Saturday, April 4, 2020

Rescue and Recovery

I own a hobby game store but one of my other hobbies, the one that takes all my meager disposable income, is overlanding and off roading. I have been stuck many times in my Jeep. For a while, it seemed like that's what you did, drive until you got stuck. I learned a lot during this time, both about preparation and technique as well as wisdom in avoiding mistakes.

Once I tried to get up a muddy hill and slid back down sideways, nearly over an embankment. I tried several more times and slid into the exact same nook on the hill, a little closer to the edge each time. Eventually I got half way up, avoided the slide, and winched my way over the top. My friend who didn't get stuck was focused on getting me to learn how to navigate the vehicle up the hill. I just wanted to get to the top. My installer thought I was foolish to buy a winch, "I've been off-roading for 20 years and never used my winch." Well, he never went with us. I ended up using the winch several more times that year. There are some fundamentals to off-roading that apply to business.

Be prepared. In my Jeep sliding situation, I had the original, street tires on the vehicle. I had no business being in mud. A wiser me would have looked at that hill and said "Nope! We go around." In business this means having some form of reserve. A cash reserve is the most obvious. Before we had our large construction project, with tremendous debt, I had cash reserves. We would look around and try to solve problems with money, rather than seeing problems and putting them on my white board of shame, a list to be solved another day.

Being prepared also means having a plan. What would you do if you were forced to shut down for a long period of time? Would you continue the business at all? That's the first question. Is it worth it? If so, how? Having checked your resolve ahead of time means you are acting on your plan while others are searching their hearts. This is a discussion I've had with friends and family many times, and the weekend before I was shut down, we revisited this. Is it worth continuing if they shut you down?

Self rescue. Rule zero of survival is nobody is coming. Be self reliant. With rule zero in mind, how are you going to self rescue in a time of crisis? You should certainly call for help, but remember, nobody is coming. Hope they come, expect they won't. My solution was to set up an online store and do no-contact home delivery. The best time to have set up an online store was a year ago, but you do what you can in the time of crisis. In coming days, I will change that to far less profitable, but safer, shipping of all orders. Nobody is coming. I'll believe there is an outside solution when the money hits my bank account.

Call for help. Nobody is coming, but they might. I've got a ham in the Jeep, but I really want a satellite communicator. The price tag and subscription throws me off, but before every big trip, I consider it again. How remote is this trip? Who am I going with?

In the case of the business, I'm refinancing my house to acquire cash out and tapping investors for a "cash call." This alone is probably enough to self-rescue, assuming things go back to normal. They'll never be normal again. When I went to initiate a refinance, the first several days the banks were swamped and stopped publishing rates. The next week, my mortgage broker added me to her schedule. It has been three weeks and she hasn't called me back. I'm half way through a refinance with a second broker. Is it possible this falls through? Absolutely. Should I have relied on the first broker? Nobody is coming.

I'm also applying for an SBA economic injury disaster loan, and was recently approved for one. Next is the PPP payroll protection plan, which really will employ my staff for more hours than I would give them otherwise, probably building a new online store I should have created a year ago.

One of these things needs to happen. I need the mortgage refi or the SBA loan and gravy if I get both. Let's turn failure into an embarrassment of riches. Since nobody is coming, sending out a request for help on every frequency might increase my chances somebody comes. If nobody comes, the online store becomes an even hotter priority. Everyone is screwed. It is to everyones interest to be patient and allow self recovery. It's the best option since nobody is coming.

The time to be prepared with a strong resolve and resources in place, was before this happened. The time to begin the self rescue and call for help was last week. The time to accept nobody is coming and figure this out on your own is now.

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