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Reflections this Holiday Season – Reason to be Thankful


Hello Friends:

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Ah! The holiday season. Time to take it a bit easy, spend time with your family and friends, reflect on the past year, make some resolutions to improve myself in the coming year (and beyond), and help those who are less fortunate.

Sometimes, as I listen to the news now-a-days, it seems that usually the focus is on all the negatives – bad economy, grid-locked congress, rising national debt, vitriol-filled political attack ads, violent and hate crimes, Euro-crisis, Arab Spring like protests everywhere we look.

So let us step back and be thankful and grateful for the good things that we do have:

Iraq War is Over: Yesterday I was watching a special on ABC’s 20/20 about Troops returning home. We have ended a major war in Iraq and all of our troops are home. Although we have been fighting two major wars abroad – in Iraq and in Afghanistan for past several years, most of us are too far removed from it to feel any pain. After all there is no war tax, no shortage of goods here, no real sacrifices that most of us have to endure. By contrast, these troops and their families, friends, and relatives have made a huge sacrifice in defending our country and fighting against evil. They had put their lives on the line for us, they put their lives on hold, left their families including young children for months or years on end to fight a war on foreign soil under difficult conditions.

We are thankful that they are home now with their families and for their enormous sacrifice. And when we come across them during our daily chores, let us talk to them, express our gratitude and try to learn more about what they did, where they had been. Many war veterans feel kind of disconnected when they come home – that we are disconnected from the war, and not interested to learn more about Iraq or Afghanistan or what they did. Let us make them feel welcome and make them feel at home. And if any of you are hiring, give them a chance to get back into civilian life.

The Grass  Greener on this Side: In all of the talks about debt, and economic slow-down facing us, we often harp on the negatives, but forget all of the good things we have. I often remind people when they are complaining in general about how tough their lives are (and my family hates me when I do it to them), that there will be millions of people who will happily trade their lives for you. After all we can move about in the streets and express ourselves without fear of being shot, arrested or tortured. Our economy is still more robust than many other countries, our schools are still better than those in most other countries, and I feel that USA is still the most open country where anyone, irrespective of their ethnicity, economic or social status can still make it with hard work and determination. And USA still has the best college education system I feel of anywhere.

We can Still Dream of Better Tomorrow: I think no situation is worse than someone in a situation where the future is bleak and there is no hope of better days. And there are lot of countries and places where people are in dire situation and they have nothing to look forward to. Fortunately for us in the USA, it is still possible to have our dreams, and we can always hold on to our beliefs that tomorrow can be better, that the future can be brighter, if only we can work harder and smarter.

So let us be thankful in this holiday season for the blessings and things we have received, be compassionate and helpful to those who are less fortunate and continue to foster and work towards our dreams to make not only our lives, but the lives of those who are not so fortunate better through our words and actions.

Wish all of you a very happy holiday season and the very best for the new year.


Exit Strategy – Right Time to Think About It is Now

exit strategy on door

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. – John F. Kennedy

They say that every business should be started with an exit strategy in mind. It applies to any kind of business, not just the laboratory businesses.

There may come a day when you may want to retire, or running the lab become very stressful, or your health isn’t what it used to be. Do you have an exit strategy for such a day?

Exit strategy could be having a succession plan – turning over your lab to a family member whom you have been mentoring, or selling the lab to an outside company, or selling within to your employees.

It is never too early or too late to start thinking about your exit strategy. After-all, you never know when you think you will need it. Kind of like a Will or an Insurance Policy. You never know when you will need it.

Real Life Stories

Recently, in the span of a few months, we were unfortunately involved in emergency sale / liquidation of two labs that had to be sold off at a significant discount.

Sometime ago, I received an email from a lab-owner that we should talk. We set up a time to talk and he described his situation, which was really sad. He told me that his young, two-year old lab was doing well, he had found some unique niches, and the business was growing by 25-30% a year and future looked great. He was thinking of hiring more people. And then he got shocking news from his doctor about a terminal disease. But he said he was still feeling good and he had at least some time – perhaps couple of years- to plan for the future.

We tossed around a few options. Since he was feeling well at the time, and the lab was still growing well, it seemed like it might be a good idea for him to take in a minority partner, train him or her, grow the business and when the time came, the partner would buy him out. This way, the business will grow in size and value, the partner would be ready to run it and he would get much better value for his lab. We decided to talk again in a few weeks. Next month I sent him an email and received a shock when I learnt from his wife that he was no more. I can never forget that email and the shock and disbelief that someone whom you spoke to was suddenly no more.

Well, life throws you such curve balls, and in these kinds of cases, there is not much we can do. I must say, that his wife, somewhat involved in the business, was very brave under the circumstances, and was fortunate that the lab did get bought by one of its customers. I still at times think of my conversation with the lab owner and what could have been.

Another incident happened more recently. A lab-owner became too sick to carry on and his business. His business was once spread across continents, with offices in Europe. But it had to be liquidated to salvage whatever little value one could get out of it. I am sure it must have broken his heart to see something that was so dear to his him, and his pride and joy, had to be almost given away – and even then, it was not that easy.

Time to Act is Now

So what can you do starting Today, so that when the time comes, you can hand over the baton to the next captain?

I think the number one thing that every one of the business owners should be thinking about is to increase the valuation of the business. Something you should be thinking about everyday you are at work. But how can you do that?

Well, I will leave that to the another post.

Thank you and so long till later!