When Bad Things Happen to Good Owners

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

As owners, the label “control freak” often applies to us. Whenever there is a threat to our businesses, it is our money, reputation and basic security that are on the line. Once any business owner has had his or her livelihood threatened, turning gun shy and defensive is just as rational as “fight or flight” is to a pedestrian about to get mugged. But when we see “moving shadows” posing threats to our business, it is often hard to tell if they are stalkers with knives” or just “trees in the wind.” How can you tell the difference?

Stalkers With Knives

Any time a business owner's core understanding, conviction, or confidence is shaken, a threat is real. You are truly at risk when you:

  • Question the integrity, motives, or morality of a trusted employee, vendor, partner, or customer. You see they just don't know or care about the consequences of their actions.
  • Face a trend in sales, costs, or competition you don't understand. You don't know what you don't know.
  • See a problem that is threatening your business' results, future, or mere survival. You don't see any options or alternatives other than the worst-case scenario.
  • Feel you are living the business version of Bill Murray in the movie, Groundhog Day. You are on a treadmill. The harder you work, the less progress you make. You are running out of time and energy.

When you face “stalkers with knives” it is time to fight back, respond creatively, or run for your life. Follow your instincts and take decisive, extraordinary actions that you know will change the rules.

Trees In The Wind

As frightening as a “bump in the night” can be, few are fatal or have long-term consequences. If you understand what is causing the threat, you can choose your response and develop the specifics and timing of how you will intervene. If you:

  • Lose a big or old customer, key employee, vendor or partner.
  • Understand your erratic sales, costs, or customers are disrupting your busines.
  • See you are behind plan, not gaining ground, or spending more to get the same results.
  • Learn that your marketplace still consumes what you provide but not from you.

Walk it off, and work out the new route you will take to your chosen destination.

When Shadows Are Moving

When you are unsure whether you face a crippling attack or just an unfortunate scare, you should

  1. Evade any clear and present danger and protect your valuables.
  2. Reconnect to the problem, details, money, people and facts.
  3. Understand the difference between symptoms and root causes.
  4. Simplify, focus, regroup and take action based on the long term.
  5. Be patient, and get re-centered around your confidence.

While the world is full of contradictory sayings such as:

  • “Do worry about the finish line in a marathon, just run to the next telephone,” and
  • “Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you"

The truth is that the worst thing that can happen rarely does and if so, is unlikely to kill you. The battle between paranoia and self-confidence is critical to your success as a business owner. Be secure in your insecurity!

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at (412) 973-2080, by email at abirol@andybirol.com, or on the web at www.andybirol.com.


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