By Warren Williams
What do you do when your back is against the wall? When a key client quits on you? When your top employee decides to leave? When you go through a surprising period of low revenue that you can’t quite put your finger on? When your cash flow takes a hit and you can’t meet your obligations?
If you are in business for yourself, you know what this feels like. You are either in it, coming out of it or just about to go through it. At some point, setbacks happen, and in spite of your best efforts to minimize the impact, you are or will be faced with a pretty serious situation.
So, what do you do?
This is not a simple question with a simple answer. The answer is more than likely a combination of things that have to be done.
Many businesses find themselves at this point and pull the plug. They determine it was harder than they expected or they can’t survive the setback, so elect to get out while they still can.
Other business owners make the difficult decisions necessary for the business to survive. They cut expenses and staffers. They hit the phones and work their networks to find the resources necessary to keep moving forward. They cut their own pay so the rest of the staff can get paid. They pick up the slack themselves and go back to working 18-hour days, six or seven days a week to bridge the gap.
Here are five tips for getting your business through rough waters:
1. Put on your thick skin. The buck stops with you, and when the trials hit, you have to remember that it’s your dream that is on the line. Prepare for harsh criticism and those voices around you who may encourage you to throw in the towel and “get out before it gets worse.” Be prepared for some tough decisions, some of which will impact the lives of those who work for you. It’s not the time for emotions to cloud your decision-making.
2. Remember why you started the business in the first place. Recall the driving forces behind your decision to take the risks necessary to get where you are. Reconnect with your why, and tap into it for energy and passion. It’s either worth it to you or it isn’t.
3. Learn through it. Even if the situation was completely beyond your control, there are lessons to be learned. In the midst of being in survival mode, remember that you are the leader. Leaders learn from success, challenges and failure. What will you do differently? What needs to change to minimize what occurred so that it doesn’t happen again? Your business is only as good as you are, and crises are a cauldron of lessons, if you care to look.
4. Remember you are an entrepreneur. This is what we do. These are the risks we take, and this price you must pay to fulfill your dream of building a successful business.
5. Tap into your network. Those business relationships you have formed over the years are invaluable during tough times. Take advantage of the investments you have made in those relationships, for counsel, advice and help.
Has your business gone through rough waters? What steps did you take to make it?