Tino interviewed Sanjiv Dodhia about his business


Tino: Welcome back to Business First TV. My name is Tino. You'll notice that I'm speaking much slower today. I'm trying something new. I want to talk to you about people starting a business, and the importance of having a business, and the importance of having the right guidance when you have a business.
The other thing that I can compare it to is if you were to imagine when you were young or a child trying to learn how to walk and then run, once they've managed to walk and run, they can stay like that, they don't need any other help.
If they decide to become an athlete, if they decide to go and take running up as a profession, or if they become to do another sport professionally, you'll find that they will get a coach. That's important because it just means that they can't do it on their own. It's right, they need help, they need somebody who can guide them through the process of making it all happen, people who've got the experience, and so on. It's the same when you have a business.
You start a business, you have an idea. The idea grows into something else, and then you go ahead, commit to buying a domain name become a limited company, and then you get the business running. If you really want to get good at your business, then ideally you need what's called a business coach. To that end I have with me Sanjiv. Sanjiv's going to tell us all about his business and what he does. Sanjiv Dodhia.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Hi Tino. Thanks very much.
Tino: How are you?
Sanjiv Dodhia: I'm very well, thank you.
Tino: What's going on?
Sanjiv Dodhia: Your analogy's exactly right, Tino. A lot of people start businesses, fall into business. Either they get fed up with their employer, hate their boss or get major redundant or there's a shift in the industry and they end up becoming self-employed. They are really good at one craft, they're technicians in whatever it is they've been trained to do. Our education system kind of narrows down, narrows down to the point where you're a good lawyer or you're a good car builder, or whatever it is.
Quite often, they're missing a number of other dimensions of experience and knowledge. That's what I do, is help owners of SME businesses put in place all the other aspects that are going to make for a successful business.
Tino: In terms of you helping businesses then, let's assume we meet for the first time. What can you do for my business? Does it matter what type of business it is or do you have like a model that works for every business?
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yeah, the model's generic. It will work for every business, pretty much a business of every size and stage in any sector. What I do I guess is, I focus on a particular territory, so I operate in London, Surrey and Middlesex. I work with SME businesses, so establish emerging businesses that are looking to grow and get to the next level.
Tino: Is it all of London or just part of London?
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yean, from Central London to Southwest London.
Tino: Wow, okay, that's huge.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Maybe not other ... Yeah, so it's a big old territory, yeah.
Tino: Yeah, fantastic. That's really, really good. In terms of how you help businesses and specifically coaching, do you specialise in a particular area or do you take a global view of what the business needs and say, "Look, do you have these things in place that will make your business do better?"
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yeah, good question. I have got a speciality based on my 30 years plus in business, 30 plus years in businesses of all shapes and sizes. The areas I've spent most time is in business development. Go to market and general management, so building out business, go to market, building teams.
Tino: What does that mean, "go to market" for people who don't know? What does that mean?
Sanjiv Dodhia: Go to market is identifying your target market, being really clear on what your proposition is, your value proposition is. How you differentiate it and how you're going to connect with that market. How you're going to get yourself known in the mind of your ideal or target customer, and everything that goes with it. Putting in place the marketing, the sales disciplines, the commercial infrastructure and making all that happen.
I spend a lot of time in those business development functions. The front end, if you like, of developing a business rather than the backend, the back office. I've done quite a lot of general management. PNLs and running business across disciplines.
To answer to your question, Tino, now I look at the business holistically with the business owner to look at what do they know, what are they good at? Versus what do they not know and what do they not do so well that they need to add to their business? We start with mastery of the basics, disciplines. Financial management, a scenario where a lot of businesses run into trouble through the growth cycle, or how they manage their time, how they leverage their time effectively. Not just being the superstars in a business doing everything but actually being able to delegate work to their teams.
Mastery of those basics, basics like planning and having some kind of game plan and not just doing the doing on a day-to-day basis. It starts with that, through to the levers for growth, the sales and marketing disciplines, through to recruiting, developing teams, and then systemizing the business. It's looking at all the pieces that you need to put in place to grow the business. At each stage, there's a different requirement, there's a different perspective, so it's really working with the business holistically.
