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Infrastructure 2.0 Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Ravi Rajamiyer, Derek Weeks, PagerDuty Blog

Blog Post

Worry Is Not a Business Plan

You are not alone

Whether you talk to folks on Wall St. or Main St., you find a common theme: everyone is worried about the economy.

Unbeknownst to businesses, a storm may be looming right under their own roof, especially for small businesses where resources are constantly limited and reserves are low or non-existent. It is so easy to get distracted, inundated or even derailed with worry.

However, speaking as a small business CEO, I have news for you: You can't afford to worry.

Imagine yourself as the captain of a row-boat. You plot the right navigation course, check for the weather and plan for all that can be planned. Then you keep all your staff rowing in sync, encouraging and guiding them around every turn, always focused on reaching the target destination. You make the row boat the best that it can be. However, throughout this journey, one fact remains: You control the row boat, but you don't control the waves.

While it is understandable to be concerned, it is also important to not let the "worry" take over the business operation. Since you can't control the waves, worrying about them will not have any positive outcome. Worry is negative energy with severe paralyzing effects (picture a deer in headlights).  It slows creativity down, locks you in status quo and reduces the possibility of new maneuvers, especially any move that remotely has any risk associated with it. Worry is physically draining and makes you feel helpless psychologically.

The fact is that in a bad economy, the economic waves are no longer carrying you. They are clashing with you head on, and this is exactly when you need to be nimble, try new routes, be stronger, work harder and smarter than you ever did, so you can overcome the environment. All of which are negated by worrying.

Make the environment work for you
Viewed in the right light, every problem is an opportunity. In this environment, there are so many businesses that either due to their size, or lack of market awareness, are not able to make adjustments to their direction. Your agility and ability to adapt will be your competitive advantage. Plot a direction that employs the environment to work for you, not against you. As a first step, start your course correcting actions by itemizing your concerns and creating a list of what you can do better.
When times are tough, it is always good to revisit the basics. Itemize all your areas of concern and categorize them based on possible actions. Almost all of the items in your list will fall into one of the following categories. I have taken the liberty of defining an action for each:

Category Your Actions
Items I have absolutely no control over If possible, devise a workaround, otherwise, accept as a fact of life and adjust to its existence. This will become your worry-not list.
Items I have some control over, but may drain my resources Do a quick analysis of whether the effort would be worth the reward. If so, implement a quick head-on plan to create a competitive advantage for yourself. Remember others may not be able to react as quickly as you.
Items I have control over This is where you will focus the most. Divide into:
  1. It is necessary to continue as is, and no correction needed. The famous "If it ain't broken don't fix it" approach.
  2. May be able to improve our approach and execution.
  3. A unique opportunity to beat status quo and create a new approach.
  4. I MUST change, otherwise, I will have a head on crash.

By putting aside items in your worry-not list, you now have more focus, more time and more energy to dedicate to the items you can control. Prioritize these items and work on them in order of priority. Employ all the possible tools at your service to execute those as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. The previous blog posts discuss team building, automation and other ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs at the same time; you may want to visit them.

Remember, every hour you delay on making this economy work for you, is an hour of lost business opportunity and squandered competitive advantage.

More Stories By Siamak Farah

Siamak Farah is the founder and CEO of InfoStreet, a leading provider of Small Business Software as a Service (SaaS). Active in its day-to-day management, Siamak has assembled and leads a seasoned team of industry professionals at InfoStreet. Widely regarded as a SaaS pioneer, as early as 1994, InfoStreet began shaping a vision, a team and a technology which is now transforming the way business gets done. As president of one small publicly listed software development firm and the chief operating officer of another, Siamak has extensive small business management knowledge. This, combined with years of experience as a software developer, places him in the unique position of having hands-on knowledge of technical, marketing and management issues, the very combination required for a successful Software as a Service provider. Prior to founding InfoStreet in 1994, Siamak worked at NeXT Computer, side-by-side with industry visionaries. During his six years at NeXT, his responsibilities grew from technical sales and marketing to district sales management. Before joining NeXT, Siamak was the Chief Operating Officer of Microstat Development Corporation. During that time, he was responsible for the day-to-day operation of this publicly listed R&D firm. Siamak began his career at Vertigo Systems International. During his time at Vertigo, he was instrumental in its growth from a startup with just six people to a full-fledged business employing over 70 individuals. The positions held by Siamak span the gamut of those required in the operation and management of a software development company. Siamak set out to experience these roles by deliberate design. At the age of 22, he already had a vision to create a software development firm. Leaving nothing to chance, Siamak systematically chose positions that would provide him with experience in all facets of a software business: development, customer service and training, executive management and finance, and sales and marketing. Having been in the industry for more than 25 years Siamak has striven to include a cutting edge technological vision in his work. As evidence, Siamak has been and continues to be active in the envisioning and creation of forefront technology. 3D-animation, Internet technology, and object-oriented programming, and Software as a Service are just a few leading edge technologies to which Siamak has actively contributed. A member of the Society of Industry Leaders, Siamak is a frequent speaker at conferences that focus on the Internet and SaaS such as ISPCON, INBOX: The Messaging Industry Event, the Layered Technologies Pact conference, SoftLetter’s SaaS Univeristy and more.