The right strategy can protect you and your business – just like Mick Fanning’s surfboard (and a good punch) protected him from a shark attack long enough for him to get away and be rescued at the weekend.
A key part when creating the right strategy is to identify and as far as possible prepare for that which can harm you. Once identified, you can do two things – you can be prepared enough to be able to either eliminate that harm or avoid it.
This will cover the things you can prepare for. Then there’s the surprise attack like in Mick’s case where your ‘strategy surfboard’ could make all the difference.
When you know what can potentially harm you in the market you play in (or the waters you surf in) here’s what you can do.
Only once you have identified the things that can harm your business can you do something about them, which is why a risk analysis exercise is so important.
But you can’t mitigate for all possible risks and threats and so you must prioritise based on probability and impact. Start with those that have a realistic chance of happening and which, if they did, could hurt your business significantly and plan to work through until probability and or impact isn’t significant enough to mitigate for.
Eliminate the Harm
There are risks and threats that you can directly influence and either significantly reduce their probability and or impact or eliminate entirely.
For example, when you know your competitors you can mitigate for losing business to them by:
- Making sure that you align what you deliver with what your ideal customers really need;
- Building and maintaining strong relationships with them;
- Creating desire and value for your products and services and for the difference you make;
- Presenting clear value propositions to your prospects.
You see how by your own actions you can all but eliminate these more direct threats. By eliminating these types of threats before they happen you essentially make them irrelevant and can maintain the course that you’re on.
Avoid the Harm
But you can’t eliminate all the things that can harm you, which means you cannot simply maintain the course you’re on because if you do you’ll plough straight into this threat and will be damaged by it.
For example, if Kodak and Nokia had appreciated and adapted their strategy to the fundamental technology changes that were taking place in their markets, they could still be the giants they once were.
Instead they stayed on course and those changes in technology (namely digital cameras and images and smartphones respectively) blocked their way and killed their businesses.
They couldn’t have directly eliminated the harm but could have avoided it by changing course and their business strategy to meet these changes in their markets.
When you create the right strategy that includes being prepared for the things that can harm it, you make your business stronger. And just like a strong person can pick himself or herself up after an unexpected fall that would break the bone of a frail person – it’s a strong business that can handle and recover from a surprise attack far better than a weak one.
If a strong business unexpectedly lost a key customer or supplier or person in their business it may well be hurt by the event, but it will absorb the impact, recover quickly and get back on course, whereas a weaker business will suffer more damage and may struggle to recover at all.
Mick Fanning and the competition organisers didn’t expect a shark attack but his physical strength and experience helped him avoid being bitten and the organiser’s preparation for helping surfers in trouble meant they were on the scene seconds later to fish him out of the water. For a lone amateur surfer with no support the incident may well have gone very differently.
Is your business strong enough to handle a surprise attack? Download my eBook, How Strong Is Your Business? to find out.