Short course in business: 6 P’s.
Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.
If you are new to the idea of “prepping” rest assured the field is infinitely large and totally overloaded with mostly useless crap – especially on the web. I say this, having started UrbanSurvival in 1997. In the 20+ years I have been writing about prepping in general – I’ve been struck by people’s near TOTAL LACK of business acumen; it’s become totally clear that prepping has been totally perverted.
An example: look at all the “survival knives” on the market.
Yeah, sure, if you’re a serious outdoorsy they CAN made sense. But, most of the time, a solid Bowie knife is more useful since most “tactical” blades aren’t worth a crap for field-dressing game. Yes, the straight serrated edge looks mighty intimidating. Ever trying cutting a tree limb with one? LOL, what a joke.
Face it, kid: Absent serious training in hand-to-hand combat, the right tool in the field will have a curved blade for flaying things out. You carry a pair of rubber gloves for field-dressing, right?
Another nice, but how useful? Paracord bracelets. Yes, when we owned our Beechcraft and were flying all over the wilds of America (Rockies, Cascades, and so forth), a paracord bracelet made sense. But, again, we were the exceptions: How many people need a 10-pound survival pack per person on a light aircraft? You know how few of us there are, really?
Flying “the bush” is one of the few places a “survival knife” made sense. Not for the blade (as I’ve complained, most are so-so) but for the hollow handle that has fishing hooks, some fish line, and some steel wire to make snares for small game. Again, check reality this: Do you know how to make a small game snare? Let alone, finding a game trail to set it along? Bait it? But I digress…
What people skip over first is the BUSINESS PLAN to Prep sensibly.
What’s a Business Plan?
Save you six-years of school here: The version I taught my son, goes like this:
“Pretend you are a frog and you want to get out to the middle of the lake where there are lots of flies (yum!) among the water lilies. A business plan is deciding which lily-pads to jump on – and in which order – to get to the objective (middle of the lake) with the least work possible.”
Business School refresher work here: The major parts of a Business Plan are:
- Executive Summary.
- Business Description.
- Market Analysis.
- Organization Management.
- Sales Strategies.
- Funding Requirements.
- Financial Projections.
Idiots (which there is not shortage of in business) tend to write the Executive Summary (short “battle” or “jumps plan”) first. These plans usually fail because the writer instantly becomes prone to writing the plan to the vision.
Idiot Business Plans are all huff and puff with no stuff.
A better way to proceed is to write everything BUT the summary. Collect and process all the data and THEN summarize – if you even need to.
It’s like when writing. If you write the 2-paragraph version of a whole novel, you’ll write a shitty book because you’ll be conforming to description constraints instead of “discovering” the book as you write. Business plans are no different. They are thinking tools before investing time and effort.
Let’s do part – a thumbnail of a business plan to prep – shall we? I will use one of my own half-grown children (age 37 is near enough half grown, lol) as the basis. Here goes.
The Owner of the plan is female, married, living in a highly populated urban area and wishes to increase the survival potential of her family unit. She and spouse both work, have friends, active like, not loaded with time or money for prepping…
For your own plan, this may be all you need to write for this section – easy-peasy, right? All this says is “here we are…”
However, things get terribly more complicated as we move on to:
Market (Problem) Analysis:
The major survival threats to our family unit in a suburb of Seattle are:
- Unemployment of one or both partners.
- Accident/disease or long-term disability.
- Crime such as carjacking, home invasion, street crime, and identity theft.
- Recreational and travel risks
- Financial Collapse
- Physical geo-risks such as Earthquake or Floods
- Hard Internet or Grid-Down
- Social breakdown or political failure, Collapse model.
Other risks may arise and will be prioritized here. Our initial plan looks at a six-month survival horizon.
You see what has happened here?
We are taking this steely-eyed reality-check view as we look at REAL RISKS in aa REAL SETTING in an actuarial kind of way.
Your city and circumstances will change your list. Elaine and I live semi-remote, for example, so our “business plan” highlights health risks as higher. So things like dementia and cardiovascular risks are higher (at 70-something) than Mount Rainer blowing up and washing the Puyallup River Valley into Tacoma’s Commencement Bay.
On the other hand, our passwords for anything on the net are at least 13 characters with mandatory upper/lower case and oddball punctuation. More on our financial sites. No site access EVER on phones without two-factor and….well you know that one, right?
Remember: Use the Gibson Research Password strength checking tool here to test your vulnerability because statistically it’s a lot more likely than utter, bug-out inducing catastrophe.
“Who you are and where you are determines your risk list.”
Preppers have a tendency to “write checks in lieu of thinking.” The Business Plan approach looks at the statistical composition of risks and prioritizes the response.
Look over the list again: If you are sneaking up on 40 and you don’t have a lot of dough stashed in the bank, unemployment can be a bitch. Got a “live in the van” fall-back? Thing is, unemployment is far more probable than being wheelchair-bound from an accident. For most, it’s a certainty.
But, let’s keep going: SOME kind of accident may be more likely than a home invasion, but this depends (statistically) on the demography of your social group memberships. The more social you are, the higher your risk of crime because crimes are often committed by people you know…even if peripherally. See how this works?
And then down at the bottom of the list is the bug-out plan to escape the oozing volcano…because except for Mt. St. Helens (50.1 miles, crater to crater from Rainier BTW)…Rainer’s not been an issue for a geologically long time. St. Helens was a “relief valve” for that part of the Cascade Mountain chain, to some extent.
