When You Can't Control, Prepare

As much as we'd like things to go our way, we're at the mercy of so many factors we have no control over, such as nature, economics, and well, other people.

I'm a nature lover, but I admit at times I feel a bit at its mercy. Currently, I'm being tormented by ants. You might recall I celebrated these resilient, canny, tenacious little creatures in a past column for their ability to cooperate and get things done. Well, I'm not feeling the admiration so keenly these days, as those ants have used their considerable faculties to lay siege on my house this summer. And while I'm generally a live and let live sort of person, this just won't do.

After trying all the usual tricks, from laying ant traps to spraying hardware store chemicals around the foundation of the house, nothing was working. Every time I'd think I have the ants licked, they send another battalion on a new front. So, I've been forced to call in the big guns - a professional. My new friend, the local exterminator, has visited my house three times to do battle with the latest wave of offenders, but we finally seem to arrived at a cease fire. I hope it holds until the frost comes.

But this is not the only enemy nature has unleashed upon me this summer. My garden is another battlefield and this time I'm fighting a more mysterious foe. This one doesn't make a sound or show its face. It leaves evidence of its presence only in the damage it does, for this enemy has laid waste to my zucchini crop. For the third year in a row, I have lovingly planted and nurtured zucchini plants to maturity, only to watch them wither and collapse just as they're beginning to bear fruit. I'm told it's the work of the stealthy squash borer, an opponent so sneaky or devious it blindsides its prey just when it seems perfectly safe and secure from its wrath.

Why am I complaining about insect fauna and the frustration is has wrought on my home and garden this summer? Because I think there's a lesson here, one that I certainly need, but maybe you can benefit from too. Here it is: We can't control everything. Yep, that's it. As much as we'd like things to go our way, we're at the mercy of so many factors we have no control over, such as nature, economics, and well, other people.

So what do we do? Should we just sit back and allow these uncontrollable forces to take over? Do we fight relentlessly against them? The right answer is probably somewhere in middle of those two options, but in short, we need to pick our battles. Even when we do, we're still going to win some, and also lose some. One thing we can do to improve our chances of victory is prepare. If we can anticipate which fronts might need protection, we can take preemptive steps to avoid an attack, or at least improve our chances should one actually happen. And that's what this issue of Rental is all about. We bring you our annual Business Survival Guide. In it you'll find advice from experts in many facets of our industry offering advice to help you prepare your business for success.

I hope you glean some good insight from this issue. May your businesses (and homes and gardens!) find peace and prosperity going forward.