What to Do When the “Sh*t Hits the Fan”


If you know anything about me, you know that I like order and balance.  I can’t stand chaos and I really despise not being in control.  I’m a planner and some might even call me a bit rigid when it comes to my routines.  The truth is I like creating systems and structure because it ensures that things run smoothly and it helps me to stay sane while running a business and raising 3 children under the age of 6.

When you’re a solo entrepreneur, it’s very easy to slip into overwhelm when you’re trying to juggle all of your business responsibilities, meet the needs of your family, and still have a little “me” time left over.  Without systems, structure, and support, things can go to “hell in a handbasket” real quick.

Sometimes, however, no matter how much you plan, organize, systematize, delegate, or automate, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Imagine this scenario: You’re planning an enormous event involving 20+ colleagues and thousands of other people, then your VA informs you she’s going on vacation in 2 weeks for 2 weeks, then your grandmother passes away, 2 of your small children come down with flu-like symptoms, then your nanny’s brother passes away unexpectedly, and one child begins to develop pneumonia (again); all of this in a matter of days. 

Unfortunately, I’m not creative enough to make up this sort of thing.  This is my world at the moment.  There have been other moments like this since I began my business, and I’m sure there will be many more.  I’m also sure you’ve had moments like this, as well.  We all do—it’s a part of life. 

So what do you do when the  sh*t hits the fan?

  1. Get reacquainted with your own values and needs.  When you’re operating in crisis mode it is important to stay focused on the things that matter most to you.  Many things might be screaming for your attention at the moment, but you know in your gut and in your heart what is truly significant to you.
  2. Prioritize masterfully.  When an unpredicted crisis rears its head, it demands that you reallocate resources (time, money, energy, emotion, etc.)  swiftly. You have to be able to figure out what deserves precedence and what can wait.  If you’re already clear on your values and needs, this will help you decide which actions to take and in what order.  You obviously want to handle the most critical situations first.  In the medical field, we call it “triage.”
  3. Get support.  Running and growing a business takes a village.  If you’re a solo entrepreneur, you don’t have employees who can jump right in and take over while you deal with a crisis.  However, you should have a support network that you can turn to when you need a little help.  This can be a virtual assistant, friends, family, colleagues,  mastermind group, business advisors, a coach, service providers, etc.
  4. Systematize and automate as much as possible.  Get things off your plate and off your mind so you can focus on what truly matters.  Systems will set you free, especially in a crisis.
  5. Always have a Plan B.  No one likes to dwell on the negative, but it is always helpful to at least have some idea of what you might do in case all hell breaks loose.  Big companies and the government call it “Disaster Preparedness.”  As a small business owner, and a solo entrepreneur, even “every day” types of disasters can have a major impact on your business.  
  6. Do what you need to do and be ok with it.  When things seem like they are falling apart at the seams, you might be tempted to beat yourself up about it or dwell on the negative.  Stuff happens.  You’re only human and you can only do so much.  If you aren’t able to get to everything on your to-do list for a while, so be it.  If you need to reschedule an appointment with a client because your grandfather passed away; so be it.  If you need to take a little time to get back on your game, so be it.  Just know that you can and will be back.  And you know what, the people and things that matter most will welcome you back with open arms.

If you have some advice on what to do when the sh*t hits the fan, I’d love to hear it.  Feel free to share your comments below.

© 2011 Tiffany deSilva, Order and Balance, LLC

Want to reprint this article?  Feel free to do so as long as you include the following message:

Tffany deSilva, founder and CEO of Order and Balance, LLC, specializes in helping women entrepreneurs  conquer chaos and overwhelm and boost their productivity & their bottom line, while strategically building a financially successful and sustainable business that not only runs seamlessly, but also integrates seamlessly with their ideal life. Visit http://www.orderandbalance.com  to receive your copy of the FREE report, “Get the Money You Deserve and the Time You Desire:  How to Avoid the 7 Biggest Mistakes Women Entrepreneurs Make.”

5 Response to “What to Do When the “Sh*t Hits the Fan” ”

Jeff Brunson
July 19, 2011
1:32 pm

Comment :

Tiffany, I like your 6 points of advice and encouragement. Number 6 has got to be the butt kicker for me: Do what you need to do and be ok with it. I’m getting better. I have learned more and more to trust the quiet (used to be interpreted slow) times. It is in those times when I am forced to ‘let up’ and ‘let go.’ Then good ‘stuff’ simply starts to happen. Thank you again, Jeff

Linda Pucci
July 20, 2011
5:16 am

Comment :

We always learn so much from dealing with our own crises, don’t we? I love these 6 tips. Central to them is knowing what is important, I think. But like Jeff, the most challenging for me is #6–doing what you need to do and being OK with it. Actually, there is sometimes not much other choice! Thanks for sharing your experience, Tiffany and the tips to help others deal when the sh*t hits the fan.

Mary Ellen Miller
July 20, 2011
1:15 pm

Comment :

Tiffany, first let me extend my condolences on your recent losses. You have certainly had a lot on your plate. On the bright side this makes you an expert at what you’re talking about! Thank you for sharing these tips.

Renee Preis
July 20, 2011
2:35 pm

Comment :

Love this Tiffany!!! Especially #6–Do what you need to do and be OK with it. Fabulous! Thank you

Sue Painter
July 22, 2011
9:18 am

Comment :

Tiffany, I didn’t realize how up against it you’ve been lately. So sorry! You’re right, we all go through these things and keeping the eye on the top focus and letting all else get messy is what gets us through.

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