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How My Close Call Could Save Your Business

It’s a dog-bite-man world; take action

I suffered a dog bite this past week. Actually, it was more of a dog slash, a punishment for my good deed.

I was assisting a friend who has a large, playful labradoodle puppy. The dog has the unfortunate habit of standing to greet visitors at the front door. (By “standing,” I mean standing on his hind legs and forcefully thrusting his enthusiastic body into the body of the unsuspecting entrant.) In my effort to break the dog of this habit (with heavy use of dog treats, of course), the dog attempted to jump on me.

Unfortunately, I raised my knee and my hands to block the impact, and the dog’s extremely sharp canine tooth latched onto my left index finger and opened up a pretty large gash in it. Hence, dog slash.

Yep, it bled — and it hurt. I ran water over it for several minutes, washed the wound carefully, and pressed a gauze pad on it to stop the bleeding (which took FOREVER!). After a bit, I put antibiotic ointment and a bandage over it, and figured I was OK. This was about 7 in the evening on Sunday. When I and my throbbing figure went to bed a bit later, I thought, “I’m OK. I did everything right, and I did everything I should do.”

But the next morning when I awakened to go to work, the wound — and my entire finger — were an angry red and very swollen. Most of all it HURT! (I’m sort of a wimp anyway when it comes to pain, but seriously, this was really painful!)

So, I walked across the street to the local “Doc in a Box” care center and asked to be seen. When I told the attending nurse practitioner what had happened, she took the bandage off.

“Holy cow (er, dog)! That is BAD!” (I believe those were her exact words.)

She then informed me the wound was deeply infected (in just over 12 hours!), and I would have to have it cleaned out, re-bandaged, and take heavy-duty antibiotics for a couple of weeks.

Then she went on to explain…

WAIT A SECOND! Let’s back up to the “usually fatal” remark! WHOA! That certainly didn’t sound good. It sounded like one of those TV commercials for a new pharmaceutical agent, where they breeze through the side effects such as, “May cause dry mouth or dry skin, abnormal thirst, superficial fungal infections, oh, and bleeding and instant death.”

Say WHAT? Run that “instant death” thing by me, again? Really, when your health care provider mentions your imminent demise, you tend to listen closely for details!

“Well, if you hadn’t gotten this looked at right away…” she said. And I felt quite a bit better about life (my life!) and my intellect in general. I DID do the right thing — seeking professional assistance!

Of course, in my line of work as an incubator director, I take near-death experiences in stride — and then apply what I learn to what I do for a living. I guide startups toward success.

What did I do right in the dog bite situation? I took action. (Yes, my initial action didn’t help a whole lot, but my second action — going to a medical professional immediately — did.)

I don’t know how many times I’ve met with entrepreneurs who seem to have “analysis paralysis.” They study an opportunity or problem to death (yikes, I’ve got to stop mentioning that situation, don’t I?). They can’t seem to make a decision. In fact, in some circumstances the decision is critical to the success — or failure — of the company.

They either ignore it (hoping it will go away) or they let the situation decide for them (the circumstances determine the outcome). Either way, it’s similar to my situation with the dog bite. If I had ignored it or just let things go, I would have been in serious trouble. BUT I sought out professional help, people who could truly help me and who would use their experience, training and intellect to give me what I needed to recover and heal.

Not to get into details, but they examined the problem, cleaned things up, gave me antibiotics to help me heal, and gave me the right advice.

You need to think about the same concept for your business: Take action and get some serious advice! Even if you feel your business is doing very well, get a “checkup” for it. If it’s not doing well, then get professional advice.

Many organizations provide mentoring and advising. Why not get help from someone with knowledge? Seek out advice from someone who understands business, someone who has experience, a person who can provide what your business needs to grow and avoid serious trouble.

Avoiding or ignoring the situation you’re in won’t help. Actually, it could be fatal to your company’s survival. Just as you wouldn’t let a wound fester, you shouldn’t let a major issue totally poison your company culture. Volunteers, service firms, and organizations can assist you with human resource problems, accounting efforts, management situations, and nearly every other facet of business operations.

So again, take action! Don’t hesitate to get help, obtain the best advice, and to listen to the voice of experience. Just as “person bites dog” is news but “dog bites person” is nothing significant, “startup achieves success” is great press, but “business fails” isn’t good news.

Don’t let yourself fall into the “failure” category. Avoid getting bitten and avoid indecision! Just as a small bacteria can wipe out a person, issues that seem insignificant can derail your growth plan. You need to assess the situation, get the right advice, form an action plan, and get moving.

Ask around. Find those who are willing to give you the benefit of their experience. Seek out resources in your area. Look for accelerator or incubator programs, business schools, non-profit organizations that assist businesses, local or regional Chambers of Commerce, and others who can offer assistance.

Get the right help — and be careful around puppies! Trust me!

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