Do I have the resources to take these opportunities?

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Dear Norm,
My sisters and I started a bath-and-body company on a shoestring three years ago. This year we’re on target to hit $4 million in sales. We have great distribution, sell to every major department store in the country, and have been approached by Disney, Warner Bros., and others to create private-label products. We’ll soon be entering the mass market under a different name. The problem is that our opportunities are outstripping our resources. What do you advise?

Dear Sara,
I’ll give you the advice I wish someone had given me before I took my first company to $120 million—and wound up in Chapter 11. Your core business must always come first. No opportunity is worth going after if it jeopardizes your core business even one iota. It’s not just about money. You also have limited time. Ask yourself two questions about each new opportunity: Will it keep me from putting in the time required to build or maintain my core business? And, if the opportunity turns into a financial disaster, will my core business be crippled? If the answer to either question is yes, you probably should rethink whether or not this is a good opportunity.
Yours truly, Norm

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