Friday, 20 September 2013

No Shortcuts

I'm back on a running kick at the moment and, having avoided running through the spring, I have suffered in the summer as I regained some fitness and some strength in my legs.

I was thinking about this yesterday morning as a hauled myself through Wimbledon Common on a cold and rainy early morning. If you want to run some distance, there is no shortcut to building up the fitness. No matter how much I might want to, I can't just start running a 10k distance - I have to build up to it. I have to put the time in doing the less glamorous things, the boring preparation.

It is exactly the same in business. I speak to lots of clients and potential clients who suddenly decide that change is necessary and then want to implement that change tomorrow. This is especially true with staffing decisions. 

I understand the frustration of dealing with staff, I really do. The firm - or chambers - may have put up with poor service for a long time and finally enough is enough. So they call me - or someone like me - and want 'something done'. Often we then have a difficult and frustrating conversation along the lines of it not being that simple. It takes time, it takes planning, it takes procedures. It takes patience if we are to do the thing properly.

There are no shortcuts in business. Plans have to be considered and then confirmed. Strategies have to be arrived at and then followed. Procedures have to be in place (and then followed). I cannot come up with a plan that gets around employment law...

If you want to run a business, you have to put your time in to understand the business, to understand the industry (so far so good for some lawayers) but also to understand staff and people, to understand the technicalities of how businesses work and of how to get the best out of them. That's the tricky bit.

So as in running, so with business. The boring preparation has to be done. The hard early work has to be put in. The plan needs to be established and followed. As with running, that means some difficult early mornings and evenings of just slogging away. As with running, however, it is all worth it in the end because suddenly you are in a position to not just do things better - you can do better things.

Training, then. There are (sadly) no shortcuts.

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