Monday, April 07, 2008

5 Tips to Manage Your Business When Life Happens

by Karen D. Swim

A recent bout with the flu followed by a family tragedy served as not so gentle reminders that life does not always go according to plan. As a business owner, you don't have the luxury of crawling under the covers and wishing it all away (well at least not for very long).  Here are a few tips that will help you when life interrupts your good intentions.

  1. Assess your current workload and identify anything that is truly urgent.  Are there deadlines that really cannot be moved? Are there specific tasks that are time sensitive? If you have the time, energy and resources, take care of the urgent and put everything else on hold.
  2. Get support.  If you do not have a partner or support team, you may need to get help to manage the interruption.  You can hire a virtual assistant for a few hours to manage client follow-up, or administrative tasks.  For specialty work, consider reaching out to colleagues in your industry.  You can outsource jobs to colleagues to keep the workflow going and customers happy. 
  3. Move deadlines.  Time has taught me that most client deadlines are flexible.  Don't be afraid to ask.
  4. Give yourself some flexibility.  Whether dealing with a short term illness or a family death, allow yourself room to breathe.  it is difficult to predict when you will be back up to full speed.  Give yourself space to take additional time if needed.
  5. Communicate with a plan.  Depending on the situation you may find the need to let your clients know what is going on.  While most people are sensitive to life needs, they also want to be sure that their business needs are met. Unless the client is a friend, keep your explanation simple.  For example, "John, due to a family emergency I will be out of the office next week but Dana will make sure that the designers continue to work on your project and I will be checking in daily on the progress."

Life happens for all of us.  To navigate a crisis, plan for them when times are good.  Get a back up support team in place and test them out with small projects when things are going well. A little pre-planning will come in handy when your master plan is interrupted.

2 comments:

Rebecca said...

This is funny because I just went through the flu myself. You're right - I was amazed at how much wasn't all that urgent at the end of the day. We just stress ourselves out too much! :)

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