Roads not Taken
I’ve been thinking a lot of how one stays in business for 20 years when some peg the number of failures within 15 years at 65%, and within 5 years at 45%. Now, just because you are in business and hanging on by a thread doesn’t mean that you are enjoying the small business ride you are on - many times, once you are in it, it’s hard to get out, profitable or not. You have debt on assets, employees, little alternative job prospects, etc… So if 45% are failing after 5 years (and I think the number is higher), then the real number of ‘alive but just barely’ is certainly higher - operating a business on life support is hardly living.
But that’s not my point. My point is as business owner you get lots of opportunity to celebrate your good decisions, and lick your wounds after bad decisions. Those are tangible experiences with tangible results.
What’s not tangible, but as important or more since it is occurring on a more or less continuous basis, are the actions, tasks, investments, upgrades not taken, but passed on. Could be a new piece of software, a new piece of land to buy, a new employee, a new headquarters, or a million other things that you steer away from, steer clear from, with little ceremony, with little regret, with little self-congratulations - just things that come across your radar that you let go.
Everyone remembers the client that you should not have worked with that turned into a shit storm, but not the one that you didn’t return the calls for long. Everyone remembers the piece of land that propelled you into the big leagues, but not the 40 you reviewed and passed on. The loan you didn’t take, the relationship you didn’t cultivate, the software you didn’t buy, the equipment you didn’t invest in, the employee you didn’t hire, the neighbor you didn’t piss off, the town you didn’t work in, the fight you didn’t pursue, the asset you didn’t buy.
Yes, the big decisions that work out is where all the glory is. And the ones that don’t add a lot of spice to life. But let’s be honest, in between those 2 extremes lie the thousands of ideas that were reviewed and vetted with little ceremony, that your experience just steered you away from. That’s the power of experience and expertise, and there is little tangible glory in it, but it’s of vital importance.
We have another barn going up in North Branch NY - this one is one of our favorites, with a first floor primary master suite that is sweet indeed.
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