By Dana Telford
Let’s imagine that you, the business owner, lived 1,000 years ago in feudal Europe. You were a Lord or Lady of noble birth and had valuable assets – land, weapons, children, jewels, gold, servants. As such, your daily activities centered around two goals – 1) don’t get killed and 2) protect my stuff.
As part of your strategy for reaching these goals, you built a giant wall around your assets and hired sentries to stand guard. You trained them to shoot arrows at or pour any assortment of hot liquids on would be invaders.
Over the years you got better and better at protecting your life and your stuff. Instead of using wood for walls, you used rock and stone. Instead of just one you built 3 or 4 concentric walls, each getting higher and thicker as they got closer to your lair.
You built your castle near water – to make sure no enemy could starve you out. You dug a moat to keep invaders at bay. You then dug it even deeper, following the logic that attackers wearing heavy armor and carrying lead weapons don’t float. You built a drawbridge and portcullis and only allowed entry and exit from your castle through one door.
You succeeded in making your castle so ominous and defensible that would be attackers no longer bother to put your fortress on their short list of possible overthrows. Without the constant threat of invasion, your army became lazy, playing cards and drinking pints over scrambled eggs and bacon. You turned your focus to squeezing more margin out of castle operations – raising the rents for the blacksmith, the miller, the baker, the candlestick maker. You have prospered, at least until now.
Your comfort is your greatest enemy, whether Lord/Lady or business owner.
May I suggest that each of us take the time, every month, to stand on the highest walls of the castle and peer out into enemy territory. Ask yourself, and your key managers, “how defensible are we today compared to yesterday? What are our greatest strengths? Where are we most vulnerable to attack and invasion? Are there greener pastures nearby that provide better shelter, resources, value? Who poses the greatest threat to our peaceful and prosperous existence?”
The answers to these questions, asked consistently and considered carefully, may save you from being thrust through by a barbaric competitor seeking to seize your assets and steal your market share.