Averting Disaster As a Small Business Owner

Drama — it’s in every small business. Just last week I was talking about it — how we small business owners face crises and skirt disaster all the time.

And then, crisis struck again.

It happened on Tuesday’s Small Business Trends Radio show. My guest was Steve MacGill, who is the founder of Peersight, a CEO membership organization. We were in the first segment of the show — it was going great. All of a sudden a loud ringing noise started on Steve’s phone line (I was interviewing him by phone). Thinking it was line interference, the WSRadio station engineer, Dick, text-messaged me with instructions to ask Steve to hang up the phone. We would call him back — get a better connection.

That meant instead of interviewing a guest, suddenly I was doing a monologue on live radio until we could get the phone line issue sorted out. A monologue’s not easy when you are unprepared! Crisis time for me.

But my crisis was puny compared to Steve’s.

crisis danger will robinsonBecause right then the engineer text-messaged me to say the noise was really a fire alarm going off. Mind you, these text messages are in bright red flashing at me on my computer screen. (All I could think of was the robot in the TV show Lost in Space, twirling around in circles, lights flashing, “Danger, Will Robinson!”)

At this point my imagination was going 100 miles a minute. I had visions of flames lapping at Steve’s door, people running down stairwells, black smoke billowing everywhere, wondering if Steve managed to get out alive or at least with eyebrows intact.

So I kept talking, not having any idea if Steve was in danger or what was happening.

Luckily, it turned out to be a fire drill. We got Steve back on the line and continued the radio interview.

We managed to get through yet another small business crisis. Another day, another disaster avoided. And we all had a good laugh.

What I will remember most is how calm and cool-headed Steve MacGill was — despite not knowing if his life was in danger. Calm in the face of catastrophe … the hallmark of great small business owners everywhere.

He tells the story in much funnier detail in his blog, Startup Diary. I especially liked the part where the office manager was banging on his door in the middle of the interview telling him, “YOU HAVE TO LEAVE NOW!” With all that turmoil in the background, he didn’t miss a beat. He stayed focused.

Afterwards, the point hit home: what a story this makes. It becomes one more piece of company lore, that will get retold again and again. And we will use it to make both businesses just a little more memorable, as we tell the story of our paths to growth.

But let’s not allow a minor crisis to overshadow what was one very good radio show. Read more about the episode and download the MP3 file: Unlocking Growth Potential in Every Small Business.

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.