By Sarina Russo
If you're starting a small business, I'll give you a tip. Always make sure your cash flow is healthy. Ensure you're able to put enough to one side to build a ‘bank’ for things which may go wrong. You'll find in any business, there's always the unforeseeable stuff that you never, ever think will happen.
It happened to me in the third year of my business. We had a fire. I thought, well I didn't plan for that, but fortunately we had accumulated a `bank' and we were able to move to much better premises which cost 10 times as much, but took the business to a new level. Never think the unforeseeable won't happen to you. Believe me, it will happen. It is how you embrace the inevitability which governs your future. You may be the best in the world at what you do, but forces beyond your control, beyond anyone's control, can damage your business. Business owners not only need to run and to grow their business, they also need to protect their business. In a way, the principles of war apply: you have to patrol the perimeter, watch out for threats, be on a constant state of alertness and mental readiness.
First, I would like to discuss uncertainty versus certainty. One of the biggest challenges for a CEO is we live in a world of constant technological change and that change is fast. A great book on change is Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson. It teaches life lesson in providing for ourselves, the likelihood of unexpected change and how in order to survive, we have to recondition our minds to accept change is inevitable. I love Who Moved My Cheese as it makes you realise we take too much for granted – our clients, our relationships, our savings, our health. We just think it will always stay the same. The book paints a stark picture of the consequences of thinking that way. We should not wish for more of the same. We should wish for more of something different, because it prepares us for the uncertainty of a world yet to come. Disrupt yourself before somebody else disrupts you.
There's no point in saying, I've got one great client, because that great client could just move to another competitor or the government could change and you're left without any business.
It's very important to patrol the perimeter of your business and keep your mind in a constant state of readiness to act to defend what you've got.
So many of us wish we won't have to change. We feel comfortable with the environment we're in and we fear if it changes, when it changes, when our company is re-engineered, we might be re-engineered out. Let me tell you this: you will be re-engineered out unless you've got the attitude that you want to be, part of the rapid change. There really is no escape. It's happening in companies all over the world.
I guess my advice is surviving change requires mental preparation, disciplined learning and being curious. Why is it as children we study ants and as adults, we tread on them? We seem to think we know it all.
Life, even in relationships, is not a guarantee. Nothing has a guarantee any more. Life just keeps changing. One of my favourite songs is Life Will Never Be The Same, by Haddas. We have to be prepared for change and see it as an opportunity rather than a cause for despair or a crisis.
Remember always have that `uncertainty' money to protect yourself against the unforeseeable.