Effective Strategies is devoted to sharing ideas that can improve your business performance. This issue, we discuss how to identify potential life storms that threaten the success of your business.
When we start our businesses, we make a lot of estimates based on best guesses. Most of those guesses are under-estimated. One of the first estimates we make is the amount of money it will take to promote our business so customers will come in the door — that amount runs somewhere around two to four times what we expect. Another estimate we make is that we’ll have more time to spend with our families or special interests once we start our own business — the truth is that we’ll spend in excess of 60 hours a week the first year or two building and running our new business. We also expect to be able to sustain a workload at that level for an extended period of time.
An estimate that we don’t make is how our personal lives will interfere with the time we have allotted to devote to building and running our businesses. This one is one of the most toxic killers to the success of your business. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum and you can’t always plan for the hiccups in your productive time. We have community service commitments and loved ones with needs and activities who can’t always schedule around the needs of our business.
When you are building a business, it is critical that you maintain the kind of customer service that your customers expect. When your company is small and strongly dependent on your presence to be successful, providing consistently-good customer is tough when you experience life’s challenges. This two-part series will help you prepare for life’s unexpected events that place your business at risk. This issue, we begin to identify the potential life events that can throw our business off course. Next issue, we’ll walk through some steps for creating a contingency plan.
Your main goal is most likely to build a business that functions on its own. However, in the early days of your business, it’s unlikely that your business will run without you deeply involved in the day-to-day operations. This creates a problem planning for family vacations and events where you need to get away from the business for a few days. When those unscheduled or uninvited emergencies happen, your reputation for providing reliable customer service and your ability to market your business to ensure a consistent workload is at risk. Inevitably, the closer we are to becoming successful at the next level, the greater chance we have to experience one of those life happenings that throws us off balance. What you need is a contingency plan.
A contingency or backup plan is as important as your business or marketing plan. The smaller your business, the more critical the contingency plan is. Go through this list of key points to begin to create your own contingency plan. You will have some additional events that will be exclusive to you and your life.
What are the seasonal happenings in your life that you can anticipate? Do you handle your own bookkeeping and taxes? If so, it takes extra time January through April to get all the paperwork done. Do you love serving in the community or your church? Owning a small business allows you the opportunity to be flexible to do things that you couldn’t when you worked for someone else’s company. Perhaps you chair an annual fund-raiser that requires more hours of your time three months of the year that you must plan around. Do you coach a little league baseball team that takes some of that extra energy and time a few months each year? Do you take a weeklong family vacation every year? That week not only costs you a week of business operation time and customer contact if you work in your business, it also costs you in terms of your ability to create billable hours that support your bottom line.
What are the possible family crises that you may experience? While we never know what can lie ahead, we must constantly assess the chance that a family member will fall ill or need more of our time. Do you have aging relatives that are at risk to suffer a stroke or Alzheimer’s so that you may have suddenly take charge of their affairs? Do your teenagers have the amount of your attention they need to deal with the strains of teen life as they stand on the threshold between childhood and adulthood? If you are married, is your spouse able and willing to pick up the slack to handle temporary emergencies in your personal and business life?
What are the life crises that you may personally face? Are you in excellent health and devoted to maintaining a lifestyle that keeps you in top condition? What happens if you get sick or must have surgery? What if you had an accident or car repair that takes one of your vehicles out of commission? Is there a relative or a company partner or employee that can step in for you and handle things while you are getting things back up and running?
These occurrences can range from a speed bump or a hurricane in terms of their magnitude. One of your company’s competitive advantages can lie in how you handle each of these occurrences and your ability to create contingency plans for life’s storms. This month’s article was intended to get you thinking about your areas of risk presented by your personal life. Next issue, Effective Strategies E-Zine will present some ideas to help you build a storm shelter so you can provide seamless customer service so that life’s little storms don’t impact your business. To read that article, click here.
Here is an idea for building equity in your team and equity in your company.
Michael Shassere of Logoworks, Inc. (www.logoworksonline.com), a company that produces promotional products and signs, says this: “We have a simple IRA plan and contribute to it with payroll deduction and company matching funds (our team members participate also). We also are buying the building we are in and leasing it back to the company. This way, we build equity every day and get along well with the tenants! You can rarely go wrong with real estate.”
Do you have a great small business management idea you’d like to share with our readers? Share your ideas via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have specific questions and topic ideas, please submit them. I would be glad to address them in upcoming issues. For more articles, click here.
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Carrie Perrien Smith
President, Soar With Eagles
Release Your Potential
Soar with Eagles equips individuals and organizations with the tools they need to improve their performance by creating powerful strategies, improving communication, and strengthening employee commitment.
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