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Danger Zone

When bad things happen to good entrepreneurs: what every small-business owner needs to know about crisis management.

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This story appears in the November 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Rocket USA Inc. was ready for takeoff. In a few harried months during the summer of 1997, the five-person company in Oak Park, Illinois, had done everything it could to get off the ground. The finishing touch was signing a contract with a Japanese company to be the sole distributor for a line of collectible windup toys, including the robot from the original TV series "Lost in Space."

Company president Michael Perry, 40, had planned for everything--except a crisis. With c.o.d. orders streaming in and the first inventory of robots filling the warehouse, UPS went on strike. The package delivery company's shutdown was an inconvenience for many small businesses, but for Rocket USA, it was a stratospheric disaster.

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