Navigating Through Today’s Turbulent Business Waters

The right guide can get you over the rocky waters and on to success!

by Chia-Li Chien | Aug. 30, 2011


This summer, I was lucky enough to go on my first whitewater rafting trip! As you can see from this photo, there were six of us in each raft with the guide seated right behind me. That’s Lee guiding the raft through the rapids for us.

We were on Nanthahala River, the coldest river in the Appalachian gorge in North Carolina. The entire run was two hours on the water, through many heart-pounding rapids, excitement, getting splashed and soaking wet, along with tons of laughther. I even sustained a hard hit from a hanging tree branch along the river bank. Lee tried to warn me with a “watchout!” just two seconds before I saw it, but it was too late. Luckily I did not get knocked out of the raft and into that cold water. I’m still wearing that bump and scar on my forehead today. This photo was taken as we were just about to navigate the 9-foot drop of Nanthahala Falls. Lee repeatedly told us, as we approached the falls, “paddle with your life, non-stop!”

There were many boats on the river that day, many without a raft guide like Lee, and many were stuck on the riverbank or hopelessly stranded on the rocks sticking out of the river. I asked Lee his “fall out rate,” and he confidently told me “zero!”

“People want to save money and go down this river on their own. Unfortunately, only the experienced guides know the river well enough to maneuver and navigate the boats toward finish line successfully,” said Lee.


In my experience, I have found, without exception, entrepreneurs are risk takers. And statistics back that up. Did you know only one out of six businesses started will survive to year five? There are 26 million small businesses nationwide and less than 5% of those businesses have more than $1 million in revenue. That represents a lot of risk!

Just like my whitewater rafting experience last weekend, you must have the RIGHT guide in the turbulent business waters of today. How else can you ensure you will be able to navigate through and take your company toward a successful run, while sustaining a healthy profit margin?

Here are three mistakes you must avoid if you’re serious about taking your company to the next level:

1.    Having no sustainable economic engine – What is your Economic Driver/Profit Formula?
2.    Utilizing Push Marketing only – You must also use pull marketing to pull all resources to you.
3.    Having a lack of predictable profits – who or what is your revenue base?

So what are some steps you can take to avoid these three mistakes?

Step 1: Revisit your business model. A business model should align well with:

Passion/purpose. This is your business purpose and personal passion. Ideally you want to match this with something you can sell or do for a customer.

Core competency. These are your business’s key resources or key processes. Review your core business competency to stay focused and make better business decisions about what and where to expand.

Profit Formulas. You can’t have a business without making a profit. The Profit Formulas are your economic drivers. Surprisingly, many businesses do not realize any profits from what they do. Why? Because they’ve failed to start the business with a profit in mind and without the economic drivers needed to diversify the overall revenue stream.

Step 2: Identify your Market Makers. Market makers are companies that have the same target clients as your company. There are three types of Market Makers:

Whale Market Maker: Typically Fortune 500 Companies or large to mid-size publicly-traded companies.
Anemone Market Maker: Local or national business, or trade associations; it also includes local companies that have the same target clients as you.
Coral Reef Market Maker: You become a market maker yourself to attract your target clients to you.

Step 3: Know your numbers and monitor your KPI on a regular basis.

Key Performance Indicators, also known as KPI, help a business define and measure progress toward organizational goals. Once you have analyzed your business mission, identified all its stakeholders, and defined your business goals, you must have a way to measure progress toward those goals. Key Performance Indicators are those measurements.

It is also important to define the Key Performance Indicators and stay with the same definition from year to year.

Just like my whitewater rafting experience I described, without the RIGHT guide in the turbulent business waters of today, you will not know which of these items should be your top priority to act on. You won’t know when to “paddle with your life — non-stop!”

As I’ve described in my whitewater rafting experience above, you must have the RIGHT guide to get you through the turbulent business waters of today. Maybe you’ve been stuck on the rocks in the middle of river for a while. Or perhaps you’ve drifted to the riverbank, simply waiting until deeper waters come to take you back out into the flow. Perhaps you believe the economy has caused your business to overturn in its unstable wake.

Even through today’s economy, my clients are navigating their businesses to success, perhaps because they have the RIGHT GUIDE.


Let me guide you through the turbulent business waters. Sign-up for my 90-minute webinar today and find out how PROFITS MATTER® can get you off the rocks, into the flow, and lead you to business success.


Date: Various dates, please click on the big orange button to see the dates.
Time: 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EST

In this 90-min. webinar Chia-Li will cover three things:

1. What makes a business valuable? (form investors/buyers' perspective)
2. What mistakes to avoid while building your business?
3. Strategies you can put to use today to begin building value for your business

Upon completion of the registration, you will receive a separate email to confirm along with webinar URL and conference call information.

Wishing you the best in business,



Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; Chia-Li "like JOLLY!" Passionate leader of small business strategic value creation and implementation Mastery. She is CEO and chief strategist of Value Growth Institute –Creating business value that transforms your world. She is the Award-Winning author of "Show Me the Money." Grab a free sample of "PROFITS MATTER® 1GAP" to grow your business at


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