10 N Martingale Rd. Suite 400 60173
Schaumburg, IL
60173 USA

Bad Things Happen To Good People


Bad things happen to good people. Life is full of adversities; we’ve all experienced some personal crisis in our lives. Maybe it was an illness, an untimely death of a family member, a debilitating accident, a financial loss that wiped out all personal assets, or a bad error in judgment that created unthinkable liability. Tragedy strikes individuals, families, communities, and even countries, as evidenced by the 9/11 terrorists attack.  And when they do, lives are changed forever.

Businesses also experience disasters, and the resulting setbacks can be a major blow to the company.  Doomsday can be knocking at their door, whether it is a result of   lawsuits, negative statements on social media, a crisis in business operations, health scares to company leaders, or losing their prime customer(s).  Adversity is always lurking around the corner.

The Jesuit philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, assessed these events in a very practical manner: “In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, and what we intend to do now that it happened.”

Few companies have contingency plans to address every possible problem that may beset them. What the smart ones do, however, is have a contingency strategy that can be implemented if and when disaster strikes. That strategy should include:


Analyze and evaluate the damage done.  

Determine how the events will impact the sales and profit trajectory you are on. What impact will this have on your employees? How will the adversity affect your suppliers and current customers?  Before taking any remedial action, understand the impact and be willing to face the facts squarely and openly. Don’t hide from problem. Keeping an open dialogue will encourage everyone to understand his or her role in the subsequent repair.


Create a plan and take action.

Doing nothing to resolve a problem usually just exacerbates the issue. Devise a plan to deal with it directly and conclusively. If the problem stemmed from a defect of the company’s product or service, the solution must address that squarely and promptly.

If the issue revolves around the actions of a company employee or manager, whether just perceived or real, it may be necessary to examine ways to improve the culture of the company.  This will ensure that all employees are performing their jobs in a manner that better serves the business, their customers and themselves.  Until a negative situation is resolved and turned into a positive, there is no hope to avoid the crisis that caused the problem to begin with.

What immediate actions can you take to replace the possible lost sales? What core assets do you have within the company that can be used to create value for your customers?


Concentrate on your core business.

Don’t lose sight of why you are in business. Concentrate on your company’s core profit center, and shed those activities that are not useful. If there are marginal activities within the company that don’t contribute positively to the well being of the business, either re-deploy the staff to a more productive core business activity, or lay them off.

Do what you do best. Don’t be sidetracked by performing activities that have little to do with your core business, which is producing a product or service for a profit. For example, a few years ago, a young business owner, who built a small one man job shop into a $1.2 million company, experienced what most business owners unfortunately run into. He was stuck with a no-pay customer, and the receivable was for $40,000. The owner became obsessed with this debt, considering it a personal theft of what belonged to him. He spent the better part of a year personally pursuing collection of the debt and completely ignored his business. Meanwhile, sales plummeted to $600,000 from the lack of management. He never collected on the debt, and never again reached his former sales success.


Dont be afraid to change.

Sometimes when a crisis strikes a business, it becomes necessary to evaluate the business plan and model under which the company is operating. Giant leaps in technology, obsolescence of business practices, or changes in the laws which governs your industry, can all suggest that your model may need to be dramatically altered to be competitive.

Twenty years ago, who would have thought that you could carry in your pocket a device that would allow you to talk with someone around the world, play recordings of tens of thousands of songs, or offer access to information in an instant. It used to take weeks to conduct research, give instructions, transfer money, and a thousand other tasks that we now can do in a moment’s notice. How many business models have been modified to make this all a reality?

Bad things do happen, but if they are handled appropriately, they can often represent life changing opportunities. It all comes down to what we do about it.