In business and in life, sometimes things don’t always go according to planned.
Traffic is worse than you thought it would be. Your car won’t start. You come down with a nasty cold the day of your meeting.
It happens to all of us, and these instances can be frustrating. They can throw us off our game, cause us to make even more mistakes, or simply put us in a bad mood.
What sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest of the bunch is both in how they react to such occurrences, and how prepare for the unexpected to happen. That is, they have a method for ‘planning for the unplanned’ so that a change in plans won’t completely derail their day.
How to Plan for the Unplanned
Though ‘planning for the unplanned’ may seem like an impossible feat, it is actually quite simple. For one, it takes a savvy business owner to acknowledge that the unexpected will occur, and that there is often not much to be done. Knowing this information, there are steps that be taken to ensure that a disruption won’t destroy your business or mess up your schedule.
1. Set Time Aside
Though it is impossible to know when the next “unplanned” thing is to occur, it is possible to allow ‘wiggle room’ so that something won’t completely throw off your day.
This may mean allowing 15 minutes in between meetings for transition, factoring in potential traffic in your commute, or betting on the chance that your business call may run late. Essentially, the strategy is to allow time between tasks in case the unexpected were to occur. This takes some of the stress out of the situation, as your have more time to adapt to the situation.
2. Trust Your Gut
Trusting your gut can be hugely beneficial, in business and in life in general. It is particularly relevant here, as a ‘funny feeling’ can often be a sign that the unexpected is about to occur. As concise as ‘unexpected’ sounds, there are often signs before things go awry. Listen to your intuition, and take those feelings seriously. This can help you avoid all kinds of stress and uncertainty.
For example, if you are getting flakey vibes from a potential client, this could be an indication that they make be late for the meeting, or drop it altogether. A good move would be to check in with them, and adapt accordingly. You may find that you end up avoiding the stress of working with a flakey client, and then are able to use that time to follow other leads.
3. Have Systems in Place
One of the best ways to plan for the unplanned is to have systems in place that help run your business even when you aren’t able to attend to your responsibilities. A key component of this is automation, which involves tools that operate independently.
Tools such as Buffer allow you to schedule out content in advance, and posts for you on a consistent basis. It ensures that you never miss a post, even if you are away from your phone or computer
Having a VA or “virtual assistant” is another great idea, if you can afford it. This is a person that performs a variety of tasks for you, from social media posting, to answering calls, to responding to e-mails. Having a VA is highly invaluable, as it is someone who can keep your business running smoothly even when you have an emergency to attend to.
4. Have a Backup Plan
Sometimes when the unexpected happen, there’s not much you can do to make things right in the moment. Perhaps you feel that your entire day is ruined, or worse, your entire week. While you can let this get you down (and your reaction definitely depends on the severity of the emergency), there are often other ways to make the situation right.
Having protocol in place is a good way to correct a situation that has gone awry. Perhaps this means delegating tasks to another employee, in the case that you are no longer available. Maybe this means opening up the option to do online meetings, in case traffic is keeping you from getting to your meeting in time. Having a backup plan is a great way to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
Additionally, your clients likely know that the unexpected sometimes happens. It is better to prove yourself as someone who can handle an emergency, rather than lose your cool. Show people that you can adapt, and have systems in place for when the unexpected occurs.
Don’t Let a Disruption Ruin Your Day (or Your Business)
Planning for the unplanned is essential to keeping your business running smoothly in the face of emergencies and disruptions. Having systems in place, having a backup plan, and setting time aside for emergencies, will all help in preventing these occurrences from derailing your day, or your business.
Do your best to trust your gut and know what to do when the unexpected occurs.
Who will you be – the panicked entrepreneur who cowers when the unexpected happens, savvy business owner who keeps their cool?