The Fluffy Box of Kittens – Expecting the Unexpected

As some of you know I went on a white water rafting trip, my first, a few weeks back.  It was fantastic and I only fell out once: on a sleepy little Class III rapid called “The Fluffy Box of Kittens”.

Once called “The Sleeper” and later called “The Raft Guide’s Revenge” before being renamed something that didn’t sound like a lawsuit waiting to happen, Fluffy Box looks deceptively calm.  Even knowing that something was coming up that you just couldn’t see until you were on top of it, I still fell out.

This sounds a lot more traumatic that it was, because I knew what might happen and I had spent 5 hours being instructed rapid after rapid what to do if I fell out.

How often have you discussed what to do if you hit a sleepy Class III when marketing or selling?  What if a customer becomes unwieldy and demands more than was in the contract? What if an ex-employee starts spreading lies in your industry that your company is going under?

Both of these things have happened and, because the company I was with at the time wasn’t prepared, we nearly drowned.  You might ‘swim for the rocks’ going for the easy solution by placating a unruly customer only to find out they’re ‘undercut’ and will suck you under by demanding more and more.

… Sorry, I tried but I couldn’t think of a metaphor for how to deal with a bad mouthing ex-employee.  I’m lost on that one still.

The point is, without some sort of backup plan you’re in trouble.  A backup plan might be an emergency fund so you can say ‘no’ to a big customer and not be hurt financially.  A backup plan might be having created an open regular communication tool like a newsletter or e-blast with your customers and potential clients so when bad rumors pop up you can squash them without making it look like you’re knee-jerk reacting to cover up a truth.

All the great marketing in the world won’t help if you don’t set things in place for damage control when the bad stuff hits.  It will happen and you won’t know exactly what it is, except that it’s out there, just like my Fluffy Box of Kittens rapid.

Keep calm, keep the plan in mind and you can get back in the boat and keep on paddling.

(For the record, I managed the next Class IV up front without falling out, so yay!)

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