Saturday, April 14, 2012

Beneath the waterline

As you may have heard if you weren't stranded on an ice floe, the supposedly unsinkable Titanic went down in the North Atlantic exactly 100 years ago this weekend.

It remains an epochal event; one of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th century.  At the time, it was “unthinkable,” "impossible."  A black swan. 

Until the details emerged.  With the benefit of hindsight, it all seemed inevitable:  corners cut, disbelief suspended, expert opinions ignored.  This is partly why Titanic has transcended the literal and become metaphor for commercial hubris, institutional blindness and human fallibility (and more, to some.

But after 100 years, no mas...uncle! The reason that these man-made disasters are so resonant is because they are outliers, they are the exceptions; they are increasingly rare.  

As you likely know, the failure rate for small businesses is a bit grimmer, especially in the first few years.  Diving into the statistics, the primary reason for business failure is lack of experience, followed by lack of planning.  In fact, the stats also show that those who have gained experience in a family business are much more likely to succeed.

In the NY Capital region, business owners and leaders are blessed with a growing support network to gain or sharpen business acumen, whether starting up or looking to accelerate growth. That's one of the reasons the region was recently ranked among the strongest small business centers in the Eastern U.S.

Leveraging the experience of others is THE KEY to business success.  There is strength in numbers; don't go it alone.
  • Join your local chamber of commerce
  • Participate in an industry council
  • Attend a professional development seminar
  • Join a peer group (I can recommend one.) 
As we move beyond the centennial of the Titanic disaster, let's look forward, not back.  Turn on the radar, light the spotlights and scour ahead for the proverbial icebergs in your midst.  And bring a few mates onto your bridge to share the watch with you.

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