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Attraction or Distraction? – by Jo Haigh

When business is tough, as it is now for most people, the sound business advice is to go back to basics and keep your core business intact.

Jo Haigh

Jo Haigh

Sage advice indeed but what do you do if your core business is in fact beyond recovery or you are no longer inspired to ensure it does recover? Should you allow yourself the ultimate business indulgence of going off piste for a while?  To take that risk you have dreamed of but just never dared explore? Go down the black run if you like, when you were on the nursery slopes less than a month ago!

Ummm potentially a make or break move for you and your business. Much of this I believe depends on a number of factors;

  1. what are you gambling with in terms of your and your families assets?
  2. are you one of those  “let’s put it all on red” people?
  3. have you in fact tried this manoeuvre before and had a modicum of success?
  4. do you believe that actually failure isn’t an option?

This risk profiling may change, dependant on where you are personally.  Some people are just born risk takes others always a little more guarded and reserved.

I think I probably fit into the former category which is why 1% of any success I have had has been represented by 99% failures (even though I definitely never considered failure an option!)

Having said that I don’t think I have ever been so very reckless as to potentially loose it all, though have come close a few times!!

The mistakes (oh yes I have made more than a few!!) I recognise retrospectively, oh the joy of hindsight!

For example;

Not enough planning (though I do admire John Lennon’s philosophy that life is what happens when you are busy making plans), I know I have sometimes jumped into things far too quickly.

Not enough money (always!) or underestimating. I now always add 20% more costs to every project I embark on.

Not enough staff/ time (well of course I believe, not only am I invincible but also have 26 hours in every day, if only).

I don’t learn quickly enough, I am an eternal optimist, my glass is the overflowing when everyone else’s is empty, so I allow things to go on far longer than they need to in the vain hope all will come right because I believe it will!

I now have a board that take me in hand, and rightly so, if I go off down my own particular dream alley.  I don’t like to but it has saved me the odd £100k or so!!

I get bored very easily which, when going off piste, is never good having recognised I am no detail person. I ensure I am surrounded with those who thrive on the process and who are adept at sweeping up behind me.

So a few lessons learned but I still make mistakes.

You know what they say there are those that make things happen, those that watch what happens and those that say what happened!!

Jo Haigh
Partner at fds Corporate Finance Services

Jo Haigh is a partner in fds Corporate Finance Services, with bases in London, Birmingham and Yorkshire, and a partner in the fds Group, a specialist training and development business.

An experienced dealmaker, Jo specialises in putting together the right deal at the right time and in the right format for growing businesses throughout the country. She has bought and sold over 300 companies in the last 20 years specialising in owner managed companies.

She is a regular presenter for the Institute of Directors on corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions. More >>

As part of the Academy for Chief Executives Community, professional speakers such as Jo provide excellent, practical and, in many cases, hard-hitting topics for MDs and CEOs. They know that by inspiring the leader of a business to change their thinking and to help them formulate an individual plan for the future, leaders develop themselves and grow their companies.  Find out more on

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