"A brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a nudge in the right direction"

Passionate about growing serious medium sized enterprises

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I can help you answer these questions

What we do

About me

The context

Just surviving the last few years is an achievement in itself. But just surviving is not thriving and don’t you want more? Can you grow your business to its maximum potential? If you have been wrestling with the answer to this question for some time and not really getting the results you desire, maybe I can help. I am a good listener, and I enjoy having my brain picked.  You never know, working together, we may nudge the business in a better direction.


Planning in an increasingly uncertain world

I know of no Risk Register that modelled all that has happened over the last few years, even though the warnings signs existed. Politicians, business leaders, civil servants, were all taken by surprise. For leaders and shareholders of SMEs, the pressures were great. They continue to be so. Trying to forecast the future and create a flexible business plan that allows for it, is difficult. Personal resilience has been tested more than ever before. Your team will have been experiencing the same pressures. As military leaders have suggested for years, no battle plan entirely survives the first engagement with the enemy. It is similar in business, which is why staying flexible and nimble is so important. Planning is useful, but you also need a team that can respond quickly to events.

Essentially my role is to provide:

“An ear to listen, a brain to pick, and a nudge in the right direction”

What does that mean? Let client Tim Long (owner and CEO at legal software house Zylpha) illustrate what this meant to him.

I started Zylpha in the early 2000s. Later, I was introduced to Simon by my accountant, who suggested that I would benefit from an outsiders view of my business.  At our first meeting, Simon listened a great deal and somehow seemed to make sense of the tangled web of thoughts, concerns and questions that I had. By the end of our first formal meeting he was asking questions that I had never quite managed to articulate. He helped me prioritise a list of things that needed to be done. 

Simon has a sixth sense when it comes to business. He will identify an issue, an opportunity or a character trait quickly, usually well before anyone else, and be ready with options to debate. He would ask the questions that I wished I hadn’t been asked. In this way, I was able to learn how to improve the shape and size of my business.

Getting started

I start by finding out what help you think you need. Further probing helps establish the accuracy of this initial assessment is. For example, are there some doubts and uncertainties that are so embedded in your sub-conscious that do not see the light of day? Is there a major issue holding back your business, there but not really spoken about? Is the senior team as effective as it could be? Possibly, carrying out what we call a “Fresh Pair of Eyes Review”, is the first and best thing to do.

Once we have established that you want to work with me (and vice-versa), we start work. The ability to hold constructive dialogue about the reality of your business is vital.  Dealing with any elephants in the room will be done. Establishing trust is important. You need to know that your worst thoughts are kept private. There are also administrative tasks to complete including forecasting costs and a timetable. As a good listener, I want to help you to achieve your objectives, whatever they are. Of course, we have to identify that the objectives  are the ones that will cause your business to thrive, and faster.

Strict rules of confidentiality are established at the outset. For example, I will not mention my involvement with you or your business without  a good reason to do so and your explicit  authority.

Supporting Team

I do have support. It is drawn from complimentary businesses I have collaborated with for years. Being a flexible resource, it is cost effective. For example, we used the Covid stimulus to remote working to remove some unnecessary office costs.

My collaborators have experience in a variety of disciplines, a track record of success and abundant energy. They all know what it is like to work through challenging times.



Testimonials (click picture)

Toby Lewis Controlling shareholder and Chairman of the Live Group
Tim Long Tim Long Founder and CEO Zylpha
Paul Morgan Paul Morgan Managing Director and Founder Warrens Office
Caroline Notcutt Caroline Notcutt Director, shareholder and Chair of the Family Council of Notcutts Group Limited
Peter Honey Peter Honey Founder and Owner Peter Honey Publications
Jon Gifford Jon Gifford Founder and Chief Executive Griffon Hovercraft Ltd
Toby Lewis Controlling shareholder and Chairman of the Live Group

“Simon and I were introduced in 2011 when I needed support with a very delicate but timely issue in a family business. From the outset, Simon provided me with the level of confidence and continued support needed to rectify the situation which required a high level of tact and focus. Our business relationship flourished from then as Simon set about fulfilling duties with his boundless energy and professionalism including my advisor, Investor Lead, Director and Chairman. Outside of these important roles, Simon acted as a mentor for me, not always telling me what I wanted to hear but ensuring that I was always firing on all cylinders and consistently doing the right things for the business.

