In Starting a Business: Part 3 Conclusion: “Lessons Learned” From Creating My Own Businesses, Lesson 3

One day I was in my Sunday school class and the instructor said that our worldly accomplishments don’t mean anything compared to our eternal life with God. Now, I had heard that all my life, and I never questioned the truth of the statement until that very moment. For some incomprehensible reason, I blurted out, “I’m not going to discount what I have earned and created over the years.” A silence came over the class. They were shocked at what I said, even I was shocked.

Usually when an embarrassing moment like that happens, you try to explain what you meant, which usually results in being able to save face. For example I could imagine myself saying, “Now don’t get me wrong, God is the most important, and I would never compare my accomplishments to his love. All I’m saying is…”

But, at the time, and maybe for the first time in my life, I stood my ground and stuck with what I had said. I made no excuses. I didn’t look around insecurely to see if the members of the class were frowning at me. I just sat back. I didn’t even care when l was challenged. I simply stuck with what I had said. In the name of common sense, why?

I simply couldn’t bring myself to discount what I had worked so hard at and sacrificed so much for by putting anything above it. I loved what I had created.

Now this is an interesting position to be in. In business we remind each other that we shouldn’t fall in love with what we have created. The reason is that eventually you have to make changes to keep a business going. If you fall in love with the product you are less likely to be objective enough to make changes. Eventually, you may even have to sell the company you created to realize its full value. In other words, in business we keep reminding ourselves that “it’s just business, it’s not personal.”

Yes, that’s right, but it does not make it easy. Which means, business is not easy. And what makes it so hard is that it is always changing. Of all that I have been involved in, there is nothing that changes as much as a successful business. For example, price points are constantly adjusting, competitors require regular repositioning , technology always requires new investment, new websites get old fast, wages pressures have to be measured and accommodated, and of course profit pressures must be met. Have you ever noticed how business people tend to consume so conspicuously when times are good? That’s because they know better than anyone else, that the good times do not keep rolling on. They party while they can. They are the ultimate existentialists. The present is what matters, because the future will be different, no matter what.

What’s the lesson here? Things change. Get used to it and adapt. The more you try to keep things in place, the more they will build up pressure and force you to change. I don’t know if this realization has kept me young, but for sure it has kept me warily humble.