The phrase “black swan” was first used by the Romans in the 2nd century to describe an extremely rare occurrence – something that seemed impossible. (At the time, only white swans were believed to be in existence, hence calling something a “black swan” implied improbability.)
Since then, philosophers and economists have used the term to describe an event that has three characteristics:
- It takes (most) people by surprise.
- It has a major effect on society.
- The event seems predictable in hindsight.
Other historical events that fall into this category include the rise of the internet, the personal computer, Word War I, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the 9/11 attacks and the financial crash of 2008.
As we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, it’s possible that it will fall into the “black swan” category. Our lives certainly have been disrupted in many ways; only time will tell how our society is changed permanently.
So if we accept the notion that black swan events will happen, even if we don’t know what form it will take or when it will happen, how do we best prepare for them? Here are some of the ways that BPC has prepared over the past few years to weather the unpredictable:
First, we have worked closely with our insurance broker to make sure we have the right types and the right amounts of insurance. We recently added a cyber-liability policy due to the increasing likelihood of cyber-attacks.
Second, we’ve ensured BPC has an adequate rainy day fund. We call it our ‘business emergency savings account’ and this fund will carry us for several months with no revenue and quite a bit longer with partial revenue. This emergency fund has helped us stay focused on our long term objectives since we have the cash to weather a downturn.
Third, BPC is looking for opportunities to serve existing and future customers in new and innovative ways. Our customers appreciate and rely on our deeply talented team for technical and consulting expertise. To better serve them, we are looking at new technologies to help us both work and communicate more effectively than ever before.
Lastly, we are continuing to grow our team with the right people in the right places. We also value your feedback to help us improve. If you have an idea for doing something better, let us or your supervisor know. Your ideas keep us moving in the right direction.
A final word of thanks to each of you who are helping BPC push through these challenging months. Our reputation is continuing to spread throughout the marketplace. We are optimistic that there are some great times ahead.