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What was your business' 'Oscar Moment'?

A lesson in accepting failure with dignity and grace, writes Shirley Anthony


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I watched with a combination of fascination and horror as disaster struck this week’s carefully orchestrated Oscar Awards in Hollywood. 

The final award, Movie of the Year, was announced as "La La Land" and the cast proudly congregated on the stage and were making their acceptance speech. Suddenly an organiser appeared from the wings, grabbed the mike and stated that a mistake had been made with the winner’s envelope.  Movie of the Year was in fact "Moonlight."

It’s difficult to comprehend how auditing company, Price Waterhouse Cooper, responsible for managing the results, could have made such an error.   It made me think, however, of super successful businessman, Brian Joffe’s statement, "The one thing you need to know in business, is that you’re not invincible". 

Dealing with Challenges
As entrepreneurs we continually strive to keep our clients satisfied, win new business and keep staff happy. Sometimes, however, disaster does strike. How do we cope with these challenges?

During these times what’s important is not what has happened but our reaction to the situation and how we manage it.  This will determine the ultimate outcome and whether or not we successfully navigate the adversity. 

"Sometimes disaster does strike - how do we cope with these challenges?"

Unhappy Clients
No matter the excellent level of service you provide, you are going to experience the wrath of an unhappy client. As at the Oscars, the best laid plans do go awry. 

In these situations, try to keep a level head and teach your staff to do so too. An angry customer first and foremost wants to let off steam.  Be a good listener, provide an empathetic ear and then communicate to your customer that you intend to find a resolution to their problem as soon as possible. 

The action you take to remedy a customer complaint provides an opportunity to turn the situation around.  You need to find a solution and communicate this to your client.  By doing so, the message you will be sending is that he or she is valuable to your business and that you have taken the complaint seriously. 

Managing Rejection
There’s nothing better than when your business is on a roll and you’re winning one new contract after another. You feel elated and full of confidence. 

As an entrepreneur, however, there are also times when you don’t successfully land the business. It’s then that you may have to cope with a feeling of rejection.

Find a way that works for you, to restore your equilibrium. Perhaps it’s a visit to the gym and a vigorous workout, or taking an afternoon off and watching your favourite DVD.  Whatever your coping mechanism, you need to muster the energy to bounce back and start pursuing alternative business avenues. 

Keep in mind that in every situation there’s a silver lining, and sometimes there is a better possibility just around the corner. 

Staff Challenges  
Office rental business owner, Anthony Manas says, "Instilling a sense of ownership in staff when they are not the business owner is one of the biggest challenges an entrepreneur faces."

Develop an understanding of the way in which individual staff members like to work so that you can adapt your managerial style to cater for their differences.  There are some staff members who desire close supervision to feel confident about their workmanship. Others want to be briefed on a task and only have someone check in with them every now and then. 

Having a committed and loyal internal support team will be a major contributor in delivering a professional product, and your staff can be your allies in helping you to successfully navigate some of the external challenges you will face. 

  • Like what you read? Download Shirley Anthony's book: 'The NEW Entrepreneur: A Practical Marketing Guide For Growing Your Business' here.

About the author: Shirley Anthony is an author, speaker and owner of Marketing Breakthroughs, a marketing consultancy operating for over twenty years. Having initially gained corporate experience in fast-moving consumer-goods branding, she has consulted in over twenty-five industries, including cellular, information technology, travel, engineering, food, cosmetics, architecture and banking.  

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