When Disaster Strikes Your Small Business: The Power of Persistence, Community, and your Network.

When we last left off, our Super Hero was making the best of a Sunday gone wrong.social media solutions for a small business disaster

It had rained. It had poured, but I overcame and made a fantastic day of it!

I was pumped to get the week started and could not wait for Monday.

After all why wouldn’t you be pumped when sales are growing, and helping more people, even in the typically slower summer months!

That’s one of the beautiful residual aspects of inbound marketing and content creation; once you  create the content, it compounds while living on forever!

I was pumped, and Monday morning could not come soon enough.  So much to conquer, and so little time to do it.

With a medium Dunkin coffee, extra cream, no sugar in tow, I arrived at Sunrise HQ ready to own the day.

But as I walked up to the front door I had the sudden realization that now the day would be owning me.

You see there was water streaming out from underneath the door, a lot of water.

The thing was I really couldn’t see how much water was behind the door as it’s tinted.

I unlocked the door and opened it.  My heart sank.

how to overcome a small business disasterWater was now quite rapidly pouring out over my shoes.

It was bad.  There was 3-5 inches of water in every nook and cranny of the facility; every office and the entire production area.

The floors needed to be washed, but this was NOT what I had in mind!

My heart sank even deeper.  I had the sudden realization that this could be the end of Sunrise Signs!

As much adversity that we had overcome since opening in 2008, and recently celebrating our 3rd birthday in style, this could the final blow.

I had poured my heart, soul, and savings into this business and now was literally watching it wash away before my eyes.

So what’s a little water?

The first five minutes were very emotion filled.  I was in utter shock and nearly lost it.

Then a sudden calm came over me.  I realized that I had been down a similar  road (or river in this case) many times before.

Some things are just uncontrollable.  As much as you plan all you can do is react.

When we opened in 2008 the stock market had tanked three months later, and ALL business shut off.  We didn’t throw in the towel.what to do when a disaster strikes

When we made a tremendously costly mistake with one of our projects that could have sank us, we didn’t surrender.

Over and over, even before implementing inbound marketing, we’ve overcame adversity, and we were being called upon to do it again.

Some people might not have the stomach for such persistance or hustle, but I’d come too far in three short years to let this be our death knell.  I was going to need to keep my head up!

Reaching Out for Help!

Right after the bulk of the water was pumped out, squeegeed, and extracted, I got a hold of my insurance carrier and briefly smiled once it was confirmed that I had coverage for such a catastrophe.

I also met with my team to fill them in, and communicate the plan I had quickly brainstormed for righting the sinking ship.  They went ahead and started calling all of our current customers to let them know what had happened and that we would be doing everything within our power to complete their projects on time.

how to use social media in a small business emergencyPart of my gameplan was also to communicate the “event” via our social media networks, and our email mailing list.  Just as we answer questions via our blog articles, as with inbound marketing, my goal here was to be completely transparent about the incident.

To take it a step further, I saw an opportunity that is sometimes lost in social media, especially on the B2B side.  The opportunity to ask for help, to reach out that we did not know it all, that we have not been through this before, and would really appreciate any suggestions.

Here are the social media and email marketing steps I took:

  • Tweet All About it – If there is one thing I learned the Mark Shaefer, it’s to show up, not show off on Twitter.  I posted a couple tweets asking my twitter network for suggestions.  Also used a couple keyword specific hashtags just in case anyone else with knowledge was listening.
  • F is for Facebook and Friends – Here I posted what happened and the call for help on both my personal and fan page accounts.  I have some friends who are one or the other, but not both.  Also posted some additional contact information in case someone had trouble reaching us due to the building issues.
  • Email List – Had a quick email crafted to be sent out to our email list.  This also included the request for assistance and contact information.
  • Other Social Networks – Posted a question on a sign company owners forum asking if anyone had been through this before.

To My Complete Surprise

Posting to all those accounts, I thought I would at least receive some comments and suggestions from my friends, network, and community.

What I did not expect was how quickly the responses came, and how many there were!  I was completely surprised by the outpouring of responses.

Because of the shallowness that can be the online experience, many people including Jeff Goins feel that modern networking is broken.  It was really humbling to see that the time spent engaging, helping, and really connecting past the “friend request” was worth the effort.

Here are just a few of the awesome messages I received.  There were so many more.  I wish I could share them all.

small business recovery
small business disaster recovery
how to recover from a small business disaster

It’s messages of support like these that really make it all worth it, to hang in there, and fight the good fight.  These acts of kindness will not be forgotten.

Almost a week has past since the flood and we are holding strong.  The office is being repaired, the insurance claim is being processed, and we are preparing for an even bigger return.  How could we not with that community of support?!?

It’s going to be a great week.  I can’t wait to get going  :-)

Batter Up!

Has your small business been through some sort of disaster?  What happened?  What steps did you take to overcome the situation? 

Do you think I took the appropriate steps?  Would you have done anything differently?

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13 Responses to When Disaster Strikes Your Small Business: The Power of Persistence, Community, and your Network.

