I wish I could say that all of our CEDF borrowers experience smooth sailing after they close on their financing but that’s just not the reality of the business world. Some of my clients have run in to difficulties with cash flow, landlord relations, key employee departures, loss of major clients or disagreements with business partners.
On top of the worst of these issues, can come family and personal problems. Sometimes the dark clouds pass in a hurry. Sometimes the troubles are recurring. The small business world is just a mirror reflecting the challenges of life.
CEDF business advisors are not qualified as psychologists or counselors but it is inevitable that the problems our clients are facing get brought into the discussions in our regular meetings. Offering a supportive attitude and a willingness to listen seems to be appreciated. This is why we added the phrase “management of the emotional components of business ownership” to the description of CEDF’s Business Advisory Services on our website and in our collateral. While our role may be limited, the significance is not.
If I had to sum up the most valuable skill a business owner has to learn to stay right-side-up in the midst of business or personal crisis it would be “the courage to live with uncertainty.” Not knowing what will happen is not an easy thing for humans. We want predictability, certainty and stability. But this isn’t always how events unfold. Will I have enough cash to make payroll at the end of the week? Will I be able to close a sale with this prospect I just contacted? Will I win the important points in this negotiation? Will business get better soon? Will I catch a break from all of my worries?
We’d love to have the answers now (as long as they’re positive). But life makes us wait. In the meantime, it is up to us to refocus our minds to work productively to reach our objectives and sweep away the temptation to ruminate on the worst possibilities. I imagine this is the secret of the “positive thinking” philosophies. I can’t say it sounds like a bad idea. While considering the worst outcome might light a fire under some people, it administers a paralyzing shock to others.
An individual’s personal philosophy and religious beliefs obviously has a big bearing on one’s reaction to adversity. But the reality is that maintaining control of one’s own mind and taking the initiative required to manage the business response to problems is a small business owner’s first obligation. Concentrate.