Humbly, some suggestions

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Each time a major supplier (read: airline) slashes agency income in a single stroke and puts individuals in the difficult position of making tough decisions that will affect employees and families, I am left nearly speechless.

And so, you may ask, what kind of an editor am I that I should have nothing to say to Travel Weekly's audience?

It is not that I have nothing to say, but I can tell you what kind of editor I am: humbled.

This humility, not my most outstanding characteristic on most days, is born of a single fact: I have never been an entrepreneur.

By talking with agents over the years, I have surmised something of the entrepreneurial life. I have seen that it can be a heady experience to have business independence and see the fruits of viable, even brilliant, decisions. But it can be risky, too, and especially in a time of major reversals like the most recent airline commission cuts.

It isn't enough to have known that more pay cuts would come. It is the preparation for and response to such cuts that count.

But these have never been my challenges. I've made decisions that affected others' careers, and I was forced to change mine when a publication I edited was folded, but those are not of the same order as stewardship of one's own firm.

So, now you have the measure of the source for the following suggestions:

  • Run your agency numbers dispassionately so you can define your challenge correctly. If that useful attitude is hard to achieve, take a walk and take lots of deep breaths. Indeed, take walks when you want; they are good for you anyway.
  • It may be rewarding to hire a consultant. But, certainly, don't be too proud to talk over ideas with other agents. It could be that working with colleagues, in order to take bolder steps than you would take on your own, will provide important solutions.
  • Maybe you are way past emotional reactions to drastic pay cuts. That doesn't mean you can, or should try to, work out all solutions solo.

  • Tell your employees what is up. You won't tell all, but with some knowledge of what you are trying to do and why, staff will be more supportive.
  • Yes, maintaining a viable and blossoming business is serious, but don't obsess over it. Take breaks from your thinking and planning and reorganizing sessions. A rested mind works better.
  • Do all the fun things with family and friends that you would have done otherwise. Don't ignore the many, nonbusiness sides of your life.
  • Besides, I don't care what shrinks say, it is useful for short periods simply to repress issues that may get you down. On this last item, I speak from experience.

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