How to deal with situations that could ruin your small business
A few weeks ago, my husband and I were sitting in our camper in Blakeney, Norfolk, listening to the torrential rain. The force of the water on the roof was so hard that we ended up with a rather worrying leak through one of the roof joints.
As we mopped up the puddle, we remembered that this had happened before during a heavy rainstorm and that we had forgotten to fix the weak spot in the roof.
It seems to me that when we have no choice we just get on with dealing with an urgent issue. After all we don’t want the situation we find ourselves in to get any worse, do we?
When you run your own business and have a million things to do, it can be much easier to only rush into action when you don’t have a choice. Then you’re faced with an urgent situation you simply have to manage… somehow.
But given the choice, many of us would probably choose to sit it out, hoping that once the proverbial rain stops, we don’t need to solve that leak or problem any longer. Hopefully, somehow, the situation will simply sort itself.
And why not think that way? Sometimes things do resolve themselves don’t they? Particularly once you relax and stop worrying!
But in my experience, in business, this very rarely happens.
What can happen when you don’t react
If you don’t react proactively when something unusual comes to your attention, then you may find that what is only a niggle one day will most likely be a major headache the next.
And the worrying truth is that some situations do have the potential to ruin your business!
Like that time, when I lost my biggest corporate customer.
Around the same time, another important customer outsourced all their financial dealings to a big anonymous organisation that took seven months to settle a major invoice.
Or that time when a trainer who had been working for me and who I trusted, pinched my customer from under my nose.
And later, when one of my best clients — a well-connected and influential business owner — started to ignore my calls and emails.
In each case, I had simply been too busy managing my business that I ignored the writing on the wall.
By the time the damage became apparent, the problem either couldn’t be fixed or took lots of my time and energy to sort, which was hugely stressful to say the least.
The trouble is, some problems — especially cash flow issues — have the potential to sink your business!
Of course, you can’t always prevent bad things from happening as not everything in your business is in your control.
But you can learn to develop a sense of danger.
Mums have to have a sixth sense for when their child is about to get into a situation where they could get seriously hurt. That awareness is not something you can gain overnight, it is usually something that develops just as your child develops.
It’s not that different when it comes to your business! So how can you manage those worrying business situations?
Trust your gut instinct
You need to listen to your instincts rather than brush them off. Too often we ignore them (and hope they’re wrong) simply because we’re afraid of what might happen. That fear can be about not feeling in control or being able to cope. But it could also be that we have no experience of similar situations to draw on — we simply don’t know what to do.
Whatever your reason for not being proactive, always remember to listen to your gut instinct and take it seriously — after all, a small niggle is so much easier to control than a major incident!
What are the options?
Once you wonder whether there is something you ought to be dealing with, try to research your choice of options.
If you’re not sure what to do, because you cannot see the full picture for example, just talk to someone you trust. You’re bound to know people who have personal experience of your type of problem, and they will be able to advise you and may even give you a choice of options.
Try not to be afraid.
Stepping in at the right time to solve an issue rather than avoiding it may mean that you’ll have to step outside your comfort zone. But in my experience, you simply can’t run a successful business whilst playing safe all the time.
Running a business is about overcoming challenges, solving problems, and doing lots of things you may not have had to do before.
So don’t be afraid and take that first step — being proactive is a vital element of becoming the confident and successful business owner you want to be!
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