As a business coach some may expect that all of our businesses manage to avoid challenges. Well this past year has been proof that we are not immune to the bumpy roads that our clients can be traversing.
One of our businesses has come under fire from unexpected quarters during 2018 and it has been testing both myself and my husband to the limits and pushed us to the brink of losing most of what we have accumulated in the last 18 years.
What could do that you ask?
Well it has been changes in government structure, switching power over certain vehicle types to a regulator, and the miss matching of regulations between a state department and the now regulator looking after part of the transport and roads systems.
These are things that we have no control over and therefore have to find alternative answers requiring very much out of the box thinking.
Naturally solutions of this nature can require serious investments in money and time, when the issue has cost turnover already and the departments in question move at departmental speeds and not at the rates the real world actually moves at, one can imagine the stress levels.
Then there are the other groups one must negotiate with, starting with Accounting firms who seem to be having their own internal issues, investment advisors and bank officers who promise what they may or may not be able to deliver. All due to a banking industry that has had a major overhaul and now takes 6 weeks to do what used to take 3 days. One can imagine the stress levels and disempowerment business owners can feel in the midst of all this.
If you are in business then these things won’t be new to you, we have climbed similar mountains, but never with multiple government departments and additional players slowing the game. While we have other business interests, this one is the "biggy", it has sustained us and we have continually built a very successful enterprise over the last 18 years.
We had planned to sell this business, so what of that?
Well it was not possible to sell a mobile plant business when it is not allowed on the road! So we took it off the market while we waited ... and waited ... and waited for departments to respond to our requests.
It took months for the relevant department to recognise that we could not bring a truck to a checking station if they won’t let us on the road, there was suggestion of using a low loader, aside from the cost being prohibitive, we actually could not secure one in our tiny rural town.
Eventually they came and after months of work on the machine they still put us off the road permanently, advising that we could get an exemption to clear it.
A different government department advised that due to the type of registration we cannot get exemption, when asked if we can change registration the answer was a categoric NO.
The upshot of that was we needed a new truck and then to transfer all of our custom built equipment onto that new vehicle, massive cost, time and effort commitment, on top of what we had already endured.
I share with you the 3 lessons confirmed by this experience:-
Eggs & Baskets
That old adage about eggs and baskets - have accounts in more than one banking institution, I have always taught people to get at least 3 quotes, from banks and other service/product suppliers, I now add this new rule of opening accounts in different banks. Should you need to seek financing, it speeds the process of identification and you can quickly play more than one against the other.
Go High & Go Quickly
Government Departments, go as high as you can as quickly as you can, don’t waste hours of time with underlings, fast track the communication and move it up the ladder. Another old adage, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. While in this case we did not get the answer we were hoping for, had we waited on the lower levels we would have been late to start the work season and would have suffered more losses.
Look After Your People
Finally, look after the people you are dealing with. When purchasing an item of large value, the sales people have a right to become uneasy if there are holdups, keep them apprised of all communications so they know they can trust you.
Our purchase was held up for weeks, our salesman was asked to sell the truck to someone else, but because we were in contact with him nearly every day, he held his ground for us.
Don’t be embarrassed when there are delays, simply stay in contact and explain.
While our main business has taken a financial hit, (we all know that is the risk of entrepreneurship), the exciting part for us is that when we do on sell this enterprise, we will be selling plant and truck that will pass all of the tests thrown at it.
We can be confident selling in good faith that future success lies solely in the new operators and their ability to manage their input.
Have you had challenges in your business that you'd like to share? Pop your stories in the comment box below and just may be you can provide help, inspire or motivate other incredible women with your story.