Tino: You must come across people who, like you said, are very good at one thing ...
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yeah.
Tino: ... are not so good at everything else, but they will have a go.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yeah.
Tino: I think sometimes it can be admirable to have a go, but it can also be detrimental to your business to have a go. Because if you've got a rubbish looking website or you don't do your accounts properly and the tax man is chasing you, or your marketing strategy's completely out, having a go isn't such a good thing, is it?
Sanjiv Dodhia: Absolutely. Trial and error is a strategy but it's not necessarily the best strategy because you can learn, and you can learn by your mistakes and try not to repeat your mistakes, but sometimes those mistakes can be quite fundamental. Things like cashflow management. I worked with a company that was doing bigger and bigger development projects, didn't really understand the implications for their cashflow, and got into all sorts of challenges as a result. Because they're paying earlier and being paid later because of the nature of the project, but had no kind of financial discipline in place to look at that.
Tino: At some point have no money to pay, to buy out.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Something like cashflow is one of the biggest causes of business failure, and the stats are pretty grim.
Tino: Tell me about the businesses you're working with now, without telling the name because I'm sure it's confidential.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yeah.
Tino: What sort of things are you working on right now?
Sanjiv Dodhia: It's a whole range of businesses. Everything from a business, a couple of people, a quarter of a million pounds turnover, to a business that's 50 plus people and 10 million plus turnover, so it's that kind of spectrum. Quite a lot of B to B businesses, B to B service businesses, something I've got quite a lot of empathy with, the kind of work I've done in areas like technology, services, recruitment, other professional services, distribution and so on, so quite a mix.
In terms of the challenges that I'm helping them through, all very different, all very different. Some of them, it's actually they've been doing what they've been doing for quite a long time, and they're stuck in the business. It's a mindset thing because they are the owner, manager and comptroller and having difficulty letting go of the business. The only solution to growing their business is working harder and harder, which you can only do so much before you-
Tino: Burn out.
Sanjiv Dodhia: You burn yourself out. If you've been doing that for 20 years, that's a lot of mindset change that needs to be delivered. One client last week actually said to me, I asked him, "How's it going for you and what value do you think you're getting from me?" He said, "The biggest thing that you've helped me with is, actually it's not just the business, it's getting me to, holding the mirror up and getting me to take a look at what I've become in my business and actually ..."
Tino: Because your home life must be suffering if you're going to give your business life everything.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yeah, yeah.
Tino: Your social life, your friends, your family. All that goes out the window because you're committed to your business. You think you're doing the right thing in supporting your family but ...
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yeah, but you're not, you're not actually because you're actually taking the time away from them. Being in business should be about getting more life. This particular client, he said, "What I've realised through this process, I need to get out of my own way. I need to start trusting people and empowering people. Letting go and taking the pressure off me, and sharing the burden." The whole programme that we run is around helping make that transition, making that transformation. That's one example.
Another client is in the logistics business, who I started working with last year, was working 70, 80 hours a week, and was really trapped in his business in that he felt that without him, the business doesn't function. We looked at where he was spending his time. We looked at over two weeks, a bit of a time log and an analysis of time. The revelation to him was about 20, 30 hours were going on low skill, low value work that he could easily package up and ...
Tino: Get rid.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Get somebody else to do it, either a junior employee or outsource help. He found a lady, part time lady to come in and do all of that basic admin bookkeeping, processing invoices, et cetera, the things he was spending his evenings and weekends doing. He's had his first holiday abroad for years, he can take weekends off and spend Saturday night, dinner with his wife, without getting interrupted by a phone call. It's a full spectrum. Other people have mastered the basics but are looking to the next level, how to structure and systemize to scale the business.
Tino: It's fair to say though when you're starting a new business though, you're so focused on everything that you forget, or you don't want to let go. You're right, it is a mindset change, you need to let go.
I heard a phrase once, which was, "the exit strategy." At the time I didn't think anything of it, until recently I didn't. The exit strategy doesn't mean that you have to exit, it just means that you're getting your business ready.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Correct.
