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Time to Drop the Ball…



Time to Drop The Ball

So something happened this week, something that really frosted by parsnips, and it wasn’t the dip in the overnight low. I picked up a scent in the air that literally took my breath away. It was the acrid odor of defeat.

I had been hunting for a place to park for a meeting that I was about to attend. There were barricades and temporary ‘no-parking’ signs that had limited my options. After a fruitless search I called the business owner and explained my dilemma. “No problem, park in the back there are spots available now that the business next door is closed.”

“Closed?” I asked. “ Affirmative, they just couldn’t make it work.” Came the reply.

My heart sank. I hate to hear stories of business dreams turning to ashes.

After my meeting, I had forgotten about the fate of the neighboring business and left our meeting feeling completely revitalized. We had just created a three-month operational strategy plan, refocusing their short-term goals in order to maximize their efforts for the next quarter. The owners were excited to execute the strategy and I was thrilled to have helped them through the process.

I saw a small shop that had caught my eye and thought I would pop in thinking they might have an item for a birthday I was attending later in the week.

When I crossed the threshold of the shop I was shocked. My eyes darted around desperately trying to settle on a target that would allow me to determine exactly what kind of shop it was. There were racks and racks of items jammed so tightly that you wouldn’t have been able to check them if you wanted. Boxes, half opened were stacked haphazardly against the walls and in the aisle. Product was hanging everywhere. I stopped in my tracks completely overwhelmed with the vision. In the already packed space stood four sales clerks.

“Can we help you?” one asked.

“Maybe?” I replied hesitantly. “Wow you have a lot of product here.” I spoke out loud, while my inside voice screamed “INVENTORY MISMANAGEMENT!” “BRANDING DISASTER!” And “TARGET MARKET CONFUSION!”

“Ya, well we thought the road work would have been done weeks ago, so now we have too much inventory.” Said one sales person. “You think?” I sarcastically thought as I lifted my foot over a stack a boxes on the floor. “It’s been a really slow summer and it’s the City’s fault!” Said another one leaning against the counter. “Nobody can get to us!” “Well, I got to you.” I said annoyed with the blaming comment and for them not recognizing an opportunity in front of them, “However, you clearly have a lot of stuff to move.” “ Ya, that’s an understatement,” said another “But what can you do? I seems you have to have a crystal ball to make a business work in this economy.”

No, no, no! I thought to myself.

 Drop the crystal ball.

  • This is your business! Take responsibility!
  • Stop blaming others for your situation!
  • Get some help to strategize through this season of economic uncertainty!

The city did not force this business owner to over purchase. Ordering in advance is always a gamble but there are strategies to move product quickly when you’re caught with more than you need. No one forced the owner to overstaff a store that was experiencing a slowdown. Clearly this was a complaint that they had been honing for some time so it wasn’t a surprising slow day that I caught them on- so why four sales staff? While the store looked completely in disarray, the owner was fruitlessly sweeping the leaves away from the front entrance outside. “No sooner, do I sweep and a new pile appears.” She mumbled as I left the store.

“It’s autumn. It comes right after summer!” I thought as I left the business shaking my head, “The falling leaves are the least of your problem!”

It’s time to drop the ball– the crystal ball that is!

Business owners have to take responsibility.

There will always be construction and maintenance to deal with.

There are many signs around you to help you maneuver the road ahead. You need to have help to know how to read them and strategies around them.

Every situation has opportunities lurking in the corners.

Surround yourself with advisors that will help you successfully maneuver the changing road ahead and show you how to recognize and act on those opportunities.

If you know of a business that is showing signs of strain, ask them if they had considered working with a business strategist to help them plan their business’ future? If they say, “I can’t afford to,” counter with “Are you sure you can’t afford not to?” Business owners have to plan their future with solid strategies.

It’s time to drop that crystal ball!

Until Next Week!


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