What To Do If Things Go Sideways

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In business, things don’t always go as planned. What should you do when your business begins to go sideways?

Panic faster. I was once at an event with Jack Welch, the legendary former CEO of General Electric. Somebody asked Welch what his one piece of advice to entrepreneurs would be. His response? “Panic faster.”

Putting your head in the sand and hoping things will get better is a recipe for disaster. Instead, when you notice things going wrong in your business, drop everything to address the problem. Give 20% of your time to the problem, and 80% to the solution.

Be the chief storyteller. When you’re in a small, early stage business, it’s vital that you control the message. By the time you’ve hit panic mode, chances are your team are already there. Your employees are in the ring every day. They often know more about market conditions, sales trends and the state of your finances than you do. So they’re likely to see problems coming before you’re aware of them.

When things start to go sideways, get in front of your team. They will have three questions you need to address:

  • What’s going on?
  • How does this affect me?
  • Will I lose my job?

Address these questions, then redirect everyone’s attention away from the problem and onto finding a solution.

Ask for input. Make the most of your employees’ talents and what they know about the business. You’ll often find that your team already have ideas to solve the problem. Give them the space to speak up and share. Problem solving as a team should be part of your company’s culture. If it’s not already, then crisis point is an excellent opportunity to build teamwork into your business culture.

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