Upskilling your people is one of the most intelligent moves you can make as a business leader today. We report on this frequently. However, we also know that for many reasons, business owners are reluctant to make a similar investment in themselves.
At The Icehouse, we’re very proud of the transformative difference the Owner Manager Programme (OMP) makes to business owners. This is especially satisfying when an OMP alumni tells us they were initially hesitant about diving in to the Programme.
Hesitancy and objection is normal, commonplace and understandable. It can come in many forms; ‘I’m just too busy!’, ‘Lack of time and money?’, ‘I have a successful business already, so what’s the point?’, ‘I’m an imposter. What if I get found out for really knowing nothing?’
“I had every excuse under the sun in my own mind as to why I wouldn't do it… Money was one, but probably the biggest one was my perception that I just didn't have the time,” says Hamish White, owner of NOW and an OMP alumni.
Too busy? Robin McDonnell, CEO at Phantom Billstickers and another OMP alumni, did find the time, but it took a while to get there. “I had my eye on the programme for a couple of years and had been too busy to take the leap.
“It seems simple, when you have been doing it for 20 years, you just know it inside out, and you intuitively know the answer to every problem. It is easy to get tied up and get captured by that.”
Already run a successful business? “I’m a ‘determined optimist’”, says Richard Shearer, owner and Managing Director of QP Sport. “By that I mean I don’t see OMP as something for somebody who's struggling, I see it as for someone who wants to excel and exceed. OMP gives you every chance to do that.”
We also hear a lot about imposter syndrome – the common Kiwi entrepreneurial trait that maybe you’ll be exposed as winging it. In fact, you’re doing just fine. “It’s liberating, and I’d recommend OMP to anyone,” says Andrew Young at Parallaxx. “It turns out that we actually have very good business instincts. Things would come up on OMP and I’d be thinking to myself; ‘we’re doing that’, ‘we can do that’, ‘we can take this and turn it into that’.
“Running a business is a hugely personal thing, so it was also a great confidence-builder from an individual perspective – affirmation that we’re on the right track as an organisation.”
Why did I wait so long? Symon Thurlow, co-founder and CEO at Parallo says, “After some initial wrangling I jumped straight in and within the first session of the first block I was thinking, ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?’.
“The moment you think you’d benefit from OMP – don’t be like me and delay – honestly find a way to make it work. If you think you’ll benefit, that is the indicator that you need to attend it… My business would be bigger and it would have been a smoother journey if I had attended sooner.”
No business owner knows everything, which is why upskilling is worth its weight in gold. Successful owners understand that when you stop learning you stop growing. It’s also fine to be comfortable in the knowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know.
Programmes like OMP can do everything from help owners solve a business problem that is getting in the way of growth to opening up new business and investment opportunities through the power of networking, advice and support, which derives from being in a room surrounded by like-minded people.
Moreover, it can stimulate or shift a stuck mindset or better prepare you for any sudden and unforeseen challenges and bumps in the road – whether they’re far out on the horizon or right on top of you.
“I signed up for OMP in 2008. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, God, this is such a lot of money. What am I doing it for, things are trekking along well, what could go wrong?’ By the time I started the course the entire Auckland market had plummeted,” says Miranda Smith, owner of Miranda Smith Homecare.
“When I hit that first session of OMP, I was stressed, and I just really could not believe it. I was 33 and still thought I was quite young. I was like, ‘what is happening to me?’ I have had growth, I had 10 years of growth and it came as a bit of a shock. Something’s going wrong and how do you fix it? It was just the best timing for me – to be in it and to have all that support and knowledge, was amazing.”
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