A few days ago, I read that because of the tendency of tourism to rise and fall, 6,500 restaurants in Mexico have closed after the appearance of the Influenza type A. This has caused the destruction of 55,000 jobs.
This also implies that the illness killed many more businesses than people in Mexico. And this number only includes the restaurants.
It presents a very interesting lesson to any entrepreneur: Shit happens.
“Shit Happens” expresses something that happens to everyone, all bad things occur at the moment you least expect it and without any reason in particular.
Imagine for a moment that you are the owners of a restaurant in Mexico City. A day before the epidemic started, you were happy with your great start to the year. Months before, a investor had offered you a capital investment, but you told them that you didn’t need it. After all, why would you want it if your business had never been doing better?!
You know what? “Shit happens”. All of the sudden, without notice, something that apparently had nothing to do with your business radically changed the panorama and now you have serious problems.
You might think: but if something is unexpected, unpredictable and not related to my business, what could I do to avoid it!?
What you should try to do is not to avoid it but to be prepared. Think about it for a minute: illnesses kill many more that have weak defenses or are already infected with some other previous illness. The 6,500 restaurants that died, almost with certainty weren’t just any restaurant. It’s very probable that the majority were ones that had already been flirting with a collapse.
A business that was already working well, without a doubt, will perform much better at resisting a “malaria”. One that, yet appearing unnecessary, accumulated capital in the peak moments, and yet turns it’s own gears in business and with investors, as well.
What you should try to do it be well-prepared. Be conscious that “shit happens” in the moments we make our decisions. Also, to have some general plans with contingency prepared for these “shits” that aren’t entirely unpreventable, for example Officenet succeeded even with the devaluation of the currency in Argentina at the end of 2001.
To finish up, a well-illustrated example of “shit happens”: In the year of 2005 we had to move our offices and the warehouse to Brazil. It took many months of work but without it, the company would have ceased to operate. On May 23, a Monday, we finally finished and got back in business with 100% normalcy in our new location. Less than two days later, the equivalent of two months of rain fell in 11 hours, causing the worst flood in the city of San Paulo since 1943. Our warehouse was sitting in a meter of water (you can see an impressive photo gallery here).
Almost two million dollars worth of merchandise was destroyed. It took us almost 10 days to get back to operating normally again, the only interruption of service the Officenet has had in it’s history. This situation found us without a single preparation to manage a crisis of this kind.
The old warehouse? Of course, wasn’t touched by a drop of water!
In closing, I invite those that would like to share their own stories of “shit happens” to comment.