The Yorkshire Post

Think like an athlete to invest in your venture

Summer is here along with an abundance of competitive sports, from the Euros, Wimbledon, and as it’s a leap year, the Olympics are also just around the corner.

Interestingly, it’s been 100 years since the Olympics were last held in Paris, and the city will become one of only two cities to have hosted the games three times (the other is London).

It always amazes me the level of training and preparation high level sport requires. Consistent early starts, strict diets and grueling training in exchange for a series of relatively short matches, games or races – in some cases only 10 seconds.

Then there’s the clothing, shoes and equipment, where every single element matters, down to materials that are chosen for their light and aerodynamic qualities. It got me thinking about business preparation and specifically reminded me of a near-disastrous situation I experienced recently.

While working, my laptop died on me. No warning, it just froze like it occasionally does, and at that stage, I thought nothing of it. Then the laptop turned itself off and then on again, but to a piercing sound which I could only stop by force shutting the device. It turns out I had a failed hard drive which meant I couldn’t access the machine at all. It was unexpected as I’ve only had the laptop for two and a half years.

Being a virtual assistant for other businesses means I need to access clients’ systems at all times in addition to my own, so a situation like this is something I had anticipated – though perhaps not with a painful siren-like alarm. I was thankfully able to seamlessly switch to my back up laptop which is identical to my main one – both have all my files, apps and passwords stored and the same access to the cloud and internet.

Like a competitive sports player, how much time do we spend preparing for such key moments? Although in a business context I’m referring to unexpected situations and crises over planned matches and races, but the same principles of preparation apply. Though very much unlike an athlete, you won’t catch me doing shuttle runs at 5am.

This laptop scare has been a good reminder for me and also made me think about how I can support my clients with their own business continuity plans.

If you’re a regular reader of my columns you’ll know I talk about continuity and long-term planning a lot. I know, it may not be the sexiest of subjects, but you may soon change your opinion if something goes wrong.

Only 19 percent of businesses that face a cyber attack implement a recovery plan, 40 percent of those involved in a natural disaster don’t reopen, and more worryingly, so far this year, fifty percent of businesses have reported a cyber crime. The average cost of a cyber-attack to a medium UK business is £10,830.

Do we protect our careers and finances by having the right insurances in place, in case we fall ill, have to nurse a loved one, or even find ourselves bereaved?

Most of us know we should and indeed do have some basic contingencies in place. But we can take this further by putting processes in place which we review routinely. It can also help to have someone who specifically focuses on this, whether a member of staff or an external consultant to ensure it isn’t overlooked.

This article was first published in the Business Section of the Yorkshire Post on 28th June 2024.