We Have Met the Enemy

We Have Met the Enemy


Bill is a frequent contributor to our Business brokerage Press Blog (Business Broker). He is a veteran in business brokerage and quite successful I might add. Read what he has to say to insure your own success.

“We have met the enemy, and he is us”

Throughout my youth I was fascinated with the cartoon strip “Pogo”, which was then in all the newspapers, created by the genius Walt Kelly, about a group of animals (with human characteristics), who lived in the Okefenokee Swamp, and each edition told a story about their triumphs, tribulations and reactions to life. The lead characters were Pogo, a possum, and Albert the alligator, Pogo’s side kick and usual partner in their adventures.

Perhaps the most famous Pogo story was the one where Pogo and Albert, confounded about the mysteries of life, and wondering what (or who) might be causing the “unpredictables” that seemed to constantly interfere with their “comforts”, decided to embark on a quest to find this “enemy” and “give him what for”.

So, they took off, in their flat bottomed swamp pero (boat), all decked out in their battle gear (hats with feathers and wooden swords), determined to find the culprit for all their troubles.

After weeks of adventures (detailed by Walt Kelly in weeks of cartoon panels), they returned to home, and declared…”We have found the enemy, and he is us”.

They’d discovered that there was no outside force that had caused their problems, but that, instead, their own actions were almost always the cause of their difficulties.

The connection to business brokerage?

I, too, like Pogo, have discovered, after over 30 years of listing and selling businesses, having dealt with thousands of buyers, sellers, landlords, attorneys, accountants, after closing on hundreds of millions of dollars in deals, after having hired and trained scores of agents, and after opening full service offices in dozens of different cities nationwide, and after learning how to cope with 4 serious recessions over the last 30 years, that, for each of us, the most effective tool we have is our own attitude, and the most powerful “enemy” is our own attitude, depending upon what attitudes we allow to guide us every day..

Thankfully, in boom times, or in tough times economically, without question, I’ve found that a practitioner who religiously practices the “basics” of our profession, and who hungers for and seeks education and self improvement constantly, and who “does no harm” to our clients and customers, and who has a strong work ethic, and who reliably “see’s the people/prospects” at every opportunity, without excuses, without being distracted/defeated by unproductive diversions, is a practitioner that is likely to succeed.

Yes, the degree of success can vary from year to year, decade to decade, depending on many outside factors. But, for those who approach each day with determination, and who avoid negative influences, “good things” seem to happen.

2012 has proven to be a wonderful year for my personal production, while many I associate with have had what they describe as a “horrible” year. Others, in the same town, with the same economic realities, some with more listings than I have, some with more fancy resources, with the same buyer and seller prospects, the same lawyers, bankers and other professionals to deal with, have struggled.

I notice that those who struggle in our profession almost never blame themselves. They say that financing is impossible, and/or that attorneys/landlords/accountants are unreasonable, and/or that buyers or sellers have unrealistic expectations, all of which are sometimes true. And yet, while they struggle, and lose too many deals, in the same town, with the same conditions, are others who prosper, doing the same work every day.

Maybe, as Pogo said….”the enemy is us”.

If Pogo was right, the good news is that each of us can fix that. We have little control over “outside” influences, so, if those factors are the culprits, all is probably lost.

But, if it’s us that needs fixing, and for those of us who work on self improvement, and who improve our work habits, see more people, work harder, study and learn more, and who eliminate the “junk” in our lives that keeps us from “working the numbers” properly, we likely have the power to change our lives/careers for the better.

For me, brokering businesses is a huge thrill, and is an incredibly rewarding thing to do every day, challenges and all, which is why, after all these years, I still can’t wait to do it every day. I think that attitude is a reason why business brokerage has been so good to me and my family.

Wm B Martin
Dearborn Business Advisors Corporation