Many business owners were concerned throughout the GFC if they could continue their businesses. Now, after the recent Queensland and Victorian floods, some may be so overwhelmed that they feel like throwing in the towel.

This blog, together with our other Vantage flood recovery blogs aims to help your business get back on its feet. Or as Austin Powers would put it – getting you back your “Mojo Baby!”

Recently I had the privilege of helping clean up some businesses at Rocklea  on Brisbane’s southside. These businesses had been “inundated” by the floods – or from what I saw, destroyed.

I helped clean two stores with my colleagues from Vantage and even managed to get my eldest son to help (a minor miracle in itself).  It was an eye opener to say the least.

Seeing an owner with tears in his eyes as we literally emptied out not just his store room but the entire fixtures and fittings of his business was very hard and upsetting.

I was left with an indelible impression of the real sense of loss that such business owners have experienced. Long after the volunteers are gone and the television coverage moves on, the small business owners will have to deal with what could be a major setback – or the loss of their livelihood.

In this blog I want to convey a simple message – that out of such tragic circumstances there could be something that bears a silver lining, however small it might seem right now.

After the disaster, people will inevitably reassess their personal circumstances and probably conclude that they want to continue to run their own business as that’s really all they know.

Re-assess your business plan
Many will ask – where do I start? Same business, same location, or move location or change business entirely?  These are particularly difficult decisions and shouldn’t be rushed.

As business owners we all develop intellectual capital or even more simply “experience capital” if from nothing else than the repetition of the daily tasks we carry out.

We all learn our roles and over time work out how to make the tasks easier. We take calculated risks, make some money and generally develop the skills to operate a business successfully.

We also develop a certain risk appetite which many people do not; starting again in business holds no great fears (whilst working for someone else actually might!).

It seems starting over again is the only logical answer.

So before a business owner starts making plans to re-establish as the best seafood wholesale suppliers in Brisbane (using the example of my Rocklea business owner again), now is the time to carefully re-assess the original business plan.

From all the loss and destruction, something of benefit will surely come from this exercise. Remind yourself what the core strengths of you and your business were, and what yours and the business’s original reason for being was – its raison d’être.

Survival instincts are a great way of assessing the core of your business.  You strip away all the unimportant tasks and activities and concentrate on making a buck.

Ask yourself – what are the three most critical things you must do when you first re-open your  business?  Those three things should form the cornerstone of your new business plan.

We don’t realise it at the time, but year on year our original business model gets bent out of its original shape, often with unnecessary practices and incurred costs.

We develop complicated processes or additional costs with little direct benefit to the business. So now is the time to really focus your new business plan. Be laser like, keep it very clear and simple, set your benchmark return and drive all decisions and thinking to achieving that single aim.

Standing back from your business has always been a good practice, now you have an opportunity to do so like never before.  This “opportunity” for such clear headedness might never come again, and here’s hoping, it never does.

You can donate to the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal to help those Queenslanders affected by recent flooding and Tropical Cyclone Yasi.

Steve Hogan is a former Director at Vantage Performance, Australia’s leading business transformation and turnaround firm – solving complex problems for businesses experiencing major change.

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