While it would be nice to only have to concern yourself with developing a strategy for handling growth in your small business, the truth is that you also need to plan for when times are tough. There are two sides to every coin, after all, and how your organisation copes in a crisis can come down to preparedness.

So why is it that so few business leaders feel confident in their ability to navigate their company through difficult periods? According to Deloitte, less than half of board members around the world believe they are adequately prepared to address and recover from a potentially damaging situation. Neglecting to include crisis management in strategic planning could contribute to the downfall of many organisations.

Is your organisation ready for a crisis?Is your organisation ready for a crisis?

A long road back from the brink

The most effective companies in terms of crisis management can not only anticipate and deal with the issues at hand, they can do so in a timely manner to reduce the overall impact. Deloitte’s troubling findings show that not only are many unprepared, they are left reeling for long periods if they do manage to move past the rough patch.

“In Australia almost 60 per cent of big businesses surveyed said it took them between one and three years to recover their business’ reputation as well as their operations,” says Harvey Christophers, Deloitte Managing Partner Risk Advisory.

Neglecting to include crisis management in strategic planning could contribute to your downfall.

“Half of the board members said it took the same time for financial recovery. And for 10 per cent of the businesses, it took more than four years to recover.”

Acting quickly to soften the blow

Whatever the source of trouble leaving your company in crisis, the speed of the modern information cycle means your response has to be as swift as possible before the situation can get too far out of hand. However, research from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer found that 58 per cent of the time, companies had at least a few days notice that a crisis was on its way.

That means if you are able to act quickly, you could deflect much of the damage before it even has a chance to reach you. In the case of PR crises, for example, taking to social media to speak directly to your customers and followers can help to ease their concerns, and also allow you to monitor how your public image is being affected.

Each company’s crisis management strategy will be different, however all should be carefully formulated in advance. Businesses would do well to remember the old adage: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.