Trade-offs: the realities of cultivation & harvest

It has been almost a year since we sold the mill equipment and ventured into business consulting for niche textile mills. I can’t believe it’s been a year already. We took the money we made from the sale of the mill and reinvested it to create this new business. As the time draws near, I’ve been pondering what will be the harvest from what we’ve cultivated. More pointedly, were the trade-offs we made worth it.

Developing an exit strategy required us to make choices, and accept the trade-offs. These were difficult decisions. They came with a lot of risks. As a husband and father, I’ve made a promise to provide and protect my family well. During this season of transition, there have been quiet moments where I’ve found myself asking, “Is this going to work? Do you know what you’re doing!?” All small business owners know this struggle is real.

Based on my education, experience, and expertise I know I can be a huge blessing to other small textile companies. But the question I’ve continued to ask myself is, will you see the value in it? Having a second pair of eyes always brings another perspective and often helps to clarify problems and potential solutions. But at the end of the day, what’s the return on investment? How long will it take to see that ROI? And is that the best thing for your company to do right now?

Oh, the irony of memes in our day… Does anyone stack square bales as their summer job anymore?

Trade-offs illustrated…

We all have a God-given right to choose, for better or for worse. Doing anything means we have weighed our options and accepted the trade-offs. Consider the high school kid choosing which job he will do for the summer. Should he wash dishes at the local restaurant, deliver pizzas, mow lawns, or work for the family friend who owns a farm? Or try to do all four?

One summer I chose to work at a local farm. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “you make hay while the sun is still shining.” That expression represents a choice that has trade-offs. I remember many times riding on the wagon stacking bales of hay from sunrise to sundown. It was good honest work!

But let’s take the point a little further, I want us to consider the options a farmer faces in the offseason. Is there really an offseason when you’re a farmer? Typically he spends his winter making sure the animals are warm, have plenty of good bedding, and a good supply of food and water. But he also uses this time to build, sharpen, and repair things so they are ready when winter thaws and spring begins. So what happens if it was the farmer’s choice in the winter to not fix the broken hay baler? With this choice, he is faced with the trade-off. The reality is, when summer comes, the harvest will not be reaped. The sun is shining, but they won’t be making hay. It’s at that point, that he is forced to either put on his mechanic’s hat or let the hay rot in the field.

Choice requires trade-offs

We all have the ability to choose. Madeleine L’Engle says that “it is our ability to choose which makes us human.” The realities of choice mean we must first acknowledge that we have options. At times it is important to keep our options open. Yet life has a way of making us ultimately decide, forced to pick one option over another. This, in essence, is the law of trade-offs.

A trade-off simply means that we have chosen to forsake the realities of our current condition. We have decided to pursue what we perceive as a better thing. Here’s a list of the some of the current trade-offs I’m wrestling through:

  • Delegating things that others can do so I’m working smarter, not harder.
  • Focusing on doing what I do best, and eliminating what’s not necessary.
  • Getting control of my calendar, so other things don’t.
  • Doing what brings me joy, because it gives me energy.

Greg McKeown points out in his book, “Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less”, choices are options – the ability to choose is an action. We always have the ability to act. As a result, our core ability to choose cannot be taken away from us. But he warns us that it can be forgotten.

The seasons change, and we experience the law of trade-offs

Fear and decision making…

Fear is what forces us to forget that we have the ability to choose. It minimizes the true scope of our options. When we allow fear to influence our options, our choices become more and more limited. Left unchecked, fear will kidnap and enslave us. It is then that we realize that confidence has left us and we are huddled in the corner cowering in fear.

Fear compels us to believe that a decision can be avoided or at least delayed. It somehow convinces us that it is safer to not make a choice. But what we have decided is to choose fear. Fear clouds our vision. It puts us in a posture of indefinite and compounding insecurity. Choosing fear places us on an isolated path. We are now prone to wander and never reach new destinations. You can imagine the implications this has on running your business. It isolates us.

The Bible tells us that love, on the other hand, casts out fear. To love is a choice. It takes humility, courage, and intention. Love is service in action that sacrificially meets the needs of others. As we consider other’s interests we discover how we can serve them. Love is what creates empathy and compassion. Both of these are critical in making good business decisions.

fear and the law of trade-offs

Call to action…

Rest assured, I have searched the Scriptures and worked diligently since last September to develop a plan for mill owners that helps them accomplish success and avoid potential failures. I have deliberately made choices in the past year that have required serious trade-offs. These were good things that I left behind, knowing that there were greater things ahead – should I choose to do them. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a huge blessing to mill owners, farmers, and fiber artists.

Don’t believe the lie that you have to do it all. Running a small business with this mentality will render you feeling helpless. Don’t allow fear to convince you there are no other options. Asking for help is a sign of strength. You are exercising your power of choice. Determine what is essential and accept the trade-offs. The real cultivation and harvest are in experiencing the day to day realities of an inspiring joy-filled business. That’s God’s promise to us. The choice is to believe that God is the Master Craftsman and you together in your mother’s womb and through Jesus Christ has created you for good works which He prepared beforehand that we would walk in them. These are the realities of the narrative of Psalm 139 and Ephesians 2.

I want to learn how I can best serve you this next year. Please consider going to our contact page and scheduling a time when we can connect to learn more about your business.

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