How to Successfully Manage Uncertainty in Your Business

How to Successfully Manage Uncertainty in Your Business

Ask any business owner, they’ll tell you that uncertainty in business is one thing that will never truly go away. Uncertainty is the one constant that was there, is there and will be there in the future.

There will also be something that will “upset the apple cart” and we as entrepreneurs must be ready to manage through it.

However, there are many factors that are out of our control and yes we have to manage those too!

Entrepreneurs can never know what the next thing is that creates questions and uncertainty in our businesses. Factors like the economy, politics, world events and technology have certainly created uncertainty in business a lot lately.

What Keeps You Up at Night?

That’s a favorite question that people ask entrepreneurs. You hear it asked by reporters, investors and anyone trying to get at the answer to the question – “what are your most pressing business problems’.

Entrepreneurs politely answer the question but we know that none of us wants to be kept up at night worrying about a problem, much less one that we have little chance of controlling. Those things like the economy, politics and changes in the world are for the most part not in our control and thus create uncertainty for us.

How Do We Manage Uncertainty in an Uncertain Business World?

Whether we want to admit it or not, uncertainty in business will never go away. The best thing to do is to admit it and move on.

It’s hard to figure out in an uncertain world when to play it safe and when to get aggressive. For years due to the economy, technology and the geopolitical environment these things have made it harder for businesses to make decisions.

So why is it that some entrepreneurs manage uncertainty better than others?

Since we can’t control things like the economy or politics, we have to focus on what we can do in our own business.

Control What You Can

There are plenty of things that you can control in uncertain times. Two things to control are you and your management team. Maintain focus on the things you and your team can control and don’t waste time, money and energy on the things you can’t.

Focus on controlling your business; your finances and your operations. Know where you stand financially, fix what may be broken in your operation and make improvements to build an even stronger business in that can weather uncertain times.

Stay Current on Issues Affecting Your Business

I’ve mentioned things like the economy, politics and technology that can largely be out of our control, but not all of it. It’s important to stay up to date on issues that can directly affect your business.

Do your best to stay on top of the issues that affect your market and your industry. Whether it’s joining an industry association, doing research or just staying current in business news, it’s important to know what could impact your company.

Know What You Don’t Know

It’s hard to know everything there is to know about running a business. Entrepreneurs need the help of experts from time to time to help them deal with challenges and uncertainty.

Be honest with yourself about what you don’t know and get help when you need it. It’s okay that you are not the smartest person in the room. Experts can help clear up ambiguity or answer questions about issues your business faces. They can help you remove doubt and set you on a path to effectively manage the uncertainty.

Maintain Good Networks and Relationships

Having good networks will help you with knowing what you don’t know. Connecting with professionals like bankers, accountants, lawyers and other experts helps get answers to questions, lessen the uncertainty you’re feeling or can at least put your mind at ease.

Maintaining good relationships with your network as well as your customers, partners and employees is another way to successfully manage uncertainty. When things in your business are uncertain it’s good to have people you can rely on to keep your business steady and moving ahead.

Manage the Fear

Uncertainty and doubt are springboards for fear. It’s easy to let one emotion begin to control your other emotions. Fear can lead us to do things we ordinarily wouldn’t do. Don’t let the fear lead to making bad or irrational choices.

In addition, don’t let the uncertainty cause you to overreact and make kneejerk decisions. When uncertainty in your business rears its head, take time to analyze what is really going on and decide what impact it has on your business. It’s true you may not have all the answers but reacting for the sake of doing something about it isn’t always the right choice either.

Stay Calm

Uncertainty can create a feeling of overwhelm and downright frustration when you don’t know what to do about a given situation. Employees pick up on those cues and can begin to worry about what is wrong with the business. That worry can lead to an unfocused staff and things can start to slip through the cracks.

Be sure to remain calm in uncertain situations and communicate to your staff so they understand the issues you face. Your staff can be a source for ideas and solutions in uncertain times. They can also help you stay focused on the things that matter most in your business and help you stay on track running the operation.

Stay Positive

Managing uncertainty means that sometimes things aren’t going to go your way and can set your business back. It’s important to stay positive when your company faces an obstacle. It may be the first real setback you face but it probably won’t be the last.

Once again, your staff will take cues from you when your company hits a roadblock. They’ll react to your reaction and will follow your lead if you don’t manage it well. Stay positive and use the opportunity to make your business better. Instead of dwelling on a setback, just learn from it and move on.

Uncertainty is Here to Stay

There’s no way around it. Entrepreneurs have dealt with this for hundreds of years and will continue for hundreds more.

Successfully managing uncertainty means staying on top of what’s going on inside your business and in your industry, controlling what you can, knowing when you need help and managing your relationships and your own actions.

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