Business owners need to plan for the best, not the worst.
Warning: This will be a rant about the frustrations caused by exaggerated and inaccurate weather predictions and the ramifications from the hysteria that ensues from a business owner’s perspective.
We closed a record 9 new contracts in just 3 days this week. We could not do that if we took a ‘snow day’ every time the weathermen have falsely predicted one. We’ve just about had it with Mother Nature this winter and she’s not going away without a fight.
First of all, if you are a state employee with a guaranteed pension, a school teacher trading snow days for summer vacation, work at a company with more than 1,000 employees, where your absence won’t even be noticed, or you work solo from home everyday anyway, then this post is not for you. That being said, you still might learn something from it.
If you are a (big) kid, who longs for days off so you can catch up on XBox or your favorite Netflix binge session and snacks, then this post is not for you either. You may however read this today, and there may be a lesson that you can bury in your subconscious and apply later in life.
This post is for the folks that don’t usually think from the business owner’s perspective. AKA the boss. You know the person who has stuck their neck out, the entrepreneurs who weren’t born on third base, who have to grind day in and day out to keep the sales funnels full of opportunity by attending various networking events, following up on emails in an effort to set up in-person meetings and conference calls. Usually the store owners, or restaurant owners, or the business owners with small teams made up of individuals with specialized skill sets that are vital and that work best in an environment of collaboration.
Think about that business owner, who manages to live day in and day out with the weight of each of his employees’ lives and families squarely on his or her shoulders. In my case, our team is a family and we care deeply about each and every one of them. Not just for what they do in the office, but about the houses they’re buying, the babies they’re having and the children they’re raising. That business owner is also thinking about the clients they are serving, the clients they’re following up with and the leads they are working toward converting into clients. That business owner is thinking of accounts payable vs accounts receivable and everything in between.
Enter the weathermen predicting impending doom and the chain reaction of chaos that ensues. To the laymen, snow days harken back to childhood days of big bowls of cereal and cartoons. To parents, snow days wreck havoc on work schedules, often times forcing parents to take turns asking for time off from work or “working from home.” I put “working from home” in quotes because there’s an 800lb gorilla in the room, and by room I mean kitchen, and by 800lb I mean the refrigerator. Working from home when you are a vital part of a bigger team is one big distraction. Sure, when the weather warrants it, when you are completely snowed in, and are fortunate to still have power and wifi, then you work from home – because you have to. Because there are projects that need to get done. But working from home is most often like giving yourself a haircut: it is possible, but it’s not always ideal, especially when you belong to a small team that collaborates and who’s competitive advantage is that they are available to meet with clients in a living and breathing workspace.
This year it seems the weathermen’s predictions of snowmaggeddons and apocalyptic ice ages are at an all time high forcing many businesses to plan for the worst, instead of the best.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I would never force any employee to drive in any weather condition where they didn’t feel safe. But let’s be serious: its’ gotten to the point where any amount of precipitation is reason to call the Calvary. Tomorrow, we’re pitching what could be the biggest opportunity of Q1 for Peralta Design. Did everyone on the team wonder if we would have to work from home today? Yes. With predictions of 15” of snow in some parts why wouldn’t they, but we said we would make the call in the morning. This morning it was completely dry and we all came to the office. I even attended a packed Board Meeting for a local charity that I volunteer for. Yes, we had some snow flurries throughout the day, but for the most part it was just some drizzle, or snow drizzle, or as Snoop Dog would say: it was Snizzle, my nizzle. Very similar to last week, when I cut my trip to our Palm Coast office short by a day, only to get an alert that my previously scheduled flight had landed safely no problem on a dry tarmac.
Due to the dire weather predictions for today, we completely cleared our calendar of any sales meetings. On a normal day I would have 2-4 meetings with prospects. Today we scheduled none. It was all hands on deck as we worked to prepare for tomorrow’s big pitch. I admit, I caught myself looking out the window, distracted by the flakes, constantly checking for their severity, both in size and opacity, while trying to close deals that were in progress, review creative and prepare for tomorrow’s pitch. It felt good to focus and be productive although I could sense there was some concern in the air for the chance that the weather would turn foul. It never did.
For lunch, we hit one of the office park cafeterias and they were down to a skeleton crew as they may have planned to close early (planning for the worst) or expected other businesses to be shut down for the day. The lunch crowd was growing, the usual go-to salad bar wasn’t out and everything was taking a bit longer to make. It was clear that the weather prediction had affected his business like it had mine. Glad we were able to support him and hope he realized that next time, he should plan for the best, and take the risk of having a full crew. I finally got my salad and it was tasty (it had coconut shrimp) but If you go with a skeleton crew to save costs, you risk giving your customers a less than optimal experience so who really wins? Nobody.
My dentist, with whom I had an appointment, announced yesterday that they would be closed today as they alerted me about rescheduling my appointment a day early.
I don’t blame them either. Like the cafe owner, if you listen to the news, it sounds like End of Days. You have to make a decision. But they too, planned for the worst. When a company shuts down for a ‘snow day,’ those employees still get paid. That business owner has to make payroll and those day’s accounts receivables are lost. This year, it seems like at least one day of the week, every week, has been predicted to have some type of weather catastrophe. The news folks love it, what else is there to report about that will put the sheer fear of God into everyone, making them run out for bread, gas and milk?
On my way home this evening, I stopped by my local market to pick up some soup to go along with dinner on this raw, cold night. Big signs greeted me both at the Deli and the Soup Station: Deli & Soup crew went home at Noon – “we closed early due to the storm.” I spoke to a store manager who informed me that everyone was afraid to drive in the snow (there was no snow) and asked if they could leave work early. We’re at the point now where we are afraid to drive for the ‘fear’ of snow to come. It’s like Scrooge except its the Ghost of Snow Future. Think of the lost revenues and the poor customer experiences for that store – multiply my experience times as many people that had gone in between 12pm and 7pm. They too planned for the worst.
Clients don’t fall from the sky or grow on trees for our firm. We don’t have the luxury of multi-year contracts. Although we do service clients from all around the country, we have to find them, groom them, wow them and cultivate them. It takes a dedicated team to do that, which we are very fortunate to have. Today, we planned for the best. We did that because we didn’t have a choice. If we are not only to survive, but thrive, we have to do what others aren’t willing to do and if that means think positive, and go against popular hysteria then so be it. We were all prepared to work from home in case we had to, but fortunately, the weather (and our spirits) held up enough to come in, put our big-boy pants on and get the job done. We need more of that. *And we need Spring to hurry up and get here already.
Ramon has over 20 years of experience in award-winning, market-proven, print collateral, marketing material, iphone/ipad app and website design specializing in corporate identity and branding. Ramon’s passion for entrepreneurial design was borne out of 10 years as Creative Director for Jay Walker at Walker Digital, the Stamford based idea laboratory and business incubator holding over 400 US Patents. Ramon served as Senior Art Director on the start-up launch team behind Priceline.com, a Walker company and invention.
Peralta Design is an award winning, think tank and digital creative house (with offices in Shelton, CT and Palm Coast, FL). We not only help monetize ideas and determine what the MVP, the Minimal Viable Product is for you, but we also handle everything from logo design and branding, to recommending technology, to building custom web applications and websites. We also develop mobile apps and create promotional videos. As I also mentioned, we work with entrepreneurs, startups and companies (large and small) like yours. We Launch Brands!®
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