[Musings of a Game Store Owner] Like a Boss: X+1

Last week I talked about planning, and how it’s gathering, analyzing  and using information to benefit your business. Planning is a great tool, and gives perspective and insight to the what, where, when and how of a business.

The reality of planning is that you can’t plan for everything. Heck, you can’t plan for MOST things. Around here, we call what happens when plans get the best of you “X+1”.

At least in our area, “X+1” started out as a way GMs expressing that their players outstmarted them in some way. The meaning behind it was that as a GM, you planned for all scenarios, including “x”. When the players came up with something you didn’t think of, it was “x+1”.  Kind of like life, really.

I mean, the phrase “God laughs when you make plans” didn’t come from nowhere. The reality of it is that you can plan all you want, but things happen. Unforeseeable stuff that you can’t even consider as a possibility, much less make arrangements to avoid.

Like pneumonia.

TheDude recently came down with what he thought was a case of food poisoning bad enough to go to the ER over, and after quite a few tests, discovered he had pneumonia. Even with health insurance and the ability to pay for the needed drugs to get well, this was a curveball that our policy manual just couldn’t cover.

Being seriously ill as a small business owner is harder than at a regular job. You don’t really get sick days, and closing the store might SEEM obvious, but every day you aren’t open is a day you aren’t making money. The idea that TheDude should be at home resting was obvious, but keeping the store open was necessary.

Our normal “fall back” when TheDude is sick is for me to use a sick day at work and work the store; but I have a brand new job and no days to use yet. This time around we had to call on our employees, who are both dependable and flexible; and they showed up in spades.  This particular episode has certainly opened our eyes to some things we should consider for the future, but there really is no way to plan for something of this nature.

Other things that you CAN plan for don’t always consider every possibility. We planned for expansion for three years, but we never imagined that one of our employees would quit a week after the new location opened because he got a much better job. We sort of planned the opposite- that he would stay and help us with a lot of projects that would get the store where we wanted it in terms of functionality and appearance. That didn’t happen, and we had to figure ways around that obstacle.

In our personal lives, TheDude and I have a saying that encompasses the “X+1” reality. It goes like this :

“Are we ready?”

“No, but let’s do it anyway.”

This came around because we realized that no matter how much you plan, try to provision and just generally be adults about things, SOMETHING will happen that you won’t be ready for or expect. Our biggest example to date is buying a house. Without going into sordid detail, we simply were not ready for that. It’s a lot deeper than just paying rent, and neither of us were clued into how MUCH deeper that process and way of thinking is before we bought the house. We’ve since realized that home ownership is not for us- we like having a landlord to deal with problems; and we are very happy renting. 
Carrying that kind of realization over to the store is a process, and it doesn’t happen over night. Operating with the ability to maneuver around any “+1” takes nimble thinking, guts, LUCK, LUCK, LUCK and more luck, and good business sense. We’ve been blessed to have all of those, but we know our next “X+1” is just around the corner. And we’re not ready, but we’ll deal with it anyway. 

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