By Hugh Williams
Growing your business. The concept dangles in front of you like a carrot – something desired but seemingly out of reach.
Anyone who owns a business wants it to succeed, to grow and to develop into something they’re proud of. But the reality is that growing your business is easier said than done. The question is how do you get there?
Hugh Williams, founder and senior partner of HM Williams Chartered Accountants, believes he has the answers.
His book – 101 Ways To Grow Your Business – aims to be an antidote to the chunky business books clogging up precious shelf space as their authors wax lyrical about better management, the right style of leadership and that catch-all topic of business psychology.
Rather, 101 Ways looks at the little things a businessman or woman can do, whether immediate or over the longer term, to turn their company into a bigger and more profitable one.
Let’s start with the downsides first. There’s no getting away from it – 101 Ways can be a hard book to stick with, despite it being a less-than-intimidating 116 pages.
The cloying phrases encouraging readers to be the best and not to be afraid of success are all valiant points, but off-putting nonetheless, especially when you’re looking for practical advice on how to build up your business.
If I’d wanted a pep talk, I would have chosen another book.
Another small but niggling bugbear are the regular references to the fact that Williams’ firm has won two national awards, one for customer service and one for the work it has carried out within its tax team.
Clearly Williams is proud of these achievements and so he should be. But as a reader you don’t need to be reminded of them quite so often.
That said, the book does have some redeeming qualities that show off Williams’ attitude to business in a much more flattering light.
Williams freely admits that 101 Ways isn’t a book you have to read cover to cover to benefit, nor is it practical to try and implement all the ideas in one go.
One of the convincing arguments Williams makes relates to putting prices up.
Sounds simple enough, but it is one obstacle that, when combined with British reserve, can seem truly insurmountable.
For some brokers, the idea of charging for advice is unpalatable. “How could I do that to my clients?” they think. “How could I start charging my loyal client bank for a service they used to get for free?”
But Williams argues that this angst over fees and prices is unjustified.
Charts and quick sums throughout the book demonstrate not only how putting prices up by a certain percentage will benefit your business, but also how many clients you would have to lose before profits are hit, as well as the difference that adding just a handful of customers can make to your bottom line.
101 Ways also includes some great templates for business plans, marketing plans and customer letters, and is good for prompting business owners to take time out to consider how best to further their company.
If you can see past the well-intended cheerleader spirit, this book definitely has something to offer you and your firm.
Book review by NATALIE HOLT