Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What Would You Do If You Won the Lottery? by Robert Spitz, Management Success!

Robert Spitz
Snr VP Business Dev
Management Success!

What would you do if you won the lottery?

This is a fun question to contemplate and one that I like to ask as a consultant when working with small business owners. The answers open the door to how an owner is currently thinking about the business.

So, what would you do? If your immediate response is, "I would close this place down and be on the next plane to Hawaii!" well, that probably means you are not too thrilled with the business anymore and would be willing to do almost anything other than working in your business.

There can be many reasons for this, and believe me, you would not be the first small business owner to feel this way. But what are you telling yourself? What is going on?

Goals and purposes are the first place I dive into when I get this kind of response from an owner. What was your reason for starting the business in the first place, and where are you on your path to achieving that purpose or goal?

I received a call the other day that made me want to write this article. This particular fellow had been running a fairly successful business in the Chicago area for over 20 years, had enjoyed the freedom and challenges of owning his own business, but suddenly his pilot light was out. He wanted out.

He started the conversation by telling me he had enough and was thinking about closing up. When I asked him about this sudden change of heart, I found out he had recently been burned by a fleet account that went belly-up, leaving him holding a lot of worthless paper.

He was looking to me to give him my blessing about his decision, but that was not going to happen. I do not take it lightly when someone I have known a long time makes a decision that will alter and affect his life, as well as the lives of everyone who looked to him for leadership for so long.

Instead of taking the bait, I started to casually poke around with a series of questions:

  • What was his original reason or purpose for starting the business?
  • What has he enjoyed about having his business?
  • Except for this major hit, how was the business doing?
  • What would he do if he sold the business?
  • Did he feel like he had achieved his original goal of the business?

He had not given most of these questions much thought. He was stuck in the loss of all the money and what it had done to his year. After going through these questions, he started to change his views about the business. Giving up something that he spent so much of his life building was a little harder to confront than he first thought.

We looked at the consequences of his decision. What would happen to his employees? What about his loyal customer base? Would he really be happy working for someone else? These were important factors to consider.

When we were done, I told him to take a look at where he started and where he is now and to give me a call in a couple of days. I heard from him the next day, and he told me he was not ready to throw it all away over this one circumstance. He took a fresh look at his objectives and the reasons for having his own business. He likes being his own boss, calling the shots, and taking the risks. He has a good crew, which took him years to develop, and he did not want to break them up. Now that he was fired up again, I knew he would be okay because a business always reflects the owner's attitude and drive.

If you are having trouble mustering up the energy to drive to your business in the morning; if you are not sure about your business, bored with it and where you are going with it; or if you are anything less than enthusiastic, give Management Success! a call. We have the experience and the know-how to help.

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