We are living in unprecedented times and each day is uncertain. After studying 6,000 years of corporate history comparing great versus good, even in extreme economic circumstances, Good to Great author Jim Collins came to this singular conclusion:
“[G]reatness is not primarily a matter of circumstance; greatness is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”
The secret formula for not merely surviving, but thriving, during this COVID-19 pandemic and beyond is your power to choose. All the great personal development authors of the last century — Martin Kohn in Great by Choice, Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich, and James Allen in As a Man Thinkith — preached to the same ultimate conclusion: You can achieve all the results you desire in life and in business by leveraging the power of thought and belief and then remaining in continuous expectation of the achievement of that which you desire.
Over the past several weeks, our InPrime Legal team has received numerous questions related to this current pandemic. How will stay-at-home orders impact my business? How will fear of COVID-19 transmission hinder my ability to bring workers back to work? Will my customers sue me if they believe they became ill due to the COVID-19 virus while patronizing my place of business? All these questions center around uncertainty.
We are here to help you. But ultimately, it starts and ends with your “conscious choice” to thrive, even in uncertainty and chaos. And being 100% responsible means eliminating any blame from your life. Once you assign blame (whether by blaming COVID-19, your customers, or other business partners), then you lose all power to change and shape your circumstances. Once you assign blame, you become the victim of circumstance, not the creator. We hope by choosing to thrive, you will view InPrime Legal as a strategic partner you can leverage to achieve your goals during this economic crisis.
So, what actions can you take, and act on as a business owner now? Consider the following:
Ascertain Resources — This includes resources you can leverage (e.g. professional services, mentors, and financial institutions), as well as those resources you have at your immediate disposal.
- Cash is precious. Determine how you can best preserve your capital. Regarding expenses, be relentless. Quickly determine what expenses you must cut, not simply what you can cut. This is where your mindset matters. Think of it this way. “Can” leads to a yes or no decision. But will you act? “Must” leads to action. We must do this and here is our plan to get it done!
- Like you, other business owners will be looking to preserve cash too. Translation — your clients may be unable to pay their invoices, could slow their payments, might attempt to re-negotiate pricing, or worse – declare bankruptcy. Communication is key. Connect with your clients, preferably via video conference. Being empathetic while negotiating a win for your client and you is your goal. Remember, your clients’ ability to survive now and then thrive post pandemic can lead to sustaining, loyal business relationships.
- Preserve and generate revenue. To maintain revenue, you must continue to create value for your clients, or your business will be viewed as a non-essential expense — one expense your clients or customers can live without. Your ability to think “outside-of-your-box” will lead to creative solutions. As an example, consider how fast many restaurants switched to a different product delivery method. Many never provided curbside service, yet now realize it is a significant current and potentially future value-add for their customers, and for the restaurant’s bottom line.
- Evaluate your team. As Jim Collins shared in his book Good-to-Great, now more than ever is the time to “ensure you have the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus.” Focusing on the now is critical, yet it is also important to maintain your focus on the future — which may be significantly different for your business than what you traditionally perceive to be normal operations. Your ability to adapt will set you apart from the competition. The Good-to-Great leaders understood three simple truths. First, if you begin with “who,” rather than “what,” you can more easily adapt to a changing world. Please note that if you applied for and received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) proceeds, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), or an EIDL Emergency Grant, you may be bound to certain restrictions regarding your employees. It is a good idea to seek professional guidance before reducing your staffing levels.
Communication & Daily Operations Review — Communication with your team is paramount. Your employees will take more comfort in hearing good or bad news from you, than hearing nothing at all leaving them to wonder and worry about their future. You have likely heard that bad news early is better than bad news late. The same is true regarding good news. Deliver both as soon as practical.
People are social and for most, daily interaction is significantly different during this pandemic. Many find themselves working from home or going to their place of work intermittently. Video conferencing via Zoom, WebEx, Skype or similar applications allow work teams to maintain some sense of employee interaction and arguably better than simply by a phone conference. To maintain that personal connection at InPrime Legal, we host a daily huddle by Zoom. Today, we do the same meeting every day using these guidelines:
- Duration – no more than 15 minutes
- Start meeting at an odd time (e.g. 9:38 a.m. rather than 9:45 a.m.)
- All hands on deck – 100% team participation
- Use video. Video adds an additional human connection.
- Team members only focus on the top three items they need to accomplish and/or make progress for that day – not 4 or 5 or 6 items – just the top three
- Identify roadblocks, but don’t engage in substantial problem solving; rather, use the huddle to identify which team members are best suited to solve a major roadblock off-line and when.
Use video calls to maintain the connection with your clients and customers. Establishing the practice will likely serve you well now, and well into the future. Your business may realize more scheduling flexibility, reduced travel expense, and greater meeting productivity – all wins.
Keep it fun. We always start our huddles by playing a song, dedicated to a team member, based on an important task achieved earlier in the week. It starts our meeting off with some laughs and gets everyone focused on winning.
Marketing — Traditional marketing is all about securing new customers. Now is the time to focus on “value” marketing, which is also directed at retaining your current customers. What additional value can you deliver to customers? Focus on low cost, low risk. We sponsor a weekly Virtual Town Hall webinar bringing industry leaders together to discuss strategies for thriving amid COVID-19. It’s free and 100 plus business owners typically attend… Low Cost — Low Risk — High Value!
Personal Rejuvenation — How are you doing? Use time at home to reconnect with family and friends, exercise, establish better nutrition habits, rest, learn, tune-up your skills, and maintain your relentless focus. With five children at home, I recently developed a set of core values for our family — like the core values you might have in your business. We call it our “GRIT 100” — gratitude, relentlessness, increase lives, thrive today and 100% responsible. We now discuss and practice these values daily. COVID-19 gave me the opportunity to create this daily ritual for my family.
A simple mindset shift from “No, because…” to “Yes, if…” can make the difference between closing your business and thriving in uncertain times.