Crisis Management: When Things Go Very Wrong
Crisis management is a topic that has come up in several forms on my blog before. We’ve talked about using great customer service to avert disaster, how to properly deal with debtors, building rainy-day funds, and even creating time buffers. All of these are important skills to have should a crisis arise. But there are always more skills to learn on this subject, which is why we’re discussing it again. After all, “When It Rains, It Pours“, and as I’ve quoted before, Murphy’s Law states: “If it can’t go wrong, it will go wrong.” Much like in the picture above. I am honestly still trying to figure out how that even happened.
Now if you’ve been following my advice to this point, you should be well prepared for general crisis management, and you should have buffers of both money and time in place to help disaster-proof your business. Good for you!
But what if, instead of something happening to your business, something happens to you? What if you’re injured, rendered otherwise incapable of working for a period of time, or even worse, die? This is where having a very good team becomes so important, as without you guiding the ship, it’s on your team to pick up the slack. It would be a very smart move on your part to ensure that every person on your team is cross-trained on someone else’s job. So your right-hand takes over your position, the person under them takes over theirs, and so on. In the interest of not dumping two jobs on the “low man on the totem pole”, each person should be prepared to still assume some of their regular duties while picking up some of those of the person “above them.” The end result is that should something to happen to you, everyone knows exactly what they have to do to keep the business running, whether you’re gone for a few days, a week, a month, or forever. This protects your business (and Personal Independent Earnings) should something happen to you. And should something really bad happen to you? Your business will carry on in your name, hopefully leaving your mark on the world for years to come (but let us all hope that never happens). You may not get to enjoy the fruits of your labour, but your team will at least be able to carry on your name (and if they’re good at their jobs, ensure your family is well taken care of).
Now let’s suppose it’s too late. The crisis has already happened. It could a natural disaster, a long string of enraged customers, a severe revenue loss, any number of things. it is of the utmost importance that you are prepared for these possibilities as well. Natural disaster insurance is an absolute must if you live in an area prone to them (and really, even if you’re not, they can be pretty random). Enraged customers can easily be dealt with by being honest with them and once again putting those customer service skills to use. Find out why they’re so angry, and if they have a legitimate issues, take steps to fix it as quickly as possible. The customer is not always right, but when they are, and they’re angry, be prepared to bend over so far you’re looking them in the eye again to make sure their needs are taken care of.
Major revenue loss is the hardest. I could, in all honesty, write an entire article about it. But what it essentially boils down to is this. Your careful budgeting since you began your business should give you some leeway to keep things running in the face of huge losses, giving you time to figure out exactly where you went wrong and try to recoup them. But before you go trying to make the money you’ve just lost back, figure out why you lost it in the first place. Was it a faulty product? Bad service delivery? Bad word of mouth? Ineffective marketing? There are hundreds of reasons nowadays that would all explain why you just lost a small fortune. Find it, plug the hole you’re bleeding money through, fix it, and then try and recoup the damage without angering your customers further.
Crisis management, when you boil it down to its component parts, is really not that difficult. The most important thing is to keep calm, don’t panic, figure out exactly what went wrong, and fix it. Do that, and your chances of rescuing a bigger piece of PIE will be that much better.