Lessons for Business Owners from the Sunken Titanic

Apr 16, 2012

As the old adage goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and for some small business owners, Sunday's 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking holds many lessons for today. Entrepreneur offers five lessons for businesses on how to keep their company afloat and their employees safe in any situation.

Watch the Waters – When the Titanic struck an iceberg, it took the crew by surprise. Icebergs were not expected where the Titanic was sailing. For businesses, watching for industry changes can help companies dodge unforeseen dangers. For example, some businesses that formerly offered video rentals or music  did not keep up with digital developments and sunk fast in the face of new companies better serving customers.

All Ships can Sink – The Titanic was thought to be unsinkable, and business owners should take a lesson from this error. All businesses have weaknesses, and navigating treacherous business waters takes planning for expected risks as well as the unexpected.

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst – One reason the Titanic’s sinking was so disastrous was because there were not enough lifeboats to save all passengers. The builders cut corners and took a casual attitude towards safety. For businesses, planning for disasters and disruptions can save lives. Examples include practicing evacuation drills with employees and ensuring fire alarms and exits are operational.

Training is Critical – When the Titanic was sinking, neither crew nor passengers were appropriately trained to abandon ship. Without training, businesses can also find themselves in chaos and confusion. Training employees to handle any crisis – be it a physical danger or a threat to the company brand – can help keep businesses sailing full-steam ahead, even when challenges arise.

Prioritize Needs – There is no sense polishing the brass or rearranging deck chairs when the ship is going down. For businesses, prioritize the greatest needs and avoid focusing on small challenges when there are greater problems threatening the company. If the business ship is listing, figure out why and leave the deck chairs for another day.

Read more about how to keep your company from sinking like the Titanic in the full story.

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