Beyond the Build



Recently, I was visiting with a friend who has a promising business concept in the works but is lacking cash. As many in the business world know, a startup usually takes twice as much cash and twice as long to get to a profit than the initial forecast. Most people won’t go broke because they lack great ideas, but lacking cash will do you in. My friend is on the cusp of signing a decent contract, and when he shared how much monthly cash flow he expects from contract, I suggested he cut that figure in half. Good news is, he “sees the beach.” Here’s what I mean.

About 25 years ago, I was staying in a condominium at the Gulf Coast. I remember reading a note taped to refrigerator with instructions for what to do if you encounter a riptide. Stay on the surface, do not fight the current, swim parallel to shore and you will eventually make it. That afternoon, I was swimming in the Gulf, and my friends were maybe a couple hundred feet away from me on the beach. When I looked up again, I was 500 feet away and moving out. I quickly realized I was in a riptide and began fighting it a first but then remembered my instructions. I swam parallel to shore and eventually made it back to land. It was an experience I will never forget, and a story I have told many times. If you see the beach (just like a pending contract) keep swimming toward the goal, and you will have a better chance of making it to the shore.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.