Every Boomer got spanked today by the stock market. Part of me cries when I see years of good investment ideas wiped out in a day. My sadness turns to worry about what this means for my business market. I need a crystal ball to help my planning.
Little known fact; my college degree is in Fine Art. My specialty in College was 14th Century Italian Art which can be subtitled – frescos from Black Death. The Bubonic Plague hit Italy in 1348. Prior to that time was almost the Renaissance, with frescos showing a worldly and secular culture. Shortly after the plague the frescoes take a dark and mystical turn. This early specialty has turned into a lifelong interest in how regular people lived in medieval times. The plague set the stage for the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Darkness is followed by light.
CompanionLink is 33 years old. We made it through the Dot-Com crash, the 2008 crash, and 7 Presidents. Hare are a few things that I have found help when times get tough.
Keep a High-Level Perspective
For all that happens today, it is still a wonderful day. Dogs and children will play in the sunshine today, so take time to join them. We have been through worse and came out stronger, and this will happen again. There is a difference between worry and strategic planning. Take time to plan. When planning is done give a moment of gratitude for what has gone before, and patience for what will be ahead.
Plan without Panic
The news media thrives on hype and it is difficult not to get caught up in it. Avoid the headline and seek the facts buried in the lede. Business success comes from anticipating how markets change. If meetings and travel raise fear, then re-arrange your business to teleconference. If schools and public events are canceled, work to connect with your customers as their schedules adjust. Flexibility is an enduring trait.
Anticipate Supply Chain Disruptions
We live in a consumer driven culture with goods supplied over great distances by people who are paid very little. If public events are canceled, what danger is felt by the clerk at the cash register? Work on your corporate supply chain and purchase ahead any supplies that are critical for your business. Then work on your customer’s supply chain to see what you can fill in.
Know the difference between Fixed Expense and Variable Expense
Manage your budget items to avoid fixed expenses based on scale; things like Rent, Utilities and Monthly Services. Shift as many costs as you can to an as-needed basis. If business is slow and you furlough staff, are you still paying full price for Cloud Services? Are your service fees budgeted according to your best sales month, or your worst sales month? If you can pull expenses in line with income, as income fluctuates, you will be better able to weather any storm.
Focus on your Friends – Core Business, Core Customers, Core Staff
Years in small business have taught me that our core customers will work hard for us when we work together. I have to give and be generous. I get rewarded by people who work with my team. Delivering solid value to people who know us well is the best way to survive.
Calamity creates Opportunity
Your competitors are facing the same obstacles that you encounter. Not all of them will survive. Keep an eye out for ways to pick up the pieces left when other companies are disrupted. You know your products better than anyone else. If another vendor drops the ball, step right in to pick it up.
Like a parent, we want to wrap our arms around our world, and tell it everything will be OK. Like a director, we want to tell the obstacles that they are wrong. Like a 100 year storm, our society can meet the challenges before us. The 1918 flu was followed by the Roaring 20s. With careful planning and persistence there will be new opportunities for business success.