"What Are You Working For?”
"What Are You Working For?”
I always thought I was in business to make money. No surprise there. Indeed I was doing everything I could to make a real living from my business, dreaming of silk shirts and Gucci shoes, but only eking by.
I had left the corporate world; we were not on the same page. I started a little picture frame studio, with a couple of hundred dollars and an American Express card—and a backer.
However, too often, everybody was getting paid, but not me – that’s when I had to ask myself, “What are you working for, Mac?” In fact eking turned into disaster after expanding to three art galleries and one picture framing studio. Finally the only real hope was bankruptcy, said my accountant, after six years in business.
I had some new questions …
Could I look my wife in the eye, and say “I blew it?”
Could I look my dad in the eye and say, “Bankrupt?”
Could I look myself in the eye and say, “Failure?”
So what turned around a failing business so much that it became not just profitable, but debt free and nationally recognized? It was a complete change in focus and paying close attention to the real goal.
But first I had to deal with a lawsuit from my partner who
was desperate to raise some cash of his own. (That’s a whole ‘nother story.)
Then I needed to make a “deal” with my suppliers.
On top of that I needed to make a bargain with the bank, AND secure an even bigger loan.
Oh, and I thought it might be a good idea to go find a job and make some money to help keep the lights on at home.
I also decided to enroll in a business marketing class to
see if there was something I might be missing.
When I did a survey of my existing customers they reported that they were most interested in quality and creativity and not so concerned with cost. DUH! I was constantly offering discounts and carried a budget line of frames that they weren’t interested in. Obviously I did not know my customer!
But the most significant change started with the death of a friend, mentor and an Excalibur Award winner – Gene Whiddon, Sr., perhaps best known as owner of Causeway Lumber Co.
His memorial service booklet displayed a verse, that epitomized his life. A verse, some 3,000 years old. I wondered if that verse would ever reflect me. It’s more than a verse, it’s a principal that guarantees success. And it still works just fine.
That principal became my commitment – I didn’t have anything to loose and everything to gain.
How’d that work out? Customers passionately referred Artful Framer Gallery (AFG) to their friends. Competition referred customers to AFG, (you read that right.) Customers would drive by several framers to come to AFG. Picture framers wanted to work at AFG. Customers invited me to their bar-mitzvahs and weddings, and picked-up my dinner checks. And listen to this, I didn’t notice at first, but my employees started to come to work on time. They caught the vision and became my best advertisement.
That’s when it happened, AFG nominated for and won the Miami Herald’s Small Business of the Year and written up in Inc. Magazine, among others. But, I think I value most that this principal gave me contentment, peace of mind and the satisfaction of real success that wasn’t fickle or linked to the economy.
And, yes, we stopped having cash flow problems. I didn’t
have to ask, “What are you working for?” Financial success came as a by-product
of a simple, yet powerful principal. It can work for you – your business – your ministry –
you name it – I guarantee it.
Mac's 25 minute motivational presentation, "What Are You Working For?" is available for your business, business organization, Chamber of Commerce, ministry and men's or women's groups. contact firstname.lastname@example.org