Business Online Journal
Managing the Moment that Will Define Your Business
By: Bruce Hakutizwi
Published: February 13, 2017, 11:00 pm

Running a business involves a thousand little decisions and individual moments. It’s not just one grand success or failure, but a thousand tiny successes and failures that add up over time.

Ninety-nine point nine percent of these moments and decisions will have just a momentary, mild effect on your overall business success and the shape of your future. Making mistakes with some of these decisions or failing to seize these opportunities will result in valuable lessons that can help you improve the business going forward.

Only a small number of moments will define your company and its future. Failing to seize those opportunities or making the wrong decision at those junctures can literally mean success or failure for your business, and whether you'll ever be in the position to sell your business when the time is right. 

But how can you identify these “defining moments”? How can you effectively prepare for them? And how can you best manage them when they occur?

Identifying your business’s defining moments

These defining moments will be different for every business, but they do have some qualities in common, which is how you’ll be able to identify the moments unique to your business. Some examples include:

  • Unexpected Opportunities — A surprise invite to a prestigious industry event. A call or email from a dream prospect that wasn’t even on your radar. These unexpected opportunities are likely to be outside your comfort zone, perhaps even risky to take on, but the reward of seizing them is too great to ignore.
  • Fulcrums — A conversation with a customer brings to light an entirely new product or profit center you’ve never considered. An off-the-wall fad suddenly opens up huge markets you’ve never tapped before … but only for a short time. These fulcrums — moments on which to pivot the aim or focus of your business — usually involve limited time frames or dramatically different directions that could be akin to starting over again, but the possibilities are phenomenal.
  • Disasters — A natural disaster that destroys your place of business. A death or serious illness that affects a co-founder or other principal partner. Not all defining moments are positive, but they all do present the opportunity for dramatic change and potential improvement if handled correctly.

Preparing for these moments

In the case of most, if not all, defining moments, there’s not likely to be a bright, flashing neon sign warning you well in advance of their arrival. Part of what makes these moments so much more powerful than the thousands of other little decisions and events that occur throughout your career is the fact that they appear suddenly and require near-immediate action if you’re going to take advantage of them.

By their very nature, defining moments are hard to specifically prepare for. But you can follow some basic tips that can ensure you’re as well-prepared as possible for these moments when they suddenly appear:

  • Control cash flow — The key resource that’s most often missing when business leaders want to quickly seize an unexpected opportunity is cash. Without ready access to liquid capital, just about every opportunity is going to pass you by. While you’ll never be able to predict the banking system’s likelihood of approving a loan at any given time in the future, an affordable line of credit with a hefty credit limit and plenty of room on it can be an excellent tool in this regard.
  • Cross-training and promoting from within — While every small business has one or more “key players” on whom the company’s success depends, especially in the beginning, the goal should be to spread the wealth and build a talented team where members can fill unexpected gaps quickly and efficiently. This helps with temporary blips like a sick day or week’s vacation, but can also serve to protect the company from the unexpected long-term or permanent loss of a key player.
  • Set up systems for scale — Often, a defining moment involves an opportunity for rapid growth or expansion, but a company that’s not built to grow may not be able to successfully take advantage of that opportunity. The best way to prepare your company for rapid growth is to systemize and automate anything and everything you can so that it can be quickly and easily scaled without having to rely on hiring huge numbers of people or making other time-consuming investments.

Managing your business’s defining moments

With a good handle on what your company’s possible defining moments may be and adequate preparation in place to ensure you’re in the best position to take positive action when they occur, you're left with the need to execute at the time and effectively manage the moment.

More than anything else, managing a defining moment has to do with your attitude. If you’re fully committed to the business, confident in the team surrounding you and the quality of the product or service you’re offering, and you know you’ve done the very best job you could to prepare the business for growth and change, then you should be able to manage a major defining moment just as confidently as you manage all those other relatively unimportant decisions and events that occur every day.

Being decisive and determined to following through are the keys to seizing unexpected opportunities and turning disasters into success stories.

Are you identifying, preparing for and properly managing the moments that will define your business?

Photo credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock