I have advised business owners for over 20 years, and have worked with 1,000+ companies. My company, The Business Group, leads ongoing problem-solving groups for business owners. My passion is working with small business owners. It is exciting to work with people who pour heart and soul into their endeavors, and to help them reap the rewards. I like problem solving with people who have a direct stake in the outcome; who will say, Yes! or No! and not ‘Well, we’ll bring it up at the next committee meeting.’
Every piece of advice I give out has been tested against the toughest of audiences—small business owners. Eighty percent of the companies I've worked with have achieved their goals of growth, profitability, and ease of operation. This contrasts with the common statistic that 4 out of 5 small businesses fail within a few years.
I avoid unnecessary jargon and jazzy concepts because I focus on helping you implement simple ideas that can have real results in your business. I use practical and plain language, so that you can go back to work and apply it next Monday.
I have an MBA from UCLA—with an emphasis on small business management. I have taught in the business schools at University of San Francisco and Golden Gate University. I wrote "How to Grow Your Business without Driving Yourself Crazy®" and a dozen workbooks on small business management topics.
We help owners of small, growing businesses get to the size and profitability they want, and keep the desired balance between business and the rest of their lives. We work one on one with clients, and we also run ongoing business owner roundtables for problem solving, goal setting, and accountability.
We help you:
- Upgrade your management style so you're not the bottleneck to your company's growth
- Build your growth team, to free you up to focus on strategic growth
- Build your profitability and your productivity
What do you like most about your profession?
I love working with small business owners. Especially ones who are successful and growing, know where they want to take their business, and want help tackling their growth challenges. Besides 1 on 1 consulting, I lead ongoing problem solving groups for business owners. Each group of 10 meets monthly to help each other tackle their growth challenges. I love leading these groups, and orchestrating all these smart people to help each other. I enjoy speaking and teaching, leading seminars and workshops and webinars, to help a bunch of owners work through the pitfalls of running a small business.
What questions do clients most commonly ask you? How do you respond?
"How can I grow my business, and make more money, without it driving me crazy and swallowing my life?" I heard this so often, I turned it into my slogan, and the title of my main book. "Times are good now. But what should we do to stay healthy during the next business downturn?" http://blog.businessownerstoolbox.com/how-to-prepare-for-tough-times/ "Can I afford to hire a top manager to back me up?" http://blog.businessownerstoolbox.com/can-you-afford-a-100000-manager/ http://blog.businessownerstoolbox.com/the-power-of-a-strong-2/ http://blog.businessownerstoolbox.com/can-your-business-run-itself/
Describe a recent client engagement or project.
A local specialty baked goods company. The owner started it in a small facility, along with a few friends. It was immediately popular. They sold at their own shop, then set up an online store, then started selling wholesale to larger stores. She opened a second retail operation across the bay. She was doing it all! And it was growing beyond the skills of the initial team. We have worked with her to lay groundwork for yet more growth: -- Hire more experienced managers -- Put in better systems and procedures for training, for consistency, for cost control, for marketing outreach. -- Change her own management style to let the managers run day-to-day, so she can focus on growth She has recently hired a general manager who formerly managed a much larger operation, and it has freed her up tremendously. "I can now focus on finding new retail locations. But I also have more time for my daughters!"
What are the most important things to consider when hiring a service provider in your field?
Can they solve the problem you have? Do they have particular expertise or experience you need? Are they affordable? Can they help you understand your own challenges, so that you can take the lead in making needed changes? Will they stick with you while you implement the changes you decide on, and help you refine your goals and tweak your plan? How to find this person: -- Talk with them. Read their website and blog. Get a feel. -- Get recommendations from their clients. (Of course they'll only connect you with good clients who like them.) -- Arrange a limited trial. See what they can do for you on a short piece--perhaps an assessment of your problem. If you call me, I'll do some free problem-solving with you on the phone, so you can get a sense of me that way. And I can get a sense of you. I don't want to work with people who aren't right for me. A word on affordability: If somebody could make or save you $1 million and you balk at their $10,000 fee, that's foolish. Pay the price to get the quality help you need.
How are you different than others in your profession?
I'm not unique, but I have several things going for me: -- I have 20+ years experience advising small business owners. I love my work -- I focus on growing companies, not ones in dire straits. -- I combine coaching and consulting and problem solving. This is what clients want and need. -- Clients tell me I turn "clouds into bricks" or "cans of worms into bullet points." I'm good at sorting out complicated messes and helping the owner lay them out in a sequential plan of action. I do this visually on the white board. -- I have run varied businesses myself, so I've experienced most of the issues others bring to me. I give practical, down to earth advice. I don't come across like a college professor. -- I'm a good communicator: I've published several books and numerous workbooks. -- I have broad experience--strategic planning and growth strategies, management style and team building, marketing and selling, finances and profitability, innovation and introducing change, balancing business with other things in your life.
How do you typically handle disagreements with clients?
I rarely have disagreements with my clients. Sometimes there are misunderstandings, and we just talk it out. I tell people I will return their money if they are not happy with my work. Over the past five years, this has happened only twice. In both instances, they were people I knew beforehand I should not work with, alas.
Describe your proudest professional accomplishment.
When one of my clients "graduates"--i.e., sells their business and retires. It's bittersweet, because I'm losing an excellent client. One man, Steve, recently got tired of retirement and started a different business, and he's now working with me again. Kathryn, after selling her business, is off sailing the Pacific with her husband. Here's her story: http://www.businessownerstoolbox.com/business-owners-groups/ (Scroll down a bit to the video.)
Field of Study: Small business management
San Rafael, CA