Date posted: February 12, 2018

Name: Jeff Miles
Company Name: The Business Doctor

What is your area of expertise?
Getting business owners to realise that their business is NOT them, but is in fact an asset that needs to be nourished, grown and ultimately passed on to the next generation or sold.
The owners then need to move into the role of ‘Guardian Angel’ and help the new owners survive and prosper. Both the incoming owners and exiting owners typically have never bought or sold a business.  My job is to make this as painless and as profitable to both parties.

How long have you been working with family businesses? 
Almost 20 years as a Business Coach under the brand of The Business Doctor.

What’s one of the most common mistakes you see in family businesses?
The biggest challenge for Mum and Dad is to nurture their kids in the ‘tough love’ reality of growing and then managing a business. Teaching them frugality, sales skills, how to manage staff and making a profit every month no matter what the market throws at you. Then allowing their kids to make a few mistakes. All whilst being there to provide ‘wise advice’ on how to pick up the pieces after they ‘drop the ball in the business’. Then the exiting parents need to transition to taking up a Board of Management position and tactfully offering positive and challenging counsel without raising the hackles of their kids.

What is your “uh ha” moment with your clients? When they realise…
It’s different for all parents but one of the most common “Uh Ha” moments is when Dad or Mum comes to the realisation that their ‘use by’ date is not too far off.  Or when they get sick and have no choice but to let go. Typically, the parents are amazed when they see the child that they raised step up and take over control. If they are lucky and have taken the time to prepare their kids, then it is not too traumatic (except when Mum or Dad actually have to let go of the handle bars of the business) and let the kids steer. The kids may wobble a bit, but that is to be expected!

What gets you up in the morning?
Watching the kids of the first generation come into the monthly financial management meeting and actually presenting to their parents the sales results for the past month, and then explaining the details in the profit and loss created by their Xero or MYOB accounting file – warts and all. Then looking the parents in the eye and justifying why they did or did not hit their budgets for the month and telling their parents “this is what I plan to do to fix it”.  This is when you see tears in the eyes of both the parents and the kids. What the incoming owners need to take to heart is the their parents have spent many, many years building this business.  They are in many cases going to be relying on the kids to fund their retirement in some way via the purchase conditions.The passing of the baton is something magical – when it is done right.  My job is to help make it happen without too many tears, sleepless nights or harsh words. 

What’s the key benefit of your FBA membership?
FBA provides an easily connectable group of other consultants that I can work with e.g. Lawyers, Accountants, Financial Planners and even skilled negotiators to name just a few, who can be called upon to provide their area of expertise and also understand the pressures and frustrations that fall upon the owners of small to medium businesses.