Navigating the Uncharted
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
As a business owner you are used to being pushed and tested every day. But these current conditions are like no other. Where do you focus to maintain some clarity, optimism, and sanity?
Here are three core areas that may warrant your focus in order to help mitigate current risk and optimize opportunity.
As an owner, you must always place tremendous value on your relationships. Relationships, a.k.a. people, is what business is; people serving other people. With that said, it’s vital that you protect your assets. These assets include, your current clients, your employees and your key referral partners.
Take inventory and take action. All three categories of your key relationships I mentioned above need your attention. Each needs to hear from you. And each should be treated as the valuable asset they are.
Employees need to hear your vision and where you believe you, your business, and the people in your organization are headed. Transparency is important. This is no time to deceive or mislead. But it is a time to engage in a way that lets them know how integral they are to the wellbeing and functionality of your business. Engaged employees want to be part of the solution. Be present. Be engaged. They need a leader. So brush off those leadership books you haven’t reviewed in a while, and be the leader your employees need…NOW.
Customers and referral partners are going through the same thing you are right now. Let’s not take these relationships for granted. Engaging with the people in your professional life NEEDS to be on your to-do list every day. Reach out. Make it about them. Find out what they need. Share with them your current state-of-the-business, and how you remain in place to service their needs.
When things are going well, we tend to stay the course…why plot a new course when the one you are on is working well. Our gut and instinct usually serve us well when conditions are good; the sun is shining, and the winds are fair and favorable…let’s stay the course. In times of crises and unfavorable conditions, however, we tend to move away from our instincts and begin to move more cautiously…slowly, and with a potential to over-think our every move.
We are certainly in uncharted waters. The horizon is not clear. We are moving forward, but the fog on the water is causing us to slow our pace. We must trust our instruments, charts and other resources more than we have in recent history. And, it may be time to alter coarse a bit; to pivot.
Review your market strategy. Your operations configuration. Your processes, etc. It’s time to take inventory on what is working and what needs some attention. This may also be time to consider alternate approaches: to customer engagements, prospecting, standard business practices. The list goes on. The bottom line here is that we need to pivot, and not sit idle. Identifying new approaches, new ways of thinking, new ideas…it’s all viable and all should be on the table.
So, where do you begin? Remember those relationships mentioned above? Let’s start there. Surrounding yourself with people you trust, and who may have different ideas from yours, is an invaluable resource. Still skeptical? Consider this; it's most likely true that those who helped you achieve your success are those who want you to continue your success. Find those people and discover ways to pivot.
Strategic planning is a key habit every business owner must embrace. In good times and favorable conditions, the planning seems easy, even fun! But just because we are in less favorable conditions doesn't mean this discipline is on hold. We must prepare and plan.
Start with your plans from earlier in the year. Review, revise and refresh. Integrate action items that resulted from the exercises you put into place from the two line items above: Protect and Pivot.
As a practice, your strategic planning should include alternate forward thinking scenarios. In other words, plan with optimism, but prepare for the potential for altered paths ahead. Don’t over analyze here, but planning for one or two potential “what-if” scenarios can help you navigate around the unforeseen that may lie ahead AND still achieve your goals.
We are in uncharted waters. And as a business owner, your resilience is being tested. But just as you ventured out on your uncharted untested entrepreneurial journey the day you opened your own business, you are being tested again. But this time, you are more prepared. You’ve done this before. And once again you will persevere and succeed!
Protect. Pivot. Prepare.