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How can small business owners learn from Murphy’s Law?

Murphy’s Law is a well- known idiom that is difficult to pinpoint who first coined it. There are many interpretations dating back to the early 19th century, but it was popularised when Edward Murphy (1918-1990), an engineer working on a project at the US Edwards Air Force Base, found a technical error made by one of the junior technicians and said: “If there’s any way to do it wrong, he will find it”.  Dr John Paul Stapp, who was involved with the project, made a note of the universality of errors and fabricated a law, which he titled “Murphy’s Law,” if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong”.  To read more about Murphy’s Law see http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-true.html

Murphy’s Law taps into our tendency as humans to dwell on the negative, and to overlook the positive. It uses the rules of probability that in life there is always a risk that something will malfunction. Instead of using this as a reason to quit, the situation can rather be used to excel and to turn it into a positive.

Some tips to prevent things going wrong in your business:

  1. Apply continuous improvement principles by learning from past mistakes and adapting the strategy or processes.
  2. Be proactive and compile a comprehensive plan with SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely).
  3. Identify possible risks and possible scenarios to mitigate the risks.
  4. Listen, engage and delight your customer.
  5. Pay attention to detail, and “keep your eye on the ball”.
  6. Reduce costs and prioritise what needs to be paid.
  7. Manage cashflow.
  8. Do not be over-confident, and ensure that there is always a back-up plan in the event of a crisis.
  9. Ensure that you have the right resources to execute the job i.e. time, people, finances and equipment.
  10. Recruit right. See previous blog https://hrunplugged.co.za/2020/09/11/how-to-hire-the-right-person-for-the-job/
  11. Develop your Leadership skills. Great Leaders help people grow, which translates into greater benefits for the organisation.
  12. Identify and address under performance or misconduct issues immediately. Ignoring these issues will only cause additional problems. Be sure to follow due process.
  13. If budget is available, consider engaging the services of a business coach or identify a mentor.
  14. Lastly, communicate effectively and frequently to all relevant parties.