The Profit is a television shows Charles and I enjoy. Marcus Limonis is a wealthy investor who uses his money “to save small businesses and make money.” As small business owners ourselves, we like the premise of that reality show. Marcus visits struggling family-owned stores and factories and decides whether his investment can turn help turn the company into a money-making operation. It’s not easy for him to convince the original owners to give him a percentage of the company, and to put in place a process to generate more revenue. Inventory control is one of the pillars of that process. Limonis insists on streamlining the inventory, having a fire sale of the excess, and stocking only products that are profitable.
How times have changed. In January 1992, I signed up to work for two days at a clothing store for $8 an hour to count inventory. Bar codes and scanners were yet to be invented. I was assigned a section of the store and given a clipboard to record my findings. I counted the items on each rack and entered the numbers by size and style. After several hours on my feet, I was dog tired, but the owner had the information needed for property tax purposes.
January is also a good time of year to conduct a personal inventory—to take stock of where you are and what you want to accomplish. It is intimidating to look around the house and try to deal with all the stuff that takes up too much space and time. In the spring and fall, I deal with clothes and what needs to go and what needs to be replaced. My mission at the first of each year is to clean out files (computer and paper) and closets filled with accumulated junk.
Using that same analogy, I need to take time to look within and reevaluate habits and attitudes that clutter my relationship with God and people. These two Bible verses call for all of us to examine ourselves and our ways.
Lamentations 3:40 — "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord."
2 Corinthians 13:5 — "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?"
As a creature of habit and convenience, it is hard for me to evaluate and make the necessary changes that will often push me out of my comfort zone. In other words, change is hard and often resisted. Think how much better we would all feel if we threw away judgmental attitudes toward people and negative thoughts about the situations we face. Just like getting rid of the stuff in our closets frees up time and choices, an uncluttered spirit opens our minds to the still small voice of God, who desires to use us in ways we can only imagine. Take inventory and make way for that which is new and fresh.