Rail strikes? Street closures? Epidemics? War? There’s no predicting what obstacles fate will put in your way when you're running your own business. All you can do is be prepared for anything.
How do you do that? That’s the theme of a great article I found today on the Wall Street Journal Online.
“Entrepreneurs' Biggest Problems -- And How They Solve Them,” by Paulette Thomas, says you can tell the companies who are able to overcome disasters from those who can't. She says the most robust, adaptable and ultimately successful companies have the following characteristics in common:
A clear strategy. A well-defined plan can keep a ship on course when the winds would otherwise blow it off the map.
Flexibility. Successful entrepreneurs have a plan, full of detail and rich in data. But they are willing to abandon it when the customers don't follow. They cut losses and retool fast.
A realistic view. Some entrepreneurs, enamored of their vision, swallow it whole and lose the dispassionate judgment they must exercise. "They have to be able to strip away the hype and be brutally honest with themselves and their backers," says a University of Chicago business prof.
Ethical behavior. Investors and government regulators are operating on Level Orange vigilance. Bad behavior has a way of catching up with a business.
A robust network. Successful entrepreneurs turn to their Rolodex in times of need. They make it a point to do favors when they can, because they know that their turn to ask for help will come.
Global perspective. International markets may provide solutions to problems that were unthinkable a decade or two ago. Shifting labor across borders or invading new markets can alter the course of a business.
Ability to deal with technology. Evolve or get left behind, says James Bird, a corporate-film producer in Cincinnati. He recently made the switch to high-definition video-production work to set his business apart from his competitors.
Passion. Not much can surpass the single-minded drive of an entrepreneur committed to solving a problem.
Check out the full story here for complete details and examples.