Business Crisis? What Crisis?

No-one likes a crisis. That’s why it’s far too common for even the most successful entrepreneur to overlook crisis planning. The challenge is that once you’re in the middle of a true business crisis, you rarely have the time or the resources to deal with it as well as you would want to.

After all, you could find yourself thrown into a very tense situation — trying desperately to deal with members of the media, angry clients, disenchanted employees, wary investors, intrusive regulators and other critical stakeholders.

It’s an emotional time and all it takes is saying ONE wrong word and your business can suffer. That’s why in BusinessCast episode #123, Robert and I “pick the brains” of one of the Nation’s leaders on crisis communications. Dr. Allan Bonner and his team have advised Canada’s most senior business leaders, political figures and sports figures to successfully avoid a crisis, deal with a crisis and turn around a crisis to their advantage.

Listen to BusinessCast episode #123 and get some practical insights on how you can make sure that you’re prepared when a crisis hits your business.

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Crisis Communications – A True Measure of Leadership

There’s been alot of discussion in the Toronto press recently about business communications. That’s because two local organizations, who have been faced with very public catastrophes, have been dealing with their own crisis in such drastically different ways.

One company — a food manufacturer and distributor — has taken a decisive stance and made every effort to reach out to the press. They are re-assuring the public that they are ‘taking charge’ of the situation. While people’s lives have been lossed as a result of a breakdown in their work processes, the company isn’t shying away from taking responsibility. On the other hand — a petroleum wholesaler/distributor — has limited its conversation to the public through its lawyers. Their silence has caused outrage in some residential communities and they’ve been villified in the court of public opinion.

On two recent BusinessCast Podcast “Blurbs” (available only through iTunes), Robert and I review a handful of key messages that you — as a business leader — should provide to the press when you are faced with a public crisis.

In such situations, you should also act in the following ways:

1) Be Clear — Have a concise and jargon-free message. Repeat it. Be confident and honest. And, remember that any misleading or ambiguous statement that you provide will come back to haunt you.

2) Be Fast — Reach out to all relevant stakeholders as soon as possible. This typically includes clients, prospects, investors/shareholders, suppliers and the media. And remember the most often neglected set of stakeholders during a public crisis: your employees.

3) Be Strong — Your ability to run your business — hence your business’ longevity — will be associated with the confidence with which you deal with your public crisis. This provides you with an opportunity to demonstrate your decisiveness, courage, ability to empathize (if the crisis harms people) and determination to set things right.

*NOTE: We’ve just started the “BusinessCast Business Resource Give-Away”. Listen to the BusinessCast Podcast posted on August 31 for details how you can get some of the latest business books absolutely free!!*

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Have You Planned for Your Next Business Crisis?

Every business gets rocked by crises — at least once. And, truth be told, usually more often than that!

Sometimes the crisis comes in the form of a key person leaving. It can take the form of a strong competitor blanketing and sustaining a heavy promotional ‘push’ or dramatically underpricing your offerings. Alternatively, crises may come in the form of a very public error in judgement or processes.

The consequences of your next business crisis can be minimal or potentially disasterous. For example:

  • Losing short- and/or long-term sales
  • Lengthening the sales cycle
  • Employees leaving
  • Investors cashing-out
  • Law suits

The rule of the thumb is to devote time, energy, and resources to crisis planning directly proportional to the potential seriousness of the consequences you would face.

Robert and I have found that most entrepreneurs are very aware of potential crises and often, they have even identified likely time frames when crises could hit them! However, entrepreneurs — who tend to be very enthusiastic — are equally as unlikely to plan for crises to avert or minimize their consequences.

This ability for entrepreneurs to foresee crises and yet not prepare for them strikes us as highly problematic. So, let us know about your state of crisis planning. And, we’ll share the results in an upcoming BusinessCast podcast.

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