As business owners, we’ve always known that the greater economy is beyond our control. And when things look rosy, this fact isn’t so scary. We have plans and strategies. We know our markets, our target customers, and solutions that allow us to have a successful business!
But then we got punched in the face.
Now with COVID-19 that’s not enough. We’ve been plunged into a global health and economic crisis. And these meta-circumstances seem to choke out any strategy, any plan we could come up with, no matter what our best efforts are. We’re overwhelmed with the fact that this is all beyond our control. And at times like this, our lack of control threatens to spin us into a panic.
Things look grim and scary—and the end seems nowhere in sight.
What are we supposed to do as business owners?
At the end of the day, the only thing you can control is your mindset.
So I urge you: keep your head about you. I know that’s easy to say, but tough to do.
I’d like to share six truths to help you keep your head through this next month, 6 months, or year of great uncertainty.
1. Your business still matters.
Believe that what you set out to do in your business was valid and needed in the economy. And that it will be valid and needed again in the future.
I believe this for my own business! I believe that it is of value now, tomorrow, and next year. And I believe the clients I serve offer things that are of equal value to their clients.
I believe to my core that this will turn around because if we do the right things, for the right reasons in the right ways, there’s value to it. And if there’s value in what you do, then there will be a market for it again.
2. We’ve made it through hard times before.
Throughout history, the human race has suffered worse. This isn’t the Black Plague. We DO have modern medicine, along with the Internet, running water, cars, and (if you’re lucky) toilet paper. We’ll make it through this moment.
In your business, you have probably already gone through uniquely challenging experiences—perhaps it was the startup process, a leadership transition, an existential threat to your market. And here you are today.
This is a hard time. A uniquely hard time. But so was 9/11 and the recession of 2008—heck, even the Great Depression. Those were ALL hard times, and yet here we stand as a nation and a people. We got through it.
And we’ll get through this as well.
3. We’re all in this together.
What’s unique about this is that it’s a shared experience. And I promise that you won’t run into a fellow business owner that isn’t shaken by this experience. Truly, we’re all in this together.
Don’t freak out even as everyone around you does. That’s the key. The people who do lose their heads will surely lose in the long run because they aren’t able to think clearly through the stress. Whether it’s through logic or faith, or both, find a way to think clearly. Surround yourself with people who are also clear thinkers (just don’t be in the same room…)
4. This is hard, but it is temporary.
I believe that over the long haul, this will work itself out. People will once again need to buy what you’re selling. And people will need to buy what your customers are selling, and so on down the line.
It may appear in the next few weeks that people have simply stopped buying anything. Because when people are afraid, they freeze. But in actuality, people don’t stop buying. They just get smarter and choosier about their purchases.
This temporary freeze is not an indication that all is lost. But you have to prepare for it. So whatever you have to do to batten down the hatches, to reduce expenses, to stretch out time, do it. Think of those strategies now—but with an optimistic heart, knowing that this will get better. Because you want to be in the game when it turns around. And it will.
5. I can find new ways to survive this, and this will make my business smarter.
Even in the midst of this crisis, there are new opportunities to pursue. And if you get smart fast, you can catch these opportunities.
Look at how to bridge where you are today to where you need to be in 6 months. What are the things you can reduce expenses on? What are the things you can invest in that will make a difference in your long term success?
Do I know that all these things will turn out well for everyone? Of course not. The reality is some markets might suffer permanent damage. Of course, that can’t be avoided during such a cataclysmic event as what we’re seeing.
And yet, I believe most of us will come back a little leaner and a little smarter, having been battle-hardened and even better equipped to compete in the global economy.
6. I will take this one day at a time.
Lastly, take deep breaths. You only have 24 hours in a day, and right now everyone is scrambling.
Process through the decisions you have to make today. Create a list of decisions you have to make tomorrow. And just tackle it one fire at a time. You can do this.
The Takeaway for All of Us
Keeping your head is about keeping a realistic—yet optimistic—perspective.
I am confident—deeply confident—that the great minds around the world that are attacking this issue will come up with solutions.
I am confident that the American enterprise will rise again in a triumphant way because it is the most powerful economic engine the world has ever seen.
So keep your head about you. Encourage others (which will encourage you.)