Mastering the Fine Art of Worrying

by WOHe

It seems that there’s plenty for all of us to worry about in our
day to day and business lives, so why should we be trying to
consider making it an art form? The answer to this is that the best
way to avoid surprises when it comes to your kitchen and bath firm
is to spend a fair amount of your time worrying about the future
and what may lie ahead.

Over the years, worrying seems to have gotten a bad rap. There
have been books written about eliminating worry and reducing
stress, drugs to take to relieve anxiety and numerous health
problems attributed to worry and stress. In reality, it’s natural
to worry and extremely useful in motivating us to face and solve
problems.

The key to successful worrying is knowing what to worry about
and when to worry.

Worry Worthy
Very simply, you should worry about the things that you can change
or impact, and not spend much time worrying about the things you
cannot change. More generally, there are a lot of things that occur
that will have an impact on us or our businesses. Let’s look at
some examples to see how this might play out.

One of the things that’s usually a concern to those of us in the
construction and design business is an increase in interest rates.
There are some elements of increasing interest rates that will
impact us and are worth worrying about. Increasing interest rates
may make it more difficult for our clients to get financing. It
will also result in a greater cost of the project if the client is
going to use financing to pay for it. And, finally, the client may
feel less confident about undertaking the project if the rising
interest rates seem to be a sign of economic trouble ahead.

The point here is that we need to focus our worrying on the
effects of rising interest rates rather than on the rates
themselves. We cannot do anything to change the course of interest
rates in our markets, so there’s no benefit to worrying about why
they’re going up. It is worthwhile to consider whether your sales
volume will decrease as a result, whether your margins will be
squeezed if the higher interest rates impact demand for your work
and whether you will have to make adjustments to your staffing
levels.

Many of us spend a great deal of time worrying about things over
which we have no control or influence. We watch the news and worry
about global warming, the trade deficit and a laundry list of other
big problems. Do not misunderstand I’m not suggesting that we
should ignore these issues. They certainly need to be dealt with at
some level, and we can take action by way of political action
involvement, or some other means of influencing those who are in a
position to actually affect change. Still, on the other hand,
worrying about such issues when we have no means of actually
causing change is not a good use of our time.

So, what are the things that you, as a business person, should
be worrying about? While it’s not possible to compile a complete
list of “things to worry about,” there are some areas that should
be obvious.

How to deal with a decrease or increase in your volume of
business is the general area of concern, along with all of its
various sub-categories. One is your labor force both the shortages
in times of rising demand and tight labor markets, and downward
adjustments in your staffing level if business slows.

Another thing worth worrying about is how to attract additional
business, particularly when the economy is slowing. Should you
focus on marketing through media or concentrate on nurturing your
referral base? What combination of the various methods of reaching
your potential clients will produce the best results?

In the area of marketing and future business, customer
satisfaction is a key area to add to your worry list. Since most of
us look at our businesses as primarily service organizations,
satisfied clients are the key to future referrals. If the feedback
from your clients is not positive, you can be sure that this will
eventually translate into a drop off in business.

Worry about the morale of your employees and the sense of team
that you’re able to achieve. Do your employees have a sense of
ownership in your business? Do they think in terms of the jobs
being “theirs” as opposed to “the company’s?” Do they feel that
they are empowered to truly affect the outcome of projects and
whether or not a client ends up happy with the company?

Finally, worry about your financial results. You must know what
level of sales you need to achieve at the gross margin you have set
for your sales. You should be able to tell how you’ve come out on
each project and whether this will allow you to meet the overall
gross margin that you’ll need to make a profit.

When to Worry
The best time to worry about some of the things that we have
discussed here is when it seems that you have nothing to worry
about. The act of worrying about these things will allow you to
make plans to deal with the various contingencies that will
inevitably arise over time.
You will not want to wait until you run out of cash to arrange for
a line of credit, nor should you wait until your sales volume drops
off to determine what steps to take to balance your expenses to
revenues.

Worrying can be a valuable tool in creating the tension required
to prompt one to take action. It’s also the motivation to get us to
make contingency plans for the various situations that are in our
future. Be careful, however, to make sure that your worrying leads
to planning and/or actions that actually can be translated into
some form of useful activity.

When you have done your worrying and made your plans, then you
should be able to relax and enjoy yourself, knowing that plans are
in place to deal with whatever may come up..

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