This past Friday we had a big setback. A major proposal that we prepared for providing a really cool database solution for a large energy utility?s massive construction project was not accepted, for various reasons. ?This would have been a huge win for us and added another large energy company as a client (in addition to Duke Energy and American Electric Power) to our corporate resume. ?But we didn?t win. ?And not winning this one has other ramifications. ?Less future cashflow that we were kind of counting on, resulting in a domino effect throughout the firm. ?So I sulked for a couple of days. ?But you know what? Life goes on, we have to live and eat and breathe. ?It?s the past. ?Time to move on and look at it from the positive.
In life and in business, you will go through dozens if not hundreds of wins and setbacks. I?ve seen my share of both while running Terraine over the last 20 years. And I seem to learn more with the setbacks than with the wins. It?s easy (and a lot more fun) to make decisions when things are rosy.
When things are good, everybody is (mostly) happy. ?Some want to become your closest advisors. ?Others get promoted. ?You have enough cash to burn to take on those pet projects. ?Banks line up to offer you lines of credit that you don?t need.
But its not so easy when things are not so rosy. Loyalty becomes strained, leadership is questioned, company direction is challenged. Priorities need to be made, despite opposition. Decisive actions need to be taken, even when painful, all of this without being distracted by the past.
So what?s the positive coming from this setback? ?While the guaranteed cashflow from that custom database project would have been nice, not having it will force us to make the tough decisions that we probably should have made some time ago. ?It will force us to focus on ensuring that our current product, ezCoC, quickly becomes a cash positive product that holds its own, that sustains us, instead of a cash negative product subsidized by our other work. It will force us to transition faster from being a provider of traditional environmental consulting services to a provider of software products for the environmental industry.
The bottom line is that you can?t lead by looking in the rear-view mirror. ?You need to focus on the road ahead. And in life as well as in business, sometimes what you think was something you really wanted or needed was exactly what you really didn?t need. Sometimes those things that you felt were setbacks are really silver linings in disguise, except in your mind, you don?t see them like that right away.