We recently had the honour of talking to Richard Goring, manager of Wiston Estate Winery in West Sussex, who completed Cranfield School of Management’s Business Growth Programme in May 2018. He shared his experience with us and gave us exclusive insight into the ways undertaking a business growth course has changed his life and the direction of his business.
When Richard initially looked to engage in self-development, his key motivation for joining the Business Growth Programme (BGP) was simply to make the Estate Plan he had been working on a reality. He recognised that as good as the Plan might have looked on paper, executing it successfully would require a solid business framework and structure.
Here are four key takeaways that Richard has shared with us about what he has learnt about himself and about his business.
1. Your business doesn’t need you
“All of you as owner/managers will think you’re completely indispensable. The point of this Programme is to help make you totally redundant”.
Quite a strong message but one that has particularly stuck with Richard. Many owner-managers of growing companies believe they are indispensable for their business but as a business leader it is your role to see ahead and to engage with new projects, so that the business can just run itself.
For Richard, internalising this message has been hugely liberating, finally understanding that leaders need to let things go and step back, concentrate on building the team and watching them grow in the process.
2. Getting an outsider perspective is highly valuable even if the feedback is negative
Not only are you, as the owner-manager of a growing business, alone in your journey, but those in the same boat can actually help you gain the perspective on your company that you wouldn’t have had the chance to see otherwise.
Having access to a close group of businesses and a highly experienced mentor throughout the growth course was particularly helpful for Richard. Having that kind of network keeps you going and forces you to probe a little further to really make you think about the business in different ways.
When you have different people coming in from outside and saying, “What are you doing with that? Why are you doing it that way?” it makes you reassess and really think about your processes and assets.
3. Investing in my own development generates ROI
Getting time away from running a business can probably seem impossible. Furthermore, as an owner-manager you’re probably very conscious of cash flow, and spending money on the development of a single resource is unlikely to look like a sound decision. Richard, however, in retrospect recognises how central the experience has been to setting the business up for the future, and how close it was to sinking had he not invested in developing his capabilities as a leader.
The decision to go ahead was actually a joint decision with his wife who supported him by giving him the time away to attend class on Saturdays, leaving her to look after their three boys. Taking week days away from the business as well was initially quite daunting.
But, actually, that time away greatly contributed to his understanding that the Estate can work without him and he doesn’t need to be there 24/7. These days away also benefitted the team in that they began to work more independently and take on more responsibilities, without Richard’s presence, boosting productivity and laying the foundations for a sustainable organisation.
4. I already had the right team
Embarking on a business growth programme doesn’t necessarily mean planning an overhaul of the current setup of your company. In many instances your business is actually already sitting on the right talent and it’s just a matter of realising that and nurturing the team.
In fact, the reality that Richard found was that the team he already had was brilliant and had huge amounts of talent and potential that he would not have seen had he not let them step up and take on higher levels of responsibly – and the course helped him do just that.
A huge thank you to Richard Goring for his time and to The Worshipful Company of Farmers for providing scholarships for the BGP.