Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Power of Prayer - Business Owner's Edition

Foggy future? Read on...
I don't admit this often, but sometimes money is tight.

I imagine some of you out there reading this can relate. =)

But something magical happened to me a while back, the story of which I'd like to relate to you. In telling you this, I am opening up a part of me that I do not share with the world very often, mainly because it brings up raw feelings of childhood. But since what happened in the scope of this story is so amazing, I had to share it with anyone that might benefit from it, and possibly allow it to enrich their lives.

(As a disclaimer, I was not, nor was my Family ever seriously impoverished, but we had to struggle to make ends meet. There are people that suffer much worse than we did. In comparison, I was the equivalent of a spoiled brat. Just sayin so this story is in the right context.)

So here we go.

A while back I had a serious cash flow problem in my business. I wouldn't necessarily call it a product of the recession, since I try not to pay attention to that. But I had several bills that were increasingly overdue, and needed to be paid or else the whole setup of dominos would fall over in one cataclysmic kersplat. You get my point.

Account receivables were pretty bad. I'm sure you know the feeling when business is flat, but the expenses just keep on coming in like a tidal wave. It is a feeling that is like few others, for me a mix of frustrated, paralyzed and resentful that could easily cause some to just give up and let it all go to poo. Yes, poo.

This one week I had to raise several thousand dollars in a single day. Nothing was really happening that day thus far. It was all quiet, and I was all at the end of my rope. My chest was so tight I thought my heart was going to explode inside of it. I needed to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I needed it fast. I did have one appointment though...

So a potential client came in to do his scheduled appointment for an initial consultation on his website. It wasn't a signed project, and I didn't expect it to be a big, profitable project. However I did see it as a possible starting point to the rest of the day. If I got through this and it went well, perhaps I could generate some internal momentum to get some things done that would at least save me from total disaster. At this point, partial disaster would be just lovely.

I should also side-note to you that although I am no Saint, I do have a pretty cool Faith in God. Not Bible thumping, but I try to pray each day in a Spirit of being thankful, ask for a blessing before meals, and on occasion read some Scriptures. (GenXers and GenYers: Check out the version of the Bible called "The Message". It is plain English, down to Earth, and sometimes kind of funny. Wikipedia explanation here.) I know it's annoying for most, so I keep it pretty low-key (my friends to tend to bust my chops, but it's all good) I also do believe in miracles, but recognize that those huge "parting of the Red Sea" ones don't really show up too often, like every millenia or something. But perhaps little small, tweaking, unnoticeable "nice, thank you God for the bird that is singing in the window this morning" miracles can and do happen. They are just much more personal.

Anyway, so just before the appointment began, I got down on one knee in my home office, and opened up a quick dialogue with God. I basically said, "God...I need help. I'm on my last thread of Hope. Please - whatever you can do...would be awesome." Note the lack of Hail Mary recitals.

This pic chosen because he
has long hair and he looks cool.
As I closed the prayer, I happened to remember a lyric from a U2 song: "If you wanna kiss the sky, better learn how to to kneel. (On your knees boy)". And at that moment, it gave me some serious comfort, which was counter to the situation at hand. Nothing in the physical realm had actually changed. I was still deeply in short-term debt, and I needed something to happen. But I definitely felt different, as if a weight had been lifted from me. My chest felt a little more relaxed, and I was comfortable enough to do the appointment without feeling the need to close or pressure the client in any way shape or form. (By the way, that high pressure crap doesn't work. Here's why.)

So I went and did the appointment with the potential. Everything actually worked out fairly well with the consultation, and the client was ready to initiate. So I wrote up a contract and set up the terms, which are typically 2/3 at inception and 1/3 at website launch, plus any additional work done that is requested. I proceeded to explain all details of the contract to the person, and he opens his wallet and asks, "Do you mind if I pay you cash up front for the entire thing?"

(Every business owner that accepts checks or credit cards knows that there is a small waiting period when you deposit checks or process cards, ranging from 1-4 days.)

I was flabbergasted. Although this wasn't the entire amount of what I needed to raise, it definitely got things moving in the right direction. Thankfully I was able to maintain external composure and said, "Sure that would be fine. Thank you and I will generate a receipt for you." My original instinct was to cry and hug him, but um, that might not bode well for the client's confidence in getting the project done effectively.

I relate this story because I have a feeling I'm not the only one who has experienced something magical like that happen. If you are a businessperson, or even a person that has to deal with income and expenses a lot, you probably have had a few times where you didn't know how things were going to work out. Somehow, as you look back, was it as bad as you anticipated it would be? Did you hope for some resolution to the problem? Did something cool happen? I hope.

The rest of the day - as well as the week - went quite well. I was able to generate enough money to take care of the most immediate concerns, and the rest I was able to effectively renegotiate for more time, because by that point my belief in one single idea had become more powerful than all the fear I had experienced before. My belief in that single idea helped to "tweak" the physical world, but more importantly it helped to change my outlook on what was going on in the present, and what could possibly happen in the future. It was such a simple idea, but I had to embrace it again for the first time like a little boy that somehow knows without being told what it is. And it is an idea that I hope that will help you in your Earthly travels, especially when you are ready to give up on your last glimmer of hope. It's a very comforting idea...

God is watching. =)