In Part 1 of this Business “Crash” Course, I talked about being prepared. Let’s suppose you took my advice and made big preparation plans. Did you follow through and turn those plans into reality? Plans stuck on paper will do you no good when disaster strikes.
Part of your preparations should be to identify potential problems that may strike your company. You should be constantly vigilant of these possible attackers. When you notice the first sign of problems, kick your preparations into gear to avoid or mitigate the issue.
Your list of possible disasters or attacks isn’t complete. Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to foresee every possible future event. Sorry!
But you can look for patterns and characteristics in your potential trouble makers. A competing company may start stealing market share. Since you’ve probably not identified all possible competition you may overlook a particular company. If you are flexible and can find correlation between your “list” and a new threat, you’ll be much more likely to avoid major problems.
Keep your eyes on your list of potential problems while constantly monitoring for any similar issues that may appear.
Track Your Business
Natural disasters can quickly strike a blow to your company. Similarly, competition can start stealing your business, be it in a quick strike, or by slowly stealing away customers. How will you know you’re losing business if you aren’t tracking your current performance?
Put a system or person in place that can constantly monitor the health of your business.
With day-to-day operations of your business, you may be so swamped with work that your head is down and you’re oblivious to the future. You need to take breaks to step back and look ahead.
Short-term changes to your business environment must be handled swiftly and nimbly. Think about your current project or product. What could happen this week or next that would cause major delays or problems? How can you work around those or prevent those problems?
Your biggest long-term challenge may just be your competition. When your product is successful, you can bet you’ll have copycats and others trying to grab some of your fame and fortune. For tricks on overpowering your competition over the long haul, read How to Drive Your Competition Crazy.
Be a Detective
Turn over rocks. What will you find underneath? Not all the problems you may face are sitting right in front of you. Issues may be hidden, intentionally or not, from obvious view.
Never lose touch with your customers. The farther you are removed from your customer base, the less you’ll be able to meet their needs. When insulated by levels of bureaucracy, you’ll start to make decisions based on accounting results, misguided internal opinions, or other customer unfriendly ideas. These dangerous decisions will result in disgruntled employees, lost customers, and a steady deterioration of your business.
Be sure you get out of your office and observe the world in which you are doing business. Talk to customers, clients, suppliers, and even your competition. Listen with an open mind, allowing their feedback to break down your preconceived notions and opinions. The more you know about your environment, the more you’ll see potential problems and opportunities. Keep your eyes open!