Most Valuable Skill of Todays Small Business Owner- Treading Water

Running a business, owning a business, buying a business, or starting a business requires a whole toolbox of skills, efforts, attributes, timing and possibly some good fortune.  It is well documented that to successfully own a business buy a business or start a business requires skills such as:

  • Being Driven
  • Organized
  • a “Do whatever necessary” attitude
  • Willingness to experience failures but not accepting failure as an option
  • Financial ability
  • Leadership skills, sales, marketing, the list can go on an on.

There is a new requirement that a small business owner needs  to be part of his/hers skill set- the ability to tread water.

New Business Skill – Treading Water

Running a business over the last several years has required the small business owner to attain the skill of “treading water”.-  And for this discussion I am defining treading water as the ability to “hang on” to the businesses until the economy recovers.  And when one looks at our economy from a Main Street perspective in lieu of a Wall Street view,  the need for one to be able to tread water for a couple more years may be needed.

My definition of a small business is not how the government defines small business, rather the millions of businesses with 50 or less employees (and the many with 5 or less employees), that currently are working harder to end up with less and essentially try to hang on until the economy turns around.  Recessions don’t last forever?- right?

Photo (c) illustraconsulting.com

A Rising Tide lifts all Boats…. I recently had been on an Alaska Fishing trip , and fishing up there is all about the Tides,  and you plan and your time your fishing activities around them.  But the tide you can count on.  The boats and the docks are floating piers which allow the boats to move up and down with the Tide.   Every whatever hours, tide comes in a raises all the boats about 15 feet higher, tides leave all boats go lower.    One day the economy will improve and the vast majority of businesses will benefit (rise) from this improved situation.

But for how long can the small business owner tread water until the economy improves overall consumer spending, a beat up housing market, and significant unemployment problems.  As a business broker I engage in confidential discussions with business owners and hear the stories of small business owners  using  the high rate credit cards to help finance the business.

I talk with the small business owner that “owns” the building he operates ,  yet is so upside down on the building that turning that “asset” back into an asset is a remote possibility at best.  Most all payroll cuts have been made, some have moved into small leased spaces, others have long since made adjustment to personal and business expense spending to adjust to these difficult times.

Treading Water…. How Much Longer

How long will the small business owner need to tread water for?  We all know it is prudent to have savings/reserves for backup and or down days, but how long can reserves hang on for.  “Business Owner A” may be able to “tread water” for 1 year yet”Business Owner B”  may be able to tread water for 2 years- then what?  The previous business I had owned for 20 years did go thru multiple recessions.  If you own a business for any duration of time you will experience the economic cycles that do occur.  This recession is so very different.

As a small business owner currently working as a business broker in Florida, I continue to look at newer/better ways to conduct my business activities in this environment.hings that worked 2 years ago, may not work now.    It will be nice one day when the tide comes in and raises all boats, but in the mean time I focus on improving my situation.

I expect no help from government, banks, or others, waiting for help from those entities, to me is like waiting for a tide on a land-locked pond.   People and business are still buying and selling businesses but at a much slower pace than several years ago.  So like all the small business owners I work with, I have to work more for less.     How long can these small business owner tread water until conditions improve- I see and talk with  so many that are getting very tired.

About Scott

Scott M. Messinger is a former and current business owner that has personally purchased 8 + businesses. Former owner of successful production/manufacturing/distribution business of 20 years that was successfully sold and transitioned. Member of Gateway Business Advisors serving South Carolina Florida and Southeast USA. Member of the Business Broker of Florida Assn. For a FREE current listing of Businesses FOR sale see: www.SellaBusinessAdvisors.com call South Carolina (864) 210-8226 Florida (239) 770-2421

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