It is a disturbing fact that most small businesses fail. Too often when the owner simply has had enough (or can’t work anymore), they walk away with very little to show for the sacrifice. They have not built equity – they can’t sell their business for much, if anything.
But here is the extraordinary thing: it doesn’t have to be this way. Most businesses are repeating the same mistakes – and they really don’t have to. There is help available which will make a big difference.
Is there enough profit? Are you making enough for it to be worth-while?
Maybe right now you’re even going backwards – can you pay your bills on time?
Are there enough sales – enough new business coming in?
Is there cheap competition moving into your market eroding profit margins?
Are you getting what you want from your staff, or are they frustrating you?
And what about the effect on you? Stress, worry, anxiety? Waking up at 3am?
Do you feel confident in your businesses direction, or do you suffer from self-doubt?
Do you worry about what you don’t know? For example, do you wish you knew two years ago what you know today – right? Well think about this: what don’t you know right now, that you’re going to wish you had known in a couple of years?
Not things like the economy, or next week’s lottery numbers – no one is ever going to know those; the things that could have been known – business skills and mindsets, blind-spots that you have, good ideas that you haven’t had yet.
There are solutions to all of this. There are things you can do to tip the balance in your favour on all of these issues. But most business owners don’t know about them.
For the business who are suffering some or all of this, what we at Wolfpack see is business owners reacting to their issues by working harder – driven by the myth that hard work solves everything. Hard work is necessary, but not sufficient.
We see business owners making themselves more expert at what the business does in the hope that that will make the difference. But all it does is exhaust the owner – fogging decision making and making all problems worse.
We see business owners thinking that the problems they are having in their businesses are particular to their business, or to their industry. They think everyone else is not having these problems. They are usually very surprised to find that most other business (if not all) are having exactly the same issues at some time or another – no matter what the business does. Most people don’t know enough other business owners or have an intimate enough relationship to discover this.
Too often they see the failures in their businesses as bad luck – when in fact they are often uninformed poor decision making. Now seeing all of your set-backs as all bad luck might be good for your self-esteem, but not so good for your business.
Or they blame their staff – put it down to a bad hire – "we got the wrong person". Sometimes it is, but more often it is a failure of leadership on the part of the business owner.
After enough set-backs, business owners can even end up in state psychologists call "Learned Helplessness". Without being fully aware they are doing this, they start to accept their condition as normal, because so much of what they have tried to do hasn’t worked.
All of these effects re-enforce a downward spiral resulting in business failure.
So what is the root cause of this destructive spiral? It has been known for a long time, but not widely known. And here it is:
In very simple terms, it takes four people to run a business: 1 to make the widgets (widgets represents whatever the business sells or does, from t-shirts to brain surgery); another to sell the widgets – sales and marketing is a very different type of mindset and a massive skill-set, another to keep score, not just keeping the books and accounts, but measuring everything in the business – you can’t manage what you don’t measure; and finally a boss – someone to lead people to achieve something.
The vast majority of businesses are started by a widget maker. They could be a very skilled widget maker, like a cardiac surgeon, or less so, but a widget maker none-the-less.
This widget maker is blissfully unaware, when they start the business, three people are missing. They are also unaware of the magnitude of the knowledge base, the skill-set of these other people, and their importance to the widget maker’s business.
Psychologists tell us that the more ignorant we are of a subject, the more expert we think we are in it. For example, we think "leadership, how hard can it be? Surely it’s just common sense?". But if we were to meet someone who has spent a life-time studying and practicing it, they will tell you they still have much to learn.
So does that mean we have to have these four people physically represented in our business, or live 4 lifetimes? No, but for where your business’s development is at, there will be a level of leadership you need to know – and the same applies to the other two disciplines. You can consider these three people "business acumen", if you like.
So there you are. The skills it takes to make widgets, are not the same as the skills required to run a business that makes widget. Not knowing this is at the root of why most businesses fail.
What do we do about it? Well, I, and the other designers of Wolfpack, have identified 6 ingredients you need to maximise your success in business. Things beyond your own efforts and resources you need to run your business.
