January 5, 2011
In business, everything starts with a plan. The plan provides a map, a direction, and the basis for well-thought out systems for getting where you’re going. What a plan does best is give you a way to proactively take responsibility for every possible factor within your control. But business is still part of life on Earth, where things don’t always go according to plan. Customer’s needs change. Markets shift. New competitors show up. Shit happens.
So what do you do then? Pack it in, close up shop, sit down and cry, go back to bed, head to the nearest bar? Do you GIVE UP? Hell no. It’s just LIFE and changes and surprises are all part of the game, so you pick yourself up and take a good look around and get creative about new tactics and a better strategy for winning. THEN you act.
The worst mistake people make in the trenches is getting that sequence backwards—they want to react first before taking time to think it through. As in, “Shoot first, ask questions later.” And that’s what gets them in trouble.
Let’s say a landscaping business is suddenly losing long-term customers. They think “Oh, no! We better start advertising, right away!” And so they start shelling out big bucks for radio and TV spots and full-color newspaper ads. Pretty soon they’re not only out of customers, they’re also out of money, and maybe even on the verge of going out of business.
When crisis strikes, the first step is always to stop and think. Before doing anything, remember to remain calm. Create a strategy. Come up with a new Plan A. In some cases, you’ll even want to come up with Plans B, C, D, and E as backups.
Even though nobody can control all the variables in any business environment, one of the best possible strategies is to be prepared, to expect the unexpected. If you’re coaching a football team, you could focus on the three plays your team performs best and drill them on just those plays until they could replicate them flawlessly, every time, no matter what.
But you wouldn’t get away with that for long before the other teams’ coaches caught on and came at you with plays calculated to surprise your guys and exploit any gaps or weaknesses in your game plan. Your team would be sitting ducks because of their predictability.
On the other hand, what if you were to train the team to master a broad range of game scenarios, so that they’d be prepared to deal with practically anything that got thrown at them? No matter what happened in a game, they’d be trained to handle it. That’s being prepared. That’s a strategy.
It’s a strategy that happens to work very, very well for the United States Marine Corps. They train soldiers for every possible scenario that could arise on the battlefield. Then they surprise you with completely new do-or-die emergency scenarios you’ve never seen before until you either get extremely good at adapting to anything and everything or you risk fatality.
And that brings us right back to the business battle plan. A key element of planning is to prepare for the worst as well as the best. That’s the reason for having a file backup system, liability insurance, and spare car keys. Go through all the possibilities you can think of with your team and explore, “What’s the worst-case scenario that could happen for us? And what’s the best way to deal with that and still come out on top?”
All hands must be on deck! Everyone must be on board. Although change is inevitable, an agile organization is always prepared and trained to act strategically, not desperately. By thinking ahead, you and your team will learn to see change as an opportunity to adapt and achieve a stronger competitive edge.
Turn any business problem into an opportunity by answering four simple questions:
What exactly is the problem?
How can I fix this problem?
Do other people have this same problem and if so, how do they handle it?
Would there be people willing to buy my solution if I fix this problem?
Kick Ass, Make Money & Have Fun Doing It!
- WHY YOU NEED A BUSINESS BATTLE PLAN
- TAKE THE TIME TO MAKE IT CLEAR
- THERE IS NO “TRY!”
- SHOW, DON’T TELL (LEADING BY EXAMPLE)
- CREATING A BUDGET