The Three Crisis Scenarios CEOs Should Plan for Right Now
Here’s how to act strategically in the face of uncertainty and fear
My career has been long enough that I was working on startups during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s and the Great Recession of the late 2000s. I’ve lived and worked through panicky times before, and I can tell you that right now I’m seeing that exact same kind of panic, squared. I can also tell you that the main reason for the panic, strictly in a business sense, is that we’ve gone way too long without answers. The longer we go without answers, the worse the panic gets.
I’m not going to tell you that it’s no big deal to experience fear for your business and your employees. It is a big deal. But I will tell you that we need to be able to work through panic and through big deal events. The overwhelming reaction from your brain and your body will be a desire to shut down and sink into it.
Now is not the time for that. Now is the time to put everything on the table.
The entrepreneur’s response to panic and failure
Many years ago, I was sitting at a bar with a friend of mine when the subject turned to failure. At the time, I was building my company, Automated Insights, which was in a really risky place. He was building his own company, which was only a couple weeks away from shutting down.
As we talked through all the shadows closing in on his business, he said something that has always stuck with me: “What’s the worst that can happen? I don’t know — maybe they take my house.”
The important thing is that no matter how you are emotionally affected by risk and uncertainty, you still immediately respond when you realize you’re in a crisis.
While the cavalier nature of his answer threw me, I totally understood where he was coming from. I’ve always been a risk-averse entrepreneur. Not that I won’t take risks, I just like to think about all the things that can go wrong and plan for what I’ll do to mitigate them before they happen.