I’m the oldest of 5 children. I’ve been married for 17 years (as of this writing) and have five children. And I’ve run a business I started in high school over 20 years ago. In all of this, the one thing I’ve learned is that life will throw some serious curveballs. The thing about a curveball is that it changes direction when you don’t expect it. If you’re not ready, it could hit you, or you’ll miss the hit. But if you expect the curveball, you can see it coming and be prepared. I could probably go on longer about how this relates to family, marriage, and children, but I want to focus on business for now.
The company I run has successfully grown, year over year, for 20 years in a row. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but always growing. Each year, the top and bottom lines have always been higher than the previous year. One of the most important parts of that growth has been seeing the curveball coming.
When we first started, there were very few things we offered as a company. Frankly, we didn’t even do those very well, but I was hungry and wanted to keep learning and growing. Over the years, life has offered some incredible opportunities and a few very complicated curveballs.
The best way to be ready for a curveball is to have a good foundation in place. If your feet are planted and your eye is on the ball, you can be ready for anything that comes at you. It doesn’t mean you’ll always hit a home run, but it helps prevent strikeouts.
Here are three tips that have helped me manage life’s curveballs and keep the business growing.
PLAN for the unexpected.
In business, the best way to do this is plan well, prepare for the unexpected, and have a team in place to help make the play.
BUILD a team you can trust.
For many years, I ran the company by myself and eventually me with contractors. It was a great set up, but as life has gotten busier with children, church, and other activities, having a team in place makes dealing with life’s curveballs more manageable. If you own the business, your team is never going to love it or care about it as much as you do. Get over it. But they can love it and care for it enough to have a huge impact on your life, their lives, and the lives of your customers. Hire people who are flexible, trustworthy, and able to handle the occasional curveball, and it will help protect your business for the long haul.
EXPECT things to go wrong.
Optimism is great — glass half full and all — but you must expect to run into issues and strike out occasionally. Realistic expectations in business and life make the reality much easier to bear when it arrives.
Bring It Home
Let these three things resonate a bit. Then, the next time life throws you a curveball, be prepared, plant your feet, keep your eye on the ball, and swing the bat. You’ll still miss sometimes, but you can never hit a home run if you don’t swing the bat.