We’ve all experienced Murphy’s Law and we all know what it feels like when things don’t go according to plan. In business (or in the military it is called FUBAR- please don’t ask me to spell out the acronym), you can count on something going wrong on a regular basis. There are so many cogs turning at once, it’s inevitable. The question you need to consider is not whether something will go wrong, but rather how you’ll handle it when things do go wrong.
Now most of the time, the challenges that arise are small enough that they don’t seriously jeopardize the future of your business, but sometimes there are major setbacks or obstacles that do pose a serious threat to business success.
It could be an accident, the break-up of a partnership, the loss of a major customer, a lawsuit, a death in the family, divorce or any number of other things that affect your life or business. In challenging times like these, there are to two things that can serve you well: Perspective and Preparation.
“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”
—Charles R. Swindoll
Your perspective is derived from a number of life experiences like: your up-bring, your core values, major challenges, and many of your life obstacles. The important matter here is the way you choose (stress again the word choose) your appropriate response. Without having a mythology for an appropriate response, all the challenges, obstacles, frustrations and annoyances that naturally arise in business will be exactly what they seem to be: problems. But with a productive mythology, all of those problems become opportunities to do better, to learn more, to improve and transform your business.
Despite logic, many employees go through an ‘entrepreneurial moment’ and feel the need to start their own business with the ambition that, “I can do ______ better than my former owner/superior”. However, these new business owners set themselves for failure due to their ‘employee’ mindset and knowledge base. What happens is these new business owners operate their business entirely from the perspective of a technician. So why is this? Most employees are trained only as technician’s and are entirely focused on the mechanics of business, not the results. Consequently, when things go wrong, it represents a problem that has to be dealt with- usually with great effort, time, money and pain. These business owners find themselves working harder on problems and consequently losing focus of working “on” the business. The inevitable result is: burn out, negativity, loss of hope and loss of the vision for the business.
Entrepreneurs know better. To the true entrepreneur, nothing is impossible and the world is full of endless opportunities. Therefore by working smarter, not harder, the entrepreneur doesn’t get burned out or disheartened—even in the worst of times. So all problems and potential problems are dealt with on a productive and proactive perspective.
While it’s true that no amount of planning or preparation can account for everything that might happen in your life or business, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan! The good news is that if you’re doing SMART strategic planning, you have already prepared for the unexpected.
Strategic planning is one of the most powerful activities you can engage in as a business owner and it will prepare you for the unexpected. Strategic planning includes things like: a clear vision for your company’s future, a functional cash and operating budget, cash reserves for problems or opportunities, and a clearly defined hiring and training (and on-going training) plan for all new and existing employees.
By planning for the future you have greater clarity of things that could possibly go wrong and disrupt your plans. Strategic planning helps you prepare for the eventualities that might otherwise have stayed off your radar, sometimes ‘problems’ require you to rethink your goals and objectives. When this happens you now have the opportunity to reassess and reevaluating your future vision and goals and determine the next tactical steps. You are also afforded the opportunity to properly align the present conditions to your future vision.
What to do when things go wrong:
– Be clear about your personal objectives and vision (what really matters to you)
– Stay committed to your Strategic Plan
– Work strategically on your business for the future
– Leave room for errors and have contingency plans
– Control your immediate and ‘gut reaction’ to any problem.
– Accept all problems as an opportunity for a positive change.
By adopting an entrepreneurial mindset, you stay positive, productive and look for the opportunity in all things.