What If You Do Nothing?

As you know I frequently talk about making decisions based on numbers. 

I strongly believe in this philosophy for a business to thrive and grow. 

The alternative to making decisions based on numbers is making decisions based on emotions, or gut feeling.  

The problem with making decisions based on emotions is that when we access that part of our brain, we are convinced that our decision is the correct one. 

It’s an echo-chamber. We are 1000% sure that this is the direction we want to move forward with.

The result is unintended consequences that may pop up in the future. 

Ok, so you know where I stand when a decision must be made. Now let’s talk about another option when you are faced with a decision where both options are poor.

Doing nothing. 

picture of a sign that says "nothing"

Yep, have you ever considered doing nothing?

Doing nothing is:

  • Hard
  • Unpopular
  • Investing in the long game
  • Often overlooked

If you’re dealt a situation where door A and door B suck, you might want to consider doing nothing. 

Let’s talk about some examples:

First example I want to explore is investing in a canning line. Given the events of the past 18 months or so, this decision is a no brainer… right? 

What are the alternatives to not having a canning line? Draught beer only? Mobile canning? Crowlers? Growlers? 

Breweries have existed for decades with draught only options. It was only when a pandemic hit that the canning line became so valuable. 

So let’s get the point, what if you decide to tow the line and do nothing? 

Remain 100% in draught with the occasional mobile canning. I see this as a viable option for breweries who do not want to overextend themselves with debt, don’t have the space, and understand their customer base well enough to to hold tight.

Can I bring back the numbers for a minute?

If you plan to distribute that beer, mobile canning does not make sense from a money perspective. Mobile canning adds between $4-$6 per case depending on the vendor you use. 

Now if you plan on selling that beer in the taproom, then it becomes more attractive. 

I have spoken to some breweries in the past year who retrofitted their crowler machine to seam 16oz cans. Yes this is an arduous process, but that was their only alternative to make the sale. 

Alternatives are available to get the beer packaged. So at your next executive meeting, when everyone is buzzing about where the canning line is, toss in the option of doing nothing and see what alternatives come up. You will be surprised. 

Next example I want to talk about is dealing with a rogue partner. 

I have seen this more times than not, when a founder walks out of the company.

Typically 90 days after the fall out, an email arrives asking for a buyout. That founder who walked out still owns a piece of the company and they want to get paid. It happens.

What ensues is the operating founder spirals into a stress cycle which completely occupies their mental real estate. 

All the questions surface:

How are we going to buy them out?
Where are we going to get the money from?

Some even call their bankers.

When I get this call, I always begin with the suggestion of doing nothing. 

I suggest this for a number of reasons. 

  1. I want to consider the value of the company today vs the value in 5 years. 
  2. I want to explore every opportunity available to protect the business. 
  3. What events could happen to this rouge business partner in the future where they would accept less? 

The likelihood of the third is high if they are an impulsive individual. To be clear, I never want to harm another person financially. Likewise, I feel it is irresponsible to reward abandonment of duties. Regardless of the long line of issues that led up to the abrupt departure, ya just don’t walk out of your business. 

This is another example of when doing nothing needs to be placed on the table. 

We are faced with decisions every day in our business. We never want to be held hostage to those decisions that may come back to haunt us. 

stop sign

Is doing nothing the easy button? Hell no it isn’t. Doing nothing is hard for all the reasons I mentioned earlier. 

Here is some homework for you. 

First, clear your desk. Literally remove all the stacks of paper, post-its, and whatever else you have accumulating on there. 

Next, pull out a blank piece of paper and write down key decisions you have looming ahead of you. 

For all these decisions, ask yourself what would happen if you did nothing? 

Zero action taken. 

You may be surprised at the outcome.


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