How to Prepare for the Unknown - Three Strategies from Mountain Biking

Business, from time to time, is about dealing with the unexpected. Most of the time business runs smooth. We make a product or service and the customer buys it. We serve them, run the day to day operations of our business and go on.  However, what happens if the unexpected happens, like the corona virus we're all experiencing now?

I spoke with the authors of the Titanic Effect: Successfully Navigating the Uncertainties that Sink Most Startups, speakers and business professors, Dr. Todd Saxton and Dr. Kim Saxton

They explained some simple principles that just about every business owner can use to mitigate the affects of a downturn in business.

Use the unexpected to get other things done

Maybe you've also wanted to write a book? Or your assistant has a long list of projects that he's never able to get to? A downturn in business could be the time to get things done that normally you don't have the time to get to.

Don't wait for a perfect plan to communicate to people

Unexpected situations are called unexpected for a reason. So when you communicate with people don't wait to have the perfect plan. It'll probably never happen. Instead communicate as soon as you can to those who might be affected by your decisions.

Todd and Kim also encouraged us to avoid making decisions, in uncertainty, that might come back to bite you. Try not to make decisions in haste or without some thought.

Often times there are distant, early warning signals which give us a clue to what might happen in the future. While you'll never be sure precisely what the future holds, try to develop a "sixth sense" for future things that could impact your business.

If you're a small company - be happy. It's often the new and smaller firms which are nimble and can navigate easier than big companies can.

As a leader, institute scenario planning in your company. This doesn't mean you have to interrupt the flow of business operations. However, Kim says that we should be both strategic and tactical at the same time.

Todd shares with me an analogy which comes from the world of mountain biking. They use a principle of now, next and navigation.

  • Now is about your supply chain, customers and the "today"
  • Next is about what's coming up in the future of your company.
  • Navigation is all about being able to gauge where your business is going and being sure to look ahead

If you have not planned for uncertainty, is it too late?

For the answer Todd and Kim introduced me to their "four oceans" concept from their book.

There's four oceans to your business.

Human element - which is your cofounders, employees, investors and etc
Marketing - which is all about how your getting customers, making sales and etc
Technical - aspect is the operational aspect of your business
Strategy - is how you put all of this together

If you don't want to be the Titanic of business, you've got to be sure to navigate through all of these oceans successfully.

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