Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scenery Planning: Don’t Trap Yourself On A Dead End Street.

Don't Trap Yourself On A Dead End Street.
Talking with some friends of mine about the article I posted in this blog a couple of weeks ago, entitled "Bad Advertising Can Hurt Your Business", I realized there was an underlying theme which was worth mentioning and about which I’d like to talk with you today: The need to think about the most critical situations that your company could be facing and about the actions you would take to cope with each of them.

The importance of being prepared for the unexpected.

Among the comments I got about the aforementioned article, there were two that really caught my attention: one referring to the fact that many employers were trying really hard to weather the storm and keep their employees on their jobs, and another one referred to the fact that, during emergency situations, decisions are often made on a desperate way.

If we think about it, emergencies do not happen overnight, at least not while you are managing your business. Emergencies often offer signals, signs, and they usually occur after a sequence of events, not suddenly.

Setting up your business to be prepared for all possible scenarios is simply an exercise of imagination and planning, giving you the chance to think in advance about all the possible answers you can give to unexpected situations.

Some time ago, during a training session I was taking in Venezuela, the instructor told me that "the best managers get always prepared to face the worst situations."

I could not hold my curiosity and asked "Why?" To which the instructor responded: "If you only plan for the best situations, or you just go along with the boom of the good times, any unexpected situation takes you completely by surprise. But if you plan for the worst situations, then the wow factor disappears and you have the confidence of knowing there is an action plan for every possible situation."

At that time, it appeared to me much like when one buys a life insurance policy: You are not really buying it to make use of it, but just to be prepared if something unexpected were to happen. Or are you?

Listening to what happens to your customers, competitors and the general market.

  • What will I do if our clients begin to unsubscribe from our services for no apparent reason?
  • What will I do if sales decline by 30% for two consecutive months?
  • What will I do if competition launches a new product at a price lower than that of my product?
  • What will I do if government increases VAT to 25%?
  • When should I decide to close my business if it doesn’t make the numbers?

An exercise like this opens up your mind to a world of possible ways to act in the event that your business could get in the middle of an specific situation that has developed suddenly and unexpectedly. This is not an exercise of negativity or anything like that.

Quite the opposite: it’s like keeping your mind alert and thinking that "anything is possible and anything can always happen." If you’re familiar with Murphy's laws, remember that "if something can go wrong, it will go wrong".

Getting back to today’s subject, and although probably none of these situations actually happens or is very unlikely, you will have already done an analysis of what paths you’ll follow, regardless of how simple such analysis is, and you'll be better prepared than many others business owners who simply get dragged away by the situation.

Hence the importance of always listening, or more appropriately said, "monitoring" everything that happens around your business: customers, competitors and the market in general.

Build options for your business. Don’t lock yourself into a dead end street.

Have regular meetings with your partners or staff members who occupy supervisory positions, and brainstorm about the different, unexpected situations which your business may confront, and develop potential action plans to deal with them.

It’s a very interesting planning exercise which will help you manage your business with greater confidence and efficiency. And although something unexpected can always happen, the important thing is to try to keep it from finding you empty handed and out of ideas.

Keep always in mind that, as my instructor once said: "The best managers are those who are prepared for dealing with the worst situations."

Do you think it’s a good idea?

Related articles in this blog:
When Bad Advertising Hurts Your Business.
Suffering Of Tunnel Vision While Managing Your Business?
Things You Can Learn from the Army.

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