Building business relationships – conflict resolution

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Once upon a time there was a successful sports car designer who had a weekender in the mountains and a sleek Maserati for the ride. Whenever he could take a break from his business, he would recharge in his mountain retreat. He drove the twisting road, pot holed in patches and unguarded in sections. He never worried though. He relished the drive. After all he had a great car, he was an excellent driver, and he knew that road like the back of his hand.

One summery morning he was driving to his weekender, invigorated by the mountain air breezing into his face. He approached one of his favourite hairpin bends he slowed, shifted gears, and braked.  And then like a bolt from the blue, hurtling around that bend spun a car almost out of control! It lurched menacingly into his lane.

Grief, he thought, it’s going to hit me for sure! The oncoming car swerved again, but at the last moment swung back into its own lane.  As it passed by him a woman stuck her head out of her car window and screamed at him, “PIG!”

Incensed at her gall, he blasted the horn and bellowed back “YOU ….. SOW!”

“I was in my lane! She was driving like a lunatic. Should be put away” he muttered indignantly. And self-satisfied he mused “at least she didn’t get away without me putting her in her place!”

And with that, he put his foot down, accelerated around that bend   ………. and ran right into the pig! [1] 

 What does this story tell us about conflict in business building relationships? We often react, urged unthinkingly by that primitive and irrational part of the brain, known as the limbic system.  We can become emotionally charged,  one-eyed and closed minded, assuming the worst in others, blaming everyone but ourselves, wasting energy, distracting attention, souring  business building relationships, and costing us financially.

Until next time!


[1] Story adapted from Barker J. Paradigms. Understand the Future in Business and Life. The Business Library Melbourne 1992

Business building – so you don’t need a business plan?


There are many business building newbies who believe that they don’t need a business plan.  They believe it is only necessary when starting up a new business.  They see no reason for a business plan when buying an existing business which is all set up and running well.  They simply view themselves as the new operator.

The point they fail to grasp is that they are not only a new operator with no runs on the board but they are also the navigator of a directionless investment once the departing owner leaves.

In business, things rarely stay the same for too long!


If you don’t think you need a business plan then put together an action list of things you might need to address to run the business your way or continue building it.  For example:

Change of ownership – Never assume that the former owner’s way is the right way or the wrong way.  Keep an open mind and learn from everyone.  Start jotting down ways in which you can improve what has gone before.  Staff members are looking for direction, so if you do nothing, you may find your staff managing your business their way – the only way they know how!  If you want to change things you need to start leading from the front and ensure everyone starts singing from the same songbook.

Your customers – Firstly, you need to get to know them.  Unless you do this quickly, some will use it as the trigger to leave you.  If they are happy with your present products and services, what else might they want that you can provide?   Can you improve the service?  You need to start building your personal capital and goodwill.

Your products & services – is obsolescence likely to be a factor in the future?  Demand changes all the time.  What can you do bring to the mix?  How can you to stay up to date and keep it fresh?  Can technology add a new dimension to e.g. the product itself or its distribution?  What are your competitors doing?

Your sales system – if sales simply fall into your lap, what can you do to replicate and build sales even further?  Would customers who hardly know you refer you to friends and colleagues?  Are you building a useful sales / communication database?

Manage the process – you need to take the wheel and keep control of your business or it will run off the road.  That means staying on top of pricing, margins, income, expenses, cash flow, breakeven, hiring and firing, human performance, the cost and quality of the product / service creation process – just to name a few.  There is also some admin to do such as compliance, accounts, paying bills, collecting money, BAS, PAYG etc.

Your personal time – if the business needs nothing but a new driver how can you minimize your time behind the wheel, or even replace yourself?

For more reading on business building check out

Until next time!


Business building – Is a cafe-takeaway a dream or a nightmare?

Make no mistake!  Business building in a cafe-takeaway shop is hard work.  I’m not knocking hard work but it is often a 6-7 days a week commitment with early morning preparation; which means that you can have little or no life outside the business.  If you are not used to it, tiredness can turn you into a zombie.

It is usually very competitive!  Competition generally comes from similar independent businesses, coffee shops, franchise chains and mobile vans (particularly in industrial areas).  Competition keeps margins generally low which requires high volume of customers.

Customer flow is not evenly distributed.  There are chaotic rush hours which impact on staffing and preparation.  You may only need a casual for 2 hours at lunchtime but awards can stipulate minimum periods that can be longer.

Like most food service businesses a cafe-takeaway is labour intensive.  It can be difficult to find and retain good staff, particularly casuals.  Food costs, portions & wastage must to be closely controlled.  It can be the devil’s own job to train staff in correct portioning and minimal wastage.

It all gets worse when you are frantically busy.  It is extra frustrating when you run out of something and have to run to the nearest shop and pay retail price for it.

There are some heavy duty local authority food licensing conditions to meet, not the least of which is installing a grease trap.  Refrigeration, cooking and warming means some hefty power bills.

I am not meaning to be critical or pessimistic.  I’m just being realistic!  Know what you are getting into because I have seen passion for food repeatedly dampened in cafe-takeaway businesses.

Until next time


Want to learn more about business building?  Check out our business coaching and business planning services

Protect your business and your family’s future 

Business building – finding the leader and manager in you!

"Lead and Manage!"


Every business building owner needs someone to inspire and enlist support as well as someone to ensure strategies are implemented and processes followed.  In other words, a leader and a manager are both needed!

The problem is that the traits of leader and manager do not always reside in the same person.  When they do, it is often difficult to change hats easily.

