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03.19.2020 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

Reinvention In A Time of Crisis

Interesting times.

If you hadn’t fully bought into the idea of a global society, COVID-19 has probably made a believer of you by now.

We’re all in this together. With 50% of Americans expected to contract the virus, there’s no room for race, gender, politics, or even nationalism. This is an unprecedented global crisis, one that will change the way we think, live, and do business for generations to come.

Crisis always opens up opportunity for growth and change. We can become paralyzed by fear or we can recognize the opportunity for each of us, as individuals, to impact the collective.

Because . . . what you think and do over the next few weeks and months will determine precisely what happens for us all moving forward. We can do the right things on behalf of the collective.

Hoarding isn’t one of those things. Scarcity and fear only produce more of the same.

The Evolutionary Process

This crisis is just one more step in our evolutionary cycle, a chance for us to re-invent many of the complex systems that are no longer working. Our health care system is now being challenged as never before, and from this crisis, we will learn what needs to be done in order to re-invent how we deliver services and care.

Not just in health care, but in all the many systems that impact how we live and do business.

This crisis had to happen. It’s the only way to evolve to what’s next because too many of our systems are antiquated and out of touch with global trends.

As business owners, a great deal is out of our control right now, but there are things you can think and do that will help you move through this time of transition. Reinvention of self and your business will be required during this time of crisis and perhaps even beyond.

There’s a lot of information on the internet right now, so I won’t waste your time duplicating those thoughts, but if we’re talking about reinvention over panic, here are a few things to consider with respect to your business.

Think and Act Like the Big Guys

From an economic standpoint, small-to-medium businesses will be hit the hardest. They always are. But, please don’t sit around and wait for the government to make things right.

Major airlines have already asked for a $50 billion dollar bailout; Disney is shutting down its hotels in Orlando this Friday evening.

Yes, they’re responding to public health demands, but they’re also looking for ways to mitigate the overall losses. Whether it be bailouts or tax advantages, they have the professional resources to get what they need, and they will bounce back.

You don’t have those options.

As a small-to-medium family business, you have to find innovative ways to stay in the game. There will be no government bailout for you. Even if checks start heading your way tomorrow as the administration is already promising, how much do you think you’ll actually receive?

Being proactive looks different for you. Take control over what you can control.

1. Don’t wait until you’re failing and loss is inevitable.

Check out the SBA’s website or other low interest loan opportunities. There’s a time to worry about debt, and this time isn’t one of them. You are undoubtedly going to lose customers. You’ll need money to get you through these hard times. If you don’t have enough in reserve, you may need to borrow. The time to borrow is before you need it and when lenders are willing to lend.

2. Think about how you can best serve your customers or clients first.

Think outside the box. How can you reinvent your delivery of services to accommodate your customers’ social distancing or isolation? Once you’ve determined the best approach to meet their needs, communicate the what, why, and how you’ll deliver. Ask for their business. This is no time to be shy and hope things will work out. Create a loyal space that will outlast the crisis.

3. Stop thinking like an employee and think like big business.

Analyze your situation and consult with a CPA. Find out what you could be doing differently. Don’t wait until you’re in crisis because a financial wizard can help you see the big picture so that you can make more proactive decisions now.

4. Enroll your employees in strategy sessions.

They are in the trenches and they know things you haven’t probably thought about yet. Seek their wisdom. What creative solutions might they offer? You need their perspectives. It’s not enough to just tell them to work from home. They need leadership. They need to know you have a plan. They need to know they’re part of the plan.

5. Be a good steward of your financial resources.

After you’ve discussed the big picture with a CPA and sought input from your team, take a deep hard look at where you can cut unnecessary costs. Not from a place of scarcity, but from a place of what’s best for your family, the business, your customers, and your employees. You might also consider if this is a good time to leverage your buying power. How would such a move impact your capacity to earn moving forward?

6. Support other family-owned businesses as much as possible.

Yes, we must respect the need for social distancing, but do what you can. Our local restaurants are going to 50% occupancy with staggered seating. I’m hoping to support them in a sensible way to help them stay in business. Think of all the businesses you interface with, and do what you can to help them. Ask them to return the favor. This is a time for collaboration.

The list goes on. There is no end to what you can create moving forward.  You’re an entrepreneur who has a vision and you know how to make things happen.  Reinvent how you think about all that you do in business and in life.

Be proactive.

Think like big business when it comes to economic strategies. Serve your customer base in innovative ways. Stay healthy, and you’ll do more than just survive. Your business and your family will thrive.

This is a time for us to go beyond where we’ve ever been to do more than we’ve ever done.

Carpe Diem!

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. March 19, 2020