How to Deal with Theft as a Small Biz Owner

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At 3 p.m. on Sept. 13, I got the call no business owner wants: we’d been robbed. The whole GameTruck -- 300 square feet of game consoles, TVs and hundreds of game discs -- was empty. Overnight, I had lost almost $15,000 of equipment. Even worse, the clock was ticking: we had only 24 hours before the truck was expected at another party, and canceling it would ruin a child’s birthday.

It was catastrophic.

When I got the call, I was 30 minutes away from where the truck was parked. My immediate urge was to get there as soon as humanly possible. Instead, I took a few moments to clear my head and put my anxiety behind me so I could proceed with recovery. My employees and I brainstormed everything we’d need to replace to have the truck ready in 24 hours. Creating a priority list enabled us to cut frills and determine exactly what steps were needed in order to get back on track. We divvied up the tasks among the team to ensure efficiency and minimize stress and confusion. As the leader, I tried my best to stay level-headed -- in a crisis, having a sense of organization will do wonders for your confidence and productivity. If you stay focused and positive, your team will follow your lead.

I’m happy to report that two weeks later, we’re nearly 100 percent recovered thanks to the confidence, teamwork and serenity of my coworkers and friends in the face of such pressure. We are processing insurance claims and improving security for the whole GameTruck fleet to minimize future risk.

Crises happen. As a business owner, you must be prepared for the possibility that someday you will have to deal with an unplanned disaster that will shake up even the best business strategy. When it happens, even the best advice in the world won’t help if you don’t take practical steps as soon as you can: assess damage, take photos and file police and insurance reports to start on the path to recovery. After that, it’s really a matter of developing a personal coping mechanism. Find a way to center yourself and get your thoughts organized, then move forward with recovery. Your coworkers will take cues from you, and if you remain focused and calm, you will be able to reassure your team that the business can survive whatever crisis you are facing.

R. Mike Bufe, is the owner of GameTruck of Chicago.

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