What is Your Achilles Heel?

What events can cripple your business?

Money problems can do it. Escalating production costs can take a big chunk out of of earnings until you move to control the outcome. A dwindling subscriber or customer base can affect your income stream, too. A competing product comes out with the latest bells and whistles, and then you watch a relentless down-tick in sales…that could do it. Financial mismanagement coming from unrealistic expectations and poorly monitored spending can drive you to the brink of bankruptcy…and push you over.

Catastrophic data loss can do it. A series of unfortunate events can contribute to losing vital data like customer’s financial information, or the company’s financial data. You can lose your blog, you website, your work if you don’t back-up regularly and check your back-ups for data integrity.

A social media gaffe can damage your brand. In the social era, a public relations flub can make you or break you, depending on how bad it is and how you spin it. Check out the stories in Blogging Your Way To Your Market’s Attention to see how good companies can make bad choices.

The days of ‘Any publicity is good publicity’ are long gone. Customers are more vocal about their expectations –for their money, and for their support — and the internet is a platform that can give one voice access to an audience of millions. An employee does a stupid thing and there are photos which go viral. Boom, instant PR nightmare.


Disaster prevention asks you to purposely spend some time in a nightmare funk. This mental vision quest is sort of like predictive disaster management, like pulling a full on Eeyore-on-steroids/Chicken-Little-mash-up, to somehow brainstorm your worst business nightmares.

Based on experience and knowledge, you come up with the worst things that can happen, rank them according to how likely they are to occur, and then take the steps to avoid those things if you can, prevent those things from happening or at least mitigate their effects, and lay the groundwork in place to recover quickly in case they happen.

Things like sabotage and espionage happen: hackers holding data hostage for a price, hackers setting off a DDOS attack on websites, stealing twitter accounts, stealing credit card information or proprietary information…Knowledge is power, especially on the internet. Protecting the data, and having security and back-ups in place, can do a lot in ensuring peace of mind.

What small things can add to the mix?
Ordinary absent mindedness, where a decimal point is misplaced. A break in the supply chain affecting production, and your creditors and shareholders don’t care. Not paying attention to the other parts of outsourced work


Having protocols in place helps you to deal with emergencies. If you have departments or divisions involved, let everyone in their groups know what to do in case something happens. Let the people who have the authority and the responsibility to deal with emergencies help with the process — don’t offload to unprepared employees. There are even key concepts below to help you and your team get to thinking:

  • Monitoring – Knowing your numbers lets you know the baseline of the system, and with enough familiarity you can read when something is off.
  • Recording – Keeping accurate, reliable records and protocols gives people something to fall back on, whether it’s instructions ‘in case of emergency’, proof of ownership and payments, etc. Back-up is not just data. It’s records.
  • Anticipating — study, test, implement, tweak. A business-oriented rapid response team (troubleshooters and ‘fire-fighters’ experienced in dealing with emergencies) is a good bet.

Bonus link: Disaster Recovery and Your Business has more information on drawing up protocols to protect your business in case of emergencies.

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