Have you identified your business vulnerabilities?

For trees, deep roots aren’t enough to survive storms. When walking, I often across oaks and pines that have come crashing down exposing deep, complex root systems that once anchored them in place. Yet palm trees rarely fall, even in the most severe storms, with flexibility that allows them to bend without breaking.

This flexibility is a skill business owner must learn to master, especially with the current uncertain business environment. The key to successfully adapting in the face of changing winds is your ability to proactively identify vulnerabilities in four specific areas.

Suppliers

This is the area where you receive the raw materials needed to accomplish your work. If you work in production, these raw materials are obvious.  However, even in the knowledge or services industries, it’s important to take a closer look. For example, you can’t clean houses without cleaning supplies or you can’t work on the back end of a website with slow internet.

To identify vulnerabilities, ask:

  • What outside resources do we rely on to accomplish our most important work?
  • How do recent changes impact these suppliers?
  • Are there alternative methods of securing the necessary supplies?
  • Are there alternative strategies that could decrease the impact of supply losses on my business?

Operations

This is the area that represents the product development and client services you offer.

To identify vulnerabilities here, ask:

  • What internal resources do we rely on?
  • What about recent changes might hinder our day to day operations?
  • How have the roles of my team been impacted?

Customers

This is the area of sales, marketing, and customer service. It’s the place to consider what your customers need, and how their methods of meeting those needs are shifting right now.

To identify vulnerabilities here, ask:

  • How has demand for my product changed?
  • What are my customers’ most pressing needs?
  • How have recent changes impacted my customers’ ability to access my product?
  • Will marketing spend have to increase or decrease?
  • What changes can my team make to best meet our customers’ needs?

Environment

The environment is the world beyond your business. It includes legislation, the state of the economy, critical infrastructure and the social environment. While completely outside of your control, the environment can have a big impact on your business.

To identify vulnerabilities here, ask:

  • What recent legislation impacts my business?
  • How do current social concerns affect the appeal and relevance of my product or service?
  • By what criteria should I evaluate my pricing in light of the current economic reality?
  • What research or information do I need in order to make the most informed decisions?

 

Quote

"The key to successfully adapting in the face of changing winds is your ability to proactively identify vulnerabilities in four specific areas."

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