Most entrepreneurs are optimistic by nature, which makes sense considering that an important part of success is believing in yourself. If you don't have faith in yourself, who will?

But it's unrealistic to expect that even the most successful business won't hit a speed bump at some point. Unexpected problems may lurk around every corner.

Consider Starbucks. It seems like there's one on every corner and devotees hit them regularly for caffeine fixes and assorted muffins and food items. Lots of small purchases add up to big bucks.

But then there was the April incident in Philadelphia when two black men were arrested after declining to leave the premises, stirring allegations of racial bias. Aside from bad publicity, it led to a massive apology from Starbucks and a day where all stores were closed for employee sensitivity training.

Does that mean Starbucks is going down the tubes or that Facebook will follow MySpace into the online graveyard? Probably not, but it does mean you need to take measures to be prepared.

That should include measures where you take both offensive and defensive positions. One thing every company should do -- but few actually complete -- is to develop disaster contingency plans. While not every problem can be anticipated, you certainly have some ideas about what could go wrong.

Perhaps your CEO leaves, taking the management team with him. Maybe you discover your CFO has been cooking the books for months. A competitor could introduce a clearly superior product or service.

What would you do if you couldn't get the raw materials you needed? What's your response to a lawsuit alleging age discrimination or sexual harassment? What steps do you take if a warehouse burns - taking with it most of your inventory?

Granted, these things don't happen too often, but they do happen. Know what steps you'd take if those scenarios came to pass.

If there's malfeasance on the part of someone in your company, own up to it immediately, take your lumps and move on. Public relations counsel can help in these kinds of situations. Whatever you do, don't let it fester. Just ask Richard Nixon - the cover-up ruined him, not the initial burglary. Same deal with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

If there's a problem to correct, correct it. You may need to alter your plans, such as taking on additional debt to fix the problem. Remember that debt used correctly will help you grow.

Finally, lower your expectations, even if only temporarily, and remember that the problem probably isn't as bad as it seems. Most issues go away fairly quickly - know anyone who's still boycotting Starbucks? - so let your natural sense of confidence take control and move forward.

Published on: Jun 21, 2018
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