Small Businesses Deserve Better: Why We Started Nine Advisory
Small Businesses Deserve Better.
It's a simple concept, sure. Yet it's also the animating principle behind what we do at Nine Advisory.
Helping small business owners understand why they aren't unlocking their full potential is one of the most important things we do. For many business owners, this comes down to a fundamental misapprehension about the true nature of a business.
Some people think that if you work for yourself and have a roster of clients, you're running a business. Yet this isn't really true. Consider the example of an overworked small business owner who struggles to meet the demands of a handful of clients and is fighting for survival. This person may believe she doesn't have an employer -- and she's right, just not in the way she thinks. She actually has numerous employers: Her clients.
When you're forced to exchange your time for money in an effort to keep your enterprise afloat, you aren't really running a business. That's because real businesses don't trade labor for time; they produce fixed outcomes. They have effective and repeatable processes. They leverage the power of teamwork. They have the trappings of professionalism.
There's a phrase we like to use for small business owners who are stuck in the cycle of exchanging time for money: "In the wilderness." What does it mean to be in the wilderness? It means you're living hand to mouth. You're overworked and overtaxed trying to satisfy clients without using a systematic, problem-solving approach.
It means you're no better off -- financially or emotionally -- than you were when you were working for someone else. In fact, you may be unhappier.
It's striking how many small business owners find themselves stuck in this rut, in a state where they have all none of the advantages of being an employee, yet few of the real benefits of entrepreneurship. If they don't show up, the whole thing falls apart -- and they don't get paid. It's a precarious existence.
Fortunately, there is a formula for escaping this situation, one we've used to help many small business owners escape the wilderness for good.
Creating a Real Business that Works for You
We developed our Nine Pillars of Success framework to help small businesses take the next step toward becoming a fully-realised and growing enterprise. It's a methodology that's grounded in our deep experience and demonstrated expertise in the consulting and accounting industries.
The Nine Pillars focus on the nine distinct areas in which a business must display strength in order to flourish: products, people and partnerships, sales, marketing etc. The Pillars, when followed, provide a comprehensive foundation on which to build a new enterprise -- one that emphasises best practices and encourages growth.
Let's talk for a minute about one of the most important Pillars: Business Process. Over the years, we've come to realise just how critical a role behavioural changes play in the success or failure of a business.
You've likely heard the Einstein quote about "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again." For many business owners, it's this form of insanity that leads them to the wilderness. Even if they understand that things aren't working, they still struggle to make the behavioural changes that would break the cycle of failure.
In order to disrupt these self-defeating routines, we work with business owners to help them make the changes necessary to improve their business processes. In practice, it's no different than a dieter pre-cooking half a dozen healthy meals and storing them in the fridge for ready access. By taking steps to incentivise and encourage, we can start building the kind of processes that drive positive outcomes.
One example: Cutting down on decision fatigue is one of the easiest ways to help people become more efficient. It's been reported that the average person makes around 35000 decisions, large and small, every day. This can create a level of indecision that is paralysing.
Yet by eliminating or automating low-value decisions, business owners are free to focus on the larger, strategic picture.
The Nine Advisory Difference
Traditional accounting firms devote most of their time to helping businesses navigate tax and payroll issues -- and that's important, vitally necessary work. Yet at Nine Advisory we decided to take a more holistic approach, offering business performance advice that encompasses every layer of an organisation: Strategy, governance, risk, finance etc.
We rigorously analyse every aspect of a business in order to improve performance and stimulate growth. It's much the same formula you'd see with any professional sports team; strengths and weaknesses are identified, game plans are developed and opportunities are exploited.
Our analysis gets at the very core of a business, asking the fundamental questions: What problem are you solving? For whom are these problems being solved? Is the market for your solution large enough to sustain a business?
Far too many companies fail to apply this kind of analysis -- they simply open the door for business and expect revenue to roll in.
Our Nine Pillar framework helps move these business owners out of the wilderness and into the next stage of the business lifecycle. Given how hard most small business owners work, it's a shame when they find themselves stuck, unable to professionalize or take the next step.
After all, when you work that hard, you deserve better.
And that, ultimately, is why we founded Nine Advisory.