In order to achieve any measure of success, one must be able to survive failure. This adage applies to inventors, scientists, athletes, entrepreneurs and anyone who chooses to venture outside of their comfort zone. Failure is simply a sign that you have tried to better yourself or to create something that hasn't been done before. To survive failure or the chance of failure, it must be put in perspective.
For anyone in business, it's important to learn to stay calm during a crisis. Here's how.
Prepare for the Worst
Planning ahead seems like the most obvious way to avoid a crisis. If you own a business, there are many crises that could be survived if you're ready for them. A reaction that comes from panic, fear or anger can bring your company to its knees or ruin your reputation.
If the crisis is a negative review or mistake by someone on your team, preparation looks like a solid PR response plan that includes transparency and empathy. If the crisis is financial in nature, such as a client refusing to pay your invoices, preparation looks like having a debt collections partner on hand who can help with taking your client to court. Preparing for the worst can settle your nerves so you handle these situations carefully.
When you're aware of the potential for a crisis, monitoring that potential is crucial. Brainstorm with other entrepreneurs and those that work for you about what could go wrong. Ask yourself if your business is recession ready. Get regular reports about your business finances, including aging invoices or bad debt. Monitor social media conversations for mentions of your brand. Take surveys of your employees, clients and customers. You should know what's going on with your business at all times so that you can improve processes to prevent a major crisis.
Slow Down and Breathe
Not only should you pay attention to your business, your body will react to a stressful crisis as well. It will be tempting to overreact, course correct too quickly or take things personally. It's a known physiological fact that humans hold their breath or breathe rapidly when under stress. This increases your heart rate and puts your brain into fight or flight mode. While this reaction may be great for escaping when your life is in danger, it can cause problems in a business crisis. By slowing down, stepping away from it and breathing slowly, your body will calm down and allow you to think clearly.
Develop a Response
Whatever the crisis, this is the time for listening carefully and understanding what is happening so that you can develop an appropriate response to the crisis. Reach out to a trusted mentor or someone else who has been in the same situation. Pull your team together to assess the situation and all of your options for responding. Make changes where necessary. Know when it's time to hire professional help. Communicate with any parties that are associated with the crisis. After the fact, document what was done so that you're prepared for the worst if the same crisis should strike again.
The best way to stay calm during a crisis is to know the potential for a crisis and plan ahead. If you're right in the middle of it, remember that you're not alone and there are others who have likely been through the same. Tune into your business and your support network before you take next steps.