Developing a Resilient Mindset: 8 Steps to Prepare For Any Disaster

The mark of a small business isn’t how well it does in good times, but how it responds in bad times. While you can never be sure what misfortune might happen, you can develop a “resilient mindset” that learns from setbacks and prepares you to deal with any catastrophe, no matter the size. Just follow these eight steps:

Decide to Be Resilient

“Being resilient is a decision that a person makes either to overcome adversity or to become victim to it,” says business consultant Leslie Ungar. “Before one can develop a strategy for dealing with a disaster, one has to develop the attitude.”

Embrace Problems

An earthquake or fire might catch you off-guard; however, if you embrace the idea that problems will happen you can be better prepared to handle them. “Instead of waiting for the worst to happen, watch for signals that it’s time to change course or intervene to prevent a major problem,” says Joellyn “Joey” Sargent , author of Beyond the Launch: The Practical Guide to Building a Business that Thrives.

Make Contingency Plans

Gillis, Ellis & Baker Inc (GEB), an insurance agency located in New Orleans, was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Some 80% of its book of business submitted claims and most of its 38 staff members lost all or much of their homes. But because the agency created a strategic recovery plan the year before, it was up and running in a trailer in Baton Rouge the next week.

Have Open Communications

“When a disaster occurs, it’s often a misleading bit of information shared by an outsider that exacerbates rumors about a damaged business shutting down,” explains Carol Chastang of the Small Business Administration. Your crisis communication plan should provide a way to reach employees, stakeholders, and customers. You should also designate spokespeople for the media.

Lean On Friends and Mentors

During difficult times, accept help from those who care about you.Find an experienced mentor who’s been there, done that,” says business consultant Iwan Jenkins. “Get someone who has the combination of scars and success. At your lowest you want to be with someone who has come out the other side.”

Create a Success Record

When times get tough, trust yourself to pull through. ” Keep a record of your successes,” Jenkins says. “There will be days when you will need the third party validation.”

Keep Looking Forward

Act on adverse situations proactively, rather than detach from stresses and wish they’d just go away. “The problem is not when there’s a car accident,” Ungar says. “The problem is the accidents that are caused by people driving by and looking at the accident rather than looking ahead.”

Take Lessons From Setbacks

A recent study found failed entrepreneurs are more likely to be successful in their second go-around, provided they try again. “When President Bush was asked what mistakes he made in his first term, people were surprised he couldn’t identify any,” Ungar says. “If you don’t learn why you made the mistake then it’s is difficult to learn a lasting lesson.”

In the next four parts of this series, we’ll look at how small business owners have put these ideas into practice and successfully confronted disasters that could have crippled their businesses and careers. Read the first part of the series, “Have a Disaster Recovery Plan in Place,” here.


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