Crisis Management

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Business owners know they can write plans and then sit back and watch them develop, with no worries, until time to make plans again.  Right?  NOT!  Change happens, sometimes causing a crisis situation.  We have all heard the saying that change is inevitable; it is how we deal with it that makes the difference.  A business owner must be big enough to admit his or her mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.  Anytime things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.

There are different types of crisis situations you could have in your business, many of which you have no control.  Some familiar to you are the following:

Natural Disasters, including tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides, storms, droughts, and earthquakes.

Technological Crisis, including software failures and oil spills.

Confrontations Crisis, including boycotts, picketing, and sit-ins.

False Rumors that hurt the business.

Crisis management is basically reaction to rapid, unexpected change.  Most of you reading this have small businesses and are responsible for dealing with any crisis that comes up.  You quickly analyze the situation, decide on an appropriate strategy for coping with the situation, and, if necessary, prepare a press release outlining your plan.  You may just simply analyze the situation and take the steps immediately to correct the situation.  If a crisis is small, it may be possible to make the correction immediately on the spot.  You will probably correct more crisis situations that way than with a major production.

Although all crisis situations cannot be avoided, there are things you can do to minimize them when they happen.  As we have discussed in many articles, planning is essential.  A well-written business plan gives you goals with timelines to follow.  This can eliminate or reduce the risk of problems.  Changes beyond your control do occur, however, and must be dealt with, many times immediately.

In the event of any crisis, one (and only one) person should be the spokesperson for the business to avoid incorrect information going out.  The owner should either be the spokesperson or choose the person for that position.   

Most people dislike change, so they sometimes procrastinate about dealing with it.  Procrastination is one of the worst enemies of success.  Because it is a real obstacle to dealing with a crisis and managing time well, we will look at some ways to combat it.

Acknowledge the problem.  Admit you are stuck on how to handle the crisis and know you need to get moving.

Do something.  Start with the easiest part of the job and work on it for a few minutes.  At the end of this time, you can quit and try again or just keep going.

Break up the task.  Divide the work you need to do into smaller chunks.  If possible, assign some of these chunks to employees, especially if those employees are familiar with the crisis and were working where it occurred.

Get Psyched.  Tell yourself how great you will feel when you have finally solved the crisis project you are avoiding.

Promise a reward to yourself and others assisting.  Do something nice for yourself and others helping when you are done.  Promise yourself a special meal, a bonus, or anything you would consider a treat. 

As a business owner, you are a manager; and, as a manager, you will sometimes have a crisis to manage.  Hopefully, things will go smoothly for you and your business, with mostly normal days.  That is what we all hope for, but it is important to be prepared for any unexpected problem.  Remember to stay calm, focused, and confident.  No business owner looks forward to facing a situation that causes disruption to his or her business.

  • Author: Pat Jones
  • Title: President/Owner - Business Broker
  • Company: Pat Jones Business Brokers
  • Company Website:
  • Date: January 18, 2018
  • Category: Buying a Franchise or Business
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