The Struggle Continues: The Longest Night

Jamaican-Business-Saga

We previously introduced business owner David, whose trucking company was facing serious challenges. After losing a major client, David was tempted to give up on his entrepreneurial dream. In his darkest moment, however, he was encouraged by some business advice on the television.

“Business success is about the three P’s: People, Process and Product.” Billionaire investor Marcus Lemonis had reiterated this advice several times on his hit reality television show, The Profit, but it never meant much to David until he watched the programme that evening.

Like the embattled entrepreneur on the TV screen, David contemplated the future of his enterprise in an environment that was getting increasingly hostile. He understood that reduced sales and rising costs produced meagre margins, which were a recipe for disaster for anyone’s business.

Self-help brought little assistance
David had never been one to wallow in self-pity. He thought people who complained about their problems were wimps who lacked the strength of mind to find solutions. Despite his bravado, David was now forced to admit that he just didn’t have the expertise to solve his business challenges.

A few years ago he had responded to an advertisement for an introduction to a business coaching programme which promised to take his small business to the next stage. However, David was not too inclined to take advice from a woman, and he left the training session after the lunch break.

A firm believer in the power of networking, David threw himself into marketing his business at every service club meeting and social event in his parish. He worked harder than anyone else in his industry, yet despite his efforts, David still didn’t see the results in the bottom line of the business.

Self-examination discloses the truth
Now as he watched Lemonis outline the recovery process, David began to understand what was going wrong with his own operations. He had thought that external factors such as high fuel costs were to blame for his woes, but soon he grasped that his internal issues were even more serious.

He discovered that his employees were in roles that were unsuited for them, costly mistakes occurred because he didn’t have procedures for the work tasks, and he had stopped refining his product to meet the needs of his clients. In fact, he failed on all three aspects of the Lemonis test.

David realised that he needed some more in-depth answers to his problems if he was going to survive and succeed in this business. He lived in Jamaica, so it was pointless emailing CNBC in America to ask The Profit to rescue his failing company. Where could he turn for advice?

Searching for a solution
“Wait, didn’t I buy a book at that business coaching seminar?” David recalled. “Where did I put it?” He dug frantically in a pile of papers in his filing cabinet searching for the resource material. With a satisfied grunt of triumph, David pulled out a small blue and white tome, The E-Myth Revisited.

Looking at the cover, David remembered why he had decided to buy the book. The tagline had attracted his attention – Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. He hadn’t bothered to read it at that time, but he definitely needed an answer to this problem right now.

David grabbed his mobile phone and hit the redial button. “Honey, tell the kids I won’t see them until in the morning, I have to put in a late night at work.” He briefly explained to his wife that he was trying to come with a strategy to deal with the devastating loss of another big customer.

The Entrepreneurial myth is revealed
As he flipped through the introductory pages, David’s eyes stopped on a sentence. “So if your business is to change – as it must continuously to thrive – you must change first.” It finally dawned on him that he had to start doing things differently if he was going to overcome these challenges.

He continued to read: “The first change that needs to take place has to do with your idea of what a business really is and what it takes to make one work.” David looked over at the photo of his family on his desk, and whispered, “I’m willing to learn to succeed; there’s too much at stake to fail.”

Several hours passed, and the only sounds that could be heard in David’s office were the rustle of pages being turned and the squeak of a highlighter on paper. Realising that his foot had fallen asleep, David reluctantly put down the book, got up from his desk and stretched his legs.

“All this time the answer to my problems was hidden in this book,” David sighed. “If only I had read it two years ago.” With bleary eyes, David glanced at the time on his computer monitor. It was 12:01 a.m.; a new day had begun. Would it also herald a new beginning for his business?

Copyright © 2015 Cherryl Hanson Simpson. No reproduction without written consent.
Originally published in The Daily Observer, August 27, 2015.

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