The Most Important Lesson I Learned in Business

The most important lesson I learned in life, and in business, was dished out by a man who defrauded my former husband and I, when I was in my early 30s.

We were young, inexperienced, trusting -- and yes, very foolish.

You know how fraud is.

Plain and simple, you're taken for a ride.

When confronted with the issue, the hardened Chinese businessman merely mouthed three words, seeing how angry, dejected, afraid, and confused we were, and he was not about to give back our money.

He knew what he and his cohorts had done, but he was not about to own up to it.

That would be tantamount to guilt.

"Cut your losses."

That's all he said, which seemed to immediately illuminate my entrepreneur's mind.

Of course!

How could I not have seen that!

One must cut one's losses, and FAST, to lessen the "hemorrhage".

That's all that could be done when you're facing the greatest challenge in your work, finances, and life.

"Cut your losses."

With those three words, my heart absolved him of all ill will, despite the huge loss in our finances.

But my former husband was not so forgiving, and carried a grudge all throughout his life.

In my case, being a student of life, and a good sport (if ever there was one in life and in business), and being an entrepreneur, I saw wisdom in the businessman's advice.

My thinking shifted.

The financial setback (which I'm still suffering from, till now) paled, in comparison to the invaluable lesson I learned.

Actually, there were many lessons I learned after that terrible incident:

1. Have no greedy bone in your body.
2. Teach yourself about money.
3. Trust no one but God.
4. Learn from your failures -- FAST!
5. And yes, cut your losses -- FAST!

It's always a given I do my best in everything I put my mind to, so that's not even an issue.

The best teachers are not successes.

It's failures.

But the lessons came, fast and hard, and unyielding.

Being a solo entrepreneur, I faced huge risks to my finances all the time.

I preferred working and thinking alone, as I tend to act fast.

Entrepreneurs do.

We don't like answering to layers of management, or presenting at board meetings.

We think on our feet, fly by the seat of our pants, and yet have to hit the ground running.

We don't over-think things, but act with speed, and ideally, with precision.

But when you're young, you don't necessarily have "precision".

That is learned over time.

So, when this businessman got our money, and wouldn't own up to it, leaving me those three important words -- "cut your losses" -- I knew I hit upon a gem.

That has since guided me in business, with the highs and lows, successes, and miscalculations.

It's made me into an even hardier solo entrepreneur, facing life and work with the heart and stance of a warrior.

Those three, vital words opened my eyes to the true world and nature of business.

The shark-infested world of business was certainly not for the weak-kneed, or weak-hearted.

How do you cut your losses in times of hardship, or failure?

Most businessmen cut work force.

Others appeal to workers to take a cut in pay.

Some businesses close totally.

Some declare bankruptcy.

Others trim down their branches, and maintain only a few, strategic branches that are in profit.

There are many ways to stop your financial hemorrhage.

You could also simplify things for yourself.

As you "cut" the security and comfort of others -- which is sometimes called for due to your dire, desperate circumstances -- you must also cut your own security and comfort.

Leadership by example, yes?

I'm merely giving you a simple take on what "cutting your losses" mean, based on what I understood from that businessman.

His advice was cold, and factual.

His daughter's advice was cold, and factual, too.

They didn't care a hoot about us.

I know they thought us stupid, and we sure were in those days.

Their advice chilled my young heart, but strengthened my resolve and spirit.

I cannot be like them, ever.

I will never advice another that way, after I've defrauded them.

I will not even think of defrauding people of their hard-earned cash.

They saw how ignorant, and inept, we were.

Of course, there was never any admittance.

We were sheep, compared to their being slick wolves.

We were no match for them, period.

What a rude awakening for us!

We had to lick our wounds in private, making sure that never happened again, but those three words cut through the core of the business matter.

"Cut your losses."

But I think, the businessman knew I understood his point.

He probably knew I was going to be okay.

Wolves can smell fear, and he knew I lost my fear.

Now, after all I've been through, in life, and in work, I can confidently say, all that matters is God.

Only God knows our heart, and our intentions.

God will judge us all, in the end.

Be in business, accept your successes and failures equally, keep a pure heart, allow yourself to be in the service of God, do no harm, and let God take you home one day, knowing you have not knowingly fooled another person.

That is the ideal.

PERFECTION in God's eyes.

A tough act to follow, but it must be done, if we are to rejoin the LORD.

If you have the heart and stomach for the business world, with no intention of fooling others, but aiming to adore only God, not mammon, you'll be just fine.

You will have the strength and will to help others, without selling your soul to the devil.

When you work for God, your soul is not up for sale.

At any price.

Again, another businessman who owns a university laughed, declaring people have a "price".

I looked at him, knowing his had been sold a long time ago, and merely thought to myself, "Speak for yourself."