by Dr. Cindy Briggs
Last week when my husband texted me to let me know he was on his way home from work, I replied with, “we are all ok but we had a small fire.” That probably wasn’t the thing to share at that moment….but that is for another blog post at another time!
About an hour before that text, I was getting dinner ready with my daughter. I was making homemade chicken and noodle soup and decided at the last minute we needed some biscuits to go with it. I got the biscuits ready and popped them in the over and went about my business. We were still in the kitchen because I was helping my daughter with her school work, when I heard the strangest electrical sounds popping. Then I turned to see flames inside of the oven (and they were big flames). For a split second panic set in, but then I told my daughter to grab the fire extinguisher and I quickly went over to turn off the oven. I stepped back watching and making the determination of whether we needed to activate the extinguisher. After several minutes, the fire started to go down and then went out. I still had NO idea what had just happened, but I knew when my husband got home we could figure it out and determine a plan.
Why in the world would I use my oven fire story in a business blog? Well, it got me thinking. I had no idea that I was going to encounter a fire on that specific day. I had no idea what caused the fire at the moment. What I did have was a plan. With my years of experience, and knowledge, I know to have a fire extinguisher near by in CASE OF a fire. I also knew that my stove was electric and the power source being on would keep the fire going. I was prepared IN CASE of a fire.
This is what we need to do in business too. We need to have a plan. We need to be ready for things… even when we have no idea if/when those things might happen.
What types of events or situations could be “fire extinguisher ready”?
- If you have a brick & mortar business, think about where you live. Are there weather issues that could ever arise that might affect your business? We just had one of those recently with a snowstorm where we had to close our offices for two days. What is your plan if something unforeseen happens with the weather. Do you have a social media strategy? Do you have a way to contact your clients? Make a plan BEFORE you would ever need it.
- Are you a fully online business who relies on your internet service? What is your plan if internet goes down? How can you handle your business. Even knowing the closest coffee shop with wifi can be a plan you would implement if needed.
- What if you have an employee quit without notice– could you ensure the job would get done?
- We all lived through a pandemic that not many were prepared for (how could we be?) but knowing this now– how you could have a solid plan in place if something like this happened again? Look now at how it affected you, and then figure out what might have mitigated some of the issues.
I had a boss, years ago, who always said we needed a “Hit by a Bus Plan”. I always hated this phrase… but she wanted us to have a binder (before regular computer use) that had everything about our jobs that could help someone else do it. She said, “if you ever got hit by a bus, could someone jump in to ensure your job got done?” Again, I didn’t like the bus part, but the planning part has always stuck by me. I do this at home for my husband– I have lists that if something ever did happen to me he could do the things I do (bills, etc.). I do it for my business so I am ready for most situations.
Just like in my kitchen example above, there may be a moment of panic because it is scary and you are unsure. Then your mind will kick in knowing you have created a plan for something like this, you will move into action because you are ready and prepared. We cannot ever anticipate EVERY possible bad situation, but we can be ready for many.
Having a fire extinguisher in your home is considered prudent. Having a “fire extinguisher plan” for your business is just as necessary.Make time in your schedule over the next month to determine possible plans, and then set time to make these plans.
Dr. Cindy Briggs is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, college professor, wife and mom. Her mission is to provide programs that can help entrepreneurs and communities thrive. To find out more, visit www.cindybriggsphd.com.