What is the weak link in your business?

Trees forming chain that is on fire at center

It’s wonderful to be positive and expect everything to go well. But then there are unforeseen circumstances – an illness, unseasonable weather, or a tech malfunction – that stress your home or business. Suddenly that weak link cries out for attention.

Weak links are nothing new. The term “weak link” was first used by Thomas Reid in 1786. In his writing, Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, he says: “In every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the weakest link of the chain, whatever may be the strength of the rest.”

Fence Damage, Power Grids and Covid Response

After a storm, my dogs are experts at finding the weakest links in our chain link fence. Long Island has our share of Nor’easters and hurricanes that knock trees onto fences. After a post-storm dog escape, I learned that our fence may not be secure after a storm. To protect my pups, I now walk the perimeter of our property after a storm to trees that have fallen on the fence.

Look at the news and you’ll find plenty of examples of weak links. This was highlighted a year ago in Texas, when a combination of brutal winter temperatures, power outages, and frozen/bursting pipes) made it showcase the state’s weak links – including an electrical power structure that is not set up for freezing temperatures and their inability to share power with surrounding states.

The covid response is yet another example of weak links. Our reliance on foreign producers for nasal swabs, N95 masks, and many other supplies hampered our treatment of covid. Another example is lack of test kits. We are heading into our third year of the pandemic and my first test kits — supposedly a first-line defense regarding covid — arrived over the weekend.

Weak Links in Your Business

What are the weak links in your business?

Often we don’t identify weak links until a system is stressed. Last year I faced major spikes in traffic that exceeded my CPU usage and shut down my websites. I purchased more bandwidth and the sites were shut down again within minutes. It took two weeks, a web developer, hundreds of dollars, and a new website host to fix a “weak link” problem that I hadn’t anticipated.

In some cases, we know about a weak link but fixing it is not a priority. Such is the case in Texas, where the electrical grid problem had been well-known for ten years. It was only when the system was stressed again by frigid temperatures that addressing the problem became a priority. At this point we can only guess the lost lives and property damage that could have been prevented by fixing these weak links.

How to Identify Weak Links in Your Business

I am a big fan of doing a SWOT analysis to identify the weak links in your business. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This blog post called SWOT Analysis Planning Tool for Solopreneurs explains how to conduct a SWOT analysis.

Some weak links to consider are:

  • Security. Are you using good passwords, keeping your website plugins updated, and creating regular backups? Are you sharing passwords with people who should not have them?
  • Intellectual property. Do you have patents, copyrights, contracts, and Non Disclosure agreements to protect your business?
  • Reputation. Are you getting good reviews online? What would you do if someone wanted to ruin your reputation?
  • Payment. Have you made certain that you will be paid for the goods/services that you provide?
  • Customer service. Are your employees engaged and motivated to fulfill orders and solve problems?
  • Technology. Is your online shop, website, calendar program, and email marketing system working properly? I recently talked to someone whose calendar scheduling program had stopped linking to her website. Unbeknownst to her, clients were unable to schedule appointments and her business had a big dip in revenue.
  • Your health. It’s easy to ignore chest pain or some twinges in your tooth. However avoiding healthcare can leave you with bigger problems – such as a heart attack or a tooth abscess. Make self-care a priority so that you can remain at the helm of your business.

I recommend that you carefully analyze your weakness and threats in your business and personal life. The next step is to find solutions that will prevent or eliminate foreseen problems. It is faster and cheaper to make changes proactively than to fix a broken website, sue someone for copyright infringement, or find a new supply chain.

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What is the weak link in your business?
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