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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It’s a Meltdown! Now what?

Unless your company is one of the rare instant successes which do occur, you are going to have to build and develop the startup.  This takes time, energy, planning, and a lot of luck.  Don’t expect to have everyday being a positive move forward.  You are going to have setbacks that are totally unexpected; hence the Black Swan.  It seems like a simple concept, but when you are in the middle of what seems like a total melt-down, it will be time for you to: stop, regain your composure, plan alternate strategies, reinvent (if required), and learn.

Stop: Before you react, stop and carefully examine the issues.  Sometimes they are not as bad as first thought, sometimes they come with a workaround which is obvious. Sometimes, they seem like dead ends.  Try to wait a reasonable time before taking the next steps so that you do not act out of haste or under duress. 

Composure:   Whether it is your first time or you are quite experienced, your stress level, anxiety, and anger are likely to peak.  It is rarely a good time to make an important decision.  Regaining your composure and ensuring you can tackle the situation with the care and thoughtfulness which is required is a must.   Try to not blurt out things which you are certainly going to regret or to make a decision you must retract.  None of these will help the situation.

Alternate Strategies: One way to reduce the risk of total melt-down is to have parallel strategies planned in advance and be ready to execute them.  When your major catastrophe occurs, having developed advanced plans to overcome potential problems lessens the effect and provides a rapid way to move around the issue. Sometimes, there is no advanced plan that will address the situation which has just come up.  In these cases, you will want to consider all options, speak with your advisors, and do the best planning to overcome the issues.

Reinvent: There are situations which arise for which you cannot work around and the issues have a potential to bring the company to a dead-end and a rapid demise.  In these cases, it is the management team that must spring to action determining how to reinvent the company.  There are countless cases of this to learn from in the public company sector.  It is possible to rise to the occasion and develop a totally new company as long as you have a great team.  The key is to not give up and to map the paths as carefully as you can.

Learn: No matter what the problem or the outcome you have been presented with a learning experience.  What you take from this event will hopefully help you to improve responses and plans for the future.  This is the case with your current company or your next company.  So, make sure you identify the take home lesson and make use of it next time.

  Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon