How a Crisis Mindset Can Help Your Business Move Forward
It’s been difficult to accept the reality of what Covid-19 has done to the business landscape, both locally and globally. The economic and emotional impact will undoubtedly be felt for some time, despite things looking to be on the rebound.
But there were rays of light throughout the business world during the worst moments of the pandemic. We’ve seen a wide range of local businesses seek short- and long-term advice about how to remain operational, and the resilience and speed of innovation shown in response have been nothing short of inspiring.
Regardless of your business’ specific situation, there are several key things to keep top of mind during the uncertain months ahead:
Stay connected to other businesses
Nearly every business struggled to adapt and survive at some point during the pandemic. From my home in the Seattle area to the East Coast, I witnessed diverse businesses reach out and connect with others to seek help, share advice and trade resources.
This approach should not stop or even slow down once the economy is back to a relative normal.
If you haven’t already, consider reaching out to local industry associations — groups like your local downtown associations, economic development councils and local chambers of commerce to connect, brainstorm and interact with each other.
Depending on your business, cash could remain tight, and capacity could remain abundant for many more months, so think creatively with fellow business owners to come together and leverage your collective excess capacity.
Have cash in the bank
Cash is the oxygen of your business.
You’ve likely felt strained during the pandemic, and you’d be wise to continue with regular audits of your liquidity situation — including mapping out different scenarios involving various difficult choices, even accounting for the worst-case scenario — and then take every action possible to improve it.
Doing everything you can to have cash in the bank is crucial. You can explore different banks’ cash reserve solutions, which allow businesses to pool together various currency accounts into a single pool of liquidity. Also make sure you have requested a loan from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits.
As tough as it may be to make decisions, anything that can be cut out of your budget in the short-term should be considered.
If you’ve ever had outside-the-box ideas for your business, a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic has been the right time to give new things a shot — even things you may have laughed off in the past.
Even prior to 2020, approximately one-third of the global economy was non-cash. Now, barter, the trade system of choice in the Middle Ages, has returned with a modern twist. Earlier in the pandemic, we saw social networks feature posts from friends and neighbors looking to swap staples such as eggs, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Businesses have gotten on board with barter, too. I founded a company after 9/11 to help businesses use bartering and digital currency to get back on their feet, and now there are now more than 7,000 businesses in our community. Whether bartering looks like using a community like ours or working out a trade arrangement with your landlord, there are plenty of creative options right now.
Barter is not the only way to be creative. If you remain on rocky territory this spring and summer, consider other creative ideas like deferring payment from customers, pivoting a traditional business model from brick and mortar to digital and utilizing marketing/advertising in ways you hadn’t considered in the past.
Be prepared for the worst
While we just lived through an especially dark time period, we’re now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it’s June or November or later, business owners should look three steps ahead and make a plan right now.
The worst has already arrived for many business owners, so there will be more opportunities moving forward. Weave these opportunities into your rebound plan, because when businesses open back up, there will be an enormous amount of pent-up demand. What can you do now to ensure you and your product or service will be visible?
Unfortunately, we don’t know for sure if this crisis is actually in its waning stages, or what other world-altering crises could be around the corner.
So, take some time to yourself, breathe, think and figure out which of the above suggestions you can take action on this week — because smart, creative and proactive business owners will have a leg up when it comes to adapting and surviving.