Here's the scene: The boxer is on the mat; his opponent has been sent to the corner; and the referee is standing over the downed fighter, counting 1, 2, 3, 4 on his way to 10.

As a small trucking company owner over the past several years, have you ever felt like you're the boxer on the mat trying to stand as the ref shouts each number, but your competition isn't sent to the corner to wait for the final pronouncement of a knockout? Yes? Most likely, he's still standing over you, waiting for you to move or try to stand so he can throw another blow in your direction. Usually, the guy throwing fists in your direction is much bigger, like an elephant against an ant, or so it seems. Yet somehow you've managed to stand and continue to roll with the punches.

So what's the best approach to stopping the attacks that continue to land solid blows to your operation? (True, you can't stop the competition from throwing punches, but you can learn how to duck so they don't connect). Follow these simple steps.

1. When the going gets tough, the tough focus on generating revenue. During a sudden business downturn, many people tend to focus on what they owe. The problem with focusing on what needs to be paid is that generating revenue gets pushed to the back burner, or even worse, ignored. Use the 80/20 rule: Focus on generating more revenue 80% of the time and focus on paying what you owe 20% of the time. You'll be amazed by how the cash to pay bills is there when it's needed.

2. Step back and prioritize your daily and weekly “To Do” list. When we focus on the difficulties we face, our priorities tend to go askew. Without cash to fill the cash-flow machine, it's like running an engine without oil. Not only will that engine stop dead in its tracks, it becomes impossible to restart. Again, generating cash flow must top your “To Do” list.

3. Cut only the costs that create inefficiencies in your operation. Many times when business gets tough, business owners start slicing and dicing expenses left and right without regard to the long-term effect of their actions. Analyze those cuts before you implement them. Make sure they don't create a domino effect in another area of your operation and cause some vital activity to lose efficiency.

4. Work on smaller ideas and take smaller steps. Many carriers will look for that all-encompassing hauling opportunity that will solve revenue problems with one single contract. Better to look at developing less grand but more dependable hauling opportunities that are quicker to arrange and won't tie up too many trucks with one customer. Diversity is the result of smaller steps.

5, 6, 7, 8…Now you're back on your feet, but don't forget to stay focused on the steps outlined above and next time…duck!

Contact Tim Brady at 731-749-8567 or at