Published February 26, 2009

10 Steps to a Successful Crisis Management Plan

Your crisis management plan must enable your business to get back on track as soon as possible after a business crisis.

The following 10 steps will help your business survive any crisis and get you back to profitability.

  1. Plan for the best and worst possible scenarios: In the planning stage of your business, plan for the absolute worst crisis you can think of. Similarly, plan the best strategy that can get you out of that crisis. Start your business only when you have practical solutions to those situations. That way, you will be well prepared for any unforeseen event that may come your way.

  2. Identify the crisis: When you encounter a business crisis, identify it and take corrective actions immediately. For example, if a product that your customer ordered has not arrived on time, get it from some other supplier. If this is not possible, you may need to purchase it from one of your competitors.

    Even if you do not earn a profit on that particular deal, you can still keep your customers' business while your reputation remains intact.

  3. Get yourself organized: Organize your best team so that you can overcome the situation. If dwindling sales is your problem, re-direct some of your most experienced salespeople to take charge.

    Doing so will show them that you value their hard work and dedication, in addition to solving sales and cash flow problems that could undermine your business and lead to its failure.

  4. Attack from the front: In crisis management, the bigger the problem, the more diligent you must be to turn the situation around. Serious problems, if caught in their beginning stages, are more likely to be solved before they gather steam and become unmanageable.

    You must also lead by example, which shows your employees that they can count on you in any situation.

  5. Learn from your mistakes: Once a crisis has been resolved with your crisis management plan, learn from that experience. Learning from your mistakes is the best way to ensure that history does not repeat itself. This will also help you revise your crisis management plan to better prepare you in the future.

  6. Do not place blame: If one of your employees is at fault, do not blame them - at least until the crisis is over. Show a united front. After things have returned to normal, then take the necessary measures to offer additional training.

    If you need to take corrective actions, they should wait until the situation has been resolved.

  7. Resolve the crisis as soon as possible: Resolve your business crisis as fast as you can, as this will provide damage control and protect your reputation. The longer the crisis is left unattended, the more it will disrupt your daily business operations.

  8. Divide and conquer: In the event of a large crisis, you may want to delegate different tasks between several teams. For example, if declining sales are the problem, try and reduce expenses and at the same time offer customer discounts.

    That way, both the sales and finance departments can assist in solving the same crisis.

  9. Explore options: If there are no standard solutions to your problems, think outside the box. Explore new ideas - sometimes ambitious ideas help to solve unresolved issues.

  10. Stay Cool: Don't panic. If you plan for the unexpected, then eventually things will work out. Keeping a cool head will help you to focus on the tasks at hand. It will also help you to remain focused and lead your team in the right direction.

Remember that every business goes through a crisis at some point or another. The above tips will help you emerge from any business crisis situation with minimum damage to your business.