Running Your Business When Disaster Strikes

Running a small business is full of daily challenges. The problems small business incur are both large and small. Businesses are not run within a vacuum. Sometime as business owner we create our own problems. Other times problems immerse themselves upon the business at no apparent doing of the business. A business owner needs to be able to deal with problem no matter the source of these problems if they wish to sustain. Disasters such as Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Cyclones, Tsunami. Mudslides, Monsoons, Terrorism, Floods, Fires occur. They always seem to affect someone else. “I really dont need to plan for a disaster because it always happens to someone else”.

I was that small business owner that was that someone else.

My business was struck by an arsonist…twice… that caused almost $1,000,000 in damages… while I was bedside in the emergency room of my 10 year old son that was injured in a bike accident… while my wife was 7 months pregnant.

There are percentages and statistics available that speak to how many businesses never survive a major fire and those numbers go from 50%-80%. We had 2 major fires within 3 months of each other. I have not seen any numbers on those that survive 2 major fires.

I, with the help of so many managed the company through those difficult times, ran the company for another 10 years, sold the business, the business continues to operate and I further my profession as a Business Broker.

I would like to point out a few of my observations as I went through this very difficult time that ultimately ended with the trial and conviction of a repeat arsonist… that ended up being a key employee.

1. You do not work through a major disaster by yourself. I was assisted by my wife, my family, my employees, my friends, my community, my competitors. (One competitor allowed us to operate out of their facility during the middle of the night when their plant was normally un-occupied).- Others want to help, let them help.

2. You think you currently multi-task as a business owner, and then you find out what you are really capable of. Normally you are dealing with your customers, employees, vendors, facility, agencies, financial all at the same time. Now add in restoration contractors, Media, insurance agencies, fire Marshall’s, investigators,lawyers,police chief. Everything very fast,gets very busy, and you thought you had been busy before. Somehow our situation became a rather big story in the media. While dealing with the immediacy of the fire, calls were coming in from local TV, radio, Associated Press and Newspapers, and to find 5 minutes to speak with them became impossible. I originally considered the media request s very low priority, but after getting home that nite at 10pm I had about 50 messages on my home phone of friends/acquaintances that had seen the fire on TV. These people were part of our customer base, and had me worried that our customers assumed we were out of business. I felt it was important to get the word out that the company is not done. I got on the phone and did a couple phone interviews with Associated Press, and scheduled time for the local TV crews to come out with cameras and interview. The focus of the TV news piece was on our intent to continue our business and continue serving our customers. After watching that report on the 6pm news, I think that report was instrumental in allowing our customers to see our intentions. I think its normal to seem overwhelming.

3. Look pass the disaster. Visualize your business not as it is during the disaster, but where it will be in one year. This can be easier said than done. may well wishers would tell me things like “that that doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” at the moment of hearing that, during a crisis, sounds somewhat hollow, but years removed from the crisis you can see some merit.

4. When you have a business and a disaster strikes, the line between business and personal becomes very blurred. We are all people first and businessmen second. Families are affected by disasters, people are affected by disasters, lives are affected by disasters- businesses get caught in the fallout of a disaster, but the importance of the business in a disaster is really a very distant second.

I am a Business Broker in Florida USA. My 8 year old son (then) is now in college, and while he once laid in the hospital for 8 weeks with tubes, and needles stuck throughout his body, he now is bigger, faster, stronger than I (and being a teenager, I know he will never read some of Dads boring blog stating such), My daughter that was born 2 weeks after the 2nd major fire is a healthy beautiful teenager.

I help people buy and sell businesses. Buying and selling a business is SO much more than financials and industries. It can be a life changing event. The emotional and the personal side of buying a business is very very real. I enjoy the financial analysis side of a business acquisition, but I know, I really know its the other stuff that is so much more important. I feel I understand the mechanics to a life changing event.

Are You a Hobbyist, or a Business Owner

Do you even know?

