It always amazes me how perception changes based on the circumstance. The events are exactly the same but how you perceive it is a function of many things: what happened immediately before, your mood, prior experiences in a similar situation, all of them contribute to how you will react. I’ve always tried to be as transparent and honest as possible in this blog as I’ve navigated the highs and lows of the food industry.
There comes a time in every small business’s development where they face an inflection point. It usually happens when the company has experienced some growth and has invested more money than they budgeted to achieve that growth. The big question many owners face is “if I want to continue on this trajectory how do I secure additional funding?” Or “do I throttle back and grow at a slower more sustainable pace?”. Bet the wrong way and you could sink your business before it ever takes off – cue Queen/David Bowie (Whoa, I just had a Vanilla Ice flashback!)
I’ve seen many people under this type of pressure begin making irrational, short-sighted decisions. Even worse some people begin letting this pressure effect they way they deal with people, becoming overly agressive and demanding. I found myself in similar situation trying to collect invoices from one of our distributors. The invoice was 45 days past due and even though I had sent the invoice twice the AP person I was speaking to did not have it in her system. Normally this is when I begin assuming that I am dealing with systematic incompetence or fighting against a singularly evil plan to destroy my business. Before I could respond I remembered something I used to tell the youth at my Church back when volunteered “A brick is not inherently good nor bad. The same brick that can be used to build a home can also be used to smash a window”. After that thought flashed across my mind I asked the AP person “How are you doing today?” “Oh, I’m hanging in there, I guess” was her response. “They keeping you pretty busy over there?” “Yeah, it’s already 4 and I still have 38 unanswered emails/requests.” “Oh, that stinks. You guys sound short staffed.” “You have no idea. Don’t get me started.” I ended with “I’m really sorry about that. I can’t imagine the pressure you must be under. I won’t take anymore of your time but if you can, when you get a chance, can you look into those 3 invoices I just resent?”
The world is not out to get us…Well, maybe it is but we all face our own pressures and how we relate to one another can mean the difference between building a lasting company or smashing a window for the quick cash.
Below is the song that inspired this post. It’s by the artist Aloe Blacc and he’s currently in heavy rotation a the TaDah offices.