I am not your model computer user, especially when I use my laptop. I open a lot of sites and keep many windows open until I get around to reading them. Because I like to stay on top of my Twitter feed, I keep my Tweetdeck running essentially round the clock. So on Sunday when I started having problems with both Word and e-mail, I didn’t do the smart thing, I didn’t do the right thing — I didn’t reboot.
Monday morning, when I described the problem to my IT guy (who happened to be coming by the office anyway) one of my partners yelped at me in disgust, “What, you didn’t reboot? That’s just so basic.” But I had been so certain I had some exotic computer problem that I assumed something as simple as rebooting would not solve it.
Why am I sharing this embarrassing scenario with you? Because, as ridiculous as my behavior was, I think it’s likely many of you do something similar more often than you’d like to admit. Now since I don’t know most of you, I am assuming this. Which is ironic, since one of my points is that we should never assume. I will never forget watching an episode of “The Odd Couple,” when Felix, I believe, explained to Oscar that “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.” So forgive me for the assumption that you have been through similar situations.
I am not being literal here. Rather, I believe that many of us find ourselves in various situations where we assume we know what’s happening and instead of taking simple corrective measures we either wait the situation out, hoping it will somehow magically correct itself, or we hand the responsibility off to other people to fix.
Neither solution will get you far. In my case, if I didn’t know my IT guy was coming by the next day, chances are I would have rebooted. But instead I decided to let him take care of my problems. In essence, I shucked responsibility. Think about this next time you’re faced with an accounting glitch, a tech hiccup, or an HR problem. Do you take action or do you wait for someone else to handle it?
This week the Wall Street Journal surveyed economists who unanimously declared The Great Recession over. But how many of you believe that? Wednesday I was in Georgia talking to the Cumming/Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and most of the business owners and executives in the room weren’t feeling quite as positive as those chipper economists. It may take a while for those of us in the trenches to truly embrace the notion that the economy is rebounding. But, as I first told you months ago, now is the time to get ready for the recovery. So how do you reboot your business?
Assess. How much revenue are you generating? Are you earning a profit? How steep are your losses? What’s working well right now? What’s not selling? Which employees can you count on? Are you still carrying any dead weight? Which of your marketing messages are getting through? You get the idea. Pepper yourself with questions, even though you don’t necessarily need to know the answers at this stage.
Process. This is the time to get answers to your questions. What, if any, true problems did you uncover in your assessment? Chances are some of these are easily fixable. Others might require more investigation before you know what actions to take. And some are bound to need a helping hand from outside resources. Do you have the financial resources to implement solutions? If you don’t, what are your alternatives? You’ll notice the questions never stop. But it’s only by prompting yourself to think about how you can handle maintaining the status quo of what’s working and rebooting what isn’t, that you can devise a success plan.
Act. Some business owners spend so much time thinking and planning, that nothing actually gets done. Or by the time they’re ready to make a decision, the opportunity has passed them by. I’m not advocating you rush the process and act rashly. But things move rapidly in the digital age and you can’t afford to dawdle either.
If you’ve made it this far, barring any disaster, there’s a good chance you’re going to survive The Great Recession. Remember: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” And when in doubt — reboot.
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