Business owners around the world are grappling with difficult decisions, major challenges, and constant anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We are right there with you.
The first priority, of course, is to protect your health and your loved ones. As a leader, your loved ones aren’t just your family members; they are also your employees, clients, vendors, suppliers, and anyone who contributes to your livelihood. Check in on all of them. Make sure they are doing okay. You are in the relationship business, so try to keep that focus as a priority.
It’s appropriate and likely much welcomed for you to then turn the conversation back to business. We are all in survival mode, and in your circle, you are the one with the tenacity to help everyone through these hard times. Focus your efforts first on the following:
1. Contribute to the Greater Good
If your business is heavily impacted by lockdowns, shutdowns, or supply chain disruptions, get creative. Ask yourself how you can turn a difficult situation into an uplifting solution. Be adaptable and re-invent your systems, processes, and services. Printing companies are making face shields. Distilleries are producing hand sanitizers. Restaurants are serving hospital workers. Hotels are providing quarantine housing. If you are able to convert to an operation that sustains your business in some capacity financially, even better. If not, don’t let that hold you back from donating time, supplies, or output. We are people of action; keep moving and make a difference in any way you can.
2. Involve Your Team
As an entrepreneur, your natural inclination is to put the weight of success and failure on your shoulders. That tendency kicks into overdrive when external factors such as the economy take hold, but you must fight the urge. You cannot and should not trudge through alone. Remember that your employees want your company to survive just as much as you do. Bring them into your game plan. You will all come out of this a stronger team.
3. Fill Your Battery
You live for the thrill of success. It’s what motivates you to grow every day. The coronavirus is trying to rob you of that. Do not let it win. You may not currently be able to pursue the one thing that makes you tick—such as securing new business or providing your product or service—but you can find something to fill the void for the time being. And no, we’re not saying that you have to take up a hobby. Your temporary source of self-fulfillment can most definitely be business-focused when you take the next suggestion to heart.
4. Mine the Wayside
The mantra is that you can’t be working in your business and on your business at the same time. Many of us are not able to work in our businesses (or at least not at the pace or productivity level we would like), so let’s take the opportunity to work on our businesses. Simply put, now is the time for housekeeping. Maybe you’ve been meaning to clean out your file cabinets. Perhaps it’s time to button up your accounting functions. Whatever it may be, remember the previous point about involving your team.
An analogy we like to use is “cleaning the barnacles off the boat.” You don’t have time to tend to all of the issues at hand while you’re steering full steam ahead. Now, you have an opportunity to take the boat out of the water, clean it, fine-tune it, and prepare it to sail more smoothly in the future.
5. Help Others
Lastly and most importantly, don’t run yourself into the ground with work. There is so much out of your control and the situation will evolve dramatically, daily, for the foreseeable future. Each and every day after you’ve accomplished your to-dos, place the emphasis back on how you can support the people around you. We’re here if you ever want to talk—and it doesn’t have to be about business.