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Preparing for a Crisis

Sometimes in your social impact journey, regardless of how strategic you've been, something happens that you simply cannot control. It literally sneaks up and catches you off guard. It doesn’t usually happen at the most convenient time, either.

When a crisis occurs, you need to stay on top of what is happening to regain control of the situation and turns things around to get back on track.

A social enterprise crisis can manifest itself in the form of a pandemic, natural disaster, significant financial loss, scandal, or the loss of one or more of the company’s key personnel.

No matter how or when the BIG crisis occurs, it would help if you were prepared with strategies that minimize the company’s risk of crashing. So, let’s assess ways in which you can avert a crisis or quickly bounce back from on in the event that it happens.

Step 1: Assess Risk Factors. Assessing the risk factors that can naturally occur in your business and industry will help you with Step 3. The best way to do this is to take a look at your accounts to see when your peak and low season are for the business. Look at industry statics to assess what others have had issues with to cause their business to fold or have drastic dips in revenue. You can also figure out what your competitors are doing to thrive.

Step 2: Determine Impact. Determining the effects of a crisis on your business is a crucial step to make sure your company has considered every angle of a possible threat. It can also help to make a business case for anyone who does not see the value or issues that can arise due to poor crisis management plan. The plan should include the impact on the business, clients, and stakeholders. E.g.

  • Customer Loss

  • Damaged Reputation

  • Lost inventor or sales

  • Increased costs of raw materials

  • Regulatory or licensing fees/fines

Step 3: Advanced Planning. Planning will provide you with some level of security to prevent unnecessary panic in the event of a crisis. It will help you have a step-by-step strategy of what to do and in what order and the people who should be notified. This plan should be shared with all key personnel in the company along with some others discussed below.

Step 4: Appoint a Spokesperson. Depending on the type of crisis, you may need to do some PR. If any statements need to be made to the press, board, clients, etc., you need to be at least two people you can call on to be the face and spokesperson for the company. This person(s) will deduce what to tell all affect by the crisis, including the media. This person must be articulate and knowledgeable about the company’s infrastructure and external activities and must articulate themselves well.

Step 5: Create a Contact List. Have a contact list readily available so that in the event of a crisis, no one is scrambling to figure out how to contact the necessary parties. Here are a few people that you should have on your list:

  • Attorney

  • Banker

  • Financial Advisor

  • Board Members

  • Department heads

  • Spokesperson

Once the plan is complete, revisit it at least once per year, or anything drastic happens in your industry.

Run a crisis drill to pre-test your plan. Take note of how the business faired with the team and stakeholders. Develop a report based on your notes. Include specific recommendations on what could have been done differently to make the process more effective.

Strategically Yours,

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