Opportunity Knocks: Be Prepared
The ability to act quickly to take advantage of an opportunity may be the difference between success and failure. An organization that isn’t prepared and capable of responding quickly may lose out. Delivery dates and deadlines are meaningful to your customers and other stakeholders. When it comes to getting things done, missing the timeline may mean a DEADline missed with an emphasis on the “DEAD” line of business or opportunity.
Opportunity Knocks, Will You Answer Yes
The pace of competition is rapid. Opportunity knocks and moves on if you don’t answer! Preparation often means sacrifice and long hours for long periods of time! Building a business and getting things in place often mean not doing other things like taking vacations or buying luxury cars, or “normal” day-to-day activities such as visiting your favorite drive-through for lunch. It means short-term sacrifices for long-term returns. Think of investing in the business as another form of “sweat equity.” It does mean commitment from you, the entrepreneur (and from your family).
Long hours and short or no pay to build a business and organization worthy of others’ investment means more than a 9-5 existence. You have to run the business and do business, THEN you have to work on growing the business: business plans, marketing plans, strategy development, marketing, business development, networking, etc.
Structured for Success versus Being Unprepared
Frequently entrepreneurs and the owners of early-stage and small businesses don’t see the need for business plans, budgets, and other “formal” documents. “Big business” or “book learning” tools are “too cumbersome,” “constraining,” “unrealistic,” or “impractical” for these enterprises. The businesses can do just fine without them. That may be true. It may not be. It depends upon the business and the people involved.
Some businesses can do and are just fine without them, because the owners/managers/founders have plans and budgets in their minds. They are keeping them in their heads! They also don’t grow beyond the size that is manageable and controllable by those steering the company. Because the person with it “in his/her head” is the control point and determines how big the company can grow. That person can and does keep it under control. He/she manages things until the time he/she decides to make the change, the point at which the business grows beyond the capability of that one person. Then the organization takes another look at how things are done by necessity because things are getting out of control and opportunities are being lost, missed, or money is being left on the table.
Grow Well, Grow Strong
The organization that wants to grow and has the capability to grow beyond what one person can “head up” inevitably reaches a point where planning occurs or growth ceases. The organization may actually find that operations contract, because when it tries to grow, its processes can’t support the higher volumes of activities. Quality suffers and customers leave, taking the organization to levels below the “full capacity” of pre-growth levels.
At that point, actions or lack of actions make or break results. The organization grows beyond its capacity and capability, then it experiences problems and finds profitability and usually cash flow falls below where it was “pre-growth.” The organization contracts back to the size it is capable of managing. Then the cycle repeats: we can handle the business… grow… problem… contract… manage… grow… problem… contract… manage… repeat… again… again… and again.
If the organization is lucky, the cycle doesn’t break the organization. The lack of planning and the missed opportunities doesn’t result in a financial crisis from which the organization cannot recover. If the organization is unlucky, then it may fail or have to reduce operations to a point where it is smaller than it was before it became “successful.”
Luck has been defined as “opportunity meeting preparation.” A customer knocks on your door in response to your marketing and sales efforts. They want to buy a million units of your product! Sold! I’ll have them to you as soon as we figure out how to manufacture them or in six months… Not what the customer wanted or expected to hear. The customer walks away, never to knock on your door again.
Timelines: When you are selling, what timeline are you promising? Sell too soon and the timeline may be a deadline if you can’t deliver to your customer. Oversell and over promise and your customer will walk away, never to trust you again.
Deadlines are commitments to your organization and your customers. Especially if you are in the early stages of your business, establishing your credibility with your customer base and the markets, making your timelines and commitments is important to your credibility. Timelines and commitments, capability, and capacity mean the ability to deliver.
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