My book, The Danger Zone, Lost in the Growth Transition, defined The Danger Zone as the situation wherein the cash needs of a company far exceed the available cash. This situation often causes a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, liquidation of assets or other time-consuming planning events in order to salvage the company.
The past 30 years have taught me much about how business owners react to both avoid and escape The Danger Zone. I have witnessed first-hand the business conditions of more than 100 companies during my career. Consequently, I have realized for some time that it might be beneficial to other business owners to read about some of the experiences I have witnessed.
Much has been written about the stories of Fortune 100/500 companies as they have gone through their business cycles of success or failure. While their stories are interesting, it is often difficult for the owners of closely-held businesses to relate to the business problems of companies that are doing billions of dollars in annual sales.
Non-Fortune 100/500 businesses employ the majority of the employees in our nation. A February 2007 article states:
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are around 25.8 million businesses in the United States with 100 or fewer employees. These companies generated between 60 and 80 percent of the new jobs created annually over the past decade. Collectively, they are a significant driver of the U.S. economy.
The combination of Moore's Law and other economic factors will cause an increase in the number of these businesses in the future, hence the importance to address their needs and concerns.
The partners of my firm refer to the businesses described above by the U.S. Small Business Administration as entrepreneurial, growth or mid-market companies.
I hold the owners of such companies in the highest respect. Many have become my heroes. Such owners are usually not only risk-takers but are bright, articulate and creative. Most have work ethics and values that put the rest of our society to shame. It has been my privilege to work with some of the brightest and best of our business society.
I truly admire the risk-taking attributes of these entrepreneurs. A CEO of a Fortune 500 company who makes errors can get fired but often leaves the company with millions of dollars in cash or stock options. Conversely, the CEO of a growth or mid-market company who makes errors can literally lose everything - the company, personal assets and close personal relationships.
The majority of this book consists of stories of actual situations in which I have been involved during my career. Not only are the stories interesting, but there is much to learn from each situation. The cumulative knowledge that can be gained from all of these stories is profound.
While documenting these stories, I began to notice a consistent theme or by-product; thus, the phrase Business Illusions became the subtitle of the book.
Victory more often than not goes to the aggressor. As entrepreneurs, we want to become proactive in our planning to avoid The Danger Zone and to work towards a successful exit strategy. The proactive approach to a successful exit strategy is the theme of this book; hence the title Avoiding the Danger Zone, Business Illusions.