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Leading a Small Business Through a Crisis

A crisis can overwhelm a small business owner. Expenses, revenue loss and uncertainty pile on during a crisis. However, if a small business owner can stay calm and organized to determine which steps they need to keep the business afloat, they may be able to come out of the crisis successfully. Kim Kaupe, co-founder of The Superfan Company, gives small business owners tips to effectively lead their business during a crisis.

There are three factors to keep in mind when determining what steps you can take to keep the business afloat. You can center your mentality and make sure you stay calm, organized and collected. You should have a strong understanding of your finances. Get on top of your communications strategy. If you can do all of this, people will remember how effectively you led long after the crisis subsides.

Mentally preparing yourself for the tough time ahead will be key as you navigate a crisis. Stay collected by focusing on what you can control during a crisis. Identify what you’ll need for peak performance during that time; identify things that only you can do and delegate the rest of your tasks. This strategy will help you well beyond times of uncertainty.

Think about your internal finances—what you can do to budget for your business within your organization. Rank your business expenses, highlighting non-essential expenses and canceling unnecessary expenses. Figure out how much cash you have on hand and how long that will last you. 

You may need external help with your finances and can consult a professional when it comes to financial options in your business. Ask your credit card company or your banker for small-business financing options.

Look for public and private support options. There are usually programs and infrastructure in place in the government and the community dedicated specifically to small businesses. Large private organizations occasionally step up to the plate after disruptive events. They may not offer cash but could lend you free use of their resources and space.

Communicate truthfully to your team about the state of the business. Share only the necessary facts, give them ways to help and get their tips on business issues. Coming together as a team and being solution-focused will get you and the team through hard times.

During times of crisis, Kaupe advises communication with customers, suppliers and vendors should be direct, timely and clear. Update them regularly. While times are uncertain, the communication between and your customers shouldn’t be.

There are two ways to help leverage your professional relationships during a time of crisis. Partner with complementary businesses to make money and team up with businesses outside of your industry to save money. You can also leverage your competition. Identify your close competitors, study their communications and offerings and use the information you gather to make a unique promotion. 

If you can get your finances in order, prepare a communications strategy and create ways people can help you, it will set you up for success during times of uncertainty.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the view of the American Chemical Society.

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