It is argued that the two require different mindsets.  A leader who attracts people may be good at strategic planning, original thinking and innovation but may not be so good at focusing short term, attending to administration, controlling the business or resolving conflict.

Nevertheless, when you start up a business, you generally have to perform both roles, and the reality is that both roles can be integrated just fine; if you are prepared to try.  It all comes down to having a good understanding of people both inside and outside your four walls.

The big picture–small picture / right brain-left brain distinction between leader and manager can be morphed quite easily into the single character of ‘owner’! 

After all, when you left your job to start your own business, isn’t this the bureaucratic rubbish that you wanted to get away from?

Everyone has left and right brain hemispheres!  It is just that most have instinctive preferences one way or the other.  It’s not that we can’t do both; it is just that we don’t want to if we don’t have to.

(Oh, the luxuries of being employed!  There is always someone else to turn to.

However, the reality of owning a business is that there is plenty that you have to do yourself that you may not want to.

If you understand people and understand what motivates and drives individuals, then you can work out how to treat them in order to bring out their best, or to get the most favourable response.

At no time in the last several thousand years has business ever changed from being all about people.  If you put your mind to it, leadership and management can be regarded as two sides of the same coin

Coming to grips with it and gaining the technical ability and people skills you need are all part of the building of the new you – the successful business owner!

For more reading on business building, read Recession is a blessing in disguise   

Until next time!


Business building – make your own luck

Make your own luck!


Luck is really nothing more than chance!   It is a random event!  In business building it is better to be a lot more deliberate and purposeful.

Would you like to leave the success or failure of your business building to chance or random events?  I don’t think so!

We are talking about the future money machine that you are building for you and your family; the one that you have already invested valuable time and money into; the one that you hope will finance the rest of your life.

You make your own luck in business!   Feeling lucky is about feeling in control.  It is about ‘knowing your business’ well enough to know what works and what doesn’t.

It can be a mistake to blindly follow others.  It is often the case that other people’s strategies don’t work so well in your business.  But don’t worry, everyone takes these wrong turns.  Don’t be despondent!  It is a matter of finding the right path for you.

As you find your own way, leave your mind open to the great impact that your own presence, personality and imagination can have on your business.  It is probably far more than you ever thought.

That is what I mean when I have said in previous posts, that when business building, don’t miss the opportunity to paint your business the colour of you!

Business is still about people!  A smiling, positive and attractive YOU will create personal connections that can’t be easily duplicated by others.  It will also save you a fortune on 3rd party marketing.

For more reading on business building, go to Business building – a dream income stream

More on business building next time!


Business building – a dream income stream

The business building dream is to establish a recurring income stream; one that just keeps rolling in and doesn’t depend on you having to sell your time.

At first, it sounds a bit too good to be true but it is possible with a little smart planning.  Here are the desired elements of your dream income stream.

You need:

1.      to attract a big audience

2.      a product to sell (yours or someone else’s)

3.      the sales admin to be automated

4.      the net sales proceeds automatically directed to your bank account

5.      to be able to operate it from home or from any hotel room in the world

The answer of course is an online business.  If your products are electronic, or they are someone else’s (affiliate) products, then your entire business can be built online.  You need not have a physical presence at all, other than ABN and tax file number.

With today’s extraordinary online business tools, it is all possible.  But here is the catch.  It doesn’t come free and it doesn’t come without commitment and work.  To believe otherwise is to subscribe to one of the great internet myths of our time.

Like business building anywhere, you must be prepared to invest both time and money to get your online business up and running.  It is true that setting up an online business is generally a lot cheaper than setting up a bricks and mortar business but all other business principles still apply.

Besides having the advantage of a much lower capital investment, building a business that is 100% online means that you have complete independence and life balance.  You make money while you sleep and you can operate it from anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in maintaining a happy Life Balance whilst business building, go visit my other blog at

Until next time!

The Coach

Starting up your own business – you need friends in business

This restaurant in Kyoto needed friends in business to help with English translation

Building a small business is difficult to achieve all by yourself. You need friends in business as well. Indeed you can be self employed and put in a 10-hour day contracting your labour and expertise. But that is not building a business. It is buying a job. While you continue to do nothing but sell your own time, you place a limit on your income because there are on 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week.

Building a small business is a leveraging process that requires many inputs – human and otherwise. As your business grows, you move away from doing everything to orchestrating everything yourself. When you reach your ‘solo’ capacity limit, you can only create more time and capacity by engaging the services of other people.

If you don’t grow as demand continues to grow, you either turn away customers or cut corners, thus sacrificing product quality and service in an effort to keep up. It is at this point where the downhill slide to failure begins. It is also at this point where you are working under considerable pressure and stress.

To survive, you have no choice but to move your small piece-meal operation out of your back bedroom into an environment of improved efficiency where you can make more products in less time to fill your ever increasing orders. Of course this requires a commitment to additional resources and to a higher level of expenses, usually at a time where you are not brimming with cash.

Try to solve the lack of people problem before starting up your own business. Don’t launch alone. Gather a few helpers around you. Look to friends and family. You are seeking help to get you going. You aren’t necessarily looking for a full time commitment. In most cases, people will lend a hand if asked and if they are able.

Another point worth remembering is that every helper you find is an inbuilt marketer. If they believe in you and what you are selling, they will tell everyone they meet. It is a lot easier for your friends in business to recommend your business than it is for you.

For more tips on starting up your own business visit

Until next time!