A few weeks ago on my way home from work, another car ran a stop sign and broadsided me on the right side of my car. The other driver got out of his car, got on his cell phone, and left the scene on foot.
The result of this little accident is that my car is a total loss, I’m in physical therapy to correct my back pain, and the other driver is still unidentified.
Could a similar accident happen to you? Possibly. Could an accident like this happen to your business? You bet.
Unexpected attacks to your business may surprise you with a crippling blow. You need to be ready. Your business can overcome damaging surprises; it just requires some work. Overcoming attacks requires four keys:
- Be prepared
- Be observant
- Identify your enemy
I’ll discuss each of these in a series of articles. Today, we’ll talk about the first:
Step 1: Be Prepared
You never know when something may go wrong with your business. Just thinking of the fury of Mother Nature that we’ve seen over the past year should tell you that you just never know what could happen.
Millions of things could go wrong. Take a moment to sit down and outline your contingency plan for the events that could be most damaging to your business. These may include some things you can’t always control:
- Acts of God (e.g. hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, etc.)
- Terrorist acts or war
- Loss of key employees to sickness, death, or resignation
- Malfunction of manufacturing facilities
- Power outage
- A spike in fuel costs
While the aforementioned issues are often big and devastating, they don’t usually come about by your own negligence. You also need to be prepared for mistakes you or your company makes. How would you recover from one of these?
- New product flops
- Massive product recalls
- Your premier product infringes another company’s patent
- Your CEO pulls some unethical shenanigans
- You didn’t throughly test your web application
- Your computer crashes and you lose all your data
- A competitor introduces a superior product to your top selling item
It would seem that since so many things can go wrong, you just may be destined to fail. No! Once you make a list of things that could be a big blow to your company, it is time to plan your strategy. For each of your possible disaster/problem scenarios, answer these questions:
- Can we prevent this from happening in the first place? If so, get to work.
- If the problem can’t be predicted or avoided, how can we reduce its effects on the business? Back-ups and redundancy may work here.
- How much will it cost to fix the problem? If the answer is “a lot,” you need to get some insurance.
- Do all your employees know what to do in case of emergency?
- How can you build a moat around your business to fend off competitor’s attacks?
- How will you handle your customers’ needs?
- How can your customers help you? You’ll be amazed what loyal customers can do.
- How will you communicate the status and plan to all stakeholders?
Advantages of Preparedness
When you’re prepared, you can sleep at night knowing that you don’t have to worry about all those “what if” scenarios. The next day when you wake up, you can go to the office and focus on improving your business, since you have the confidence that your preparedness blanket is always in place.
The Boy Scouts’ motto is “Be Prepared.” So put on your Scout hat and get your business in order. The day will come when you’ll be glad you did.
This article is the first part of a four part series: