Her best sport is soccer, where she does moves that you only see the high level professionals successfully pulling off (I am partial of course and certainly biased which is my right as a proud father). She works so hard at soccer and practices constantly. She has adopted the old saying that “You get better when no one is looking.”
You are probably thinking, “This is marginally interesting, but what does this have to do with Mike’s normal (off-beat and silly) business column?” When she hurt her shoulder, we tried physical therapy, but finally realized that the only option was surgery. After the successful surgery, the doctor told her that she was done with soccer for up to six months and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for nine to twelve months. She listened to her body, but ignored what it was saying. It took an outside party, the surgeon, to set the limits on her activity. This is a lot like a business. We really need to listen to our business and understand what it is saying before an outside party gets involved and sets limits that we may not like.
For example, increasing accounts receivable might indicate that some customers are having cash flow problems and can’t pay within the agreed terms. If you are on an accrual system, you might see increasing sales, but if you do not “listen to your business” you might not recognize the problem with A/R. This is a simplistic example, but one that is illustrative. All businesses, like shoulders, creak and groan at times. But if you are truly listening to the operation, you will identify the difference between a normal creak and a large-scale injury that might compromise success. Take the opportunity to listen to your business before someone else sets the limits for you (bankers… lawyers…. the government). Don’t be afraid to ask for a little help before the creak turns into trauma.