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6 Strategies You Need to Run Your Company Through Uncertainty Small-business owners need a plan more than ever.

By Stephen Key

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Well, I didn't expect this to happen — and I'm guessing you didn't either. If you're a small-business owner, you need a plan more than ever. These are the strategies I'm relying on as a small-business owner to help me lead through this extremely uncertain time.

1. Time

You need to give yourself a little time to process the impact this coronavirus will have and the challenges and opportunities that it has created for you, your business, your family and others.

Most of us will be a little dazed for a while. Unfortunately, just because some of us have more time on our hands doesn't mean we'll spend it productively. Right now, I'm mostly focusing on taking a deep breath.

Related: Managing People in a Distributed Workforce

2. Connection

Because I run a virtual company, not much has changed from an operational standpoint. My employees were already working from home; now some are working from home with their children.

This is an important time for you, as a small-business owner, to connect with all of your employees. Your employees are looking to you for guidance more than ever. You need to lead.

I've been an entrepreneur all my life, which is to say I've lived through many uncertain times.

Remember: You are what you believe. And you need to get in the right frame of mind to rise to the occasion.

That's why I picked up one of my all-time favorite books, The Magic of Thinking Big, by David J. Schwartz, this week. I turn to this book again and again because it reminds me that my perspective has a huge effect on my reality.

Related: What's Available to You From the U.S. Small Business Administration

I highly encourage you to make use of resources that provide inspiration, support and encouragement right now, like a mentor or a beloved book.

3. Helping my customers

If you can, now is the time to give back. Your customers will appreciate it immensely. My customers are inventors. To help them stay focused, my company inventRight has begun teaching a new series of free weekly classes.

Knowing that many of us are staying at home for the foreseeable future, I also made my new book Become a Professional Inventor free to read on Kindle for 48 hours.

Get creative. There are many different things you can do to provide support.

4. Planning for the future

One thing is clear: Things are going to change. Businesses are having to adopt new practices to reach their customers. To forecast how the industries my business touches are going to change, I know I need the best information. So, I'm reaching out to peers to ask them how they're being affected. Because my company is small, we can quickly marshal our resources in a new direction.

For us right now, that means envisioning new programs (including products and services) that are truly helpful and service our customers. We need to be flexible and begin creating those future products and services now.

5. Empathy

This is going to be a difficult time for everyone. So, it's important to keep in mind that your relationships are everything. Connect with your customers, your employees and your vendors. Reach out directly to see how you can be helpful. You might have to bend or extend your typical business practices to stay financially strong during this time.

Related: Leading With Integrity During Times of Crisis

6. Looking ahead

I fundamentally believe it's possible to learn from every experience you have as an entrepreneur. In fact, I'd argue that this is a core tenet of entrepreneurship. Having the courage to do something new means road bumps and mistakes are inevitable. Take some time to reflect on the future and how can you prepare for something like this happen to happen again.

As an entrepreneur, you must always be looking ahead.

Stephen Key

Co-Founder of inventRight; Author of One Simple Idea Series

Stephen Key is an inventor, IP strategist, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nevada-based company that helps inventors design, patent and license their ideas for new products.

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