I Burned My House Down Today.
We moved into our beautiful house back in June after purchasing the brick ranch house from the original owners of 40+ years. Sometime when their four boys were young, their Dad built a two-story clubhouse for them in the backyard. But now, after many years, it’s seen better days, and we decided to get rid of it.
Last week, we got the clubhouse ready for demolition. Josh (my 14 year old) did a great job stacking the loose lumber into a pile that would dry out after a winter of a lot of rain and even snow this week.
After breakfast, all I had to do was quietly say, “Want to burn the house today?” and Josh and his 13 year old brother, Isaac, shot to their rooms to get ready for the big day. There was a lot of anticipation.
I got both of them to place wads of newspaper on opposite sides of the clubhouse, add some easy-to-burn sticks and shingles on top. Then I thought, just in case, we should get the hose ready and a bucket of water. This was very fortunate.
Josh was the first to light “his side” and in a very scary matter of seconds, we had 5 feet of flames shooting into the air. Isaac backed away and suggested he didn’t need to light “his pile”. Exactly. In what seemed like a second later, the flames were well over 10 feet.
I must admit I don’t have a lot of experience as a pyromaniac. But I got my fill today. Within minutes, I had such a massive blaze on my hands I was yelling to the family to get more buckets of water as the flames quickly took over our cedar hedge (which is next to an acre of dry fields).
After one tree was partially consumed and the nearby holly bushes started to brown and catch flame, a gust of wind added to my panic. My father-in-law (visiting from Canada) calmly asked “how much does it cost to have the fire dept come to a call?”
Then the neighbors arrived, asking if we needed help. I tried to act calm, but Josh saw through it. He asked his Mom, “So, has Dad had fire problems in the past? Because he’s yelling a lot.”
Business life is similar.
Like preparing for the “fire day” today, we wait patiently for the economic signs to be right. We prepare for it. The economy is going to come back — that’s guaranteed. Are you anticipating it? If so, how are you preparing for the business that’s getting ready to come your way?
1. Take this slow time to take a step back to see what your core competency is. Are you doing it the best possible way? Now is a good time to hone what you do — and become the best in the business.
2. Develop a plan for your employees. Start with accessing if each person is doing the best job, it may be time to make changes or encourage better performance. There are a lot of talented people looking for work — perhaps now is the time to hire one or replace an underachieving employee.
3. This is also a great time to develop a solid Marketing plan. Sadly, the majority of companies don’t have a marketing plan. Oh, they have a “logo” that’s been developed by an employee or a relative. And this logo doesn’t help them compete as a professional company, since the average person realizes the company didn’t even make the effort to use a professional to design it. Hire a great marketing firm to develop a brand package for you. Once that’s in place, create a PLAN to take your message to your audience (print and web). And you should know quickly what that message and audience is.
Once you are prepared for the economy to fire up, the anticipation is amazing. And best of all, it’s my experience that good things come to those who are prepared. Sort of like us today. I never expected the strike of the match to have so much FAST impact. But it did, because we made the right preparation.
Then God supplied the gust of wind… and WOW!
Together, and I’m still including God in this, we managed to get the flames out. And we didn’t even have to use the local fire department. The clubhouse is reduced to a pile of black cinders and half-charred lumber. I’d like to say I felt in control. But no. The fire got the best of me for awhile.
That another thing to be concerned about — be prepared for more than you’d ever expect. We worked with a Church for several months preparing a plan to expand their congregation. We developed a great branding package and then we aimed all marketing toward a specific Sunday. The church prepared for a 30% growth.
The day arrived and people started to arrive. And the church was caught blind-sighted. They doubled their size that day. Which made for some awkward moments (not enough seats!).
Always be prepared for more. I wish I had today! …when I burned our clubhouse down.