Learn the basics to run a successful business


By Trades Coaching New Zealand’s Terry Sage



I gave credit to the quality of trade skills that are taught, but noted the system fell short with regard to how to run a trades-based business.

There was feedback as well, which always makes a writer feel appreciated and, in this case, it was agreeable feedback — which is even better!

So what’s changed? Have all the curriculums been rewritten since my startling revelations? Can every graduating apprentice run a successful construction business? Have I been swamped with million dollar offers to reform training models?

The answers are — and in this order — nothing, no, no, and unfortunately, no (but I live in hope). This is, of course, not a surprise, and I am not 100% sure I am correct with my answers as some minor changes may have occurred or are being discussed.

It is a huge ask to redesign a full trade apprentice curriculum to include what I believe are essential business learning outcomes, so there is absolutely no surprise it has not happened yet.

Where does that leave the latest graduates, the ones just about to be released, and all the ones coming through the system?

Well, it leaves you in the same place as all your forebears — alone, wanting, and drifting in the current of business mayhem.

If your first thought is “well, thanks for nothing, you so-called business coach”, I certainly can’t blame you because wholesale change has been asked for for years and has not been forthcoming.

But does that mean you are destined to float in the current forever? Of course not — it just means you have to grow up quickly and make your own destiny, and not rely on others to do it all for you. Harsh words, but that’s the reality here folks.

So while you are learning your trade — yes “while”, not after, or when the hounds are at your door — get the basics sorted. The basics are all you need to run a successful business. Okay, a full BA in business would be preferable, but let’s get real here — do you really want to spend another four to five years years at Uni?

The basics are a short course in business planning, effective systems, human resources, cost-effective marketing and financial planning — all of which can be found without too much difficulty within the adult education sector.

Names and costs will vary and, to be honest, the quality will as well, but we won’t know this until afterwards.

There is something else you really must seek out as an essential skill, and this is communication and people management — a skill set sadly lacking with many business owners which all comes down to attitude.

So, the bottom line is you are on your own for the foreseeable future when it comes to best business practices, but you’re not on your own when it comes to finding help.

The training is out there and there is, of course, the ongoing support from the business coaching fraternity. All you have to do ask.

But do it early, not when all the staff have bolted and the bills to pay are higher than the debtors list.

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