Hurricane level winds.
That's what they're telling us here in the Pacific Northwest. As I write this, there's a storm coming, and they're telling us to prepare for hurricane level winds. So I prepared. I bought extra food and water. I put fresh batteries in my flashlights and smoke detectors (my power almost always goes out in high winds). I made sure I had candles. And wine. Because, you know, high winds.
Now, what if the forecasts prove wrong? What if the winds never materialize? Are my preparations wasted?
Not at all. It doesn't hurt to have extra food and water (and wine). It doesn't hurt to have fresh batteries. In short, it doesn't hurt to be prepared.
So why not prepare for the high winds in your business?
Here's the way I think about it: It's better to have a contingency plan and not need it than need a contingency plan and not have it.
If you don't already have a contingency plan (or, more accurately, plans) for the "high winds" in your business, I strongly suggest you gather your team and spend a day working on this.
Coming up with contingency plans is basically a two step process:
The first step can be a little scary (I mean, you're basically plotting doomsday scenarios), but it can also be fun. Just come up with a list of everything you can think of that would negatively impact your business. This part of the process will probably only take about 15% of your total time.
Now for step 1b. [You: "1b? So there are actually THREE steps? Why didn't you just say so in the first place?" Me: "I didn't want to frighten you."] Step 1b is to put your list in order of likelihood. So "Marketing campaign fails to increase market share" would probably go above "Meteor hits Earth and wipes out all life on the planet." Probably. And please, don't get into a half-hour argument about whether a certain item should be number 7 or 8-it's the big picture that really matters.
And now it's time for the heavy lifting. Take the top five items on your list, and come up with a plan for each. Maybe the top seven, if you're feeling ambitious. You don't need to come up with a plan for the meteor scenario.
Any good high school football coach has contingency plans for each game. He knows what he'll do if his first string quarterback gets injured, or if the opposing team uses a different defense strategy than they've used in the past. He's figured it out in advance. And so should you.
Because, after all, isn't your business as important as a high school football game?