  1. Jeff Goins August 20, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    Very cool testimony of the real-world impact of social media. thanks for sharing!
    Jeff Goins recently posted..When to Quit Your Blog & Start a New OneMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff August 22, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      Hey Jeff, thanks for stopping by. It is amazing how social media is impacting our society. I was very touched as to how many people reached out, offering their help and advice!

      Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..How to Rock Your Blogging Efforts on a Rainy Sunday!My Profile

  2. SteveK August 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Sorry to hear about your set-back. Hopefully all of your electronically stored data is safe and unaffected. It’s a good reminder, though, that one should have everything backed up and stored off-site. You don’t want to have to try to re-create all of that data – it’s HUGELY disruptive to the business.

    (No, I don’t sell back-up solutions – I’m just a big fan of off-site storage. :P )

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff August 22, 2011 at 10:01 am #

      Hey Steve, yes luckily our data was backed up. The disaster would have become a catastrophe if we had lost the data! Great recommendation about the off-site storage. I had been looking at it, but it will definitely become a priority now!

      Thanks,
      Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..Who are my Biggest “Business Building” Role Models? My Kids of Course!My Profile

      • SteveK August 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

        If you’re interested, I can walk you through what I did for my business. It’s fully automated (so the backups are actually done! :P ) and I used free software to do it. Works like a treat and very reliable.

  3. Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion August 20, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Dang brother, what a story, and what a perspective you have despite what many would be feeling in your shoes. Crazy my friend, but a perfect example of resilience and perspective, and just how much those two qualities are essential for small biz owners.

    Hope it gets back to normal very soon my friend,

    Marcus
    Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted..Transparency and Inbound Marketing: The Greatest ‘Sales Technique’ of the Information AgeMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff August 22, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      Marcus, I’ll tell ya man, I thought I was down and out for the count when I first opened that door. But isn’t that what it’s all about? Life just ain’t that easy. S*@! happens.

      I know you’ve been down that road before. It’s not a fun feeling. It’s a crossroads. You either throw in the towel or you fight back. We’re fighters, end of story!

      Thanks for the encouraging words. It means a lot to me.

      Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..Who are my Biggest “Business Building” Role Models? My Kids of Course!My Profile

  4. Murray Johns August 21, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    Adam,

    Reflecting on your loss and response to it in comparison with my own loss in 2010 and how I responded is an interesting study. I appreciate your example of communication and quick thinking to conduct effective triage under the pressure of the situation – a good business case study for the Harvard Review! I’ll never forget your supportive phone call during one of my lower moments in my own experience, and I hope you know you can rely on us to be of help in any way needed.

    Sincere thanks and best wishes for an even better re-launch!

    Murray
    Murray Johns recently posted..Custom wraps for city trash compactorsMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff August 22, 2011 at 10:21 am #

      Murray,

      I really appreciate you taking the time to reach out. I know what you went through was hell and back, and I am so super impressed at how you made it through. It wouldn’t be the same without you!

      Looking forward to seeing you guys soon! It’s been too long.

      Adam

      ps – love those compactor wraps!
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..10 Small Business Problems Solved with Inbound MarketingMy Profile

  5. Adrienne August 22, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this at all but I’m so thrilled that you have had an outpouring response to your problem. This just goes to show you that there are plenty of wonderful people still left in this world Adam. If I lived closer, I would have come to help dry things out.

    I’m just happy to hear that everything will work out just fine and this will just be one more small bump in the road.

    Congratulations my friend, everything does work out in the end.

    Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..Interview, Guest Post, Podcast, Oh My!My Profile

  6. Jk Allen August 23, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Hey Adam, what a terrible situation. I think you handled it wonderfully. I couldn’t imagine experiencing something like this and handling it so well. I think when we’re in the heat of the moment sides of our best and worst shine a little, and I think you certainly had a swing for the best.

    Good luck with everything!

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff August 27, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

      Jk, thanks man! It certainly felt like one of those tests of patience, and continues to do so. While we’ve been working to come back “online”, the managing company hasn’t been responsive enough to my liking to get the construction rolling. That’s okay, we’ll still make it happen!

      Talk soon! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..The Five Biggest Website Secrets of A-List BloggersMy Profile

  7. Samantha Bangayan September 3, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    Wow, Adam! It’s so intense to read the full story behind the flood! It’s so, so true when you say: “Some things are just uncontrollable.” When those mishaps happen, they often feel like reminders to me — they remind me that life can’t be perfect and turn out the way we imagine all the time, and that the adversities are part of the adventure! =)

    It was also so touching to read some of the messages of support you shared! When the magnitude-7 earthquake happened here in Peru last week, I was also overwhelmed with emotion experiencing the show of support and love from friends and family through social media. There’s nothing like it!

    I’m impressed to hear that you picked yourself up from near chaos to turn the flood into beautiful moments. =)
    Samantha Bangayan recently posted..Before the World Ends: The Earthquake in PeruMy Profile

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