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a blog by Chris Barrow

Bringing up baby

What a pleasure it was yesterday to drive over into Devon and meet with new clients who are at the very beginning of their business adventure. A 4-person dental laboratory with a man and wife team in charge, who are entering their 4th year in business. We began with a tour of the lab (which took minutes) and then continued the conversation at their home until enjoying and long, late lunch in a riverside hotel and pub. The “conversation” started at 9.15am and concluded at 5.15pm, with hardly a break. The conclusions were that, in order to take the business from baby-stage to adulthood, they would have to make some significant sacrifices in the next 3 years – sacrifices of leisure time and time with their very young son. Sacrifices necessary because they simply don’t have the cash to build a strong support team around them. They have two babies to mind – a son and a business – both of which are crying for attention. He, of course, is spending 90% of his working time at a bench making teeth, 5% operating the business and 5% in communication with existing and potential new clients. That means his business will plateau – because just like yours and mine, his is a sales-driven business and he MUST get out and meet dentists. I asked for a change to 20% operational, 40% bench and 40% communication. She is “bringing up real baby” and trying to keep pace with invoicing and general paperwork in the gaps. A lousy accountant is supplying financial data hopelessly late. She must to send real baby to nursery and hire a child-minder. I have requested 20% financial controls, 40% operational systems and 40% in quality time with real baby. Big requests – they both looked bewildered at the end of the day – but grateful for the insights. At 5.00pm they asked “where we do we go next in coaching with you?” It would have been so easy to say “join my programme” – but I didn’t, because they are not ready and cannot afford the investment. So I asked them to work on the goals I have set them for the next 90 days – and we will then revisit. In the meantime, I’m happy for them to have casual e-mail access. Last night I felt as if I had made a positive difference to their lives – and that’s right in line with my Unique Ability® and core values. Can I admit to a rosy glow of satisfaction that was worth more than the fee?

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