GCSEs), the dogs would now roam around downstairs and be more settled and the office would be near the conservatory which is used as another workspace and be off the kitchen – both a blessing and a curse!

It was interesting to reflect on my decision for doing this myself, rather than get somebody in to do it.  Namely, 1) I had enough spare time to get it done, 2) I would save some money which could instead be put towards some garden improvements, 3) I have sufficient skill and patience to do a good job, albeit that researching certain advice still proved very helpful, 4) the last painter I used did not do the best job and I had to go over some of the work myself, 5) I knew that if I made a mistake it would typically be easy to rectify, and 6) I actually find it quite therapeutic, enjoying the time to reflect and the sense of achievement when it is all finished. That said, I did make some mistakes and recognise that an expert would have got the job done much quicker.

This led me to contemplate why Owner/Managers might not be using a Business Advisor, given that running a business is arguably far more complex and challenging. In my experience, most business owners are time poor, and they often don’t have the skills within their team to optimize all aspects of their business. They may well enjoy learning new skills but will feel frustrated if this takes too long or creates issues, uncertainty or missed opportunities. Cost is definitely a consideration, but I know that most do not fully appraise the benefits. For example, advice which reduces costs by £10k is likely to apply every year, so after 10 years would be worth £100k and will also increase the value of the business by perhaps £30k-£50k. Having somebody that you know and trust to deliver results, bring in fresh ideas and perspectives and truly add value to your business is clearly a critical factor.

With time to reflect on the job, I also found myself considering and relating the importance of the planning process. I would create a budget for all the materials and tools needed to do the job and I would need to think about preparation and the most efficient way to complete the job. It is amazing the number of decisions and improvement opportunities that are involved in what appears at first to be a simple task. Should I pay more for a higher quality primer or paint that might save some time? What is the best order to paint everything? How long will I need to plan for paint to dry and when will the radiators be on? What rollers and paint brush sizes will be best? What should I take down from walls and what should I mask up? How to avoid getting paint on other objects, carpets, clothes, etc.? How can I reduce set up time and down time? Should I paint up and down or left to right? How many coats of paint will be needed?

Even more amazing is noticing first-hand how making small changes in the application of each new coat and utilising some simple tips and tricks you pick up along the way reduces the time it takes. Everything from manoeuvring furniture more effectively to wrapping brushes in foil to stop them drying out to not painting over the door hinges! Indeed, I even found myself utilising a similar range of commonsense improvement tools that you could apply in business, from 5S and Lean to just simply “Plan Do Check Act”. Needless to say, having an advisor on hand would have been great to build my skills in this area further and be better prepared for the next project.

Throughout these tasks, I always had a loyal friend close by (often a bit too close and in the danger zone) to offer moral support. As heart-warming as this was, it is no substitute for having a “critical friend” with relevant skills, knowledge and experience to sit alongside you. This is what will help you to take your business to new heights, as it is crucial to fully explore the bigger picture before taking action, make key adjustments along the way, and take time to reflect and evaluate, whilst having the encouragement to keep going with a clear goal and vision in mind.

If your business could do with a makeover or just a fresh coat of paint, please do get it touch. We have plenty of tips, tricks and tools to help you save costs, time and improve your profits. We will work alongside you but are not afraid to get stuck in when needed!   

 Contact us for more information: info@empiricpartners.com or 01256 338440.

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