Tuesday started out like any other normal work day. I (Rachel) had just onboarded a new team member (an incredible web designer) who had been filling in on an ad-hoc basis for a few months. I was excited to get him started on some new projects, so I gave my new team member a few instructions about setting up the new theme and went on my merry way.
Within a few short hours, everything had fallen apart.
Okay, okay, I’m being a little extra-dramatic for effect here. But honestly it FELT like everything had fallen apart!
My new team member accidentally took down my ENTIRE website – actually, MULTIPLE websites (thankfully all my own). Basically, everything I had ever built online vanished in just a few clicks. For someone who makes her living running an ONLINE business, to be without an ONLINE presence is pretty much the kiss of death.
I’ll be totally transparent — I spent the first few minutes in panic mode. While most of the sites were test sites with outdated material, this server hosted my main membership site where customers and clients regularly view content. Within a few minutes of the site going down, we began getting messages asking where the material had gone.
Next, I went into troubleshooting mode. I contacted my web hosting platform to see if I could get backups of the site restored. Nope, they said. The 13 sites on this server were too large; they had stopped making back-ups months ago.
Finally, I went into “make the best of it” mode. I remembered that my two main membership portals were being backed up in two offsite locations. (Phew! I literally felt my shoulders lower and the stress rise off my back). I re-assured my team member that he wasn’t going to lose his contract after just one day because of an honest mistake. I re-framed the loss of some of my other sites as “housecleaning” that needed to occur (they were old sites with outdated content that I wasn’t using much, anyway). I thought about all the money I had saved by giving up ice cream last week – because I might have been tempted to buy out the entire section 😉 In short, I tried to look at each and every positive of what should have been a pretty negative experience.
In the end, I walked away with three BIG lessons, and I hope you’ll be able to learn from them WITHOUT having to go through a similar challenge:
- Taking a shortcut in the short term will often cause you bigger problems down the road. To be honest, this whole thing was my fault. No, I’m not the one who pushed “delete” but I was the one who took a shortcut! I have an onboarding process in place for new designers – each new designer gets their own server to build test sites. I just didn’t want to bother with setting up a new ID and adding a new user, so I let him use my credentials. That one little attempt to save a tiny bit of time and money cost me thousands in lost revenue from my site being offline for nearly 2 days, plus the money I invested to get emergency help to restore the site as quickly as possible. Proverbs 21:5 says “the plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” This verse has a whole new meaning to me — never again will I violate my policies and take a quick shortcut in an attempt to be cheap.
- Leading by example builds team morale. When I found out what this team member had done, my first instinct was to be horrified – then FRUSTRATED! But in just a few seconds, I realized that getting mad at this person was not going to solve the problem. It was an honest mistake, not an attempt at sabotage, and the person already felt horrible enough about what had happened (I guarantee they’ll NEVER take down anyone else’s site by accident lol!). My other team members were all asking me if the new person was losing his contract, and it felt really good to tell them that he was NOT! I was able to explain that everyone (Including me! Especially me!) makes mistakes, and to thank this team member for coming to me immediately when he recognized the mistake. My team saw the importance of honesty and integrity — that if they make a mistake in the future, I will support them in finding the solution, and I will honor their willingness to own up to it. It was an amazing chance for me to restore dignity to this incredible team member, to build rapport with my entire team, and I’m really grateful that (only by God’s grace) I had this opportunity to lead by example.
- I have an AMAZING community! Let me tell you, it was not easy to walk through those hours feeling like everything I’d worked for over the last few years had literally vanished into cyber-space. I was mentally calculating how many hours I’d need to re-design pages and pages of services and offerings, and I was really concerned that members of my paid programs were without access to the materials that they had purchased. It would have been EXTRAORDINARILY EASY for me to just curl up in bed, cry, and let things sit for a day. But I knew that wouldn’t serve me OR my clients, so I got to work quickly! My first step: prayer (because I can’t do this thing alone nor do I want to!) My second step: reaching out to the She Works His Way leadership team to ask them to pray with me. Y’all — can I just take a minute and say “wow” — I was almost instantly flooded with encouraging messages and prayers from the women who love and serve this ministry daily (it was so encouraging, inspiring, and totally humbling). Step 3: Get to work. Yes, it took hours of energy and effort, but within 48 hours after the whole ordeal started, everything I needed was back up and running!
I hope this message encourages you that even when it feels like the WORST THING POSSIBLE has happened to you, there are always powerful, positive lessons to be learned!
Rachel (The Techspert™)
P.S. One reason that losing access to my site was so concerning is that I’m about to release a really special opportunity! In preparation, I’m offering a FREE Masterclass: 4 Ways to FIX your Failing FB Ad! You can grab your exclusive invite to the Masterclass right here: free.rachelmcmichael.com