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My Personal Valentine's Day Massacre and Your Business

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Charles Alexander

On this exact day 15 years ago, I proposed to my beautiful wife, Sarah.

I had it all planned out too.

I was working in San Diego and I would fly her out and propose in the most romantic restaurant in La Jolla (for reference, La Jolla makes Brentwood look like Detroit.)

I made the pricey reservation and let them know my plan. Then Murphy's Law arrived before Sarah did.

Southwest had a long delay in Atlanta. I mean, of all airlines too. I would expect that much from one of their competitors, but not them!

Sarah arrived much later that night. The reservation was long gone and her Valentine's spirit was dampened when her luggage decided to hang out in Atlanta.

So it was on to Plan B. Unfortunately, there was no Plan B, so I improvised.

After the luggage finally made it, we went to Jim Croce's Restaurant. It was no George's on the Cove, but there was "Time in Bottle." Get it? Time in a Bottle? No...ugh, Google it then.

I thought I would be able to propose there, however, they sat us right next to the front door. And in San Diego, they don't close the front doors. Ever. And the wind that night had Sarah's cute, little black dress whipping all over the place. She was less than thrilled.

On to Plan C.

It was already very late, so I told her we would go back to the hotel and exchange gifts on the rooftop, which overlooked downtown San Diego.

As we entered the lobby, a couple was exiting the bar and stumbling up the steps to the rooftop with a brown bag in their hands. And they were loud. And friendly. And loud!

Now Plan D.

I decided to head to our room until the rooftop cleared out. After an hour or so, we headed up, only to find out the rooftop closes at midnight. Ugh!!!!

Plan E

I called downstairs to see if they would make an exception.

They would not.

At this point, it was late, and I had decided that the hotel room would have to do. As I was preparing myself to get on one knee, the phone rang.

"Is this Charles?"

"Yes!"

"You're the guy that flew a ring in to propose today, right?"

"Yes!!"

"We'll have the rooftop opened in 5 minutes!"

"Yes!!!

Back to Plan D

As we wearily went to the rooftop at 1 a.m., Sarah gave me my Valentine's gift, which was a very nice watch.

I then got on one knee and gave her a ring.

And she said yes. Whew!

I did not have a contingency plan. I got by, but as the cliché goes:

"Failing to plan, is planning to fail"

In your business failing to plan, will NOT sound like a cute, long-winded proposal story.

For instance, do you know what you will do if a disaster strikes your location? Do you have all of your data secured, backed up, and have you inventoried all of your stuff?

What happens if a key employee leaves? Can you or someone else handle their duties, until you get that person replaced?

Are you prepared if your killer digital marketing guy flakes out? Do you have a grip on the content marketing plan or calendar?

How will you make payroll, if you don't collect all of your payments this month? Is there an emergency fund, line of credit, or rich uncle somewhere?

Take the time think about the future now, because at some point, your Plan B will be your Plan A.

In my case, it was Plan D.

Charles Alexander is director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Volunteer State Community College.

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