Phil’s Profit Point 149 – Business Lessons from Grandma

My grandmother, “Babi,” passed away one month shy of her 103rd birthday. As you might expect, she had some great philosophies on life that helped her achieve such longevity.

One of her favorite sayings was, “There are two kinds of people: those who worry and those who work.”

Figure 149.1 Worry versus Work

Business is full of ups and downs. For entrepreneurs, the ups are great because we have usually created them. The downs are terrible because we’ve usually created those, too.

In my consulting work, I regularly help business owners to increase the frequency of the good times and reduce the frequency and impact of the bad times. The most common situation is fluctuating—and by that I mean negative—cash flow.

It’s a critical entrepreneurial skill to be able to face a cash flow shortage or, worse, a crisis and proceed full speed toward gaining new business and generating cash flow. The best entrepreneurs that I’ve worked with park their worry and get to work.


We should see stress as a positive trigger that indicates the need to take action. Instead, we often ignore it. But continually ignoring stress can create all sorts of health problems, including a level of depression that will smother your talent and energy. The key is to take control by obtaining information and then taking action.

Here are several signs of unproductive worrying and what to do about it:

  • You can’t sleep at night because your brain is still working on the problem. Get out of bed, write down three (or more) things that you can do to solve the problem, and go back to bed.
  • You are unusually impatient or short-tempered, especially with your family. A family business consultant that I know says we are at our best and our worst with our own family. Talk with your partner and explain the stress, what you need from him or her, and what you are doing about your problem.
  • You can’t concentrate or figure out complex problems that are normally invigorating and fun. Simple things like deep breathing and meditation have immediate physiological benefits to your brain chemicals and can improve concentration. You can also take the dog for a walk, listen to music, or change your physical environment so that you gain a new perspective.


My ancestors came to this country from Eastern Europe, didn’t speak English, but knew how to work hard. They built lives in Canada, instilled hard work into us, and made education a top priority to improve our lives.

I’ve seen clients implement these work tactics to improve their financial situations quickly:

  • Ask for help! Life is a team sport, and I’m betting you know several people who have been through what you’re going through.
  • Learn from others’ mistakes and successes. I don’t know a single business owner who hasn’t been through the ups and downs of business cycles, losing major customers, having bankers break up with them, and experiencing serious cash flow crises.
  • Write things down. Issues are much easier to deal with in black and white. Evaluate the probability and seriousness of consequences, not just the impact on your ego, so that you have a logical perspective on real risks.
  • Focus on preventing this problem from recurring in the long-term and not just solving the problem in the short-term. Incremental problem solving is like a baby learning to walk: take a few steps, fall down, get scared, and tentatively repeat the process. Think big to rise to the next level of success rather than just avoid short-term pain.
  • Generate several alternatives that will help you to achieve your goals and then evaluate the pros and cons of each alternative. Select the best one that fits your resources, risks, and goals. That’s the definition of problem solving.

To specifically solve your cash flow problems, check out our other articles here:

All business owners endure problems, challenges, and setbacks. It’s resilience that counts.

Tough Questions

How have you solved your toughest business and personal problems?
How are you transferring these lessons to your management team, employees, and family members?
How can you permanently solve your short-term problems?
What major problems have your family members resolved that are now part of your toughness and DNA?

From the Vault

My grandmother performed on stage and recited lengthy poems (15 minutes) when she was in her 80s, rode her bike down Main Street in Dauphin, MB, at the age of 93, and lived on her own into her mid-90s. She always put family, health, and work on the top of her list. What’s on top of your list?

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Phil Symchych, C.P.A., M.B.A., is the president of SYMCO & CO., the founding partner of Builders Group Chartered Accountants, author of Phil’s Profit Points™ and co-author of the upcoming book, Business Wealth Builders, along with Alan Weiss.

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