Running a small business is like riding a gigantic roller coaster. Sometimes you just want to close your eyes and scream.
When you’re on a steep downhill -- when the cash in your bank account is plummeting just as you need to make payroll -- the natural human instinct is to pull in, like a tortoise. We want to hide from the world in the safety of a hard shell that could pass for a rock.
But one of the best pieces of advice that I have ever received came from an accomplished and brilliant entrepreneur, just as I was going through a particularly rough patch: Do not become disconnected. Reach out to others.
Fine. What normal person reaches out to others when they feel like crap?
Here are three good reasons to fight your tortoise tendencies when your business hits bottom:
Right now, I am seeing a tectonic shift in the business of manufacturing equipment, the kind that cranks out your beloved iPhones and iPads. In the “old days” of equipment, only big companies were players. It was a highly capital-intensive business with expectations of instant worldwide support. Then the other day, I saw a manufacturing system the size of a modest house, financed by a manufacturing company in China, and entirely designed and built by a network of small businesses in Silicon Valley. The system will be shipped to China in large containers and reassembled there. The value is in the design. The big infrastructure, cash reserves, and support of the big companies is not valued by the customer. It’s a huge opportunity for small companies, especially those that know how to collaborate.
The next time you are feeling down, fight against your instincts, and text a fellow entrepreneur. Coffee? Tea? If things are really tough, maybe you need something stronger. Just get out of your shell.