How Not to Bankrupt Your Business This Recession

It was a member of one of my business networking groups who told me this tale when we were discussing the impact of the recession on our individual businesses. This story is so relevant to today’s economic climate….enjoy it.

There was once a barbecue restaurateur. But he was no ordinary purveyor of the humble rib for he used only the best spare ribs from only the finest, pigs in the land. The fries that accompanied his famous barbecue spare ribs were of equal quality, cut from the best potatoes available and fried in the most exclusive oil. He operated from small business premises not exactly on the restaurant strip and put out the advertising message on his frontage proudly stating that his barbecue spare ribs were the “best in the world, made with only the finest ingredients.”

As a result, his small business flourished and, in his own moderate way, he was financially successful. He had one son, his only child, and he wanted nothing but the best for him, so, using the money earned from his BBQ restaurant, he sent him away to university. His son did well, enjoying being exposed to such clever people and weighty opinions, and it was some time before he returned home to his father during a holiday. He waxed lyrical about subjects previously of great mystery to the father, demonstrating his newly acquired knowledge with great panache and style, and his reputation grew.

One evening, shortly before his return to university, the son took the father aside to discuss the family business. “Father”, he said, “there is talk of a great recession that is going to take place in the world, with even large corporations fighting for their very survival so think how this will affect a small business. Times will be hard and the only way to stay afloat is to cut costs drastically”. His father listened attentively as his son added, “everywhere I look, in the papers, the radio and in the halls and coffee bars of my university, the message is ‘cut cut, cut’. I urge you not to fall behind the trend. My advice to you is to cut costs to survive this recession”.

The father was by now in awe of his learned son, and he could not ignore advice from him, which was so well supported by the media and the discussions that take place within a recognised seat of learning. He drastically cut his orders of pork ribs and potatoes, chose a cheaper, more common frying oil, did the same with the wood chips for the BBQ smoker and changed the advertising message on his diner to reflect that he no longer used the finest ingredients.

Within only a few months, his business could no longer support him and his family, and he sold it to a BBQ restaurant franchise at a great loss and was forced to take early retirement. He called his son to tell him of the sad news, telling him he must stay at university, as his son had become so clever that he had foretold the difficulties the recession would bring. His final words to the educated offspring were: “what a wonderful thing a university education is.”

And the moral of this story?

Don’t believe all that you read and take control of your own destiny.