My recent article on keeping focus in challenging times mentioned preparing for obstacles that could derail us and take our focus away from what’s most important. As I was writing I felt it was important to go into this topic in greater detail.

It’s an unusual topic for a business mentor to ask a client about, in that it’s not something that we can predict – obstacles aren’t always expected, they don’t have a pattern and can’t really be planned for, until now…

Planning for the unpredictable

I encourage you to take a moment in your planning to reflect on the obstacles that you faced in the past. What were they, were did they come from, how did you tackle them and what was the outcome?

Hopefully, you were able to navigate through the things that took you by surprise and if you didn’t come out better off, then you took away a good ‘learn’ from the experience.

Now think, does that learn have any relevance to the future? Does it constitute a solution you can employ for any other obstacles that may come your way?

That’s one weapon in your armoury – past experience.

Next, think about what is in your future. Can you see any clues to a situation that could become an obstacle to progression, or continuity? It might be that your client base is changing due to new technologies emerging in the market, it could be that your marketing isn’t producing the results you’d predicted, or your staff don’t seem to be motivated anymore. Or it could be something completely out of the blue such as a cyber security breach or fire.

A bit of forward thinking about your industry market and customer persona, some staff SWOT reviews, and candid conversations can all be added to your armoury against obstacles.

You may also face obstacles that stop you from achieving your goals. With no doubt New Year resolutions looming, consider how you will overcome any obstacles that could appear in your way.

Build solutions into your goal planning

I’ve spoken about trigger points in previous articles. Essentially it is that moment when something happens to trigger you into a planned action. That theory can be applied to obstacles as well as growth planning in that you can, for example plan to change your marketing tactics to suit your new audience when you see a trending change in engagement or retrain staff to suit a change in tech when their annual reviews reveal a loss in confidence.

Thinking about your goal or trigger points, write a list of all the obstacles that are likely to stop you achieving the goal or moving forward. Then alongside each of these write down the solution that you can deliver, execute, and implement to avoid the obstacle from occurring. Then if a situation was to potentially trigger an obstacle you are prepared ahead of the game!

With this in place, you can identify actions that need to be completed so that you are prepared if the obstacle rears its head.

That’s preparation – the final weapon against derailing by obstacles…

Tackling an obstacle head on isn’t always necessary, as the title of this article suggests. With learning from experience, knowledge of your market and organisation, and trigger points and actions in place, you can go over them, and you can go under them.

If you have experience of obstacles that would be useful to others, I encourage you to share your solutions and learns, as we all need to know that others face challenges too, and your experience could help someone with theirs.

Get in touch with me if you’re currently facing a difficult obstacle and could use some guidance and navigation from an experienced business owner and entrepreneur. I will be happy to share my own learns, and those of business owners I’ve mentored in the past to help you through.

For further advice, you may be interested in the following blogs:

7 key focus areas in economically challenging times

Using trigger points to keep your business on track

Why is my small business failing? Could it be this one reason?

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