Month before last during a coaching session, I had a pretty frank conversation with a client about freedom.
Not the Constitutional kind of freedom, but freedom from the ball and chain that a business can become. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that it can become a restriction to your freedom.
Not only that, but it’s common for small family-owned businesses to almost not be a business if the family isn’t there. If you aren’t there. Needless to say, this isn’t an ideal situation when unexpected events occur.
During that conversation, we talked about configuring the business so that it could stand an unexpected, required trip out of town for a month (or 3).
A month went by.
In last month’s session, we were talking about their retail business and once again, we talked (among other things) about how I felt they needed to spend some serious effort on figuring out how to grow and insulate the business from unexpected turns in life.
I gave them a few examples of things to work on, knowing that we’d need to revisit it and fine tune the strategy as we move forward.
And here comes Al.
Then I mentioned that I was getting to take my own advice, as I had just discovered that an immediate family member has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Result: Recent efforts to move a portion of my client base a little closer to home were going to have to be reversed.
My business is going to be changing because – as I advised my client – I don’t know when I will need to disappear for a few months. Not completely disappear or be disconnected from the net, but just not be home for an unknown period of time.
A few weeks went by, and I was hoping that the owner’s thought and effort was going into that project. I’m sure it is, but it’s not an immediate change to do this to your business – particularly if you are in retail, restaurant or hospitality (ie: hotel, motel, b&b).
Another month goes by.
Last week, we talked again to schedule our next call and it turned out that the very thing I had advised preparing for was happening.
Family responsibilities requiring out of town travel on little notice for an unknown period of time. Really sad.
Meanwhile, I look in the mirror and remind myself that my business is changing for the same reasons and that I need to accelerate the pace.
Are you prepared for that sort of thing? Depending on your age and your parents age, it might be more apparent to you – but it can happen to you even if you are a 26 year old entrepreneur.
If you don’t ask for help, you aren’t likely to get it.
“In 70% of small business failures, a key factor was the owner not recognizing or ignoring weaknesses, and then not seeking help.” – SCORE / US Bank survey of failed small businesses