As our business relationship grew, a strong friendship emerged founded on the same level of honesty and values, something which I feel is sorely lacking these days. I value our time together and despite my probing, I have never been able to find the source of Simons energetic and vivacious nature, neither have I been able to match the constant levels of professionalism he brings to all aspects of his life, both business and professional. I have learnt to emulate these features as much as I can in my everyday life (especially when he is watching) and I hope to improve over time.

A professional, true gentleman and a friend.”

Simon stepped down from the Live Board in December 2021 and continues as an advisor to Toby

Tim Long Tim Long Founder and CEO Zylpha

In short Simon helped me position the foundation stones of the business and the fact that we survived the downturn caused by the financial crisis in 2008 is in no small part down to the solid principles that Simon was able to instil. I now know that Simon also plans his own exit very early on in the lifecycle of an engagement. His primary aim is to equip the business to function without him. Again, this is very rare. In true Simon style, he brought this up over lunch one day when he simply announced that it was time for me to “fly solo”. Daunting as that was he was, of course, right.
Despite a wealth of business experience gained over decades, Simon never tried to tell me what to do. He would always guide me through the options and help me identify the best course of action and was always ready to hear a counter point. I've come to realise that this is a very rare skill. I have met many other business owners who have retained mentors only to find that the advice they receive is to try and reproduce what the mentor did themselves in their former business. Simon's approach to business mentoring is “a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a nudge in the right direction” and that sums him up perfectly. He views his role as a guide and thrives on watching people and businesses grow and develop.
Outside of his role as a mentor, Simon is also great company and exceptionally well connected with a range of contacts that he is always happy to introduce. Although we haven't had a formal business relationship for some years now, we still meet a few times a year and it always astonishes me the level of understanding he has for one small business, and one of many, that he has helped on its way. Of course I now know that he prepares thoroughly for these meetings and usually knows my last years accounts better than I do. And he is still reminding me to “send out the invoices”!

Paul Morgan Paul Morgan Managing Director and Founder Warrens Office

Simon Greenly has been instrumental in creating a realistic longer term plan for the business which we are now implementing as a team. He has been round the block a few times and this experience shows through. There have been a number of occasions where his previous experience in parallel situations has proved to be invaluable. For instance, he has also made a significant contribution to the successful bedding down of an acquisition we made of a competitor. The relatively easy bit is making the acquisition. Much more onerous is making a success of the business afterwards and growing shareholder value. This is where his help, direction and sage counsel has proved so relevant.

Simon worked with Paul and his late father from 2006 until 2011

Caroline Notcutt Caroline Notcutt Director, shareholder and Chair of the Family Council of Notcutts Group Limited

Probably the best money I have ever spent.

Simon worked with Caroline and her family from 2011 until 2016

Peter Honey Peter Honey Founder and Owner Peter Honey Publications

He initiated many commercially sound ideas which have proved to be winners. He was always brilliant at focusing on the things that really mattered and showed great tenacity of purpose in seeing something through to a conclusion. As a business adviser, his actions were always based on sound principles with 'doing what's right for the business' and 'experimenting in order to learn' being conspicuous examples. He was resolute and brave in making some tough decisions that put the company on sound, sustainable footing.

Simon exhibited two parallel talents; an intimate understanding of financial matters and what makes a business tick with a deep appreciation of peoples' motivations and feelings. In my experience, this is a rare example of multiple intelligences emanating from one man to the benefit of all concerned.

Simon worked with Peter from 2000 until 2002 and again in 2010 to sell the business to an AIM listed company. This company was subsequently bought by Pearson, the multinational learning company.

Jon Gifford Jon Gifford Founder and Chief Executive Griffon Hovercraft Ltd

I was first introduced to Greenly's by a local accountant that I knew well, as I was coming to the conclusion that my family founded and owned business would thrive better with easier access to larger financial resources. In a resource hungry manufacturing business with large potential export markets, cash is difficult to accumulate organically and we can now see what happens to companies who over extend themselves at the bank.

Two years later, the business is thriving under new ownership, sales are expanding and the ability of the expanded team to manufacture world class marine hovercraft is greatly increased. The family is extremely happy with this outcome. I feel that the company my father started and I developed into a British engineering company of which we are immensely proud, will now achieve really significant critical mass, particularly in vital export markets.

To note, almost immediately an order was received from India for £36 million, an order that the original company would not have been able to finance.

Simon acted as chairman from 2008 until 2009 preparing the company for its successful merger.