Do you remember the short story of the ant and the grasshopper?
If you have no idea what I am talking about, read it now.
Failing to prepare is essentially setting yourself up for failure. Remaining proactive is the only way to ensure that you have any chance to recover from the unexpected surprises that will inevitably pop up in and around your business.
Recently, I had a laptop that I rely on heavily, fail me over and over. It prevented me from producing content for my podcast, blog, and email newsletters. That also impaired my ability to generate revenue for my business. To make things even more challenging, my wife and I are business partners that focus on completely different revenue streams and we often need to use the computer at the same time. By the way, how does that always happen?!
Nothing about this scenario is good and it is just asking for problems.
The solution? We now each have our own computer to use and we have several backups. After reflecting on our past experiences we have now stacked the odds in our favor, in the event of a future failure of one of our computers.
Unfortunately, if something can break or malfunction it likely will at some point in the future. Technology is especially susceptible to this phenomenon. I have lost a computer due to lightning, even though it was plugged into a surge protector. Then lost another laptop this year for a mystery power loss scenario that no one can seem to figure out. This unlikely crap can happen to anyone, so why not you?
What is your plan if your most valuable person suddenly quits or if several of them do at once?
I have seen this scenario play out as an employee at more than one company that I have worked for and I am always amazed that there is no plan for this event. Everyone should have their defined roles and they should be allowed to own their process in everything that they do. Judge them on their results, not because their process isn’t your process. The experience and knowledge shared here came to me from my HR background, so pay attention. If the people working for you hate what they do and how you make them do it, they will quit. When you don’t pay them well, they will quit. If you don’t give them a stake and real ownership in the success of your business, they will quit. None of this is groundbreaking news or difficult to implement at all.
A HUGE mistake that some companies make is to leave someone on their own ‘island’ so long that no one else can figure out how to cover their responsibilities. Cross-train your people, for God’s sake! If you don’t, it will return to haunt you, disrupt your operation, and cost you money and potentially, clients.
Another situation that makes me shake my head from side to side, is building an entire business off of one big government contract or a single client.
What are you going to if that relationship ceases to exist besides firing everyone that works for you and then yourself? Build multiple streams of income- whether that means more than one product or service, or multiple clients, or better yet, both!
These are a few common scenarios that no business owner wants to think about, but you are crazy if you do not. Expect the best and prepare for the worst, always. You can rest your hat on that statement. I strongly recommend evaluating the products and services that you offer, the people that work for you, and the technology and/or products that you depend on for the daily operation of your company. Ask yourself where the risks are and try to create the worst case scenarios in your mind. Of course you want a plan A, B, and C for dealing with those as well because our friend Murphy told us that “if it can happen, it will.”
For anyone who is reading my thoughts for the first time, I want to assure you that I approach life with an extremely positive attitude. I have been caught before in the trap of focusing on the sunshine and ignoring the uneven ground under my feet. Quite simply, I would like to save you the same headaches so I hope that you can take something away from this to help yourself.
Is that cool with you?
Do you have any first-hand experience with an unexpected surprise that snuck up on you and rocked the foundation of your business? Let’s hear about it in the comments. Your story will help someone else, so please don’t be shy with this. “Managing The Unexpected” explains the development of unexpected events and guides you in improving your organization for more reliable performance. Grab a copy and learn more from the book!
Thanks for reading and I will catch up with you again, soon.