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Edition 132 – Be Prepared

When I was a whipper-snapper, I was an avid participant in the scouting movement for seven years. I loved hanging out weekly with a bunch of like minded individuals and some great mentor leaders, learning new skills, going on camps and making a contribution to our local community. Some of my strongest memories are from that time in my life.

The old scout motto is “Be Prepared”, one of the many, deep, moral statements that was developed by Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement.

What he meant by that was to make sure, before you headed off into whatever endeavour you were heading into, that you had everything you needed, had contacted anyone that needed to be contacted, and had prepared for any adverse eventuality.

Today, I continue to believe in the motto of “Be Prepared” and, in the current world of family business, I feel it’s a concept that is sadly lacking, yet easy to implement.

Here’s what I mean:

  1. Are you listening to what is going on inside your industry, today?
  2. Are you going out and seeing your clients at least twice per week and getting a feel for the lie of the land?
  3. Are you attending industry events to hear what the thought leaders in your industry are saying about where it is heading?
  4. Are you travelling overseas – for business or pleasure – to understand how other countries are fairing, and what you can learn from them?
  5. Are you talking with colleagues in your industry – and treating them not as competitors, but as potential collaborators?
  6. Are you engaging with your bank ongoing, letting them in on your plans and generally keeping them abreast of what is happening in your family business?
  7. Are you engaging with your advisors and asking them to challenge your perception of where your business is at today, where it could be tomorrow and what course you should be adopting to arrive at your destination with maximum success and minimum fuss?
  8. Are you looking regularly at your numbers and asking why – and why not?
  9. Are you taking the time each week to stop, switch off the phone and the emails and stare into space or doodle on a note pad what your thoughts are about your family business?

I’m asking you these questions this week because the family business owners that I do work with, and who do ask these questions, are generally ahead of the game. They know what is happening in their industry and in their business well in advance of those that don’t ask them. They are preparing themselves and their businesses and, in the process, being wise with the correct deployment of the resources they have available to them.

Being prepared is not something you should be doing prior to an event. Being prepared is actually a state of mind. As owners and managers of family businesses, you should be constantly looking over the horizon to the next opportunity or the next challenge that your business throws up.

This Week’s Tip

“Most owners and managers of family businesses know they should be doing this. Very few do. Which camp do you sit in?”