The Benefits of Adversity

One of the best ways to learn is at a time of adversity. It's unpleasant to go through short-term adversity and it is definitely unpleasant when it's long-term. The old saying "No pain, no gain" is often referred to with sports, but it applies to business men and women in the remodeling industry as well.

December 31, 2006

Doug Dwyer
Contributing Editor

One of the best ways to learn is at a time of adversity. It's unpleasant to go through short-term adversity and it is definitely unpleasant when it's long-term. The old saying "No pain, no gain" is often referred to with sports, but it applies to business men and women in the remodeling industry as well.

Business adversity happens for many reasons. It could come from your market shifting; a major change in staff; technology needs; product innovations; new, better and/or more competition; not hitting growth and profit objectives; the need to restructure your company; too much debt service; wearing too many hats; trying to do too many things at once; or trying to be everything to everyone, etc.

My guess is that one or more of these reasons hits home with you and your company's situation. With all that has happened in our country in the last five years and with the housing slowing down, remodeling is becoming more of a moderate climate. And with winter here, opportunities for adversity are at a peak.

Some years ago, I faced a very difficult time in my career; we changed the name of our company and expanded our services. We borrowed a considerable amount of capital to make these major changes. Right after that, my top salesperson married and moved, which left me with two inexperienced sales people in the middle of a difficult transition. With so much of my time spent on the innovation of the new change over, I could not focus on sales at the level needed. So, it was a catch-22.

The result: sales suffered and I needed more capital to pay to reengineer the company. After leaving the bank and going to grab some lunch one day, it hit me like a ton of bricks: we cannot afford to continue to burn money at this pace. I was faced with having to take an extremely hard look at the numbers from a dollars and cents standpoint. The only realistic solution, given all the circumstances, was to down-size the company by one-third of the staff.

If you have ever experienced this, or anything close to this, it is a difficult place. But, when faced with a challenge of this magnitude, you can either let it crush you or decide to make the best decision you can and move forward.

I learned many lessons from this adversity: 1) Even the best plans can be unpredictable, and to grow, you have to take risk. 2) Numbers don't lie. 3) We grow tremendously through adversity; and we would not know what we know today without it. 4) A business person will have to make difficult decisions as a leader. 5) Many of the people let go during the downsizing were actually holding the company back for many different reasons. 6) You can accomplish more with a small team committed to growth and change for the company to succeed. 7) You have to have faith it will work.

It is critical to have a support group when dealing with adversity. It could be made up of a business coach, a business owners group, experts in the industry, family, and/or team members. There is a proverb that says, he that seeks many counselors is wise. Managing our own attitudes during the ups and downs of our ever-changing world and business environment is one of our most important jobs. The right attitude creates consistent positive movement forward.

Significant growth comes through adversity; embrace it by accepting it. Learn from it, but don't beat yourself up over it. Make necessary changes and help others face it. It is not easy or fun, but at some level, it is inevitable and will come. Be prepared and capitalize on the benefits it produces for you, your business and others.


Author Information
Doug Dwyer is president and chief stewarding officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide, one of the nation's largest remodeling franchises. He can be reached at doug.dwyer@dwyergroup.com.


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