The underlying premise of my book, Small Company Big Crisis, is that business crises are a recurring and inevitable part of being in business. And yet, every time another business crisis faces us, we are surprised. We treat the good times as ‘normal’ and the bad times as ‘abnormal’, writes Bronwyn Reid.
But if the past few years have taught us anything, it must surely be that presuming the good times will last and they are the ‘normal’, is simply not correct.
From late 2019 there has literally been one disaster after another; bushfires, COVID, floods … Now there is a war in Europe, interest rates and inflation are rising, and house prices are falling.
Somebody, somewhere, coined the phrase ‘the great resignation’. I recently saw some research data that showed Australia’s workforce turnover is currently at 11 per cent. What that means for all of us is that one in ten people in our teams will leave us and have to be replaced every 12 months.
Those who leave inevitably take a certain amount of knowledge with them. Replacing those people is becoming increasingly difficult. Every conversation I have at every business breakfast or business meeting elicits similar stories from every other business owner and manager. This has been the case for months now.
Then there are all the ‘normal’ potential crises that are always present – a tragedy in the family, a divorce, a change in consumer sentiment, a technological breakthrough by a competitor … all have the potential to disrupt or kill your business.
All that sounds pretty darn depressing, but it’s not meant to be! What it is, is a plea to small business owners and managers to accept and recognise that business is not smooth sailing. There will be crises to face, and when one is finished, another will be along sooner or later.
If crisis is inevitable, what can we do?
We small and medium-sized business founders and owners are optimists by nature. We tend to look on the bright side. We think things are going to be better. In fact, that’s why we started our business in the first place. We take that leap because we believe that being in our own business will give us a lifestyle that we want – better than that of, say, a corporate underling.
But we need to take this whole thing about planning for these inevitable crises a bit more seriously. We can’t live in rainbow-and-unicorn land, believing that the good times are normal, and will continue. We need to adjust our mindset and accept that our businesses are going to continually face another business crisis.
There are simple steps that we can all take, even the smallest of micro-businesses, to protect ourselves, our businesses and our families that depend upon it. My plea is that we make this thinking and preparation just as much a part of our business, and our everyday operations, as dealing with suppliers, doing our marketing, interacting with customers, etc.
How will you start your planning?
This post first appeared on https://www.kochiesbusinessbuilders.com.au on December 9, 2022.