Sorting out the middle of the list is – again – a highly personal thing. If you are an expert skier but drive a new Beemer, your outdoor risk is lower than your risk of a carjacking. Driving through low-income areas with unlocked doors while distracted texting and driving won’t help, now, will it?
On the other hand, if you are just learning to ski and you drive a 15-year old car – a semi-beater – congrats of “profile managing” which somewhere in here should dawn on you as one of the nearly free “Real Preppping” options. The Ure’s drive a 14-year old Lexus, remember. If a perp is planning to risk the Big House, are they going to go for the old car or that Porsche GT-III turbo ahead of us. See how this flows?
Further Analysis of Risks reveals the following:
- Strengths we currently have are:
- Some water
- Some food
- Some medications and paper products
- Hiking gear
- Great physical condition (Both are Tough Mudders and He has his 10-year black headband… these are real-deal kids)
- We don’t have too much “live off the land” experience.
- Our navigation skills are electronic-based on cell and onboard GPS
- We don’t have current bike “ride-out” emphasis up to speed.
- Autonomous time is limited by water sources
- We could take up fishing and foraging.
- We could have a fishing kit and research seasonal factors in our region.
- We could read books on “orienteering”
- We could get some laminated hiking maps and sighting compasses.
- Work on bikes, do on 25-miler per month.
- We could buy LifeStraw’s (two each)
- We could strengthen our personal self-defense skills.
- She’s taking kick-boxing
- Both should have a pistol and a long gun
- Neither is a ham radio operator and in disasters communications is critical
- We could strengthen our personal self-defense skills.
Our plan is reviewed on a regular basis on the first Tuesday night of each month and progress is measured.
SWOT is, as you have figured by now, short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Essentially, you can rough this out in brainstorming with your mate/partner on a sheet of paper divided in half vertically and again horizontally. In government circles, put the SWOT on a single PowerPoint slide and it becomes the ubiquitous “Quad Chart:” which is then used by know-nothing government planners to make decisions in areas where they often have no underlying appreciation for the consequences of their actions….
But I digress.
Back to the Prepper’s Business Plan:
Our Market/Problem Analysis says we need to prep for the following in order: (Numbered List)
Responsibilities to achieve successive one week, one month, three month, six month, 9-month and one year goals are as follows:
- Partner 1 is in charge of X, Y, and Z
- Partner 2 is in charge of A, B, and C
The plan is written down and reviewed on the first Tuesday night of each month. If items are not accomplished, they are reviewed again on the third Tuesday night each month.
Business 101: “What gets measured gets done.”
Plans fail when they are not well thought-out, when they are not specific, then they are not MEASURED, and when they are not zealously followed regardless of obstacles encountered.
Here’s how we will fill in each of our weaknesses:
- …numbered list…
This is where you’re finally on the downhill run.
Each of those Weaknesses (and any actions that can enhance Opportunities or Strengths or reduce Threats) gets laid out as a timeline and a measurement system here.
For example, say Partner 1 is in charge of the fishing skills weakness. What is the action plan to fill the void here? Learn to fish, practice, and mix with driving and hiking trips. Good time to try out fresh mountain trout, too… So this part of the Prepper Business Plan might look like this:
Strategy: Fishing Skill
- P1: Read basic ebook on fishing
- P2: Does search on “meat fishing”
- P1: Get free Wash. State fresh and saltwater regs.
- P1: Get on a local fishing board.
- P1: Track used fishing gear on eBay, Craigslist
- P1: Makes up minimal gear list
- Version 1 for car bug out
- Version 2 for bike or hike bug out
- P2: Works on lure planning and seasonality
As you can see, there’s a small-steps to get there on each of these.
“Well, my bike needs the front brake adjusted….” and so it goes. There is no space to waste time on social media and similar pap. Too much people talking and not enough doing when comes to prepping.
Over time, you can then evolve your plan to include lots of other things you want out of life. A shared life is a shared business plan and that’s why some couples work and some don’t. All about sharing and getting specific and actionable about a shared future. (Stuff you learn as you grow up and older…)
Our projected time and expenses are as follows:
As you can see, this is a very easy to follow approach: Less than $10 bucks to “prep out” this skill. Prioritize the skills and assets needed into what’s at the top of the real threats list.
The highlights of this are: You can plan to ameliorate (reduce) your personal threat exposure to a wide range of statistically possible threats for not very much money.
What’s more, much of what you will be doing is “dual use.”
In other words, when not doing “Tough Mudder” runs, this couple could with very little additional cost, put together a fishing/camping plan and get out of the city on weekends.
This might seem anti-social, at least in some sense…maybe sports trivia on the weekend goes….but the flip side is that camping on weekends if you live in a “coop” during the week is not a bad thing. There is NOTHING as good as fresh food, cooked and eat outdoors.
Whether our “example couple” has any interest in this kind of approach is up to them.
But the benefits go far beyond “prepping” because it’s a “buzz on the ‘net.”
This kind of grown-up planning will teach you, along with prepping improvements, things like budgeting and planning together, skill building and sharing, research, and purpose in life that goes far beyond the weekly “putting on the Yoke of Oppression for the Man.”
Remember too that is YOUR life isn’t working out very nicely, it will usually come down to the 7th P in our 6 P model:
Oh, yeah…now if you must…you can write the Executive Summary of what’s you’re planning to do. Or, like us, skipd right to the Nike part.
(Just Do It!)
Write when you get motivated…