Do you even realize how this one, single insight can impact the level of success you have in your business and with your coaching?

If you don’t know this answer or don’t even realize the importance of this distinction, then you may be hitting upper limits of your level of success and not even realize it. If that is the case then no matter how great your efforts, no matter how impeccable you implement the best strategies you will not be seeing the results you desire.

There are two potential levels at which you can participate in being a business owner as a coach. That of a Hobbyist. That of a Business Owner.

Hobbyists can articulate a general direction for their business. They grasp the idea of business discipline, but tend to think it’s too early to get it fully under control – or feel they don’t have time. Hobbyists’ planning, goals, priority-setting and sense of business purpose also tend to be less focused, more difficult to understand.

Business Owners, on the other hand, can clearly define how they will make a difference in the world, and who they will serve. They know it takes a thriving, profitable business to create that difference. Far more than Hobbyists, they have practical, well-grounded faith in the discipline and the systems that build greatness in any business. Because they are clear and specific, Business Owners’ strategies, articulation, priorities, choices, goals and even words have more impact.

Are you a Hobbyist, or a Business Owner?

How The Hobbyist Will Experience The Business of Coaching:

1. Business and client support is reactive versus proactive. They figure out the answers as they go.
2. Jack of all, master of none.
3. Provide the support to their clients on a situational basis. Things are unique to each client and situation and often done differently each time. There is customization in how they support and work with their clients because the hobbyist only coaches when they want to coach.
4. Run their business manually with limited technologies and support resources.
5. Coach few clients and continue to dream of having a deeper impact on the world.

How The Business Owner Will Experience The Business of Coaching.

1. Build a strong foundation up front for their business.
2. Collaborate with great people to leverage their own time.
3. Use the right technologies, tools and resources to simplify and automate tasks that don’t produce new business directly.
4. Use effective internal systems.
5. Use their systems consistently.
6. Coach more clients, make more money, and make a far greater difference in the world.

Both types are great coaches. And in our five years since founding The Coaches Console, we have also learned that Hobbyists share the dream, but not the discipline. Business Owners are different; they take disciplined action to make their dreams, and many more clients’ dreams, come true. It’s vital to your success to know which approach you desire and which approach you are taking each moment. Otherwise growing your business will seem like you are pushing a boulder up a hill.

It’s understandable if, as a Business Owner, you feel overwhelmed sometimes. There’s so much to learn, such an array of new skills to master. You’d be less than human to feel otherwise! Hobbyists feel that pressure too. The difference is in how they respond. Hobbyists think they need to learn every single thing, as in everything. They never will, of course, but they beat themselves up for not knowing it all, and even for having just “average” skills.

Really, the Hobbyist’s response to pressure is a kind of perfectionism: Like all forms of that Holy Grail, it’s not reachable. Not on this planet, anyway. Still, on and on the Hobbyists go, endlessly expecting what amounts to a long list of daily miracles, then blaming themselves for endlessly falling short.

Business Owners don’t attempt the impossible. Their outlook is a lot more useful, and healthier, especially on two points:

1. They’ve learned to be comfortable with the stress that accompanies life as an entrepreneur.
2. They focus on their greatest strengths, and find systems, tools and experts (assistants) to help them with the things they don’t do as well. They don’t waste time trying to learn things they’ll never be good at. Instead, they “leverage their community,” surrounding themselves – from the outset – with experts and resources.

Every single part of the Hobbyists’ business carries the same weight. They haven’t identified specific actions that bring new clients, business growth and income. Stress and pressure drive Hobbyists back into their comfort zone, where they keep on spending all their time and energy on the same things – the activities they know how to do and/or love to do. Business Owners, on the other hand, understand that running a business means wearing many hats, and that some actions help build your income a lot more than others. They know how to choose which hat to wear, and when.

