Resilience: the ability to bend in the face of challenges and bounce back, possibly stronger.
We have suggested that there are 3 pillars of resilience essential for sustaining the community of White River. To be sure there are probably more issues out there, but these three cover most:
Social resilience: the way the White Riverians work together, support each other and build bridges, not walls
Environmental resilience: looking after nature, from which everything ultimately originates.
Economic resilience: building and maintaining sound businesses and encouraging people to want to be in White River and buy from White River.
This last pillar is the subject of this blog, more specifically: Business Resilience.
Tough times are here and many of the small businesses are struggling. Still we keep seeing new places opening up and new events staged. They don’t all work.
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive, but not always well. So here are ten things to think about – good to do before you start, but relevant anytime. Most of these are in the form of questions to keep asking yourself.
- Raison d’etre
Why does your business deserve to exist? Can you clearly state the purpose and your vision? Hint: “to make money” is not good enough. What need are you meeting, what gap in the market are you filling?
- Advantage and differentiation
Why should this business work? What advantages do you have over the competition? Why are you likely to succeed where others have failed? What makes you different?
Competitive advantage could include location; reliable/cheap/quality supply; expertise, community connections etc. For example; there are a dozen or more places to grab a coffee in White River. What makes people choose one over the others and what will make them keep doing so? It’s not necessarily the quality of the coffee.
How will you make good use of your advantage? You could be in a great spot yet difficult to find, or worse your poor service discounts anything else.
- Market and Strategy
Do you understand your market: the size & location; competition; barriers etc? Are you sure that there are enough people who will agree with you that you have a great idea, excellent service or awesome product?
Is your market just White River, or even smaller: those in White River with spare cash and time? Have you considered the spending power of KaBokweni, KaNyamazane or Nelspruit? (Yes they do bother to come here, as do people from Maputo). What about further afield: Gauteng; Cape Town or overseas? Being based in White River doesn’t necessarily dictate your market. How much of your market is actually other businesses?
Looking ahead, what could possibly fall over and threaten what is working now? Alternatively what could create new opportunities? Are you ready for either of these?
Flexibility is key and some of the great organisations have learnt to adapt or even change their approach entirely.
- Cash flow & Growth
What do you need to be able to stay afloat, pay or your bills etc? It’s not enough to be busy and earning a good income if the amount and timing of your income is out of sync with costs. Are there high fixed costs demanding to be fed no matter the size of your income?
How will you grow and how fast? When can you invest in getting bigger and better and when should you rather play it safe? Having a clear idea of these limits and keep you out of trouble. Avoid chasing the silly, sexy stuff and get the basics right first.
Do you have any Big Hairy Audacious Goals? This goes beyond your purpose and strategy. These goals will inspire and challenge you and could be your ultimate differentiation, putting you ahead of the pack. Without these it is easy to get stuck in mediocrity – becoming too comfortable or too boring. Your disinterest will infect your customers.
What is your story and how will you tell it, to whom? The medium, the style, frequency and targets are so important – as is getting bang for your buck.
Do you know what is likely to reach your market or grow new markets? Do you have a good story, beyond just telling people what things or services you sell? The story comes out of your raison d’etre, your vision, your differentiation and your BHAG.
What are your goals or expectations in advertising and are these realistic?
Closing the deal and making money out of it – obvious, but often forgotten in the enthusiasm of busy-ness.
So, do you understand what factors will drive sales, on what basis are you pegging your pricing and how much stock you should have? Will you be able to deliver on your promises should that big order come in?
There is much to be said about the team you put together to achieve your goals – it probably needs to be part of another conversation. Before the mix of skills and personalities one should consider what it is that needs to be done and how to do it effectively and efficiently. Always start from the work needed to achieve the outputs that will get you to your goals. Unfortunately many of us go for the person we know, the good looking one or the one who is most like us. In addition we start with a typical job title. Maybe you don’t need a “shopkeeper”, but rather a person who can add a lot of value whilst the shop is quiet. Don’t forget to think as much about how you, the business owner should fit into the team.
Do you understand all the work that needs to be done and how to break that up into tasks and sequence these? Who is best to do this work and when can it be outsourced, done yourself or achieved through good systems? You can possibly do a lot of the work yourself, but is that the best use of your time?
Don’t forget the “boring, but important” stuff.
This business of yours needs looking after. How will you keep the team together and motivate them? What will bring your customers back? Is your original goal and story still the same? Do you need a new strategy?
There are more questions than answers here. We are able to help you work through these to clarify the answers for yourselves. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org