Lessons of a Snowmobiler

By Steve Michaels

We finally got a sunny day in the midst of three blizzards that virtually left us with over two and a half feet of snow last winter. Being that the only time I get out is to plow the driveway or walk to the barn and back, I decided to take a ride on my snowmobile. I brought my camera along to take photos of the insipient snow so that I wouldn’t forget come summer.

I got a good realization of the snow depth when I stepped off my Skidoo for a picture and sank almost up to my waist. I rode around the ranch and took several dramatic shots that depicted not only the depth of the snow but also the inherent beauty of the glistening white powder contrasted against the blue sky.

For my final shot, I decided to ride my snowmobile up to a trail that I had blazed in the fall. This trail went up the mountain and through a heavily wooded area until it came to a clearing where I could take a picturesque shot of the ranch. The trail was over a quarter mile long and was lined with Douglas fir, larch, and pine trees all with big heavy branches. When I blazed the trail in the fall, I had plenty of room on both sides to ride but with such a heavy snowfall, the branches had become full of snow and were hanging out over the trail. Not only that, but instead of the trail being flat and smooth, it had indentations under the branches on both sides making the trail a virtual roller coaster ride with no room to turn back.

Normally, I would sit on my machine when I ride but to get through this gauntlet, I had to stand up with my feet on both running boards for maximum balance. When the skidoo would start to go off the trail because of one of these indentations, I would have to lean far to the other side and give it more gas to get the machine through and back onto the trail. If I had slowed down during one of these area’s, the machine would not have had enough momentum to get me up and through to the other side. I would have become stuck and buried; if you have ever gone snowmobiling, you know how hard it is to dig out a 300-pound machine in two and a half feet of snow on the side of a mountain.

Of course, the next day I had sore muscles in places I didn’t think I had muscles. The gut wrenching, balancing act from the previous day had taken its toll on my body, but I was very glad that I was an experienced snowmobiler and was able to get both myself and my machine down the mountain in one piece.

Isn’t it ironic how life and business sometimes follow the same rules? Typically in the first quarter of the year, my brokering business slows down. People don’t want to put their company on the market during the last days of the year or the holidays and it takes some momentum to get more listings. And to get more listings I need to advertise.

During slow times due to the holidays or the recent disaster on the east coast, some business owners pull in their horns and don’t do any advertising at all. They feel they must hold onto what they have left and not squander their diminishing resources. But one of the first and basic rules of business is that during slow times you do just the opposite. I, for instance, advertise in the Connections Magazine, send out mailers, and jump on the phones. This starts to build the momentum so that when the snow finally melts, my listing sheet is full and my company is back on the trail.

It may be a gut wrenching, balancing act to put your faith in the unknown, or advertising, but like my snowmobiling incident, I had to stand up with my feet firmly on the running boards to balance the machine. When I was being pulled into a depression, I had to shift my weight and give it some gas to get me up and through to the other side just as in your business during a slow period.

Experience has shown me that when sales are down and you don’t give your company that extra push, it is easy to get buried and depressed and may take some time to dig yourself out. Take a lesson from me and my snowmobiling incident. When times are slow, you need to get on your feet, balance your company and give it some gas (i.e. advertising) to get you through and back onto the trail of success.

Steve Michaels and TAS Marketing have been serving the TAS industry in the mergers and acquisitions arena for over 23 years with over 220 businesses sold. His years of experience have widened his scope and experience in buying and selling businesses nationwide. He may be contacted at 800-369-6126, tas@tasmarketing.com, or visit www.tasmarketing.com.

[From Connection Magazine – November 2001]

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