Lessons from the Hollywood Writers Strike

For anyone who’s been living under a rock since November 5th, 2007 I’d like to inform you that the folks who write your favorite Hollywood television shows and movies have been on strike. Since the studios could see this coming, they stockpiled programming that could last for as long as possible – in some cases a few weeks or even months. The two sides are still haggling over the details of the writing contracts, and there is currently no end in site for the strike. So what exactly does this have to do with web hosting?

There are a few lessons that are emerging from the situation that can help any business – especially web hosting compnaies – better prepare for the future. Here are a few things to think about that are illuminated by the strike conditions:

1. Plan Ahead – Web hosting is an unforgiving medium when it comes to disaster. Just as the Hollywood studios are discovering that they did not plan far enough ahead, any web host can be unprepared in the event of drastic changes in staffing, customer count, or data center failures. Prepare now for eventualities. This planning should include key personnel, key equipment, and a realistic look at cash flow and finances.

2. Make Certain That Key Personnel Are Redundant – Don’t rest the entirety of your business on one or a few key players that have no backup. Just as Hollywood has ground to a halt due to one key component failing, a web hosting company can grind to a halt if a critical employee exits the scene. Cross training is the key to business continuety. Don’t be caught off guard if a competitior or other superior business opportunity lures away your key talent. Plan for that continguency.

3. Learn to Improvise – Several of the late night talk shows have made the decision to return without the benefit of their regular staff writers. The stars will simply improvise their way through interviews and short segments. How on earth will these shows get by? No one is really sure. But it won’t be like it is when the writers are working. The talent will create entertainment spontaneously without scripting. The lesson for a web hosting company is that occaissionally it is good to change the way you do things – shake things up. You may discover a better, faster or more efficient way of operating. Don’t get so set in your ways that you give up on innovation.

4. People Don’t Miss Certain Things – Be careful what you fail to deliver to customers, they may not miss it! As shown by the writers strike, when new content on television isn’t available, the viewers simply turn elsewhere for entertainment. There was no loud uproar over the lack of new programming. In fact, one wonders what might happen if the strike continues for an extended duration – say one or two years. Will anything really change? As applied to web hosting, be careful that you properly evaluate which of your products and services are really important to your customers, and keep delivering it well. Here’s a hint: email falls into this category.

Take the lessons of the Hollywood writer’s strike to heart, and improve your web hosting business!

This content was written by Derek Vaughan, and is provided courtesy of the VPS hosting experts at HostMySite.com.

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