We’ve all watched movies and read books about pandemics, and now we find ourselves living these scripts. Very few small businesses will escape the economic impact of COVID-19.
Headlines from business media and experts flood the Internet and LinkedIn, all of them offering guest estimates of the unknown. We already know what the experts are telling us – everything about our world is going to change significantly.
Uncertainty is the New Norm.
We know that we are all in the same boat, and how we deal with uncertainty determines if our businesses survive. Writing this post feels heavy as I think through the enormousness of the situation. I have reached COVID-19 fatigue, were any decisions or thoughts seem to evaporate as I mentally and emotionally manage day-to-day work demands.
Making difficult decisions is never easy, and when you add a hefty layer of uncertainty with a stay at home orders, the weight of these decisions feels like a freighter full of giant elephants.
John Peterson, owner of Develare, and I discussed the topic of this month’s post. At first, I thought about how small businesses should perform the granddaddy of all pivots to preserve cash flow. I wrote several paragraphs and then deleted them.
The more I considered the post’s theme, the more I wondered – how do you pivot a company in a pandemic and global recession?
What do we do when the majority of the economy is turned off? As a history fan, I started digging back into our past. Humanity has been here before. We made it through tough times because humans are resilient and creative thinkers.
Last week, a note written by Jim Reid and Henry Allen, titled 800 Years of Large Economic Contractions, gained international traction. Reid and Allen are strategists for Deutsche Bank in London. Their research focused on the United Kingdom’s economy from 1349 to 2019.
Strangely, reading their note about the British economic history for the past 800 years, I felt better. Like my ancestors before me, who lived through the Great Depression and 1918 flu, I have stepped back from the online chatter to reconsider what I can do now and to search for a silver lining of the situation. Here are a few thoughts for preparing for the other side of COVID-19.
Use Your Time Wisely
One of the most important activities you and your team can do is to conduct an assessment of your business, new and existing customer potential, and future cash flow for the next three months, six months, and year.
When making these assessments, create a worse case situation and then a less painful scenario. An example of a worse case is if the global economy falls into a depression, and customer and consumer spending drop significantly, similar to what is happening now. The second scenario focuses on economic recovery in the fourth quarter.
Second, determine if there is a need to discontinue any services or products. Are there any changes to the business you would like to make but haven’t had the time to make adjustments because of client projects? The irony of the COVID-19 is that the virus has given everyone time at home to reassess what we do as business owners and team members.
Once you have completed the assessment, review your marketing, SEO, and company website. Now is also an excellent time to update content and messaging, and to write and bank future blog posts. While business is slower than usual, draft marketing materials that seem to remain on the back burner.
If you have been considering pivoting the business in a new direction, use this time to think through the decision and strategy needed for the change. Think creatively on how to effectively use the “stay at home” rule to your benefit. Some asked Mark Cuban for his thoughts about the economic impact of COVID-19 in multiple interviews. Cuban advises companies to use this downtime to work on marketing or similar business initiatives. His main point is to use this downtime wisely. To be ready when the economy reopens.
Small businesses that survive the pandemic understand the importance of using this quiet period to think creatively and develop strategies to ensure the long term health of their companies.