Your War Room...

A "War Room" is a group of personal advisers who help you in any situation.

They may be people who are involved with your industry directly, indirectly, or not involved at all, and stand apart from your business - and therefore they can offer advice from the outside.

I have had the honour over numerous years to be involved in several businesses "War Rooms", and I suggest that it as a valuable way of bouncing ideas off people in an informal setting to achieve your goals, or at the very least, to give you ideas about where you can go from here.

It is especially useful for small business owners who are looking to grow their business, but don't know where to start.

Here's an example of the very first "War Room" I was part of:

A local small butcher wanted to grow his business. He was successful, but knew that he could be more successful, but didn't know where to start.
He knew that I worked in the media (at the time in television advertising), and asked me, as a regular customer to join him, and a couple of other people in an informal barbeque and chat about his business.
As an ex-military officer, he called it his "War Room" (a name that I have used ever since), and the invited guests he called his Commanders.
We met at his house for a two hour chat as we slaved over the BBQ.
In the "War Room" were two of his staff members (one junior, one senior), his business partner, his bank manager, his accountant, one of his meat suppliers, and finally, another customer, besides myself.

With such a huge variety of people, all with different interests, I was keen to see how this would all work.

We chatted, and passed polite conversation for the first hour as we cooked, sat down and ate.
Then the big guns came out.

He broke out a massive 5 metre long by two metre wide board painted black.
He then gave us each a pad and pencil and piece of chalk, and then revealed his big plan to us.
He wanted to know what we each saw as roadblocks, or clear ways of travelling to where he wanted to go. No idea was to be considered ridiculous, no one was to comment negatively about the other person, and every idea would be weighed separately by him later. That way, all ideas could just flow and he would asses them later.
Great, we started.
Ideas flew thick and fast, ideas from the accountant, about how much more revenue he was going to achieve his goal of not only growing the business, but turning it into a franchise operation. The other customer had some incredible insights as it turned out she was a franchise operator from a fast food store. Other people chimed in and everything was either written up on the board, or written down on our paper.
We started two piles, 1 for roadblocks, the other for clear ways.

Within half an hour the piles of paper were growing fast, the board filled up quickly too.

And at the end of the hour, he thanked everyone, and pulled the black board away, and took the papers away. That was it. One hour of getting to know each other, then the next solidly working and tossing around ideas. No judgement's, just ideas. We spent the next half hour cleaning up and chatting - the feeling was electric.

Many years later he told me that, that one "War Room" meeting was worth more than any consultants fees he could have paid, and he did one "War Room" every year after that with different people, and each one was always on a different topic.

By the way 8 years later, he now has 18 franchise's. He supplies meat to major metro hotels and restaurants, he employs over 150 staff directly, and his average yearly turn over is staggering, especially when compared to what he used to do just by himself. 

Build your own war room with your own Commanders to help you obtain your objectives, from marketing to growing, from investing to staff problems. Build your "War Room" and it's Commanders around what it is you want to achieve, set the goals clearly and concisely. Make your objective a tight one hour in length to achieve and then go for it. Remember, no idea is a bad idea, establish the "Trust" objective first and foremost (ie: that you trust their objectivity, and advice). Then, that only YOU will assess everything later, it will not be done then and there. Finally, don't have any more than 9 people in the "War Room" because it becomes unmanageable.

Let me know how your first "War Room" experience goes.

This post was written by Earl Pilkington for the B4C.


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