Firstly, support. A problem shared is a problem halved and to have people around you who are also business owners, who get you, you are living the same journey, is very powerful. Very few people have this because business owners are few and far between, and no-one likes to shares their difficulties for fear of frightening off customers and even staff. But imagine how amazing that support would be if you could get it.
Secondly, business skills. Imagine what a difference it would make to your business if you were to know more about sales, marketing, financial modelling and leadership? Just think how you might do things differently with more insight into your businesses performance, or how to convert more leads to sales, or how to motivate and lead people better?
Thirdly, mindsets. In some ways, mindsets are like skills, but business mindsets are more about attitudes and priorities that make for successful business. For example, an entrepreneur mindset knows that working ON the business is more important than working IN the business. Most people don’t know this – they think that delivering that service or helping that client is the most important thing they do; but they are allowing urgent to get in the way of important too often.
Number four is what we call "external visibility", a way around our blind spots. We can have all the skills in the world, but we often can’t see things right in front of us. This is because we’re emotionally involved in our businesses – we can’t help it, we’re human, and anyway, it’s that passion that drives us to build something. The other causes of blind spots are the thinking errors we make. Psychologists have names for them such as "attribution bias", "confirmation bias", "the Dunning Kruger Effect", and so on. Other people can often see your blind spots with great clarity - as you can see theirs – so wouldn’t it be great to have trusted people who can provide this external visibility?
Ingredient number five is idea generation. Businesses need all the ideas they can get – especially in these changing and volatile times. You can’t be expected to generate all of the ideas. Wouldn’t it be great to have a source of new and wildly different ideas you would never have thought of? What sort of difference could any one good idea make to your future?
And finally, number 6 is Accountability. Now this may sound a little odd to you – most people want to run away from accountability – why would you voluntarily want to be held to account? Well here is why – it’s the ingredient that makes things happen. All leaders know that it is a key ingredient to leadership. If you want to achieve goals by leading people, the most powerful thing you can do is to hold them to account. So this begs the question – who holds you, the business owner, to account? Successful business leaders know that one of the most valuable ingredients they can bring to their leadership from an external resource is accountability. They want to be held to account for achieving their own goals. They know that this is the difference that makes the difference.
So there we have them, the six external resources you need to make your business successful
Knowing this, the next question you may ask yourself, is "where can I get these 6 ingredients"? First let’s look at what is conventionally available:
You could use friends to support you, help with ideas and external visibility. But how comfortable are you sharing you deepest fears and doubts with your social group? Only about 1.5% of people run a business employing more than 5 people, so the chances of having peer business owners in your social circle isn’t big.
Even if you were to use your friends, these people you trust, with lots of good intention, will urge you to take some decisions that just don’t make business sense. This can be a confusing, distressing experience.
Most business owners simply don’t discuss business with their friends – they would love to help but they simply don’t understand business enough.
There are a lot of ‘experts’ out there who may know a lot about their narrow subject, but really don’t know how it fits into a real business. Take lawyers and accountants, for example, most don’t know much about running a business; despite that fact that their considerable skills are an essential ingredients to business. So a lot of business advice you find out there is well-intentioned but critically lacking in scope and context making it misleading at best.
There are even business groups to offer support, but you will find that they are very often sales oriented – how much would you want to share with a prospective customer or referrer? They also lack the culture, the methods and the discipline to be truly effective. They usual end up as a social group who provide comradery, but not much else.
Clearly these conventional resources have their limitations. This is why we built Wolfpack. Wolfpack pulls together the very best the wold has to offer business and we selected the content, and engineered the method of delivery, specifically for small businesses.
Wolfpack delivers to you the business owner a three-sided benefit; the sides are: the profit you make from your business, the equity you build in your business (it’s sale value, if you like), and the quality of your life.
It’s not use making more profit if it wears you down, or takes you away from your family and the things that give you energy – if for no other reason that the business will do much better if your life is in better balance.
And most business owners want to build something that will survive them, or can be sold at a profit.
Firstly, there is the group, or the "pack" as we call it. Sometimes called a "mastermind group". This is a group of 8 to 10 completely unrelated, diverse people. They are not competitors, or in any other way related – but they are business owners and/or leaders.
