Nobody could be blamed now for forecasting another recession, a second dip because the whole world is just too badly screwed up by the greedy bankers and the egos of the politicians.

But for most small businesses, it doesn’t feel like the first recession ever really went away.  Trading is very tough and you’ve got to take clear action to protect your business.

When times are tough, some people simply trust to luck and hope it will get better soon.

Here’s a true story that sounds just like a joke I know (I’ve included the joke later on for you)

Many years ago, I went to see a man who ran a building supplies company.  His business was in real trouble.  A friend of his had asked me to go see him.

A quick warning – it mentions God a few times.  I don’t have strong religious convictions, but religion is central to this story (and it gives an important lesson too).

So we met at his offices and went through the problems in his business – there were plenty staff who didn’t care, high costs, customers who kept going bust without paying him, cut-throat competitors, suppliers who wanted cash before they would deliver to him.

The list just kept on going.

He seemed like a truly broken man, his eyes almost glazed over in acceptance of some terrible burden that he had to carry.

I told him it didn’t have to be this way.  That he could fix things if he would just try doing some new ways of doing things.

He shrugged his shoulders and said, in completely genuine tone, “I trust my God to look after me.”

He went on to explain that he was a very religious man and that the only thing that kept him going was his faith.

I was left speechless.  This man had a family to feed.  A community in which he lived to feel proud.

I understand religious faith.  But faith is about believing you are doing the right thing, not sitting back and praying that some mystical force will do it for you.

I tried to help him.  He was in such trouble, I was scared for him.  I told him three things he needed to do in the next month to start turning things around.

But he just stuck to his guns, saying, “What can I do?  I am just one man.  In God’s will I trust.”

Talking to my mutual friend later, he told me this man had failed in business several times already, by doing exactly the same thing – sitting back and hoping it would fix itself.

They say that the definition of madness is to keep doing the same things and expect different results.

In which case, this gentleman was living proof of the saying.

Here’s the joke…

A man lives in a house in the country and has devoted his life to God.

His government decide to build a dam downriver, which will cause the land all around him to flood.

When planning to build the dam, they send him a letter offering to buy his house off him at full price, and relocate him somewhere better.

He writes back and tells them, “No thanks, in God I trust.”

As the dam is built, the water gradually starts to build up.  They send a boat down to his house, and offer to take him to safety.

He smiles and waves to them, “No thanks, in God I trust.”

The water gradually builds into a deep river and they send in a helicopter.  They find him sitting on the roof, smiling serenely.  The winch man is lowered down to him and…

He smiles and says, “No thanks, in God I trust.”

A week later, having been swept away by the rising floods, our man arrives at the Pearly Gates of Heaven…

St Peter is surprised to see him, wet and bedraggled with a look of surprise and bitterness spreading across his face.

He says to St Peter, “I have devoted myself to God.  I was not swayed when the government destroyed the beauty of the countryside.  Why did He not save me?”

St Peter replied, “Didn’t you get His letter, His boat or His helicopter?

 

The problem with “In God I trust” is that it’s excusing you from taking any action.

It says that you are helpless.  It’s up to some supernatural force to decide how the dice will land.

Look around at successful people and you spot one thing about them all – they fight tooth and nail when things get tough.

They don’t just sit back and hope things will get better.

If they were religious, you can bet they would say that “God helps those who help themselves.”

I do not hold strong religious beliefs, but I do believe in this saying.

Doing nothing right now is not an option.  Too many people depend upon you to take decisive action to protect them.

Right now, you need to do whatever you can to help yourself, to provide for your family and to protect all the hard work that has gone into your business over the years.

Dark tides are coming our way, carrying much doom and despair, rising jobless figures and unrest from the unions (who are just as bad as the politicians).

So whatever you are doing, if things aren’t going right and your business is at risk, try something new.

Don’t throw everything at one wild strategy, but try new things out and make sure you measure the results.

While I don’t suggest you spend hours on social media for business, if you need more customers, you can use the free marketing plan template to build a marketing plan to produce results for you.

Don’t give up.

Whatever your personal convictions, focus on doing what you need to do and you will get through this.

6 Comments

  1. Jan on September 25th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    A great blog Lee, and a good reminder that we need to ‘take action’ and use the opportunities we are provided with.

    Jan



  2. Lee on September 25th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Jan,

    Thanks for stopping by. This one really came from the heart – it drives me crazy to hear people talk like this!

    Lee



  3. zandria on November 14th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Lee, great reminder, I used to be one of those people, waiting and trusting, but it was such a dis empowering position to take. Now when I am stuck I take action, even if it’s not the right action, at least it gets you moving.



  4. Lee on November 16th, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Hi Zandria,

    You’re absolutely right. Taking some action is almost always going to get you better results than doing nothing. And you can always do something different if it doesn’t work. My most successful clients are always the ones that get things done while others around them are waiting and hoping.

    Lee



  5. Stephanie on January 2nd, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I agree with your analysis. I do have strong religious convictions, but I believe that God helps by simple means – mostly by helping you find the strength within you but possibly also by the letter, the boat and the helicopter and you ignore those at your peril! All religions, including atheism, have their conflict points: Christianity puts both the “lilies in the field” concept (your example) and “parable of the talents” to its adherents and leaves them to choose their path. I chose differently!

    Incidentally, the “damn” in your story should be “dam” (sorry to be picky, but I figure you’d rather know)



  6. Lee on January 3rd, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for your thoughts – I have fixed my spelling mistake too – much appreciated.

    I think the best thing we can do right now is ignore all the economic news, because it’s not something we can do anything about directly, and just focus on building our own businesses, since that’s the one part of the economy we can directly influence.

    Cheers,

    Lee



Leave a Comment