Consulting, Family Business, Small Business, Technology
A couple of years ago the world watched as New Orleans almost became the ‘Lost City of Atlantis’. Hurricane Katrina almost completely destroyed this historic city on the Mississippi. Homes, lives, and businesses were lost in the matter of just a few days. Many of those businesses had enough warning to enable them to move vital information to secure spots. Unfortunately, many more chose to ‘stick it out’ in hopes that the storm and surge would pass by them.
Most people who live along coastal waterways know there is the possibility that they will be subject to some kind of natural disaster. Businesses put plans in effect that will help them relocate in case of emergencies. But what would you do if your small community seems impervious to natural disasters? We live in a relatively safe place here in Idaho. We do not get hurricanes; we rarely have tornados, and when we do the most damage it usually does is tip over somebody’s tractor or throws their swing set into a tree; we can have some harsh winters but not anything that can’t be dealt with. But, recently an event happened that should make every small town that sits in the mountains take notice.
A fire started in the mountains near Sun Valley, Idaho. It quickly grew to many thousands of acres, threatening the towns of Ketchum, Sun Valley, and Elkhorn. They, or at least parts of them, were evacuated for several days. Did these towns have a week or two notice, like they did with hurricane Katrina? No, they had only a few hours notice for the citizens of those communities to grab whatever belongings they could carry and evacuate. Fortunately the fire was contained and few reports of lost property were reported.
What would you do in your business if this happened? How would you safeguard your property? How would you transfer vital documents and supplies to safe areas? What would happen to your information technology infrastructures? How would you conduct business if you were forced to leave your place of business for an extended time?
These same questions were repeatedly asked on September 11, 2001, the day the World Trade Center towers were attacked and destroyed, by many businesses throughout this land and beyond. These same questions need to be asked today?
Disaster preparedness is not just about stocking food in case you can’t get to the store. For businesses it is about preparing to function in extreme circumstances, preparing to secure key components of their business from possible damage, and preparing to not only survive, but prosper when all around them seems to be in chaos.
How have you prepared your business in the event of an emergency?
Let us know…
Consulting, Family Business, Small Business
When starting a new business, many have problems deciding how much money they need. They may have a figure in mind, but if they have never owned their own venture before, they may have no idea about hidden business costs. These can be small, or they can be very large and troublesome. Most figure out what they know, but far too many fail to do proper research before they take out a loan to start their own company or service. This usually means they will fail because they run out of money.
Business costs can be something like Monopoly money. This game is about real estate, but it is something like what would really happen to an unprepared business man or woman who has not done enough research and has not secured enough money for business costs. Towards the end of the game there is one player that seems to have a lot of property but they can’t keep in the game because their cash is too low. A business might be well stocked and cared for, but without the proper money to keep it going, it is going to tank.
In order to calculate business costs, research into similar businesses is essential. Though this information might be hard to find, it can be done. A bank that has experience with business loans may even be able to help with this, but they may not be able to help other than offering to extend the loan. Their screening process might weed out loans that are way too high for the endeavor, but they may not say if they think the estimated business costs are too low unless they think it would cause the loan to default.
The Internet is good for many things, and when it comes to research about business costs, there may be a lot of great information out there to be found. It is important to note the source however, as not all things are written by people who know what they are talking about. There are many great books on the subject, and these might be the best tools to help estimate business costs and also to find other great pieces of information that someone starting a business needs to know. When it comes to opening and running a new business, there is no such thing as too much research, but too little could really do at lot of harm and might mean the difference between success and failure.
Consulting, Family Business, Small Business
A danger in any business is stagnation. As our business becomes more successful, we become more comfortable with our surroundings and less motivated to change from existing practices. Family businesses are no exception: Starting out on an entrepreneurial high, family businesses are widely recognized as a major source of technological innovation and economic progress.
But somewhere in the process we lose the drive, the desire to continually bring innovative practices and products to our organization. Owners may become more concerned about the risk of losing their business, than the prospect of growing it into a larger and more successful entity. In sports this can be compared to a coach who becomes more conservative in a game that the team is winning and instead of trying to win the game, they try and keep from losing it, usually ending up with either a very narrow win, or a loss. How can we continue to promote innovation into the lifeblood of a family business, even as the owner is aging and may be facing the prospect of turning the business over to a younger generation?
One key to this is vision. The leader in a family business must look to the future and ask themselves several questions: