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Resilience is like Traveling Down a River

As a business owner, I'm sure you have plans for growing your business, with pictures in your mind about the successes you'll have amazing achievements you'll accomplish. Do those plans and visions of success include adjustments for the inevitable mishaps life will throw your way?

One of the best ways I've found to think about resilience planning and project management is to think of them, and your business, as traveling down the river of life. Picture in your mind a river, perhaps in the forested mountains of the northeast, or the rugged terrain of the west. Think of the boat you're on as your business, and your destination is the end of the river.

Can you see it? Are you floating on calm water, lazily drifting between the shores? Or are you in dangerous rapids, paddling your heart out just to survive as your arms grow heavy with fatigue? Like life, our personal rivers will have times of peace and calm, and times of raging rapids and struggles just to survive. Fortune smiles on the prepared that can see the challenges ahead, and make plans for them.

Just as you have a goal for your business at the end of the river, and you know the approximate path you must take, planning now for the rough waters will enable you to adjust your course and work with the river to make it downstream, instead of fighting against the river and finding yourself trapped in whitewater, squeezed against a rock, or drifting aimlessly, unable to pick a shore to beach at.

If we look at the risks of business life, much like the same skills allow you to navigate the many challenges of a river, we find that we can often use the same tactics and tools to successfully navigate business challenges, no matter the source of the challenge. Right now, people are trying to build plans to survive pandemics in the future. But what if we take a step back, and instead of asking what will we do in the next pandemic, instead ask ourselves, what actions and tactics that helped us now will also help us through other types of business interruptions?

In working with companies during these trying times, there are many opportunities that apply beyond this pandemic. Tools we now know that all companies should have in place include:

  • Remote working capabilities

  • Online customer support and sales capabilities

  • Cleaning and sanitation protocols

  • Emergency funding support for at least 3 months of operations, but preferably 6 months to a year's worth of cash

  • Shipping and delivery capability for products and services

  • Flexible PTO options for employees to be able to take care of themselves and family members

While it would be easy to put these in the folder labeled "Pandemic Prep" and be done with it, let's look at other potential business interruptions these actions apply toward:

  • Severe weather damage/restrictive conditions such as tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, severe thunderstorms

  • Fire and smoke damage

  • Building lockdowns and damage from active shooter/aggressive intruder attacks

  • Large scale power outages

  • Seasonal sicknesses such as cold and flu

  • Damage to in-office equipment from malware

  • Employee surgeries/injuries/sickness that prevent being able to work at the normal business location

What have we learned? That thanks to this pandemic, our toolkit has widely expanded to be able to cover a wide range of potential business interruptions, and that we've had practice with those tools to know how to deploy them when needed. We can see our business' destination down the river, and we know what types of challenges lay ahead, and that while we may not know that details of what setbacks will happen in the future, we know that we have the tools available to deal with those setbacks, no matter what form they take.

Here at Everyday Business Resilience Group, we're ready to help you build your toolkit for navigating the river your business is on, so that you can reach the destination you envision. Because resilient businesses make resilient communities, and that resilience helps us all get downstream.

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