Our global economy is going through what some have described as the “Big Pause.” No one can
say for sure what recovery is going to look like, but it is probably safe to say that repercussions
and changes due to the covid response may echo for years, decades, or even longer.
It is also safe to say that some industries are going to look completely different, some may just
plain disappear, and unexpected new industries are likely to arise. When it comes to your own
business, you may not have a crystal ball, but you can find guidance in principles that have
helped other businesses succeed in changing times.
One skill business owners always need to practice, but especially in times of change, is agility.
You may not know exactly what is going to happen, but you can do your best to be both prepared
for change, and on the lookout for opportunities.
Figure out how to repackage your services to fit current needs. Maybe your clients need shorter
or longer contract options than before. Maybe you can partner with someone from your network
to package your complementary products or services together, to save your customers time,
trouble, or money.
Think about your entire skill set. If you provide a product or service that people are less likely to
use in tough times, you may need to be looking at additional or alternative sources of income.
This is probably the most difficult pivot, both mentally and practically, but if you can see that it
needs to be done, ask yourself whether it will do you or your business any real good to wait.
You probably have a good idea what anxieties your clients are dealing with. Can you solve a
problem for them and reduce some of that anxiety? If you provide a service or product to other
businesses, figure out what your value is to them in changing times. Then reach out and let them
know what you can do together to help them stay in business.
Connect and Serve
Any economy, local or global, is a complex web woven from hundreds of interconnected threads
of dependence and interdependence. Every resource you need for your business is one of those
threads. And each thread can either tie you to the economy with an unwelcome sense of
dependence, or serve to connect you to the economy and your community.
If you seek opportunities to make connections and serve your community, you strengthen the
supportive threads in your business.
One of the things you can do right now is to reach out to your business contacts—both clients
and vendors—and find out what they are struggling with. If you can help, it may be time to pivot and
make that part of your work. If you have an idea that is outside your skill set entirely, share it
anyway. And if you can’t help, maybe you know someone in your network who can.
People will remember who was looking ahead, looking for opportunities, and looking out for
them when times got tough.
Invest in Your Business—and Yourself
Now may seem like a scary time to spend extra money on training, website updates, physical
assets, or other business updates. Or you may feel that a time investment is impossible, because
you are running all day just trying to keep it together.
But whether time, capital, or some other investment is needed, there is probably something you
can do to make your business or your skill set more relevant in the changing economy. Figure
out what it is, and figure out how to get it done. There may even be something you have known
about but have been putting off for a long time. Flex your creativity muscles and commit
yourself to your own future.
Not only does investing in improvements and pivot points set you up for success in the coming
months and years, but it also demonstrates to your clients and community that you are confident,
competent, and in it for the long term.
Think about the Whole Picture
Changing times can be scary, and it can be easy to succumb to fearful decision-making. But the
best decisions usually come from being calm and forward-thinking. Even if you have to make a
huge, difficult change in the way you do business, it is better to be on the forward edge of that
change than to get left behind due to fearful inaction or indecision.
And remember, you have built personal and business networks for a reason. Physical distancing
doesn’t mean you can’t draw on your relationships and ask for advice, support, or just the
camaraderie that keeps you feeling encouraged and capable.
What are you doing and planning to prepare for the days and months to come? Feel free to share
in the comments!
Genet Jones, owner of The Thoughtful Wordsmith, has been writing for fun since 1989 and for profit since 2005. She also enjoys editing (yes, really), yoga, mountain biking, and exploring Northwest Arkansas.