Wearing too many hats

Lack of an active strategy or plan can be devastating in any business.

We’ve all seen examples.

The sad reality is that many SME owners have no “strategy team” at all. No senior management team or peers who they can bounce ideas off regularly.

Even though they may have several staff, they still essentially alone. Isolated. Yet responsible for everything in their business.

Wearing far too many hats.

Contrast that with large businesses with their management teams. Public companies have an additional level of support via an overseeing board of directors.  

Is it any wonder average SME results and growth rates are below that of larger businesses?

Is it any wonder SME failure rates are so high compared with larger businesses?

We humans are creatures of habit, and although that’s mostly a good thing (habits help us automate repetitive tasks without occupying our brain’s processing power), there are some serious downsides.

The most insidious of which is complacency. A constant sense of comfort with the status quo.

These are killers of growth for SME owners.

Of course the other big problem is owners wearing too many hats in their business. They find it hard to let go of anything.

Without realising it they’ve essentially created a monster. Its insidious and a huge barrier to growth.

I sat down with an owner recently, a business which achieved over $5M in revenues last year. He’s done very well. Yet something he said to me replicates what I’ve heard from dozens of other owners over the last 20 years.

He has about a dozen employees, yet he still feels isolated in his business. None of his staff can help him with high level decision making. They have minimal interest in the big challenges the owner faces, and confidentiality is always an issue for him. 

Then he has an accountant who is highly skilled in tax matters, a dedicated and ethical accountant. But one with no interest in assisting with the strategic side of his client’s business, no time to do so, and certainly no process to do so. 

90% of SME owners I’ve worked with are in this situation. Including businesses with some pretty serious revenues up to the $10 million p.a. range.

Unless they find another external support partner many never find a way out of the mire.

The missing link is having someone to ask them the big questions. About vision, about goals, about planning, about strategy options, setting targets etc.

Then most importantly to turn these into actions, actions with accountability, to drive improvement in both the business and in the owner’s lifestyle.

This particular client had no senior management support, no trusted advisor, no co-pilot. No-one to brainstorm strategies with, no-one to bounce ideas off, no-one to keep them focused.

Its tragic, but its so common in SME businesses.

Accountants are in the perfect position to fill the key parts of that role, for selected clients.

Lindsay King

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