Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Time to take control of your business

If you're looking for ways to run your small business more efficiently, you may want to read our four-week “Small-business solutions” series starting in Wednesday's ShopTalk.

You'll hear from Tom Frenier and Rex Ferguson, who make their living helping small- and mid-sized businesses succeed. They are partners with Hickory-based Lion Consulting Group, a business the former CEOs launched about 7 years ago.

In their work, they'll go into a company and advise their clients how to work through an issue - from how to improve profits, to how to streamline office paperwork.

Frenier explains how they got started: “Rex and I were both running our own businesses as presidents and CEOs. We were personal friends…I was always amazed at how insightful Rex could be about my business,” even though he wasn't running it. And Rex thought Tom was smart to see things in his business, too.

Rex Ferguson

Tom Frenier

They realized that the hustle and bustle of running a business may keep owners from stepping back and taking an unbiased look at their companies. And they thought: “Some day, we ought to do this professionally,” Frenier says.

Both their backgrounds include working for corporations. Ferguson launched an Internet business and an industrial automation company. Frenier was in the furniture industry, which included running a curved plywood manufacturing plant.

In their current business, they've advised a range of different companies, including a credit card processing business, a restaurant, medical offices and a dance studio. They’ll share some of that advice in upcoming weeks.

Frenier and Ferguson, both in their early 60s, say they aren't smarter than the people they work with, just more experienced. "We fill the gaps where they don't have any experience," Ferguson says.

"We love to see our customers succeed," says Frenier. "We sat in their chairs. Both Rex and I have wondered on a Wednesday if we'd be able to make payroll on Friday. If you sat in that chair and had the same nightmares you'd understand."

"To help them avoid making a mistake, or (take) advantage of an opportunity, is what we're all about."