“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself
that determines how your life’s story will develop.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf
As I write this blog the world is changing.
What was once possible in 2020 will no longer be so.
Businesses, families and individuals are in a state of turmoil – uncertain of what the future holds and how to survive the health and economic impact of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
At this fork in the road we have two options – we can bury our heads and hope for the best, or we can ready ourselves with strategic planning that will shape the future of our lives.
To the business owners, leaders and managers out there – I urge you to do the latter.
Do not become a victim of these circumstances. Resilience is the key to survival.
To be resilient in the face of adversity is to stay strong, keep adapting, master your emotions, get prepared, rewrite your goals, keep communicating and approach this situation with the strength of mind that your future self will be proud of.
For 19 years I owned a successful UK travel business that operated coach holidays, walking tours and river cruises. During that time, I experienced numerous disasters that had the power to knock my business off its feet. We survived coach crashes, fires, strikes, the 2000 fuel crisis, the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, the 9/11 plane hijackings and a destructive Norovirus outbreak in 2008 to name but a few. The point I want to highlight is not the disasters we faced, but the fact that we survived.
We overcame the odds then, and you can overcome the odds now.
The best place to start is with your state of mind – the importance of positive thinking cannot be undervalued. Instead of placing blame, complaining, panicking and reacting emotionally to the inevitable challenges facing your business, look for ways to project positivity, to grow, to modify your services and to adapt to the changing market.
The emergency services talk about ‘the golden hour’ – the period following a traumatic injury where there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death. Here and now is your ‘golden hour’. Acting quickly, logically and insightfully is of utmost importance for survival. We learnt time and time again in my travel business that acting quickly was the difference between sinking or swimming. Give yourself time to create contingency plans that cover all eventualities you can think of, but remain agile and prepare yourself for the unexpected. If you think, plan and act positively you will find opportunities to evolve.
Lead your employees with optimism and look for small wins every day. Your workforce will look to you now more than ever for guidance and reassurance. Inspire them, motivate them, make them feel stronger together. Let them know that their safety and wellbeing is a priority and put provisions in place to allow them to work from home, to take paid/unpaid leave, or have flexibility for child care. Communicate with them regularly and open your door to questions, concerns and ideas.
Ensure that your communication efforts are extended to your customers too. Let them know how your business is doing and what provisions you have put in place to ensure it’s ‘business as usual’ and they can rely on your services. Keep them informed of changes in your supply chain which may affect their services/products, and share with them your new ideas and how you are adapting.
If business is slow, use this time productively to plan for the future, to write marketing plans and budgets and forecasts so you are ahead of the curve when the market changes for the better. Do not stop marketing – it is vital to stay visible! However, you must recognise the need to change your approach and get creative in this ever-changing climate. Only by testing and measuring your adapted marketing campaigns will you be able to assess the returns they give you.
My number one piece of advice is to understand your numbers. Prepare your cash flow and understand the potential impact on you and your business. Then, most importantly, take action. Chase outstanding payments. Look up your credit. Create headroom for yourself – go to your bank and ask for a loan or to extend your current loans. Refinance if you need to. Go to your suppliers and ask for better/delayed payment terms, go to your landlord and ask for reduced rent… anything you can do to keep cash in your business. The ‘cash is king’ statement has never been truer, not only will it mean you stay afloat, it will also affect your ability to sleep!
If you only focus on surviving the here and now… you will only survive the here and now. Avoid dwelling on the things you cannot control, and focus on the things you can control. Seek advice. Ask questions. Celebrate small wins. Stay tough. Be positive. Take control. And most of all, remember that it’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.
I'm ready to take control