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Critical Business Survival Strategies

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If you are going through entrepreneurial terror take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.  Others have gone through it before you.  Others will go through it after you.

Something happens in your business.  It might be the loss of an employee or a major customer.  It might be a bounced check which means that you can’t make payroll.  It might be the banker says no to a loan you were counting on.  Something bad happens.  Emotions take control and logic disappears.  The terror begins.

The initial reaction to “the terror” is emotional rather than logical.  We’re human.  We get surprised.  Each of us reacts in our own personal way.  Some cry, some scream, some withdraw and get very quiet, some go to friends and people they trust, some brave it alone…others go into deep prayer.

In the research I’ve done with entrepreneurs, I found that everyone goes through something like this in their business. If you don’t like the word “terror” call it challenges, hard times, problems, or devastation. Call it what you’d like, every business owner goes through it.

At some point logic begins to emerge.  For some it is within minutes.  For others it takes days.  Once logic takes over, the decision making process can begin.  You ask yourself, “What are you going to do about it?”  You begin dealing with the situation.  You begin dealing with the fear. You deal with the unknown one step at a time.

If you are going through entrepreneurial terror take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.  Others have gone through it before you.  Others will go through it after you.

Here are fifteen ways to help you get through it.

1. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going.

All entrepreneurs face terrible days.  You have to keep going.  When bad things happen, face them, deal with them, and get through them. You never know how long the terrible things, the dark days, will last.  However, you know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Continue towards that light and eventually you will emerge.

2.  Deal with your emotions.

When the terror hits we react emotionally first.  Find a way to release the emotions quickly so that you can start thinking logically again.

Address the problem.  What can you do immediately?  What can you do tomorrow?  Next week? Next month?”  And, do what you can every day to solve the problem.

3. Find a physical way to deal with the on-going stress.

Exercise or hobbies help you deal with the inevitable hard times.  Many times it is during exercise or doing a hobby that you enjoy, that you get the ideas that will solve your problems.

4. Believe in what you are doing.

When the bad things happen remind yourself why you are in business and why you are doing the things you are doing.  If you truly believe that what you are doing is important, this belief alone can help you through the dark days.

 5.  Be flexible.

Write the plan to resolve the situation. However, realize that the likelihood of following that plan to the letter is nil.  Be flexible.  If a specific situation doesn’t happen, you need to have a plan to go around it, go through it, or go in a totally opposite direction.

6.  Rely on people you trust outside the business.

As entrepreneurs, most of the time when someone asks you how business is, you say, “Great”, even if you don’t have a clue where next week’s payroll is going to come from and sales are slow. As a rule, entrepreneurs don’t trust anyone when discussing their business.

Find people you can be brutally honest with. These associates should also be brutally honest with you.   They can provide a sounding board, advice, and encouragement as you are going through the terror.

7. Have a team inside the business.

Two heads are better than one is an old cliché. Build your business around finding trustworthy employees who can help during the tough times.

The best partnerships are the ones that work are where each partner brings a different strength to the business.  All must contribute capital or credit.  However, with different strengths you have the best chance of success.

8. Make a list.

When you put thoughts on paper you often see the realities of what is happening.  Often things aren’t as bad as they appear in your imagination.

9. Write in a journal.

Record your emotions, your feelings, and what happens each day.  You may never read the words again.  However, you might read the words you wrote months or years later. When you read them a second or third time, you’ll realize that a lot of the fear, uncertainty, and anxiety is just fear of the unknown.  Once the issues became clear, you were prepared to handle them.  Reading later puts perspective on what happened.  If you went through it once, you can do it again.

10.  Go with your gut.

Your instinct is usually right.  If you truly listen to what it is saying, it is probably telling you the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it.

Don’t ignore your good sense when you want a particular outcome.  It can be very costly in terms of dollars and heartache.  However, if everyone around you is telling you something and you want to ignore it–find out why.  Are emotions overriding your good sense?

11.  Make the tough decisions.

Sometimes when the terror hits, you know that it is the end of doing business the way that you did it yesterday.  You’ve got to make the tough decisions so that the business will survive. First, get through the emotion of the situation.  When logic appears then it is time to make the tough decisions.

Tough decisions are not easy decisions.  However, they are critical for the survival of your business.

12.  Find a spiritual way to deal with the terror.

You might have a deep faith.  You pray or meditate a lot when the tough times hit.  The type of religion doesn’t matter.  The geographic location doesn’t matter. Turning to a higher power can help guide you through the dark days.

13.  An Angel Might Appear.

You never know when a chance meeting or telephone conversation will produce the idea you need to get through the darkness.  Keep yourself open to possibilities.

14.  Surround Yourself with Positivity.

Try to find positive people and things in your life.  You can get dragged down if all you listen to and hear are negative ideas, negative happenings in the world, and negative people.  Talk with positive people who will encourage you in your business.

15.  Patience.

Give yourself time.  You want the bad times over immediately.  Patience is not usually one of entrepreneurs’ strong points.  However, time does put perspective on the situation.  In the future it won’t seem as bad because you are dealing with the terror logically rather than emotionally.

All entrepreneurs go through terror and fear of the unknown. Eventually the unknown becomes known. Then the dark days turn into light. Sometimes the darkness lasts for minutes, other times for years.  These fifteen survival strategies will help you get through the tough times.

This guest post is courtesy of Ruth King.  She is the author of The Ugly Truth about Small Business. Her website is TurnOnMyFinancialLightbulb.com.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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