5 Steps of Crisis Management Planning for Small Businesses

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Written By Lilly Miller

Most small businesses are concerned with managing their resources, supply chains, and marketing campaigns.

Although these form the basis of any good business, there are still many small businesses that fail overnight. This is because unexpected hazards can severely disrupt how they operate.

Not only can a potential crisis spiral out of control and assets are damaged, but the safety of the people involved is also compromised. This can result in massive lawsuits, where businesses lose all of their reputations.

To prevent this, a proper crisis management plan has to be put into place. Here is a closer look at the importance of crisis management for small businesses. 

1. Imagine the worst scenario

The biggest disaster that can beset your business is never even realizing the full scope of potential problems. When a bad situation does occur, there is very little to do in such a situation, even if the threat at hand is relatively small.

Lack of preparation can snowball into a huge problem. All of the resources are burned up trying to react to the newly emerging problem, customers are filing complaints and the overall safety of your business and your employees is compromised.

That is why it is important to conduct regular meetings where critical points can be discussed and assessed ahead of time. These meetings can also allow you to prevent some of the most catastrophic disasters for your business because it allows you to keep everyone on the same page. Each department can contribute in the best possible way if correct information is provided promptly.

Imagine the worst scenario

2. Become fully transparent

Once an incident occurs or there is a slight indication of a potential future problem, there is a proclivity to sweep it under the rug in the hopes of preserving a positive image.

This is also the case because the responsibility is too difficult to shoulder and the person or a group of people simply neglect it and do not report the incident. The situation amounts to an even bigger problem. That is why honesty is the most important factor for minimizing crises.

This is especially true in public relations where the disaster affects your clients as well. The worst thing you can do is to deny the problem. When something bad does happen, it is not the time to use formulaic phrases to avoid the harsh reality.

The truth is eventually revealed by which time your customers have lost all respect for your business. Take action instead. Determine which areas have been affected by the problem and expect client complaints from those locations. This will help you offer immediate help and guidance.

3. Seek professional help

Despite your best efforts to contain the problem, sometimes, the challenge is just too overwhelming. You soon come to realize that your crisis management plan failed to assess certain points and now you are forced to go back to the drawing in the most unfavorable scenario imaginable.

That is why it is a good idea to consider an operative emergency management software that can help in quickly resolving issues when time is of the essence. Merely being aware of potential danger and having experience with tackling that threat are worlds apart. That is why most incident preparation procedures involve people who will have professional expertise and practical know-how. 

4. Keep your customers in the loop

A big component of maintaining transparency also involves how you talk to your customers in times of crisis.

This issue has become even more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic where the primary concern was handling the way products were ordered and distributed. The situation created a lot of uncertainties for businesses where they had to create a fine balance between adhering to newly-emerging regulations and satisfying their client’s needs as well.

During difficult times a business has to reorient its strategy from pursuing more clients to retaining old clients. This means that a business might have to settle for a period of lower profit or maybe even hope for being able to simply cover expenses.

Therefore, a well-organized crisis management strategy also includes handling finances. To optimize the process, it also helps to think as your customers would. For instance, during the pandemic, many people ordered products online.

In this situation, your potential customer would like to be able to order from you using a platform that is both reliable and safe. This is one way to avert potential mishaps and deliver the optimal experience during challenging times. 

Keep your customers in the loop

5. Establish a training program

Your business might have a great crisis management plan, but that plan also needs to be executed when the situation demands it. If your employees are not properly trained on how to adhere to the plan’s protocols you might be setting your business up for failure.

The most important skill that you can teach your employees is to stay calm and resourceful. This is the precondition for resolving any complex incident or challenge. A good part of the preparation should also be dedicated to identifying potential risks ahead of time.  

Crisis management is becoming an integral part of running any modern business. This is especially important for small businesses that are very susceptible to big global changes. When planning for crisis management, taking a proactive approach is the best thing to do.

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