The level of distress that many leaders experience during a crisis is unsettling but normal. When many are displaced from their work and income, it can be comforting to just hide because you are so overwhelmed. Yet those who will recover demonstrate resilience. They catch their breath and then move forward to adapt, retool, and recover.
The necessity to replace lost cash flow requires the flexibility to search for new ways to make money. The shifting of how customers are willing to shop may necessitate learning how to leverage online platforms to take your business to a higher virtual level.
Once the initial shock of an economic slowdown abates, you still need to be realistic. Any distressed economic situation will not resolve quickly. So put your “long game” into play. The long game is your resilience strategy. Here are seven ways to start planning your next steps with a more emotionally settled approach while harnessing your inner strength to rebound.
1. Take an Inventory
Focus instead on what you still have, not on what you have lost. You still have your skills and knowledge. This is valuable. Is there some other way to use your talents that you have not previously considered? Can you subcontract to others who are getting work to pick up a little cash flow? Can you convert what you do or know to help others? That help might not pay bills, but if you are wise about how you frame it, this could be the new foundation for your long-term future.
2. Cut Costs
Be brutal about cutting costs to conserve cash. Review all credit cards for any automatic payments and ask if you really still need them. Don’t just focus on the monthly charge. Convert those monthly charges to their equivalent cost for a full year. The annualized number is what you should consider. Can you pay more important bills if you let them go? The same thing holds true for your cash expenses. Can you ask employees to shorten hours so you don’t need to lay people off or take a modest short-term pay cut? Ask vendors to lower their costs. Review your phone bills to see if there are savings by switching carriers. The same goes for insurance and utility bills.
3. Access Resources
Car wash industry associations can be exceptionally valuable partners to you in a time of crisis. The value they offer in access to information, peer networking, and education can make an incredible difference to optimize your survival potential. Look for changes to government programs or new funding alternatives that become available to see if you now qualify. You might have more options available to you than you realize. But beware of falling prey to charlatans who are offering to “solve” all your problems for a small (or not so small) fee. Vet them carefully.
If your customers are impacted by the crisis too, evaluate options you have to connect with them and/or support them in what they need. Keep in touch with customers when they’re not buying so they’ll remember you when they can buy. When they reach an interim “new normal,” are they ready now for your connection? You must be sensitive to your clients. Do not force the issue. Focus your energies on what you can do for them. Even if it is not for a fee. Think about how communication you employ right now can play out over the long term.
5. Use Your Network
Explore the power of partnership and collaboration through the community you have built. You can often find a tribe of like-minded people online. The associations are also full of people in the same situation as you. Coming together to brainstorm ideas for new approaches and to share news about resources is a powerful way to focus your energies on recovering from this tough situation. Set up a regular call with your peers or allies. It might be each night at a designated time or on a weekly basis. Focus your conversations on resolving problems and forward thinking.
6. Be Realistic
No one ever wants to consider permanently closing their business. But, if the crisis is such that there is no way to recover your current book of business, you might have to face the inevitable. Perhaps you can just shift to a temporary hiatus or scale your operations and employment back to a more modest level. This does not mean your business is closed. You would just be temporarily focusing on implementing a pragmatic solution. This could take some of the financial pressure off of you. Don’t let your pride get in the way of taking advantage of a temporary opportunity to get some cash coming in your door. While this can be exceptionally difficult to execute, it may give you the breathing room you need to ultimately recover.
7. Focus Your Mindset
Make the decision that you will survive this unprecedented crisis situation through your own grit, determination and effort. Try to find music, activities, or people that will support your positive mindset to be resilient and mentally tough. Determine to keep focusing on solutions. Give yourself some grace. Trying to navigate through a crisis is exceptionally difficult for everyone, no matter their experience level. Be compassionate with yourself just as you would to a dear friend you care about. Find healthy ways to cope with the stress as you move through this time of great adversity. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Over the decades, businesses have weathered recessions, natural disasters, terrorist events, and strategic failures. They survived and even thrived afterwards due to the choices they made and the focus they developed to adapt to the changing circumstances. They focused their mindset on making choices each day that were laser-focused on their short-term survival and their intention to achieve long-term success. They leveraged unexpected opportunities into cash flow, connections, and tactics to survive and even thrive. You can do the same!
Jill J. Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.