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Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst, Keep Calm And Carry On

Michelle Dale - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This week I had an interesting scenario come up in my forums which is not uncommon, and I really wanted to share my thoughts on it with you on the blog. A member of my VA Apprentice programme was in a bind, she had lined up some people to support her in the launch of her creative and technical services, and everything was proceeding well until...

Life happened.

I call it life because that’s what it really is. Some of them were suffering some issues which meant they were unable to support her in the provision of the services she had started to prepare to offer. This caused a bit of a melt down.

So what do you do when you get to the point where you’re offering services, and you have or had people supporting you and those people are no longer around?

Option 1 - Retreat!

Withdraw, wave the white flag and take down the services, and apologise to your clients if they have a half-finished piece of work.

That’s totally not my style – I’d go for option 2.

Option 2 - Keep Calm and Carry On (of course!)

I have had team members working with me in my business since 2008. Some have been with me for years, the whole time in fact, and some have come and gone. Sometimes, I would work with team members where they would leave and come back. The one thing I do know about team development, especially hiring independent contractors, is that no matter what – you’ll find there is one thing you can always count on – there are no guarantees – with anything or anyone.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

This, in a nutshell, is my response to anyone concerned that they may be left in the lurch, up the creek without a paddle or whatever else you want to call this unfortunate situation…

If it was me, I would proceed as I intended. You see the thing is, even if you did have people lined up, everything was going along perfectly now, you could get a client and they could leave a week later – it’s the nature of this kind of business, it’s the nature of freelancers, independent contractors, online business support – It happens offline too. Then it’s fight or flight. So, you would have to come up with something, pull a rabbit out of a hat. It’s intense but it’s also kind of fun, and you actually get a great sense of achievement once you’ve done something productive.

If you are predicting that things are going to go wrong, or someone has given you notice they are no longer available to support you for whatever reason, then this is a good thing (yeah I’m a glass is half full kind of person), because basically all this is, is the benefit of foresight – and if and when the time arises that you need a new team or team member, I am confident that any determined business owner will make it happen. Whatever way happens to fit at the time.

We have to accept that if we want to work with other people, a certain degree of uncertainty is going to always be there. Deal with situations as they arise, it will make you a stronger team manager, and business owner to pull through rocky patches.

Just my personal thoughts… If you are really stressing over it to the point where it’s making you ill, then retreat and take those services down. Don’t compromise your health over it.

You can always pull through these times, I have been high and dry before – and somehow, I’ve always managed to make something happen to fix the issue and then, it passes, it’s just a problem like any other that needs troubleshooting as a business owner, and we have to accept that these things happen.

My advice is don’t worry about things which may or may not be problems, concentrate and keeping everything running smoothly, deal with things when there is actually something that needs dealing with, and above all…

Keep calm and carry on.

But Prepare for the worst:

Even if you’re happy with your team, always keep your eye out for talented people you’d like to work with, it doesn’t hurt to keep their details on file, even without the intention of immediate hiring. Also don’t underestimate the awesome power of your colleagues, and network with people who are in the same industry as you, join a membership site or group, find a community of online professionals, then when in crises, you’ll have people to call on for help, advice, recommendations – even a bail out, as they might have just the skill sets available you need to get that half-finished client project completed – and who knows, they may even do a better job than the person who left!

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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