A fresh perspective

<p>At a recent chamber of commerce seminar, I was given the &quot;opportunity&quot; to sign up for a business coach, and being a paid-up member of the cynic club I thought this meant paying a huge sum of money to be told the blindingly obvious. Well, now that the 90-day programme is over, I'm pleased to report the money has not been wasted, although it is true to say that we have paid a large sum of money to be told the blindingly obvious!</p>
<p>Including a successful morning's training for the staff (a first for them), we have learned some rather necessary and valuable lessons. In running your own business one concentrates on the day-by-day, week-by-week, year-by-year figures, often waiting for the accountant to tell you whether you have made any money, or not, on an annual basis.</p>
<p>Reporting to no one except yourself can lead to complacency, boredom and an acceptance of the status quo. One rarely considers, for example, that one day the business will have to be sold, a time when one should recoup the reward for all your hard work. It seems most businesses fail to focus on this, with the sale usually being forced when there is an illness, retirement or the business is about to go under.</p>
<p>Asking the question: &quot;How many hours do you work in the business compared to on the business?&quot; was quite enlightening.&nbsp; Looking at the business with fresh eyes, having tasks to complete and the tools to measure our success were all part of the programme, which has made us aware of, among other things: the percentage of customers who enter the shop and buy; the importance of margin, and the damage in discounting; the profitability, or otherwise, of signing sessions; testing and measuring the success of marketing and advertising; and the value of a 10% increase in prices and the lowering by 10% in overheads and what effect it has on the bottom line.</p>
<p>All good stuff, but there was one thing the business coach did say that made me really think. Independent bookshops are in a unique position to borrow and read all the available business books from their own stock and therefore, in theory, should be the leaders in business -practice on the high street.<br />
Well there's a thought!</p>