When you hit a bump in the road with your business, you have a choice. You can let it consume you and defeat you, or you can choose to focus forward and make the best of the situation.

Here’s what I mean.

A little less than a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, I was asked to speak at a conference for women business owners in Biloxi, Mississippi.

I flew from the National Women Business Owners annual conference in San Francisco to Biloxi, stopping in Dallas to change planes. The plane to Biloxi was a small, regional jet liner. We were held up at the gate for quite some time and the pilot explained there were concerns about the weight of the aircraft. Finally, we took off and I made it to Biloxi, but my luggage didn’t.

The final bags made their way around the baggage carousel, followed by a cardboard box with this message attached, “This is the last bag. No kidding.”

Keeping your cool and staying under control

I calmly, walked over to the ticket counter and waited for someone to arrive.

A nice young man began to address those of us who were looking for answers. I learned my bag had been taken off the plane in Dallas to reduce the weight of the aircraft. My bag — the one marked with Premium Service and Platinum Status. I wondered who thought that was a good idea. But instead of losing my cool, I said, “OK, when does the next flight arrive?”

“Tomorrow morning at 10:45,” the agent answered.

OK, now I had a problem. My keynote address was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. the next day. The young man apologized a million times, but there really wasn’t anything he could do. Plus, he had nothing to do with the decision that was made back in Dallas.

Decision time

There I stood in my flip-flops, casual black slacks, and a comfy top, having traveled all day —  knowing I had no pajamas, toothbrush, or make-up and nothing to wear for my speech in the morning other than my travel clothes. Should I make a fuss about the lack of service this airline had provided, or make the best of it? The employees at the Biloxi airport were powerless, and getting angry at them would accomplish nothing except upsetting me.

I chose to accept the situation and make the best of it.

Making the best of it

The conference was being held at the only hotel which had reopened after the hurricane and it happened to be part of a casino. After I checked into my room, I ventured down to the casino’s gift shop where I purchased personal care items along with a T-shirt to sleep in, and a rhinestone studded T-shirt that spelled Biloxi to wear with my slacks the next day. I washed my under garments in the sink and focused on my presentation.

As I stood before the audience the next day, I used this situation to illustrate the importance of recognizing the times in our lives when we can’t control the situation, and we have to let it go.

We have to focus on what we can do. I knew I could deliver a quality speech, even in flip-flops and a gift shop T-shirt, and that’s what I did.

Afterwards, some of the women in the audience said they thought I was starting a new fashion trend.

So there you have it. Stuff happens — let it go.

Have there been times when you’ve had to turn a negative experience into a positive opportunity for your business? Let us know in the comments below. 

About the Author: Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert. Sign up for Susan’s Success Tips Newsletter and get your free copy of “Smart Marketing Strategies for Small Biz” ebook.