These are such scary times, both personally and professionally, that the easiest thing to do would be to crawl into a shell and stay there until everything sorts itself out. Unfortunately, life goes on and so must we, as we maneuver through this pandemic and try to come out whole on the other side of it.
Luckily, I’ve learned a few things over my 30 years of being in business, about how to weather economic realities that are beyond my control. I’ve successfully survived the impact of the first Gulf war in 1991 (just a year after starting my business); the Tech bust in 1998; 9/11 in 2001; and the Great Recession in 2009-12. Here is what I am putting into my own playbook now to get through this unprecedented time; I offer these “lessons learned” to you as well.
- Focus – on the Future
- Prepare for a very different future.
- Consider the consequences of decisions for both short and long term to balance the needs of both.
- Continually scan to see what patterns are emerging in business/industry; think about what opportunities these patterns might present for you.
- Invest – “plow the ground for the Future”
- Now is the time to invest in marketing, building new skills, developing capacity, and expanding networks to be ready for a different future.
- Get better at what seems to be looming in the future (technology?)
- Don’t have a lot of money? You can still invest by volunteering time and effort in ways that provide new learning opportunities, community visibility, and expanded networks.
- Team up – and care for the people around you
- Care for the people (customers, employees, community, vendors, etc.) that make your business a success. Now is the time to be generous with others.
- Reach out to clients to maintain the relationship; find out what is becoming important to them.
- Now more than ever, it is also important to build partnerships and teamwork across businesses and industries to identify and shape new opportunities for the future.
- Stay Positive – and take care of yourself
- Take care of your own mental health.
- Don’t be shy to apply for benefits and loans of which you may be eligible – it is not a personal failure!
- Everyone wants to work with a winner – your attitude is your strength.
Invariably, there will be those who prosper in the year ahead. Remember the Chinese saying, “The times produce their heroes.” Best to you, and good luck to us all!
Catherine M. (Cathy) Perme is a partner at Perme & Peterson Associates, LLC and the author of “Confucius in My Cubicle: Practical Wisdom for the Leader in All of Us” (2017), available on Amazon.