These are unprecedented, unparalleled times in business. Other than the Great Depression this is probably the most difficult time in the history of business. What an uncertain time we are all going through! As a CEO, president or business owner of a small to mid-sized company, I am certain the future of your business weighs on your mind. What will your business look like in the days, months, years ahead? These times require you to make perhaps the most significant decisions since you decided to go into business. Through it all, regardless of whatever you may face, remember who YOU are as a business person. Will your business prosper in the future? It is a choice you need to make.
Let’s briefly look at some other history making events in business over the past 50 years you may remember:
- 1979: Three Mile Island in Middletown, PA (near the state capital of Harrisburg) – Due to technical malfunctions and human error, the nuclear plant partially melted down. It was absolutely headline making news and it was frightening. You didn’t know what was really happening. You could not really see or feel anything, but you knew something serious had happened. The news reports talked about high levels of radiation. At the time of the event, I lived near Hershey, PA, which is very close, maybe too close in a situation like this, to Three Mile Island. If I climbed to the top of hill, I could see the cooling towers of the nuclear plant 10-15 miles away. It was a terrifying time. I sent the family to Pittsburgh because I was concerned for their safety. I didn’t want the family to be potentially exposed to any of the radiation. I couldn’t leave because of my involvement with a business. I stayed and saw my way through the situation as did many other business owners and companies.
- 2001: Anthrax – The Anthrax scare also known as Amerithrax due to its FBI case name, occurred over several weeks beginning one week after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. It involved mail being delivered through the United States Postal Service with the possibility of containing the powdery, potentially deadly, substance Anthrax. Having endured the tragic events of 9/11 only days before, everyone was suspicious of the mail they received. People were afraid to open their mail. At the time, I did much of my marketing through direct mail letters with envelopes through a major direct mail production house. I was working with a highly respected and well-known copywriter. No one really had answers. It was almost impossible to know what type of mail people would trust to open. Yet I, and other business people, found a way to keep marketing as businesses across the nation dealt with the Anthrax scare.
- 2001: September 11th – Where were you the moment you learned of the Twin Towers being hit by two airplanes and then watching the skyscrapers fall to the ground? It’s a question everyone asked in the days that followed, and still ask today. It was our generation’s Pearl Harbor. A day that will live in infamy just as in 1941 with America’s entrance into World War II. Everyone was shocked and transfixed by the events of 9/11. No one knew what to expect next. There was uncertainty. And then came the Anthrax scare…
- 2008: The stock market crash, the real estate crash and the Great Recession – Do you remember the day in October when the stock market crashed? The numbers just kept going down. People were glued to their television, radio or online source for news. Everyone was in disbelief. The world as we knew it changed overnight just as it did on 9/11. This event affected everyone in business regardless of industry. The financial crisis melted down the entire economy. It is estimated 16.4 trillion dollars in net worth was lost with two trillion dollars in retirement funds. The Great Recession officially lasted 18 months but the damage and the recovery lasted for years.
- 2020: The Covid-19 Pandemic – This brings us to the present day with business people facing perhaps the greatest test yet. An invisible enemy that not only affects the health of the business but also the health of every person you know including employees, customers, vendors, your family and yourself. I usually write articles for CEOs, presidents and business owners with practical, timeless business advice. This article is no different. The events may be different, but the perspective remains the same only updated. You will get through this.
The questions to ask yourself now, if you are determined to have your business prosper in the future, are:
- What do I want for myself?
- What do I want for my business?
- How do I get there?
- Am I ready to restart my business at this time?
The above listed questions are timeless but highly important right now for you to think about.
The truth is this is a very frightening time for everyone. People are unnerved by the uncertainty. No one can say what will happen next. The economy has a big question mark. You may have questions about your business.
This time in the history of business is not time to waste.
You can be frightened later. You can panic later. But today you need to take control, as much as possible, of the business situation around you. Just as you would do when the world is not in crisis.
It’s time to ask yourself:
– What do I need to do to be ready for when business reopens?
– What changes should I expect going forward?
It is critical to start thinking about how you restart and regain the business momentum your company had prior to the news making events.
This is a time when your leadership needs to shine as brightly as possible.
- How do you keep and motivate your employees? As the CEO, president or business owner you cannot show fear in any of your communications. Employees are looking to you for the next steps. Employees are looking for you to be by their side. Employees want to know you are there for them.
- How do you keep your customers – and find new customers? Are you reaching out to customers to let them know you are there for them? Some may need you now. Others will need you as the business gears up and starts to move forward again. A simple phone call or email to customers just to say your company is there for them can be very effective. Ask if there is anything you can do for them. People need to have conversations now more than ever due to the isolation and social distancing factors.
You need to begin to move forward NOW! No matter how small the first step is if you intend to prosper in the future. Just as your body requires movement to stay healthy; your business requires movement to stay healthy too.
Think it through and be in action with your business each day.
We can’t do anything about the current national situation. It’s out of our control. What is in our control is how we start thinking about business. The world has shifted. Adapt as appropriate to make your business viable and to prosper in the future.
When you get through this most challenging situation that’s not the time to start thinking about what you are going to do; how you are going to change your business or what you may want to do differently.
The opportunity to think about restarting your business is NOW. Be ready for being “open for business” again.
To your continued success! May you and your business prosper in the future!
Business expert and strategist, Howard Lewinter, guides – focuses – advises CEOs, presidents and business owners throughout the United States across a wide range of industries, to MORE success – MORE profit – less stress. Business people trust Howard’s vast business knowledge, practical advice, intuitive insight and objective perspective to solve business problems and issues. Get MORE from your business! Talk business with Howard: 888-738-1855.
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