Bill owned a small manufacturing company with 15 employees. He had
started the business 25 years prior and worked extremely hard to build the business up. Over those 25 years, Bill spent all his time (90 + hours a week) working in the business but he never spent a single second working on the business.
His relationships with his wife and children suffered tremendously. The only thing Bill made time for was his business. As time passed, his relationships with his children became damaged beyond repair. His children simply cut him out of their lives and refused to speak to him.
Back at work, Bill was making all day to day and strategic decisions. He hired people who for the most part were just like him. He angrily fired anyone who challenged his heavy-handed authority.
One day, Bill had a massive heart attack what the professionals call a widowmaker.
That is exactly what happened that day, Bill’s wife became a widow.
Bill never expected to die that day. He acted like he was going to live forever. In the end, he lost everything, his life, his family, his business, and his legacy.
The responsibility to keep the business going fell to his wife. The woman who just received the shocking news that her husband died suddenly was now expected to jump in and run the business. She was overwhelmed with the grief and overwhelmed running a business she knew nothing about.
The task ultimately became too much for her and she tried to sell the business. It wasn't long before prospective buyers came into the picture. They asked difficult questions about the finances and how the operation functioned. Bill was the only person who knew how the business operated. He refused to share the knowledge with anyone and that included his wife.
She could not keep the business afloat and had no choice but to close its doors. Bill had carried a significant amount of debt on the business that his wife was unable to pay back. She was forced to file for bankruptcy and lost her house in the process.
Surely no business owner intentionally sets out to live this sad story. Many have in the past and many more are doomed to live it again the future.
Business owners, if you see reflections of yourself in this story, you can change your direction. The sad story does not have to be a reality for you and your family. You can choose to act but understand this “truth”:
Time is not on your side.
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