Your business is in deep mud. Not just metaphorically speaking, but for real. The building's very foundations have started sinking in slime. Best case scenario: your contractor actually takes responsibility for the mess and doesn't evaporate into thin air, but he is still at a loss. Yes, he has heard about such cases, but has no idea what to do about it. He knows how to construct buildings, but has no idea how to pull them out of the mud. He tries to joke about it, but you are hardly in the mood.
You start sustaining losses. One thing's for sure: you haven't much time. You must decide quickly. You wake up each morning and go through the few options you have left. Actually, the option of letting the entire building sink into the mud sounds rather attractive this morning. What the hell, the entire area seems to lie on one big bog. In fact, you have seen endless neighboring buildings come down, so what on earth made you think it couldn't happen to you? But that damned inner voice of yours doesn't let you give up. Not just yet, anyway.
The second option is to let that huge contractor company help you. After all they are a brand name. They sell. They have spacious offices. Their sales rep has already met with you once. He parked his shiny car far away, careful not to soil it with mud. Throughout your conversation – if his sales pitch could be termed as such – you couldn't but notice the effort you were making to believe him. To really and truly believe, that is. “The best workers in the business,” he said. “Committed to the highest standards in a variety of technologies,” he added. At some point he even emitted, “a company based on values, in which the client is part of the family.”
Damn it. If only you were one of those people who let sales people sweep them off their feet, you might actually be happy. But unfortunately for you, you are not one of those people. You are one of those miserables who need only take one look at a person and know straight away that “this person hasn't the faintest idea what he is talking about.”
This morning the situation is somewhat different. “Sustaining losses” no longer describes the problem sufficiently and when the bank manager calls she no longer sounds accommodating. So it's safe to say you have understood the situation, right? Not a good one. Actually, pretty bad, is more like it.
You heard about that little company quite some time ago. In fact, you heard about it from a number of sources, but you have never really spoken to them. Why? Mainly because you prefer working with big companies. On any other day you would be the first to explain to anyone willing to listen why working with a boutique company isn't suitable for a company of your scale. However, at this very moment, one of your load-bearing walls appears to be on the verge of collapse.
When you dial the number, sweat pours down your back, and you try to convince yourself that this cannot be the last resort, but your fingers are crossed when you hear the dial tone, and inside you are praying: Let it work! Let it work!
The very next day the manager himself shows up on a bike and parks it really close by. Right in the middle of all the mud.
You say hello and start relating the building's history.
“Okay, gotcha,” he cuts you off after a minute. “Let's just go inside and see what things are like,” he says calmly. He is the first one to ask to come in.
You try leading him, but he soon overtakes you and disappears into the innermost rooms. Never before in your life have you seen somebody who seems to know his way around your dilapidated building and in no time. After a while he comes back.
“So what do you think?” you venture. You would usually also add, “And don't make it prettier than it is,” but with this guy you feel there is no need. He is not going to beat around the bush with you.
“Listen, things are pretty screwed up here,” he says without a trace of humor while looking at the load-bearing wall. He knocks on it and half the coating peels off. “I've seen worse,” he adds, and by his look you know he is not lying. After a few seconds he says, “Okay, we will take on the job.”
He is so crazily self-confident – a trait belonging either to charlatans or to the very best professionals, you wonder to yourself – that you realize it is up to you to decide whether the guy standing before you is the former or latter.
“Just a moment,” you suddenly take fright, “how much will it cost?”
While he is busy jotting down numbers, you pray that it won't be expensive. They are a small company after all, so please let it be cheap. He shows you the figure and your stomach does summersaults. He doesn't wait for you to react, but continues: “We are really good,” and smiles for the first time. Suddenly you realize that the son-of-a-bitch really loves his job. “We will begin tomorrow,” he says, “There is no time to lose. I am going to prepare the work plans. Be by us at 8:00 sharp. Don't be late.“
You are in a complete daze but somehow manage to say something like, “Oh, okay, yeah sure, I won't be late. See you in the morning” and he turns around and leaves.
After a few minutes, when you come out of your trance, you feel like shouting after him that you don't really need him and who the hell does he think he is and that it's better working with the big companies. Because they have a standard of values, that is - their values are a standard, that is - the best workers in the market are their family, in other words – never mind – they have spacious offices!
True, you must admit to yourself, their clientele list is far more impressive than that of any other company you have heard of, and yet… And yet…
At the end you take a deep breath. And another one. And then you feel something strange. And you ask yourself whether it's that headache again, caused by the pressure you have been feeling for the past months, but it's not that. Or perhaps it's those stomach cramps caused by the fear that everything might soon come to an end? But it isn't that either.
You haven't felt like this in a long time, but by now you know exactly what it is you are feeling, although you are still too embarrassed to admit it to yourself. So your inner voice says it out loud for you: You are simply – calm.
Your business is in deep mud. The entire building has started sinking. Not really, only metaphorically speaking.