No matter what type of business or niche you’re in, there’s going to be a time when you have to deal with a difficult situation. Our built-in emotional protection system may want us to run away and hide from these situations, but the adult and sensible business side of us will appreciate – everyone has difficult situations. However, it’s how we deal with them, that will teach us how to effectively manage them AND minimise the likelihood of them happening again!

Here are three of the most common difficult situations a solo business owner may need to face, along with what you can do, to ensure you’re effectively and efficiently handing them, whilst decreasing the likelihood of them reoccurring again.

Difficult situation #1: Clients that don’t pay

One of the first things you need to do, is not panic. There could be several genuine reasons why the client hasn’t paid you – from not getting the invoice, through to being ill or in hospital.

Start by following up with them. Send a simple, polite reminder. Get on the phone with them and stop doing any more work for them, until the invoice is paid.

The way you can minimise this happening, is to research all clients, prior to working with them. You can then manage expectation, by setting up recurring payments and having a contract in place that clearly states your terms etc, along with details of penalties and the process in place, should they neglect to pay. If all else fails, there is the legal route of taking them to court or small claims court.

Difficult situation #2: When you have overpromised, but can’t deliver

Initially, you need to be honest and take ownership of your mistake. I know it takes guts to do this, but they will appreciate your honesty and it will take the immediate pressure and stress off you.

Be honest about what you need, in order to rectify it. For example, you may need more time, more resources, the ability to outsource some of the workload to another associate etc. If, however, you’re unable to get what you need to rectify it (they may not be able to give you more time, for example), see what else you can do, to help minimise the damage and/or stress you’ve caused. This could mean you offer to refund a percentage of monies paid or offer to do something extra for them etc – and it’s probably a good idea to offer this as a gesture of goodwill, regardless of how they react.

The main thing is to learn from this kind of situation. You need to also learn how to accurately manage your time and workload, to ensure this doesn’t happen in the first place. Always err on the side of overestimating how long something will take you – as It’s a far better work ethic to under promise and over-deliver, than risk letting clients down.

Difficult situation #3: When you have personal issues that encroach on your work

Similar to the difficult situation above, this is all about communication. Communicate with your clients, as soon as you realise you have an issue or problem – don’t leave them in the dark. We’ve all experienced unexpected family or personal issues, and your clients are no different.

You can’t always foretell when personal issues are going to arise, but you can look to get a contingency plan in place, to cover the more obvious possibilities. This can include backup childminders, associates you can call in to help and factoring extra time for each job you take on.

We’ve all experienced situations that have affected our ability to work effectively and efficiently, but it’s how you deal with those problems, that will highlight what type of person – and indeed, what type of business – you are.

What type of contingencies do you have in place, to ensure you’re minimising the likelihood of these difficult situations arising? Why not share your thoughts on today’s blog, in the comments section below?

Image courtesy of gzorgz/