Anything Can Happen… So Prepare for Everything

Recently we saw the US government shut down because of partisan politics. It affected hundreds of thousands of government workers and millions of people who work with small businesses in one way or another. As of this writing, still nothing has been done to fix the situation, so all those workers’ lives are up in the air.

Why start off with such a gloomy subject? Because this taught us more than anything that anything can happen. Sure, the shutdown was foreseen by at least a week or two…but who really saw it coming? There are threats all the time, but an actual shutdown hadn’t happened in 17 years or so. In some sense it was out of nowhere.

We all like to think nothing bad will happen…until it does. You have to be prepared for everything even though there’s not really a chance it will happen. There’s no point in taking a risk in small business as the smallest incident could harm your entire company.

Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Obviously nobody goes into business expecting to fail. The more confident you are starting out the better your chances of making it through any rough times. However, to assume there’s nothing that could happen to derail your business is just delusional. You have to prepare for the worst while expecting the best.

Don’t think just in terms of money, though. That’s one mistake many will make when starting the process of “backup planning.” They think that running out of funds to operate is their only problem. While it is a huge one, it’s not the only case.

For example, if you get your items from a certain supplier, what happens if they stop selling to you or go out of business themselves? Do you have an idea of where to get your items now? Or on the other end of the spectrum, what if you get a million orders one week and aren’t sure how to keep up? It seems like a good problem to have, but huge growth out of nowhere has shut down many a business before.

Try to think of as many different scenarios as possible and how you would go about amending them when they happen. Try to be realistic, of course – if Godzilla suddenly stepped on your office I think it’s perfectly fine to just throw in the towel. Everything else can be imagined and dealt with before it actually happens.

Learning to Compromise

Arguably and without getting political, one of the reasons the government got into the mess in the first place is because there was a lack of compromise. People were too interested in themselves and weren’t capable of coming across party lines to talk about what was best for everyone involved.

You can’t let this happen to your company. If the chips are down and there’s nowhere else to turn, you have to be willing to meet people in the middle. Honestly you should learn how to do this way before you have no other options.

For instance, you may balk when your supplier ups your rate unexpectedly and want to pull the plug on your deal. However, that would severely cripple your business if they call your bluff. Instead, you could talk to them and find out what’s going on. Most suppliers don’t raise their rates arbitrarily, of course.

Now you can communicate with them properly and negotiate a deal. Perhaps a temporary contract could be struck, raising your rates for a few months so the supplier can stay in business. When they get back on their feet you could renegotiate for your old rate…or an even better one.

What’s one disaster or emergency you’ve planned for? How did you do it? Please share in the comments so we can all learn from one another.