“What if” these are two very small words but possibly two of the most important words that an entrepreneur will use.
Remember an entrepreneur is just a dreamer, the same as all of us, but unlike the majority, they are prepared to take a risk to achieve that dream.
However a good entrepreneur is the one that takes a calculated risk, and that calculation is what involves the words ” What If’.
We have all heard of the term Crisis Management, This is the situation when you, as a manager, take a snap decision, embark on a journey without a plan, it is when you are pinned against a wall and act on impulse, doing the most obvious action to get away.
All of God’s creatures, including all of us use Crisis management at some point in life.The zebra that is confronted by a lion will simply run in any direction, usually straight into the open where the lion can out run him. But if it had a good brain it would run for trees and thorns so as to seek protection from these.
We are no different, we just act on impulse, if I had one Kwacha for all the times that people came to me and admitted that they had made big mistakes both in their business life as well as their private life, by acting on impulse, I would be a very wealthy person.
The one characteristic of every successful businessperson will be the ability and insistence that they analyze every situation and obtain all the factors before they make that decision. They will constantly ask themselves What if I did it in another way, what if I changed my employees around, what if I did not go for a huge loan, what if I bought that new business.
In my life it has happened many times whenever I am confronted with a problem or a crossroads in my life, I have been faced with the obvious solution, but on many occasions, when I forced myself to analyse the factors and come up with an alternative solution, that second one was by far the best option.
It is a scientific fact that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Think about this, what ever you do will impact on something, you increase the selling price of your product, this will affect the total sales in one way or another. You may make more money or you could price yourself out of the market.
You decrease your staffing levels and it will impact on production, sometimes for the good but it will still impact. Your decision to open a new business will have an impact, on your family’s wealth, either for the good or more often for the worst.
Even our Excellency the republican president has the problem of action and reaction, he or his staff, make any decision and takes an action that effects the governing of Zambia and that action will immediately have a reaction and positive or negative impact on everyone.
We saw that with the minimum wage issue being the Government’s plan had a very negative impact on staffing levels and infact contributed to a negative employment. His Excellency the President had the good of the Zambian people in his mind and his action was geared to help bring more money in your pocket, and was very admirable in its initial action,
However had his advisors asked, “what if”, they would have seen the reaction that this action will cause.
Even our ministers need to have business advisors that are not entrenched in Government, ones that could have helped him with business strategies and have asked the question ” What If”
Also on the macro scale, KCM have acted without any regard for the reaction to their actions, they had a staff clear out which erupted in issues with both the unions and as high up as His Excellency the President. Rightly President Sata took the line of protecting the employees and they elected to take on the Government and ignore the reaction, a bad decision, they can never win. Their action had a very negative reaction and someone in their organisation should have asked, “What If” what are the alternatives, what are the consequences.
On the Micro level, even my wife, who is just launching Makeni Garden Centre, needs to constantly ask “What if”.
On her side, much smaller than the government issues, but she needs to start selling her plants, and was just about to deliver plants to a road side venue in town. But she thankfully asked “what if I do this, what could happen”.
She discovered that she had no security, the sign writer had not finished her sign post so no brand awareness. I had not finished building her plant racks so no merchandising and she had no stock control so she stopped her action because she was not truly ready. Had she not asked “What If” she would have possibly lost out on half her stock to theft.
By telling you to always ask what if, I am certainly not telling you to procrastinate, to delay or to hold back, far from it, I am simply saying, be aware of what are the consequences of your actions, don’t find yourself in a situation and in a few months time forced to say that you wished you had never done this or that.
Remember the phase, “A Problem is simply an opportunity in disguise”.This is so true, I always look for problems, any business with a problem is truly an opportunity. The business or in fact your life, got into a problem because of a situation, either the inability to adapt to change, bad management or bad credit control.
By looking at the problem, and studying all the factors that caused the problem and fully understanding the original problem, you, and certainly I, can now turn the problem into an opportunity.
It is very easy to succeed if you know what went wrong initially. So turning a problem into a success is really very easy as long as you are prepared to look out of the box, to work hard and never to be pessimistic
Another quote I like is one from Winston Churchill, who was the British Prime minister during the last world war. He quoted
“A pessimist is one that always looks for the negatives in a situation, whilst an optimist will always look at the opportunities that situation can offer”
I had a couple in my office this week, deep in debt and stressed out. They had the only solution which was to go for a loan with a loan shark at 35 per cent interest per month.
But by asking what if, what if we raised a home loan instead of an expensive personal loan, what if we attacked the large corporation that have supplied sick and inferior chickens, what if we together re -energise their business centre operation. By asking these questions we presented a clear path where they could quickly climb out of their debt and prosper in the very near future, stress free.
It was easy as long as we looked at other solutions and asked what if.
But please remember, a true entrepreneur is unique, they are virtually born with an optimistic view of life, very rarely have I seen an entrepreneur developed. An entrepreneur’s motto is that you have to buy a lotto ticket if you want to win.
You have to speculate to be able to accumulate. The returns of an entrepreneurial life can be good but also can be disastrous. My life is no different, if I get around to writing a book on my life, it would have to be called “The Roller-coaster”
If you are scared of risk, if you need a secure monthly income, if you need a 9 to 5 job with its strict structure, you will always be conservative and unable to take that plunge, but don’t despair, you are the majority.