February 2020 President's Letter
My most excellent business mentor is my mother. She successfully owned and operated a construction company in Clark County for over 25 years. She was a woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry, and she survived the recession in the early '80s at a time when many of her peers lost their businesses.
Over the years, my mom has given me hundreds of advice tidbits. In this edition of WEO's monthly President's letter, I thought you'd find value in three of my favorites. These principles have helped me manage my company for past 25 years.
1. Be tough! To survive in business, we must have thick skin and be willing to make difficult decisions. She taught me to stand up for myself and not to be easily offended. I've often thought about this advice, especially when I've had to fire an employee.
2. Hire experts and do what they say. During the recession of the '80s, the interest rates rose into the 20% range, virtually shutting down all construction projects. Banks called in their loans, making it impossible for most in the industry to survive. My mom hired a consultant who told her that if she didn't follow his instructions, then he wouldn't work with her. She complied and made it through the downturn.
3.Keep close tabs on your receivables and payables. In other words, know what's coming in and going out. As the owner of a company that grew to over 200 employees, she took it upon herself to drive to the post office to pick up the mail every day. When I asked why she continued to perform such a menial task, she told me that by going through the mail, she always knew the checks that came in and the purchases made in each department. It was her way of keeping tabs on a dynamic business.
My mom sold her company and retired 20 years ago. In a way, she was a pioneer who proved that a woman could flourish in an industry that had been previously controlled only by men.