Have you ever seen a tornado up close and in person? I promise you, it’s not something you can ignore or overlook. The sky goes black; the wind starts to blow, and suddenly the trees are bent over sideways. If you’ve been listening to the weather reports, you’ve probably already prepared for its impact as well as you can; grabbing your flashlight, taking supplies down into your storm cellar if you have one, or getting to a local shelter if you don’t. All you can do then is to wait it out, and hope it passes you by.
But the business cycle I call the Tornado doesn’t offer an early warning system; one day it’s nowhere in sight, and then before you know it, this period of overwhelmingly rapid growth is upon you. Your people are hunkering down, trying to soldier through the battering winds – and so are you. But unlike an ordinary tornado, you may not even know what hit you!
So how do you know you’re in a Tornado? The most typical characteristic of a Tornado is that you have high sales revenue alongside low cash flow. You have lots of revenue or potential revenue; you’ve got dotted lines signed on the contracts. All you have to do now is deliver. The problem, however, is your delivery time is twenty to thirty-six months—and that means you’ve got a cash-flow problem. So the company is doing great, but the balance sheet doesn’t look so good. Funding has to be found quickly.
Where the damage starts is when your old processes haven’t been reworked, and your technology was built for a smaller firm—but in most executives’ minds, the fastest way to fix the increased demand for production is to throw bodies at it, whether independent contractors or new employees. Unfortunately, the influx of so many new people is also going to add to the general sense of confusion currently reigning. These new people bring with them their own ideas and the culture that worked for them in the past. This means all those new people are bound to upset your company’s cultural stability, right at a time when you don’t have time to spare to address the problem. That can have a negative impact on productivity per hour worked.
What’s the lesson here? Be prepared. The time to buy batteries isn’t five minutes before the storm hits. Anticipating and preparing for what’s going to potentially hit you can make the difference between surviving that overwhelming storm. You can’t transform your company’s processes, people, and technology in the middle of a Tornado. It’s too late then. Once the wind started blowing, you just make do with whatever you have and ride it out.
Our team can help your leadership team weather the storm with the right supplies at the ready.