Beginning with the End in Mind

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It has been a number of years since I’ve read Steven Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, but the title of Chapter Two I recall to mind oftentimes to help me think through what might be needed in a particular situation. Starting with a picture of what the end result looks like in your imagination can inform you of what potential pathways to build to get there. To ‘get there’ one must know what the endpoint looks like. An analogy is to climb a mountain and expend all the effort to arrive at the peak only to discover that the mountain was shielding a taller peak from view and is now revealed. Not knowing the endpoint can lead to frustration at not being able to achieve it.

Diverging into goal setting is a logical extension of what we have started building in this article, but goal setting is predicated on the assumption that your business is resilient and capable of dealing with all of the rough times you may experience. What if this is not the case?

I am speaking directly to your ability to recover from a disaster should it befall your business. I know I am singing to the choir, as I seriously doubt there is a business in Southern Oregon unaware that one disaster or another is possible and able to adversely affect your business. Think about the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdowns, the yearly smoke season that suffocates the tourist industry here, the South Obenchain and Almeda fires that almost wiped the Southern Oregon area off the map in 2020 and most recently, the Pacific Pride fire in Medford that devastated many businesses located near the facility. Up to 20% of these closed or burned-out businesses won’t reopen at all.

As I write this article, I am leafing through the “Disaster Recovery Guide for Business” developed by the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network for use by all businesses. This is much less a “How-To” book and much more a workbook for documenting key aspects of your business and its relationships to vendors, customers, accounting, facilities leasing or ownership, funding, employees and many other aspects of owning and managing a business. If a person was to use this guide or like instrument for recording vital information, a recovery from a disaster will be much quicker, cheaper and faster than without a systematic cataloging of all of the important elements. Why don’t you contact the SBDC to get a free copy or the link to print your own book so you have a handy recovery guide in case of disaster? They can be reached at: 541-552-8300 or to give them your request for a copy.

These past two years have taught me that disasters are more common and more personal than I ever imagined and more likely to happen than I ever realized. What was once just a vague concept of thinking about disasters as being someone else’s problem, I now realize how important it is a person takes stock of their business before taking additional steps to ‘Begin with the End in Mind’. Let’s make a plan to get the disaster preparedness piece out of the way this year so the fun work – the goal setting – can begin so we can concentrate on moving forward with assurance that our hind ends are covered. Now, THAT is a good ending to keep in mind!

Marshall Doak is the Director of the Southern Oregon University Small Business Development Center and a huge supporter of innovation and the community that forms around innovation in the economy. In private practice, he works with businesses that plan to transition to new ownership within the next five years, assisting them to build value that can be converted to retirement income when the business sells. He can be reached through: or 541-646-4126.

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