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Hear from business owners and how they turned their struggle into success.

Gemma’s Case Study

A Coaching Case Study of Gavin

Gavin – the owner of a precision engineering business

Gavin bought the business from the previous owner some 15 years ago in order to provide himself with a good income and a comfortable  retirement.

The business employs about 30 people and has a well-equipped workshop with modern machine tools. 

Gavin is a great engineer and his focus is on delivering high quality solutions to his customers. With decades of experience, Gavin reckoned  that running a business was the logical next step in his career, giving him security for the future.

Running vs Doing

Engineers make great leaders when their focus extends beyond the engineering.

What Gavin hadn’t realised is that running a business is a very different activity from doing the business.

He hadn’t realised that when you become responsible for an enterprise that employs other people, you stop doing what everybody else does and you work on the business, not in the business.

Strategy, finance, HR, sales, marketing, investment etc. become as much a part of your day as engineering used to be.

Trouble is, Gavin is an engineer and he loves it. So having bought the company, he continued working on customer projects and dealing with the day-to-day engineering challenges that all engineers love to work with.

And the job of running the business was left to look after itself…

When I met Gavin a couple of years ago he’d had enough. He was working 10 hours a day and weekends too, just to keep the business afloat. He was way behind on delivering projects and risking losing customers. And, of course, he wasn’t paying attention to the strategic needs of the business.

Run the Business or it Runs you

Exhaustion is a common problem for many leaders who fail to get their priorities right.

The first thing I did with Gavin was to explain the dynamics of leadership to him. How the leader’s job is radically different from the job that anyone else does and that he used to do. The leader of an engineering business does not just do engineering – he or she runs the business… 

And if they don’t – it will run them… into the ground! Which  is exactly what Gavin was experiencing.

Upside Down Thinking

One of the things I come across frequently is upside down thinking where a business owner’s mindset creates huge problems for them.

Gavin’s belief was that the more he worked, the more he would achieve and that he would eventually clear the backlog of work and, one day, get on top it.

That day never came…

I explained to him how the world of work is so abundant  that the more you do, the more there is to do and that work is never finished.

He asked me: “How do I get to go home at 5.30 and only work 5 days  a week?

I replied: “By going home at 5.30  and only working 5 days  a week.

This is a perfect example of how we get things upside down – we need to run our lives and our businesses as we want, not as they dictate. We are Bosses not slaves.

Freedom is a Choice

Gavin listened and acted. He stopped working silly hours and started prioritising his time. He became more productive and soon was achieving more in much less time.

He became a living example of Parkinson’s Law:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion

We hired 2 more engineers and Gavin started to choose the projects he got involved in. He was still able to indulge his passion for engineering but without being drowned in it.

Now Gavin feels more free than at any time since he became a business owner – he understands that freedom is his choice.

Sam’s Case Study

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