What to Do When Something Goes Wrong in Your Business

in Situation

Have you ever had one of those weeks when you just feel like the wheels fell off your cart? No matter what stage of your business you are in, everyone has those now and again, and it's important to put a plan in place to help you deal with it quickly and easily, so you can get back on track.

Any number of things can happen that can make you feel like you are not in control, or that you are spiralling toward a minor (or major) disaster. It could be as a simple as not getting your own newsletter out, or maybe a client issue is the problem. Maybe a client's simple website update has turned from a quick content change to a massive content and layout overhaul that you didn't schedule time for.

Maybe they've had unexpected technical issues during an event. Maybe you made a big error with a client's work, and they noticed before you did. Maybe you had to be away from your office for some reason and you are behind in client work, or in your own billing. Maybe you've even run out of money this month to pay your vendors or subcontractors.

Whatever the issue, it's important to accept that things will go wrong at one time or another. Here are a few tips on what to do if you find yourself in that potentially nerve-wracking situation.

  • Don't panic. The first reaction you may have when things start to go wrong (especially if they snowball) is to panic. This is actually one of the worst things you can do. Just realize that however you got into the situation, you can just as easily get out.
  • Make a plan. Get out a pad of paper and figure out the steps you need to take to resolve the situation. Consult with the client if necessary to set up a plan of action, and make sure each of you knows what to do to correct the problem.
  • Enlist help. If you haven't got the time figured into your schedule to fix the problem, enlist help to either get it fixed, or to tend to your other work while you turn your attention to the problem at hand.
  • Communicate to the important parties. Make sure to communicate to the people involved. If you have to get help with other client work, be sure that your subcontractor and your other client are aware that you are dealing with a situation. If you can't pay an invoice, let the vendor know when you will be able to pay it. Open communication makes things better for everyone.
  • Apologize or accept an apology. If it was your fault, be sure to apologize. Nothing is more important than admitting that you know something was your fault. If it was your client's or colleague's fault, accept their apology when the offer it (hopefully they do!) and don't hold a grudge. Everyone makes mistakes.
  • Follow through. While it might be easy to hide your head under the covers, be sure to follow up with everyone involved, and follow through with all plans to ensure that the situation is fixed as quickly as possible. Follow through and just get it done. You'll feel better much sooner!
  • Anticipate future issues.If this is a situation that could potentially happen again, be sure to be aware of that and put a procedure in place to deal with a similar issue in the future, should it arise.


When you accept that things can (and will) go wrong, you're in a better position to handle problems when they come along. How you react when something goes wrong can set you apart from your colleagues. I like the Don't Quit poem for inspiration. I think it says it all when things are going wrong. You can read the whole poem here.

Whatever the issue, just get back up and take care of it. Things will be back to normal before you know it!


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What to Do When Something Goes Wrong in Your Business

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This article was published on 2010/12/14