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Calm Seas and Rough Waters: The Ten Essentials of Business (and Banking)

[This post is part of a series on business…for business owner/managers and their lenders.]

If you have ever been in scouts or had kids in scouts, you may recall the ‘ten essentials of hiking‘. If you do, take a quick second to see how many you remember before you look at the list at the end of this post.

The ten essentials are not needed for a two hour hike on a sunny day. But the scouts take them anyway. And the scout leader will send them home if they did not bring them all. Why?

Because things can go wrong. They can get lost. Weather can change. Someone can get injured.
When I first took up sea kayaking I was gathering my essentials. When I told husband Bill I had to get a waterproof watch, he said: “That is not on the ten essentials list!” It turns out there are twenty essentials for kayaking. We take them every time. The watch is really not necessary…unless you end up in intractable fog on a coast line and have to guess based on time passed and speed of paddling against the current where you might be. Then a watch is good!

In this post, I want to challenge you. What is on your business ten essentials list?

These could be ‘things’ like a waterproof watch. But in business they could also be relationships, information, even a trait or attribute.

When I decided to come up with ten essentials, I started the list. Then I would add to and when it got to be more than ten, try to combine or prioritize and take something off. That in itself has been an interesting exercise.

Do it for yourself and with your management team or advisors. You might be surprised with what you come up with.

BTW… the ten essentials of hiking

  • water (and extra water)
  • rain gear
  • extra clothing
  • compass and map (or chart on the water)
  • trail food (and extra food)
  • fire starter/matches
  • knife or multi-purpose tool
  • first aid kit (Band-Aids, wipes, antiseptic)
  • flashlight with working batteries
  • sun protection and sun glasses

Use the comments below to start our group ‘business ten essentials’ list…what are yours?

About the Author
Linda Keith CPA is an expert in credit risk readiness and credit analysis. She trains banks and credit unions throughout the United States, both in-house and in open-enrollment sessions, on Tax Return and Financial Statement Analysis. She is in the trenches with lenders, analysts and underwriters helping them say "yes" to good loans. Creator of the Tax Return Analysis Virtual Classroom at, she speaks at banking associations on risk management, lending and director finance topics.