February 17th, 2009 13:23 EST
What Business Lesson Comes from a Hot Dog Stand Operation?
One of my good friends is Harvey Goldstein, CPA. He is one of the best known CPAs in southern California and for 42 years, Harvey ran what became one of the region`s preeminent CPA firms, with over 200 professionals. There aren`t many business situations that Harvey hasn`t seen and there isn`t much business advice that Harvey hasn`t dispensed. But one of his gems is a little story about a business owner who was having the usual types of business troubles. If you have business troubles or cash flow issues and would like help from one of the best, feel free to contact Harvey and tell him that I sent you. For more info, go to: http://www.upyourcashflow.com. For now, enjoy this first chapter of Harvey`s book, The Hot Dog Syndrome.
Chapter One: Ron Alexander, Entrepreneur
It was 6:00 a.m., Thursday. Ron Alexander put his pillow over his head, trying to hide from the screaming alarm. It was time to get up, but facing this new day was not a pleasant thought. Ron`s business was having difficulty and heading downhill.
Several years ago, Ron had concluded that working for someone else was not his cup of tea. He was confident he could make more money in his own venture, and decided to go into business for himself.
After struggling to raise a few thousand dollars from relatives, and putting a second mortgage on his home, Ron took the plunge, as he liked to describe it. But, as is often the case with entrepreneurs, Ron had very little management experience and no formal financial training. Additionally, the money he was lucky enough to raise was much less then he needed to properly start the business.
Ron chronically complained about not having good people. Sales weren`t what he expected, and because his management skills were not the best, everything crossed his desk in an onslaught of problems and worries. Consumed by managing all phases of the business from sales to production, Ron was exhausted!
Forcing himself, he reached over and silenced the screaming alarm. Ron crawled out of bed, completed his normal morning routine, then headed for his office.
Within half an hour, he parked his car in front of his plant. Pausing momentarily, he reluctantly stepped out of the car and began the short walk to his office.
Nearing his office, Ron tried to ignore the nerve-racking surge of adrenalin rushing through his body, again. It was not a comfortable feeling and it came more frequently these days. As his level of anxiety climbed, Ron`s concern escalated. He worried that his involvement with his business was generating more stress than he could or should ever handle.
Opening the door to his office, Ron walked in a fog to his desk and slumped down into his chair. Within minutes his head began to pound, a desperate, relentless thud, growing in intensity. Without realizing it, he started repeating to himself, silently, over and over, What do I do? What do I do?
Ron`s stress was just about to overwhelm him when suddenly, out of nowhere, he heard the words, Stop, Ron, Stop!
Totally confused, Ron wasn`t sure whether it was his own mind admonishing him, or if he had actually heard someone command him to stop. He looked around his empty office, but couldn`t find the source. Although he could hear his employees chattering outside the closed door, he was, in fact, totally alone.
Now I know I`m going crazy, he mumbled to himself.
Again he heard, Ron, stop!
Where are you? Ron demanded in panic.
It`s not important. What is important is that you get a grip on yourself. You`ve got customers, vendors, suppliers, employees and their families depending on the success of your business. This is a heavy responsibility and you need help, now.
This is crazy! Ron shouted, and then, in a hushed tone, Let me see if I understand this. A voice coming from out of nowhere is telling me I need help?
I can hear you. I can`t see you, and you`re going to give me advice on how to improve my business? That`s insane! Ron yelled into thin air. Fuming, he added: I can`t see you, but
I`m sure I`ll be able to see the bill! No bill, Ron. Just help! The Voice replied. Ron, give me one hour of your time and you`ll be on you way to having greater control of the business, greater cash flow, more customers and less stress.
Sure. A miracle worker I`m talking to, Ron said sarcastically. Am I the only one who can hear you? All I need is for my employees to catch me talking to myself. They already know I`m stressed out. I don`t want to add mentally deranged to the equation.
Just you, Ron, came the reply. It sounds to me like you`re suffering from the Hot Dog Syndrome,` suggested The Voice.
What the hell are you talking about? " Ron shot back. At some point or another in the life of every entrepreneur they get a major desire to be rid of all their worries and cares, to chuck it all for a business that`s simple to operate with little or no stress. A hot dog stand, for example, " said The Voice. Sound familiar? "
Of course, Ron agreed. It would be a relief to trade in all of this for a simpler life.
So, let`s go with that for a moment, The Voice suggested. Now you operate a single hot dog stand making a few bucks and enjoying the simple life. But being the entrepreneur you are, one stand is not enough so you open another. Of course, franchising is a possibility and may be an easy way to open up several more stands. Suddenly, you`ve hired a lot of people. You decide to manufacture your own hot dogs and getting the dogs into the super markets is another way of expanding the business and making more money. Before you know it, you`ve grown your simple hot dog stand into a hot dog empire with the same headaches. Get it? Ron? You are who you are.
You`re right, but I still feel incredibly overwhelmed by this business I`ve created. It`s running me into the ground, sighed Ron.
Yes, said The Voice. I would like to help, if you`ll let me. Then pausing to savor this unique moment, Ron pondered, What do I have to loose? Where do we begin?
* * * End of Chapter One * * *
After Harvey asked me to review the manuscript for this book a few years ago, I had only one comment. It was about the title. Harvey`s original choice missed the mark by a million miles. To me it was so obvious. The soul of every entrepreneur is so precisely illustrated by the Hot Dog Syndrome described in this chapter that I urged Harvey to change the name of the book. And he did. Of course if you read the full book, you will see Harvey`s acknowledgement of my contribution and I thank him for that. By the way, you can get the full book electronically at no cost by going to: http://www.upyourcashflow.com.
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About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, advisor and faculty member of the iLearningGlobal community. To bring Joel into your company, please visit http://www.joelblock.com or http://www.growth-logic.com. Also, be sure to check out our newest project: a blog to organize the blogs that cover entrepreneurship - http://www.entrepreneur-hub.com. And finally, for film makers: http://www.filmfundingblog.com - our newest project.