How to Lead During Times of Crisis

When things are going well in your business, it’s like a bowl of cherries. But when they’re not, it’s the pits. No matter how well you prepare, there will be times when a crisis hits your small business. It might be bad publicity, a system crash or storm damage. It's during these times when strong leaders spring into action. Consider these ideas to help lead your business through times of crisis.

Put the “what-if” in your plans

You won’t know when a crisis will strike but you can be ready for it if it happens. Use contingency plans. They answer the “what-if” question should your plans go awry. For example, what if your shipment doesn’t arrive in time for your big, advertised sale? The contingency might be to issue a rain check plus a coupon for 10 percent off an additional purchase when customers come back to your store.

Acknowledge the problem early

Recognize it early when something’s gone wrong. The problem will be smaller and easier to fix if caught right away. Some owners are reluctant to admit they’ve made a bad decision, but strong leaders understand that the real mistake is not choosing an alternate course while they still can. Leaders focus on the solution, not on placing blame.

Consult, don’t constrict

Some owners isolate themselves and try to solve a crisis on their own, which denies them access to important information at a time when they need it most. Consult with your team to identify options. Think of it as solving a puzzle. Team members contribute pieces until the entire picture is revealed. Without that diversity, you may miss a critical piece of the solution.

Prepare for the day after

According to the Small Business Administrations (SBA), 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster. That’s because they didn’t have a business continuity plan in place. The SBA’s Prepare My Business program can show you how to make a plan, educate your team with informative webinars and test it out to see if it really works.

Communicate early and often

It’s important to communicate early and often with your stakeholders – your employees, investors and customers. They want information and assurance. You don’t have to wait until you have a solution. Information, even if negative, helps people to understand the issue. It also demonstrates that you are actively working toward a solution.

Weathering a crisis requires some preparation before the storm. Strategies like these help you lead your team in times of crisis.

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