I read a lot, and I keep finding tidbits to share with my bankruptcy blog readers that bring out concepts I think are important. John Herman, in his business book “Hermanisms”, recalls three basic Air Force emergency rules to follow when an airplane is falling:
Identify the problem
Maintain aircraft control
Land (eject if needed) as soon as practical.
John Herman suggests that business owners follow the same rules when their business is failing badly.
As a bankruptcy attorney who’s provided counsel for small business owners for many, many years, I can truly relate to this part of the John Herman book. I’ve never been in the Air Force, but I imagine that trained pilots know they’ve been entrusted with a highly complex, expensive piece of equipment. It has to be an extremely wrenching decision for them to eject from their plane. From my own work over the years, I know how much courage it takes to “eject” from a business that was built on so many hopes and dreams. In my bankruptcy law offices in Anderson, Bloomington, Columbus, and Indianapolis, I’ve talked with many small business owners who sacrificed their health and their personal life to build their business, and so I have an idea of how awful it feels when they realize their business can’t survive.
First and foremost, as I stressed in my earlier bankruptcy blog, Before Bankruptcy, The Brain Isn’t Interested In Reality, if a financial adviser such as a bankruptcy attorney can help, the sooner you seek out that help, the better. The earlier some objective strategizing can be started, the greater the number of options available. As John Herman explains, just as with the failing airplane: 1. Identify the problem (this is the point to begin seeking help). 2. Steady the business. 3. Safely exit the business. If your business is really failing, Herman points out, don’t crash with it. Get out alive.
As a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana, I find myself doing a lot of work around business “crash sites”. But it’s precisely for these situations that the bankruptcy system of law was created, and it’s precisely those situations that my professional life is about: Wishing financial problems would go away doesn’t make them go away. As Herman says, “It is what it is.” I help people walk away alive, so that, after the dust has settled and the crash site has been cleaned up, they can decide to go build a new airplane if they want to!