Bob is a nice bloke. Lovely wife, nice kids and a bloody good Tradie too.

I won’t tell you what trade he’s in because I don’t think he would want me to. And I don’t think he would want me to tell you his real name either because, well….

This story doesn’t end well

However it’s a true story. The facts are all here, it’s just the name I’ve changed.

It actually started about eight years ago when Bob did a job for me. It was an awesome job – great service, great result and on time too.

But a few years later Bob’s wife gave me a call. “Our business is in trouble” she said, “Can you help us?”

I agreed to meet them in the evening because Bob was head-down in the business during the day working harder than ever so he could bring in some cash.

It wasn’t pretty

The records weren’t good and Bob couldn’t tell me how much profit he was making or how much cash he was losing or how much money was owed to him or how much debt he had.

And he couldn’t explain his pricing either. Apparently it was “based on experience and the way his old boss did it”.

Also Bob and his wife had redrawn their home-loan and had just used the last of their credit to pay their three staff.

But Bob was certain he could turn things around. “All I need to do is work harder” he said “I can do it”.

But he had another problem.

He couldn’t tell me where his jobs were going to come from or how much work he needed to complete just to break-even, let alone generate cash.

He reckoned that if he let-go two of the boys and sold one of his Utes he could save some money. Also he could talk to the bank and get a little more time.

But that actually wasn’t what he needed to do.

What Bob needed was a plan…. But he didn’t need it now. He needed it a year ago. In fact probably two or three years ago.

I suggested some things for him to think about and we agreed to meet the next day.

Our second meeting wasn’t very pleasant. Bob and his wife had talked through the stuff they should have discussed 12 months ago but didn’t because it was too hard and made them feel uncomfortable.

I’ll spare you the details except to say that Bob is a nice man. He's really good on the tools but no-one ever taught him how to run his business.

And he didn’t know what he didn’t know.

And if you own a business you may not even need to know how to use your tools but you definitely need to know how to run a business.

And it all starts with a plan

At the very least a plan could make your business a better one.

And if you put in a little effort, it could actually change the course of your life.