How to Handle Difficult Business Situations Before They Become a Problem

By Jane Atkinson

In your speaking business, you will undoubtedly run into difficult business situations from time to time. Difficult clients, events that don’t go as expected… there is no limit to the number of things that can go ‘wrong’ as you are building and running your business. What I want to share today is some wisdom in how to handle difficult business situations before they become a problem.

Let’s jump right in with some examples.

‘Jack,’ who lives in Florida, is preparing for a speaking engagement in Vancouver that is three months away. He starts to research air travel and sees that the nonrefundable flight he needs is over $1000.

What does Jack do?

Well, he could go ahead and book the travel and wait to see whether or not the client will be upset later on when they get the invoice. Or, he could just call or email the client and let them know ahead of time that flights are expensive and get their input and approval.

When handling difficult business situations, heading them off at the pass is always the way to go!

If you are ever uncertain how a client or a speakers bureau will react to a situation, loop them in on the front end so that you are making decisions as a team.

Fear is never a reason to not speak up. 

Difficult business situations - Fear is never a reason to keep not speak up

I know what you are thinking; “What if the client gets upset about the air travel and cancels the deal?” Decisions based on fear are typically wrong. Moreover, leaving your client with a bad taste in their mouth at the end of your relationship (ie, when they get the travel invoice) is never the way to go.

Here’s another example that I know many speakers have run into, or will run into as they build out their speaking business and start booking more gigs. 

You are set to go on stage and you see that the conference is running long. Do you simply ignore it and do your thing? No! Approach the event decision-maker and ask if they want you to cut your time.  

Be proactive rather than reactive. By going to the event manager with your concern and a possible solution, they will view you as a partner, not just someone they hired. That has a lot of value.

I recall a booking from years ago for an insurance company. The company booked my boss, speaker Vince Poscente, to open their conference. The entire meeting ran long, and Vince’s presentation ran long as well; he went over by 5 minutes. The client didn’t appreciate it. Even though Vince had blown the doors off his audience, the only thing that planner would remember about Vince was that he went over his time.

Big lesson learned there. If Vince had talked to the planner beforehand about his “drop dead” time (the time he needed to exit the stage), the situation would have been avoided and the event planner would remember him fondly – and possibly look to book him again. 

When you face a difficult business situation, don’t shy away. Head off problems at the pass!

Difficult business situations - strategies for being proactive

Here’s another example that you may run into as you build your speaking business.

Two bureaus are calling you about the same date. What do you do?  

The best move is to alert them both that they are competing for the same client and let the client decide which bureau they chose to work with. 

When facing difficult business situations, head problems off at the pass!

Whether it’s a technology snafu that’s affecting your business, a piece of bad news you need to give a client, or a conflict within your own team, burying your head in the sand is not the best option and will most likely not serve you long term.

When you face difficult business situations and head them off at the pass, you’ll avoid unnecessary conflict, and more often than not, those dealing with you will have greater respect for your directness. This will help you proactively move your business to the next level.

See you soon, Wealthy Speakers!