Tino: That's all it is. Although it's called an exit strategy, it just means that you're making sure that you've covered all the bases in readiness, should you want to have an exit strategy. Because ultimately if you do that, then you're going to have a pretty good running business, aren't you?
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yeah, absolutely, so exit, exactly right. Exit is just preparing your business so that it can function without you having to be there day in, day out. You can prepare it for sale, you can prepare it for a management buy in or buy out or you can run it, have a business running that delivers you a level of income and affords your lifestyle.
Tino: It's fair to say though that you don't have to do any of those things, you don't have to sell or-
Sanjiv Dodhia: Correct.
Tino: It's not that, but if you have that in mind, if you have it in mind that one day you want to sell or one day you want to get out of what you're doing now, then you'll do all the right things. Sanjiv could help you. Make sure you dot the i's and cross the t's, make sure everything's ready. You don't have to, you don't have to sell but it just puts you in a much better position should you want to.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yeah, exactly right, and it builds the value of your business.
Tino: Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
Sanjiv Dodhia: It's quite an interesting stat, a shareholder who is also a manager involved in the day-to-day business, the average multiple to earnings that they're getting is something like 2.2. A shareholder who's not involved in the day-to-day running the business, the average is something like 6.8 multiple to earnings.
Tino: Wow.
Sanjiv Dodhia: What does that reflect? That reflects the fact that the business is functioning, it's systemized, there's a team that runs it. It's a well oiled machine that produces profits and cashflow on a predictable basis, and that's why there's a difference in valuation. It's about all your years of hard work and sacrifice, of having something to show at the end of it.
Tino: Absolutely.
Sanjiv Dodhia: A lot of business owners haven't thought about it, and they're running out of steam, and the business will just decline with them.
Tino: One thing we can be sure of is that we will get older.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Yes.
Tino: If we're creating a job, there's nothing wrong with you having a job, it's good. If you've got a business that you have a job at, and you're happy with that, that's okay, all right, but when you decide to stop working or you can't work anymore, what is the plan? What are you going to do then?
If you build your business in readiness to get rid of, to sell, to get somebody to buy into or even get a partner involved or more investment, you'll be in a much better position if you've started off with that mindset. Is that right?
Sanjiv Dodhia: Absolutely right, yeah, and that's-
Tino: You can help us with all that because there's very many things. If you're a plumber, for example, you might be a really good plumber but you may be not so good, I was going to say rubbish, but you may not be so good at building a website. You may not be so good at marketing. You might not be good at social media. You may not be so good at seeing a bigger picture. This man sees a lot of clients. He has a bigger picture, he knows what's going on. He's really worth talking to. How do people find out more?
Sanjiv Dodhia: Okay, great. I've got a website, OnYourBusiness.co.UK. The reason I've got that name is it's all about working on your business, not just in your business.
Tino: Just tell people what that means though, because some people don't know what that means.
Sanjiv Dodhia: This is about allocating a proportion of your time to work on developing your business, on building that team, on systemizing, on putting in place that strategy and the plan and the endgame and working towards it. Not just in the daily grind of delivering your stuff to your customers. Deliberately, I call my business OnYourBusiness.co.uk. I work as part of Action Coach, who globally, the biggest and most successful business coaching firm for the SME marketplace. You can go to ActionCoach.com/SanjivDodhia. S-A-N-J-I-V, D-O-D-H-I-A or call me on 0740 729-2339.
Tino: Excellent. Thank you for that.
Sanjiv Dodhia: Thanks Tino.
Tino: Thanks for coming to the show. Finally, look, it doesn't matter how busy you are or how much money you're making, at the end of the day you need your health, so my words of wisdom would be this. Take time out for yourself. It doesn't matter how busy you are, the business will still be there. Just take time out for yourself. Don't be working until 2:00 in the morning. Go to bed, get plenty of sleep, eat right and do some exercise. I'm Tino from Business First TV, you can also find me at BusinessRadio.co.uk.

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