Imagine spending your entire life building a business only to wake up at 63 and find it isn’t worth anything. Most of us think, “how sad, but that won't happen to my business…I have worked too hard or my industry is too strong or there will always be a need for what I do or….”
Despite what most of us think; the truth is the truth. It could happen to any of us. We all know a law suit, even a wrongful one, could ruin our reputation, or government regulations or taxes could have a huge impact on profits. Being a Texan, I know firsthand that folks in the oil industry are nodding their heads in agreement that everything could disappear overnight. But not everyone has seen a boom and a bust. I recently read an article about Wal-Mart closing some of their stores in small towns across the country. My first thought was what a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in these towns to open a Mom and Pop business - my second thought how many Mom and Pop shops did Wal-Mart shut down when they went into these towns? The same could be said for pharmacies. Who were Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy just 15-20 years ago? Now they are moving into almost every small or mid-size town in America and killing the Mom and Pop shops. There is a phenomenal read by Daniel Pink called “A Whole New Mind.” It illustrates how the machine took the place of man in the industrial age and now technology has taken place of many white collar workers in the informational age. It wasn’t too many years ago you could have graduated as an engineer or attorney and had almost a guaranteed path to financial success. Today many of these careers don’t even pay a semester of college tuition in a year. So have you given thought to what the future holds for your situation? Is there a foreseeable reason you could wake up one day and your life’s work is worthless or merely worth less?
What would you do at 63? Could you sigh with relief that you had planned for the drought? Or, would the comfortable lifestyle you know today disappear?
I recently got the chance to visit with one of the most fascinating people I have ever met. He is a cave diver and his business is contracted by people all over the world to dive and do physical work in tunnels, pipelines and other underwater compartments. He told me about his son who joined in the business with him, though he had begged his son to go do something else because of the extreme risk they take every time they lock themselves into a confined area under water. So I asked, “How do you mitigate that risk or do you?” He said, “Well, you better have a few back up plans.”
As business owners, we are notorious for putting our nose to the grindstone and doing what has to be done. I bet if I asked the ratio of time most business owners spent working in their business versus on their business it would be somewhere around 99% to 1%. Although we may not have the extreme risks of a cave diver, we don’t take the time to step back and look at what all our risks are. Just a couple years ago, we spoke with several ranchers around the area that said though they had grass, they had to sell out because their tanks went dry. Not one of them had ever dreamt this would happen - it had never happened before. Yet it did.
We work with several business owners across several industries and realistically speaking? 95% of our time is spent fixing problems, not preventing them. I want to challenge you today to take care of the old you person you will be some day and address the risks you may not even know are out there. Let us help you plan for a drought.