Covid-19: Turning a Crisis into Confidence
As a small business owner grappling with the fallout and ramifications of Covid-19, how do you turn fear and uncertainty caused by this unexpected crisis into renewed confidence in your ability to find a way forward and regain control? The answer lies in increasing Awareness and accepting Responsibility.
The Fear Phase
Of course, Covid-19 is like nothing else we’ve experienced before in living memory. It has caused fear and uncertainty to prevail throughout society. And for obvious reasons. For many small and medium size businesses there is understandable uncertainty about the future, and real fear that they may not survive the crisis.
But whilst fear is an entirely understandable human reaction, for business owners and managers there is an urgent need to move beyond this phase as quickly as possible.
When experiencing fear we often become absorbed with matters that are outside our control, which in turn causes us to lose focus on the positive things that can be done to make matters better.
Perception and reality also often become disengaged, causing us to magnify all sorts of negative thoughts and worry about things we shouldn’t be. The following diagram illustrates how this can play out:
So as a business owner who’s in the ‘fear phase’ of this Covid-19 crisis you might find yourself:
Spending a lot of time each day listening to all the latest news bulletins.
Hoping and praying that the lockdown ends sooner than expected and we get back to normal.
Cursing that all your hard work building up your business is being undone.
Agonising over how this is all going to end and fearing how it will leave you and your family.
Worrying that you don’t know what to do.
Of course, under the circumstances these reactions are entirely reasonable. If you didn’t spend at least some time in this state of mind you wouldn’t be human. But it’s important to reflect on the reality that none of these thoughts are doing anything to make the situation better for you or your business. In fact, they’re making it worse. And that’s because in the ‘fear’ phase your time and energy are going into things that are beyond your control. You’re worrying over things that you can’t influence.
So how can you break out of the ‘fear’ phase and begin feeling more confident and in control of your future?
Awareness & Responsibility Phase
Moving beyond the 'fear' phase requires you to do two things:
Increase Awareness of your own situation by focussing your time and energies on the things you can control, rather than those you can’t; and
Accept Responsibility for what happens next.
By increasing Awareness of your own situation you will move beyond focussing just on what’s impacting on you directly. Instead you’ll apply your thoughts and energies more positively to looking at how you can influence the things around you. You’ll start thinking ‘What can I do?’ rather than wondering ‘What’s happening to me?’
So, begin by thinking of those things you can do within your own business that are within your control. Although not exhaustive, some examples might be:
Considering the impact that Covid-19 is having on your customers and the ways in which you might be able to offer help to them. This might be in new ways that you haven’t considered before, and could even be without the prospect of immediate reward. Offering free help now and being there for your customers when they are most in need could prove to be the best long term investment you ever made.
Reviewing your current route to market and thinking how this could be amended to reflect the current circumstances. For example, taking some of your retail sales online, using video conferencing to continue services, offering to deliver goods where in-store sales are no longer feasible.
Review your own skills and capabilities to consider whether you can apply them to something different in the current circumstances, or whether there are skill gaps or development requirements you’ve identified that can be addressed now through online facilities whilst more time is available. Many decent educational and training sources are available free online or at minimal cost.
Expanding your marketing efforts. This may seem odd at a time when businesses are largely closed, but effort spent now devising how you’re going to reach your target market when demand picks up may be time well spent, and will ensure you’re not left behind the curve.
Researching all assistance available from Government and other sources, in the form of furloughing support for employees, loans, grants, guidance and advice, to determine what could be beneficial to you, and what’s not.
Prepare plans for different scenarios when lockdown measures are eased, so that you have determined in advance what actions you will need to take in response to a sudden pick-up in demand, and how this will be different if there is a more gradual increase in sales.
Finding a mentor who can support you through the current situation so that you’re not doing it all alone. Running your own business can be a lonely place at the best of times, so having someone experienced by your side now could prove to be a ‘life saver’.
Work on that long-term business plan you always had in mind to do but could never find the time. If you need help to do it, then find that too.
By increasing awareness of your situation and looking at the things you can do, it now leaves you free to accept Responsibility for what happens next.
You have identified positive steps to take in response to the current situation, and by taking responsibility for the results of those steps you’re effectively handing yourself the power to make a difference.
You’re moving beyond fear by acknowledging that what happens, good or bad, will be the result of your actions and not anyone or anything else’s. Not the Government’s, not the economy, not a competitor, …... and not the Covid-19 virus!
You’re putting yourself back in control!
Confidence and Control Phase
So, you’ve experienced the fear and uncertainty. You have then increased awareness of your own situation and identified what positive steps you can take. And finally you have accepted responsibility for what happens next.
So how do you spend your time now? Well probably much more positively than you were when gripped by fear. Now you are:
Only spending a small amount of time each day listening to the latest news bulletins, looking particularly for anything that might present a business opportunity in the current crisis.
Keeping abreast of when and how the lockdown measures might be relaxed so that you can tweak the plans you’ve already developed for the various scenarios.
Feeling grateful that you had the opportunity to build your business into a successful enterprise in the past, and determined to use your knowledge and experience to fuel its future development.
Being focussed on spending your time wisely on things you can influence now which will lead you through the crisis and to ongoing success.
Feeling confident that you know what to do!
As a Business Mentor and Strategy Coach I can help you move from ‘Fear’ to ‘Confidence and Control’ If you’re interested in a discussion without obligation, please get in touch on 07980-791553, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details on my background and the services I offer are on my website at www.blueboxstrategy.co.uk.