“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

Unless you’re young and not into “classic rock”, you remember Three Dog Night singing “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” You might be too young for that, so just in case, the band sang that song in the 70’s, in their case, love was the subject at hand, not business.

In business, one isn’t as much lonely as it can be deadly.

ONE supplier.
ONE client.
ONE employee.
ONE product or service.

Any ONE of those, if you’ve allowed them to become too important, can be deadly to your business.

Over the next few posts, we’ll talk about why ONE is such a bad number in business. We’ll start with ONE supplier.

ONE supplier: If you have just one supplier for a critical raw material or service, what happens when and if that supplier goes bankrupt, gets bought out and broken up, doubles their prices because someone stole money from them (or the IRS catches them at something, even a mistake), and so on? YOU are the one who pays, because your business is at ONE supplier’s mercy.

You can see the reality in this in our local aluminum plant here in Columbia Falls. They operate using commodity raw materials (price  controlled) and their product is also a commodity (price controlled). They have ONE power source (commodity, price controlled). When that power is expensive, they cant do business using their current model. When it isnt expensive, they incur massive startup costs to ramp up production. Its a 1960’s business model, but this is the 21st century of global business. ONE supplier of power has them by the shorts, plus both their raw material AND the product they create are price controlled commodities. Dangerous.

I recently spent some time finding alternative suppliers for the raw materials that we use at my wholesale skin care products company. Why? Because I had ONE supplier for a few things and it scared me. I refuse to be at the mercy of one supplier, even if that supplier currently does things wonderfully. Things change. Flood, locusts, tux didnt come back from the cleaners (apologies to Mr Belushi). You simply have to be prepared (that’s the Scoutmaster speaking…)
Look at your business. Is their ONE supplier that could cripple your business if they went under? Or if they decided to get militant with you, or if they doubled their prices? Dont just think that you are immune because you sell software, or are a consultant, or run a day spa. All of us have the potential to get nailed by ONE.

ONE affected a recent football playoff game. A team came to Montana saying they had the ONE best player in the country. Everything their team achieved depended on that ONE player. Unfortunately for the team, their coach bragged to the press that that ONE player was the best in the country, not just the best running back, and implied that nothing else mattered. He found out the danger of ONE. Montana keyed on that ONE guy, shut him down, and sent his team home without scoring a touchdown – in fact, almost without scoring at all.

Depending on ONE is poor coaching and poor business.