When a Life Emergency Hits Your Business

How emergency situations can affect your business, posted by Scott Robson of The Curious Life coaching and squarespace website design.

Sometimes you get a flat tire or you get called into an emergency and your business gets temporarily thrown onto the back-burner for an afternoon or a day.

Other times, you get evacuated because of fast-moving fires that have a mind of their own and seem to be pointing directly at your home…that you just closed on two weeks ago.

This was my week, and while our house (knock on wood/head) seems to have been spared, our neighboring communities have been left traumatized and reeling. Our tight community in Topanga Canyon is already springing into action on how we can even slightly alleviate and provide support, which has been heartening and hasn’t surprised me in the slightest.

From a personal standpoint, it’s been a balancing act while we’ve all been out of our homes, waiting for the “all clear.” It’s been at turns frustrating, a little panicky, focused, distracted, exhausting, reassuring, and inspiring. Here’s a handful of my takeways:

When running your business in an emergency, get prepared.
  1. BE READY. While there are limits to how much one can be ready for anything, there are certain things I was already doing which helped me considerably. My computer data is backed up daily both on a harddrive and on the cloud, and I had a list of what things I needed to grab in case we were ever evacuated, which saved me time and allowed me space to think clearly and not forget important items. If I hadn’t done this properly beforehand, it would have impacted me severely throughout this week.

  2. NOTIFY YOUR CLIENTS. I am, by nature, a fairly private person, but I knew it was important to step over my natural inclinations and not assume that my clients were aware of the fires or that we were directly impacted. Communicating is key in business, as are relationships, and being mindful of both helped carry me through this week as I had to shuffle around meetings and meet deadlines. Of course, I always say I have the best clients and this week proved that.

  3. GET ORGANIZED. Having my ducks in a row helped me big-time this week. I took stock of my calendar, what I had on the docket, who I was going to be interfacing with, and what project deadlines I had coming up. I had less mental bandwidth this week than I usually do, so taking it one step at a time and being clear on what scheduled and what I needed helped me to prioritize. Speaking of…

  4. PRIORITIZE SHAMELESSLY. Having to juggle where we were going to be staying, keeping abreast of the news/rumors, fielding constant phone calls and messages, meeting personal and professional deadlines, while trying to keep my head about me felt like a job in of itself. I quickly learned to give myself permission to say no, to reschedule, and to ignore (when I could) without having to also feel guilty. The next day needed more of me, not less. This served me well.

  5. MY BUSINESS IS MY HAPPY PLACE. I absolutely love what I do and when I can’t do it, I feel further disconnected from myself and what motivates me in life. Finding a space to enable this is almost in my personal Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I’d drive to coffeeshops I was already familiar with or set up in a quiet table at a friend’s house. It rooted me and allowed me to show up.

  6. DON’T AVOID IT. In an effort to thwart any ideas that my only focus is on having a grotesque smile unconvincingly chiseled into my face, it’s important to recognize that waves of being bummed out, anxious, or overwhelmed is not something I believe in avoiding. As an empathetic person, these moments are how I integrate the enormity of it all and give it the space it needs to be present in it. I allow it and ride the wave, knowing that it’s temporary and a completely natural reaction. What I do try to avoid is making myself feel wrong for it.

  7. PRACTICE GRATITUDE. HOURLY. My situation, as well as so many others, could have been so much worse. The heartfelt calls and messages were wonderful, but I accepted them with a feeling of almost guilt, knowing that (at most) we were just inconvenienced. We are so unbelievably grateful that our town was spared, knowing that if the wind had shifted south it most likely would have seen the fires sweep through. Now it’s time to help others.

While these elements will not work for everyone going through a difficult time, they’ve helped to see me through a dicey week. If I had to sum it up, though it is this: find balance in taking care of yourself and others.

How You Can Help

Many have already rushed to donate food, supplies, clothes, etc., which, while great, has inundated local centers. The thing that victims need most is cash. Here are some organizations that are responsible and can put cash donations to good use in the local area.

Red Cross
From tents to food to other temporary shelters, you can donate by clicking on the link above or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donors can even specifically request their monies go towards California relief efforts by writing the specific disaster name in the memo line of a check made out to the organization.

Humane Society of Ventura County
The organization is currently caring for many small pets, as well as large ones such as donkeys, pigs, horses, chickens, ducks and other pets displaced by the fire.

International Association of Firefighters Foundation
Donate to assist fire fighters who lost their homes while battling California’s wildfires.

Los Angeles Firefighters Foundation
When the city budget is exceeded, this is where the LAFD receives its additional funding for equipment, supplies, training, outreach, and other programs.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles
The United Way of Greater Los Angeles is partnering with United Way of Ventura County to collect donations for its its Disaster Relief Fund, which provides support for low-income neighbors whose lives and livelihoods are affected by the current wildfires.

Scott Robson is a entrepreneur coach and a branding coach


Scott Robson is a branding and entrepreneurial coach who helps business leaders focus on what matters.

Scott Robson