I just wrote in the Learning from Big Boys blog that one of the characteristics of PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi is that she is not afraid to get help when she needs it. When named as the CEO, she went straight to her competitor for the job and ask him to stay and help her run the company. And this is the CEO of one of the top companies in the world!
So I find it a little disconcerting to see small business entrepreneurs pretending to be know-it- alls who do not need any kind of help.
Take for example the case of these two brothers — the older brother owns a successful online publishing business, while the younger brother operates a traditional printing press company. The younger brother always had a persistent cash flow problem, brought in large part by his policy of not requiring upfront fees from his customers (he only collects once the order is completed — which is an awesomely bad policy).
To ease the cashflow problems of his printing press, the younger brother asked his older brother for a line of credit. For several years now, the older brother has loaned the younger brother with cash for operating expenses in the printing press, and the younger brother repays the loan in a year’s time (with interest, of course), only to request for a new loan immediately after.
In one of their recent get-togethers, the older brother advised his younger brother that he needs to change his policy of not requiring a deposit when accepting printing press orders. Not only is this policy causing cashflow problems, but creates tremendous drain on company resources when the customer backs out and won’t even pay — after the order has been completed.
The reaction of the younger brother? “Don’t lecture me about what I need to do. I have operated this printing press for the last 20 years and I know what to do.” Quip the older brother sarcastically: “That’s why you always ask me for money — because you know what to do and you’ve been doing it so well to the point that you always have no money.” The younger brother left.
I’m sure the younger brother in this story is not the only stubborn, hard-headed and incredibly myopic business owner out there. There are many who have the mentality of “it’s my way or the highway” whether they are right or wrong. And it’s unfortunate that they are unwilling to listen, as listening to the advice, wisdom and experiences of others can help provide them with better perspective and suggestions on how to improve their business