As a volunteer with the Arizona Rangers, we donate our time to help local law enforcement agencies. We assist with things like traffic control, DUI checkpoints, surveillance, large event security and prisoner transport.

As a ranger, you should develop very good situational awareness skills. Business owners need to develop these skills, too. In both cases, their survival may depend on it.

Good situational awareness may provide many benefits to the business owner. These include a competitive advantage, better employees, increased productivity, higher profits and assured sustainability. When a business is oblivious to its surroundings, it usually does not end well.

Consider your competitive environment for a moment. Who is your top competitor, and what can you learn from them? What systems and processes are they using that make them more effective? Who are their top employees and how could you recruit them? Which good niche markets are not being served? Do any emerging technologies pose a threat to your business?

Shift your attention to the work environment you have created. Are your employees excited to work for you? How can you improve employee morale? What can you do to reduce employee turnover? Are you motivating your employees to reach their highest potential? Are the right people in the right places within your organization? Sometimes the very best ideas come from lower-level employees. Are you just as ready to follow, as you are to lead your employees?

As you increase your situational awareness, you may discover you are targeting the wrong customers. You may also identify weaknesses in your sales conversion process. The potential areas of improvement are almost endless.

Recently, the rangers assisted a local police department with surveillance in a high crime area. In that environment, situational awareness is critically important. How important is situational awareness in your business?

If you are interested in developing your situational awareness skills by volunteering with the Arizona Rangers, email bnordbrock@azrangers.gov.

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.