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How do you stay calm and collected when business isn’t going well?

6 min read

Small Business

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Q. How do you stay calm and collected when business isn’t going well? When is it right to tell your team that you’re off course?

1. Check in once a week

Bill (my co-founder) and I ask ourselves these questions at least once a week: Are we on track? Are we allocating our time efficiently? Is the team focused on the right things? Do we have enough money? It is always a delicate and tenuous balance. If you have been open and honest with your team, this won’t be that big of an issue. They will understand and be prepared to change course. – Joseph DiTomaso, AllTheRooms

2. Go for a jog or hit a golf course

Do something out of the office and take a deep breath — whether that is going on a jog, playing 18 holes or hitting a driving range. Get outside the office and recharge your batteries before talking to your team. – Jason Grill, JGrill Media | Sock 101

3. Be honest, but not hopeless

I don’t jump too quickly into “Code Red Situations” emotionally, so I feel like I stay pretty calm up until zero hour. However, when it’s time to inform my team that we’re not doing as well as we’d hope, I do it in a very matter-of-fact kind of way that doesn’t sugarcoat the situation. I try to be very pragmatic by saying, “This is how it is now. How can we improve it?” – Rob Fulton, Exponential Black

4. Go to

Usually I try and literally stay calm. is an awesome way to do that. Just open the site or app and your day will brighten pretty quickly. Only after that will I try and decide how to move forward in a bad situation. – Ben Lang, Mappedly

5. Don’t react too quickly

I always react by asking more questions, which gives me time to understand the details, process my emotions and respond in a productive way. Our issues aren’t matters of life and death. As a combat veteran, this helps me put things in perspective, keep my composure and lead my team through tough times. People need to know what’s ineffective and how to change it. It’s never too early to tell them. — Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture

6. Plan ahead

Develop a short-term and long-term plan, then focus on what needs to be fixed immediately. Once you have solutions, share the new vision with your team (sooner rather than later) so they can help you get back on track. — Ashley Mady, Brandberry

7. Remember failure is a choice

You can choose to fail, or you can choose to actively explore ways to be more successful. If sales are stagnant or declining, that is cause for concern, but you shouldn’t alarm your team just yet. Try identifying the root cause. Once you find it, brainstorm remedies. Afterwards, you can share this information with your team, so everyone knows what they can do to support this turnaround. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

8. Communicate early and often

If you wait to communicate with the team until you’re completely off course, then you have waited too long. Communicate targets early and often and enroll the team in shifts as soon as possible. Communicate a lofty goal three months out and stress and fear will arise intensely. People will shut down. With more time, they will have a healthy degree of pressure which leads to great performance. — David Hassell, 15Five

9. Remember it happens to all great companies

At some point while building a business, things get off course. I remind myself that even the most successful companies like Apple have gone through very turbulent periods. I know there are many lessons to be learned during these times, and I look for the lessons. I am always honest with my team about where we’re at so that we can work on solutions and strategies together. That support is key. — Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

10. Acknowledge that it’s OK to show emotion

Who says you have to stay calm under pressure? Emotions play a part in life and especially as entrepreneurs, we usually have very strong emotions. Pick a few of your trusted employees, advisors or executives which whom you can share your frustrations and you’ll be better prepared to come off as calm and collected in front of the entire team. Don’t always bottle up your emotions or you’ll explode. — Mark Cenicola,

11. Tell your team right away

I’m able to stay calm and collected because I know that we control our destiny. We control our branding and our presence, that’s all us. If something starts to go astray, we get on top of it immediately. We’ll never wait it out and hope that it corrects itself because it won’t — at least not to our standards. It’s an opportunity to not only fix something, but to make it better in the end. – Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.

12. Stay focused on the big picture

In many cases, things are never as bad or good as they seem. It’s important to remember this. When you stray off course, remember that it happens and it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Figure out exactly what has happened, why, and the resolution. Communicate with your team when you need to elicit their support. Explain the urgency and your plan. They will likely respond favorably. — Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Technologies Inc.

13. Don’t look in the rear-view mirror

I’ve learned to stay calm and collected when business is going well by focusing on the future. We can only learn from what happened in the past and hope to not make the same mistakes, so we can keep moving forward. Reinforce to the team that everyone should focus on the future instead of focusing on the past. — Dan Price, Gravity Payments