5 Ways to Thrive as a Business Owner in a Time of Crisis

“What’s going to happen?” 

I’ve been asking myself this question a whole lot lately. 

As entrepreneurs, we love to say how we embrace uncertainty, rise to any challenge, and thrive under pressure. Well, now the world is facing a global pandemic of Covid-19, and we need to start practicing what we preach, stat. 

And the first step is — stop asking what’s going to happen. 

We don’t know. Nobody knows. 

Instead, we need to start asking, “What can I do to make a difference in my life and business right now?” 

As I’m looking for the answer to this question, I find myself turning to the wisdom of others. Business mentors, personal heroes, leaders from world history… I’ll take my learning where I can get it.

Today, I want to share some of that wisdom with you, too — God knows we can all use it.

(Shoutout to Joe Polish and Brandon Burchard for inspiring me with their amazing podcasts to sit down and write this article.)

So:

How can you make sure your business doesn’t just survive this crisis… but comes out on the other side even stronger?

Read on.

1. Resolve to keep calm (as calm as you can, anyway)

We know this is a tough thing to ask.

Every day there are 10,000 more news stories about how Covid-19 is the worst thing ever and how we’re all doomed. In the face of all that, freaking out is the normal, expected, and human thing to do.

But it can’t be all you do.

Right now, it’s more important than ever to keep calm. There’s nothing you can do about the virus, the lockdowns, the shortages, the flights getting canceled — any of it.

So don’t even try. Tune out the worst of the noise, as much as you can. Instead, take a page from the Stoic philosopher-slash-Roman-Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who wrote in his diary 2,000 years ago:

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Focus on the things you can change and control: your mindset, and your actions in response to this crisis.

2. Reflect on your company’s place in the world

You might say, “Summer, now is not the time for this!” Well, I respectfully disagree — and here’s why…

First of all, this crisis has given you two precious gifts that all entrepreneurs want:

  1. the time to step away and look at the big picture.
  2. a completely new perspective on… well, everything!

You want to use these things to your advantage while you have them. Ask yourself all the toughest questions:

  • What’s your mission? Is it something you’re aware of and try to embody every day?
  • What’s your company’s place in the market? Is it everything you wanted it to be?
  • Do you add enough value to your customers that they’ll miss you when you’re gone?

Answer them as honestly as you can. Then, make a plan for how to align your business with those answers.

You’ll need it… because guess who’s not strategizing? Not thinking ahead? Not reevaluating everything they thought was right?

Your competitors! They’re just scrambling to cut their losses, or going through the motions, or looking for someone else to tell them what to do. When the dust settles, they’ll have learned nothing — but your business will emerge stronger than ever.

3. Don’t just react — respond

The Covid-19 situation is changing faster than anybody can keep up. It’s easy to waste hours, days, even weeks just reacting to everything that’s happening.

Checking Amazon 50 times an hour for more toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Being on hold with an airline for 2 hours as you try to cancel your flight. Cutting costs and suspending operations until it all blows over.

In the moment, these fast-twitch reactions might seem like the best thing to do. Heck, they might look like the only option you have right now!

But they aren’t.

So the next time something unexpected happens and you feel the urge to react right now, ask yourself:

  • “Does this need my immediate attention, or can I get back to it later?” Most things aren’t as urgent as you believe in the moment, even — especially! — in a crisis like this.
  • “Is there anything more important that I should be doing right now?” As a business owner, you want to play the long game. Running around putting out fires ain’t it. 

Remember: your response to this situation will shape your company’s future for years to come. Don’t waste this opportunity.

4. Show up as the best version of yourself — for everybody

Your loved ones.

Your team.

Your customers.

They need you now more than ever. They need your empathy, your support, and your leadership. So ask yourself, “How can I best support the people in my life and my business right now?”

Persuading your elderly parents to stay home and take things seriously. Checking in with friends who live far away to ask how they’re doing. Helping your team transition into working remotely. Providing extra time off to stock up on supplies, or a stipend to cover surprise expenses (or both). Reaching out to customers and asking what they need. Giving clients flexibility on payments.

As an entrepreneur, there is so much you can do to make this crisis just a little bit less devastating for the people in your life. We hope you take this opportunity and show up for them as the best version of yourself.

5. Focus on what you do best, and deliver more of it

The way I see it, you can tackle the Covid-19 crisis (or any crisis, for that matter) in one of two ways:

  1. Do what everybody else does and hit pause on your business. Shut things down, cut your losses, wait out the worst of it. Or…
  2. Roll up your sleeves and get to work doing what you’ve always done — creating amazing results to your customers, present and future.

Nobody knows how exactly the Covid-19 situation will develop in the future. But here’s what I do know…

Now is not the time for sitting on the sidelines.

So don’t. Instead, step up. Be of service. Provide value.

Contact your existing customers and ask what you can do for them in this turbulent time. Get your message out to leads and prospects, and offer to help. When your competitors are running scared, it’s your responsibility to rise to the challenge.

You might think that you have to sit this one out, that you don’t have a choice on the matter — but you do. You just need to recognize, as Aurelius did, that…

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

We wish you tremendous strength and inspiration in the days, weeks, and months to come.

You got this.