Get automatic updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Connect with Steve Sipress


Devastating Loss

tornado flag

Over the past few days, it’s been almost impossible to ignore the near-constant shocking images in the news of the destruction and despair caused by a massive tornado that destroyed untold lives and property just southeast of Oklahoma City.

The images brought back vivid memories for me.

Towards the end of my nine-year door-to-door sales/sales management career, I spent two weeks troubleshooting an office in Fort Smith, Arkansas. On Monday, May 3, 1999, I decided to defy tornado warnings and go out into the sales field to (a) set an example for anyone who would ever use “bad weather” as an excuse to not go into the field on any given day, and (b) take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work under such circumstances.

We definitely didn’t realize just how dangerous the weather was that day, because late that afternoon the costliest tornado in American history struck only about 180 miles to the west of us, just southeast of Oklahoma City. That legendary twister would end up killing 36 people and causing over a billion dollars in damage.

All day long, televisions in every business were tuned to The Weather Channel, and everyone in town was tracking the storm from town to town and minute by minute. Once in a while, we would look up into the sky and spot a funnel cloud, then bolt immediately into the nearest business seeking cover in case it touched down and destroyed everything in its path.

Thankfully, that never happened, so I survived with my life – and a thrilling experience and story. But many other people weren’t so lucky – neither back then, nor just recently, as we’ve seen in sad and shocking detail over the past few days.

Of course, losing a Big Fish client isn’t anywhere near as catastrophic as losing people you love or all of your earthly possessions. But just as sure as I saw entire neighborhoods leveled by a tornado, I’ve seen entire businesses destroyed because they did something to lose a Big Fish client.

I can’t control the weather, but I can help you ensure that you never suffer the tragedy of losing a Big Fish client in your business career.

Last week, I covered the first two of the five biggest mistakes you can make in dealing with Big Fish clients. Today we’ll cover the third and fourth ones.

III. Taking On More Than You Can Handle

When you take on too much so that your business can’t keep up, you can easily lose control of everything and find yourself barely functioning — or worse.

You want your business to be successful, of course, but you need to have a plan for how you will handle the sudden growth. Your clients expect great customer service and highly quality products and services, and they don’t know or care anything at all about your behind-the-scenes operations needed to get everything done.

Look for these signs that you are taking on more than you can handle:

  • Clients’ needs aren’t being met
  • Employee morale is low, clients are upset and you start panicking
  • You constantly find yourself in emergency mode trying to save accounts
  • Your current clients are suffering from trying to keep up with new business
  • Your profits are going down
  • You’re just trying to keep your business from disintegrating
  • Your customers, clients or patients start leaving you
  • You find yourself shuffling resources just to try to stay afloat

Here’s a trick I call the Mock Fish Plan. This plan can help you respond positively and get your business back on track whenever you’re facing some or all of these challenges. This plan will:

  • Help you dramatically increase sales in a short period of time
  • Greatly improve your products and services
  • Fulfill promises you’ve made to your clients

Here are the six steps to this plan:

  1. Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the needs of your Big Fish
  2. Review and repair your operational system
  3. Anticipate future problems better
  4. Communicate better
  5. Include costs in your quotes
  6. Always have a back-up plan


IV. Putting All Your Eggs Into One Basket

Never allow your company to become too dependent on any one Big Fish. Eventually – or at least once in a while – there will be slow periods with your Big Fish. In order to stay in the game, make sure you diversify.

If you’ve ever mishandled a Big Fish, you could drive away future Big Fish as well. In order to maintain balance and prepare for a strong future, here are a few things you can do:

  • Stay in the loop and know what’s going on inside of your Big Fish company
  • Constantly reinvent yourself and stay at the top of your industry
  • Stay exclusive
  • Try to secure multi-year commitments and contracts
  • Spread your contracts out
  • Price your products and services correctly

Another thing you can do is to reduce your dependency on any one Big Fish. Review the process I’ve explained here over the past few weeks so you can snag more Big Fish and keep everything in balance.

If you need help with any of these tips or tricks, try my FREE test drive of to get the help you need fast:


Next week, I’ll finish this series by discussing the last of these five big mistakes and helping you to keep it from wreaking havoc on your business.

Of course, losing your business couldn’t be nearly as traumatic as what the recent tornado victims are dealing with. But it’s certainly something you’ll want to avoid.

One Response to Devastating Loss

  1. Jon Bockman Reply

    May 22, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Steve, another great lesson, thank you.

    It reminds me of when we lost one of our biggest clients, the US Post Office. We were only 1/2 block away from the local branch and have been servicing their vehicles for years. One day, power that be, decided it would be wiser to drive the vehicles over a hour away to service their trucks. This left a huge hole in my business and forced me to learn how to market more effectively. It was a hard, but now looking back, it made me a better businessman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *