It’s not exactly a perfect analogy, but let’s imagine how the Debt crisis would be applied to a small (smallest) business like Colin’s Coffee. Pretend On August 2nd, my business credit card is going to be maxed out.* Times have been tough and I need a little space to stave off disaster. I desperately need the bank to extend the shop more credit. If my credit gets stopped, I cannot buy coffee beans for the month. If I cannot purchase coffee beans, I cannot sell coffee and I cannot pay any of my bills. Worse even, my good reputation will be ruined, people who have been depending on me to sell them coffee will walk away empty handed, taking their business somewhere else. It won’t be long until the power is turned off and the doors are locked.
What’s even worse, if I go out of business and have ZERO income, I still have to pay my rent, the bank and back bills.
I must get those coffee beans! Is that clear?
I must get those coffee beans to have a fighting chance!
All that matters is that I get those coffee beans!
Question: “Well how did you end up in this mess?”
Answer: “Hmm..Let me see…WHO F*&%^$#G CARES! right now we need coffee beans! After we get the coffee beans we can debate the merits of issuing all those free Colin’s Coffee Gift Cards with no expiration date or whether it was wise to slash prices and declare war on Mc Donald’s and Starbucks at the same time.
Small Business 101 for idiots. I struggle with this daily.
1-Secure credit. Buy more coffee beans. Stay alive. Fight!
Cut Expenses. Raise Revenue. Pretty simple math. Or is it?
Oh, but you have feelings? You have certain beliefs? So do I. So does everybody. “But I have a certain ideology I have pledged to uphold! I am a Liberal! I am a conservative! I am an Independent. I am part of the Tea Party. I am a chair”. Oh, how nice. That's awesome! You believe in things. How quaint.
Here is the dirty little secret I've learned about business. Numbers don’t read. They don’t even watch TV. They aren’t Democrats or Republicans. They aren’t even independents. Go figure. They don’t watch polls and they don’t give speeches. Numbers add up or they don’t. EX: Adam Dunn’s batting average is not adding up. Amy Winehouse’s CD sales are. There is no debate.
Colin’s Coffee needs those Coffee Beans!
But I have it lucky. I am the king of Colin’s Coffee. I can dig my own grave or dig my way out. I don’t need anybody’s permission, for better or worse, to act in times of financial crisis.
Our Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom to disrespect kings, gave the President two business partners to keep him from doing anything rash. (House and Senate, duh) The problem is, he cannot do ANYTHING unless they give him something to approve or disapprove of. All he can do is sit in the Oval office and flash the high sign or the thumbs down and right now his partners have sent him nothing. They are having a debate to impress their boy/girlfriends and he is left mumbling, “Hey fellas, we really need some more coffee beans. This is what is best for the country. If you guys are going to keep debating for a while, let’s get some more coffee beans, cut some spending raise some revenue. Pretty simple really. Let’s make these numbers work, it’s clear we need coffee beans. I can make the order now if you guys give me the go ahead. Got the number on the speed dial. Fellas? Guys? anybody?”
Meanwhile back at the Capital………..
And then there is that pesky Constitution. What a pain in the ass. With it’s “free speech” and “right to bare arms” stuff. GAWD, sometimes it seems it has an opinion about EVERYTHING
This time it’s some crazy, really high number, barely even an amendment like the 14th or 56th or something that says: “The Validity of Public Debt of the United States…cannot be questioned”
That sounds fishy. Who came up with that? Ralph Nader? Geez.
Get credit. Raise Revenue. Cut Expenses. Obviously. It’s all 3 or bust.
And in closing, I think this song pretty much sums up the complexities of the current situation
Colin Gawel is a musician/songwriter and small business owner/father/husband/manager of 2nd place fantasy baseball team/watershed member and leader of the Lonely Bones. He has no business writing about these topics so please disregard the previous article. He has also probably been drinking. heavily. www.colingawel.com
* The actual Colin’s Coffee Debt ceiling isn’t set to expire until 11/17/13