MAKING SURE THE CORONAVIRUS DOESN’T KILL YOUR BUSINESS
I’ve never seen so much uncertainty, fear, panic and worry in the business world in my lifetime. It’s happened really fast and many of us are sitting here feeling like we’ve been hit by a train. Many businesses have already closed their doors, and my heart goes out to them. The road ahead looks so uncertain that’s it’s hard to imagine a post virus world.
But wherever you are, and whatever state your business is in, there will be life after this crisis. We’re already seeing the reinvention of businesses, the incredible entrepreneurial spirit shining through and a growing level of support from both the government and private enterprise. It’s going to be tough, but hopefully short and sharp.
My business has been dramatically impacted. I know what it feels like. It reminds me of so many challenging times before. But by surviving tough times, and I mean really tough times, I know that we need to have a plan, a focus and a roadmap to take us forward. This is the framework I developed and I’m using to guide my business through to the other side of the COVID 19 issue. You might find it helpful for a little direction and clarity right at the moment.
MAKING SURE THE CORONAVIRUS DOESN’T KILL YOUR BUSINESS
Right here, right now, we are in the fear stage of the COVID 19 issue. There are all kinds of unprecedented things happening, here and around the world and there is a growing sense that it’s about to get a whole lot worse. Our newsfeed is full of virus stuff, some fact, a lot of it fiction. It’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed, depressed and very scared.
Limit how much screen time you give to the bug. Have some “VIRUS FREE DAYS” – where you don’t watch every single article coming through your social media feed. I’m limiting my information to one or two sites that I think are factual, not full of hype, and that’s where I’m getting my information. But I’m doing that very selectively – and I’m protecting my state of mind and attitude by being proactive and using my time more constructively – and this is keeping me positive about the future.
2. PLAN SMARTLY
We are not helpless right now, even if we tend to feel it. Some businesses are dramatically impacted, to the point of being shut down simply because they have lost all of their customers, or they have run out of money, or the Government has closed them down. We don’t know how long this will go on, and there is a lot of support coming from different areas. Maybe the closure is temporary, maybe it means putting your business on hold for some time.
Plan for your return now. If you’ve been impacted, but you’re still operating, it’s not that hard to imagine how a prolonged period of shut down and social distancing could impact your business. Think about what that looks like and plan your options. Think creatively, be innovative, try new ideas, be bold. You might just hit onto a new idea that post COVID 19 will be a game changer for your business. Once we move beyond the feeling of fear and helplessness, we start to get into a zone that is far more productive.
I know that when I sit down and start working on new products and services, when I connect with my existing customers, when I start to plan for the future, my state of mind changes from one of feeling pretty overwhelmed to one of positivity. And I’m surprised what this attracts and the opportunities I’m discovering. Many more new opportunities will come out during this period and certainly after it. But you won’t find them if you’re knee deep in wallow.
3. PRESERVE CASH
Yes, it’s a time to preserve cash. It’s a time to be careful with our money simply because we don’t know what’s around the corner, specifically how long this crisis is going to continue for. Will we need to survive for 6 months with no income, or two months? Who knows, but there are plenty of Government support packages, find out about them now and take advantage of them now. This is no time for ego or pride to get in the way of asking for help.
It’s a good time to be talking to your customers and ensuring the business you have is secure. What does that actually look like? What work is in jeopardy of stopping? What won’t you get paid for? We might now like what we discover, but now is the time to deal with reality, not maybes.
I also think that now we need facts about our money. Reach out to everyone, your credit card providers, banks, alternative lenders if you have loans with them, insurance companies, landlords – everyone and figure out exactly where you stand and how much cash you have on hand. What steps do you need to take to preserve your cash and know how long you can keep operating with the money you have. Plan for worst case scenarios and best case scenarios.
Preserve your cash but at the same time, we all need to still keep spending some money, otherwise the wheels will stay off this wagon for far longer. The flow of money is what makes the world turn and right now, it’s not flowing. This might feel a little contradictory, but it’s just the reality of the station – if we all stop spending times will get a whole lot tougher. Find the middle line, find what works for you.
Now whilst I just said to keep a hold of your cash, there is a limit. I think this is a good time to invest in yourself and in your business, not just financially but also energetically and timewise. Invest in yourself with learning – develop skills and knowledge that you’ve been meaning to work on for some time. Are there projects in your business that you’ve been wanting to get off the ground for ages but you’ve never had the time? Can you develop new products and new services? Write that book? Start that blog or podcast?
Invest now, you’ll get the return tomorrow. Come out the other of side of this issue better, stronger, smarter, with a more appealing product offer and you will be more able to survive and thrive in the world going forward.
5. KEEP TALKING
We need to keep positive communication happening. Right now most conversations are pretty negative, there is a lot of fear, doom and gloom and panic, because things are tough. But I think we have an opportunity and that is to be a voice of calm in a sea of crazy. Keep communicating with your customers, not to try and sell them stuff, but to ask them how can you help and support them. Do the same with your community, your business network, your family and your friends. It’s easy to shut down and shut off, and we all have moments of that, but don’t make it the norm.
Now one thing to really clarify here. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty and this is bringing out a lot of not so smart emotional intelligence. We’re all getting the automated emails that haven’t been turned off promoting totally irrelevant products and services that make the company sending them look stupid and totally unaware of what is going on. We are all being bombarded with desperate sales pitches – and hugely discounted offers. This is not the thing to be doing now.
Our relationships with our clients and our customers post virus, will in many ways be defined by the actions we take right now and in the coming months. We need to be considered, we need to be intelligent on every level and we need to be here to serve and support. Our opportunity is to grow bigger and better relationships with our clients now and into the future. Or you can burn them. The choice is yours and the time to make that choice is now.
6. STAY HEALTHY
I know this sounds pretty obvious, and we’ve never washed our hands as much or dosed ourselves in as much hand sanitiser ever before, and rightly so. So yes, stay healthy, rest, eat well, stay away from other people, there is plenty of good advice around this. But the real challenge I think comes from staying mentally healthy. And this means staying focused and positive which is not easy in tough and uncertain times, where most of us are being impacted financially. But we have to stay mentally healthy and to me that means keeping busy, working on my business, learning, stimulating my mind, planning for when things are back to normal and doing what I can to support others.
A very big part of this is having a proactive and positive daily schedule, where we build time into our our day for important tasks – from what we eat to our exercise, to learning new stuff, to working on our business, to having fun – everything. Over a lifetime of being an entrepreneur I’ve found that the key to success is so often the routines and rituals that we embrace on a daily basis.
7. GET READY
After every tough time, comes a good time, the key is to get ready for the turn now. If you wait for things to get better and then take action, you miss a big part of the opportunity that comes with an improving market. And the simple reality is that most businesses wait for things to get better – in other words they follow the herd. Be out front and you get the competitive advantage.
So what does getting ready mean? It mean planning and preparing all of your products, your marketing, your staffing, your communication – everything and having it ready so that you can simply press the button. You will start to signs of things improving with your customers and in the market where you do business, that’s the time to make the leap.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
If you’ve got a framework like this to work towards this can be your pathway forward. Keep your eyes firmly planted on the future. Things will get back to some kind of normality, businesses will reopen, opportunities will emerge, life will go on. The actions that you take today and in the coming months, will have a huge impact on what your life looks like in 2021.
I truly and sincerely hope that my framework helps you in the months head.