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The tale of Birds Eye, a UK-based frozen food production company, showcases the importance of being prepared for the worst. In 2018, an explosion at their gas supplier’s plant disrupted the natural gas supply chain, leading to a halt in the company’s production. However, Birds Eye had a contingency plan in place, which included diversifying their suppliers and having an alternative production facility in case of emergencies. Thanks to this plan, the company quickly switched to an alternate supplier and moved production to their backup facility, thereby avoiding significant losses in sales and profits.

While nobody wants to face unexpected situations that can impact their business, such events can happen at any time. That’s why it’s crucial for companies to develop solid and effective contingency plans to swiftly respond to emergencies and minimize negative impacts on their operations and reputation.

A well-designed contingency plan is essential for any business, regardless of its size or industry. This plan should be crafted considering all potential risks, both internal and external, and include clear, precise measures to tackle each one. By doing so, businesses can ensure continuity of operations and minimize negative impacts on their sales and profits.

Additionally, it’s important to note that contingency plans should be regularly updated and reviewed to ensure they remain effective and relevant. Companies must stay informed about changes in the business environment and be prepared to adapt to them. This way, they can effectively tackle any unexpected situation and stay competitive in an ever-changing market.

In conclusion, Birds Eye’s experience highlights the importance of being prepared for the worst in the business world. Having a robust and effective contingency plan is vital for ensuring operational continuity and minimizing negative impacts on the business. As a result, all companies should develop and maintain up-to-date contingency plans to ensure they’re ready for any eventuality that may arise.


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  • Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. The book teaches how to build systems that can withstand shocks and uncertainty. Available on Amazon.
  • The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong. The book explains how to prepare for and recover from unexpected events. Available on Amazon.
  • The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. The book teaches how to create checklists that help to avoid costly mistakes. Available on Amazon.


“Prepare for the worst” in business refers to the practice of risk management, essentially planning and preparing for potential future challenges or crises. Here’s how to apply this principle and steps to take if you’re not adequately prepared:

1. Risk Assessment: Identify potential risks that could impact your business. This could include anything from financial risks to operational risks, reputational risks, or strategic risks.

2. Contingency Planning: Develop plans for how to handle each of these risks should they occur. Contingency plans should be detailed, outlining the specific steps to take, who is responsible for each step, and how to communicate during the crisis.

3. Financial Planning: Ensure you have adequate financial reserves to handle potential crises. This might mean saving a certain percentage of your profits, securing a line of credit, or obtaining business interruption insurance.

4. Regular Reviews: Regularly review and update your risk assessments and contingency plans. Risks can change over time, so it’s important to stay current.

If you find that you’re not adequately prepared for potential risks, here are some steps to address this:

1. Identify the Issue: Acknowledge that you’re not sufficiently prepared for potential risks. This is the first step toward resolving the issue.

2. Conduct a Risk Assessment: If you haven’t already, conduct a comprehensive risk assessment. This will help you understand what risks you need to prepare for.

3. Develop Contingency Plans: For each risk identified, develop a contingency plan. These plans should be detailed and actionable.

4. Secure Financial Reserves: Take steps to ensure you have sufficient financial reserves. This might involve saving more, securing additional funding, or reviewing your insurance coverage.

5. Regular Reviews and Updates: Make it a habit to regularly review and update your risk assessments and contingency plans. This will help ensure you’re always prepared for the worst.

Remember, being prepared for the worst doesn’t mean expecting the worst. It simply means being ready to handle challenges and crises should they arise. This can help reduce stress and uncertainty, and can even potentially save your business.

Test yourself

We want to test your knowledge about “Prepare for the worst”. Participate and find out how much you know!

1. In the business context, “Prepare for the worst” is best interpreted as which of the following?


2. How might the principle of “Prepare for the worst” apply to a company’s financial management?


3. Why might a company adopt the “Prepare for the worst” approach in its operational strategy?


4. How does the principle of “Prepare for the worst” apply to crisis management in a company?


5. In the context of market competition, how can a company implement the “Prepare for the worst” principle?


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