As a small business lender, I run into a lot of small business owners. There are a lot of things that seperate the regular small business owner from the highly successful small business owner, but I'm choosing to focus on the one that I seem to run across the most. Its also a very personal one to me since I saw it happen with my father's business. Let me tell you about my dad.
My dad owned a successful manufacturing business supplying a major hardware store chain. He did quite well for a number of years, but he worked VERY long hours. One of the reasons that he worked long hours is because he wanted to keep all the profits for himself. So, instead of focusing on business development he was setting up shipments. Instead of visiting customers, he was fixing machines. He made a good living and thought nothing of it, until one day, the hardware store put some bids out and got another company to furnish the exact product for a substantial discount. My dad knew he was done for. To hit that number he would have to work long hours for basically no money. My dad was crushed and so was his business.
Sound familiar? In my opinion the tradegy was not that he lost out on that huge account. It was that he was blindsided. He was focused so much on the day to day operations that he never looked up and developed the long term plan of his business. He was so focused on shipping today's orders out that he never thought of developing other customers that would help diversify his revenue stream. He never thought of building a business by empowering people to run the company for him so he could have an exit strategy. My dad learned the lesson the hard way. So, what does that mean for the other small business owners out there? What is the “take away" from this little story?
I believe the lesson that my dad learned is that never sacrifice long term potential for short term profitability. Sure, you could make a few more bucks now but what's the effect in the future? You could get by without a general manager, but why risk it? If you've built your business and established key relationships, is it time to sit back and play defense? No, just because you are busy now doesn't mean that you will be in the future. So go out and hire that GM to run your day to day operations of your business. You go out and face the world and sell your company to the other big names leveraging the business that you already have. After all, don't you want your best salesman on the street?
David Roth runs http://www.cornhole-game.org . http://www.cornhole-game.org is an online resource site for the game or cornhole, bean bags, or baggo. He also is a former small business lender who has since started his own small business.