It’s my opinion that in this current climate of 2022, it is easy to feel sorry for yourself. Here are some examples of conversations I’ve had over the last 72 hours with business owners:
- We had a prospective client scored as 70% confidence in our pipeline, but they went with another service provider
- We received a frivolous lawsuit in the mail for how our website displays texts incorrectly, this is going to be a distraction
- We just lost two of our best employees for 30% higher salaries and the ability to work remote; we can’t match any of that
- The PO we thought would be paid this week isn’t going to be paid until next quarter now
- Our products aren’t on shelves yet, they’re on a boat still in the Pacific
- How am I going to get through this quarter on no sleep with a new baby due any day now
Okay, that last one was some self-talk as I sit at home in quarantine in advance of our third child being born literally any minute now (perhaps once this draft gets through Compliance and emailed out, I’ll already be a proud dad of a new baby).
My self-talk above as well as the other five examples can all be met with the same response: “Nobody cares.”
The lower middle market for businesses (which we maintain as $10 –$250MM in Enterprise Value) is often hectic and stressful, and it’s my opinion, can ran resemble a knife fight at times. Now, at RKCA, we like the challenge and that’s why we focus on this market, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is often very hard at times.
We’ve slowly returned to normal after a global pandemic and have been met with a war in Ukraine, gas prices soaring, supply chain issues continuing, a shortage of lifeguards, and on and on. I was almost going to write that we’ve at least avoided murder hornets in 2022, and I hate to bring everyone down even more, but they’re back according to this article.
As a business owner, you likely have examples of how the above have impacted your business in the recent year. And the response, nobody cares.
Last month I wrote about the importance of mindset. As I was sitting to write this June post, I felt the need to do it again this month. And while these monthly emails have often been more purposeful to include analogies to deal mechanics or the deal process (which are critical), I felt it was important in this climate to continue to hit on mindset and remind us all that nobody cares.
Ben Horowitz, the cofounder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz talked in an interview once about this concept, here is an excerpt:
As I was feeling sorry for myself, I randomly watched an interview with famous football coach Bill Parcells…In his very first season as coach, Parcells’ team, The New York Giants, was hit with a rash of injuries. He worried incessantly about the impact of the injuries on the team’s fortunes, as it is difficult enough to win with your best players let alone a bunch of substitutes. When his friend and mentor Raiders owner Al Davis called Parcells to check in, Parcells relayed his injury issues. Parcells’: “Al, I am just not sure how we can win without so many of our best players. What should I do?” Davis replied: “Bill, nobody cares, just coach your team.”1
Remember from last month’s RKCA Insights, it’s all about mindset. This advice from Davis (hated in my family of Browns fans) might be one of the best pieces of advice for business owners. Because Davis wasn’t wrong. The fans didn’t care, the rest of the team didn’t care, the staff didn’t care, the owners didn’t care, nobody cared about the injuries. They just wanted to see a football game and see Parcells lead the team to a win that day.
This is the key to the mindset of nobody cares. The amount of time and mental energy spent focused on the tough things or worse, trying to find a great reason to explain why something is failing, won’t help your business or get a new customer.
Instead, spending that mental energy finding a solution, finding what you might do to bring the business forward is what matters.
Because in the end, nobody cares, not even your mama.
1. “Nobody cares.” By Ben Horowitz
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