In Have a Little Faith, Mitch Albom quotes a sermon so important to business owners that I have reprinted the entire excerpt below:
A man seeks employment on a farm. He hands his letter of recommendation to his new employer. It reads simply, ‘He sleeps in a storm.’
Several weeks pass and suddenly, in the middle of the night, a powerful storm rips through the valley.
Awakened by the swirlining rain and howling wind, the owner leaps out of bed. He calls for his new hired hand, but the man is sleeping soundly.
So he dashes off to the barn. He sees, to his amazement, that the animals are secure with plenty of feed.
He runs out to the field. He sees the bales of wheat have been bound and are wrapped in tarpaulins.
He races to the silo. The doors are latched, and the grain is dry.
And then he understands. ‘He sleeps in a storm.’
Running your own business is an exercise in piloting to safe harbors through strong and unexpected storms. And as business owners, the storms rage all around us. The bankruptcy of a major customer is a storm. So too, the loss of a major salesperson, along with the customers who elected to follow her. A job gone south, the loss of key support personnel, and one’s own unexpected absence from work — all are gales of sudden and untold destructive force.
To many, the state of our economy this past 18 months has been a storm of epic proportions.
The question then becomes: “Can you sleep in a storm?”
- Secured lines of credit with terms and limit appropriate to your business?
- Protected your streams of revenue by locking down key salespeople with restrictive covenants?
- Limited your risk by negotiating manageable damages and indemnification provisions — particularly in those contracts governing your largest projects?
- Trained your replacement?
- Documented key procedures so that a new person could step into a job knowing key passwords, resources, and procedures?
Too often, these types of preparations are like flowers at a funeral — they arrive all at once, and too late. Prudent business owners prepare. They schedule regular meetings with their management team and key advisors, whether quarterly, every 6 months, or even annually, to consider and prepare for what storms may come.
And when those storms arrive, as they most certainly will, the prudent business owner sleeps soundly.