We talk a lot on this site about how difficult entrepreneurship can be. How you have to be willing and able to adjust at a moments notice. Almost all our Success Profiles guests have mentioned the need for perseverance as an entrepreneur. Things are going to go bad at some point, and how you handle that will be an enormous factor in whether you are ultimately successful or not. One of the best skill sets an entrepreneur can have is the ability to overcome struggles and obstacles.
But what happens when when our struggles are entirely the result of other people, circumstances completely out of our control? What happens when the group who is supposed to, above all else, have our best interests at heart completely betray us?
Looking Out for Their People
Relying on anyone other than yourself for success in your business is a recipe for disaster. But there are some people or groups who are going to have a very large influence over our success or failure. One of those groups is the Government. The US Government controls many of the things small businesses rely on for their day to day operations. They control the policies and regulations that determine how our businesses have to operate.
Because they control so much power over so many businesses, the Government has a responsibility to always be looking out for the best interest of their people and their businesses. Their job is to create a fair environment, where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. And it is in their own best interests to make sure that happens. When businesses thrive, the economy thrives and these Government officials get reelected.
But recently, our wonderful Government has decided that those things are no longer important. They have decided that winning their battles with the opposite party is more important than the well being of their people and local businesses. They have decided that shutting down Government services (except their own salaries, of course) is a smart move to make. As a result, they have left countless small businesses devastated.
Surviving a Government Shut Down
A recent New York Times article (hat tip to former Success Profiles guest Irving Ramos for sending the article) highlights several businesses who have been devastated by the Government shutdown. One of the featured businesses, a small manufacturing company in Pennsylvania, recently received an order that would triple their business for the year. In order to complete the order they needed an SBA loan, a common issue for small businesses. All the paperwork was completed and the loan was approved, and then the shutdown happened. Now the business is unable to receive its funds from the loan, which means it can’t complete the customer order.
And there is a trickle down effect for this as well. The business that can’t receive its loan funds planned to spend several hundred thousand dollars at other local businesses to complete his order. This business also planned to hire two additional employees as a result of this one order. So because the Government decided to shut down, this business can’t receive its loan, which means it can’t complete its order, which means it can’t spend money at other businesses or hire previously unemployed people.
There are certainly lessons we can all take from this. We can learn to rely on the Government as little as possible. We can remember to have contingency plans in place. To apply for loans at more than one place. We can try to carry more cash on hand so we don’t have to rely on loans.
All that being said, I’m still not sure most of the devastating results of the Government shut down are avoidable. Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of our Government in several areas. If the IRS, for example, were to make new rules regarding tax preparation that devastated my business, there isn’t much I can do to prevent that.
But the one clear lesson I think we can all agree on is this; When our Government, the people in charge of looking out for our best interests, choose to act like stubborn, unintelligent assholes, we all lose.