8 Ways To Re-Invent Yourself In A Crisis 7. – Invest In Yourself

Business owners are being forced to re-invent their business in one way or another.

I work with an auditor / consultant who has converted their site audits to remote audits using technology to cover all aspects of an audit. Another client that provides energy consulting services has seen the benefit of staff being located across the country, ready for site visits when lockdown ends.

How Will You Re-Invent Your Business?

This article is number seven of a series that I’ve been writing to suggest different ways of re-inventing your business if Covid-19 is forcing you to have a rethink. In each article I refer to businesses I personally know plus I refer to the ultimate outcome of a business re-invention: a successful sale of the business.

I have also done some re-inventing in my business. Switching my peer group from monthly half day meetings with breakfast butties to a bi-weekly 2 hour virtual meeting 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.

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 seventh way of re-inventing yourself?

This re-invention feels like it’s the ultimate re-invention. Start from scratch, invest your own and other people’s cash in what you believe will work, be prepared to lose it all. You may not know many people who have done this re-invention recently, although I suspect over the next few months people will be made redundant and will decide to set up their own business.

Many of those people will use their own money to start their business. If they borrow money, they will probably be asked to give some form of guarantee to their funder – they won’t be able to access the Government’s supported loan schemes. That guarantee will probably be their private home. They will just be like Scott Moore, recently interviewed by John Warrillow.

So the seventh way to re-invent yourself is:

Invest in yourself – learn, self-develop, back yourself

The Scott Moore Story

Scott Moore had 4 stages of developing his restaurant business:

  • He put in his own money to fund his first two restaurants;
  • Then he got an investor for the next three;
  • He then set up a joint venture partnership before finally;
  • Going to a bank with a proof of his restaurant concept – still with a personal guarantee!

He set himself 3 levels of business and profit to measure himself:

  • An average profit based on his observations of other restaurants;
  • A great profit if the restaurant really took off;
  • His base and target profit that was half of the average – knowing he could survive at that level.

Scott kept really focussed on the development of his business by having a meaningful mission statement supported by 4 guiding principles – mostly about community, food quality, customer service and a brand that differentiated.

His business was eventually bought by a strategic partner for $36million.

Scott Moore 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 John.

When Dreams Become Reality

I know Steve Quinn as a friend and client.  I don’t know if he walked away with the same amount from his recent business sale but his story is similar to Scott’s. Steve is a qualified chef who developed his career with Compass Group, specialising in school catering. He moved up the management level and became a director of the school catering business. But corporate reorganisations made Steve take redundancy and exercise what he calls his ‘risk muscle’.

His dream was to set up his own school catering business – where quality food for children was really important. He had a vision to:

  • Make the school catering look like a restaurant not a canteen;
  • Have quality, healthy food;
  • Treat the children like customers, they have a choice.

That redundancy from Compass gave Steve no more excuses – he had to act.

So, in 2005 Cucina was born. Steve invested a substantial amount of his personal cash in the business. His bank wasn’t willing to lend to him until he won some long-term contracts with schools. He worked really hard to win school contracts, fighting against Compass and Sodexo, the two big players in the sector, plus a load of small competitors who had started before him. He wasn’t getting results, he was looking for employment again and then one event started things moving.

Steve had a meeting in London with a marketing agency. It was one of those meetings we have all had. A long drive, no prospects of anything coming from the meeting. Best to cancel. But Steve didn’t. He made the trip and picked up a consultancy contract to support Intercontinental Hotels introduce their Staybridge suites concept to the UK. Not enough to encourage the bank to invest, but it was a start.

One piece of advice Steve had been given was to always do one thing everyday that moves your business forward. So, on the day Steve’s gagging clause with Compass ran out, he rang a school catering consultant he knew. That guy gave him a chance to bid for his first school contract…which he won! The bank was then ready to invest.

Over the next 13 years Steve added more schools and a growing team of chefs, service managers and back-office admin. The business got to 70 schools and a turnover of £18 million. Then a fund manager and strategic partner turned up and created Impact Food Group, with over £35million in sales. Steve has now exited the merged business, selling it for an undisclosed sum, and is running his own food and goods purchasing business and a restaurant in Oxford that gained a Michelin star.

To find out more about Steve, visit his LinkedIn profile.

In my next article I will be introducing Arvid Kahl and Danielle Simpson who leveraged virtual networks to grow their business and eventually sold out for a life-changing value. In the meantime if you want to see what our peer group is all about register here.

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