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Orange Detour ConesNo, I am not talking about those annoying detours that involve orange cones, stiff fines for speeding and wasted time.  Although, I have to admit each of these will help me make my point in today’s blog. An entrepreneur faces business detours in their business virtually every day.  Based on my observations, the successful ones are very well-prepared to handle the fairly serious interruptions (I call them Detours) they face. By necessity, a detour requires us to slow down.  That is what the orange cones are designed to force us to do.  Get our attention, slow down, move over, take your turn.  Hmm…that is not what you planned to do today.  Was it?  We simply do not see detours until we are right on top of them! In business, an entrepreneur may face the loss of a large customer which represents a big chunk of the company revenues (anything more than 8% is not good!), or learn their business partner wants to sell their business interest NOW for personal reasons, or find it necessary to take care of a very ill parent and unexpectedly become unable to devote many hours to the business.  There it is.  Without warning, you are right on top of the detour.  What should you do? Just recently, our family spent some time driving through numerous construction zones and detours while on vacation.  When travelling through South Carolina, we found a number of signs among the orange cones that said “Speed 50mph—Fine $250 and 30 Days in Jail.”  Wow, you must admit that is a stiff fine!  My 10 year old said, “If we had that fine in our state, we wouldn’t have any drivers—they would all be in jail!”  All of the adults in the car chuckled… The penalty for not slowing down in the construction zone may seem stiff.   However if you think about the dire consequences of harming someone working along the side of the road because you did not slow down, the severity of the penalty wanes a bit, doesn’t it?   Yes indeed, the warning sign drove that message home. The entrepreneur facing the loss of a big client, a partner wanting to sell their shares or a parent in need of care does not see any of the detours in advance.  They do not have the luxury of a warning sign! The successful entrepreneur recognizes that if they slow down before the detours are upon them and build contingency plans for their business, the inevitable interruptions do not destroy them or their business.  We call business contingency planning the Detour Plan℠ and we don’t limit it to the traditional business contingencies.  Instead, we include those other “life interruptions” such as caring for aging parents. The impatient entrepreneurs tell me that planning for what they don’t absolutely know will occur seems like a waste of time.  I remind them that the only waste of time would be the paralysis they face when they must deal with a serious interruption without a Detour Plan℠.  Not all entrepreneurs agree—some would prefer to take their punishment for not slowing down and spend the equivalent of 30 days in jail frantically dealing with the detour.  It has been my experience that they will be lucky if it is only 30 days! Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more about our Detour Planning℠ process to help entrepreneurs succeed as they run their businesses and keep a healthy life balance. Stay tuned!
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Holly Magister, CPA, CFP

Holly A. Magister, CPA, CFP®, is the founder of Enterprise Transitions, LP, an Emerging Business and Exit Planning firm. She helps entrepreneurs assess, re-align, and accelerate their business with the intent of ultimately executing its top-dollar sale.
Holly also founded ExitPromise.com and to date has answered more than 2,000 questions asked by business owners about starting, growing and selling a business.
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