New England has been hit hard by several snow storms over the past few weeks. As newscasters shared that yet another 3 inches were expected to fall, people ran out to stock up on necessities (bread, milk, batteries, and beer) before roads were shut down, businesses and schools closed for another day, and leaving the house was no longer an option. The winds were high and the snow was heavy, but the following days brought the noise of snowblowers and plows. Before long, life will be back to normal.
In business as in winter, storms happen, but with anticipation, preparation and communication, a potential disaster can be transformed into a temporary inconvenience.
I have been watching the storms from afar and feeling sympathy for my New England friends who are longing to see a bit of green grass again and those first few spring flowers to start poking through the snow.
We finally had some rain here in Santa Barbara over the past several weeks and suddenly the hills are lush and green again. We have been experiencing a severe drought and I almost forgot what rain felt like and smelled like. The hills seemed to be a perennial dull brown.
What do snow, rain and storms have to do with your business? Everything! While meteorological storms can strike at any time and in many different forms, business storms can also catch us by surprise if we are not prepared. Stock market crashes, changes in the marketplace, a death in the family, your own illness or the birth of a child are all big events that can have a potentially devastating impact on your business if you are not prepared.
Here are 3 ways you can start preparing for business challenges now:
1. Your inflatable life boat: start a business saving account.
Do you have a business savings account or personal savings that you can use to keep your business afloat when times get tough? Almost every business experiences some lean times or just some wonky cash flow situations. When I owned my publishing company, it seemed like cash flow was always a concern, money always seemed to flow out faster than it flowed in. We could see the money sitting in our receivables but waiting for it felt like our life boat was sinking faster than we could empty the water out with buckets. Cash flow is the life blood of your business and having enough of it can be a big challenge for creative entrepreneurs.
2. Check the weather: pay attention to forecasts and projections.
People who live in New England knew the storms were coming. They were expecting it and could prepare. I worked with a woman last year who seemed to be on constantly in a state where the money was flowing in abundantly or she was experiencing a severe and heartbreaking drought with no relief in sight. When we looked at her past history, we could see that her slow months were the same each year and predict what was happening and why the drought was so intense. She needed to work on step one, saving money for the lean times but she also needed to do more marketing even when she had lots of work so that new business could pour in during her slow months. She wasn’t paying attention to the specific weather patterns for her business and it was causing her stress!
3. Create a back-up generator: create leverage in your business
In today’s global marketplace, it is easier than ever to sell products and services 24/7. No matter what business or industry you are in, there is a product, home study course or other virtual service that you can monetize in your business. These products are great for adding passive income streams to your business plan. Feeling the snow storm coming on or the drought settling in? Need some immediate cash flow in your business? Sell something online! Even if your power goes out, the rest of the world is still in action. When you have consistent marketing systems in place for promoting your products/services like affiliate marketing or joint venture partnerships, you will also have a consistent source of money just like owning your own back-up generator can keep the power on during a storm.
This blog post is part one of a three part series on Weathering the Storms in your Business. Tomorrow’s post by Casey Kerr will focus on what you need to do anticipate the storm and be mentally prepared before it hits. On Wednesday, Sandra Larkin will share her expert take on managing communications during a disaster. Come back here for the direct links to more great insights into how to anticipate, prepare and communicate any business challenges.
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