Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Shall I, Shan't I? The Art Of Making Difficult Decisions

To expand or not to expand ...



Some introspection this week, hopefully with a useful model to help you too. I've been facing a decision that lots of small business owners face. Shall I expand or not?

By 'expand' I don't mean just get more customers, I mean grow my business to be more than just me. This question arose from two sources.

As a franchised business, I know that the Referral Institute is currently planning major changes in the business model, both nationally and internationally, as I have been involved in consultations about it (watch this space for more on that one next year).

Equally influential as I near my year-end, I have been writing my referral marketing plan for next year and that starts with re-visiting my vision for my franchise. Am I getting closer to achieving it?

"The answer is yes, but ..."

It was the 'but' that made me think that now is the time to make a firm decision to bring others into the business. At the heart of my vision is to be the architect of successful communities of businesses based in the Northamptonshire area.

Whilst I've helped an awful lot of people to be more successful in getting business by referrals, and I can see some embryo communities developing, I don't have a sense that I am really achieving that.

Looking at evidence from other franchisees across the world (and from my own personal circumstances) I'm pretty sure that it will be difficult to achieve on my own. It's a big decision as it has implications for the way I work and that carries risks too.

To help me, I turned to a decision-making model that has a long history (see the image above). Cartesian Logic is based on the work of Renee Descartes, a mathematician and philosopher living in the 17th century.

By asking myself these 4 distinct questions, it forced me to look at the issue from different viewpoints and came to the heart of why it is the right thing to do.

So to make the decision whether to recruit consultant coaches into the business, I asked myself the 4 questions:

  • What would happen if I did?

    The company would be more robust and resilient. Others would add skills that complement my strengths. It would expand our reach into different types of clients and cover the whole geography of the county. It would add diversity and depth to our collective network which would benefit not just us, but our clients.

    The company brand becomes more prominent than my personal brand. The intellectual knowledge and experience, client base and referral sources will not be reliant on me personally adding to the sale value of the franchise when I'm ready to exit.

    Whilst it would restrict my autonomy, it would encourage me to be more structured and considered before deciding to do things. I would have others to bounce ideas off and build in support.

    Some of my time and energy would be diverted to supporting my consultant coaches away from generating my own client base. As a notorious 'high giver', the risk is the company grows, but my personal income doesn't.

  • What would happen if I did not?

    I will continue as I am now. I will still make a difference to many more business people's success in networking.

    As I build my client base I will need to put in more and more personal effort to cover all the bases. Whilst some outsourcing of support activities is possible, the core delivery will remain with me. It will mean more hours at a time when my family needs me to be more, not less, flexible.

  • What will not happen if I did?

    I would not get so frustrated with the limitation of what I can achieve. I would procrastinate less. I am highly motivated by helping others to succeed so ensuring my consultant coaches were successful will ensure I don't put things off that they are expecting to happen. We will not stagnate.

  • What will not happen if I did not?

    I will not build a sustainable business with a sale value when I exit. I will not be able to support more clients to the extent that gives me satisfaction.

    So my income will not grow to the extent I would like. I will not be able to respond easily to new innovations and initiatives that are coming from the Referral Institute HQ.

    I will not achieve the larger impact of building referral communities and making a sustainable difference.

This last answer clinched it for me. It hit me with a big thump, it was visceral, as it is at the heart of why I do what I do.

It hits deep at my sense of purpose and what I believe; that businesses are more successful for themselves, their people and customers when they collaborate in a community with a shared sense of purpose and ideals.

"If you're prevaricating about making a decision try asking yourself these four questions!"

When you answer and you feel the emotional tug you'll know you're doing what is right for you. If you need some help to ask them and understand your answers, do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's see how I can help you.

Until next time ...


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