The Bannatyne way, or the Osborne way?
I read Duncan Bannatyne’s autobiography last year, and must confess to finding it a good inspirational story. However I’d like to use one piece of advice he gives in his book that goes against much of the advice offered by many business advisors, and that I myself also disagree with.
My first business wasn’t a great success. I ran it for two years and it pretty much as good as went out of business. My second business struggled for the first couple of years, and that also nearly went down the pan until I changed my ways. It’s now a great success, so what changed? Well quite a lot of things changed about the way I approach my business, and one key area was that I started to use professionals to do things instead of struggling to do everything myself.
In Duncan’s book he gives reference to two examples. One is that he learnt how to form a Limited company, and then completed all the paperwork and formed his first business by himself. The second is he gives reference to learning about the legislation involved in running a nursing home. He then advises that you shouldn’t waste money paying other people to do things when you can in save that money and do the “thing” yourself. This I firmly disagree with, and I’m a true example of why it is wrong to take on that apprach and here is a couple of examples why.
Websites: I have lost count of how many businesses have poorly designed websites that they have tried to do in house to save money, without realising that all they are doing is making their businesses look too tight fisted to create a professional image of their organisation. They look tachy and I’d never deal with a business who takes pride in promoting a lame public image of themselves.
Business Cards: When someone passes you a business card printed on cheap do-it-yourself paper from a cheap stationer. Realistically it would cost you less than £50 to get some better quality business cards printed from a high street printer, on card. If you can’t afford £50 for business cards then you need to relook at your budgeting and startup costs.
Both the above reflect the impression you are giving other people about your business, and you should be thinking about creating a professional image. You want to portray a sustainable business that is going to be around for a while, not that of a business that can’t afford basic business cards. As for a website, it is better to have nothing at all than something that makes you look like an amateur.
Duncan does suggest contacting the relevant Government organistations and ordering their handout booklets to read and learn about whatever it is that you need to comply with. Personally I feel this is a waste of your own time, when you should be focusing your energies on growing, developing and selling your business. If I relied on the Government guidance on how to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations I could inadvertantly find myself breaking the law because their guidance is riddled with contradictions. If I followed their guidance on how to comply with the umpteen million different Emplyment Legislations I again could find myself breaking the law without realising, or worse still, I could find myself drowning in so much paperwork I’d never find time to run my businesses.
My advice is manage your time. It is actually sometimes a much more efficient and cost effective use of your time to use professionals to do what they are good at so you can get on with running your business safe in the confidence that “whatever” you could have done yourself more slowly has been done more quickly and professionally by a professional. I now surround myself with professionals who know how to do things much better than I do. I technically can do the programming that powers my Efiling business, but it is a much more efficient use of my time to pay others to do it better than I can. I could also technically learn how to write my staff contracts, but it is a much more efficient use of my time to pay someone else to do it. The end result is that my businesses get the attention from me that they need to grow and develop, and not have me tied up in books, leaflets and other unnecessary paperwork.
Using Duncan Bannatyne’s example of forming a Limited company. It probably cost him about £40 all in to form one of his companies himself, and by the time he received all his paperwork back it would have been about a week. So that is about 5 hours of his time learning and form filling, £40 paid out, and a week delay in delivery of his Certificate. He could have paid my “professional” company to do it for about £50, took him about 15 minutes and we would have had the paperwork back with him the next day (quicker than Companies House directly).
Even multi-millionaires can learn something from us mere trainee millionaires.