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Russ Allred, business consultant and author at Sunbelt Business Brokers

Carrie Underwood just reprised the role of Maria in "The Sound of Music." In the movie with Julie Andrews, the song "High on a Hill" was portrayed with a puppet show. Images help us envision a concept and communicate it to others, hence the importance of envisioning what your business will become. The problem with your business vision is that it has strings attached.

We recently negotiated a lease for a restaurateur. Our client had a very precise vision of how he wanted his restaurant to look, what he wanted to serve, how customers would be treated, how much personal time he would invest and how much money he would make. He immediately began to build his dream and discovered the first string, Cost. After completing tenant improvements, he discovered he needed more money to pay for staff until the business could support itself. The client borrowed money from his retirement account.

The next unexpected string was knowledge. The restaurateur was expert at running a restaurant, but his crew needed training and hand-holding. He had kept his other job where they had HR resources to do training, but at his place, he was HR. He started formal classes before work hours and monitored the lessons on the job. While managing this string he found another holding him back: time.

The new restaurant was eating up all his time. He worked night and day and neglected his home and family. Time was the one string he could neither extend nor recreate. The pressures became debilitating. He spent all of his spare time at the restaurant that was supposed to be his dream, but was quickly becoming his nightmare.

He called me to voice his desperation and ask for advice. I pointed out that his wife still loved him, his children were healthy, he still had a job to pay the bills and in the very worst possible outcome he would owe some money. He was learning an important lesson, but there was no reason for despair. A quick review of the situation revealed that he had to increase sales to pay the bills and he needed the reassurance of family interaction to keep going. Because his cash was gone, he would have to invest time in promoting the business. Rather than stewing in the kitchen between meal service, he should place window tracts on the cars at the shopping center. He could have more family time by including his kids in the promotional activities.

The important lesson is to identify the strings and learn to manage them toward achieving the vision. Be the puppet-master, not the puppet. Having business success, personal fulfillment and a happy family are a few of my favorite things.

-- Russ Allred, MBA, is a business consultant and author with Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.