Communication During a Minor Emergency

“Ow. Ow. Ow. That can’t be good….”

For years it’s been our family’s tradition over the Labor Day weekend that my husband and I take our daughters apple-picking. Last weekend for the second year in a row we went to visit my friend and colleague Dr. Mollie Marti at her family’s apple orchard in northern Iowa.

Apples on a Tree

Mollie and I always have tons to talk about – her upcoming book was a topic of conversation along with the 2nd annual Make an Impact Live event she’ll be hosting here in Chicago where I’ll be the emcee for the weekend. Finally she was sharing with me another exciting initiative she is developing and was telling me how I could be involved.

As we talked, we walked through the beautiful apple orchard on her family’s farm. As you can see from the photo it was a fabulous day. I was engrossed in the conversation while walking along when suddenly, as my right foot stepped just the wrong way onto a small uneven part of the ground, inside my body I heard a loud “crack, crack, pop!” At the same moment a wave of pain shot from my ankle and through my entire body. And thus my thought, the opening line of this article, “Ow, ow, ow… that can’t be good.”

Mollie helped me hobble over to my husband who, as a personal trainer and former football player, has seen more than his share of sprained, twisted, and generally beat up body parts. He had a quick look, we determined it probably wasn’t broken, finished up our conversations and spent several hours on the drive back home.

After we arrived home, we iced my ankle and I kept it elevated. But when I woke up yesterday morning, the swelling had increased and I couldn’t put any pressure on it at all. I called the doctor and they told me to come in for an x-ray that morning to determine if my ankle was broken or not.

Normally, I might have panicked that after taking several days off from being online that I’d have to get back to work. I had a client meeting in the morning and much work to get done during the day. But I didn’t panic and here’s why.

I have emergency contingencies in place for when the unexpected happens.

Think about that for your business… if in 5 minutes from now you suddenly had to drop what you were doing because of some minor emergency, could you? How would the work get handled? How would you contact your clients who were expecting you? Here is how I knew I didn’t need to worry:

Make Use of Available Technology: Even though I hadn’t even turned on my computer I always have my iPhone with me. As my Dad drove me to the urgent care center for my x-rays, I reached out using the technology I had set up and in place. If you don’t have a smart phone and you run a small business, this is a wise investment for a number of reasons, but especially for emergencies.

Have a Go-To Person Who Can Help: I have always worked with a number of assistants and service providers for various aspects of my business, but I like to keep one person as my primary point of contact. My lead virtual assistant knows my schedule, my clients, and the way I like things done. One quick message to her and I knew all would be well for the day.

Be Honest: One of the best things about running your own business is YOU are the boss. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to answer to people – we all have clients, vendors, and others who count on us to show up when we’re supposed to. Studies have shown that people like to feel “in the know” about those they work with. So when an emergency arises, rather than sending a cryptic, “something personal has come up can we reschedule” message, provide a few more details. When you do, you send the unwritten message that you value the relationship. You don’t have to get graphic, but share as much as you feel comfortable sharing. Then explain what you’ll do to make it up to them or how they can reschedule so you’re not endlessly leaving message after message for each other.

Social Media Works: Maybe there are other people who might want to know why you’re not returning their emails or phone messages as quickly as you would normally. When you put a message about your minor emergency on social media, other interested parties can look to see what’s happening with you. Again, no need to get graphic, but a simple report or update on your status can go a long way.

Always Double-Check: After the emergency, follow up to make sure your systems worked. In my case, my VA had NOT received my initial message, but she DID see my check in on social media so she knew I’d be away. She texted later in the day with an update of where things were and the next morning we had a brief check-in with how to mop up the rest of the details.

As for me, nothing’s broken and after keeping my foot elevated and iced on and off per doctor’s instructions all day yesterday I’m doing a lot better today. I’m wearing a brace that looks like my daughter’s soccer shin guards and the doc gave me a cane to help me up and down the stairs. Most of all I had peace of mind about my business because I knew with the systems I had in place, work would easily be handled.

What procedures do you have in place to handle minor emergencies that pop up (and they always do!)? Share them with me in the comments.

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