Expect the unexpected.
If there is one lesson that business leaders in the region have learnt of late, it is the importance of having contingency plans in place.
The growing need for having a Plan B - or Plan C for that matter - comes as more global companies prepare to launch or expand operations in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).
Osamu Miura, the managing director for Sony Gulf FZE, says the Arab world is now the fastest-growing market for consumer electronics.
"The Middle East is very important," he says. "In addition to that, over the last three or four years, we have watched very carefully about the kind of growth in African countries. They have huge potential."
Yet experts say conducting business in the Mena region has recently become more difficult because of the waves of unrest and political change. Some products that otherwise may have been high in demand have gone unsold when stores have been shut down due to protests. "It is not so easy," says Mr Miura. "But the emerging market is here. So we should come into it."
Fortunately, there are organisations in the region that help businesses of all sizes prepare for these sorts of disruptions.
IRCA Middle East, with offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, offers risk management services such as business continuity plans to ensure crucial procedures continue to function even during a crisis.
The Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group (ADUKG) recently created a new centre to assess business risk and help build resilience within companies.
One of its goals is to create a "framework for action" that would focus "on all those things that potentially can disrupt normal business [and] that may or may not be able to be controlled", says Dr Ahmed Badr, the chief executive of ADUKG.
"In all cases their effects can be reduced by having proper business continuity plans in place, and that's where most of our effort will be focused," he adds.
There are some lessons that smaller businesses can glean from bigger companies. For instance, shipping companies, whether they are composed of small boats or cruise ships, should pay particular attention these days to fostering good relations with port managers in order to have an ally on hand when the unexpected arises.
Building up these business relations is important, says Lakshmi Durai, the executive director for Royal Caribbean in the Middle East.
Recent events such as protests in Muscat, as well as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, had Royal Caribbean rerouting some of its fleet to different ports at the last minute. And then there's that perennial threat of storms during hurricane season. "Always, the ships have contingency plans at any time of the year," says Ms Durai.
In addition, customer-oriented companies must also plan for dealing with potentially cranky consumers when disruptions occur. EmiratesAvenue.com, an online electronics retailer based in the UAE, has at times upgraded orders for customers when suppliers run short of regular stock. To keep customers content in the tourism industry, some companies delay putting backup plans into action until it is absolutely necessary.
"At the end of the day, you're trying to give the best vacation to everybody, and we have to balance between their safety and [giving them] their nice vacation," says Ms Durai. "That's why we don't change the itineraries just like that."