Last week on the west coast of British Columbia, we had a major wind and rain storm, which took out power to a couple hundred thousand residents. It was a great opportunity for individuals and families to reflect on how well prepared they are to weather a storm. Given that my family lives on acreage property, where we run a couple of small businesses, we have to be particularly well prepared so as not to sustain losses. When power is out on our acreage, we have no septic or water either, so things get particularly “hairy.”
While we are usually reasonably well prepared, we did sustain thousands of dollars in product losses and therefore sales during a storm last summer. As such, we took additional steps to prepare yet again. Fortunately this time, the 2-day power outage did not result in any financial losses to our businesses. However, this was partly due to luck, as indeed there was a malfunction with one of the generators we rely on.
There is a great lesson in this for businesses as they prepare (or perhaps don’t) to weather the storms of business. The storm possibilities are many when it comes to business, and these days in Canada, many of my clients, especially those related to the oil and gas sector, have to weather a pretty big set of storms. At exactly the time this major storm was wreaking havoc on my home and family last week, I was hosting a CEO network in Vancouver, which includes a few gents from the prairies who indeed have to weather these storms.
Business is great, when it is great, but when the storms hit, whether expectedly or unexpectedly, they can create a lot of problems, and if we are not prepared, we can sink. In my experience, business leaders who are best prepared are those who;
- Have utilized an enterprise risk management approach to consider all possible risks to their business, including likelihood and outcomes.
- Develop and implement a set of risk mitigation strategies to both prevent and quickly recover from storms and disasters.
- Have an industry leading strategy to ensure business continuity and a quick response to unexpected market changes or other storms that will eventually come.
- Test their strategy and regularly check back to ensure all components are in place and working should the strategy be called on.
One of my Alberta based clients has developed a brilliant strategy to redeploy his manufacturing teams towards a whole new product, given the downturn in the energy sector. If he didn’t do this, he would sink, and sink fast. For confidentiality reasons I cannot say more, but suffice it to say that this Canadian company will eventually thrive again, as they will survive this current storm.
Cameron’s Call to Action
- Gather your executive team for a facilitated day of developing a risk registry, and be sure to consider the entire range of potential storms.
- Get creative and develop an industry leading strategy for weathering these storms, so when they hit, you are caught flat footed.
- Test your strategy, to make sure all of the components are in place and that you can count on them being able to deliver, when the time comes.
Always remember, it’s not “if” the storms come, it’s “when” and you are either ready or not. Be ready, survive, and then get back to thrive as you watch the competition disappear from contention.