By: Larry Fish, President
Shoulders slumped and exhausted, he dropped into the chair behind his desk and glanced at the clock on the wall. It read 8:38 PM. Where had the day gone? He couldn’t remember what time he’d left the house that morning, but he did know that it was before daylight.
First stop had been an installation site where he was hoping to find one of his trucks and a crew unloading equipment. However — no one in sight and nothing happening. When his people finally did arrive an hour later, his foreman said, “Sorry Boss, two guys were late and the truck had a dead battery.” He looked over the foreman’s shoulder and saw the steaming cup of fresh coffee and bag of doughnuts on the dashboard of the truck. Another excuse, he thought. Am I the only one who cares about what goes on around here anymore?
He propped his head up with his hands, put his elbows on the desk and thought about what he had seen when he had pulled into the yard earlier that morning. Just outside the maintenance shed was a fairly new reel mower that had been out all night in the rain. Little beads of rust were already starting to form on the handles. Someone had been working on it yesterday and had forgotten to pull it inside and out of the weather. He opened the door to the office and walked in. Four of his people were standing there talking. Doesn’t anybody have anything to do, he felt like saying. “Did anyone call the XYZ Company to see when we’re going to get the last payment on that $30,000 install we finished? It’s over 90 days due.” Magically, all of a sudden the talking stopped and there was no answer.
As he walked down the hall to his office, he couldn’t help but notice how few papers there were on other peoples’ desks. When he entered his own office, however, it was a different story. His desk was buried under a pile of unpaid invoices, phone messages, and other unfinished paper work that had aged its way out of being important any more.
A story like this is a business owner’s worst nightmare. It’s the tale of an entrepreneur with a good idea for a business and the commitment to make it work. But as the business began to expand through the addition of new customers, products, equipment and people, the skills, knowledge and methods that served the owner well in starting the business were no longer sufficient to ensure the company’s successful long-term growth. Some business owners recognize this only after the problems in their companies reach such great proportions that they threaten to overwhelm the company and everyone in it.
In recent GreenSearch® Blogs, we said success and succession were two important factors in the long-term survivability of a growing business. We have spoken with several owners of growing businesses over the past few months and their comments helped us crystallize the notion of success. One business owner actually called us to find out if we were in the business of finding buyers for businesses. We are not, but the fact that he was thinking about selling his business intrigued us. “Why?” we asked. “It’s driving me nuts and I am burned out,” was the reply. “I just want to get out from under it.”
Now, we don’t know whether or not his business was going anywhere, or if it was even a viable candidate for an acquisition. The point is that here was a business that someone had started up, grown, and now wanted to get out from under it. Was this owner a victim of his own success? Our belief is that the toughest job the owner of a growing business has is developing and implementing a game plan to handle long term success.
It is a fact that people who start their own businesses are a special breed. Words like confidence, ambition, willingness to take risks, and driven, are all apt descriptions for these folks. But they are not the sole determinants of whether or not their companies will survive. Long-term survivability of a company depends upon two things: how well it handles success and how it plans for succession. Handling success is like bench-pressing weights. Everyone has a limit and sooner or later needs help. Handling success means that you now have an expanding base of both customers and employees who are depending upon you and seat of the pants management is not going to cut it any more.
Planning for succession is a by-product of success. It is another defining moment for the entrepreneur because it means a well-planned effort to staff key positions in the company with people who have the potential for future leadership roles.
Let’s now make a resolution for the remainder of 2015 to address these planning issues that routinely have you in your office at 8:38 PM (or later), alone, and feeling totally out of control. Call us at 1.888.375.7787 .
Disclaimer: This article nor any portion of its content may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of GreenSearch®