National Clothesline
Can you see your mountain?
I am lucky enough to spend the best part of the year in the Northwest. Mt. Rainier is over 14,000 feet above sea level.
Although only the fifth highest peak in the continental United States, Mt. Rainier is arguably the most spectacular of any of the high peaks in the country as it starts from nearly sea level and climbs the full 14,000 feet. It can be seen, on a clear day, as far away as Oregon and British Columbia.
Starting 50 or 100 miles away from the mountain it is beautiful, majestic, and inspiring. Its vista changes with the angle of your view, it changes with the weather, it changes as the clouds move under, over and around it. It gives you pause to contemplate its beauty and its power as it is also a live volcano, considered one of the most dangerous in the world and previously stood at over 16,000 feet.
Interestingly enough, but not really surprising when you think about it, as you stand at the base of this incredible mountain you see almost nothing! There may be a green forest, a river or creek or a path leading uphill, but no mountain, no majesty, no view, no broad vista. All perspective of this 14,000-foot peak is lost.
Of course, this has nothing at all to do with business. Or does it?
Your personal perspective. For every business owner, your business is your mountain. On most days, you see almost nothing! There may be a drycleaning machine needing maintenance, an employee needing training or a customer needing assistance, but all perspective of this magnificent business is lost when you stand too close.
It is critical to stand 50 to 100 miles away from your business so that you can envision it as the magnificent entity it is or that it may grow into.
You can then look at it from several angles — how it is perceived in the community, what areas are growing around it, what demographics are changing. You can view its beauty or decide that it now looks a bit dated for your customers. You can envision it as being more of a visual footprint than it might be now.
None of this is possible unless you step back from the business.
It is not a coincidence that I suggest you look from 50 to 100 miles away. That’s a minimum of one hour drive away from your business. Many people have a weekend house, a favorite get-away spot, a cabin, a fishing hole or, farther afield, a cruise or a train ride that will take you away from the business in order to see its full picture.
Of course, it’s one thing to get away and look at the business. It’s another thing to understand what you might see.
As with the mountain, different people see different things. One person might focus on the peak, the strength and structure. Others see the slippery slopes and can envision the caverns along the sides and imagine the ice caves. Still others will notice where the tree line stops and the snow begins.
Some will begin to ask questions. For instance, does the snow ever disappear from the mountain (we hope not as then the volcano would not be naturally cooled and might explode)? How far up can I drive? What’s on the other side of it… the questions can go on.
As people look at their businesses from afar, the same variety of perspectives emerge. Sure, you can structure the view by considering the standard threats, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, but the reality is that you will still view the business differently than everyone else since you bring your knowledge and hopes and dreams with you.
So what will you see or might you see?
As with a mountain, it is the broad perspective that creates the vision. It is how the mountain sits relative to the rest of the environment that creates its majestic vista.
Consider how your business sits within its neighborhood. Sure, we look at current and future traffic patterns, we look at growing and changing neighborhoods, we look at multi-story living and business development, all of which may impact the revenues of the business.
Then we look through the binoculars at the visual impact of the business. Does it stand out? Does it blend in? Have buildings changed around it that impact this view?
Can we see our little ants — the retail route trucks — moving through the town? Do they blend in, stand out, run efficiently, make a statement within their environments?
Can we see opportunities with new medical offices and clinics, retirement homes and boutique retail stores opening?
Everything in our neighborhood and beyond impacts the vista around our business and ultimately our business. Without taking the time to step back and immerse ourselves in this perspective, there is no chance that we’ll ever see it, appreciate it, respond to it and begin to take advantage of what we’ve seen.
Take some time now. Schedule some time to step away — 50 to 100 miles away. Twice a year is good, once a year is mandatory.

Deborah Rechnitz has been an independent management consultant to drycleaning industry members since 1980. She also held the position of chief operating officer of one of the largest USA drycleaning operations in 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Personnel Administration; a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interpersonal Com-
munications; and an MBA in Operations Management from Case Western Reserve University. She can be reached by e-mail at
drechnitz@gmail.com or phone at (253) 405-7043.