How to Keep Your Business Going During a Personal Crisis

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on June 24, 2011
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It’s easy to stay focused on your company when everything in your personal life is running smoothly. But a difficult event, such as a divorce, a serious illness, or the death of a loved one, can throw any successful entrepreneur into a tailspin. In such circumstances, business often takes a backseat and suffers as a result.

Don’t let your own problems bring your company down. Here’s how to keep your business afloat while you’re treading water.

Let a trusted employee take the reins. Long before any personal crisis arises, it’s important to train an employee or partner to do your job when you’re not around. If you’ve let your second-in-command run the show while you’ve gone on vacation in the past, ask him to step in to manage the company while you deal with your own issues. Be sure that you trust this person completely, though, or the company may suffer.

Take advantage of task management tools. If you don’t have a trusty sidekick, or even if you do, there are certain business tasks that only you can deal with. To make sure they don’t slip your mind while you’re worried about your personal crisis, use task management or scheduling software to prioritize your work tasks. Set alerts to notify you of important meetings or milestones.

Hire extra help. If you know that you’ll be running at less than full capacity for a period of time, think about operational tasks that could be handled by either a temporary worker or an outsourced contractor, such as customer service inquiries and bookkeeping. Use a temp agency or a virtual freelance marketplace to find the best person for your needs.

Check in at work when you can. Although you may have difficulty putting in your usual long hours at work, it’s important to show up when you can, reinforcing to the staff that you’re still in charge. Talk with your second-in-command and individual members of your staff to get a sense of how things are going in your absence. Look at financial reports and other business data to make sure that business is running as usual — if it’s not, there may be a problem with your second-in-command’s management style that needs to be addressed immediately.

Maintain a strong presence with your most important clients. If you have long-standing relationships with clients that are responsible for significant revenues, and they’re accustomed to dealing with you personally, don’t send in a substitute unless absolutely necessary. Pawning important clients off to subordinates may give the impression that they’re no longer important to you, which could jeopardize your business dealings. Even if you’re going through a rough time, put on a smile and show up.

kathryn

Kathryn Hawkins is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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