“Worrying is like a rocking chair …

“Worrying is like a rocking chair …

it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

– Erma Bombeck

Business owners like to be creative and think about threats and opportunities in their business. Their brain is trying to help them resolve every issue out there to keep them safe from failure or hurt. The problem is when the worrying becomes overwhelming and prevents us from making a move. It helps to recognise that worry is there to keep us safe, but we have other skills that help us perform. Planning is a good positive one.

Think about what your end goal is and implement a plan that will solve the issue and get you closer to your goal. Use a daily task list or diary appointments to find time in your busy life where you can implement the plan. And remember that if you find other stuff is getting in the way, question whether you have your priorities correct.

Recently a client came to see me a few days after he had been blindsided by a staffing crisis. He had had three sleepless nights caused by numerous issues that he was struggling to deal with. These issues were big and life changing such as cancelling large projects, fifty percent revenue declines, having to sell his lifestyle property and even winding his business up. These threats were real – but they were overwhelming him and preventing him from addressing the issue in front of him.

The issue was – “how can I replace a key staff member in the shortest time frame”?

Not easy in the current employment market. But by putting in a plan in place to focus on strategies and tasks to replace the key staff member it took away the worry on things that hadn’t happened yet. And even if the key staff member took a while to find – the strategy and plan to find and replace the staff member would be appreciated by the bank – applying to a bank for financial assistance they would see you were aware of what you were up against but you had a solution you were working toward. As luck would have it – while we were brainstorming on different ideas of where to get specialist staff – a lightbulb went off in my client’s head. By focusing on the issue and not what might happen – he discovered he had a name that could solve his staffing crisis. By the next day, he had interviewed a qualified person and within a week he had a signed contract in his hands.

If you ever find yourself overwhelmed and can’t take a step forward – find someone to talk to that can get you to take a step back, look at what your key issues are, and help you to find a plan that you can implement to solve it. Sleepless nights can be cured by stopping the worrying – by putting a plan in place that gets you to where you want to go.

Do you plan to not lose, or plan to win?

Do you plan to not lose, or plan to win?

Often in business, we size up a situation and become determined not to be worse off but in so doing we lose focus and miss out on creating successful outcomes.

It comes down to mindset. Are we actively looking objectively at strategies that put us in a position of strength or are we setting minimum standards and fixing mistakes as we go so as not to fail? It takes foresight and effort to plan to win. It is about proactively weighing up strategies that have risk but are calculated to provide a greater benefit. It is about learning and adjusting as we go.

At a recent peer-advisory board a business owner was faced with a $6,000 “expense” that could be eliminated. A wise choice – reducing expenses – because as confirmed in our recent Business Pulse Survey there are dark clouds on the horizon for New Zealand businesses. But during discussion with other business owners on his advisory board – the return on the $6,000 “investment” would add $70,000 p.a. to his net profit and by analysing and taking this path he would become more motivated to grow his business during a downturn. Also, with the opportunity to double the “investment” to $12,000 he could add $140,000 p.a. to his net profit in these troubling times. Sure, this is not a given – he still needs a defined goal, strategy, and action plan to achieve it but that’s what planning to win does – it makes you put in place a plan to take advantage of opportunities. Planning to not lose is reactionary and cautionary and can gradually stunt business growth. It avoids the need to be visionary, create a plan, and be held to account and often the business owner who finds themselves in this reactive position is there because of difficult circumstances and lack of motivation or encouragement. Are you planning to win – or, subconsciously, doing just enough to not lose?

We’ve Done It Before – We Can Do It Again

We’ve Done It Before – We Can Do It Again

A sudden slip into Alert Level Three, the blast of the emergency ‘COVID’ warning through our phones and once again we’re into the balancing act of keeping our businesses moving in exceptional circumstances.

Last month our Pulse Check results told us how adaptable and flexible New Zealand’s small business are, with business owners altering operations and changing practice in order to survive the challenges that 2020 has thrown at us all. Just as we have rolled out our August Pulse Check – which you can access here if you would like to participate – the beat has changed again and, in Auckland, we are facing at least three days at Level 3, probably more, with the rest of New Zealand parked up at Level 2 for the time being.

We asked our Auckland team for their thoughts on the current situation and their advice was simple — we’ve been here before, rely on past experience and know that it will pass.

The Alternative Board’s managing director Stephen James said: “Knowing it will pass, spend some time addressing a few scenarios. For example, if Level 3 lasts, as announced, for three days what do you need to do? Or, if it remains in place for two weeks or if Level 4 is declared and we have full lockdown for an indefinite period — what then? Develop plans of action for each scenario and communicate these to your staff and stakeholders.”

Scenarios are very helpful when it comes to managing uncertainty as Alfredo Puche explained in his recent blog post. Other helpful advice is to be found in Gordon Stuart’s tips on surviving a recession and Karen Van Eden’s thought-provoking piece on thriving in times of uncertainty.

Whatever your approach, remember that The Alternative Board is here to help you, the business owner, manage and grow your business regardless of circumstances — and we are all here, ready to help you.

As Karen says: “We’ve done this before – together we can do it again. Stay safe, stay well.”

The Alternative Board - OwnersWaikato