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It’s Just Business not Personal

By W.W. Mayes

Over the last week, I have had the privilege of putting to use many of the things I have been sharing with you about being in business. My partners and I decided that we wanted to expand a company of ours. This expansion meant hiring about thirty employees, acquiring office space, paying some software developers to complete programming we wanted for the expansion products, increased marketing and so on. I had thought that we were just going to allow growth in revenues over time to provide us with the resources to do the expansion. Last Wednesday, one of the partners says to me that he wants me to go with him to a meeting with some people. When I asked him why, his response was that he felt we could potentially partner with them on some projects.

I am good with partnering with other companies because many times, partnering can help both companies become more effective. Now I am a nice guy, but I have also been around the block a few times, so I never go into a meeting like this expecting anything to come from it. I have had hundreds of these types of meetings over the last decade alone. In truth, I am a skeptic. The other thing I should explain is that I do not like show-offs, loud mouths and pushy people. So I go to this meeting and guess what type of person the main talker is? That’s right, just the kind of person that pushes me tell them where to go as I leave the room in not a very happy manner. My business partner looks at me and sees the frustration behind my eyes. He also knows that I do not suffer fools well. He asks me to be patient. The only thing that keeps me from getting up and leaving the room is the fact that I care about my business partner, I am a nice guy (my dogs think so), and there is a second man sitting in on this meeting and he is acting like me. He is keeping quiet and observing things.

After Mr. Blow Heart is done, Mr. Quiet looks at me and asks me what I think. I honestly tell him that I don’t understand why I am at this meeting as my time is very valuable and in short supply. Mr. Blow Heart turns beet red. Mr. Quiet smiles and looks at me and in a very brief sentence explains to me how he thinks our two companies can help each other. He asks me what I needed to do to accomplish the expansion of our business and I tell him; either a year to grow revenues or $500,000 cash right now. Mr. Quiet looks at me and says how soon can you put things on paper that will give us a good picture of what’s what? OUCH! There is a reason the boy scouts motto is “Be Prepared.” You just don’t know what can happen. I tell him that I could have what he wanted in his hands by Monday. He said ok and off I went.

I had four days to completely change a detailed business plan, and one of those days was already blocked out with a prior commitment. So Mr. Big Mouth (ME) had to put his money where his mouth was. Somehow I had to put six months of work into three working days. I am a nut on documenting things. If we have an idea about something at our business, I ask if it has been written down and saved on a computer. I preach to everyone to keep notes. Don’t trust your memory. If you are anything like me, you have five or ten projects going on at the same time. My wife thinks I am a mad man. She doesn’t understand how I can keep track of so many things. It’s easy. I document. I file things away for when I may need them.

So when I got back to my office, I took time to think. I knew that I could not create a complete business plan from scratch in three working days. What I did was I started pulling from my files. I found the math formulas, hiring framework and time lines: everything I had already thought about. As a COO (Chief Operations Officer), I have to know about everything that is going on, and I keep notes. Then I pulled out my guidelines for writing a business plan that I have been sharing with you over the last couple months. It took about 54 hours of hard work, but on Monday this week, I had a completed a 45-page business plan with documented financials spiral bound and ready for presentation.

Was this work? Yes. Am I tired? Yes. Is anyone going to cry for me? No. I love being a business man. I love growing a business, providing jobs, creating opportunity, and yes, making money. It is work that is not always fun. But it’s business, not personal play time. I get asked why I do what I do when I speak in public, and I tell people that I love my work.

I have great respect for those who put everything on the line to try and make a vision come true. I write this column for two reasons. First, I hope that I can help someone who is striving to build a small business. Second, I want those who work for a company to have a better understanding and respect for those who are the owners of the businesses they work for and to appreciate what a unique person their employer is.

Yes, I made the presentation. We will know very soon if we get the extra funding we would like. Most important for me was the reminder this situation gave to me. I am thankful that I try to stay prepared. Business is work, and if you work hard enough at it, you’ll be amazed at how success finds you!

I will be back on track next week with the series we have been doing on building a business plan. I wanted you to know that I not only talk the talk but I also walk the walk.