Do you know when to yell “Uncle!” It’s good business.
A frustration of mine and many of the business owners I work with is understanding when to yell “Uncle”. In other words, when to ask for help. I often get calls from The Boss explaining a situation they have gotten themselves into and asking what I can do to help them cope. Most often these calls come when The Boss is experiencing cash flow problems and their stress level is high. With hindsight being 20/20, The Boss realizes their error and wants help strategizing to minimize the fallout.
One such call was cash is tight, but The Boss gets wind of “a deal” on a piece of equipment and goes ahead and purchases it without talking to the finance department. Now to make things worse, the equipment cannot be used for several months as it is a seasonal business. The finance staff must find the funds to purchase the equipment and keep the day-to-day cash flow flowing! As you would expect, this causes strife between The Boss and the frustrated finance staff. This is when I get the call to help relieve the tension. The root cause is communication issues especially when the finance department learned of the new equipment purchase after it was completed and is left to make do. Some may even say it is a respect issue between The Boss and the finance staff!
Another example is a call I received from The Boss who was very worried about production. Again, cash flow is tight and to save payroll The Boss laid off a few people, one being the highest-paid employee on the production floor. Unfortunately for The Boss when his competition found out a quality employee had been laid off, they made an offer and now that employee is working for the competition. This person had been trained in several jobs and sent to CNC training by the manufacturer of the equipment. This employee was a highly paid person because of his skill set and I am sure the competition was thrilled to get him. As business picks up, production will be delayed or at the very least slowed down as the remaining employees do not have the necessary skill set to step into the position, a new employee will have to be hired. Not much we can do after the fact, but I stressed to The Boss to call before these types of decisions are made not afterward. Not that I have all the answers but one thing I do not have is the stress and/or emotions tied to the decisions.
Stress can cloud the facts and often cause The Boss to make short-sighted decisions that go against the over-arching strategy of the organization. Losing one very good operator can derail a strategy and set it back months until another high-quality individual is hired and assimilates into the company. Not to mention this person may cost you more payroll than the original employee.
As The Boss, you must realize when you are under stress and when you need to ask for help outside of your organization. The final decision will always be yours as The Boss, the one holding the risk-reward card for the company, but knowing there is a better way to make these types of decisions and knowing when to “Yell Uncle” and ask for help is the sign of an experienced business owner.