I went away to a beach holiday. I was looking forward to this resort area. I used to go there about 15 years ago, then life happened. Changed relationships, changed life circumstances. Sounds familiar? What I loved doing here was body boarding. The waves were just right. I kept thinking of all the years I missed doing body boarding. So for almost 15 years I did not do any body boarding. Then here I was at my familiar resort doing it again. I was so excited. I had to wait for the right wave. Otherwise nothing happened.
Got me thinking about my 30 year journey as an entrepreneur. There were years I worked really hard and I was just plodding through. There were no waves of financial opportunity to ride.
How many of you can resonate with that?
Other years when I was on a streak and things went so well. I was really riding the waves of prosperity.
For the first 10 years, I did not think of it as cycles of opportunity. I was just coping with all the challenges of doing research, writing books, attending upgrading programs, seeing clients and patients, managing relationships and trying to stay healthy in the midst of all this.
Around the 13th year when I actually had tried to map businesses out I realised that there were actually these periodic waves.
I could not create these waves just as I could not create the waves when body boarding. I could only anticipate them and be ready to take advantage of them.
Sometimes when I was body boarding I rode the wrong wave. I thought it would go places. It did not. When a good wave came along just after I missed it.
So similarly in business if I misread the situation I would have positioned my businesses in the incorrect fashion.
One of the biggest mistake I made was in the 13th year or so. We had completed our ISO certification and we had grown the clinic significantly.
So I decided that I could extend the range of services we could offer our clients. This is often called line extension. It often results in confusing the market about your core offerings.
We confused the market and it showed in our results. There was a recession and we felt it.
So in other words, before the recession we were riding a good wave. I did not recognise it. I thought we are doing good marketing and positioning.
When the recession came and quite a few of our expatriate clients left Singapore we felt it financially.
After this I relooked at how we marketed our services and to whom. We reduced the number of core offerings to the public.
We also tightened our target audience profile. As a result we had clients coming in from multiple countries.
Instead of having multiple front end offerings, we reduced it to five core offerings and the other services became back end.
Suddenly we could ride another wave of opportunity again. As I became clearer about the economic landscape I realised that it was critical to be focussed on your target audience.
I started seriously looking at business cycles. I remember in 2014 when we had a really good year.
However I was really anxious because i could not understand the reason for the good year. It was part of a business cycle. If I was not careful the next year would be most challenging.
So I did a detailed overview of my businesses and found several gaps that needed to be addressed.
The reality is that as business grows and expands new business challenges and gaps appear.
It’s the job of the CEO to be able to read the business cycles and anticipate the ups and downs in advance.
In fact I always know that a really good
year is a sign that business cycles are about to change and it’s time to prepare for the next cycle.
For some cycles we took almost three years to prepare for it. The CEOs I consult for understand that they need to start preparing for the future cycles when their business is doing well.
I was talking to some business owners.
Those who have been around have seen these cycles of boom and near bust.
It’s often the newbies who have the illusion that that they have it all figured out. You can only plan and have contingency plans in place.
Have you got your Plan A, B and C in place?