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3 Ways to Survive a Start-Up Sh!t Storm

When you join a start-up, you expect setbacks occasionally. Unless you’ve been very miss-sold a dream, you don’t expect it all to be $400M funding rounds and scaling up, whilst moving around the office on hover boards. The roller-coaster is why you left your 9-5 suit & tie behind, in favour for the thrills of the unknown and the opportunity to potentially make your mark on something great.

But what do you do when the hits keep coming? How do you keep you and your team feeling motivated, engaged and valued?

For Hawkwood, it’s all about riding the wave together.

Sure we celebrate when things are going well but we also know by now that there will always be something around the corner, whether it’s an employee relocating 3,459 miles away (very specific but we had to mention you at some point Hannah), all our revenue for the following month dropping off in one afternoon because someone changed their mind or forgot to mention one minute piece of information.

We’ve learnt our lessons the hard way and are thankfully still in a position where we can make better decisions the next time the same issues rear their head. So, what’s our shit storm strategy (SSS)?

1. Talk to your team

Share what’s happened, you’ll probably be surprised at the response.

We so often see leaders of start-ups bearing all the weight of the entire business on their shoulders. You’ve hired a smart, empathetic and motivated bunch that are invested in your idea, so let them help and guide you through as much as you can – the challenge is part of the reason you lured them here.

2. Be upset

It’s your business, you’ve (maybe) put your life savings into this and most likely said goodbye to the security of being able to hide behind a big, experienced corporate team when things don’t go to plan, so allow yourself to admit when things are genuinely just a bit shit.

The notion that a CEO should always be “Strong” or “Tough” isn’t doing any good for you, your team or your business. Instead, connect with your team through sincerity and vulnerability.

3. Laugh about it

You’ve lost your ‘best’ employee to a ‘competitor’? (two words I genuinely dislike with passion) At least you now know a friendly face over there.

Web Developer moved to Austria with all your designs? A lifetime of “The Sound of Music” gifs to be sent around on Slack.

Nothing feels like such a big deal with time, and a business that’s faced it all together? Well, I couldn’t think of a better way to build one.