Very often when there is a shift in the economy there is a desire for people to jump into business ownership. I know that is appealing, but it is not for everyone. Bulldog Rule #9 states, “You may not be the right person for the job.” As much as I can help a person be a good owner, they just may not fit the mold of being a good business person.
The world economy flipping upside down does not surprise me. There is a “righting” of the financial world every decade (sometimes a little longer) and the people who have been sailing through not paying attention to their business get knocked on their butt because the market changed. I want to point out that this has happened to countless big public companies in the last year and the formula for failure is the same.
Many people get into business for the wrong reasons. I have a friend that I worked as a consultant for who wanted to be a restaurateur. His plan was to work in the business with his wife. She was better at the back-office paperwork and he was better coordinating the operations. It sounded good, but as soon as his wife got tired of smelling like a french fry she moved on and then he lost interest. The business failed. There simply has to be a reason bigger than a dream that makes you an owner. Lost interest is why big businesses fail too. How many Boards of Directors but short term goals in front of a CEO and then wonder why the business failed in the long term. The CEO’s interest is in meeting the goal and looking good to the Directors and the stockholders. After the short term goal is met you see a lot of CEO’s jumping ship and a lot of employees scrambling to fix the mess in order not to lose their jobs. Interest in the entire business and the industry is critical to making a strong business and keeping customer share.
Business is all about change. The vendors change products, customers move, or even a news story that affects the entire industry could be the reason to be ready to move to meet the new demands. I worked in the ice cream industry for a few years and when the Mad Cow scare took hold it was a daily PR effort to get customers to the stores. No one got sick from ice cream, but customer perception of all dairy products was strong. Change happens and you are going to have to be face it. Most people hate change. If you can’t handle that kind of stress do not be a business owner.
Early in my career as a consultant I thought I could make anyone a great business owner. It is just following a basic formula that makes a business good. There is so much more to small business. Now my first statement to anyone thinking buying or starting a business is “Are you qualified?” It is a shocking question to someone who is new to business, but I am probably the only person around them to ask that question. No one is ready for business since you can not tell what the day will bring. The right person for the business may not be you and that is OK. It isn’t like love. It is most definitely better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but to be a business owner and have lost is a pain that can hurt more than just you.
I want to finish with a saying that I heard many years ago. “The path to happiness is yours to walk down. It may not be the same one you thought you would be on, but it is the only one that will lead you to happiness.” Not once in that statement does it mention being a business owner. Find your own path to happiness wherever it leads you.