Tom had just returned from a three state roadshow to highlight some new products to prospective customers when he was hit with some super bad news the minute he sat down at his desk. His so-called partner who had always controlled the books had just let him know that they were out of money. Payroll and the rent for their building was looming and they didn't even come close to having enough to cover it. "How could this happen?" Tom asked. To which he received no response.
He was in trouble, big trouble by the looks of it. It was a crisis moment.
He didn't panic. He took in all the information, made a few notes and politely asked his partner and assistant to excuse him. He got up from his desk, took his cell phone, his notes and a copy of their recent financial statements and promptly left the office. It would be easy to think he was so angry he couldn't face the situation and was either headed home or to the nearest bar to drown his sorrows. Neither were the case it seems.
Over the past few years Tom has acquired a number of close collaborative friends and business mentors. He had meticulously assembled a bevy of talent that spanned a number of areas of expertise that neither him nor his partner had. Though he had never officially called these people his board, he knew that they functioned in very much the same way.
These people were from all various walks of life and from all different types of professional and educational pedigrees. They were there when he needed advice or guidance on a new product or market strategy. They were there when problems had arisen between him and his partner. They were there when he and his partner had been offered their first buyout offer. They were always there and always willing to help.
Every time they gave him unfiltered opinions, outstanding ideas and of course a good smack when he most needed it. They were his crisis collaborators.
Crisis collaborators are those people you can quickly assemble when you are faced with a life changing decision, problem, challenge or opportunity. They come because they want to and serve only to support you and your efforts to get through whatever obstacle or wall you might be facing at the moment. They tell you like it is and most likely how it will be, worrying less about your feelings than helping you deal with whatever situation you may be facing at the moment.
I have personal experience with recruiting and utilizing my own set of crisis collaborators. In fact when faced with selling my last company I depended so heavily on the my crisis collaborators that I know without a doubt I would have likely made the wrong decisions had I not had this informal group of five amazing people helping me out and truly being there when I needed them.
So who do you have in your circle of professional or personal friends that would be willing to step up and be your crisis collaborator? Here's the thing, we all need them regardless of whether we are running a company or not. We all have our crap we deal with and sometimes having an extra set of ears, even if it's only an extra pair or two, can make all the difference. The advice, the opinions, the guidance, the hugs, the just being there means the absolute world to you when you are in crisis mode. And no matter what the challenge is it's so reassuring to know whatever it is you won't be facing it alone.
Tom's crisis collaborators quickly ascertained his situation and discussed ways to increase his cash flow. They found a glaring mistake that had occurred on a receivable account and were able to give him some ideas on how to rectify it. It wasn't that he and his partner might not have discovered the issue in time, but sometimes when your in the thick of it, you simply can't see the forest for the trees. His crisis collaborators could.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Photo Credit: Abbey Road by Digger Digger Dogstar