Developing a Vision is No Easy Task
Fifth in a series: Read the fourth post
In my last post, I mentioned the value of having a vision. But years ago, when I found myself pushed out of a job at a large public relations agency, I struggled to find one.
I finally decided that taking a similar position would be a sideways move. So, I ventured out into business on my own, handling PR work for small, publicly held companies—much the same as I had done previously.
Those early days were hard. The first year I would have likely fared better handling a minimum-wage position at a fast food restaurant. More than once I stared at the wall and asked myself, “What are you doing? You could be out somewhere, earning some real money.”
When I wasn’t asking what had possessed me to venture out with no line of credit, no business plan, no vision, and no idea of how to survive, I was watching the clock slowly sweep toward five. I would think, “Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.”
I still remember the first IRS workshop I attended where the leader talked about the need to pay quarterly taxes based on an estimate of your annual earnings. Holding up my hand, I asked, “What if you have no idea of what that will be?”
In essence, his reply was: Do your best. My best was to pay a certain percentage of what I made and not worry about quarterly estimates.
Surviving on Faith
A few months into this new endeavor, I talked with a guy who asked about my office, my banker, and other business issues for which my answers were: none of the above.
He advised me that I should find a tastefully furnished office and look prosperous.
“Well, I didn’t want to take on the overhead until I had more business,” I replied.
“If you take on the overhead, you’ll be inspired to get the business,” he said.
This exchange shook me, so I asked a friend—who had had to downsize his oil company during an industry downturn—if we could have lunch.
There I repeated the advice the other businessman had given me and asked what he thought.
“Ken, what if you take on all that overhead and all you wind up with is a bunch of debt?” he said. “I think you’re going about it the right way.”
That gave me some peace of mind. However, when the end of my first year in business arrived and I had to take a loan against the cash value of my life insurance to survive, I prayed a lot and hoped for better days.
Gradually, those days arrived. In my second year, my once-meager revenues had more than tripled. They went up close to another 50% in year three.
Hoping to Survive
As I recount those days decades later, I shake my head and wonder how in the world I made it. If I had had a mission statement, it would have been: I hope to survive.
My problem was I could never figure out how to set out a steady plan of operations amid the ever-changing fortunes of business (something I still find myself wondering about).
I remember when I started out that others loved to repeat the old adage: “Give it a year.” A year? Give it three years and maybe you’ll start to figure it out. In my case, it was nearly five years when I found myself staring at collapse.
Fortunately, after that happened, God showed me my mission, my vision. I’ll share about that in my next post.