For the most part, “what ifs” are seen to be bad things. There is a good reason for this: asking “what if” too often can ruin your enjoyment of the moment, and cause you to fret about events that never come to pass. Given the stress and upset that “what ifs” can cause, it’s easy to see the concept as a bad guy that wears a black hat and always contributes to negative thinking – but is this always the case?
While not detracting from the harm “what ifs” can cause, there is no denying that asking “what if…?” can genuinely benefit your business.
Entrepreneur, professional, psychic
In some ways, running a business successfully is akin to trying to see into the future. You have to learn to read the economy, to see how demographics are shifting, to respond to the basic rules of supply and demand. Most business owners always have their heads at least some way in the future.
However, most of this forward-thinking focuses on the positives. You’ll think about future growth and strategies for your business, for example. It’s human nature to want to focus on positive changes rather than negative ones; in fact, many of us shy away from contemplating negative change at all – and that’s a problem.
Ultimately, business survival is all about knowing how to roll with whatever the future brings. If you’re in business for long enough, some of those future developments will be negative. If you have been unwilling to ask “what if?” regarding negative events, then you simply can’t be prepared for those harsh changes when they arrive.
Hope for the best; expect the worst
The phrase above is an excellent one to adhere to when running a business. It is important to think about the future in terms of positive developments, but it’s also important to be realistic, and acknowledge that even the luckiest of streaks will end eventually. If you can sit and contemplate a future of “what ifs” that are bleak – what if my business suffers through a natural disaster? What if the business is hacked? – then it may seem like a one-way road to misery, but it actually equips you with the ability to be proactive.
Contemplating negative future events gives you the opportunity to shore your business up against these events. Businesses need to have a plan for growth and future advancement, but there is a similar level of need for a sound continuity plan that you will hopefully never have to use, but have ready and willing to be deployed if necessary. After all, if you do suffer through a natural disaster, hacking, or other calamity, the last thing you need is to find yourself asking the worst “what if” of all: “what if I had done something sooner to protect against this?”
While contemplating negative “what ifs” can be troublesome to your thought processes, for a business owner, you sometimes have to scan the horizon for potential issues. This gives you the opportunity to plan for your business to survive those issues, and you can do this with a clear mind rather than one blurred by the aftermath of a catastrophic event. While your “what if” solution will hopefully never be used, if you do ever find yourself in need of them, you will be incredibly glad you have them to hand.