What to Do When Things Go Wrong In Your Business


Yep.  It’s gonna happen.  Something is going to go wrong in your business.  And in fact, it’s going to happen more than once.  If you’re lucky, you’ll be around long enough to see it happen multiple times.

Now, I know that sounds awful….wishing that you see multiple occasions of things going wrong in your business.  But the fact is, things go wrong.  That’s part of building a business, no matter how successful – overcoming obstacles.  It’s part of the package.  So if you’ve experienced a few situations that didn’t go the way you anticipated, then that most likely means you’ve been around for a while.  You have staying power.

And in fact, if you deal with it right, then those situations are what helps you grow.  AND avoid similar mistakes in the future.

So, I’m sure you’re saying to yourself – OK Vicky.  That all sounds fine and dandy.  It’s a learning opportunity, and all that.  But what do I do about it now.  While I’m in the middle of it all.  And it’s making me feel horrible.

Well, I know – from personal experience – that dealing with those situations is absolutely no fun.  But here are some tips to help you attack the problem, and get through it all with as little disruption and brain drain as possible.

First up – prepare yourself. I know, your initial urge is to jump right in and start doing.  Moving this block around, and that block around and taking action.  Well don’t worry – there will be plenty of time for that.  But before you jump into the fire – take a breath.

You have to realize that you just found out about a problem – maybe even a kind of big problem – and your adrenaline is running high as a kite.  You system has snapped into high alert, and emotions are pouring through your system.  Trust me, right this second, you are in no position to be making decisions.  You have to get yourself level first.

And no, it doesn’t have to take a day – it could only be a few seconds.  But stop, take a breath, or 3, and calm yourself down.  Remember, put you have to put your mask on first.  And, as a matter of fact, you don’t even have a full picture of what happened yet – you haven’t had time to investigate and gather all the information.  So don’t just start swinging.  Get your emotions under control, and figure out how much time you think you’ll need to understand all aspects of the problem.

Then you have to do is communicate.  That’s why it’s important that you have some sort of idea of a timeline because you’re going to reach out to the impacted parties, and let them know you are working on the situation and will get back to them, and give them a timeline.

…Now, you’ll notice I keep using the word – facts.  That’s because when you are trying to fix an issue, it’s the facts that matter.  It’s no time to go around ‘feeling’ all over the place.

Early communication is key, because without, the other person – or people – have no idea if you are fixing it, or even if you know what it is.  And they, in turn, are all poised to spiral out of control.  So you need to put a stopper in that bottle – and you do that by communicating with them.

But remember, you are just letting them know you are aware of the issue, you know the urgency of the problem, and (and this part is really important) you are looking into what happened and will get back to them – this is where the timeline comes in handy.  But have a clear mindset during this conversation – you can’t fully speak to what happened or the fix just yet – because you don’t have all the facts.  So don’t try to solve things prematurely.  Give yourself time to examine the situation.

Next, identify the details.  Gather all the facts, and look closely at the situation.  During this phase you are probably talking to other people, getting their perspective of what happened; looking at documents or files; pulling eMails – whatever it takes to pull all the facts of what happened together.

Now, you’ll notice I keep using the word – facts.  That’s because when you are trying to fix an issue, it’s the facts that matter.  It’s no time to go around ‘feeling’ all over the place.  Again, put emotions aside and deal with the facts of what happened, the facts of why it happened, the facts of getting it fixed, and the facts of how you will make sure it won’t ever happen again.

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And finally, identify the fix and take action.  Start out by figuring out what is the desired outcome.  What does a good solution look like.  What would the client or vendor or other damaged party want to see as a good solution.  When you start out with where you want to go in mind, you have a better chance of getting there.

So, once you know what a good outcome looks like, then figure out what you need to do to get there the fastest way possible.  Because that’s want everyone wants – they want it fixed, and they want it fixed now.

And keep in mind, maybe you actually can’t fix it, but you can do a ‘make good’.  A make good is when you do something, or offer something to make up for the mistake.  Maybe it’s a discount, or a refund – or maybe you provide a service free of charge.  Offering something can make the other person feel better – even if you can’t fix the issue.  It shows you are trying to do right by them, and they matter to you – they’re heard and are important.

And then come the absolute most important part – memorialize the fix.  Once you identified how the situation went off the rails, you have to create a process to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  Or maybe the answer isn’t a process, maybe it’s more training for your team, or maybe it’s switching vendors.  All sorts of things might ultimately be the answer – but whatever it is, take the action, and bake it into your business.

Add that additional training module to your onboarding process.  Or flag that vendor as persona non grata.  Do whatever is necessary to make sure that problem doesn’t pop up again in the future.  Because after all – what’s the point of going through an issue, if you don’t learn anything from it.

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