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Lessons From the Dog
By Dave Balch

Are you good at anticipating changes in your business situation? If not, you should be. Just look at what I learned from my dog.

Simone is one of our beloved dogs, a black standard poodle. She weighs about 53 pounds and is as smart a dog as I've ever known. Part of her job, being a dog and all, is going in the car whenever she possibly can. In fact, she likes to hang out in the car, sleeping in the back seat while it's parked in the garage in the hopes that she will "get lucky" and we'll drive off and take her with us. Right there, you have a lesson in persistence and positive thinking!

The other day I went to the dentist in our two-seater sports car and she came along for the ride. She stands in the passenger seat, rear-end firmly planted against the chair- back, supporting her weight on her front legs, which rest on the front of the seat bottom.

Living in the mountains as we do, all of the roads are a series of curves; we consider a "straightaway" to be any stretch of road that goes longer than 100 yards without a bend. So off we go, Simone and I, riding the curvy roads on a beautiful day.

As you know, when you enter a bend in the road centrifugal force tends to throw you to one side of the car or the other, which would be a problem for a dog standing in a soft automobile seat. But not Simone. She stands there, watching the road ahead very intently. As we approach a turn, she leans in the direction of the turn so as to counter- balance the centrifugal force, thereby keeping her comfortable position in the seat.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that she throws herself into the lean. I'm driving along trying to watch this dog throwing herself one way or the other before we even enter the turn, laughing out loud and trying to keep one eye on the road. She was so deep in concentration that she was oblivious to me.

Then it hit me. She is adapting to her circumstances. She is watching the road ahead, anticipating a change in her situation, planning a course of action, and then executing it when the change occurs. A curve to the right, then to the left, another left, two more rights; it doesn't matter. She never loses her balance because she is keeping her eye on the road.

Pretty smart, huh?

Are you watching the road ahead of your business? Are you anticipating changes based on what you see, and then acting accordingly?

What kinds of changes should you look for? How about new laws? What if they decide to impose a new tax on what you do? Are you prepared to calculate it, invoice it, collect it, account for it, pay it, and report it? What if there are new licensing fees or restrictions on the type of business you can run from your home? Are you prepared to change how you run your business, or at least change how you describe how you run your business so you will be in compliance?

The economy is another good place to watch. Will consumer spending habits affect your business? Perhaps it will affect other businesses that are your customers. If people are losing their jobs, will they need your product or service less or more? Are you prepared for either?

How about the competition? If they come out with a new product or service, will you be able to respond competitively?

Watch those curves in the road, and then throw yourself into a position to deal with what's coming. Simone knows how; now you do too.

(c) Copyright 2009, Dave Balch. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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