Is Your Business Mature Or Immature?

October 29, 2012

Wrestler with a black eye

Jordan “Heartless Hart” initiates into manhood.

“I’m going to try my first cage fight—it’s MMA, mixed martial arts,” my 21-year-old college son said to me over the telephone.  “I know you won’t like it, but I thought you should know.”

I grabbed my gut and doubled over, like I’d been kicked in the stomach.  I recovered just in time to offer my son a weak response, a whisper.  “Thanks for telling me your truth,” I said, tears stinging my eyes, and quickly hit the “end” button on my iPhone.

The relationship I share with my two grown children has always been based on telling the truth, regardless of how painful the words might be.  It’s an explicit agreement I made with them when they began to walk, as toddlers.

“Tell mommy the truth, don’t worry if I won’t like it.  I will never punish you, okay?”

But this—cage fighting?  Brain damage.  Broken teeth.  Ruptured spleen. Dislocated shoulder.  Shattered tibia. Should I go on about potential injury?  For now, I’ll stop.

What does this personal story have to do with the business world?  Let me explain the similarities.  My son is entering the world of cage fighting as an initiate into manhood, a time-honored rite of passage which is present in all cultures, even the good ‘ole U.S.A.    He is transitioning from an immature adolescent into a man—even if his means seem maniacal—it’s still a rite of passage.

As business owners, or managers, we also we must ask ourselves the same question, what is the initiation rite we must fulfill to manage a mature business? The answer varies for every owner or manager, but ultimately it’s about returning profits to the community and making your mark on the world by this contribution.

The immature business is in survival mode—borrowing money to make payroll, struggling with market share, unclear about purpose. The mark of a mature business owner or manager is when your company has enough cash flow to satisfy your own requirements and recognize that what’s left over will benefit others and so you set aside this extra money to support your community.

Some points to ponder: Is my business mature or immature?  Have I initiated the rite of passage to become a mature business owner or manager, or am I stuck in perpetual adolescence?

If you’d like help sorting this out, I can support your process.  Just don’t expect me to watch you cage-fight, I’ll leave that to my son “Heartless Hart.”

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