What To Do When Facing a Crisis

Posted by Robin Robins On April 13th, 2010

Running a business is already pretty tough – so what do you do when out of the ordinary problems get piled on top of the herculean problems on every business owners’ shoulders? Just recently I received a few e-mails like this from people who were registered for the boot camp. In some cases, they called to cancel. A few others ARE coming, and wanted to get direction from me on how to use this as a catalyst for change. In essence their questions were all the same: “What should I do when facing a personal/business crisis?” How do you turn things around — or simply just keep yourself moving forward – when faced with incredible adversity, problems, health issues, lawsuits, money problems, divorce, and even a death of someone close to you?

Personally, I’m no stranger to problems myself. Last fall comes to mind when I was dealing not only with a very difficult personal issue that I won’t mention here, but skin cancer, two lawsuits, challenges with a key employee, turnover and a big, gut wrenching problem with a key client. All this landed on my plate during a time when I was traveling about every other week during the busiest time of year for us. Yet I didn’t skip a beat and kept all my personal and professional commitments, quickly reorganized some business plans and initiatives and had to put a few major projects on hold. Only prayer and few good, stiff drinks got me through. And no, I don’t wear a cape and I don’t share this with you to brag – I share this with you because many people never see that side of my business or life and think I’m somehow “lucky” to have “everything going for me” when nothing could be further from the truth. I just don’t go around complaining about it.

Fortunately, things have turned around quite nicely; sales are up, the boot camp was sold out a month early, and so far (knock on wood) everything is going according to plan. So to answer this question, I can only share with you what I did.

1. Choose only one or two really key initiatives and focus on them. As the saying goes, when you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s tough to remember your original goal of draining the swamp. Now more than ever you have to know what’s most important and hunker down to focus on these alone, cutting all the other time-wasting fat from your schedule.

2. Get around people who will support you. Dr. Hallowell says you should never worry alone. That’s great advice – but make sure you “worry” with people who can actually provide you constructive advice and the kind kick in the butt you might need to pull you socks up and get moving again. Peer groups and Master Mind groups are best for this. On multiple occasions I’ve had members going through seriously difficult times who were able to turn things around fast after braving a “hot seat” during a meeting.

3. Be the ant, not the grasshopper. You KNOW problems are coming…it’s inevitable. Your next grand, sweeping failure or crisis is right around the corner; so what are you doing now to prepare for it? One of the things that saved me was the fact that I had been working very hard to build reliable marketing systems and operations in the business…so when crisis hit, that was (at least) one area that wasn’t bleeding. I’m also a BIG believer in getting yourself completely out of debt (home, cars, etc) and saving up 6-8 months of personal income, as well as 3-6 months of retained earnings for your business. It’s amazing how that keeps Murphy away. If you want more on this, tune into my friend Dave Ramsey.

4. Never forget how you respond to a problem is a choice. Two people get on a rollercoaster. One is thrilled and having the time of their life. The other is terrified, white knuckling it the whole time. What’s the difference? The meaning and interpretation they give to the exact same experience.

I’ve heard people say that, “Adversity builds character.” I don’t believe that. I think adversity REVEALS character…and if you’re already plagued with lousy work habits, poor management of money, no real reliable marketing systems in place, no solid client base, and a complete lack of a plan and concrete goals, one little bump in the road is going to kill you. Obviously the best way to survive a crash is to avoid it in the first place.