Crises are an inevitable part of life, so of course they're an inevitable part of business. Sometimes an order will ship late, threatening a relationship with a client.
Sometimes, tech fails, so a presentation is a big flop. You can't avoid all of it.
Small businesses tend to have more at stake during these crises, though. One lost client or customer can be the difference between making it to the end of the year, and suddenly needing to cut staff or overhead. One bad computer could end an entire company when things are on a smaller scale.
Because of that, it's important for small businesses to know how to manage crises as they come up, to keep themselves going, and to grow in the future. Whether that crisis is employee-related, or tech-related, you want to know how to keep treading water and survive. Particularly with technology, you want to make sure you’re prepared, with the right people and resources to help you weather any storm.
1. To get through the crisis, stay calm
When a person panics, they're not thinking clearly. Fear takes over, and decisions are made haphazardly, or with some information missing, as the need to make the source of the panic stop overtakes all else, even rational thought. So one of the best things you can do in a small business crisis is take a deep breath, and remain calm.
Don't focus on what could go wrong in the crisis — focus on what you can actually do moment-to-moment. If customers are calling to complain that a big shipment had a glaring flaw, set your best staff on phones, and decide what you will be giving to customers as an apology gift or deal before you throw up from anxiety. If your computer crashes mid-render, call your tech support and see what can be done before you burst into tears. The better you keep your cool, the faster you'll be out of the crisis, especially according to Burt Powers.
2. Plan ahead
Some crises can be anticipated. Not necessarily to the exact time and affected customer, but some businesses come with some predictable difficulties or risks. In a small business that hand-wraps each of its products before sending them out, it's possible to see a time when they could be out of packaging materials, or a time when employees accidentally break the products while wrapping them.
What could the small business do in these moments — and what could it do to prevent them? If the small business owner gives it some thought ahead of time, and considers the worst-case scenario before it manifests, the crisis might be considerably smaller, or less likely to happen thanks to a little planning ahead. So taking the time to plan ahead is key for managing crises in a small business.
3. Have an expert IT partner
We live in a digital age. Entire businesses exist solely on the internet, and computers aren't just a helpful office feature, they're the number one necessity for even getting a small business started. You need good, reliable tech to work well in this day and age, and you need people who know how to work it and fix it.
Therefore, you want to make sure wherever you get your tech from is a reliable company with a great reputation. A company like that will be right at your side during a crisis — the thing you want as a small business, who can only afford so many risks.