Porter’s Preface: Avoiding Cow Pies

May 12th, 2009 by Sharon Larsen

Toady we start Chapter 8: Avoiding Cow Pies with Ron’s introduction.  If you don’t know what a cow pie is, you’ll soon learn!

 

I had a funny experience a while back where I dropped the term “cow pie” in casual business conversation in New York City. It was funny because Rich and I, being small-town rural types, both knew exactly what I meant, but the gentlemen we were with, being big-city businessmen, had no idea. From their blank looks, they seemed to be trying to figure out what we did with our pumpkins or apples if we were making pies out of cows.

That experience made me realize that both the term and its business application may need some explanation. After all, if it were as simple as swapping beef for berries in Grandma’s time-honored recipe, you’d be wondering why you ought to avoid this particular piece of pie. When you leave this chapter, you will have a clear understanding of why you don’t ever want to be served a slice of cow pie.

Business has its own kinds of cow pies. It can be easy to let your accounts receivable start to lag, for example, or to slacken the frequency of tracking your cash flow. Once you head off into that particular pasture, though, you’re bound to wind up with a boot stuck in the muck.

In this chapter, Rich is going to outline four of the most common “cow pies” in business. As with the real thing, do your level best to avoid these not-so-fun surprises. The four business cow pies are: unmonitored cash flow, lagging accounts receivable, out-of-balance suppliers and customers, and failure to assess your ever-changing business landscape. 

Cow pies are not entirely avoidable. No matter how gingerly you step, you will, from time to time, feel the squish under your shoe and the queasiness in your stomach that accompanies contact. Happily for you—and your shoes—you can circumvent most cow pie snafus with a bit of conscientious planning. 

We’ll talk next time about the first cow pie entrepreneurs must avoid: the cash flow cow pie.

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