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Taking the Chaos out of Crises

You’re an entrepreneur and you’re in a crisis. Oh what a surprise – sarcasm fully intended.

As entrepreneurs, we often deal with crises, sometime juggling multiple challenges on different organizational levels as well as those from external sources. It simply goes with the territory.

The question is when you’re in a crisis, how do you react and respond? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Lower the alarm with calm – The first thing to do – which sounds a bit trite, but is often easily missed – is to take a few moments and breathe. Doing this one simply thing can help settle you down so you can regain your composure and your perspective. Breathing should be the first line of defense in your overall crisis management strategy.

Look to others for guidance – The best way to get grounded during a crisis is to be in communication with trusted advisors who have an objective eye and plenty of experience with what you’re dealing with. Look to your inner circle as well as outside confidants to help anchor you.

Be creative – Consider all angles for the solution. Maybe there is something that can be done that may appear seemingly small and insignificant but will have a huge impact. You could miss it if you don’t look. That’s where your advisors, especially those with an outside objective perspective, can be even more valuable.

Create a plan of action – Decide to make whatever needs to happen happen, and ensure you keep the right people in the loop. Without a plan, people will feel scattered and decision-making skills will go out the window.

Devise Communication Channels – Having an effective communication strategy around crises helps to keep everyone organized in the face of chaos. Determine who needs to know what when and quickly let people know that you’re aware of the problem and you’re dealing with it. This will go a long way to settling everyone’s nerves.

Never isolate – Always reach out and make the first move, no matter how difficult it seems. If you’ve got the right support and a well though out action plan in place, you’ll have all the emotional and organizational back-up you need.

Often, in a crisis there is also an opportunity. As an example, a company we know well had their primary product manufacturer up their prices by 50% right at a critical (pre-Christmas) period last year. The “opportunity” that this created is that the company, once they caught their breath, sought out new and more efficient manufacturing and actually ended up with better quality, more variety and faster delivery. Now don’t get me wrong, this caused some stress and some long days, but at the end of it, the company was in a much better place.

Dealing with crises is not a part of the job that anyone looks forward to, but it is a part of the corporate landscape that cannot be avoided. Pre-planning for these eventualities is critical for the best outcomes. Don’t leave your crisis strategy to chance. Take the time to develop a systematic plan with the people you trust most so when the time comes, everyone can man the battle stations with courage and confidence.

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