very informative, im sharing this with my automotive community
Put the Gun Away
As we emerge from the most tumultuous year since the Great Depression, many business owners and managers are looking toward 2010 with both hope and trepidation.
With small indicators that the economy has finally bottomed out, we all wonder what the future, both short and long-term, will hold. Are we seeing an intrinsic shift in our world economy, or is this just a nasty dip in the status quo?
The brutal economic situation of 2009 saw many surviving enterprises, both small and large, cut their workforce back to skeleton crews, hunker down, and go into a sort of "hibernation". Fewer corporate holiday gifts were exchanged. Companies are even cutting back on postage and mailed fewer holiday cards.
Three years ago the season was filled with lavish company parties. This year the invitations were few and the firms that still had them generally opted for scaled down celebrations.
We used to have our holiday parties at Nemacolin Woodlands, a posh resort near NuRelm's company headquarters in southwestern PA. Last December we opted for a beer and pizza party.
While the recession has touched almost every industry, those of us who are still standing deserve some credit. We didn't overspend. We had the foresight to plan for the worst and come out on the other side with our companies intact.
We negotiated with our creditors, haggled with our vendors, rolled up our sleeves and performed the tasks of our once burgeoning workforce. Some of us even closed a few sales. Bottom line, those who found a way to keep the lights on are the ones who will probably survive the critical 5 and 10 year markers that either make or break most small businesses.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the above-referenced statistic (I'm glad I didn't know this when I first jumped in), 80% of all small businesses will fail in the first 5 years. Of those businesses that survive the often harrowing 5 year obstacle course, 80% of THOSE business will fail before their 10th anniversary.
This past year was the ultimate test. If you made it through 2009 then you probably have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. If you didn't make it at least you learned to plan for the worst and will take with you into 2010 the skills necessary to try another venture, with much better odds of getting it right the next time.
When NuRelm was courting investors several years ago (we were founded during the last big economic downturn), I remember what one salty old venture capitalist told me. He said, "You're too big of a risk. You're a first time entrepreneur. If you either had a successful venture in the past or tried a few times and failed, I'd feel better about your ability to pull this off. As it stands now, I'm going to pass on this investment. You'll need either one good success or failure to get my attention." For those of you who may have failed at your first venture in 2009, you are not alone, and investors respect you for trying. They know that you'll understand what not to do next time.
Remember, real failure is not the individual failure itself. Those are many and fleeting in the larger scheme of our life's accomplishments. The real failure is the fear of trying, the fear of taking a well thought-out, calculated risk, with the knowledge that the odds are against you. If you don't have the stomach for failure you're not cut out to be an entrepreneur.
NuRelm will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, but not without some tense moments, lots of Ramen noodles, and a few skipped paychecks in the early days. I learned a long time ago I can live on spit when necessary. Any start-up or early stage entrepreneur (excluding the silver spoon entrepreneurs) who doesn't learn to live on little or no pay, at least initially, probably failed in 2009.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my fellow entrepreneurs a prosperous year. May we all close more sales in 2010!
Learn more about the author, Mona McGraw.
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