There will always be unexpected changes in your business, but how you handle those changes can make or break you.
Business plans, strategic meetings, and financial forecasts illustrate how much we look to the future as entrepreneurs. We make detailed plans and try to predict what's coming next in dozens of different areas, but any seasoned entrepreneur can tell you it never really goes that smoothly.
Instead, you'll experience unexpected changes, from a valuable staff member leaving to a new competitor emerging out of nowhere. These changes alone don't have the power to crush you, but the way you handle them could significantly affect your business's probability of success.
First, address the situation as calmly as possible, both internally and externally. When you're calm, you're more likely to think through the situation objectively, rather than letting your emotions take over your thoughts and plans. You'll also appear more in control to the people around you, which will serve you well in preserving your image as a leader.
Next, take the time to carefully assess the situation. Don't worry about reacting immediately; instead, focus on describing the problem in as much detail as possible, including the potential outcomes. How will this damage your business, if at all?
Remain as flexible as possible. Rigidly adhering to your previous expectations in the face of a major change is a good way to sabotage yourself. Be open to new ideas.
When you make a plan, make sure it gets executed. You need to coordinate with your team to make sure you compensate for this unexpected change (and possibly work to prevent similar surprises in the future).
These approaches to unexpected changes will help you navigate the complex world of entrepreneurship. It never gets easy to face these (sometimes nasty) surprises, but you do get better at handling them.