Of course, being British I have this expectation built in when it comes to the weather (expecting the unexpected!), but it's a good way of thinking when it comes to business too.
Much as it's important to have a plan—and it's always a good idea to have a goal—sometimes something will just 'show up' that is unexpected.
This can be good unexpected or bad unexpected!
Good unexpected might be (and these have happened to me):
- Chatting to someone when you're 'off duty' who turns out to be an ideal client (this has happen to me in the swimming pool, steam room, and changing room at the gym more than once!)
- Having a speaking opportunity present itself via a quick Facebook chat while still in your PJs before breakfast (happened last week)
- Sitting next to someone in a cafe/on a train/plane/other transport or eating establishment, etc. who knows someone who knows someone that might be something interesting...
These are all good unexpected. And the secret to all of them is to...
If you have a signature talk, you're good to go on any speaking gig. If you have a Fame Namethat's memorable then it will stick in someone's head long enough for them to Google you or write it down when they can later. If you have your 'intro' and a philosophy or simple system you can easily explain then that will make you memorable and easy to buy from wherever you happen to be having a conversation.
Now what about that other type of unexpected... let's call it the 'not so good':
- Maybe you're ill
- Maybe you have an emergency to deal with
- All your clients run away (it could happen!)
- New rules and regulations mess with your Thing and how you do it
- You have small people (usually expected or at least you get plenty of notice)
- You get competition
- You get complaints
You can prepare for all of these—when I had a proper job it was called 'Disaster Recovery' and there was a manual that covered everything from what happened if the office got flooded/set on fire to mishaps with data back-ups and so on.
And there's no reason why you shouldn't think about back-up plans too:
- Do you have someone who can at least answer your phone and/or emails if you're ill. Phase 1 would be re-arranging your schedule. Phase 2 is thinking about someone who could 'be' you—a stand in or team member who can deliver your Thing instead.
- If you have product versions of your Thing, then someone can sell these for you even if you're not around or able to deliver them yourself. The next best thing to having you in person delivering your Thing is a recording of you (audio/video/written down). Having information products that's the stuff in your head taken out isn't just for giving you back time now, it's also back up if you have to not be around for a while
- Are you flexible enough and creative enough in your approach to doing/selling/delivering your Thing that if one of your routes to market got stopped (say by regulation) that you could still carry on. You definitely don't want to have all your eggs in one basket—one Thing yes, but in lots of different baskets!
- Family responsibilities can easily create unexpected outcomes on your time/availability/ability to do your Thing. If we're talking about a new small person, you usually get plenty of notice to work this out, but then there's always the unexpected 'sick day' or 'play with me NOW' situation when you should be doing your Thing instead. Again, do you have back up—admin and delivery—to take over when you can't be 'there'? Is there wriggle room in how you work?
- If you get competition in your market it might throw you. And this is something to watch out for in 'unexpected' events—because you weren't ready for them they might throw you off balance a little. The thing with competition (or complaints for that matter) is they shouldn't fundamentally change anything. Yes, they might change some details in terms of delivery/timing/service to help you stand out more, or improve, but they shouldn't make you question your Thing. Your Thing is your Thing, no matter what. You can't and won't be the same to everyone—so expect some people to prefer your competition. You also can't please all of the people all of the time, so expect some complaints too. Don't be swayed by the unexpected—take your time and decide how seriously you need to take it.
- And if all your clients run away, well... chase after them! :) or just find someone else who has a great group of clients who need your Thing alongside what they have already and do some joint venture promotions. As long as your Thing is great, and people need it, you just need to find the right people who have their hands up.
Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.
So expect the unexpected—it brings opportunity.
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