Do you ever lose sleep over your business? Okay, I may be dating myself, but there’s an old Three Dog Night song called “One is the Loneliest Number”. Being a small business owner or solopreneur does not necessarily mean that you’re an army of only one. Chances are, you surround yourself with all kinds of people to help you with specific tasks, like doing your taxes, your housecleaning and maybe even personal chores, like walking your dog.
I am not trying to go all Debbie Downer or Dr. Phil on you here, but nobody “Crap Happens” (see below). No one gets up in the morning and says, “Hey, I can’t wait to deal with a crisis today,” right? Crises just happen! I’ve had my fair share. If you’re in business long enough, trust me, a crisis is going to happen. No one really understands why bad things happen to good people, it is just life. Let me tell you about a couple of mine that I may have mentioned before…
Back in the 1990s, I owned a commercial recording studio. The recording studios were in the basement, and my offices were on the first floor. The landlord had a vendor doing work in the building, and they broke a raw sewage pipe, which flooded the basement with raw sewage. The flood shut my business down for over three months. It was a very hard pill to swallow. It ultimately forced us to move to another building, and I had to take on a full time job to make up for some of the lost revenue. Everything spiraled from there, and I ended up 100 percent on my own. My employees were looking for me to be the leader and make things right again. In the end, my employees left with the majority of my business. I limped along trying to make it work on my own, but ended up selling and merging with another company.
Back in the mid 2000s, my business was hosting websites. I rented the server and sold space for as little as $5 a month. Feeling philanthropic, I gave a free website to my church. They proceeded to hand it to a volunteer, who built a website on Joomla!, and never updated the system software. Needless to say, it got hacked and shut down over 50 client websites including mine. The server company said, “We just rent you the hardware and the connection. What you do with that is all up to you.” It was a nightmare of people screaming and yelling that they could not get to their websites or email! I worked around the clock trying to keep my business afloat, while trying to solve a technical issue that was way over my head. I never really recovered, and ultimately gave away the business to someone who could fix the hacking and get it back on track. Again, I was on my own as an army of one.
Build A Foundation And A Plan
Fast forward to today. I have learned so much through my experience in those situations. Make sure have GREAT insurance, but more importantly, make sure that you have good support mechanisms in place, so when a crisis does come up, you have the strength and the wits to meet it head on. People and organizations spend a lot of time doing disaster planning. As small business owners, I’m sure we could all do a little better planning ourselves. Here are three things that have really helped me prepare for crisis. I think these can really help you be in a position to minimize the effects, if and when a crisis occurs.
- Masterminds – Being in a mastermind is one of the best ways to help you deal with problems in your business. A mastermind is a collective group of business people who have hopefully been around the block enough to have answers to your questions or resources for your problems. Sometimes, just a creative brainstorming session can help you turn a crisis into a bunch of digestible bites that can be solved one step at a time.
- Coaches – Having a coach that has been there, done that, can be one of the best sounding boards you can imagine. Hopefully, your coach has more experience than you do, and chances are they been through a crisis or two themselves. These people are all about helping you map out your business in a way that makes the most business sense. If you don’t have a coach, you might want to consider hiring one to be available to help you through a crisis mode.
- Mentor – A good mentor is someone who has been through many challenges, trials and tribulations. Sometimes, just having somebody to sit down and have a coffee with while being your sounding board, can help you see things through a different lens. There have been many times where I’ve used my mentor to help me get a completely different outlook on myself, my business and my problems.
I seriously hope you never have to deal with a crisis, but life happens. A crisis can come in many flavors … natural, personal, business and others. If you surround yourself with a team of people who have your best interests at heart, you certainly will have a better chance of lessening the blow, or at least you can find solace in the fact that you’re not alone.
Another idea is to create a closed social media group and invite friends or other business people, so you can turn to them for help and advice. Make sure you work with people you can trust who won’t share your problems, spread gossip about you or your business or take advantage of you. No one wants to see you post one of those cryptic messages on Facebook “Oh CRAP … I was not expecting THIS!” This type of post will open up your pity party to the world, which may be a good diversion, but it will rarely give you the resources or advice you need to get through it!
The bottom line is don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes your inner circle of family and friends will just not understand the scope or gravity of what’s going on. So, give yourself the best shot of being successful by planning ahead, and hoping that you never need to put your plan in motion.
I would love to hear stories about crises that you have faced, and how you got through them. Believe me, we can all learn from each other’s experiences, so comment away.
This article was written by Brian Basilico from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.