Warning. This is a serious rant.

Sometimes you just gotta rant.  On the front page of our regional newspaper The Dominion Post today was an article that just astounded me (no not the one about Terry Serepisos, who is after all a man creating his own destiny and whatever you think of him, good or bad, he is owning it and getting on with it and taking responsibility for his own survival).   No the article that got me all worked up was sitting right next to the picture of Terry.  The headline was “That’s my mum you are hurting PM told”.  You can read it here  http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/5528949/Thats-my-mum-you-re-hurting-PM-told

The story is about a woman who has written to Prime Minister John Key about her 63 year old mother who has learned that her job at a government department is to be axed as part of government rationalisation of public services.  Apparently her mother is now depressed and anxious, she is terrified and in turmoil, worrying about her future, which someone of her age doesn’t need.  The poor lady may have to leave her one bedroom flat as she won’t be able to afford rent, she will have to apply for unemployment benefit and state-funded accommodation.

I feel sorry for her, I really do.  I think its tragic that this person had never realised that she has actually been responsible for her own retirement all her life, that no one had ever educated her, helped empower her to take responsibility for herself, given her some financial lessons on investing for the future. That she has never taken any of the salary she has earned as a public servant and used it to try to build some wealth for herself, bought herself a house, paid off a mortage over the years, set aside a nest egg to fall back on come the day she was too old or tired, or suddenly became a ‘victim’ of a global economic paradigm shift that is forcing governments all over the world to get out of the massive debt that is crippling their economies in a desperate attempt to avoid a global economic melt down of historical proportions…this is the real sad undercurrent of this story as I see it.  People have come to expect the government to provide jobs, but the world is telling us we need to get smart, get tough and take action now before we start plunging into the desperate unteniable debt situation going on in European economies right now.  Paying people to do jobs that are not really necessary in the scheme of things, that are not actively contributing to our real need to be producing more that we can sell to the world… this is rapidly becoming a luxury our economy cannot afford. We need more businesses making stuff – food, technology, valued resources, energy, water…. stuff the world is short of and we can sell for a premium.  We can’t keep paying more and more for bureaucracy.  We can’t afford to.

I also feel sorry for John Key.  He is a businessman, he knows what to do to turn a company’s financials around.  Right now he is CEO of our country’s biggest company, New Zealand Inc.  Our finances are in a mess.  We are spending more than we earn, we are paying people to stay and home and not contribute to our revenues, we have invested in other companies (Countries) that are on the verge of going bankrupt and potentially taking us down with them.  He is a good CEO.  He can see what needs to be done, he needs to re-structure.  Get rid of the layers of middle management that are adding more to the expense column than they are to the income column.  He needs to create more efficiencies and less overlaps.  He needs to give the company a new vision, one focussed on productivity and income generation, with a workforce of loyal employees all committed to creating more revenue streams, doing more with less – spending less and producing more.

But he can’t do what needs to be done.  He can’t just weild the axe and re-structure at will. Alas, the analogy of NZ Inc as a business has to end here.  John Key is not the CEO and NZ Inc is not a company full of productive, motivated employees.  He is a politician and he needs votes in order to stay in his job long enough to make a difference.  To get those votes he has to be liked by people who have no idea that we are standing on the edge of a financial precipice heading towards disaster.  He has to appease voters and pull back on the hard calls, just to stay alive.  Too many people are struggling to handle survival to care about the state of our Country’s economy.  He has to care about them and try to look after them, even though to do so means keeping us from moving forward at the pace we need to.

Too few people have had the benefit of an education in self-responsibility.  There is too much dependency. Not enough self-responsibility.  Fear driven by ignorance and generations of people used to looking to the leaders to protect them and take care of them, not challenge them to be the best they can be and prepare themselves for the day when they can no longer work.   What a job he has!  Who would want it? (Apart from Phil Goff… for all the wrong reasons!)

It gives you a headache just to think about it. Which is why I guess not many people do.  This poor lady of 63 is about to lose her job and she has no plan for how to survive without it.  That is the saddest thing.  And at the root of my passion for liber8yourbusiness… helping in my own small way to empower people to create wealth for themselves and create jobs for others along the way.

End of rant.

7 things a business buyer will pay a premium for – #7 People

A business buyer will pay a premium for a business they feel sure will run without its owner. Unless you are planning to sell a concept or a leveraged business model (business models for exit are covered in the liber8yourbusiness programme), you are going to need people in your business to help you grow.   If you do it right, the people you hire and train will be the people that your buyer will want to run the business they buy.  So they are going to have a great interest in the people working for you.

Your people are a crucial key to the successful sale of your business.  And business buyers will pay a premium for great people.

