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Can’t see the woods for the trees – the value of good, independent advice

“You can’t see the woods for the trees,” is a saying as old as… well as old as sayings probably, but the first written record of it dates back to 1533 in a book by Thomas More – ‘The Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer’. We have a small group of trees at the back of our house and, at this time of year, they are so thick with branches and leaves, it’s hard to distinguish where one tree ends, and another begins.

Owner-managed SMEs can be very much like this. For most business owners, the idea of a job description or clearly defined roles and responsibilities is somewhat fanciful. Everything is your responsibility and every detail is thought through.

But as a successful business owner, you will also have learned the value of good advice! You will have surrounded yourself with subject-matter experts to help you navigate the more complex issues – accounting, contracts and HR. Growth and sale are key areas where good advice may prove invaluable.

Growth… ‘But I know how to grow my business’

You know what it takes to grow a business; if you didn’t you wouldn’t be where you are today. But what most business owners lack is not knowledge and skills, what they lack is time and perspective. You focus so hard on doing what you do – the trees – that you simply can’t see the wider landscape and potential opportunities around you – the woods.

“Having worked with Entrepreneurs Hub for nearly a year, it is not surprising that they succeed where their competitors struggle. They really realise best value, and over deliver support to achieve this. Great team, great ethos, uncompromising ethics. Exactly the ingredients needed by business owners, who have built their business with smart decisions, then exiting should also be a smart choice.” 

If your succession/exit strategy is to sell your business at some point in the future, then we would encourage you select an adviser who specialises in growth for exit and proactively selling businesses.

Sale… ‘But I already have advisers’

Whatever your journey through business, I am pretty certain you will have relationships with a range of advisers who are close to your business and understand it inside and out. But ask yourself these two questions – is their core skill in selling businesses? Are they also too close to the business that they will also find it hard to see the woods?

“I am delighted to be celebrating with my family. My business has been acquired by RSK Ltd, an outstanding group that will create an environment that will allow my business to flourish. I would like to genuinely thank Entrepreneurs Hub (EH) for taking me through the process every step of the way and introducing me to RSK. The process can be demanding at times and EH were always on hand to advise through to completion. Remarkably, despite Covid, together we successfully concluded the acquisition of my business and I can’t thank EH and all involved enough!” Chris Miller-Hanna

So, it makes sense to get good, independent advice from a third-party when you are trying to boost growth and/or sell your business. But how do you know that you are getting good advice? Trust your instincts! They must be good, or you wouldn’t be where you are now.

Let’s be honest, everyone will tell a broadly similar story  in relation to how good they are, what award they won, or what accreditation they have. The most important thing is – how are they performing with their existing clients? – ask for references, speak to their current clients.

Also, any adviser worth their salt will offer a no-obligation review or assessment of your business and some preliminary feedback. This will give you a good feel for how you gel with the individuals advising you. Trust, after all, is the most important thing in a relationship like this – advice is only as good as your willingness to implement it.

All quotes and those below were received within 2 weeks of writing

‘”At that time, I was talking with a number of other potential advisors (mainly parts of accounting firms) who were all trying to act on our behalf. To be quite honest, they could not even sell themselves, so I was not impressed and was worried that they could not really represent our business to prospective buyers. Then you came through the door, a breathe of fresh air. With a much more confident sales and marketing approach and immediately I was impressed.”

“Thank you,  X  for all the support on the accounting side of the negotiations. It is a different kind of accounting from anything XX and X have ever had to deal with and we couldn’t have done it without you. Please pass on our thanks to everyone at EH who has been involved and to your families also, for putting up with all the interruptions to their lives in the evenings, weekends and even holidays that this complicated deal has caused.”

If you would like to talk to Entrepreneurs Hub about growing your business, preparing and selling your business, or both, drop us a line and we would be happy to arrange one of those no obligation reviews.

Call us in confidence at anytime on 0845 0678 678 – alternatively send us your details and we will contact you – click here 


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