How to plan for and manage unexpected challenges you face in business
You have probably been to a restaurant when it is extremely business, with people waiting out the door, slow service and very busy servers. You’ve probably been stuck in traffic at rush hour or when a big event is coming to town. You may have waited in long lines for a movie or for a ride at an amusement park or some of their place where you probably thought or said to yourself that they probably need more people or could use more space.
While you might understand or be patient if it happens once or twice, you will probably find alternatives – be it alternative locations if they are available, or available times if the issue seems to be a timing issue. In either case, you are thinking about the cost to switch or select a different option. If it is a restaurant, it may be fairly easy to find another restaurant or movie theatre, making the switching cost low. If it is an amusement park or a road, the switching cost might be higher – you may have to travel a great distance (cost) to avoid the lines or to get on open roads.
In either case, you are dissatisfied, perhaps thinking to yourself that you are the customer, you are ready and wiling to invest your money and/or time in order to make use of the product or service, but the provider is making it difficult to do so.
As a small business owner, you most likely have competitors – those providers who can give consumers exactly what you do, or something that would serve their needs instead of what you are offering. For example, you might be willing to give up reading books for watching television or movies. While they are not exactly the same, one use of time is a replacement of the other, versus replacing one book with another one.
Your competitors are more than likely more than happy to take business from your company. That said, what do you do when your company experiences fast growth?
Never is the adage “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” more important than when your company is preparing for and moving through growth. There are few more volatile times in the life of a business then when there is a rapid increase in the amount of business. How many customers could you afford to lose before your brand is damaged? What is the maximum leeway your customers would be willing to give you? Is it 15 minutes? an hour? a day? a week? How do you know and how do you manage it?
Surely, on one side of the picture, you might say that you will rent facilities, increase staff or work with part time staff or contractors. However, at times, things happen that are beyond your control, such as supplier or space shortages. How will you handle this, both when you understand that there is a possibility that could happen, when it happens and after it happens? Do you simply wing it and hope for the best, or do you think through how you will communicate with your client base?
Of course, you never want it to happen, and you will probably do everything in your power to keep it from happening, but planning for how to handle it can be an asset no less important than having insurance. If you want to build a company that is extraordinary, evaluating and reducing risk will be an important part of your operating model.
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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