What Do You Do When All Your Plans Get Washed Away?

I have a client named Kate Austin who is an extremely gifted healer. Kate came to me to help her refine the brand for her growing business (learn more at KateAustinHealer.com). Just as we were building momentum, Kate's plans got washed away - literally.

You see, Kate and her family live near Boulder, Colorado where the recent "Hundred Year Flood," so called because of its statistical rarity, claimed the lives of ten people, saw hundreds go missing, and became the biggest airlift rescue effort since Hurricane Katrina.

Kate was one of the "lucky" ones. Her house survived, but the roads leading to it did not. She and her family were choppered out of her neighborhood to safety and eventually found refuge in a trailer, which will become their home for six months or more. Needless to say, this put Kate's plans for business growth on hold. Temporarily.

Not one to be daunted by setbacks, no matter how severe, she sprang into action to help her family, neighbors, and community recover from this unexpected disaster. Even if you never experience a setback as deadly or dramatic as Kate did, one of the few certainties of business is that obstacles will arise.

So what do you do when your business plans get washed away? Whether your setback comes in the form of losing a major account, getting fired or laid off from your job, or balancing a work/life crisis like an illness, being prepared can help immensely. Just ask the Coloradans who had wet vacs and industrial fans tucked away in their basements.

  1. Assess and triage. Identify the immediate problem so you can determine what your next steps are. Get your thoughts on paper and make some decisions about your priorities. You can't fix what you don't recognize.
  2. Get into action. Start moving forward on your plan. If you need a job - any job - to sustain your family, don't file one or two applications, file 20 or 200. If you need some new accounts, put on your game face and go after the business. You can't afford to procrastinate and taking action often gives your confidence a boost.
  3.  Think money.  Take a look at your cash flow and savings. Determine how you can generate or retain cash, or both. Trim any fat, ask for outstanding receivables, or sell off some inventory to plug the financial holes. Even small amounts will help.
  4.  Find some support. This is not the time to be shy about asking for help. Turn to friends, family members, and business connections and ask them - specifically - for what you want. It may be a shoulder to lean on, an introduction to a potential customer, or someone to watch the kids for a couple of hours so you can get to the gym or join a support group.
  5. Re-assess and build. Once you've got things stabilized, reassess the situation and see what you can do in the short-term, say six months to a year, to rebuild and grow. You've lost some ground, sure, but that doesn't mean you have to stay derailed forever. Note the lessons learned and focus on the future.

A happy footnote: Kate and her family are back on track and she's discovered that her healing services - including the therapeutic massage business, Elements, that she and her husband own - are more in demand than ever. Here's to your continued healing, Kate!