An Entrepreneur Answers Your Questions

Paul O'Connor, POLUS IntelligenceThis is the second part of a post written by Ruth Underwood. Part I is here.

After the talk, O’Connor was asked if it is fair to tell someone they don’t have the answers to the 3 questions?

You have no right to tell someone they don’t have the answers to those 3 questions because you don’t know what’s going on inside someone’s head, he said.

But you have a right to ask the question and see where it goes. Because they may not answer it today, but planting that seed, you don’t know where it’s going to go.

What did he learn that enabled him to run this business better than the last?

O’Connor said he can’t do everything. “I need help. I’m not a sales man, I don’t do sales. I’m the creative design thinker and I need to work with other people,” he said.

I need to be around other people because it motivates me. I can point people in the right direction, but other people are better at selling than I am.”

His skill is in creating a visionary plan, creating the arc of where there things need to go and what’s required along the way. There’s always somebody better at what you do. Business always says “delegation,” but there’s always somebody better. Nobody’s indispensable, everyone’s expendable.

If you are thinking of starting a company. How important is it to be good at numbers, that you can do your forecasting and how you can learn before you’re going to compete with others?

O’Connor said it is back to the same bit, you don’t need to be good at numbers, but you need someone who is. It’s more important to know where you’re going than what is in your pocket.

So, I see people starting business and they do all these financial plans and projections, but the plan behind it is crap.

If you think of the money as the vehicle, the plan is what drives it. Your role as the leader is about creating vision, direction and purpose. Management is about making sure that the vehicle to achieve that is functioning properly.

One thing POLUS found with competitive intelligence was when they realized they were targeting the wrong people. Instead of managers, they needed to talk at board level as they’re looking out of the business.

You need to make sure that your role as the business owner is that you know where you’re going and why you’re going there. If you’ve got that, you can find anybody to sit down with you for an hour and do the numbers. You need a book keeper who will make you stay on track and that you’re achieving the numbers.

One audience member said that as a reader, he had been reading about different things. His understanding of the importance of HR’s role and its importance was key to him. What would O’Connor recommend as any reader would need to start a company, what we would have to learn in the beginning?

This goes back to what I said in the beginning, which is if you come to know yourself and if you understand your self-motivation, the drivers and other people’s personality types you will identify very quickly who will work with you and who won’t and you can be your own HR manager, O’Connor replied.

I’ve never dealt with HR, I’ve never worked in  a big corporate, and that’s a chip I have on my shoulder and I need to get rid of it as it can get it my way. It stopped me for about a year, going into a company because I thought they’d just laugh at us. Who did we think we were coming in to their world?

At the end of the day business is all about doing stuff with other people. And if you can communicate with them at an empathic level then it doesn’t matter who they are, what level they’re at, if you connect with them and they realize that you’re interested in them, they’ll be interested in you.

Family: How did he sell the transition to them and how did he finance it?

“Horrendously badly. It was a car crash of the highest order,” he said.

He married his college sweetheart, lived together 11 years, got married, we were together a further 2 years and divorced.

She had been there when I was working out of the bedroom trying to get the business going, she had been there when things were good and things were bad. Yet we split up and I got into another relationship with the person I would now consider my soul-mate and thank god I found her.

She has kept me sane all these years. She also specialises in personal development, so thankfully she understood the shit that I was going through because she had gone through it as well. I don’t have kids, so there wasn’t really a family issue.

In terms of finance, only that she moved to Ireland, I helped her to get started with her personal development business.

She has basically financed the two of us for the last 5 years I think, with her business. We haven’t taken a holiday in 4 years, we have bills, I have negative equity on a property, I’m back to owing the banks money now.

And that’s not going away. But I’ve a different attitude to it. My attitude is, if you want to come and take it, well there’s nothing to take. If they want to make me bankrupt, that’s fine.

Because I’ve educated myself about money, personal rights and debt and how that all works. And I’ve realised there’s nothing really they can do. Because even if they do try to make me go bankrupt, I can just go to the UK for a year, go bankrupt over there and everything’s gone in 12 months.

If there were assets, would they be able to take it from limited company?

Paul: I don’t think so. There are two other partners in the business, the worst they can do is take my third. So never worry about screwing up. When I screwed up it was bad because you were faced with 12 years to declare bankruptcy – 12 years! Where you can never have more than €500 in your bank account at any time. Its mad.

So back to the thing about the financing. Only that she’s had an ongoing business, but that’s put huge strains on our relationships. If you’re in a relationship with someone and you’re feeling really angry, bad news. It’s not them, it’s you.

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  1. Pingback: The emotional tolls of starting your own business | John P. Muldoon

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