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Neil – The Founder's story

Neil has made most, if not all, the mistakes the owner of a small business can make and remain in business.  The fact that Neil’s businesses have survived is testament to the value and effectiveness of the lessons learned.  The sad thing for Neil is that all the information has been around for a very long time, so he really didn’t need to suffer the pain that he has.  His journey is your gain for the asking - you can learn from his mistakes rather than suffer the pain of making them yourself.

Where it all began for Neil when he made a potentially catastrophic error by accepting a huge order from an existing client About 18 months into his sub-contract engineering business, a client forwarded a huge order. This was over ten times bigger than any previous order from any client. It was also on a very short delivery – just four weeks. With no time to lose, Neil got stuck in to make sure it all happened on time and looked forward to a real improvement in turnover. He took on two contract engineers and pulled and hand delivered a bankers draft to get materials delivered as soon as possible.

One week after the order was placed the client rang to cancel the order. Neil was stunned and quickly realised he was in deep financial trouble. The business had no cash reserves and a lot of the materials delivered had been part processed so could not be returned. More importantly he quickly discovered that the terms for the contract staff effectively meant they would have to be paid for in full whether their engagement was terminated or not. Like all the orders from this client (and many others) it was verbal, nothing in writing, no terms of any description. Neil was very definitively up the creek and heading for the falls. It really looked like game over on a number of levels. With no reserves and little value in plant, liquidation was unlikely to pay off the business's debts. Plus the operation was a partnership so personal liability was a live and pressing concern.

Fortunately, another client provided the advice, strategy and telephone scripts that enabled Neil to successfully negotiate a positive outcome with the client who, unbelievably, paid up the full contract fee, received no product and continued as a valued client for many years thereafter.

For Neil this was a huge wake up call. It was a poignant example that while Neil knew his stuff as a tradesman engineer, his knowledge of how business works was next to non-existent. It was from this point that he determined to get to understand “the business of business” so he would not get caught with his pants down again. The advisor gave him the title to his first ever business book: it was a user’s guide to Contract Law.

And so Neil began his journey in self education in the business of business – or BOB as he calls it. Neil now declares that without a good understanding of BOB your business future is, at some stage, liable to be at significant risk. If you are in business of any kind then get to know BOB, keep up with BOB and his changing ways because should things get difficult for your business, your understanding of BOB, is likely to be the deciding factor in any outcome.


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