Hope for the best, plan for the worst is one of my favourite strategies of all times, is very stoic and over the years has served me well!
On the face of it ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst’ sounds like quite a pessimistic phrase, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s the ‘hope’ part; it brings to mind visions of finger crossing and the clutching of ‘lucky’ charms. Or is it the ‘worst’ part, which conjures the idea of dreadful expectations and despair. In truth we can spin that phrase to mean something incredibly positive, and we apply it to every walk of life, often without even realising it.
Hoping for the best but planning for the worst is the reason we don’t all drive like maniacs; we want to reach our destinations safely and with everyone intact, and so we follow the rules of the road; wear seat belts, don’t text or drink and drive, and are aware of other road users. These actions could be construed as hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. So could the fact that we take out life insurance – or any insurance for that matter – as a ‘just in case’.
The phrase is the reason brides wanting an outdoor ceremony will ensure there is an equally beautiful indoor area on ‘stand-by’, and the reason that explorers meticulously plan their routes and pack extra food and clothing; even if they have done similar journeys a thousand times.
Planning for a worst case scenario isn’t the same as expecting one and can in fact be a very positive attitude to have. One example would be Pete, a mate of mine who for as long as I’ve known him has advocated saving for a rainy day. He is by no means a tight-arse or a skin-flint, and certainly not a man who spends his time expecting his car to break down or his roof to cave in; in fact, knowing that he has money put away for a ‘worst case scenario’ gives him great peace of mind and contributes to his feelings of positivity, or, ‘hope’.
If you contrast this with another bloke I know, who’s name I won’t mention, that is constantly broke and always worrying that some terrible disaster is going to befall him you’ll see that ‘planning for the worst’ can certainly make a difference to the positivity of your mindset, which as we know, has a knock-on effect on all areas of your life.
So it’s fair to say that having a plan in place in case the worst should happen is a very positive step, and one that we all implement in many ways; but what about when it specifically comes to something like our business? What conscious decisions, changes or plans can we make to ensure that a ‘worst case scenario’ isn’t so bad?
- Risk Assessment – Take a look at what potential risks your business might face? This could be anything from running your business from home, but living in a terrible phone reception area, to working out of a premises in an area that floods every winter. Of course we all realise that simply moving house or changing premises often isn’t a quick, or viable, option. So what can we do to prepare? It could be a case of shelling out for better broadband, making sure you have all your proper insurances in place, and having a contingency plan such as temporary alternative premises and an equipment evacuation strategy. This isn’t doom-mongering, it’s being prepared and putting your mind at rest.
- Be Aware Of The Competition – You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that won’t encounter some competition at some time or other, and your best bet if that happens to you isn’t to start massively under-cutting or panicking or firing staff; it’s about preparing and planning. Being aware of what similar businesses to yours are up to just makes good sense, and it can definitely help when it comes to ‘preparing for the worst’. Of course you have faith in your business and in your abilities and are expecting big success, but if you’re noticing that the salon down the road is suddenly offering loyalty cards, discounted rates on a Tuesday, and has employed a nail technician, then chances are this will lead to an extra influx of customers, and it would be worth looking at your own business strategies and what you can offer to increase your own profits. It’s really a case of keeping your ideas fresh and flowing, rather than getting complacent and encountering a ‘worst case scenario’ because you weren’t prepared for it.
- Looking After Your Team – If you run a business that employs staff, whether that be 2 or 200, you need to always be prepared for a worst case scenario. What would you do if you encountered staff shortages due to illness? Unfortunately if that was the case you would have to either take on some of the extra workload yourself or reach out to agency workers or even family members! Not ideal perhaps, but it is a plan that you could have in place that would counteract, ‘the worst’. When it comes to staff you also want to make sure you have a happy team; you don’t want your worst case scenario being dissention in the ranks or a walk-out. I’m not talking about offering sky-high wages and letting people slack off whenever they feel like it, but in order to keep productivity high you’ll need to have plans in place with regards to the fair distribution of holiday leave, bonuses perhaps, and perks – whether that be making sure there’s always a well-stocked staff kitchen, or organising staff events. Think of these things as ‘hoping for the best’ – a contented and hard-working team.
- Looking After Yourself – Do you have a plan in place for if you are too ill to work? Do you have all the necessary personal insurances in place? A trusted ‘number 2’ should you be unwell or are away? Again, this isn’t expecting the worst, it’s making sure that your business is still standing and you still have an income in a ‘worst case scenario’ – it’s protecting your peace of mind, particularly important if you have a family to provide for as well as yourself. No better feeling than being able to relax on a beach enjoying a well-earned break, knowing that everything is ticking over nicely back home – thanks to the plans you made in advance.
- And What About The Others? – Suppliers, designers, business contacts, your accountant….all these people that you work with and rely on a daily basis and that you hope to have a long and fruitful relationship with could suddenly not be there at a moment’s notice, for many reasons. What would you do if your trusted supplier suddenly went out of business or stopped trading? Do you have other contacts in the pipeline if your current ones retire or change business track? This is why networking is so invaluable. Constantly building your business framework will ensure that you have a never ending support system to call upon should times get tough…of course you hope for the best, but….
Planning for the worst, in any given situation, is a way of asserting control over your own destiny and in these very trying times maintaining contact and relationships is very important!
That equipment’s just been damaged. Ok, call the insurance company.
Steve’s broken his arm and he won’t be in for 6 weeks. Not to worry, call the agency and tell them we need them to send someone out from Monday.
Our regular supplier is out of stock. No problem, I know a guy in the next town that can help.
By hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, we can stay focused, driven, and positive. It really is just about planning and staying one step ahead In any situation.
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