My partner Albert shared this line on his blog almost five years ago now. I find myself using it all the time. And it is an important lesson that I have learned in my career.
When something goes badly in your company, for many the initial instinct is to keep things under wraps as much as possible to avoid freaking everyone out. I would argue that it is better to acknowledge the crisis and use it to your advantage.
Change is hard to bring to an organization and a time of crisis is often a perfect time to make some changes that you have wanted to make for a while. It creates a perfect backdrop and context for doing that.
Maybe you are in the midst of a financial crisis brought on by a tough fundraising environment. Maybe you are experiencing some management turmoil. Maybe you've lost your largest customer. Maybe you are getting pummeled by bad press. It really doesn't matter what is the cause of the crisis, but all of the above will work well.
I have seen a portfolio company react to a financing crisis react by making important and overdue changes to its business model and organization. The financing crisis ended and the company emerged in a much stronger place.
I have seen an entrepreneur react to the loss of several important team members by shuffling up the organization, pivoting the product roadmap, and operating with a much leaner team. The company recovered from the loss of the key team members, launched a new product very successfully, and got onto a path to profitability.
There are a lot of these stories to tell. Because crisis is what brings clarity and focus. You get punched in the gut, you get back up, and you take care of business.
So if you are in the middle of a crisis in your company right now, think hard about using it as an opportunity to make some changes. There is never a better time.