Whether you are an entrepreneur, MNC or small business enterprise, one thing is for certain, we are all experiencing some form of disruption in our business as a result of Covid-19. For a very small handful of businesses, this unprecedented change is a positive one for their business, while a significantly greater number have not been so fortunate.
Sadly, we are seeing more businesses experiencing the negative effects and emotions of the virus outbreak, turning the business and its employees lives upside down. We now all need to learn how to navigate our lives and businesses during this time of life upended.
In helicopter training, students must participate in an underwater survival training; a simulation of being submerged in water where they must find their way out of the aircraft. As air bubbles rise to the surface, individuals are instructed to follow the bubbles to escape and make their way to the surface for air—to survive.
For many businesses, they are upside down because of the pandemic and are struggling to get right side up and survive.
Like so, so many entrepreneurs, I too, have experienced a myriad of emotions and thoughts about how to operate my business during these challenging times. I’ve had days when I’m totally upbeat about the free time available to take on new projects or learn something new. There are also times when I feel stuck, sad, anxious, lost and wonder what tomorrow will be like and how will I get through this.
Then I remembered a saying my grandfather would tell my mother. He would tell her not to worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes, because tomorrow becomes today.
Remembering that saying gave me a new perspective and the energy I needed to take a big deep breath, follow the bubbles and then kick like hell to reach the surface.
Now with fresh air in my lungs and a clear mind, I’d like to share with you just a few things that I am doing to keep my mind in the game of ‘this too shall pass and I want to be ready for when it does’.
Review your current strategies and change course where necessary
Last year in Q4, I implemented a new prospecting strategy using LinkedIn that was gaining traction. Through the process we unobtrusively requested a connection and a subsequent non-salesy follow up. We were seeing some positive results. That process has now been put on hold.
I’m of the belief that at this time people are not looking for connections for business purposes. New business connections simply aren’t on their radar right now. They are looking for the human connection that we can provide. Therefore, we are using the LinkedIn platform to offer hope and inspiration to others to lift them up so they too can ‘grab a breath of fresh air’.
Everything I do around business marketing and operations needs to be reviewed and accessed to determine its relevance in this upside-down world. If it doesn’t feel appropriate or doesn’t add value to the business or to our clients, it needs to be restructured to what does feel right.
Avoid the Analysis Paralysis
Within my industry of speaking, training and consultancy which involved working with large and small groups of people, it was inevitable that business would slow down.
Even with that knowledge I would still go to office to work and think about what I needed to do differently and then got on with it. As the weeks went by, I watched as the rest of the world began experiencing their first cases of the virus. The numbers multiplied so quickly that my attention moved from my daily work activities to one of what-the-hell is going on?
I became consumed by thinking about what I should or shouldn’t be doing? Can I afford to keep this person or that program or that app? Should I go out or should I stay in? Will there be enough groceries on the shelves? Will my family be safe in another country? If I sneeze or cough once or twice, am I sick? How long will my money last?
I looked up and realized that I spent an entire week obsessing to the point where I got absolutely nothing done. Nada, zilch, zero.
When I realized what happened, I stopped and turned off everything around me. I sat quietly and asked myself, what would I be doing differently if all this disruption wasn’t going on? How have I operate my business during the quiet holiday seasons or other big lulls in my business?
The answer was that I still got up, went to the office and worked on the projects that I never seemed to have time for.
Allowing myself to stay in the place of reflection, I was able to take a hard look at what is going on and ask myself some key questions such as:
How can I continue to be of service to my business community?
What do I need to do differently and what will remain the same?
What is the best way for me to spend my time?
How can I protect myself and my family during this time?
How can I support my local community?
What are some ways that I can stay positive and focused on my work?
By identifying what is important to me has given me a sense of direction. I can follow the bubbles, grab some air and get busy.
Take stock of what you do and do not need
It doesn’t matter what size the business is, cashflow is essential to the survival of the company. First things first. Assess what you have right now in the bank—not what is projected to come in as there may be delays with payments.
Determine how long your funds will carry you. Identify what you do and don’t need to keep your business operational. When prospecting was moved further down the priority list, the decision was made to temporarily halt our Google Adwords campaigns.
Do your utmost to keep your staff or Virtual Assistants employed. Remember that they too need to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads.
To be honest, my immediate reaction was to do just the opposite as a means of preserving cash flow. But when I thought about the impact on their lives after putting myself in their shoes, I immediately changed my view on this.
Now here’s an interesting side note about that decision. I suddenly felt energized. It instilled a sense of purpose in me. It meant I needed to get refocused, to create a plan of action for what to work on immediately that would benefit my business community. I’m feeling empowered because now I know what I want to do to help others in the coming days, weeks and months.
Create a plan for your immediate and remote family
It was at the end of January that covid-19 reached the shores of Singapore and within two weeks, it had escalated to the point the country raised the DORSCON level to orange. It was that evening when my husband and I knew it was time for us to get serious about how the virus would impact our businesses, our finances and possibly the future food supply to our small country.
Over the next few days, we assessed our finances, took inventory of our medicines and food supply in the pantry. We created our family plan of action. Being an army brat, I remember how my father would tell us that you need to have a ‘cash tuck’ in case of emergencies. His recommendation was to take $100 and convert it to one hundred $1 bills so that you had small bills to use in the event retailers only took cash but had no change for large bills.
We also created a family chat group so that we could keep in touch with each other at a moment’s notice.
Once the plan of action was in place, I again felt that I was able to catch my breath and then get on with the day-to-day as best I could. To get back work, back to living.
Give yourself a news break
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. This is the time to be informed so you do need to tap into what is happening in your immediate community and around the world.
What I suggest is that you spend no more than 10-15 minutes in the morning and in the evening listening to or reading the news. It’s way to easy to get sucked under water again where you feel like you can’t catch your breath and a state of uncertainty starts all over again. When this happens, just follow the bubbles.
Follow the bubbles
It used to be that technology was rapidly changing our world. Today it’s an invisible virus that is changing our world daily. Even so, if we follow the bubbles, we can find out way to the surface, get some air within our lungs and clear our minds, we can start the day anew and right-side up.
Entrepreneurship consultant, keynote speaker and author, Pamela Wigglesworth has carved out a unique space in the market specializing in small business marketing and senior entrepreneurship. She is the author of The 50-60 Something Start-up Entrepreneur: How to Quickly Start and Run a Successful Small Business. Discover if entrepreneurship is for you.