Mastering the Fine Art of Worrying

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..