My diet of beef jerky, sunflower seeds, and Red Bull should have been the first sign…
I had spent several days per month on the road at tradeshows and personal sales calls to doctor’s offices promoting our company’s new technology. The technology wasn’t available yet, but my job was drum up as much interest as possible in advance.
The company owner was an amazing cheerleader for my efforts and had supreme confidence in the viability of the technology. “You’re the face of this launch PJ!” he would tell me. “All of this work will pay off as soon as we launch.”
His original business was strong and steady. The equipment had a great reputation in the industry and sales numbers were as steady as the sunrise. However, he was looking for the big score…a real game changer…and had put loads of resources into this new technology.
The development budget was huge and drew funds away from numerous, established areas. His personal spending started increasing also. His family frequented the office and tales of new cars, clothes, and trips made many of us very nervous. He had started spending anticipated revenue with the expectation that windfall was on the way “as soon as we launch.”
Five months past our original release date I began to have doubts. Okay…I had doubts before…but they were getting really big by this point. After all, I was the one running all over the country driving a demo unit everywhere to pave the way. “Is this thing actually going to happen?” I asked sincerely.
The owner smiled warm and convincingly and said, “We’re on the home stretch. In fact…you can begin taking deposits for the first machines to be delivered in 45 days!”
Ecstatic and relieved, I jumped on the phone and started making the calls. Checks began rolling in and the commissions owed me started to pile up. All we had to do was deliver.
Five months after I began taking deposits and several failed installation attempts, I carpooled to work with my wife. When we got in site of the office, my heart sank…everyone was standing in the parking lot.
To his credit, the owner was out there too. “What’s going on I asked,” knowing already.
“We have to shut it down,” he said, citing some unforeseen inventory issue and quickly looking away.
65 families left to figure out their next move. Why?
First, optimism and hope are not substitutes for reality and stewardship. They complement each other. Great ideas driven forward responsibly can produce amazing results. They can also flop. Make sure to take care of what you have, even if you have something new and exciting on the horizon. Don’t sacrifice what is good because you MIGHT have something great in the future. Risk responsibly.
Second, accountability keeps honest people honest. My boss, the owner, didn’t always view the company, its employees, and clients as the means to his end. With no accountability or anyone to answer to, he got caught up in his own press. Instead of taking a hard look at the path we were on, he ignored it and began lying to everyone…believing it himself eventually.
Keeping your face to the sun is a great way to live and more people should try it, but staring at the sun so you’re blind to everything around you isn’t the same thing. If you are starting, growing, or expanding your business, don’t be so optimistic you’re delusional or so afraid of admitting a mistake that you drag your efforts into the trash with you.
Be bold AND be responsible. That combination equals long-term success.
PJ McClure is an internationally respected expert who helps business owners and executives destroy roadblocks and seize opportunities to achieve their ideal vision of success. He is an award-winning speaker and the best-selling author of Flip the SWITCH: How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Mindset. You can download Flip the SWITCH for free by clicking here!