Hanging in limbo sucks. This crisis is unlike any other as it is not caused by prior market mistakes, instead it is caused by an outside force, COVID-19, and it does not have a clear timeline. It seems as if each day the impacts to a new industry or way of life are painfully obviated. The unfortunate thing is many entrepreneurs and investors are seeking advice to questions that, as of today, do not have answers. While answers to questions like, (When will this end? How big will the impact be?) cannot be answered, it doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs can’t act.
Before I jump in, it is important to note that I am not a health expert and have no insights on when this pandemic will end. What I do have is over 30 years of business experience as an entrepreneur and investor. During that time, I managed to survive everything from terrorist attacks, recessions and even virus outbreaks without losing my business or experiencing revenue declines.
After learning from these experiences, I now follow a 4-step Crisis Management process that ensures my businesses thrive during these times of uncertainty.
Step 1: Initial Assessment & Damage Control
What are the immediate and potential long-term impacts on your business/market?
What can you do to limit or slow the damage?
What help do you need on your team and what stakeholders should you consult?
Step 2: Stabilization & Crisis Pivot
How can you extend your runway?
What part of your existing business is still viable (In crisis? After crisis?)
How can you use existing assets & talents differently to generate revenue or enter new markets?
How can you adopt new technology to help?
Step 3: Seize the Opportunity
What aspects of your business/sector/market are likely to see permanent change?
How do you become a market leader in that new world?
What new “pain points” has the crisis created for customers that you can solve?
Step 4: Return to Deliberate Operations
What conditions must be met for you to exit crisis operations?
How will you assess what the new “normal” is for your business or market?
In addition, the opportunity I am advising many entrepreneurs to seize is the ability to work “on the business”. Prior to the crisis, most entrepreneurs are focused on the day-to-day operations of the business, or what I call, working “in the business”. During this crisis specifically, as many areas of the economy are put on hold, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to re-set their North Star® and make critical adjustments to their buyer profiles, account segmentation and exit planning. By elevating yourself to focus on the new strategic direction you will allow your company to hit the ground running when the economy begins again. I’ll cover this topic in-depth in my next blog posting.
Be safe. Be prepared.