Your first discovery will be that "business is business". If you haven’t compared notes with other business owners before, you will be amazed at how similar other business owners’ problems are to your own – no matter what industry. The good news of course, is that the solutions to these challenges will work for you with generally only the smallest, if any, adaptation.
Imagine being able to safely and confidentially present your issues, opportunities, challenges to a group of business owners from mostly completely different industries – think of the ideas, inspiration and insights you’ll get back from those diverse business minds. They’ll also challenge you in a supportive way – purely because that is what you’ll do for them – and they recognise how valuable that is.
Interestingly, when you are helping a fellow business, you learn as much, if not more, than the person you’re helping. In fact, your participation in their business journey multiplies and accelerates your business experience.
This group is not a talk-fest. The meeting is highly structured and designed with a sophisticated understanding of how groups work best. Advanced, structured methodologies are used to process members’ challenges. The high performance culture of the group which is established during induction and maintained during meetings, is a critical success factor.
Secondly there is the coach (the group leader). Your coach is present at every meeting as well as providing you with one-to-one time. Your coach will help you get clarity about where you want to get to, and what might be holding you back.
And thirdly there is “the knowledge”. Topics, tools and ways of thinking that will transform the way you do business – designed for the owners of small to medium sized business and selected for the areas we know will make the big differences to the businesses in the pack.
The pack gives you support, external visibility, ideas and holds you to account. The knowledge gives you the skills, and the coach re-enforces all of these as well as helping you gain a business mindset. Thus your business is rounded out with the six ingredients for business success.
Your Wolfpack meets once per week for just over an hour. We find that the weekly meeting keeps up the inertia and the excitement. It also allows people who have to work IN their business a lot of the time due to its small size, to participate without being away from their business for too long.
"1 hour per week with pack, 1 hour per month with coach"
There is no travelling time to get to the meeting, no finding a park, and you can be almost anywhere in the world. Why, because we use video conferencing. As long as you have an Internet connection a webcam and a headset, you can participate. We supply the platform.
So why do we want to see, as well as hear each other? Because when we can see each other, communication, particularly understanding, happens so much more effectively. You see instantly if someone is not getting you and can back-track or further explain right away. When you can see someone, you not only understand what they are saying, you understand how they feel about it. But it’s also a human thing. Relationships and trust develops faster which benefits all.
The Wolfpack video conferencing system is a professional grade system, not skype or a similar free system. You see all of your pack on the screen, and they see you. We can all share documents and even update them while everyone watches.
Because we use video conferencing, you can join a pack anywhere in the world. If you find a pack meeting at a time that suits you and in a language you are proficient in, then you can join. Honestly, we have people from the most far flung places now and you really can’t tell unless they point their webcam out the windows and you find that it’s night where they are when it’s your day, or it’s snowing where they are while you’re sweltering. So long as their local internet connection is good, the quality of the video and audio is just the same.
Even when you’re travelling, it’s not that hard to find the 1 hour window for the meeting when you can be near an Internet connection. Our system works on just about any smart device; from a smart phone upwards.
Finally, when the meeting concludes, you are right back at work in seconds. You can’t beat the efficiency of video conferencing.
Wolfpack is leading edge business thinking in today’s fast moving world but already the results are telling. Have a look at our testimonials page, and when you read the comments there, have a think about how those people have been transformed – how they will never go back to their old way of thinking – and what that will mean to their long term success.
CEO peer-mentoring groups for medium to large enterprises have been around for many years and there has been plenty of time to measure effectiveness right around the world and under different economic conditions. The results are absolutely clear – their businesses grow many times faster than their peers.
Why did we call it Wolfpack? Because a wolf pack is a superb example of how collaboration can make all the difference. A lone wolf, in fact, struggles to survive, and is in reality searching for a pack. In a pack, wolves can achieve things they could never do on their own and they thrive. In your Wolfpack, you’ll achieve far more in business than you will on your own.
