What If…? (Issue 1116)

In which we are reminded to ask clients how things will go if they don’t go according to plan.

I helped a friend move, once. Actually, a couple of times. It was from him I learned the expression, “Don’t own anything that you can’t carry yourself.” We were, at that time, much earlier in our lives, single and mobile, changing jobs or moving to new apartments every couple of years.

I couldn’t pass that test now. But while “Don’t own anything you can’t carry” limits the weight of what you might be carrying to a moving truck, it doesn’t limit the quantity of those things. And my friend liked quantity.

He was a former United States Marine, a combat platoon leader. His motto was “be prepared” and he took it to heart. If a blizzard struck or a hurricane took out power, he had enough food to keep himself and several friends well fed for weeks. If the local drug store closed, he had medical supplies of all types, sizes, and dosages at the ready. If you needed batteries – several weeks’ worth. Clothing, more of the same.

I asked him once, “What if things get really crazy in this country and you’re away from home so you can’t get to all of this inventory that we’re moving?”

He said, “I have money and supplies stashed in various locations around the country.”

I looked at him kind of funny and, former Marine leader that he was, he just looked me dead straight in the eyes and did not blink until I looked away.

“OK,” I thought, “he’s prepared.” I kept moving.

Yes, he was prepared, just in case, what if… and many families and businesses, small businesses in particular, aren’t prepared. They don’t develop comprehensive contingency plans. So, we’re a big help when we ask the “What if…” questions that the contingency plans should address.

For example, focusing on the supply chain: What if… you can’t get some of the components you need for your product? What if… the price of your inputs quadruples in the space of a few months to a year?

Or, on the positive side: What if … sales grow faster than you expect? What if… you land that huge order from the big box store? What if…?”

My moving buddy friend is now a bit less mobile than he was. I called him a while back and asked, “Do you still have your supply caches out there?”

“Yes, I do,” he replied. “I think I’m at the point where I need to start cleaning those up.”

“Good idea,” I said. “What if…..?”


Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at https://clarityadvantage.com/knowledge-center/ .


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