 Hiring the right people

It costs twice as much (if not more) to fire someone as it does to hire them.  Getting the right people to join your team is CRITICAL.  I have been through some ugly employment disputes and learned the hard way how true that statement is.  Do get advice.  Using recruitment companies to hire people is worth the fee they charge, but if you feel you can’t afford their commissions be sure to get other people to help you interview.  Learn how to ask good interview questions.  Don’t do all the talking.  Don’t be afraid to make an interviewee work hard.  And trust your gut.  You know your business and your culture.  Do not hire someone who can do the job but won’t fit in.  Your team will reject them and it will be impossible to get rid of them.

Training people

Remember you are cloning people to run the company so that you don’t have to. You need to create very clear guidelines for how things are done in your company.  Make sure that your people are crystal clear on the culture, the processes and expectations.  Then let them do their job!

Get your ego out of the way

The hardest thing when you are growing your own business is to let others run the show.  When you hire juniors, it is critical that you clone them and teach them to do things exactly the way you would.  But when you hire senior people, it’s critical that you do not try to clone them.  You have to share the glory and let them have some input into the way the company operates.  Involve them in business planning, encourage their contribution to major decisions, and let them build a strong relationship with your favourite customers.


One often overlooked area in business planning is your Shareholders’ Agreement if you have a business partner.  This agreement defines the nature of your partnership and in particular your agreement around the end goals for the business.  It’s important that your business partner/s also have a goal to sell the business in the future and that you have some agreement around what will happen when the opportunity arises.

Excerpt from latest NZ Business Mag…

“For years now, the ANZ Privately-owned Business Barometer has been tracking baby boomer’s exit plans.  As recently as 2010, it showed that 41 percent of business owners planned to retire in the following five years.  Yet only 13 percent of them had formal exit plans.”

This is why I created the liber8yourbusiness programme.  My most passionate desire is to see a dramatic increase in that latter statistic!   Every business owner should have an exit strategy worked out.  If you don’t, liber8yourbusiness shows you how…

Thou shalt not interrupt!

Reading Tim Ferriss The 4-Hour Work Week at the moment.  Am about to adopt one piece of advice as of Monday.  As Tim points out email is the greatest single interruption in the modern world.  How many times have you sat down with your to do list for the day only to find its midday before you’ve finished answering all your emails and dealing with the issues that seem to spring out of the email world?  Nearly every day right?  But no more for me.  Tim recommends that you turn off your audible email alert and the automatic send/receive which pop up on your screen as you work.  Then clear email twice a day only.  Once at midday and again at 4pm.  He says never to check email first thing in the morning but rather spend the time before 11am completing your most important task for the day.  Brilliant!  Then you create an e-mail autoresponse that comes up whenever someone emails you telling people when you clear your emails and asking them to text if its urgent.  He even gives you sample copy for your auto reply email.

So here I go …  I’m already excited by how much more productive my days are going to be!

PS. You can buy The 4-Hour Work Week at the Liber8store, just scroll down from this blog and click on the button…

7 things a business buyer will pay a premium for #6 – Systems

Let’s recap.  You have attracted a potential buyer with your unique offering, your powerful brand and your fantastic reputation in your industry.  They have looked at your books and can see the locked in future earning potential of your business.  (By the way, I’m not listing it as a key ingredient for getting a premium price, but if you are going to sell your business at any price you must have good looking accounts… tight on expenses, high on profitability with a healthy balance sheet).   They can also see that your clients are of a very high quality and not likely to walk when you do.

What else are they going to be looking at as you determine the value of the business to them?  They will start to look at how the business is run.  They will want to feel sure that they can take it over with ease and that it will continue to run well once its owner (you) is taken out of the picture.  They will want to review your business systems.

You simply cannot underestimate the value of tight systems.  I am one of the world’s most disorganised people and yet I love systems.  Because systems set you free. They tell others how you want the business run.  They keep consistency.  They ensure reliability.  And clever, well implemented systems using technology can make your whole business run with minimum human input.  If you haven’t already given the systems in your business serious consideration, now’s the time to do it.

Looking at the critical systems list below, conduct an internal audit on the robustness of your current systems.  What systems are documented under each section?  If a new person walked into your business tomorrow, would they know what to do without you telling them?   Set a goal for yourself to document the processes in each area by a certain date.

Critical Systems list

  • Administration
  • Finance
  • Client Management/customer relations
  • Service delivery (your product)
  • Product development
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Technology


Plan your exit strategy from the start

Plan your exit strategy from Day 1

I believe a business should be planned with the end in mind … click on the above link to see a video clip from a live talk given to a Wellington business group.