It has been said of entrepreneurs that they are like a man riding on the back of a wild tiger. Those who are watching are thinking to themselves, “Wow, he’s so brave.” The entrepreneur on the other hand is thinking, “How did I ever get on the back of this tiger, and how in the world am I supposed to get off without being eaten alive?”
Operating any business is an inherently risky venture, and sometimes life throws additional challenges your way that no one sees coming—challenges like COVID-19.
I’m sure I don’t need to describe the hardships that this virus has unleashed upon civilization; readers of this magazine almost certainly understand that from personal experience. At the time of this writing, the economy has all but shut down for an undefined season.
Now try to imagine the additional challenges and uncertainty that a junior company faces beyond the challenges inherent in running any business. An equipment manufacturer that’s been in the business for decades has established relationships with customers, and their sales team is probably on a first-name basis with decision makers at major fleets. As a junior company, we are still building those relationships, and the front door just got harder to open with so many people working remotely.
An equipment provider that has been in the market for decades will also have established relationships with suppliers who will probably bend over backward to keep their star client. A smaller company introducing a new product to market can get pushed to the back of the line. Additionally when the supply chain crosses borders and oceans, pandemics like COVID-19 introduce a new level of uncertainty to the mix.
An established company may have a warehouse full of their products in anticipation of economic disruptions, and they have probably set aside profits over the years to cover financial instabilities. They might also extend their line of credit with their bank based on their sales records for the past 10 years. Junior companies don’t enjoy such luxuries.
RIDING THE STORM
As an entrepreneur of a relatively junior company, these sorts of concerns keep me up at night even though we are in a better position to ride out this storm than other companies. I move in circles with other entrepreneurs, and the word “insolvency” has come up in conversation. Downsizing and layoffs pose additional stress, especially if your total head count is single or double digits. Fortunately, these concerns are not a risk on RazerLift’s radar.
But therein lies a deeper issue: COVID-19 wasn’t on our radar either. It wasn’t on anyone’s radar prior to December. Yet here we are. Our company is finding a way to ride out this storm as we have ridden out countless storms before it. We are keenly aware that this will not be the last challenge we face. We know that starting a company means accepting the challenges associated with running any business of any size, plus all the additional challenges that come from starting something amazing from the ground up. And we really are starting something amazing!
We introduced the first (and only) powered and automated cargo management system for vehicle rooftop cargo. No longer are ladders completely out of reach. With the push of a button, rooftop cargo is brought to chest height for access, saving operators’ shoulders and back for the real work.
The safety advantages of eliminating all the climbing, reaching, pushing, and pulling cannot be overstated. It is truly exciting to know that we help companies keep their cost of injuries down and help workers go home each night—with pain-free shoulders and backs—so they can spend time with their families. And that’s inherently what drives entrepreneurs: the dream of making the world a better place.
VISION FOR BETTER
We don’t accept the risk and hardship that comes with launching a new venture just because it will look good on our resumes or pad our bank accounts. We don’t invest our family finances, long hours—including evenings, weekends, and holidays—and blood, sweat, and tears just because we couldn’t think of something else to do with our lives. We don’t push through challenges like COVID-19 as a hobby.
No, at the end of it all is a vision for an improved world. That’s what drives us. That’s what success looks like for us.
For the RazerLift team, success looks like Liz who works in telecommunications. She can go home after a long day at work and play with her kids instead of packing her sore muscles in ice. It looks like Steve who can continue working for his utility well into his 40s and 50s because he was provided safety equipment that keeps his body healthy and strong. He doesn’t have to retire his truck and take a desk job because his muscles are overworked.
Like so many other ventures that started in someone’s garage and went on to build Western civilization, we are willing to take the risks that come with starting a new company—including risks no one will see coming like COVID-19—because we know the risks will reap rewards. These rewards are not only for us but for our customers who desperately need a better system. A system that only we can provide.
STORY OF SUCCESS
Ours is the same story as so many other revolutionary companies that have fundamentally improved life for the working man and woman; a story of risk, hardship, and eventual victory against insurmountable odds. It’s a story that built the Canadian Prairies where we call home and built the success of the United States, our great neighbors to the south.
We are confident that our story has a gloriously happy ending in part because this isn’t our first storm, and it won’t be our last. Like the many entrepreneurs who have gone before us and blessed the world through their willingness to endure hardship, we will continue to reduce the risk of injury for our customers, come hell or high water. We will continue to save shoulders and backs. Yes, we will have supply chain challenges. Yes, we will continue to struggle to get past bureaucracies to the decision makers. Yes, cash is king, and cash is always tight when you start a company. And yes, life will throw some other challenges at us in the future, challenges that I cannot even imagine from where I sit today.
But we are not defined by the challenges that we face nor how close to rock bottom we might sink. We are defined by the grit to push on. We are defined by perseverance. We will prevail and continue to add our value to the world so Liz and Steve can continue adding value to their world, their employers, their customers, and their families. We’re all in this together!
about the author
Paul Buller is the inventor, founder, and president of RazerLift. He has an insatiable passion for imagining and creating a better way of doing things. As well as being an entrepreneur he is a husband and father of two. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.