So there you have it. If you want to succeed in your business, you know what the real dangers are, you know what is at stake, and you now have a clear opportunity to stack the odds in your favour. The time and cash investments are designed for small to medium business. The time investment is about 6 hours per month, spread through-out the month, and the cash investment is in the hundreds per month, not the thousands. If you’re serious about building a business, this is easily the best investment you could make in your business and yourself.
You know, it takes a few years to get a business built up to medium size – so just how many shots do you think you’re going to get at this? What is the cost of not succeeding? Is there any better investment you can make than investing in yourself? Is there any better use of your life than learning, growing, and helping others succeed while they do the same for you? What will it mean to you to improve the lives of your family, your employees and make a real difference to your local economy?
Make contact and talk to us about your business. We will make every attempt to match you with a pack that is right for you – remember, once a pack has a member who represents a business that does what your business does, that pack is closed to you while that potential competitor remains a member. Conversely, if you join first, of course, you keep them out.
They say there are two great times to plant an oak tree. The first is 20 years ago. The second best time, is today. If you could have joined Wolfpack years ago, think how much better off you’d be now. So join now and accelerate your progress to where you want to be.
Make contact, let’s meet by video or phone, and talk about where you want your business to go, and if Wolfpack is right for you.
Wolfpack has been instrumental in allowing me the time and expertise to better navigate the trials and tribulations of business. Having not only a 'coach', but also a team of business colleagues who help you manage the business landscape as a 'wolfpack' looking out for you along the way, has been extremely beneficial to the personal and professional growth of me and my business. I highly recommend Wolfpack as an environment where you can build trust and gain guidance and confidence along the path as an entrepreneur.
- Doyle – Digital Marketing – 14 employees
Mark told me about Wolfpack a year ago. I knew his experience and ability to articulate difficult concepts into bite size chunks would be a great benefit to me, but I was not in the financial situation to join up. I struggled on in my small business for 6 months and finally came to the conclusion I was kidding myself to think that I could do all this on my own. I then committed to Wolfpack and that’s when my real journey began.
Benefits I have received in the last 6 months have been massive. I’m happy to expand personally, but for purpose of introduction to Wolfpack, this is what I have got out of it so far.
Expert mentoring, structured planning, a process of accountability and a forum for addressing challenges that I face in business. A supporting community of real achievers that have a genuine desire to see me prosper. Mark is an exceptional mentor and business coach, but Wolfpack is bigger than Mark. I highly recommend it.
- Lyndon – IT managed services – 2 employees
I think I’m much more business focused now and have a better sense of direction. My business has changed and Wolfpack has been an integral part of that. I’m now spending time working “on my business” and have the tools, knowledge and support from Wolfpack to keep growing it.
I think being in business there will always be challenges and it’s great to have a group of like-minded people there to help you through them.
- Adrienne – social media marketing – 2 employees
Whenever I've done well in an endeavour, I've had a peer group around me to bounce ideas off of, get excited and generally share the experience with. Trying to do something as challenging as business alone is not the best way to go about it. You want to surround yourself with people that can lift you and inspire you.
In Wolfpack you're surrounded by people in the same position as you. Driven and willing to make sacrifices. They understand you. On top of that the group is led by an experienced business veteran who facilitates discussions and teaches important topics in an easy to understand way every week.
Having peers and a mentor to guide the group of peers helps you to do better and better and ultimately make more money - whether you want that money to support your lifestyle, your family or to support a worthy cause.
Getting an included 1 on 1 session with business coach Mark Jackson is amazing value. I can imagine where I'd have been if I hadn't had access to his experience and wisdom, and the sight would not have been very pretty.
- Faran – on-line clothing sales – 4 employees
Wolfpack has been for me an exciting exercise in learning to be a better and more effective business owner. Many of us are experts in our fields of endeavour, but it’s not a simple matter to translate those skills into actually running a bigger entity, with so many extra considerations. Having the chance to suck information out of experienced mentors in a relaxed and enjoyable manner is priceless. Why have to learn from your our mistakes when you can learn from others that may have already made them before, and can help you avoid the pitfalls? Secondly, Wolfpack is also great as a peer-support system so that you can share your wins and losses. If you are a small business owner, wholeheartedly recommend you give Wolfpack serious consideration.
- Richard - Medical - 10 employees