Recently a PSA Security Network integrator who has been in business as an independently-owned "S" corporation for 16 years told me he no longer felt he had a competitive edge in his mid-sized market.
Over the years this gentleman and his loyal employees built a nice lifestyle business that employed 13. When you take the family unit into consideration this small company was extremely important to approximately 50 persons who were all depending on this independent firm to succeed.
His concern was that the small guys were being forced out by rapid industry consolidation on the vendor and dealer sides and he just wanted to sell and get out of the business.
I let this frustrated gentlemen vent and asked if he truly felt he could no longer compete with the nationals and regionals. Or was he simply frustrated and possibly losing his passion for business? He fell silent for a moment and eventually replied that he thought it was partly him as he was tired of the day-to-day nonsense.
Having been in his shoes for two decades as an integrator and an alarm dealer I understood his frustration with making payroll, losing the low-bid job you worked weeks to get, having employees leave you to compete against the very company who taught them everything. The frustration list goes on and on.
But much more important is the "win list." The independent team should never lose sight of the fact that small business is the backbone of America. Small business is in fact big business which, when you add up the dollars and regardless of all the problems we have in Washington, will survive and thrive.
We are the core of American business
The independent businessman is the cream of the crop. They have the guts, brains, creativity and passion to make things happen. This is what separates our great nation from other countries which rely solely on government for instruction, support and regulation.
How can I be so confident that the independents will not be squeezed out? It's simple- their independence gives them a huge advantage over their giant competitors.
I learned this firsthand when I sold my integration company and went to work for a NYSE security firm with several hundred thousand employees. The glacier-like decision making processes, pseudo-government rules and regulations, the HR bureaucracy and the overall attitude of "it isn't my problem" drove me nuts. It seemed no one was responsible and no one was in charge and consequently, no one really cared.
Independents care. When your financial future and the future of a close-knit group of working buddies is on the line, you all care and pull together as a team.
Back to my friend and PSA customer: I asked if he was transferring his frustration and negative vibes to his team. He replied that he was trying to stay positive but felt pulled down. Here's what I suggested:
- Man up and be a leader who does not wilt under pressure. The troops will follow a leader with vision and passion.
- Feel burnt out? Pull in your next strongest leader to bring back positive vibes and a 'can do' attitude. If this leader is not on staff, bring in someone.
- Get your personal mojo back. Change your routine, join a local leadership group.
- Read the book "Unbroken" immediately.
- Communicate with your troops. Tell them what you perceive as problems and how to resolve them.
- Celebrate the wins, no matter how small.
- Remember; it's not about you, it's about how you influence others.
- Selling your company is not an option unless the timing is right; and when you feel down, it's not.
- Never give up despite all the challenges.
Bill Bozeman is the CEO and President of PSA Security Network, the world's largest electronic security cooperative. For more information, visit www.buypsa.com.