Are you one phone call away from disaster?

Are you one call away from disaster?

Sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it, being one phone call away from disaster?

I’m thinking about the business context of disaster.

That moment when a call comes completely out of the blue, a total surprise, when you’re blindsided, not expecting the news, and absolutely rocked.

It has happened to me a few times, and the shock isn’t something I’d wish on anyone.

The circumstance was in my first period as a service business founder.

We’d been working hard to build the business over a few years.

Revenue was growing and all the data I was measuring was positive.

And then the call came.

The world stands still

It was a Friday afternoon, which never helps, when the phone rang.

The conversation went a bit like this.

“Hi David, how are you?”

“I’m fine thanks, you?”

“David, I have some bad news for you.  We have been doing a review and unfortunately we’ve decided to move our business elsewhere, starting next month.”    

The next part of the conversation is kind of a blur.

But I distinctly remember doing what I’m sure what you would do.  

I asked why, was there anything we could do, surely we could work something out?

In truth I was in a bit of a panic.

What’s the spread of your billing across your clients?

That’s because around 75% of the company billing rested on this one client, on this one relationship, on this one phone call.

I’d known for some time that it was something to address, but never quite got round to it, what with servicing the client and growing our business.

The client did indeed move the business.

We needed to downsize, lose people, re-group, and go again.

All of which was damaging personally and to the organisation.

I’d advise that you work to minimise the risk

Working with founders in high-ticket service markets, I’ve seen this same dependency time and time again.

Growing a sustainable business means having firm foundations where situations such as this must be minimised, however painful.

In working through Deciding To Grow recently with one founder, we identified that one relationship was worth 85% of turnover.

You can bet we put together an action plan to fix this and minimise reliance as a top priority!

Let me know if you think you might be one phone call away from disaster.

We can make Friday calls nothing to be afraid of.

Let me know if can help. Being a founder can be a lonely place, I know because I’ve been there myself, and it’s something that would be worth fixing.