Your value is equal to the amount of cash you can raise based on your assets.
Your wealth is what you have left when you have lost your value.
Wise words from a speaker last night – and two thoughts occurred to me simultaneously.
Firstly, I thought it was a great way to reflect on my personal worth. Secondly, it made me think about how businesses consider their “worth”.
I often talk to business owners about the Balance Sheet, and how important it is to understand what they are owed by others, what they owe to others, and what they own. I will start to add a fourth measurement, what is their worth, over and above their value.
Some businesses do already do this (for example Goodwill). The problem is that “worth” is intangible. You can’t touch it, weigh it, or count it. It exists, but only as a concept. This makes it very hard to quantify.
I believe that “worth” is quantified by others, not by ourselves. It is a measurement of what others think of us, not what we think of ourselves.
As a way of determining how successful we are, I think wealth is more valuable than value.
For a number of reasons, I decided to visit a networking event just outside Nottingham recently. Having overcome my fear of walking into a room of people I didn’t know some time ago, I was really looking forward to going. Apart from the hope that I might meet the one person who could unlock all my businesses potential (unlikely!), I was looking forward to expanding my contacts, and to learning about what was going on (in business terms anyway) in the area.
I have a theory about networking. It’s a bit like big game hunting in Africa. Some people run around like headless chickens, shooting anything that moves, or things that just look like they might be a target. Some people wander around aimlessly, hoping that they will eventually find what they are looking for. Some hunters just stay where they are, waiting for their prey to pass by.
I have chosen a slightly more scientific approach: I have thought long and hard about what kind of animals I am after, worked out where they go to drink, and have camped there. I know that sooner or later they will come to me.
It does mean that some meetings I attend are fruitless, but at least I know I will meet some interesting people while I’m waiting!
Networking can be a hard slog, and there is never a guarantee that you will meet the person you want to meet. But by carefully targeting the groups you visit, you can greatly improve the chances of meeting the right person.
I love asking questions. There is a streak of insatiable curiosity that runs right through me that means I always want to know more.
Here are some of my favourites:
How do you know when you have done a good job?
If you had to choose between a job well done, but late, and a job not done well, but on time, which would you choose?
What was your worst decision, and what did you do about it?
While in a Trustees meeting of a charity I am Treasurer of recently, someone asked a really great question:
What would the world be like without our organisation in it?
As a charity that prides itself on the difference we make to people’s lives, this ought to have been easy to answer. Our sticking point came when we needed to produce some evidence of what that difference was.
Questions are good, answers are great, but evidence is key.
As a school governor, I am aware of the move away from teaching, towards learning. It doesn’t matter how good the teacher is, if the pupils are not learning. Evidence acquired at the end of the year in the form of exam results, or course work, is too late to be of use to change teaching style and content. Governors are now being asked to look for evidence that pupils are learning.
Questions that have no right or wrong answer are a good start to finding out what people think and feel.
And businesses are made and broken by people, not numbers.
I’m willing to bet that your business has only got 3 problems:
Not enough money
Not enough time
Not enough good staff
I’m also willing to bet that no business has ever solved these problems. Like it or not, we only have the resources that we have. And it’s rare that we consider them enough. And yet every day businesses succeed and grow.
Not enough money
I once bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles, and landed there with just $50 in my pocket. I was young and naive enough to believe that I’d be ok. You don’t need lots of money to achieve your ambition, just pure bloody mindedness, and self belief.
Not enough time
Demands on our time have never been greater; everyone wants to grab our attention. Achieving a perfect work-life balance is a goal that always seems just out of reach. Life is, and always has been difficult. Have you worked out what’s important to you? Do you give your time to the things that matter most?
Not enough good staff
It’s tempting to believe that no-one does it as well as you do. No-one may do it quite like you do, but isn’t quality a judgement made by the customer, not the salesman?
All this sounds like a case of tough love, but in business (as in most walks of life) we need to make the most of what we actually have, not what we would like to have.
If you would like some help looking at what you have, and checking that you are making the most of your resources (money, time and staff!), let me know.
Talking over the MP expenses story with some friends, there seem to be two issues:
The rules for reclaiming expenses, and
The administration of the rules.
I believe that the rules are probably about right, possibly a bit generous, but basically right. The governing document makes it very clear what should, and should not, be claimed, and why.
However, I have major issues with the way in the rules were administered. Greed and maladministration have allowed MP’s to claim for items that do not fall within the rules they themselves set. Quite clearly, not only did some MP’s break their own rules, but the laws of the land as well.
This is not a modern problem, in AD130 Juvenal wrote, “Sed quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?” (But who will guard the guards themselves?).
There is no perfect system. But there is a compelling case for better independent scrutiny.
Listening to the radio today, I was struck by the speaker’s complaint about how “the credit crunch” was still causing problems to his business.
It got me thinking. What was really at the heart of his problem?
The Credit Crunch refers to a bank’s unwillingness to lend money. Was he looking for a loan? If so, what for? To invest in greater capacity? To launch a new line of products or services? To help with poor cashflow?
If it was the last reason, I can understand the bank’s reluctance to lend, and crunch his credit.
Banks have not helped themselves in recent months, but their core purpose remains the same: to lend money to businesses. In return they expect a profit on their investment.
If you are having difficulties convincing your bank to lend money to you, maybe it’s because of something you need to do, or say.
If you need help talking to your bank, let me know. I might be able to help.