With My Apologies to Ray Davies

“Sooo tired, tired of waiting. tired of waiting for youuu.”

For those of you who weren’t weaned on British Invasion Rock’n’Roll, Ray Davies is the lead singer and songwriter of The Kinks. One of their earliest hits was “Tired of Waiting.”

The song occurs to me often lately, because I hear the lyrics paraphrased by just about every business owner I talk to. As one said to me last week; “I’m still in the black, and we’re still doing business. It’s just so damn much harder than it was a while ago.”

Most entrepreneurs are accustomed to getting through tough patches with adrenalin. Their “fight or flight” reflex becomes well-honed in their first few years in business, since each day is an exercise in survival skills. When the going gets tough the tough get going. What doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger. And so on…

But adrenalin isn’t designed for the long haul. It takes a toll on your body and your psyche. If you keep triggering that adrenal gland, eventually it stops responding, and then you’re in trouble.

The recession isn’t over, and as I’ve said many times in this space, the recovery isn’t going to impress anyone. If you re still managing as if this is a crisis to be bulled through, you’d better take another look at your methods.

Cuts in workforce will usually goose the productivity of the survivors, for a while. Putting off necessary maintenance will save expenses today, but cost more tomorrow. Short term or emergency “fixes” can seldom be sustained, and sustainability is what you need to focus on now.

How could you run your business at its present levels for another few years? “We can’t!” is a really, really bad answer. Once you recast your business model to survive in today’s economy, everything else is up. Eating your seed corn in hopes that things will change soon is merely foolish.

Recent surveys of small business owners are pretty dark. In one by the US Chamber of Commerce they expected present conditions to last at least another two years. I think that’s a bit “darkest before the dawn” (boy, I’m into my aphorisms today) but it’s funny how accurate the collective opinions of large groups can turn out to be.

As a friend said: “Business owners don’t get to fight for 12 rounds. We have to answer the bell every time it rings, and they don’t even tell us when the end is supposed to be.”

Pace yourself. You can’t get through this one on adrenalin.

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