Business owners need to be well-versed in both strategy and execution. If you feel like you and your business have reached a plateau, Breakpoints will reignite the spark that drives business success. DR MIKE ASHBY is the Founder and Director of The Breakthrough Company. He is a sought after business speaker, industry thought leader and adviser who has run development programs for business owners for over 10 years. His vast experience and his authentic voice make him one of Australasia's foremost authorities to business owners.
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Exactly 12 minutes before I was due to give my standard 'business success' presentation to 200 business owners a couple of years ago, the convenor of the conference was rushing around yipping and yahooing to the speakers as we gathered for the pre-event briefing. As he raced past me he asked me what I was going to talk about, and then said to me 'Great, great Mike, fabulous. Go out there and tell them the four things they've got to do to grow the business'.
That wasn't what I was going to talk about, but I preferred his idea to mine. I went into the seminar room, grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, and while people were drifting into the room I scribbled down the four things that business owners have to do.
I like to wing it because I find the pressure makes me more creative. Figure A (overleaf) shows the framework I sketched out for myself that day, and which I am using (with some modifications) as the structure for this book.
Figure A : the Business Breakpoints
There are thousands of books about how to grow small businesses. I've got a couple of hundred on my shelves or in the cloud. I have read no more than five of them from cover to cover. The odds are that I wouldn't finish reading this book either.
So my objective here is simple: I want to beat the odds and have 80 per cent of the people who buy this book read at least 80 per cent of it. Achieving my objective requires me to keep the book short, relevant and readable. So this is not an academic book; it's written from real life for real life. It does have a framework, but there aren't many acronyms and data tables. (By the way the ending is really good, but it only makes sense in the context of the rest of the book.)
The framework for this book
'Breakpoints' refer to those moments of departure from the past, after which life is different. It comes from the software world (something I didn't realise until someone asked me why I was using the term). A breakpoint is used to interrupt a running program immediately before the execution of an instruction.
In this book I'm using it as an analogy: when we recognise and implement these particular departure points, we take our business to the next level. Whatever else happens after this, we won't be going back to where we've been. Each of the breakpoints we describe has a before and after: once you've gone past it, your business will be operating at a higher level of performance - even though some of the breakpoints do not relate directly to the business.
The fundamental framework is very much about you. I've worked a lot with The Icehouse, a world-class business-growth centre. Their approach is that the owner, the business and the role of the owner are all equally important, as shown in figure B .
Figure B : The Icehouse's Three Circles
It's a good way to think about the owner-managed business, especially the idea of 'you in your business' as being separate from both the business and you as a person.
However, I draw a slightly different picture that reflects both what I've learned and how I operate, shown in figure C .
Figure C : the Breakthrough Model
I prefer this for several reasons. The first is that I can draw it using SmartArt, which is much quicker. The second is that I believe that the business only changes if the owner changes. I suppose you could argue that the business changes you - the whole experience of being in business shapes your outlook and behaviours. But if you want to grow the business, you've first got to grow yourself. As one of our clients said at his graduation from our program, 'the business has doubled since I started the program but the thing that has changed the most is me'. He explained that his joinery business only grew be