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Lead Your Team Managing

Chaos Theory and SMBs: What You Need to Know

Chaos theory
Credit: kryzhov/Shutterstock

Organization in the business world is overrated, or perhaps it's unattainable. Let's be realistic: We'd all love to work in our designated roles with our assigned tasks and not ever deal with complications. But sometimes plans change. We can't control every factor that might affect business, but we can control how we respond to challenges. And that's where the magic lies.

The Butterfly Effect, discovered by Edward Norton Lorenz, mathematician and meteorologist, proves that even minute changes, like a butterfly flapping its wings, can largely affect a system elsewhere, like weather patterns across the globe. In other words, biological systems are highly sensitive and unstable, dependent on various conditions.

This not only applies to meteorology; it also applies to the business world. The Chaos Theory, pioneered by Lorenz, encompassed various principals (like that of the Butterfly Effect) that explain the lack of control we possess. Biological systems are naturally complex and cannot be accurately predicted or manipulated into a strict structure.

It's crucial to remember this as a small business attempting to run smoothly and maintain organization. There's only so much you can control, but there are ways to prepare for that butterfly's harsh effects. Here's how to handle the chaos theory in business.

As a business owner, you've probably considered a million ways your business could fail, but you likely draw the line somewhere. And while you want to be confident in your endeavors, you don't want to be unprepared for issues – even unlikely risks.

Never assume that something is too implausible to happen. Think of it this way: Just because the weather forecast says there's only a 20 percent chance of rain today doesn't mean that you shouldn't grab your umbrella just in case. While the possibility is low, it still exists, and you don't want to be stranded in the rain.

You never know exactly what's going to happen, especially in business, but while you can't prepare for the unknown, you can acknowledge the risk in every decision you make and every action you take. That way, you won't be caught off guard if something shifts.

Companies are made up of many parts, working independently and collaboratively to benefit the overall business. One minor mistake, one "bad day" can affect the entire organization. When you work with a team who values communication, you're more aware of any slipups and can approach them immediately.

If workers feel comfortable admitting their faults to you or communicating issues that might adversely affect your brand, you're already a step ahead of many other organizations. Good communication breeds flexibility –  a necessity in the business world. Your workers are called your "team" for a reason – you're all in it together, sharing the same values and goals.

Don't just "wing it" and hope you're making a positive impact on your industry and consumers. Keep up with analytics so you understand what works best for you and your consumers. That way, you'll naturally acclimate and capitalize on positive trends.

While you can't predict what might go wrong, you can gain some insight from this data. Talk with your team and develop (or update) your business plan to reflect new information you have. Make this an ongoing priority, not just a one-time tactic.

If something does go wrong, which is often inevitable, don't hesitate or brush it off. While it's expected that every business owner experiences setbacks, you still must respond actively to them.

As a leader, you must adapt to any sort of change, from technological to environmental. Don't remain stuck in your ways; learn with every setback and progress with these shifts, or you might risk losing your business entirely.

Make sure your workers are on the page as you. Don't be afraid to delegate power so your employees are constantly learning, developing and practicing company values. This prepares them for complexities so you'll have an entire team behind you through any issues.

You want your team to be as proactive as possible, and this is accomplished through training and trust. You might not know where the current will take you, but at least you're all in the same boat.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Purch B2B staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.