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Jan 22

When time is not your friend

Posted by: Steve Marr

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In some instances, time can be your friend as you adjust to a loss or recover from grief. But usually, when it comes to your business, time is not your friend. Mosses wrote, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV). Wise words!


A key factor for business leaders is to determine situations when time is not your friend and then to take quick, appropriate action. Consider these examples:

When you are against the wall


Are you under enormous pressure from a situation, like negative cash flow or the lack of business, which can negatively impact your business?

John was struggling with poor cash flow, but had $90,000 in accounts receivable from regular customers, half past due. Rather then aggressively follow up with customers, he chose to just wait until they paid. Unfortunately, he was unable to pay his own bills. To fix matters, he focused on getting his customers to pay, thus raising the necessary cash to honor his bills. He found that many of his customers simply required a gentle reminder or follow up. Peter was a heating contractor in a town that just lost its largest employer and business dropped by 25% overnight. Just waiting for business to improve was unwise. Instead, Peter immediately began marketing to customers in outlaying locations to replace the local business lost, which resulted in increased business and the ability to keep his work crews busy.  

When damage continues

Martha managed a medical supply business that continually had billing problems. Customers were frustrated because they received incorrect invoices, and as a direct result, the medical supply company experienced continual poor cash flow. In addition, Martha needed to add a part-time person to the deal with the necessary corrections.  After being aggravated, upset, and perturbed, the temptation is to ignore the problems that need to be fixed. Martha knew she had to assume responsibility and fix the billing problem. It would take time and effort, but not dealing with the issue is not an option. King Solomon wrote, “All hard work brings profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23 NIV).

When the trend is negative 

A Christian bookstore was located in an area that was changing. In the past, most of the neighboring businesses were retail establishments that generated excellent customer foot traffic. However, many of the retail establishments moved away and were replaced by offices that created very limited walk in traffic. Sales declined steadily for three years, as the foot traffic decreased, which pushed the bookstore into a dangerous position. The truth was, the negative trend was likely to continue. Waiting and hoping for some turnaround was unrealistic. What should the owners do? They decided that the faster they could create action and change locations, the sooner they could start making positive progress again. They understood the negative trend, analyzed that trend, and then determined that the trend was likely to continue. So they took action.

When dangerous situations occur 

Instances that present danger to people or property must be immediately resolved. King Solomon wrote, “Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter” (Proverbs 6:4 NIV). One business was cited by a fire marshal for storing flammable chemicals improperly. The company failed to correct the problem immediately. Two weeks later, a fire broke out that caused serious damage. The damage could and should have been avoided. When faced with similar situations, you need to develop a sense of urgency in making changes. Don’t panic. Just take action. Paul wrote, “What I mean, brothers, time is short” (1 Corinthians 7:29 NIV).

When you understand the instances where time is not your friend, you know what to do:

#1 — examine and understand the situation. #2 — determine a plan that will fix the current predicament. #3 — take action.

By taking responsibility and by taking action, you will move beyond your current dilemma. 

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

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