So what do you do when an earthquake, tidal wave, or pandemic put your small business on the brink of collapse? How do you solve the ultimate crisis with no resources, knowledge, or guidance and transform collapse into record-breaking sales and profit?
Crisis problems get messy and look like the impossible when they come. The solution to an impossible problem is to simply cut ties. Cutting ties in business usually means you’re out of business.
Break messy problems into manageable steps
Most problems are impossible to solve because they are always built from tons of smaller issues. Like many small businesses, we didn’t have manpower, money, or time to throw at the crisis. Breaking up each problem into manageable steps made them easier to process and solve. When you’re looking at one big problem it can be stressful, terrifying, and mentally taxing.
How to divide up the problems:
Sales and marketing
Smaller issues are easier to solve because you can quickly analyze and take action in a manageable way.
Through analyzing these steps, you are able to eliminate inventory problems because you didn’t control them. Then you realized that sales were really more of a symptom of the cash flow problem. Even the customer problem was a "symptom," caused by factors you couldn’t control.
Solving the single problem you could control, cash, was much easier than trying to solve the impossible overall problem.
Get really ambitious with problem-solving
Business crises provide you with the chance to take on a motivating mindset. You already know the worst-case scenario (closing your business) and know it will happen if you do things like you always do.
This means you’re completely free from the way you’d normally have done "what works." You have the freedom to make different moves that you’d normally call "too risky" because you’re already in the riskiest situation. Being bold and creative is now safer than operating normally because the risk has changed.
Your website and email list are your most important tools.
All problems are solved, made simpler, or assisted by an effective website and a quality email list. They’re more valuable than cash because they are possibilities that drive your ability to generate revenue on demand. They are the only assets you own directly and are crucial to a modern stable business.
Social media serves a different purpose. It’s for reaching an audience you wouldn’t otherwise have easy exposure to. They offer the unique potential to gain sudden, explosive exposure and are critical components to building up your website and email list. Your website by itself isn’t as capable of the same sudden exposure by simple logistics: You don’t have a million people on your website.
Unfortunately, there are two problems with social media. One: You don’t own anything. Your profile, followers, and content are simply "rented." Everything can be taken away at any time, for any reason that the platform deems fit. Two: engagement results simply aren’t as good as your website and email because you’re fighting for attention with everyone else.
You might have a YouTube channel with millions of views and the best Facebook page in the industry with 100,000 followers. They are crucial in growing your customer list and website. The problem was on social media — you get 1/10th the engagement compared to email and the website. While followers and views are a great ego boost, by itself it wouldn’t have been enough to save the business.
You were able to grow, adapt and modify the website to fit the specific situation and provide focused contacts through email and you were able to create business-saving results.
With no website or email? Some other solutions would not matter because you wouldn’t have been able to reach the volume of people necessary to solve the problem. The importance and impact these assets have on a business’s ability to survive and thrive.
Face problems head-on and be direct with your customers.
Everyone knows life is unexpected and imperfect. Acting as if nothing is wrong only makes the problem worse. A lot of the time, we’ll put off talking to customers or hiding information because we’re afraid of what the response will be. Inevitably, the situation comes to light, and if you hid it from your customers, you only lose their trust and faith.
Instead, take immediate action and be extremely straightforward with the situation. Be overly communicative, even if you don’t normally have a reason to communicate a lot. Call, email, and text every single person on your contact list. Treat them like trusted team members in your business. Problems and all, tell them everything and in the end, they will get involved. Your customers will start feeling like they were in it with you, cheering your victories and sharing your setbacks.
People have an infinite capacity for kindness, understanding, and loyalty. But no one gives it away for free. You’ve got to earn it.