A Practical Guide to Weathering the Storms in Business
At some point in your career as an entrepreneur, you can almost guarantee that you’ll face a turning point that feels like a disaster.
Anxiety, overwhelm, panic. You may not be able to avoid these things all together, but you can use techniques to deal with them.
Two compounding challenges tend to arise in these situations: first, you need to manage your stress and keep your head in the game. Second, you have to actually address the problems that got you here in the first place. In this post I’ll break down a seven-step game plan to help you weather the storm.
Step 1: Take Responsibility
Before you do anything else, accept that whatever is going on is ultimately your responsibility. Even if (technically speaking) someone else made the mistake, as a business owner everything that happens with your company falls on you. Employees, contractors, agencies and partners all fall under your umbrella, and it’s you who will need to make things right.
Step 2: Assess the Situation
Take a step back and make sure you’re really clear on what went wrong. Perhaps things aren’t really as bad as they seem, or perhaps on closer inspection, your challenges run deeper than you thought.
Whatever the case may be, make sure you fully understand all aspects of the problem at hand, including what happened, when things went wrong, who is impacted inside and outside of your company, and why the issues arose in the first place.
Step 3: Make a Game Plan
With a clear picture of what the problem is, it’s time to make a plan to solve it. Do you need to update your customers? Is there any activity on social media that you need to respond to? Should you control the message by reaching out to the press? Do you need to put a temporary hold on sales of your product?
Make a list of jobs to be done and rank them in order of priority. Rather than trying to do everything at once, really focus on what needs to be done right now, and if possible delegate tasks to others.
Step 4: Rally Your Team
Don’t let your team be the last to know! Be open and honest about the situation, share the game plan, stay positive, and get everyone on board to tackle things together.
In a crisis situation, you may need to ask your employees not to disclose any information outside of the company. This means saying no to any press inquiries, staying silent on social media, and avoiding discussion of the matter in private conversations.
Step 5: Get Outside Help
It’s important to lead your team with confidence, but remember, strong leaders know how to ask for help. Now is the time to lean on your network to help you make the right decisions under pressure.
Ask a trusted advisor, mentor, colleague or friend for their advice. If you know someone who has been through a similar situation, find out what they learned from it. Search through your network for someone who is an expert in dealing with this sort of issue and ask them what they would do.
Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of trying to go it alone!
Step 6: Stay Motivated
It can be easy to lose motivation when times get tough, so take a moment to remind yourself why you started your company in the first place.
What goals did you set for the long and short term? The situation you’re in now may set you back a bit or it may mean you’ll need to rethink some of your objectives. Then again, you might find your goals are still clearly in sight and you simply need to adapt your approach.
Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, don’t be afraid to take an hour, a day or even longer to step back, reflect, and come back ready to tackle your challenges with a fresh perspective.
Step 7: Learn from Your Situation
Even the worst disasters have an upside: they’re filled with lessons that will make you stronger in the long run. Think of it as your real life MBA, only cheaper (hopefully).
Really think about what went wrong and why. Whether you made a one-off error in judgement, a series of small errors or a big, glaring mistake, learn from it! It’s all part of running a business.