Business Challenges: Leading Through the Unexpected

Facing the Unexpected

Is running a business more than you bargained for?

Every now and then I encounter a client or business owner who’s feeling decidedly overwhelmed. What they thought would be “so easy” has suddenly turned into chaos. They’re used to feeling in control, having their sights on the horizon, and suddenly, “Boom!”

Insanity reigns.

They’re facing the unexpected, and priorities are forgotten. This one thing, a REALLY BIG THING is forcing you to set aside your lovely plans and DO SOMETHING.

This can happen in all kinds of circumstances. Too much business, nor not enough. Competitive attacks. Employees more intent on fighting internal battles than on advancing your mission. Customers or media outlets who decide your company make a good target.

“What do I do now?”

While it might be tempting to run and hide, that rarely solves anything. You can’t hole up in your office and solve a crisis.

Face the Situation

The solution starts by clearly identifying the problem.

Take a deep breath. Is it really as big as you think? Bigger? Maybe not (whew!)

Once you set aside the panic and see what you’re really dealing with, you can make smarter decision about how to get help.

Do you need to remove an offending employee? Make it happen.

Is it time for outside help? If you don’t have an established team of advisors on call (and you should) reach out to colleagues for some immediate introductions. Talk with an attorney, CPA, sales expert or marketing guru to find out what your options are.

Assess the Alternatives

Move quickly to determine what choices you have. This is not the time for endless analysis. Create a finite list of alternatives to address the problem, and pick one. It may not be ideal, but speed is generally better than plodding along when dealing with a crisis that threatens your business.

If you need more time, take action to prevent further damage, Create some breathing room, assemble a crack team, and start working on your plan for final resolution.

Don’t Assume Silence is Good

Problems don’t often go away on their own, so avoid the urge to sweep things under the rug. If it seems like the issues suddenly resolve themselves, it’s more likely that the monster has just gone away to refuel. It will be back bigger and badder, so be ready.

Fix It for Good

Once you have a plan in place. follow through. Don’t go half way and assume that’s “good enough.”

Say you’re dealing with an unanticipated drop in sales. You scramble to get back on track, and when things start to look up, you ease off your efforts, breathing a sign of relief.

Not so fast. Improvement is not a solution. You have to address the underlying problem or you’ll end up right back here, it this place you hate.

Take Preventative Action

When you are finally through the crisis, do a little reflection to prevent a recurrence.

  • What caused the problem?
  • What changes do you need to make  so it doesn’t happen again?
  • Did you ignore warning signs or fail to be proactive, allowing a small concern to become a big problem?
  • Were you naive and in need of a more realist or informed approach?

Now is not the time to make excuses. What happened, happened, and you don’t want a repeat. Be honest with yourself and your team. Find the cause and take step to address it. Put controls in place so you have early indicators if things go south again.

Get Back to What You Enjoy

When you know the issue has been fully addressed, remember why you started all this in the first place. What was your dream or vision? That’s still valid, so go for it.

Don’t let the weight of the past slow you down. You’ve taken preventative action, so fear should not play into future decisions.

Be bold and assertive in pursuing your purpose.

>