“Who builds a tower without first considering the cost?” ~ King Solomon of Ancient Israel
Many people who start businesses simply write down a few ideas, get some information and get started on their businesses. They get some sales, things start to look good, so they start looking at how to increase the amount of business they are getting. They might go out and hire a part time VA (virtual assistant) or work with a staffing firm or to fill the need.
All of the sudden, sales plummet. It could be the result of a key customer leaving, a sales person leaving and taking their contacts to another firm, damage to your internet reputation (yep – it happens!) or a change in the marketplace or industry.
Think about it: the New York Yankee’s Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) and twelve other players have been suspended from playing for using performance enhancing drugs. This was unexpected. But the teams cannot afford to fall apart because of this. They have to operate differently in order to remain successful.
While somewhere in the back of our minds, we all know that this is a possibility…it is not preventable because most of these issues are outside of our control. Even losing a key customer!
What does one do then? Sound wisdom says that evaluating and planning for what to do in these types of scenarios will allow you to weather the storms much easier.
As you plan for your company’s growth, you will want to think in several dimensions: best case, most likely case and worst case scenarios. You also need to be realistic in every dimension. Taking desperate last minute measures to adapt to change could be the difference between your company’s success or failure.
If things bottom out, how much cash and other resources will you need to have on hand? What expenses can you reduce or cut and in what order should you make the cuts? How will you maximize your company’s time in the desert? (The desert is that very lonely place where is seems that all is lost. Check out Kris Cavanaugh’s book on her experience)
If you have considered what might happen, you are prepared to take measured steps to reduce costs without damaging your brand. You might have resources that you can liquidate or access to capital to allow the business to continue. You may have an opportunity to purchase a competitor who didn’t plan if you plan for it!
The alternative to a downturn is experiencing explosive growth and not being prepared for it. How much staff do you need? What other resources might you need? Do you need to move your office? Open a second plant? Buy more machinery? Where do you get the resources you need in order for the company to continue?
Explosive growth happens; like in a downturn, you need to think about how you will adapt. You will want to plan to take measured steps to ensure your company can survive. You will need to increase capacity in a way that will enable you to deliver the same high quality product or service your firm is known for or you will lose your company.
In either case, planning what measured steps you will need to take to manage the increase or decrease in business allows you, as a business leader, to make the right choices so that the business can continue when change happens.
Because it will.
Focus on building an extraordinary company. Plan for change. Plan what measured steps you will take when it happens.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results. We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.
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