Love AND Business?

No, they’re not two words you would often hear or say in the same sentence, but for Alan Wick, ‘love’ underpins his approach to business and always has. B4’s Richard Rosser had the absolute pleasure of finding out more about this engaging business coach based in Sussex who has, thankfully, recently joined the B4 community.

The opening statement on Alan’s website reads as follows:

“When it comes to your business, which do you love more: the money or the business? ​If your answer is loving the business, then you’re the sort of person that has a passion, a hunger to learn and improve, and has a growth mindset. ​Alan will help you and your business using a rigorous process underpinned with love.”

So where did this love affair with business begin? Alan comments on his ‘About’ page: “Business is in my blood. ​I grew up in a family that over several generations owned a variety of businesses: food manufacturing, high tech engineering, soft drinks manufacturing, hotels and property.

“The joke in my family is that my first words were ‘cash flow’! I hated school, and couldn’t wait to start my own business. I was a rebel, always in trouble.” Do click the link below to find out more about Alan’s fascinating background .

Alan explains that his career can be divided into two halves, the first twenty-five years founding, building and selling various businesses, including manufacturing and service businesses, both here in the UK and abroad, including America and the Far East. For the last 20 years, Alan has supported entrepreneurs who are usually growth minded, ambitious and hungry to learn.

His track record as a businessman is mightily impressive. Alan founded, scaled and sold five businesses that have generated over £200 million worth of sales, raised over £5 million in investment capital and won three Queen’s Awards.

Whilst these are considerable achievements, what Alan is proudest of is how the companies he launched, nurtured and sold are still thriving today. “They’re all still trading at around £20 million worth of sales under new ownership which makes me immensely proud. I feel like a parent who bought their child a violin and the child’s now a renowned performer appearing at the Royal Albert Hall.”

Alan’s analogy is an appropriate segue into one of his biggest successes in business. “I co-founded Turbosound, which manufactures professional audio equipment, and by that I mean large scale PA systems. It’s not widely known in the domestic market, but it is very well known in the professional markets and is used by the likes of Glastonbury, The Royal Albert Hall, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney and all sorts of well-known artists around the world. It’s been going since the early ‘80s and is very well established as the ‘Ferrari’ in the market. Turbosound won two Queens Awards for Exports and a Queens Award for Innovation. Needless to say, I am very proud of the company’s achievements and all of the other companies that I founded. It’s a lovely, satisfying feeling seeing them all still doing so well.”

Alan is the sort of humble, self-deprecating person that you could talk to for hours. There’s no hint of boast or arrogance and also no mention during our interview of what happened in 2016, but it illustrates perfectly how Alan’s love of business helped to kickstart his love for other people’s businesses and business owners. Again, referencing Alan’s website, there’s a section entitled ‘A Stroke of Luck’ which reads as follows.

“In 2016, my right arm and leg suddenly stopped working. Doctors in A&E told me they didn’t know what was wrong; worst case I may not come out of hospital alive. While waiting for a diagnosis, I resolved that if I did make it out, I wanted to do everything I could to inspire and support as many entrepreneurs as possible, to help them maximise their own and their business’s potential. After six weeks in hospital, I did make it out OK. I was diagnosed with a rare type of stroke, from which I’ve made an excellent recovery. I learned the importance of managing my energy. I’m now doing exactly what I resolved to do in hospital, namely on a path to inspire and support as many entrepreneurs as I possibly can.”

A recent occurrence ties Alan’s two ‘business worlds’ together beautifully, as he explains. “About six months ago, one of my ex-employees contacted me a good 25 years after we last saw each other. It transpired that he left the company shortly after I had left and founded his own business with a partner (who I also knew). He is now ready to sell and retire and has asked me to help him do just that.”

It sounds as though the ex-employee will be in safe hands. Alan has taken the vow he made on his hospital bed and helped support literally hundreds of entrepreneurs. In amongst a sea of memorable experiences, Alan selects two cases which illustrate the impact he has had.

“Although, I title myself as a business coach I actually deliver consulting advice, mentoring, facilitation and I’m also a qualified mediator, so it’s whatever is needed for the business that I’m working with to help the owner or owners get what they want in life. In these two cases, they were very different targets.

“Last year I helped a lovely couple retire. They had built up an engineering business over 25 years, but they were in their late ‘60s and ready to call it a day. They had a very solid, very sustainable and very profitable business with a £5 million turnover and £1 million profit. They were told by their accountant that the business was probably worth about £6 to £6.5 million, but that they ‘might get more if they were lucky.’ Their wealth manager told them that they would need more money if they were going to retire and never have to work again and suggested having a chat with me.

“I worked with them for over two and a half years. The result? They sold for £10.5 million! Suffice to say they were very pleased!”

“The second case is a totally different scenario but a ‘lovely feeling’ story from a company I helped a number of years ago. The owner didn’t want to make more money as he was very happy with the amount the company was making. This guy had a brain the size of a planet, really bright, running a web design business with a turnover of £2.5 million and £0.5 million profit. He employed 30 people here in the UK, in Australia and around the world, but was working 80 hour weeks. Quite simply he loved his business but was fast approaching burnout.

“One day his wife announced that she was pregnant with their first child and said to him, ‘If you’re still doing 80 hours a week in nine months’ time, you’re out of here.’

“My job was to maintain the same level of turnover and profits but halve his working week to 40 hours. It took 18 months of hard work because he really did run everything and was involved in everything apart from the finances. But we got there. The most amazing thing was, it wasn’t planned, but the company grew its turnover to £3 million and profit to £0.75 million. Why? Because he was leaving everyone to do what they were good at and he just focused on what he was best at.

“But the best part of all was receiving an email from his spouse to say ‘thank you for giving me my husband back and thank you for giving our son a father.’ “

By this time in the interview, I don’t know about you but I’m a little bit in love with Alan. But, he’s quick to shatter the illusion when I ask what he misses most from the business world that he doesn’t get from coaching.

“The ego trip. I was running a business with 100 employees in three different factories, a head office in London, and offices in New York and Tokyo. I was known all over the world and the feeling of power, of being really well known in the industry, was amazing.

“We were fêted wherever we went at trade events and industry gatherings. I really enjoyed the exciting stuff, that ‘I’m at the top of the world’ feeling. But I was an absolute ****hole! I was a big headed, egotistical bastard that used to love showing off.”

I couldn’t quite reconcile ‘This Charming Man’ Alan to ‘Bat out of Hell’ Alan but was assured they were one and the same person!

Conversely, I ask if there is something about coaching which underpins why he maintains the same enthusiasm for what he does now as he had when he first started coaching. “That’s easy…. the ‘lightbulb’ moment. It’s a feeling I get when I see a shift in the people I am coaching, that moment when they realise their lives are getting better, when they’ve enhanced their lives from something I’ve helped them with. It’s just the best feeling. I can’t believe I get paid for it. Really! I sometimes joke with my clients. ‘Thank you. That was the most amazing session, I should be paying you!’

If you would like to find out more about Alan’s services and how he can help you in your business, please do get in touch with him via his website or book a no obligation thirty-minute chat at the Calendly link below. Or, join over 7,000 others who benefit from 40+ years of business experience by signing up to Alan’s carefully curated business Newsletter at the link below.

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