As I am writing this blog, winter has arrived in Cape Town with a bang, which means rain, cold fronts, and fewer daylight hours compared to the summer months. People travel to work and drop off their kids at school in pitch darkness, and the majority of the time traffic is a nightmare especially on rainy days. People are moody and dream of the long, sunny carefree days ahead. On the flip side, many locals love the Cape winters and see this as an opportunity to cosy up and snuggle in front of fireplaces and indoor braais, with a glass of the local Cape produce (wine) that we so enjoy. I always find it amazing how different seasons can bring out the best or the worst in people depending on their preferences and backgrounds. The fact of the matter is that we react differently to seasons based on the environment we were raised in and our experiences. The same can be said for the seasons we experience in business. There are the sunny days, the rainy days, and the carefree Spring days. Just as we start to feel that we are in control, Autumn reminds us that the seasons are starting to change again. Unfortunately, we as business owners do not have the luxury to pick our favorite seasons of doing business. We have to be resilient by planning and ensuring that we have the plans, strategies, and structures to get the best out of what the business “Weather Gods” have to offer. Business life has cycles and we as business owners need to navigate all seasons to the best of our abilities, and hope that there are not too many climate changes compared to the previous year. The key to our survival is our mindset and being confident that we can handle whatever the weather throws at us. The only way to achieve this level of confidence is to take time and plan, plan, and yes, plan. We should avoid having a “reactive mindset” to every storm, wind, heatwave, or blizzard that we encounter. Being reactive is a clear sign that the business owner did not spend enough time strategising and planning. Let’s look at what the four seasons would look like in business terms:
- Winter – This is the season where business is fairly stable but we do not expect any fireworks or growth. Here you have to depend on your loyal customer base and communicate with them often. The key focus in this season is to use the additional time you have available to fine-tune your strategies and plans for the growth seasons.
- Spring – In this season the seeds take root and vegetation begin to grow, so this is where we start to see the fruits of our labor. We are starting to experience that all the effort we put into marketing is starting to generate leads and new business. The key focus in this season is service delivery with the main goal of exceeding your customer’s expectations which will lead to referral business.
- Summer – This season depicts an established phase in your business when things are more relaxed and your business operates the way you want it to. As per our ActionCOACH definition, you have a commercial, profitable business that is working without you, the business owner. The key focus in this season is to take stock of all areas of your business to determine how you are performing against your competition and to see if there is something else that you can offer your existing client base.
- Autumn – Just as you are getting used to the lovely summer months, the landscape starts changing and reminds you that there might be a cold front around the corner. Don’t panic because you would have planned for this downturn and made sure that your key focus is on marketing efforts. The seeds you sow now will give you a great harvest in springtime through to summer.
How long the seasons in your business last will depend on the time you spend working “ON” your business, where you plan and set goals for the seasons ahead. No year is a replica of the previous year, but if you as the business owner approach the year prepared and with a proactive mindset, you will be fine. Who knows you might even be able to take a few weeks of holiday to recharge!