How to deal with a crisis

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Change is accelerating in this recession. People you know who had rock-solid jobs are losing them. Small businesses that were thriving five years ago have gone to the wall. New ideas and concepts that looked like winners ended up duds.

Yet entrepreneurs, some of them at least, keep coming back with new concepts they believe will work. Like a new hamburger outlet, an eco-car wash and new ways to farm fish including Kabeljou.

At times small business people get into crisis circumstances. Things look so bad that they believe the world has come to an end. Fear and depression can lead to fatal consequences.

On a Saturday morning I came out of a Wimpy restaurant where I had breakfast and saw the car park had been turned into a crime investigations scene. In the early hours of the morning a man in his late 40s had shot himself in his car. A policeman said the man had personal problems. From the commercial vehicle the man owned it looked as though he was a small contractor.

It’s a pity people like this don’t ask for help. In a crisis, it’s hard to think straight. First comes the shock, then the refusal or denial stage followed by facing reality. This can lead to deep depression lasting even months or one or two years. It’s only after pulling out of the paralysis that depression brings that one can move to emotional acceptance and readjust to changed circumstances.

A small business owner’s personal crisis can be closely tied to their business circumstances. You can’t blame yourself or circumstances outside of your control. The faster you can deal with your personal or business crisis the better. It’s also wise not to act too hastily, irrationally or make assumptions can lead to poor decisions.

The sooner you prepare yourself for a crisis the better. Act by taking practical steps. Sell your expensive car and replace it with something smaller, for instance. Go for debt counselling if you can’t pay your creditors. Conserve your cash by limiting purchases to the essentials. Only if absolutely necessary borrow from your life policies.

Even if you don’t face any crisis now it makes sense to build up an emergency fund, to trim unnecessary expenses and look for ways to earn extra cash. It’s also important to keep up regular maintenance of your assets and your health to avoid excessive expenditure or expensive treatments.

If your business is your only source of income it’s good advice to prepare yourself for an unpredictable turn of events. It’s not about planning to fail in advance which is a negative approach. Rather it’s about taking a responsible view of your present circumstances and thinking about what you could do to perhaps turn what could be a potential crisis into no more than a temporary setback.

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