Several weeks ago, I sat down with a client who was desperate to go on his own. It had been his dream for years. He’d spent every spare moment planning and calculating and trying to balance his potential earnings with the monthly income he’d need to provide for his family. No matter which way he looked at it, he told me he needed to save several hundred thousand Rand before he could start his business. This figure loomed large and meant he would have to stay in his current job for at least three more years – a thought that was slowly sucking the life out of him. That was his non-negotiable. Everything else was flexible but there was no way he could take the plunge without this amount in the bank. So, I started there.

Although he was resistant because he said he’d done this a hundred times already, together we mapped out the next few years of him running his own business. We looked at his potential earnings and expenses, and it emerged that this lump sum would only be required under a unique set of circumstances.

My client knew this, but because the thought of leaving his job was intimidating, he had convinced himself that he would need this money, no matter what. That just wasn’t true.

However, he wanted to be conservative and I agreed, so we hatched a plan. We found several other ways he could fund himself should this special need arise – some simple fixes, and others more daring, should the simple ways not work.

His face changed as the realisation dawned. He said the thought of the next three years spent staring down the barrel of his day job evaporated as his new business idea became an immediate possibility. He no longer needed to save so much and, if he did ever need that money, he had several new ways to get it.

This exchange, and others like it, reminded me why a business strategist can be so helpful.

Often the non-negotiables are the things that need to be negotiated.

As someone toys with the idea of starting their own business, they likely have several lists running through their minds: lists of what they will need, where they can get it, what they must do, and what they absolutely can’t live without. Amongst these, there is always at least one non-negotiable – something that can’t be changed, no matter what. Often, it’s the amount of money they need to start. Other times it’s the number of hours they need in a day, or a particular tool, or skill set, or a business partner. They have played around with every requirement a million times, but they have vowed not to touch the non-negotiable. Usually that’s the very thing that’s thwarting their ability to get going.

These people aren’t fools, but they have tried to solve the problem with only some of the solutions available.

An external strategist isn’t as attached to your lists as you are. To them, every option is on the table and everything is up for negotiation.

They can see possibilities where you couldn’t look because you had written those off before you started.

Think about the dream that YOU want to make happen. You might want to start a business, or expand your current business online, or launch a new brand. Why haven’t you done it? What’s stopping you from going for it? What is the big non-negotiable that you can’t seem to find your way around? A strategist will likely start there.

It’s not that you aren’t able to solve your own problems. It’s not that strategists are enigmatic miracle-workers. It’s that they are not bogged down by the same fear and doubt that paralyses you. They are free to look at every option and contemplate every possible solution.

The external strategist has no non-negotiables, so they can help you to renegotiate yours.