Recent news headlines have been scarier than usual: the horrible shooting in Tucson; massive floods covering Brisbane, Australia; snow storms blanketing the East Coast; birds falling from the sky; masses of dead fish. There have been no reported sightings of zombies, yet. But 2012 is just around the corner. Are these signs pointing to the end of the world as we know it?
Is your business equipped to handle calamity?
With far too little help trickling down from government sources or traditional banks, small businesses are on their own again in 2011. Fortunately, self-reliance has always been a hallmark skill of every small business owner.
If there is a coming apocalypse, do you have what it takes to survive?
Even if the apocalypse doesn’t happen, you should check your business’s readiness to weather any coming storm. These essential building blocks will be valuable. Give yourself one point for every statement that is true about your business.
1. I know the pain my business solves for my customer. You are very focused on why your customers need you and why they will continue to pay for your product or services even during tough times.
2. My business has employees who have been with the company for more than five years. Business is not about ideas, but the execution of those ideas. The right people are key to effective execution. Loyal employees are valuable since they have been through both good and bad times with your company. They know how to improvise when things start falling from the sky.
3. My business gets ongoing revenue from customers automatically every month. Your business is stronger if it gets paid a fee from customers every month as a result of some kind of ongoing service or other annuity. Any business that needs to find new customers every month is at a disadvantage since your customers can stop "rebuying” at any time.
4. My business gets payment immediately when the product or service is delivered. Your business has no receivables. Cash is king. If your business gets paid when the product is delivered, all the cash is immediately available to your business to reinvest or weather storms. During tough times, customers will use what they owe your business to manage their own cash flow problems by slowing their payments.
5. My business has no line of credit or pays it off at least once a year. If your business uses your credit line as a temporary source of cash, it is stronger when banks tighten up. If you are dependent on banks or non-operating cash flow, that typically dries up or becomes non existent during tough times.
6. My business does not sell people’s time as its product. During an apocalypse, it’s difficult to keep people safe. There is much more profit leverage in intellectual property that can be licensed by customers. Solid infrastructure can also leverage diminishing personnel resources if necessary.
7. My distribution channels are protected. One of the most sustainable competitive advantages is to have either loyal distribution channels or ones that have a high price of entry or exit. During tough times, people can’t afford or are too scared to switch.
8. My business can evolve and then thrive. Bizarre stuff can happen. What is your business’ backup plan if it fails? The prepared business owner knows what their company can “morph” into if their primary business dries up.
9. My business never turns its back on its enemies. These are competitive times. Never underestimate other companies that are trying to steal your market share. Every successful business with high profit margins breeds competitors.
10. My business has a disaster plan. During tough times, things blow up and go missing. Does your business have a disaster plan if you lose your computer data, your critical people or your building?
0-3: Make your way to the nearest bunker.
Your business will not survive on its own. You may be able to find a job handing out the food rations or gas masks.
4-6: Sell your business.
Use the money to hire other professional people to fortify your residence so you can ride this out until it's all over.
7-10: Expand and Build.
You will be a business leader no matter what is left after the coming apocalypse. Solidify your position now!