Saturday, June 27, 2009

Buiness on the rocks

Business on the Rocks
Have you ever stood barefoot on a sandy beach along the shoreline as the waves came in and washed up on your feet? Well if you have, you know it is so relaxing to have such a moment of pleasure whether you are young or old. One thing you’ll experience while you stand there as the water subsides, is the mysterious movement and inevitable disappearance of the sand under your feet. Eventually you become buried up to your ankles in the sand that you once stood on. Those were the days when life was simple and we all look forward to such pleasure each summer. Like anything else we relate such highlights in our lives to events that seem to correspond with things that affect us on a daily basis.
I once had a bar tender job and it wasn’t too long before I was serving things like Scotch or Jack Daniels on the rocks. Now I’m learning to cope with “Business on the rocks”. As my business seems to crumble like the sand under my feet on the beach, my phone and home phone constantly ring with creditors trying to “schedule me for a payment”, my personal credit and business credit have been ruined. At this point I try not to think about the several credit reports that now show me as a risk and how this record will haunt me until the day I die.
Every day as I drive to and from home the only thing that consumes my head is “the business”. I constantly review the direction of the business, the stagnant money flow, the stack of unopened bills and the lack of projects out on the floor to pay for them. I constantly worry about how my business will survive and how it will recover or how I will get my feet back on the ground in this “greedy self serving political self-imposed economic bottle neck” that we are all experiencing in this great land of America.
I’m concerned about the vendors that I owe, and I am truly aware that they are rightfully due monies from me, but they can’t be paid without customers bringing work to me to be done. One year ago there were eight employees working in the business and it provided a well known respected service to several hundred surrounding miles, one year later I have two part time employees.
In the mist of this huge world financial crisis, two wars being fought, threats of nukes from North Korea, and riots in Iran, my customer base is predominately, financially conservative, economically stable but I came to realize that these same people no doubt have taken a recent financial beating or they know someone who has lost allot of financial investments. I also realize that they have been “economically T-boned “, and are now spooked and don’t want to spend their money. With the constant rising of gas prices and lying politicians and a na├»ve misinformed population, we now have a newly elected president who thinks the only way out a hole is to dig it deeper and play the blame game with well designed flowering speeches. As a result it has created an unbelievable economic monster that will need to be feed and pampered with uncertainty for years to come.
As my business has almost come to a customer standstill, I find myself saying things like:
• “ Things must get better”
• “Try to be positive”
• “hang in there”
• “This can’t be happening to me”
• “Where will I work if my business fails?”
• “ This is too humiliating”
• “I refuse to be embarrassed”
• “ I hate being in debit”
• “I hate being tested”
• “ I hate going through this”
• “I’m not going to feel guilty, I didn’t do anything wrong”
• “Where are my customers?”
• “How did this happen?”
• “ I’m just out of energy”
• “It’s too exhaustive”
• “I could cry but I’m out of tears !!!!!
• “I could scream but no one would listen”
• “I could pound the pavement, but I would only hurt my fist”
• “I could get angry but it wouldn’t solve any problems”
• “ if I sell everything I would take a great financial loss” ”,
• “How will I close my business if it goes belly up?”,
• “I know God cares about me by why isn’t He doing something about this?”
• “cast your cares, for He cares for his own”
• “Be patient”
• “Stop worrying, it’s all in God’s hands”
• “Where is your faith?”
• “Don’t give up”
• “Keep pushing”
• “God knows my needs”
• “God will never leave me nor forsake me”
• “It’s in His hands”
• “Thirty years from now none of this will matter”
• “if Christ returns it won’t matter”
• “God has provided for me this long, what makes me think He’ll dump me off mid stream and abandon me?”

Then I talk to others and they give me advice.

• “You need to pray about it”. My response is ( “I do”)
• “You worry too much”. (“that’s easy for you to say, you’re not the one losing ”)
• “File Bankruptcy”, (‘that’s not my first choice, but I will if I have to”).
• “Start selling things”. (“would you like to buy something…it’s all for sale”, and besides no one has any money”).
• “Sell stuff on EBay”. (“I need big bucks to survive at this point not twenty dollars at a pop and I don’t have the time to monitor the items and box them up and mail them”).
• “You need to think smarter and not harder” (“thanks….i really do try to do that, but if the new ideas aren’t there, then I can’t just come up with a solution”.)

So as I’ve tried to be patient and trust that things will stabilize I’m trying to figure out what to do to rescue the business as it consumes my head to a level of constant anxiety even though my dignity as a man has been challenged and the fear of the unknown has set in.

I know there are still things that I can do and yet I realize that this is a colossal problem bigger than me. This same grief is being felt across America as thousands of businesses are closing their doors; people are losing their jobs, people are going bankrupt and are being forced out of their homes. They are faced with similar bad news and millions are feeling the stagnation in the economy nationwide just as much as I am and in many cases more than I.

Last week as an example my wife had a knock on the front door and the electric company informed her that they were there to cut off our power unless we could come up with money to pay our bill. She had to write them a bad check just to keep them away. Then she called me at work with the news and I had to transfer funds from the almost empty business account to cover the check. She was also informed that they had cut off several homes that had small children and they couldn’t do anything about it, there is truly something wrong with this picture.

Today I got an unexpected phone call at work from a Christian friend of mine who also has a business. I shared some of my concerns over the phone with him and he decided to stop what he was doing and he came to my shop and I took me out to lunch. Both he and I related to the seriousness of the challenges we were both facing and neither one of us walked away knowing what tomorrow will bring. One thing we both agreed to is that Christ has a plan and a purpose for each of us and He cares for us. We also know that if we do nothing we will be buried up to our ankles in debit as our business are washed away like the sand on the beach. This is not a time for complacency but rather determination and attentiveness. It’s a time to trust in the Lord and to be patient.

When Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were fishing all night they could not catch anything. Then Jesus appeared along the shore line and called out to them to cast their nets on the other side of their boat. When they did, they had so many fish that their nets could not hold what Christ provided for them. I believe that if Christ can direct the fish of the sea He can also direct my customers and the flow of my business in spite of what is happening in the world around us. I wrote this because many of you are experiencing similar issues and wish someone would hear you concerning your trials in life. My trials may be the same as yours or slightly different from yours but yours are equally as painful and hunting. I believe that Christ has the answers for each of us and we need to let go and trust God through these difficult times. I know that I am a strong willed person who has lot of energy and wants to succeed, but I also realize that without Christ I am nothing. Life can be humbling and the needs can be staggering but when we look at the bigger picture we realize that God has everything under control and we need to take our hands off the wheel, learn to take a back seat and watch God deliver us.

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