Every year, as the Atlantic hurricane season approaches many businesses have a nagging realization that they are at risk due to a catastrophic “Black Swan ” event. Black Swan events are a constant source of risk in states like Florida where many communities are subject to disruption due to coastal storms. This risk is particularly acute for businesses that depend on the storage of on-line data if there is a chance their critical data could become lost or corrupted. But the threat from Black Swan events isn’t limited to Florida, nor is it limited to large scale disruptive events like hurricanes.The black swan theory or theory of black swan events describes a disruptive event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancient saying which presumed black swans did not exist, but the saying was rewritten after black swans were discovered in the wild. Consider the following scenario…

“We tend to think of disasters in terms of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina, or other mega events. Sometimes, however, less notable events occur that can have a catastrophic effect on a business. In February 1981, an electrical fire in the basement of the State Office Building in Binghamton, New York, spread throughout the basement of the building setting fire to a transformer containing over a thousand gallons of toxin-laden oil. Originally thought to be PCBs, the toxins were soon determined to contain dioxin and dibenzofuran, two of the most dangerous chemicals ever created. The fire was smoky and quickly filled the 18-story building with smoke. As the transformer burned, the soot entered the buildings ventilation shafts and quickly spread toxic soot throughout the building. The building was so badly contaminated that it took 13 years and over $47 million to clean before the building could be reentered or used. Because of the nature of the fire, the building and its contents, including all paper records, computers, and personal effects of the people who worked there, were not recoverable. This type of event would be irrecoverable for many businesses.” – Operations Due Diligence, Published by McGraw Hill

What affect would a catastrophic hurricane that affected an entire region or a localized disruptive event like a fire have on the operation of your business? Could you survive that kind of interruption or loss? As the dependence on on-line data has grown in virtually every type of business, so has the risk that loss of their data could disrupt the operation of the business and even result in its complete failure. In response to these threats, there has been an evolution in the approaches used to mitigate these risks as the volume of on-line data has continued to grow. Originally, the concept of Disaster Recovery (DR) emerged as a mitigation strategy that focused on the recovery of critical data after a disruptive event by giving the business the ability to restore disrupted IT operations.

To hit gold in business, you have to think gold. What is your business all about? How do you intend to maximize profits? Here are tips on how to think different in business:

Think back to the future

Don’t wait till the harsh business storm hits your business; rather, always think of what to do better or next. For example, what are the things you need to put in place to ensure business growth? What stage is your business on the business chart, that is, in areas of development, growth or decline? Is your business vision realistic? What is your current profit margin? What is your intended profit margin? How do you intend to speed up your productivity? Evaluating your business, keeps you prepared for the future.

Believe your ideas are valuable

Always think your glass is half full. Think about possibilities not only about likely constraints. As a business owner, you have to nurture a positive mental attitude; believe things will work out fine. If there are possible risks, device means to avoid or manage them. Risks are unforeseen, but you can plan ahead to avoid or mitigate them. Being positive in business enables you take a chance on yourself, be bold to take calculated risks, and believe you are adding value, even when the numbers say otherwise. That is a way of thinking differently in business.

Dig beyond your current offerings

Do not just view things on the surface. Think intensively and carry out research on other ways your business can benefit your target market. Reflect on the true realities of where your business stands at the moment. What are your business challenges? Classify them and analyse them to see how you can make a difference. Outline your business SWOT analysis (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Go beyond the surface; be realistic.

Your competitors are watching

Understand your business environment; be familiar with your competitors’ strategies – if you are not, you can bet that your competitors are doing their homework. What resources do they have that surpasses yours? How can you leverage to collaborate and partner to get the necessary resources? What’s the best way to build more goodwill? Do a survey on your business, and be cautious of the events happening in your business environment.

 

Starting a business can be a very daunting adventure if a proper plan is not put in place. Most entrepreneurs start up their businesses without putting adequate plans in place to succeed. No wonder one out of every five businesses crumbles within 5 years! If one thing should be taken very seriously, it should be your business plan. This is your “blueprint for success.”

Every business begins from a thought. A thought or idea can only become reality when expected actions are taken. When an idea is conceived, the logical corollary is that such ideas need to be written out, in black and white and on paper; or else the idea will fade off when the enthusiasm that the thought initially brought subsides. Hence, having a written business plan is pertinent if your business is to stand the test of time.

Now, what is a Business Plan?

One definition, according to entrepreneur.com, is that a business plan is a “written description of the future of your business; a document that indicates what you intend to do and how you intend to do it.” If you notice a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have already started a written plan, or at least the first draft of a plan. The business plan itself consists of a narrative and several financial worksheets.

The very act of planning helps you to think things through in a systematic and thorough way. Study and research your market niche if you are not sure of the facts, and look at your ideas critically. It may take some time now, but helps to avert costly and disastrous mistakes in future.

In this article, I want to provide a very brief look at the steps involved in planning a business:

  1. Identify Your Passion: Knowing what you love doing, even without making money, is the stepping stone in starting any business. Most people enter into a business they know nothing about, and stop after only few months. Some get tired of their businesses simply because they are not happy with the activities involved in running the business anymore. According to Sabrina Parsons, (CEO of Palo Alto Software) “Know yourself, and work in a job that caters to your strengths. This knowledge will make you happier.”

The reason why many businesses fail in their first five years is because the entrepreneurs do not find fulfillment in running their business anymore. Hence, they tend to move on in search for happiness.