By Michael Gunther
This October I took a relaxing week-long vacation, but when I returned I received so much news—a local restaurant closing, the birth of my grand-niece to my nephew Andy and his wife, then reports of two new restaurants opening within our city. I know you’re probably thinking, “Okay, Michael, you had way too relaxing of a vacation to try and tie this all together into a business lesson.” But just hear me out.
The restaurant that closed was run by two entrepreneurs who over an eight year period created a sense of connectedness with both the business and downtown communities. They were actively involved and truly restaurateurs. When I heard they had closed I felt like I’d lost a friend. Their restaurant was somewhere I could go and always feel at home, always run into friends or catch up with the staff who had become friends. And now it was gone, just like that.
My great niece Ella Rose was born this same week, and it was a joyous yet sad occasion. It’s amazing to see children born into the world—beautiful and innocent, with a lifetime of opportunities awaiting them. But that excitement was mixed with emotion related to my sister Rose who passed away last January. Ella Rose would have been Rose’s first grandchild, and her birth was something my sister had longed for, to watch her first born start his family and continue with the cycle of life.
And finally, two new restaurants will be opening in our city by entrepreneurs who believe they can create unique and profitable businesses, even in this sluggish economy. They are excited about the prospects of their new ventures, regardless of the challenges of fellow restaurateurs. They are looking ahead.
All of these stories remind me that like life, business is full of transitions. The key is to learn from these transitions and use the experiences and lessons to grow and move ahead.
Consider all the transitions that happen for business owners. They may lose their top client unexpectedly and need to fill a huge void in their client base. Or maybe a product or service that has been their main revenue generator all of a sudden seems out of date or no longer desired by the marketplace. They may have a long term, critical employee who decides to pursue another opportunity. All of a sudden there is a loss of knowledge and experience that may initially require more effort from them and present a huge hole in their business operations. Lastly, perhaps after working diligently to build their business the time comes to close their doors because they just don’t have the energy, resources and ability to continue building their company.
All these transitions have a sense of loss and impact on the psyche of the business owner to a point of not believing in their ability to handle the situation or get through the transition. But the reality is, life will continue on, and it’s how you approach and deal with this loss that will allow you to continue thriving. These transitions are truly opportunities to redefine your business or life.
I have a client who just this week told me they hired two new employees after they lost two key people last month. They thought they could never find anyone like they once had, and that their business was going to be adversely impacted. Yet, they are thrilled with their two new hires because they actually believe they are stronger and better than the employees they had prior. So, they transformed this loss into a success.
The Bottom Line
We all face transitions in life and the cycles of life and business will continue but it’s important to put these transitions in perspective, evaluate what new opportunities may be possible and begin taking action to move forward in developing the new opportunities.