What would you do if you lost your biggest client? Or what if your customer data was hacked into? If we are not prepared to journey through uncharted terrain, the surprise setbacks to our business can jeopardise its survival.
Peter Irvine knows a thing or two of what a business crisis looks like and how to manage unforeseeable events so they don’t dismantle your organisation. In this article, Peter will unveil how to navigate a disaster in your business.
A Fire in a Warehouse
I still remember hearing the phone ring. It was eight minutes past midnight on the 3rd of October 2002, when my wife picked up the phone. “The warehouse is on fire!” she exclaimed.
When we arrived at the scene, there was a trickle of smoke. At this point there were only three fire engines, a security guard and a young journalist who had heard about a warehouse on fire on two-way radio. Within an hour the place was alight and the possibility of my dream of building a coffee franchise, vanishing with it.
Just like the fire quickly ravaged our warehouse hub, news of the event spread rapidly through the media. Our operations hub, which was essential to the running of our 92 Gloria Jeans stores and included our warehouse, head office, training and roasting facilities, was alight for three days until it finally burned to the ground.
Against the counsel of others, I decided to keep the company going. I was not ready to let this “Goliath” of an event wipe out the business that I knew God had purposed for His Kingdom. Soon after the catastrophic fire, we opened up two businesses, with sales going up by 20%! God used the media attention the fire was getting to increase our customer base and give the business a new window of opportunity to grow again.
When our roasters appeared at the warehouse at 6am the morning after the fire, they looked depressed. In their minds, they had just lost their jobs. What do you do when you are faced with a large scale disaster in your business? How do you inspire employees to stay engaged and not let discouragement affect their attitude?
Things like a global financial crisis, health, financial issues or new competitors, crises are going to happen to you over the years, but you can’t let that stop or defeat you.
We ran a webinar recently which surveyed hundreds of Australian business owners. We discovered that many Australian businesses face massive challenges and manage ‘fires’ when growing their businesses today.
Keeping a positive mindset is critical when the going gets tough. Hardship in business can either make you better or bitter. It is important during business trials to remind yourself of God’s goodness and His promises to you so that your spirit can be filled with hope. When we adopt God’s perspective we are essentially changing the narrative and effectively block pessimism from taking root in our thinking. Allowing God’s Word to shape our mindset helps us to face our worst fears and come out the other side, unscathed and more resilient for the next business challenge.
Correction is a Big Business
Sometimes we can run our businesses doing everything possible to prevent problems from arising. But this risk averse approach can actually hinder us from exploring new ways of doing things. It can often be the case that what we consider an obstacle is actually an opportunity in disguise.
One day a secretary for a small business began mixing flour with nail polish to write out mistakes in her typing. Soon colleagues and people in other offices started asking her for the same product. The demand became so high that she quit her job and began working full-time, home manufacturing what she called “Liquid Paper.” A few years later, the Gillette Corporation bought out the secretary’s company for $47 million in cash.
So start thinking, where is there a widespread or unresolved problem in your business or market? Problems, recessions and disasters make us rethink where our passions really lie. I’m sure the founders of Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple were one day frustrated about something that triggered the thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if…?”
To be a successful entrepreneur or business owner, you must learn to view problems in your business or marketplace as opportunities to learn, grow and improve so that your business is left in a better position before the challenge existed.
Don’t Take Your Eyes Off Your Business Vision
Distractions abound in today’s society. But if your business has a clear purpose, your organisation will be driven by a shared mission and is better positioned to withstand any business challenge.
Your business vision should clearly and succinctly outline your organisation’s reason for existing and who your company serves.
The businesses that are still doing well today are those that, even when they are struggling, do not take their eye off where they are going – their business vision.
When you are running a business, the culture that has been fostered over the years is crucial to withstanding difficult seasons. If your employees are on board with the business vision, you can have some level of assurance that when a crisis hits, you will have an engaged workforce to handle the added stressors.
As recently reported by Forbes, mission-driven workers are 54% more likely to stay at a company for five years and 30 percent more likely to grow into high performers over those who are just looking for a pay cheque as a motivator.
Remember, You Are Not Alone
Every successful business owner has gone through times of testing and real setbacks. Bill Gates, one of the world’s most recognisable and respected business leaders, offers this wisdom to those in business:
There is no way to fast-track success. A business that is successful today, is often one that has been through the fire yesterday and come through stronger than steel. The good thing to know is that you are not alone on this journey.
There are countless Christian business owners and entrepreneurs who have gone before you and understand that what can seem like a ‘write-off’ can be a source of learning invaluable life and business lessons. When we are not quick to throw in the towel, we may find that our valley leads to a mountaintop, if we are willing to make the climb.
About Peter Irvine
Peter Irvine is an Executive Coach with Business On Purpose, a training program that coaches business owners and entrepreneurs to help develop the traits needed to become successful in their business.
This includes learning how to view negative business conditions with confidence so that your business becomes stronger and more resilient.
Images in this article are via Shutterstock.