Business crisis: Cathryn Lavery tells us all about navigating a financial crisis

From overcoming an embezzlement scam to having to buy out her co-founder, when Cathryn Lavery started BestSelf, a company that helps improve your life through journaling, she expected something would go wrong — but never anticipated all that she would go through.

After running a business solo, Cathryn opted to team up with a business partner this time around. At the time, she thought giving them a 50/50 split of the business was the fairest option. So, when they changed their mind about their involvement with the company, it left Cathryn totally unprepared – financially and personally.

That’s why it’s so important to have the right tools in place to help you run your business — especially in the event of a business crisis.

One tool Cathryn has used since launching BestSelf is PayPal. Through PayPal, she’s able to offer customers more ways to pay, which allows her to capture more sales. This boost of revenue helps keep her emergency fund full so it’s there when she needs it. She also turned to PayPal’s Working Capital to access business financing to help manage the business crisis and buy her partner out.

But unfortunately for Cathryn, buying out her partner would be just the first unexpected business crisis to happen to her and her company. The next was uncovering one of her employee’s $230,000 embezzlement scam. “Trust your gut,” Cathryn says. It took several months of personal detective work and determination before Cathryn was able to finally catch her now former employee.

Whether you’re experiencing a business crisis or wondering how to navigate a crisis should one arise, read on as Cathryn shares a few valuable tips that helped her during a business crisis.

What is a financial crisis in business?

There are many types of crises that business owners may face. So before we share Cathyrn’s tips, let’s break down some common examples.

A financial crisis in business may refer to a severe disruption in the company's financial stability and viability. It can occur when a business faces significant difficulties in sustaining its operations.

Examples of financial crises in business

Several factors can contribute to a financial crisis in a small business. Here are some examples:

  • Insufficient cash inflow to cover expenses and debts
  • Poor financial management
  • An economic downturn or recession
  • Industry-specific challenges like changes in regulations or shifts in consumer preferences

Financial crisis management in business

The effects of a financial crisis can be far-reaching and impact various areas of a business, including its operations, customer relationships, overall reputation, and creditworthiness.

Here, we outline some expert tips that may help business owners conquer a financial crisis.

How to overcome financial crisis in business

Cathryn looks at life like a video game, not a movie. Each challenge she overcomes prepares her for the next. Now looking back, she realizes that even in the moments when things seemed bad, it was then that she learned how to protect her business during a crisis.

Ready to learn how to respond to a crisis in business? Here are some of Cathryn’s tips for overcoming a financial crisis in business.

Choosing your business partner(s) and team wisely

Get a solid operating agreement, and don’t settle for a 50/50 split just because it’s easy. Establishing a group of people you know and trust is crucial for checks and balances of company funds and inventory levels. It was also important for Cathryn to find the right business solutions and work with brands she knew and trusted, like PayPal.

Setting up an emergency fund

Ideal for navigating a crisis, partnering with PayPal helped BestSelf accept more forms of payment — which drove Cathryn’s sales and helped refill her emergency fund faster than she expected. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Save for the unexpected: An emergency fund can help financially prepare you for a crisis.
  • Increase your sales: The flexibility and payment options PayPal offers helped increase Cathryn's sales, keeping her emergency fund full.

Build the right team

How you deal with a crisis may come down to the team you have in place. After all, you may only be as strong as your weakest link. Here are some strategies to help:

  • Set short- and long-term goals for the company: If you are going into business with a partner, make sure there is a shared vision for the company.
  • Protect yourself and your company: Have a solid operating agreement in place in case something goes wrong.
  • Get to know who's working for you: Build personal relationships with your team members.
  • Trust your gut: As Cathryn says, whether it's hiring, launching a new product, or making any other decisions for your business, you should always "trust your gut."

Lean into the paperwork — it can save you should something unexpected happen

We know it may be tedious, but paperwork is essential in business, especially when navigating a crisis.

  • Operating agreement? Make sure you consider the implications. Cathryn’s advice is to make sure you've got a thorough operating agreement in place.
  • Reduce administrative burdens: Within your business account, PayPal makes it easy to monitor specific transactions across different time periods. Within the reporting tab of your PayPal business account, you can review back multiple years if desired.
  • Take your time: Although it can be boring, tackling your paperwork can save you big time down the road.

Know when it’s a crisis vs. a problem

Some of the most personal growth can occur when you have to get through an uncomfortable situation. Understanding the severity and urgency of the situation can help prioritize actions and allocate resources effectively.

How to deal with a financial crisis in business

Facing and successfully managing a financial crisis can foster resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving skills, empowering businesses to emerge stronger from the experience.

For more on how to prepare for an unexpected crisis that could affect your business and your financial wellness, check out our Business Resource Center.

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