Ma, me & mangoes” – Episode 24 (How long can your business run without you?)
(It has been over a month since I posted the last episode-23 as my mother underwent cataract surgery last month. The doctor had advised her to take care and rest for at least a month. She is doing fine now, her eyesight is like a 20-year-old. She is so happy that she does not have to wear specs anymore.)
Back in October this year,
Mother: Chinmay, I am finding it difficult to read this fine print.
Me: Ma, let us get your eye tested as you have been wearing the same specs for a while.
Mother: I think I have to change the specs.
(I knew my mother was trying to avoid going to the doctor)
Me: Ma, prevention is better than cure. We are going to see the doctor. I will make an appointment with Dr Sahana.
Mother: (with excitement) Is she the doctor from the Malnad region where I was born.
Me: Yes, she is the one. In fact, we are related if you check the family tree. But please don’t ask me how. You can interrogate her when we meet her in person.
Mother: (with a low defending voice) I am not going to interrogate her. I got excited and feel comfortable knowing someone from my district will be checking my eyes.
(Long story short, Dr Sahana was kind enough to give us the earliest appointment. After the check-up, she advised my mother to get the cataract surgery for both eyes as the cataract was still in the initial stage.)
Mother: Do I have to really go through surgery or are there other alternatives?
Dr Sahana: Aunty, we call it a surgery but do not worry, the technology has improved so much that we will not be giving any local anesthesia using an injection rather it will be ophthalmic anesthesia that is only eye drops. You will not feel any pain during the procedure.
Mother: that is good to know. It is such a relief. However, after the procedure will it pain?
Dr Sahana: Not really, some irritation might be there during the first 24 hours, but it will subside drastically if you take good care of your eyes by not exposing them too much.
Mother: can I travel?
Me: (I knew what was in my mother’s mind)
Dr Sahana: We suggest not to travel at least for a month and ideally stay indoors.
Mother: One month should be fine at this time of the year as our mango farm can run without me.
(The dates for the operation were scheduled, I was driving back home with my mother)
Me: Ma, I am curious to know how long do you think the farm can be operational and at the same time profitable without much of your involvement?
Mother: during this time (Oct-Dec) almost for a month or two. After that, if the locals get to know that I am not visiting frequently then they might take advantage.
However, during mango season (March – June) hardly for 10 – 15 days as we need to constantly guard it, and every time there will be some firefighting to be done because of external factors that are not in my control.
Me: Interesting. If I remember correctly, you and Appa went for the US trip for two months a few years back during September and October.
Mother: correct. Your father was ok anytime during the year but I insisted only after August – September as I couldn’t risk depending on the family that takes care of our farm.
Me: Hmm… again interesting. Appa can afford to stay away from his business (manufacturing carton boxes) anytime during the year and perhaps for more than two months but in your case, it isn’t the same.
Mother: That is because your father does not make the boxes all by himself. He has machinery and people who do it.
Me: And most importantly he has processes & systems in place.
In other words, Appa’s business is process-dependent and not person-dependent.
Mother: True, and also irrespective of the weather the boxes can be manufactured without much impact.
Me: yes, agree.
Mother: Chinmay, is your business person-dependent or process-dependent.
Me: honestly, my training business is not a business. It is a practice. However, the analytical software that we offer is a business as it I do not have to interfere much.
Me: yes, in this context, practice is something that is person-dependent. For example, doctors have clinics, it is mostly a practice because if they stop practicing then the clinics will not be operational. Yes, other visiting doctors can do the job but again it is still practice because it is person-dependent and mostly they trade time for money. Same thing with most lawyers, accountants, consultants, and other similar professionals.
Mother: so, is it good to have a practice or a business?
Me: hmm… more than good or bad, I believe it is about understanding the pros & cons of both so that one can accordingly choose ‘this or that’ or ‘this & that’ depending on their risk appetite, goals, vision, lifestyle and family commitments.
Bob Marley said, “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”
Similarly, whether we choose to work as an employee or have our own practice or a business, each one comes with its challenges. The question is asking ourselves which are those challenges that are worth taking up. Or in other words, what challenges make us jump out of the bed on a Monday morning?
Are you having a practice or a business or a bit of both?
How long can you afford to stay away from it and still expect it to be operational and profitable?
Do you dare to take a week or two or a month off to see what might happen?
(of course, please do it at your own risk using your finest sense of judgment)
I have had business owners who were compelled to take off from their business because of health and family circumstances. They were amazed that business got more profitable during their absence.
They found out that bringing a sense of ownership amongst the team members was the key factor.
I hope you are aware of the pros & cons of your business or practice that you are running because in business ignorance is not bliss, rather, ignorance is sick!
PS: My mother has fully recovered and is doing well. In fact, she has started traveling to our farm and is doing what she loves – farming or should I say expensive hobby!
Until next time, wishing you all “Merriest Xmas” and a “happy & safe new year 2022” 🙂
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