Learning from a Lawsuit
Competition is healthy, especially when it drives you to become a better business owner. EO Arizona member Jim Bailey explains how he survived a painful lawsuit, and what it meant for his growing company.
The Problem: In its infancy, the commercial painting business I cofounded was being sued by a tenacious competitor. My company had only four employees at the time; they had more than 1,000 employees. We had the expenses of a startup; they had US$30 million in annual sales. It was a David and Goliath scenario, only in the business world.
The Solution: To salvage the situation—and the company—we did a few key things: We immediately established transparency by informing clients and vendors about the issue; we established unity among the staff by keeping everyone up to date at all times, giving us the ability to respond as a team; and we turned the other cheek. We never badmouthed others, even when they played dirty. Instead, we fought with integrity.
The Lessons: The lawsuit was settled out of court in seven months, and it turned out to be the most defining moment in our young company’s life. By staying transparent, keeping people in the loop and fighting fair, I was able to develop a winning company culture that continues to fuel my business. This incident could have divided my business, but by attacking it head on and with integrity, we became stronger for it.