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Sunday, August 16, 2015

6 Steps help entrepreneurs in an exceedingly tight spot

Things often look rosy after you see a way through the maze!

It may seem a bit odd for an entrepreneur to consider prayer as a means of managing a difficult situation, but the words of the “Serenity Prayer” may help in extremely stressful situations.  It reads as follows:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

The reality is that the prayer applies to many extremely difficult situations in life and in business.  It has been adopted by programs for drug and alcohol dependencies just to name a few.  The words reflect a reality that there are things we can change and things for which we have no influence.  Knowing the difference and finding a way to change what is in our power to change may be the only way some can find the strength and composure to get through the day.

Entrepreneurs often find that many situations are beyond their control.  For example, funds are dwindling and the company may be insolvent in a few months.  The business just received a notice of a pending law suit or worse an injunction to halt sales.  A key manufacturer went out of business or a key team member just left.  These are just a few issues in business not to mention the many stresses in private life. 

It often helps become one more grounded by realizing that many people face similar stresses yet still survive.  Taking the words of the Serenity Prayer and creating an action plan improves your composure so you can search for a new direction that reduces or eliminate the problems.  Next time you are facing really difficult issues try to calm down and then organize your actions.

  1. Recognize reality:  It is impossible to develop any useful plan until you recognize the reality of what you can and cannot control.  Levels of influence range from direct control to change situations to having no ability to alter the situation in any manner. 

  2. Identify points of influence: You can only change things where you have sufficient control or influence.  For example, you can influence investors to give you funds, but you control expenses and burn-rate.  You have no control over people getting sick or natural disasters.  Determine where you can make the greatest impact over the situation and spend your energy and resources on those tasks.

  3. Seek advice:  We never recognize what we do not know.  It is unlikely your experiences include all aspects of problems you face.  Seeking advice from others may be critical to determining next steps.

  4. Create a plan:  Realizing there are options allows for creating a plan to solve the problems.  Vetting the plan with trusted advisors may help improve the plan.  It is often better to have an idea that may solve a major problem, than to go in every day scared of the pending catastrophe.  The fear of the unknown is compounded by frustration of having no means to alter the situation.

  5. Solicit team support:  Getting team support improves the chances of execution of the plan.  One of the jobs of great leaders is having everyone row in the same direction.  Remember, the team may be just as afraid as you are.  Help them to regain composure and to understand the goals and timings.  They need to believe the plan be successful.

  6. Execute the plan:  No plan works properly without great execution.  People need to know the steps and the ultimate goals. It is your job to help define the roles and timings without creating panic.  Any great leader will also have plan A through Z.  Always have backup plans and be prepared to be agile in your execution.

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