Lemonade Stand on a Closed Road

Position your business for success

As I write this, it’s finally warm out and the lemonade stands — staffed by budding young entrepreneurs — are starting to pop up. This is a great learning experience for a young lass or lad, but might it also teach us something?

On the way home from a recent bike ride, I took a road that I enjoy and ride on frequently. I saw a large Road Closed sign but figured I could find a path through on my bike. I continued another mile down a big hill to the construction site. As I suspected, I got through.

Strangely, however, a young girl sat about a block up the hill — well past the sign announcing the road closure — with a lemonade stand. She was too far away to attract the construction workers and well beyond the revenue-killing Road Closed sign.

I got to thinking, How many businesses are all spooled up and ready to go but metaphorically positioned on a closed road? There are many closed roads in business, such as:
• Having a retail store with poor ingress and egress (When a young couple asked an old Irishman for directions, he said, “Well, if I were going there, I wouldn’t start here!”)
• Selling a great product that’s focused on the wrong market
• Risking capital in a business that has high risk and potential for government intervention
• Trying to grow a capital-dependent business without the requisite growth capital (As a business owner once said to me, “How can I be broke? I’m profitable and my business is growing!”)
• Ignoring new technology

In business, it’s easy to tell that the road is closed once you hit the construction area, but often there are signs announcing the closure that we don’t see because we’re not looking or we chose to ignore them because we’re breathing our own exhaust. The fact that you love lemonade and that it’s convenient for you to put your lemonade stand at the end of your block doesn’t mean it’s good business practice.

Risk analysis, scanning the horizon and taking the time to look “beyond the four walls” are critical to avoiding closed roads. Is your business positioned on a highway, or are you like the little girl with the lemonade stand?


Todd Ordal is President of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of, Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be(Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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