Risking Your Business To Make Money

Have you ever decided that you were going to take charge and make your business happen, come hell or high water?

Well, sit back with a coffee, my friend. This story’s for you.

Some years, the bitter cold of Quebec creates over two feet of solid surface. Drivers roll around on the ice roads of fishing villages or cross mile-wide rivers easily. Sports cars, pickups, cube trucks… anything goes.

Other years, the weather is warmer and the icy highways don’t appear until late January or February. Ice fishers lament, and cars take the long way around to cross the bridges to get to the other side of rivers. Tourist outfitters suffer, lacking sufficient solidity to support their outdoor activity.

Ice is an unpredictable creation of nature, though. A winter with cold snaps followed by heat waves creates dangerous ice. You can see it, you can touch it… but it’s poor in quality and the thickness to support weight isn’t there. Or it builds up in layers, looking solid and being anything but.

Well, one man from the city decided he was going to become an ice-fishing outfitter. He had a prime location and the potential clientele. He had a specialty, too: ice-fishing for handicapped people. He bought some shacks, fixed them up nice with a coat of fresh paint and installed stoves.

Last year in 2007, the ice came late. That outfitter depended on solid ice for 12 weeks from the beginning of January almost to April to earn his living for the year. He only got 5 weeks under his belt. He’d hoped for the best and planned for the best, too. He didn’t have a Plan B, and the optimist in him was hurting for money.

Well, 2008 was promising a good, long Canadian winter and Mr. Outfitter was pretty pleased. He figured he’d recoup his 2007 losses and get back on the path towards success.

But Mother Nature had a different kind of winter in mind. Lots of snow and moderate temperatures kept the water flowing and the ice thin. Sure, the river froze, but the bulk of snow prevented any Canadian fool to go drive out on it.

Mr. Outfitter started to get nervous. He could already see this wasn’t going as planned. The winter got worse, combining heavy snowfalls with warm weather and all that happened with that ice was a buildup of layers of porous, crunchy stuff.

Still, he could walk on that ice. He could even drive on it, too, nudging his big Ford out slowly. Hell, he was going to take a chance. It was high time to get rolling and make some money. Mr. Outfitter hooked up a cabin onto his truck and pulled that shack out onto the ice.

Well, the locals, they’re always wise. Old men with experience stand around and tsk away at what the youngsters do or what the city folk think they’ll get away with. They warned the Outfitter, but he was from that fancy city of his, and he wasn’t having any farmer telling him what to do. He was going to make his business work for him – watch and see.

Watch and see they did. That Ford went through the ice, breaking through and leaning into the murky water. The only thing that saved it from a full dunking was the snow shovel on the front. It hooked on the broken ledge of ice and held that truck up from sure drowning.

The Outfitter? Oh, he got out just fine, with only a wounded pride. He shuffled on back to shore with wet boots, and called up one of them local farmers to come pull his truck out of its grave.

No luck, though. The locals were smarter than that. Why should they risk their tractors and Fords to haul up a truck for some fancy-pants from the city who wouldn’t listen in the first place? No sir, they’d done warned him, and he could figure out his own problems.

It took one semi-trailer tow truck, two 10-hour days, three broken chains and over 2 grand in fees to pull that truck out of the river.

How does this relate to your business? Think of it this way: You can learn from those who’ve walked before you and keep your truck in decent shape, or you can rush out onto thin ice and risk going bust.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.