If you think for one second that business is a straightforward thing, that nothing goes wrong then you’re in for one hell of a shock.
Things will go wrong.
Actually, more than they go right.
I’ve had what I’d consider to be a pretty successful business career in my 15 years. In that time, I can count roughly 10-12 genuinely incredible, celebration-worthy moments.
One of them was our first ever £10,000 day. It was a truly amazing feeling.
The bit that no-one talks about though is the 5-7 complete disasters that need to occur in order for you to hit those milestone successes.
I’m pretty well placed at this point to offer advice on how to avoid as many of them as possible, so I want you to consider what single event could change your business negatively.
“All our customers leaving” isn’t one – that’s multiple events. “Our biggest customer leaving” is a good one though.
Here’s an example. My brother, Rob, he runs an incredibly successful video production company in Brighton. He’s filmed World-Famous Skateboarder Tony Hawk, the authors of the Best Seller, ‘Brilliant Selling’, and he produces the UK’s leading investing web TV show, Graham Rowan’s ‘Elite Investor TV’.
Here’s Rob’s problem – he has about 5 clients.
They all absolutely love him and all their businesses are built around his services but he loses one of them and that’s 20% of his client base gone.
What would you do if you lost your biggest customer tomorrow?
What if your server crashed and you lost everything on it. Do you have enough backups in place to restore everything?
What if everyone who currently owed you money simply didn’t pay? Would it wipe you out or would you be okay?
What if you had to personally relocate to another country? How much would that affect your business?
Just give a few seconds thought to the top 2 or 3 things that could truly crush you and start to plan ahead.
Here are the common ones and some solutions.
Few Clients, High Spend or Your Biggest Customer Leaves
If you suffer from having a low number of customers but they all pay you lots, try putting just 5% of the revenue from those customers into paid ads. It doesn’t matter if they’re actually profitable. So long as you’re breaking even on that ad-spend, the security of having more customers is what matters.
Don’t be deluded into thinking good customer service will keep them forever. Sometimes things happen which are simply out of your control.
Overdue Money Doesn’t Get Paid
If you have large amounts of money outstanding a lot of the time and that worries you then negotiate better terms.
If they pay on net-30 terms currently then try negotiating 7-day terms. If that sounds impossible, call your main contact and say that 30-day terms are becoming tricky.
Major Technical Issue
Think, server crash, data loss, machine breakdown.
What kind of redundancy can you put in place to make sure that the situation isn’t completely crippling? At Better Proposals, we take data backups every 2 hours and keep them for 3 months. It’s absolutely unnecessary but it’s worthwhile doing it just in case.
We also have an entirely mirrored hosting arrangement. If the main Better Proposals server just completely died and the on-site mirroring didn’t work (assume the datacentre got bombed) we’d be up and running within 15-20 minutes.
Key Person Leaves
For me, that key person is Sabrina. If she left tomorrow, what would screw me up? Do I know all the passwords? Do I have all our development team’s contact details? Do I know who to contact at the hosting company?
These are all questions that are easy to answer, but still, need answering.
You Have to Physically Relocate
Life happens. Maybe you need to move to a hotter country for health reasons, maybe your wife gets a job halfway across the country. Whatever the reason, you should be prepared for it.
I fully stand behind the idea of running a remote company. Even if you don’t need to run a remote company, you should do anyway just in case.
You can start by reading my book Automate Your Business. This will help you get a structure in place from which you can start to keep your business mostly in the cloud.
Here’s the thing. None of these things are an issue now. Smart people will realise this and know that it doesn’t mean it won’t be an issue in the future. The best thing you can do it take pains now to protect yourself for those times when things perhaps aren’t as rosy.
Think of it like buying insurance or getting a security system installed in your home. You don’t need it until it’s already too late.
The difference with this is ‘too late’ could be complete failure of the business if you’re not careful.