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Business Shut Down? Plan For Brighter Days

covid-19 ownership Mar 21, 2020

With COVID-19 sweeping the country, shut down business owners may (begrudgingly) find more time on their calendars. Here’s how they should use their time to plan for brighter days.

Only a few weeks ago, I bet your schedule looked very different than it does now. Perhaps you were burning the candle at both ends because there just never seemed to be enough hours in the day. And then, of course, came Coronavirus and businesses across the country are shutting down.

To date, 175 million Americans have been asked to “shelter in place”, causing schools, conferences, and “non-life sustaining” businesses to shut down. And while I pray these measures will help flatten the curve and keep our families safe…there’s a price to it. Employees have been laid off or furloughed. Revenue streams have suddenly gone dry.

Yet, there’s one thing we’ve gained…Time.

We’ve gained the ‘free time’, the blank space on our calendars that (ironically) we all wished we had when business was booming. Maybe you wish you didn’t have all this time on your hands now. But at this moment, one of my favorite quotes comes to mind. It’s from J.R. Tolkein’s famously wise character, Gandalf the Gray.  

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

So, if your business is shut down, what will you do with the time given to you? You have three options:

  1. Cry in your beer.
  2. Scream at the top of your lungs.
  3.  Start thinking about what’s next for you, your business, and your career. Because there will be a “next.”

Even if your business is shut down, how can you prepare for the opportunities on the other side of the pandemic?

This is the question I, as a fellow business owner, am giving all my attention.

I don’t mean to make light of what’s going on, but Coronavirus is not an “extinction-level” event from the movies. It is a genuinely calamitous event for our country and world—but we will get past it. And when we get past it, you’re going to want to be ready.

So what should you do to prepare?

Start each day with gratitude.

Every day, start your morning by writing down what you are thankful for. Really. Every day. Now, this is a valuable practice at all times of the year, but especially in this time of uncertainty. By focusing on the things you have, you guard yourself against getting caught up in all the things that you feel have been lost or taken from you.

You can begin to think out of a place of “plenty” as opposed to a place of “scarcity”. And that will open your mind up to new possibilities.

Nurture your relationships, both personal and professional.

The good news (and the bad news) is that we’re all facing this crisis together. There’s a powerful opportunity for camaraderie in that. I remember after 9/11 how the whole country—despite being traumatized—pulled a little closer together. And while we can’t and shouldn’t literally pull together, now is a great time to ask yourself:

“Whom can I call that may be shut-in or discouraged? Whom I can encourage today?”

Then, call those people. Reach out to them online. And don’t stop with your friends and family—reach out to your clients, especially if they have a shut down business too. Genuinely ask how they’re doing and how you can help them during this challenging time. And then, do it (as much as you’re able).

The people you invest in today are more likely to be with you when we come out of this.

Start retooling so you’re ready to roll.

Lastly, I encourage you to tackle those “bottom of the list” tasks that you never had time for before. Ask yourself, “What can I do now to make my business bounce back even stronger than it was before?”

Maybe it’s time for you to revisit those “big picture items” that always felt too big for the nitty-gritty you had to deal with when you were operational.

  • When was the last time you updated your value proposition?
  • Have you (recently) defined your target market?
  • Can you articulate what sets you apart from your competitors (the ones you have today, not from 10 years ago)?
  • What marketing channels do you need to revamp so you can transition more of your business online?

Stay safe and stay inside.

Most importantly, take care of your health. Catch up on your rest, drink fluids (not just the alcoholic kind…), and wash your hands. Stay informed, but not so informed you’re stressing out every time you look at your phone. Whatever opportunities are on the otherwise of this obviously won’t be there if you’re too sick to take hold of them.

What to Consider…

  • Call your loved ones.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Think past the right now to the tomorrow you will help build.