By Brett Farmiloe, founder and CEO of Markitors.
Things don't always go according to plan. Business owners know this all too well. A new hire doesn't work out. A client cancels a contract. An unexpected expense arises. What should you do when a plan goes wrong?
Let me share a recent experience that helped me create a standard response to when things don't go according to plan. I flew out to Las Vegas for CES with the intention of returning home in the evening. Three canceled flights, one failed car rental experience and 30-plus straight hours without sleep later, here's what I learned.
Get A New Plan
When it all hits the fan, get a new plan. A canceled flight is similar to an employee quitting or a client leaving. It's usually unexpected, sets you back and produces a ripple effect on the P&L. What do you do when you get handed a change of flight status/agreement termination notice?
Identify your immediate options. Evaluate which option immediately gets you closer to being on the right track. Then, list the steps you need to take in order to get there. Taking action gets you out of your situation. Dwelling on it doesn't.
Lean on Your Team
You don't think clearly in the midst of chaos. You need to rely on a team to help lead you through to a logical solution.
Don't go at it alone. You have experts and allies at your disposal. Utilize all your assets. Call support. Call your best friend. Ask a nearby stranger. Start a thread in an online group. Even though it feels that the universe has conspired against you, there are people within that same universe who can help.
Things happen for a reason. Don't go nuts trying to figure out why. It's always easier connecting the dots in the future, and near impossible connecting those dots in the present. Take five minutes to calm yourself. Find an isolated place. Sit down. Breathe. You won't be able to reason with yourself or anyone else until you find a sense of calm and understanding.
Address Physical Needs
Irrational decisions are made when you're hungry and angry. You just can't think clearly without taking care of your physical needs like food, water and rest. Think about operating a business without cash. You need cash to make payroll, just like your body needs food and water. Take care of yourself. Drink water. Eat food. Close your eyes for a minute. The bare necessities will help you operate at a functional level.
Make the Most of It
But in situations like the one you're in, the only thing you can control is your attitude and outlook. You can't control whether an airline cancels a flight. You can't control whether Google decides to move your website to page two with an algorithm change.
There's very little you actually can control, with the exception being yourself. Adjust your attitude and outlook and perhaps you'll find yourself shifting the situation from a negative to a positive.
When things don't go to plan, there's a chance someone or something messed up. If you have the ability to correct the issue, fix it so the same thing doesn't happen again. If you don't have the ability to correct what went wrong, hold people accountable. Share your experience and make a request to help amend the situation. Whether it's correcting an internal process or requesting a flight voucher, make sure you close the loop on the situation so that you can close the loop for yourself and move on.
Now it's time to get yourself out of whatever situation you find yourself in now. Get a new plan. Lean on your team. Calm yourself. Eat and drink. Make the most of it, and then make corrections for the future.
Brett Farmiloe is the founder and CEO of Markitors, a digital marketing company that connects small businesses with customers...and has a good time doing it.