What an uncertain and difficult period we’re all living in. Just a month and a half ago, the stock market was at record highs and life was great. Who could have imagined that we’d be living through a period where we’re all quarantined in our homes in fear of catching a virus? And there seems to be no place to hide as virtually every state and every country is experiencing this pandemic. None of us in our lifetimes – even for those in their 80s or 90s – have ever experienced anything remotely like this. And for most of us, business is somewhat paused as a result.
Nonetheless, I truly believe that just like every other crisis we’ve all been through (9/11, the Internet Bubble of 2001, the Great Recession of 2008), “this too shall pass”. One way or another, the virus will slow, summer will overtake the virus, an effective treatment will evolve (e.g. Hydroxychloroquine that has been used for malaria), and they will get a vaccine developed. And to help in the short term, Congress has passed the Coronavirus Spending Bill to help households and businesses get at least some small degree of financial relief.
No doubt this whole upheaval is a major battle for each and every one of us, but if we look back at each of our lives, we see that difficult times are often followed by wonderful times, and business challenges often open new opportunities to thrive on.
I recall that after the Internet Bubble and Crash in 2001, the stock market was down an astounding 52%, and everyone thought that the world was coming to an end. I was CMO of a medium sized company. As things began to settle a bit, we refocused our efforts and pivoted into areas of new opportunity. Sales went up, online sales quickly shot up to $10 million and company profits doubled…and we then were able to successfully sell the company for well over $300 million. The point is that there may be great upside opportunities for each of us right around the corner.
The key question though is…TODAY….how do we deal with all of this for our businesses?
In this newsletter, I’d like to propose 5 simple strategies we can all focus on to protect our businesses right now.
5 Simple Strategies to Protect Your Business Now!
- Support Your Employees – Aside from financial support and encouraging work at home arrangements, focus on and encourage employee well-being. Be attuned to the fact that working parents with kids at home are very challenged during this unprecedented moment in history, and workers with aging parents are under tremendous stress. Finally, as a leader, you may not have all of the answers to all questions, but you still want to be as engaged as possible.
- Be There For Your Customers – Reach out to customers and prospects proactively to help them understand that you are there for them and how you can help them. It’s an opportunity to be the “lighthouse in the big storm” and provide clarity, calm and confidence to help them navigate the storm.
- Carefully Watch Your Financial Situation – Revenues could be down, so be sure that you mobilize working capital and free up cash. Check on the credit line you have with the bank to be sure it’s accessible should you need to tap it. It’s also good to initiate radical scenario planning and flexibility. For example, think about what you’d do if revenue declines by 20% or even 50%. Also, based on the new Corona bill from congress, be sure to check out current SBA loans that are available to small businesses (some of the loans will be forgivable!)
- Think About “Pivoting” quickly to meet emerging needs in your category – Given what you normally do, is there anything really needed in the marketplace that is sort of related to what you do that you can now pivot to and provide? For example, Anheuser Busch (who produces beer made with alcohol) is now producing much needed hand sanitizers, and Ford is retooling to make much needed respirators for hospitals. Do you have a much needed product or service you can pivot to? If you need help thinking through planning for this, feel free to reach out to us
- Start Soon to Think About Post Coronavirus Opportunities – What can you do to rebound quickly once this is all over? Can you adapt your company’s message to fit better with post corona sentiment? Can you cross sell other products/services to existing customers to make up for lost revenue? Can you pivot (as discussed above) to other highly needed products/services? Can you leverage strategic pricing by removing unnecessary costs to lower prices without hurting margins? Can you add a “purpose” component message to your social media?
The key objective here is not only stabilize your business, but to find ways identify post Corona emerging needs, and capitalize on them to meet those needs, and come out even more powerful than before. The reality is that companies who are proactive and ready to leverage these opportunities once Corona starts to slow will recover faster and potentially be much stronger in the long term. If you need help thinking this through and developing such a plan, feel free to reach out so we can talk.
In summary, the most important thing is to actively deal with the crisis, but stay positive!
And just remember…this will all end at some point…hopefully soon. And then there will be lots of opportunities for growth, especially for those who start thinking ahead now.
Wherever you are, wishing you all the best….and please stay safe!