Hobbyists know they need to market. They do learn specific strategies and try them out, here and there. But they don’t do it consistently enough, and they don’t create a system to help them market and sell.
Business Owners take a different view. They know marketing is the lifeblood of a healthy, vibrant practice. To them, “marketing” is a description, just a header referring to a more specific idea that they find far more important and exciting: Marketing is a conversation. It’s a way of helping others by sharing a great tool with them. And wanting to tell them!

Business Owners think differently, choosing a “One-to-Many” mindset. That means they realize that, to double their practice, serve more clients and charge higher fees, they must leverage their relationships. So they build strong networks and partner with like-minded colleagues.

So are you a hobbyist or a business owner? The real question is: are you reaching the level of success you desire? If you are, then exactly where you are – hobbyist or business owner, is perfect. If not, take a closer look at the distinction to identify where you are and where you want to be. Then place your attention on closing that gap. As you do you will begin to have the desired impact you wish to have on this world.

ALL Businesses Need an EXIT Strategy

To suddenly realize you are at the point of wanting to exit your business, without really taking the time to prepare for the sale can be a huge and costly mistake. ALL businesses regardless of their size or type must have a competent EXIT STRATEGY! Some successful entrepreneurs choose their business carefully and plan an exit strategy from day one so when it is time to sell their business, they can make a profit.

Here are 14 various options to operate a business until the end:

1. Pass the business on to a family member

Did you know that more than 65% of family owned businesses do not survive to the second generation? This is why planning ahead is very instrumental. Family members are good starting point when you are looking for potential successors. To consider family in an exit strategy, make sure all intra-familial jealousies and rivalries are resolved since these will undermine any smooth transition and ensure the eventual demise of the company. Don’t just look into your immediate family, choose the best candidate regardless.

2. Sell the business to a partner

A partner typically knows the business the best and will most likely continue to grow and operate the business. When choosing this option, you may have to be flexible with your terms and in some cases even carry seller financing. This should not scare you since you believe in your business and your partner’s ability to continue operating the business successfully.

3. Merge with another company

Rather than selling your business entirely, there is always a possibility of merging with another company in the same business (Horizontal approach) or with your supplier or competitor (Vertical approach).

4. Sell the business to your employee

A current employee knows the business and more likely to preserve the business. To prepare for this, you may start selling shares in your company to your employees. One advantage of this is that regardless of number of shares you sell, you can still run the company as long as you desire even if you are no longer a majority shareholder. There are also tax benefits with this option, since you can defer capital gain taxes if you sell at least 30%.

5. Sell the business to a competitor

This might sound terrifying but when it’s time to sell, selling to a rival might be the best option since they are in the same industry and are aware of the growth potential of your business.

6. Take the business public

Offering company stock to the public is certainly a great wait to raise capital. Your business may need some reorganization before going public.

7. Sell to a qualified buyer

Having a qualified, able, ready and willing buyer who has prior employment or managerial experience is essential to a successful sale. A knowledgeable Business Broker can be invaluable in this process.

8. Sell to your trusted friend

A trusted friend similar to a family member has known you for years and appreciates the time and effort you have put into growing this business and would like to see its continued success and growth.

9. Sell your business to your accountant or lawyer

Both your accountant and lawyer are aware of true facts and figures and assets about the company and can put together a fair deal.

10. Sell your company assets

Rather than selling your business entirely, you may want to restructure and sell portions of your business and its assets.

11. Give your business to a charity and take a tax write-off

This will give you a great degree of personal satisfaction. Please consult with a financial advisor prior to choosing this option to ensure no negative fall-outs.

12. Run the business until the end

If you choose this option you are allowing fate to decide when you should quit.

13. Take a loss on your investment

In some cases, taking a loss on your business and letting it go bankrupt might be the best option.

14. Take on an advisory role

Consider a merger or acquisition that will allow you as the owner of the business to take an advisory role to ensure a smooth transition to a new buyer. Advisory roles offer a company owner a way to exit gracefully when it’s time to retire or due to a sudden illness.