No Matter How Carefully We Plan, Something May Still Go Wrong
When poet Robert Burns wrote his apology ‘To a Mouse’, he expressed a simple truth that can be applied as broadly or specifically as one chooses. “The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.” Regardless of how well we plan, things don’t always play out the way we had expected.
A recent window of opportunity allowed my husband and I to plan a quick getaway to Tasmania with our 8-year-old daughter. Admittedly, it was pulled together in haste but as planning is something I enjoy doing, I thought I’d covered all the bases. That remained our firm belief until we found ourselves broken down in the rain by the side of the Hume highway at 7.30pm, still 2 ½ hrs from our destination.
Our car is nothing flash, but it is well maintained and reliable so I hadn’t factored in the death of the alternator. Our lack of previous car problems had also caused me to become a little complacent with renewing my roadside assistance membership, and although it was on my to-do list, it didn’t rank highly and was subsequently overlooked.
Now, even though we made the best of a bad situation and our trip went on to be a fabulous time away, it did cost us time, anxiety and quite a few dollars we hadn’t anticipated. That led me to think of a few tips on business planning that I could pass along.
Back to back appointments are necessary sometimes but make sure you allow time to achieve the purpose of the meeting. People don’t feel special if your conversation sounds more like a hasty spiel and you keep checking the time. Likewise, a meal isn’t enjoyable if you are concerned about your ability to pay for it, so be sure your plans leave margins of time and money that allow you to make the most of the experience.
Mental energy is something that varies from person to person, and often from day to day. It can be affected by our diet, non-business concerns, a lack of sleep or overall poor health. Factor it into the plans you make. Tailor them to accommodate your known needs, and others that might arise.
Make Hay While the Sun Shines
If business is ticking along nicely, it may be tempting to put your feet up and take it easy, however this is the best time to be planning for the rainy season. Trying to plan for a disaster while it unfolds is like explaining the evacuation procedures to passengers aboard a sinking ship. It’s much easier to prepare while there is no threat to safety and passengers are calm and focused on the task at hand.
Have a Plan B
Options, alternatives and backup plans allow business owners to breathe. Identify the most crucial aspects of your business and map out a plan B should any of them become unavailable. It may be your staff, a key supplier, or even yourself. What would you do if any of those were temporarily (or permanently) unable to fulfil their current role?
Planning for something that may never happen may seem counterproductive, but it is no different to insurance. It gives us the peace of mind to know that we could handle a range of curve-balls and allows us to direct our energy with confidence on a daily basis.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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