I cannot tell you how many times as a builder, I have heard this statement or one to the same effect. Business owners in general are assumed to be wealthy, but in most cases, nothing could be further from the truth. We had a real spate of people trying to rip us off, steal from us, and expect payment prior to it being due, simply because of the assumption that we must be rich.
I can promise, that if I were rich, I wouldn’t be working anymore. I wouldn’t be starting my day at 4.30-5am. I can promise you that the builder wouldn’t still be working at 8pm at night. There is no denying that we are comfortable, we live in a beautiful home, we are afforded certain privileges that are not afforded to all. These have come about from long days, from sacrifice and from very hard work.
There are many times that cash flow just isn’t working for us, there is no flow. Where we are having to answer the phone and explain why the bills are yet to be paid, but we keep working hard, pushing forward. Like most businesses, and especially in construction, cash flow is very unpredictable.
Prior to Christmas last year, we had a series of issues on a job, that meant through no fault of our own, we were not able to pour the slab before the Christmas shut down. That one job has stopped our cash flow for all of January and it will be the middle of February before we catch up again. We have to rely on the understanding and patience of our suppliers and sub-contractors.
But please don’t feel bad for us, we are very fortunate that our hard work pays off. I do ask, that next time you hear of someone assuming their employer is rich, or trying to take advantage of a situation because they assume that the person they are taking advantage of is wealthy, perhaps you could encourage them to think again. Small businesses in particular, struggle with cash flow, with getting the bills paid on time, and those small business owners are often not sleeping at night, worrying about how to make their business run.
At the end of the day, perhaps my message here is just about kindness. When we are considerate and thoughtful of others, there is no need for judgement. Often that judgement is putting more pressure on the business owner, and most can only take so much.
Are you guilty of making assumptions? Ever worked with one of those people who take advantage of everything? Would you own your own business?